Movie Review: Book Club: The Next Chapter

The new movie “Book Club: The Next Chapter” is one of the few sequels of a below-average original movie ever released. The original “Book Club”, released in 2018, was mostly about the embarrassment of a group of older women over reading “50 Shades of Grey”, arguably the worst book in the history of publishing – to generate an enormous amount of money. This new version of Book Club starts as a book club meeting with all of the original cast members, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen for the first few minutes, and then the story mutates into a travelogue for a trip the 4 women make to Italy for the wedding of Jane Fonda’s character Vivian.

I remember thinking while watching this mostly boring and unnecessary film, that the real upside of this story is that for the millions of us who never have the desire or money to travel to Italy and see all of the major cities of Rome, Tuscany, and Venice – this is your opportunity to visit Italy without actually going there. Other than this positive point, this is not really a movie, but a series of vignettes and some attempts of humor that mostly do not work. The idea of the producers is to draw the audience from the original movie released in 2018 by calling this movie Book Club and then changing the story into a wedding in Italy and a series of mostly boring events.

Just about all of the male counterparts in this production are miscast, starting with Don Johnson, who plays Arthur about to marry Jane Fonda’s character. The problem is that Jane Fonda is 85 years old and Johnson is 73 and they have no chemistry, mainly because of the age difference. The same problem with Diane Keaton’s character Diane who is 76 and her boyfriend played by Andy Garcia is 66. Both of these relationships, central to the story, are not believable.

Odds are high that this new installment will be out of theaters in less than 3 weeks.

I agree with the low Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 49% and I do not recommend this film.

Movie Review: Love Again

Whatever part of the new movie “Love Again” that can be considered positive, is ruined by one of the worst premises for a romantic comedy ever produced. The logline from IMDB for this film is: “A young woman tries to ease the pain of her fiancé’s death by sending romantic texts to his old cell phone number, and forms a connection with the man the number has been reassigned to.”

This movie starts with the tragic death of Mira Ray’s fiance when he is hit by a car as he leaves a coffee shop. This accident happens right in front of Mira while she watches him leave. Rather than show the horrific car accident as Mira’s fiance crossed a street, the director correctly only showed Mira, played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas, looking off to the distance as she witnessed the death of her boyfriend. Some of the critics have proclaimed that this scene is the only funny part of the entire movie; comments that make no sense to me. Mira’s look of disbelief and horror for me was anything but funny, and as an actor is just about the most difficult acting to pull off.

The huge problems with this story start 2 years later when Mira is still in a state of profound grief that will not go away and just gets worse. Mira starts to text messages to her boyfriend’s cell phone, even though he has been gone for 2 years. Most people would just write their thoughts down, not text them. In the meantime, some other man, Rob Burns, played by Sam Heughan, who works as a music producer, and is involved with the singer Céline Dion – who plays herself in this movie, is looking at his cell phone, and suddenly there is a power failure in New York City. The implication here is that because of the power failure, something magical will soon happen. It turns out, according to the logline of this screenplay – that Mira’s boyfriend’s cell phone number was reassigned to Rob, so he is now receiving all of these private and emotional texts from Mira. This is the first massive logical mistake with this idea because anyone who received texts from someone they do not know would type, “Sorry, I think you have the wrong person”, “I am Rob, you are texting to Rob Burns, sorry”. Instead, inexplicably Rob does nothing about these texts and becomes emotionally connected to Mira’s messages to her late boyfriend.

Then, even more ridiculous is that one of the texts is about Mira enjoying a local Opera and Rob attends, hoping for the 1 in billion chance of meeting the woman who is sending these texts? What? How could an idea this bad be greenlighted with millions of dollars at stake and made into a movie? Just think of the odds of any screenplay turning into an actual movie, and this one, with an idea this bad is produced? We can all guess the rest of this story, when Rob and Mira fall in love, then the big conflict and final resolution. The tragedy is, that this entire screenplay could have been fixed, with some relatively minor tweaking, to change the main idea from the absurd into something that is actually believable.

The acting in this movie is good, but the chemistry between Priyanka Chopra and Sam Heughan did not really work throughout their relationship.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for Love Again is a very low 17%, with my rating about 35% and a pass, all because the entire cell phone premise is so ridiculous.

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

With the 3rd installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” it is impossible for anyone to not be highly impressed with the science fiction imagination of this film. The new ideas, the space travel, the amazing movie sets, costumes, special effects, unique alien creatures, computer-generated special effects, and stunts are all first-rate throughout. The production budget for this film is 250 million dollars, and it is easy to be very impressed with the work, money, and planning that went into this latest Marvel film. The only issue with this movie, which is extremely common for all action films like this one, is that the script, while not bad, could have been much better.

This story starts with a severe injury to Rocket (the squirrel alien of the group, whose voice is performed by the actor Bradley Cooper). Rocket needs some kind of software injection from some remote planet to save him. After this, the entire story is all about all of his friends trying to get this code from an evil leader who is the captain of a huge spaceship. Much of the story is convoluted throughout different parts of this screenplay and at times can be hard to follow. The humor is pretty much like all of the two previous movies, but I thought the previous films had more frequent and funnier scenes. All of the main characters return for this 3rd film: Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, and Vin Diesel who is the voice of Groot – the tree-like alien – whose only line through all 3 installments is “I am Groot”.

There are several short cameos in this film, from Sylvester Stallone, Nathan Fillion, and Linda Cardellini. I thought Fillion had some of the best scenes among the 3 of them.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this 3rd and possibly last installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy series is a solid 80% and I agree with this rating, but only for the incredible special effects, not the story/screenplay.