Movie Review – Good Boys

TL;DR – This is a film that on the surface is really crass, but they use that crassness as a cover to tell a story with real heart    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Good Boys. Image Credit: Universal.

Review

Well, this might be one of the biggest surprises that I have seen so far this year. To be honest, I was not really sure what I was going to see when I sat down at my screening of Good Boys. However, given it was being produced by Seth Rogan, and written by this guy who wrote Year One there may have been some subconscious preconceptions floating there. But what I could not expect was a film with real heart.

So to set the scene, we open in on our main trio Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and Thor (Brady Noon) who are in the first weeks of Middle School in year six. They have been friends forever and call themselves the Beanbag Boys, but while they have been inseparable in life to this point things are rapidly changing. Max is trying to get the courage to ask out Brixlee (Millie Davis), Lucas is struggling with changing family life, and Thor is trying to escape his past reputation and be accepted by the cool kids like Soren (Izaac Wang). All of this comes to a head one day when Max is invited to a kissing party setting off a chain of events that change everything.

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Movie Review – Take Home Pay

TL;DR – A look at what happens when the competing interests of money and family collide

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Take Home Pay. Image Credit: M2S1 Films.

Review

Today we get to dive back into the world of Pasifika Cinema as we explore a film that takes on themes like tradition v modernity, brother v brother, money v family, and honour v fun. However, all of this is tempered by a comedic style that is unique to this part of the world and a heart that just shines.

So to set the scene, Popo (Ronnie Taulafo) and Alama (Vito Vito) are brothers living in rural Samoa working for their father planting, harvesting, and selling taro. Alama dreams of ways to make things easier for his family, even if it does not always go right, and Popo just dreams of getting out of the country. Well that opportunity arrives when they need labourers in New Zealand and both Alama and Popo get the chance to earn some more money for home. They spend their days picking kiwifruit and all is going well until the day they have to leave and Popo runs off, with both his and all of Alama’s money.

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Movie Review – Back to School (La Grande Classe)

TL;DR – Mistaken identity, reflections on the past, and the scourge of time, all of these and more in a school reunion that goes very wrong.    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Back to School (La Grande Classe). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review


School reunions are a fraught time, especially if school was not a fun time for you. It can be crash into past emotions, get a blunt showing of the passing of time, and revisit a time when you were at your most awkward. Well, this means that if you set your film around this event you have a set of emotions that everyone can understand but that universality can work against you if you get it wrong.

So to set the scene, growing up Johnathan (Ludovik) and Pierre-Yves (Jérôme Niel) did not have the best of times at Diderot Middle School being constantly bulled by the dragon gang. Well, in the preceding years the boys have gotten out of the town and all the way to Paris where they have just found ten-years funding for their algorithm. In their moment of triumph, they run into an old acquaintance from school who casually mentions that they’ll be talking more on the weekend. Confused they discover that everyone in the school had been invited to the reunion but them. Well there is only one thing to do in that situation, rock up as if you were invited, the first of many mistakes they make.

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Movie Review – Kaake Da Viyah

TL;DR – A really interesting scenario with some memorable performances, but it could have been streamlined a bit and it could have dialled the zany back a bit.

 Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Kaake Da Viyah. Image Credit: Yogmaya Productions.

Review

If there is one genre that I always find interesting, it is the family politics of conflicting generations. There is that divide between tradition and the future, people taking sides, and in the case of Indian cinema a good song or two. Well, today we get to look at a film that is just that as three generations try to use marriage to outmanoeuvre the rest.

So to set the scene, Navi (Jordan Sandhu) is studying and spending as much time away for home as possible because he has found his one true love Mahi (Prabh Grewal). That is because at home his mother Tej (Priti Sapru) and his grandmother Bebe (Nirmal Rishi) are constantly fighting. As Bebe never forgave that her son married Tej without her blessing. He wants to marry Mahi, but he is not sure how to break it to both of them, well the one day he finally finds the courage disaster strikes when he discovers that both his mother and grandmother have found wives for him and they are not Mahi.

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Movie Review – Late Night

TL;DR – It has strong characters, a great story, and some of the best laughs so far this year while still having substance behind it.   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Late Night. Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Review

Well, 2019 has not been the best year for comedy, with very few films getting that double goal of being both funny but also having some substance to it. However, when I walked into Late Night I was more than a little optimistic about its prospects. That is because the writer and star Mindy Kaling is an amazing comedian and Emma Thompson is always bringing her A-game. Well, as I walked out it was nice to realise that I was able to get at least something right this year.

So to set the scene, Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is the first-ever female host of a late-night talk show and has been a mainstay of the late-night world for decades. She has won multiple Emmys and awards but the show has stagnated over the last couple of years and her new boss Caroline Morton (Amy Ryan) is looking to shake things up with a replacement host. Meanwhile, Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling) works at a chemical plant and uses the plant’s connections to interview for a job she has always wanted as a writer at a late-night comedy show. Her interview went poorly, but Katherine now needs to shake things up and well this might be it.

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Movie Review – Booksmart

TL;DR – While it follows a lot of the plot beats of similar films, it stands out on its own by focusing on the characters that are the heart of the movie.      

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Booksmart. Image Credit: Annapurna Pictures.

Review

There are some scenarios that you see get plaid out in cinema over and over again. Indeed, one of the most popular scenarios is looking at that last few days before you graduate high school. I think it is so popular because it is something that nearly every person in the target audience has or will go through. So it becomes a nexus of past nostalgia and future promise. Either way, it is a scenario that I have seen put to film over and over again, especially in the R-rated comedy genre. However, in all the scenarios, I have never seen a film quite like this.

So to set the scene, high school is drawing to a close and class valedictorian Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein) and her best friend Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are getting ready to survive the final day of classes. Molly is going to Yale and spent all her time at school making that happen, and Amy is getting ready to spend a summer in Botswana as an aid worker. However, Molly’s certainty about her past is shaken when she discovers that all the kids that partied throughout high school also got into top universities. Well, there is only one night left before graduation and Molly know just what to do, she needs to go to Nick’s (Mason Gooding) party so she can have the full high school experience and she is dragging Amy along with her.

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Movie Review – ¡Ay, Mi Madre! (Oh My Mother!)

TL;DR – While the premise is strong, the inconsistencies in tone lead to a dissonant ending.     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

¡Ay, Mi Madre!. Image Credit: Gossip Event & Productions.

Review

In my drive to see more international films, one area where I do not have a lot of experience with is the cinema from Spain and Latin America. Indeed, most of my experience comes from interpretations of Latin American culture like the still excellent Coco. However, today I start to fix this with a film that explores the difficult relationship between a mother and her daughter.

 So to set the scene, we open in on a day that no one wishes, for María (Estefanía de los Santos) is returning home, and not for a happy reunion. Because unfortunately, her mother Paca (Terele Pávez) has passed away, or maybe not unfortunately given how everyone talks about her. María had an estranged relationship with her mother that was never resolved. This means that María has to deal with all the funeral proceedings, while also dealing with the complicated relationship she had with her mother and that is all before the will is divulged.

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