HBO Max Movie Review: Friends: The Reunion

For those who have waiting for the friends reunion special hoping for a new episode about how the 6 characters turned out 17 years later, they will be very disappointed. This special is nothing more than a talk show hosted by James Corden, some highlights and bloopers from the TV series “Friends”, that ran from 1994-2004. Interviews with the producers and cast members – but not much else, other than some guest stars including Tom Selleck and Lady Gaga.

One of the most remarkable things about television sitcoms is how rare the creation of a good or great one is. There is something called “pilot season” in television where producers throw money at hundreds of comedy-show ideas, and just about all of them fail. The reason for all that failure is that writing something funny is extremely difficult and coming up with a cast like Friends or Seinfeld, along with a group of writers, producers and directors that have chemistry is even more difficult, if not impossible. The best part of the “Friends Reunion” / documentary is learning about how impossible a show like Friends can be to assemble. Both Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow had contracts with other TV shows and pilots and they both were unlikely to being cast for Friends. Aniston filmed 3 episodes of Friends even though if her other pilot was bought by the Network, they would have had to re-shoot the first 3 episodes over again with a new actor.

From the first episode my opinion has always been that without actor Mathew Perry, who played Chandler Friends would never have have been huge 10 year hit it became. By far, Chandler was always the funniest character on the show, for the entire 10 year run. Unfortunately Perry has had a long term drug and alcohol problem, even during the latter years of the show. He also looks like he has aged the worst of the 6, and has awkward looking dental veneers that may have been installed as result of his years of drug abuse.

One thing about great sitcoms is that once an actor gets a great comedy show hit, the odds are extremely low that they will ever have another one. The one rare exception is Mary Tyler Moore who had 2 huge hits with the Dick Van Dyke Show and her own Mary Tyler Moore show.

For me, I thought the idea of having an episode of Friends shot about the future of the characters might have been a good idea, but perhaps it was too difficult to think of something that was satisfying enough for everyone.

I mostly agree with the below average Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 68% – and give Friends a recommendation only for the most die-hard Friends fans.

Movie Review: A Quiet Place Part II

In the history of movie science fiction, in my opinion the Matrix series had the best scientific concepts. Using human beings as batteries, an alternate world where people have to plug into a computer to see the world as it really is, excellent special effects of robots attacking humans and karate sequences. All of these ideas are great and spawned 3 movies, ending in 2003.

“A Quiet Place”, released in 2018 and now the sequel “A Quest Place Part 2”, released originally in 2020 and delayed until 2021 – has the second best movie science fiction concepts in movie history. Aliens from another planet have invaded Earth and they kill anything that makes a sound – a great an original idea that results in film that has very little dialogue and a high level of terror. With both movies, the special effects with these insane looking alien creatures is outstanding, as is the acting, most especially with the main character Evelyn Abbot, played by Emily Blunt. The good thing about this sequel is that the movie starts by showing the invasion of the aliens of the small town that occurred before the beginning of the first movie. However, the big flaw I found in this sequel is that in a situation where Evelyn Abbot has an infant child and two young children younger than 13, why are there so many scenes where all of them are separated? In real life, nothing like this would ever happen. Most especially in a scene where Evelyn leaves her injured 12 year old son and infant alone so she can collect more supplies. This makes absolutely no sense and lacks any level of common sense. Screenwriting is an extremely challenging art form because a story has to be plausible and entertaining at the same time.

This movie also stars Djimon Hounsou and Cillian Murphy in excellent supporting roles.

Despite the flaws, I mostly agree with the critics who give this sequel some very high ratings, mostly for the brilliant concept and the excellent special effects with the rampaging aliens who can kill humans so easily.

Movie Review: Dream Horse

Once again, the best movies are always based on true stories. The new movie “Dream Horse” starring Toni Collette and Damian Lewis is based on true story about the horse “Dream Alliance”, who was purchased by a group of ordinary people who lived in Wales some 20 years ago. Trained from birth by an alliance led by Jan Vokes (played by Collette) Dream Alliance eventually became a miracle horse. The movie Dream Horse is not quite at the level of two other great horse movies “Secretariat”, released in 2010 and Seabiscuit, released in 2003 – but it is still a very good horse movie.

What is good about this film is how it shows the ups and downs of the business of horse racing, always a very risky financial endeavor. In the country of Wales – the location of this story – horse racing is all about horses racing but also leaping over hurdles. In just about every race shown in this movie, a horse falls after jumping over a hurdle. My question was, why race horses like this, when the odds of injury and even death are so much higher than for normal horse racing? What does it prove to have a horse race with hurdles, rather than just a straight up race with no hurdles – especially considering the risk to the horses. The cost of the insurance of each horse is also much higher for the owners considering the dangers of jumping over so many dangerous obstacles. Considering the purchasing of the horse, paying the trainers and handlers in horse racing, turning a profit must be a very precarious business at best.

I thought the acting in this movie for both Collette and Lewis was very strong, with Jan Vokes, played by Collette an ordinary person working as a cashier with a very boring and depressing job, and Howard Davies, played by Damian Lewis, as down on his luck tax accountant. Just about everybody can relate to these two characters who are living average lives, but dream of so much more. I thought this aspect of the story, works the best in this film.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Dream Horse are a very high 89%, and I both agree with this rating and recommend this movie.