Friday, August 24, 2018

Little Italy: Movie Review


   


Terribly-clich├ęd romantic comedy about family rivalry.
I’ve heard Little Italy most often being described as lazy, but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Is it lazy to hire Emma Roberts, niece of Julia Roberts, in a movie which borrows from Mystic Pizza both on the surface and in its design? No, it’s more luck that the filmmakers were able to get a capable and known actress for their little movie about pizza. That’s what this movie was originally - a celebration of pizza and the unique cultural cross-section of Toronto’s Little Italy. 2018

Directed by: Donald Petrie

Screenplay by: Steve Galluccio, Vinay Virmani

Starring: Emma Roberts, Hayden Christensen

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians: Movie Review


A heart beneath all the glitz and glamour

Crazy Rich Asians is an enjoyably funny romantic comedy because it succeeds with two distinct but equally important fundamentals of the genre: lead characters who are real, relatable, empathetic and decent people at their core, and supporting characters who are funny and/or conniving, and not necessarily decent people at their core. It’s a world of money and glamour and so much of both that it can be very hard to imagine that any humans actually live like this. 2018

Directed by: Jon M. Chu

Screenplay by: Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim
Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan

Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding

Friday, July 13, 2018

Eighth Grade: Movie Review


   


Loneliness and anxiety in one adolescent girl.
Eighth Grade really is a different type of movie. It’s not hyper-sexualized nor edgy and dark. It’s just about one girl and her intense struggles with her place in life. The intensity comes solely from the pressures she places on herself to be cool. There’s a heartbreaking realness to her very palpable anxiety and that’s where this movie shines. Eighth Grade puts words and an empathetic face to the universal concept of every-day nervousness. 2018

Directed by: Bo Burnham

Screenplay by: Bo Burnham

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Catcher Was a Spy: Movie Review


Fascinating story, interesting style.

The Catcher Was a Spy is a curiously good movie. Not quite a biopic, not quite a spy thriller, it’s actually the best of both worlds. The look of a spy thriller with charcoal fedoras and charcoal suits lit up only by street lamps and the occasional car headlight combined with the content of a biopic, and very importantly, using the intelligence of a smart character. 2018

Directed by: Ben Lewin

Screenplay by: Robert Rodat
Based on the book by Nicholas Dawidoff

Starring: Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Jeff Daniels

Friday, June 15, 2018

Set It Up: Movie Review


   


Enjoyable romantic comedy with a playful cast, charming romance and amusing comedy.
A romantic comedy that knows it’s a romantic comedy that is both romantic and funny. Set It Up just radiates the type of enjoyable energy that romantic comedies should have. The actual romantic comedy plot, the one that viewers know will happen in the movie, stays on the back burner while the main plot plays out. The main plot is not just a distraction, it’s a funny, albeit simple, story that allows our two leads to meet, get to know each other, become friends and fall in love. 2018

Directed by: Claire Scanlon

Screenplay by: Katie Silberman

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tag: Movie Review


Exaggerated nonsense leaving the comedy and characters behind.

A group of grown men playing a game. Tag simultaneously believes that is so far-fetched the audience must be repeatedly told it’s based on a true story, convinced that nobody could believe it otherwise, and yet on the other hand, also felt the true story is too tame and then exaggerates it to the extreme. The movie jumps right into the game of tag: getting a job as a janitor for fun, destroying company property, trespassing, destroying personal property, breaking doctor-patient confidentiality, all in the first ten minutes. 2018

Directed by: Jeff Tomsic

Screenplay by: Rob McKittrick, Mark Steilen

Starring: Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Alex Strangelove: Movie Review


   


From immature boys to a refreshing coming-out tale of first love.
Alex Strangelove starts off as the worst possible teen sex comedy. Immature boys so obsessed with losing their virginity to the point that they literally don’t talk about anything else but still throwing in homophobic jokes in between all the dick jokes. You’ll be wondering why you’re even watching and what decade you’re living in. The good news is that it’s not really a teen sex comedy, at least not in the same vein like all the other American Pie knock-offs. 2018

Directed by: Craig Johnson

Screenplay by: Craig Johnson

Starring: Daniel Doheny, Madeline Weinstein

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ocean's 8: Movie Review


A stylish film with comedy, crimes and fashion.

A satisfying spin-off of the Ocean’s franchise, Ocean’s 8 continues the trend of all-star casts and sleek heists. Those two attributes are the movie’s main highlights and writer-director Gary Ross knows it. It opens with a delightfully immoral Sandra Bullock (playing Debbie Ocean, the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean) remorsefully explaining to the parole officer that she is ready to put crime behind her and live a quiet life. Cut to the freshly-released Debbie in a slinky black dress explaining that she’s got 45 bucks in her pocket so she can go wherever she wants. 2018

Directed by: Gary Ross

Screenplay by: Gary Ross, Olivia Milch

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway,
Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Flower: Movie Review


   


Strangely sweet and heartwarmingly funny.
A dark romantic comedy where you never know if sane and normal happiness is just around the corner, or if eternal depravity is closer than you think. Life, as Flower contends, is always a mix of the two. This is writer-director Max Winkler’s second feature; his first, Ceremony, looked more like a traditional romantic comedy but with an acerbic bite as we followed tragic characters around. Sophomore effort Flower looks nothing like a traditional romantic comedy, presenting a more caustic bite and deeply flawed characters heading straight towards a tragedy. 2017

Directed by: Max Winkler

Screenplay by: Alex McAulay, Matt Spicer, Max Winkler

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Joey Morgan, and Kathryn Hahn

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Game Night: Movie Review


   


Exteme action and some laughs.
These big-styled action comedies have a really tough line to straddle where the difference between larger-than-life fun and over-the-top ridiculousness can be really thin and many just fall off on the wrong side. The most notable recent success is The Horrible Bosses where even when reality is thrown out the window, the audience is willing to go along with it. Game Night is always slipping off the edge – each new action sequence is larger than it should be, but it never completely falls off. 2018

Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Screenplay by: Mark Perez

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Love, Simon: Movie Review


   


Heartfelt teen romance to fall for.
The marketing for Love, Simon has been catchy and clever. Their use of simple but cute puns hits the mark in just the right way, and the film doesn’t disappoint. It’s simple but cute and ultimately it’s a film that the world needs right now. A Hollywood romantic comedy for gay teens which feels like it should be a common genre by now, but in reality is hard to find on the big screen (even though the genre is thriving in the indie market, it’s just taken the big studios a bit longer). 2018

Directed by: Greg Berlanti

Screenplay by: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
Based on the novel by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Irreplaceable You: Movie Review


   


Dying girl drama with not enough comedy.
Irreplaceable You stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Abbie, a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer. A drama (with touches of comedy) about her short journey towards death; it’s about her acceptance or unacceptance of her fate, her need to plan for life without her, and how she wants others to respond to her tragedy. Movies about dying girls all suffer as the same sort of melancholic dramedy and need a hook to set it apart. 2018

Directed by: Stephanie Laing

Screenplay by: Bess Wohl

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Entanglement: Movie Review


   


A twisting, original story of love and depression.
The main reason to watch Entanglement is because it’s different and unique. There are plenty of movies that are weird just for the sake of being weird, but Entanglement is only slightly weird with an actual story to tell – a story that’s grounded in universal emotions. Ultimately, it’s about loneliness, depression and love, and never hides those thoughts while sending us down a twisting, original path with some moments of brilliance and the occasional moment of nonsense. 2017

Directed by: Jason James

Screenplay by: Jason Filiatrault

Starring: Thomas Middleditch, Jess Weixler, and Diana Bang

Saturday, February 10, 2018

When We First Met: Movie Review


   


Funny and cute.
A time travelling romantic comedy with shades of Groundhog Day and The Lake House. The fact that When We First Met doesn’t just immediately drive itself off a cliff is a mark of success in and of itself. That’s mostly thanks to the comedy of Adam Devine and the rest of the main cast. As romantic comedies go, the romance element is fairly predictable (trust me, it could have been a lot worse), but the film sticks to the comedy of the simple premise. 2018

Directed by: Ari Sandel

Screenplay by: John Whittington

Starring: Adam Devine, Alexandra Daddario

Friday, February 9, 2018

The 15:17 to Paris: Movie Review


A heroic ending with a muddled beginning and nothing in between.

Based on the true events of a terrorist attack successfully thwarted on a train from Amsterdam to Paris in August of 2015, The 15:17 to Paris is mostly a reminder that 5 minute events should not become two hour movies. Granted it does run 94 minutes, and director Clint Eastwood wanted to focus on the lives of the men before their heroic actions, but ultimately only the final 15 minutes were good and everything else he wanted to say got muddled in the mundaneness of life. 2018

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Screenplay by: Dorothy Blyskal
Based on the book by Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Jeffrey E. Stone

Starring: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Permission: Movie Review


   


Relationship drama with unrelatable characters.
Permission is a relationship movie that’s supposed to be about that crossroads when you know you’re in love but you don’t know if you’re in love with the person that you’re supposed to be in love with. I’m not convinced that that’s an actual crossroads that many people experience, regardless, the film really just spends the entire run time trying to convince us that having sex with strangers is sexy. It’s not. 2017

Directed by: Brian Crano

Screenplay by: Brian Crano

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Winchester: Movie Review


   


Hunting ghosts with guns.
It’s not common to see biographical films mixed with horror, and it’s also not common to see horror films based on real life. Don’t think of Winchester as anything but a horror film. The biographical element does provide a nice hook to get interested, but from there it delves straight into the horror genre. The Exorcist meets The Woman in Black meets any other typical horror movie you can name. Cheap thrills gives way to supernatural nonsense. 2018

Directed by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Screenplay by: Tom Vaughan, Michael and Peter Spierig

Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Futile and Stupid Gesture: Movie Review


   


Funny, witty, tragic – a great comedy.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture is about the life of Doug Kenney. The funny man behind the National Lampoon and a defining force of the comedy scene in the 1970s. By every definition of the phrase, an actual comic genius, who took the art of comedy to new highs, the other kind of high, and then the resulting lows. This is a truly great comedy; not only very funny but it’s actually about something more than just being funny. 2018

Directed by: David Wain

Screenplay by: Michael Colton, John Aboud
Based on the book by Josh Karp

Starring: Will Forte, Domhnall Gleeson

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Polka King: Movie Review


Bizarre, entertaining, half-baked

The true story behind The Polka King is disturbing; the movie is a comedy. While those two facts can be successfully juxtaposed, it often results in an unsettling feeling, that something is missing. The comedy isn’t as funny as it could be, the tragedy isn’t as revolting as it could be. The result is a good, but half-baked tragi-comedy, light on everything but the polka music. 2017

Directed by: Maya Forbes

Screenplay by: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky

Starring: Jack Black, Jenny Slate

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Step Sisters: Movie Review


Whites vs blacks in a lame comedy.

Apparently, the world of stepping is just so popular that we needed a movie that combined Step Up with Sydney White, Pitch Perfect and Dear White People, but doesn’t take any of the humour or originality. In fact Step Sisters is even advertised as being from the director of Drumline, the choreographer of Pitch Perfect and the producers of Dear White People and Straight Outta Compton. 2018

Directed by: Charles Stone III

Screenplay by: Chuck Hayward

Starring: Megalyn Echikunwoke, Eden Sher

Friday, January 19, 2018

Created Equal: Movie Review


   


A legal drama with something interesting to say.
Starring Aaron Tveit as a cocky lawyer and Lou Diamond Phillips as the quietly-confident representative for the Catholic Church, Created Equal does the important things right. A name cast to try and garner some interest in this small independent feature, but more importantly, it picks an interesting case and argues both sides. It picks apart the legal and theological arguments both for and against the church’s right to disallow women into the seminary. 2018

Directed by: Bill Duke

Screenplay by: Ned Bowman, Joyce Renee Lewis, and Michael Ricigliano Jr
Based on the novel by R.A. Brown

Starring: Edy Ganem, Aaron Tveit

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Crazy Famous: Movie Review


   


Walks the tightrope between nonsense and comedy.
Bob Marcus (Gregory Lay) will do whatever it takes to be famous – that includes stripping down to his underwear and using a trampoline to vault over the President’s security gate. Unfortunately, he was at Camp David and the President wasn’t there at the time, so it didn’t get him on the news, but it did get him a stay at a mental institution. That’s the premise for indie comedy Crazy Famous. Silly for sure, but it’s a funny, short, entertaining romp about sanity and government agents. 2017

Directed by: Paul Jarrett

Screenplay by: Bob Farkas

Starring: Gregory Lay, Richard Short, Victor Cruz and David Neal Levin

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Post: Movie Review



   


Enthralling timeliness about the fight for the freedom of press.
The timeliness of The Post, set in 1971, is distressing and eye-opening to say the least. The President (Nixon, but not a visible character in the movie) is throwing the 1st Amendment out the window as he’s trying to stop newspapers from publishing the Pentagon papers and banning reporters from covering his daughter’s wedding. Meanwhile the female president of The Washington Post was facing significant gender discrimination where none of the (all male) board members thought she was capable of leading the paper and would say so to her face. 2017

Directed by: Steven Speilberg

Screenplay by: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer

Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts and Bradley Whitford

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Molly's Game: Movie Review


   


Fast-talking, smart story of one accomplished woman.
Molly Bloom was a world-class skier, an academic over-achiever, a woman who built a legal multi-million-dollar poker business on her own wits and intelligence, and now she’s a felon. Molly’s Game is her story - all of her story, or at least the prescient moments from her first 36 years. It’s the highs and the lows and most importantly, how she got there. 2017

Directed by: Aaron Sorkin

Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
Based on the book by Molly Bloom

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba

Friday, January 5, 2018

I, Tonya: Movie Review


   


Uproariously entertaining with astute insight into Tonya Harding.
Craig Gillespie, director of I, Tonya, opts for a comedic breaking-the-fourth-wall type biopic where characters in mid-action will either deny or confirm what they’re currently doing. When Tonya has a rifle aimed at ex-husband Jeff’s head, she says she didn’t do it. When Jeff slams Tonya’s fingers in the car door, he says he didn’t do it. But you know they did do most of it. The style works for a too-crazy-to-be-true true story. 2017

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Screenplay by: Steven Rogers

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Paul Walter Hauser

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Pitch Perfect 3: Movie Review


   


Ludicrous plot doesn’t fit the Pitch Perfect tone.
Given the poor reception that Pitch Perfect 3 has received, it would be tempting to say the series has gone out with a whimper instead of a bang, but no, the movie literally goes out with a bang. The Bellas are performing on a yacht, Fat Amy comes crashing through a glass ceiling, blows up the boat, and Amy and Beca jump into the water together. How do we get there? Well Fat Amy becomes a fighting ninja, the Bellas get kidnapped by an international assassin, while they’re touring with the USO in Europe. 2017

Directed by: Trish Sie

Screenplay by: Kay Cannon and Mike White

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Darkest Hour: Movie Review



   


A mini-roller coaster of boorish, comic and political statesman.
As Joe Wright has done in all of his previous films, particularly the period pieces such as Anna Karenina and Atonement, he perfectly captures the style for the setting. In Darkest Hour, it’s a sepia-toned British Parliament, with a hundred men all wearing black suits shouting about their ineptitude to stop the German advances of World War II. It’s May 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is about to resign and Britain, and the world, need a new leader to help them defeat Hitler. 2017

Directed by: Joe Wright

Screenplay by: Anthony McCarten

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas