A Good Person

From writer and director Zach Braff comes A Good Person. Allison (Florence Pugh) is about to marry Nathan (Chinaza Uche), the man of her dreams, when she is involved in a car crash that kills her would be sister and brother in law. While the accident is what starts the events that causes Allie’s life to fall apart, it is ultimately her addiction to opioids that causes her to hit rock bottom.

There are some dark moments that occur throughout the film. This is an addiction that many people struggle with in the US and I considered this to be an interesting glance into someone’s potential reality. But through the hardships, there are also some much needed moments that will make you laugh out loud and root for these characters. I have to commend Braff here for perfectly balancing the two with his script.

At the helm of the film is Pugh. In arguably the best performance of her career to date, I was completely encapsulated with her. She does everything she possibly can to be a convincing addict, going to places that sometimes scared me and she sings! If someone doesn’t give this woman an award soon, I don’t know what I’ll do. Opposite Pugh is Morgan Freeman, who portrays Nathan’s father Daniel. His chemistry with Pugh is delightful to watch and his poignancy in the role was so appreciated. And of course, I cannot leave out Molly Shannon as Allie’s mom Diane who provides a lot of comedic moments and Celeste O’Connor as Ryan, Nathan’s niece and Daniel’s granddaughter who is a scene stealer.

While I may not go rushing back to watch A Good Person anytime soon only because of how heavy it was, I have that it was one of the best surprises I have had at the cinema all year. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but with its brilliant performances and the way in which it dealt with the subject matter, it was an important watch that I will always remember.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️♥️

Shazam! Fury Of The Gods

Learning how to juggle the superhero powers that were bestowed upon them at the the end of 2019’s Shazam!, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and the rest of his foster siblings (Grace Caroline Currey, Jack Dylan Grazer, Faithe Herman, Ian Chen and Pedro Peña) are enjoying their alter egos (Zachary Levi, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, D. J. Cotrona and Meagan Good) while looking after the people of their hometown. But when the Daughters of Atlas arrive on Earth in search of magic that was stolen from them long ago, the Shazam! team will be tested more than ever before.

I was a huge fan of first Shazam! film. To this day, I think it is one of the stronger entries in the DC universe with its found family trope, funny one liners and great ensemble cast. I remember wanting to be a part of this group and couldn’t wait for more. With many delays, the sequel Fury of the Gods finally hit theatres this weekend and I can say that it was mostly worth the wait.

Where the film excels is once again in the aspects that I appreciated so much the first time around. The cast, helmed by Levi, is top notch delivering many laugh out loud and heartwarming moments. As for the kids, while the focus was more on Freddy this time around, I feel like it fit with the overall story. We already know a lot about Billy, so it made sense for us to learn more about some of his siblings. I also really liked having Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler come to play as the villains. They completely owned their roles and Zegler, in particular, was a welcome treat that I hope we will have more of in the future.

With some pretty good CGI and never ending action, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a good time for the whole family. Sure, they try to cram in too much into the two hours and ten minutes and there are a lot of characters to keep track of this time around, but it is still true to its predecessor. The future of DC may be up in the air at the moment, but I do hope this isn’t the last we will see of these characters that we have come to know and love.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️

Scream VI

The four survivors of the previous Ghostface killings Sam (Melissa Barrera), Tara (Jenna Ortega), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) leave Woodsboro behind for a fresh start in New York City. Their hopes of life returning to normal are quickly dashed when a new foe dons the Ghostface mask. Once again, it is up to the gang to find out who it is and put a stop to them before it’s too late.

As someone who only recently got into the Scream franchise, I was beyond excited to watch the newest instalment in cinemas. There are some movies that deserve to be seen on the big screen and this is one of them. With early critics boasting that this is the strongest entry to date, I knew I had to witness it for myself; and I have to say that I agree!

The story kicked off rather quickly and with it the blood, gore and jump scares. It’s like they were all amped up to a million and at times I could barely hold my breath at what was unfolding in front of me. Just when I thought the situation was going to calm down, something else would happen that would completely throw me off again.

While I was initially concerned over the fact that our beloved scream queen Neve Campbell would not return for the film, I have to admit that the way in which they explained her absence worked well. Sidney does deserve a happy ending and I’m glad she finally got one. I’ve become quite attached to our new ‘core four’ – Barrera has proven herself as a worthy leading lady and I love everything and anything that Ortega does. It was so great having Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) back as well as Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) who really shined this time around.

Scream VI had big shoes to fill. As a new fan, my expectations were sky high and I’m so glad they were exceeded. There were a lot of thrills, chills and unexpected moments and while part of the big reveal was predictable, I still enjoyed the shit out of it. You don’t expect franchise films to get better over time, but this one is constantly surprising me and I hope we have many more instalments to come in the future.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️♥️.5

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

From the people who brought you Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary comes new romantic comedy What’s Love Got To Do With It? Zoe (Lily James) is an award winning documentary maker whose next project is to film lifelong neighbor and best friend Kaz’s (Shazad Latif) journey into an assisted marriage.

I loved every single thing about this movie.

It was charming and funny, which wasn’t a surprise. The cast lend a hand in that, particularly with the likes of Emma Thompson who stars as Zoe’s mom Cath and Mo the Matchmaker (Asim Chaudhry) who has a couple of scene stealing scenes. The script is witty with many laugh out loud moments as well as some heartwarming ones too.

In addition, it was very educational. I learned about the Pakistani culture which is super vibrant and colorful; it’s people bursting at the seams with pride. I also took in all the information about assisted marriage. Like Zoe, I thought this was something that was outdated and old fashioned. Turns out I was wrong – not only is it still very much a thing, but it has had quite a high success rate over the years. I don’t blame Kaz for wanting to follow in his parents’ and brothers’ footsteps in that regard.

What also worked was the chemistry between James and Latif. I’ve been a fan of the former ever since I saw her in 2015’s version of Cinderella and I always wish she’d star in more projects. As for Latif, he nicely balanced her out and I was waiting in bated breath for them to realize their true feelings for one another.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? ticked all the boxes for me. I had the biggest smile on my face throughout and I definitely think it will become one of those British classics that I will revisit time and time again.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

We Have A Ghost

If Casper had a baby, it would be We Have A Ghost. Based on the short story Ernest by Geoff Manaugh and adapted into a film by Christopher Landon, the film follows the Presley family who move into a dusty old home that just so happens to inhabit a ghost. Youngest son, Kevin (Jahi Winston) isn’t afraid however and the two strike up a friendship. Unfortunately Kevin’s dad Frank (Anthony Mackie) gets himself in too deep, looking to turn the ghost into a social media sensation.

David Harbour as the phantom Ernest and is truly the soul of the movie. As he isn’t actually able to speak, each emotion is conveyed by facial expressions. I thought this would get tiresome, but it just goes to show that Harbour was a great choice for the role. The relationship that formed between Ernest and Kevin carried the film; Kevin considers Ernest to be just a regular guy and is totally devoted to helping him.

The rest of the cast do a decent enough job. Mackie, in an unlikable role as a father who just doesn’t seem to really get it, is convincing. It was also a lot of fun to have the incomparable Jennifer Coolidge as psychic Judy Romano. She wasn’t featured in many scenes, but when she was on screen, she shone bright. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for Tig Notaro who once again seemed out of place in a subplot that I didn’t quite feel was necessary.

While the pacing was a bit all over the place, especially in the second half, and I did not understand the point of the CIA storyline, there was something heartwarming about We Have A Ghost. I’ve always loved the found family trope and this time around was no exception. This may not be a movie I’ll be running back to watch anytime soon, but it was one I had a good time with in the moment.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️

Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania

Kicking off Phase Five comes the third entry in the Ant-Man franchise. Everybody’s favorite little guy Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is adjusting to life post Avengers superhero. When his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) tampers with a machine that she is not supposed to, the whole family are sucked into the Quantum Realm. There, they not only come across a bunch of strange creatures, but must battle a new foe.

One of the reasons why we enjoy these movies is because they don’t take themselves too seriously. There’s plenty of jokes and quirky scenarios, but this time around, the pacing was different. With an uneven first half that took a bit too long to get going, the film has a heavy focus on science. As the science element is totally elevated, it would make sense for there to be more CGI than ever before and at times I felt like it was too over the top.

I liked how Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne was given more to do this time around. The whole plot centred around her and it was interesting to learn about her time stuck in the realm. Rudd was obviously back as the titular character and just as funny as ever. Also, how does this man not age? I don’t get it! I liked the addition of Newton as Cassie and look forward to seeing more of her in future films. As for Michael Douglas as Hank and Evangeline Lily as Hope, I was disappointed to see that they were sidelined. You’d think the latter, especially, would at least be featured more considering the fact that her name is in the film’s title. The standout for me, however, was Jonathan Majors as new big bad Kang. He was everything that I hoped he would be and while this film only served as a sort of introduction to his character, I am so excited to see what happens with him next.

Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania was not one of the strongest entries into the MCU, but it was an entertaining one nonetheless. There were too many special effects and I could have done without a particular side character who as tacky, cringey and added nothing to the story. Overall, I think it was a good enough set up for what’s to come.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️.5

Somebody I Used To Know

Real life couple Alison Brie and Dave Franco join forces to bring audiences an unconventional romance in Somebody I Used to Know. Ally, who produces a superficial reality TV show, finds herself at a crossroads when she gets the news that they may not be picked up for another season. On a visit in her hometown, she runs into former flame Sean (Jay Ellis) and the two spend a magical night together reminiscing about their past. As if she wasn’t confused enough, Ally really doesn’t know what to think when she finds out that Sean is actually engaged to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons).

I don’t know why Brie isn’t in more mainstream movies. Whenever I see her pop up, I am reminded of her charm and charisma and the fact that she can sell any type of role. While I do see why people found Ally to be an unlikable character, I have to take the opposite stance. It’s clear that Ally is going through something life changing – she doesn’t know if the job that she dedicated so much time to is even hers anymore and that prompts her to question everything she ever thought she knew about herself. You can’t blame her for holding on to the one thing that reminds her of who she used to be, even if that person is engaged to be married.

This movie does not end up in the way that you think it will. In fact, the journey to the end destination is actually not as predicable as one may think it is. For starters, I love how we as an audience are introduced to Cassidy and how, just like Ally, we are instantly rooting for her to find happiness. She’s spunky and she knows what she wants. Not to mention the fact that although she sees right through Ally’s ploys, she still gets a kick out of her and the two develop something of a friendship. I also really appreciated how the movie focused a lot on self love; Ally having put her career over Sean back in the day and Cassidy wanting to continue with her band in the present.

With a delightful supporting cast of characters including but not limited to Danny Pudi, Olga Merediz, Haley Joel Osment and Julie Hagerty and set in a beautiful Somebody I Used To Know was absolutely perfect to watch for Valentine’s Day.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️.5

The Whale

Based on the play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter and directed by Darren Aronfsky comes the theatrical adaption of The Whale. Starring Brendan Fraser as Charlie, the story follows a reclusive and morbidly obese English teacher who is coming to the end of his life. His last wish is to reconnect with his estranged daughter for one last chance of redemption.

As the last award nominated film that I was interested in, I couldn’t believe my luck when I had the chance to see it ahead of its initial release. It may seem simple; at times I was reminded of the fact that it was originally a play due to its solo location and small cast of characters, but I appreciated the fact that it was more intimate that way and of course, it helped with the difficult subject matter.

The story was pretty awful. I found it hard to watch at times, but I also couldn’t help but resonate with Charlie and his loneliness. Although that may have been self inflicted, it didn’t make it any less upsetting. I felt his embarrassment and I wish I could have mended his broken heart. At the end of the day, though, it seemed as if his mind was made up.

If Brendan Fraser does not win Oscar for this role, then I don’t know anymore. He put everything he could into Charlie and it moved me to tears. I just sat there at the end of the film in utter disbelief at what I had watched. There were also some brilliant performances by the supporting cast. Hong Chau as Charlie’s friend Liz, Ty Simpkins as missionary Thomas, Samantha Morton as Charlie’s ex Mary and Sadie Sink as Charlie’s daughter Ellie gave it their all.

Overall, The Whale is a film that everybody should watch. It will make you uncomfortable, it will make you cry and it will make you think. While it may not be super strong in its plot, it more than makes up for it in its performances.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️♥️

Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Eight years ago, Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) embarked on a road trip with the Kings of Tampa for one last blow out performance. Now he’s back to take another final bow. Down and out on his luck when his business venture falls through, Mike has resorted to bartending. When he meets Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault), she makes him an offer he simply cannot refuse.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance was a lot more enjoyable than I expected it to be. As fan of the franchise, I always did prefer the second to the first (probably because of my love for Matt Bomer) so I was wondering how this one would fare. At first I was on the fence when I heard that Hayek Pinault would be the love interest this time around. I have to say that she and Tatum complimented each other quite nicely. That opening number was certainly steamy and I appreciated how they developed a solid friendship with one another along with the romantic feelings that developed over the course of the film.

Let’s be honest. The main reason why we watch these movies is for the hot strippers, am I right? So you could imagine my disappointment when I realized that this had been cut back this time around. Sometimes I felt like I was watching a warped version of Step Up with all the types of dancing we were given. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it was a shift I didn’t think was totally necessary. I also think that they could have benefitted from more dance scenes as the conversations that took place in between were cringey and not always important.

All that being said, the dancing was still superb. Tatum proves once more that he is a force in that department alongside the other talented individuals we saw during these moments. For me, though, the scene that will forever live rent free in my mind is the one that takes place in the rain. I won’t say anything more except if you know, you know.

Overall, Magic Mike’s Last Dance was a decent enough send off for the characters that we have come to know and love since it debuted in 2012. I’m not sure if a theatrical release was necessary, but I can’t lie and say I didn’t mind seeing all these good looking men and women on a bigger screen.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️

Your Place Or Mine

It’s as if I woke up in the early 2000s because Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher are starring in a rom com again!

Your Place Or Mine sees Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher) who, after After spending the night together, decided they were better off as friends. Best friends. Twenty years later and they are still very much involved in the others’ lives. She lives with her son Jack (Wesley Kimmel) in LA while he dedicates his time to work in New York. When Debbie needs someone to look after Jack so she can attend a course, Peter hops on the first flight out to help. This week away will shed light to their relationship, however, causing them to rethink everything.

This movie couldn’t have come out at a more perfect time. It reminded me of films from the genre of years gone by and I mean that in the best way possible. There were some tongue in cheek moments, as well as some laughs scattered throughout that worked. I enjoyed both Debbie and Peter’s separate storylines. It was nice to see Debbie, who is usually so uptight and worrying about Jack being able to let her hair down with new friend Minka (Zoe Chao) and a potential beau in Theo (Jesse Williams). Meanwhile, Peter sees how tough Jack has had it and does what he can to break him out of his shell a bit more, all while dealing with Debbie’s hippie neighbor Zen (Steve Zahn).

Where this film went wrong for me was in its casting choices. I just didn’t buy Witherspoon and Kutcher’s chemistry. Whether it was platonic or romantic, something seemed off between the two of them. I believe they each should have gotten their own romantic comedy because it’s a genre they’re both good at, but with different partners. It was also surprising to see Tig Notaro as their mutual friend. It felt kind of random to me.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think that Your Place Or Mine is worth a watch. I had a good enough time with it and I still think it’s a great addition for your Valentine’s Day rotation. It just didn’t entirely work for me.

Rating: ♥️♥️.5