Minions: The Rise of Gru

Gru and the minions are back! This time around, Gru (Steve Carell) is almost twelve years old and has been practicing his evil ways. When supervillain supergroup The Vicious 6 stage a coup from leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), Gru is invited to an interview. In a series of unfortunate events, he finds himself in the role of enemy number one. It is up to his trusty sidekicks Kevin, Stuart, Bob and newest Minion Otto (Pierre Coffin) to help him out.

Thanks to a two and a half year delay due to the pandemic, the follow up to the smash hit Minions has finally hit cinemas. I have to say it was well worth the wait! There is something about this franchise that is just so fresh and fun; it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself while watching.

With the stakes raised even higher this time around, we get to know a different side of Gru. The way in which Steve Carell voices this character has always been a treat, however, this time around was even better. We are also introduced to a couple of other newbies who I feel added an extra element to the story. I loved the addition of Michelle Yeoh’s Master Chow, who helped prepare Kevin, Stuart and Bob to fight against the bad guys, not to mention Taraji P. Henson as the incomparable Belle Bottom.

Hands down, though, the best part of this movie was, of course, the minions. These lovable yellow creatures are just so damn cute, I can’t decide if I want to own one or be one. Every single time they were on screen was a pure joy. I was close to tears from laughing so much at their antics.

Minions: The Rise of Gru is the animated film of the summer. It’s got action and adventure, with a little bit of heart thrown in. The soundtrack is great and the Easter eggs that are scattered throughout are a hoot if you’re a big fan!

Rating: ♥♥♥.5


From acclaimed director Baz Luhrmann comes Elvis (Austin Butler), the biography about the King of Rock and Roll himself. Told through the eyes of his on again off again manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), Elvis rose to fame in Memphis, Tennessee before taking the world by a storm.

Not only is Elvis one of the biggest movies of the summer, it is arguably one of the most anticipated of the year. When news broke that mostly unknown actor Austin Butler would be starring in the titular role, a lot were skeptical that he would be able to embody such a character. After hearing that the film received a twelve minute standing ovation in Cannes, I knew I had nothing to worry about.

Austin Butler was Elvis. You could tell that he endlessly studied the legend’s movements and mannerisms because they were completely down pat. At times, I completely forgot that I was watching someone else and was completely swept up in his performance. I truly believe he will be getting a lot of nominations within in the next year.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Butler’s screen partner in Tom Hanks. Usually a force to be reckoned with, the accent he put on for his role as Parker was distracting and not at all authentic. It took away from most of his scenes which was a pity.

Another downside to the film was the fact that instead of focusing primarily on Elvis, we experienced his life from the perspective of someone else. I’m not too sure that was the right route. I would have liked to see more inside Elvis’s head, especially since it seemed he was struggling with so much.

With that being said, Elvis is truly a spectacle. The way in which it was shot and put together is a sight to be seen, thanks Luhrmann’s signature style. The music was outstanding with many famous hits sprinkled throughout, but where the film really excels is in its lead actor who I simply won’t be getting over anytime soon.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

Cha Cha Real Smooth

Written, directed and starring Cooper Raiff, Cha Cha Real Smooth is about recent college grad Andrew who is trying to find his place in the world. Working a dead-end fast food job and living at home with his mother (Leslie Mann), stepfather (Brad Garrett) and brother (Evan Assante) he takes on a side gig as party host for the summer’s Bar Mitzvah circuit. That’s where he meets the mysterious Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter Lola (Vanessa Burghardt). Little does he know, they will change his life forever.

Let me start by saying that the hype for this movie is real. Receiving rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Festival, there was no way I would miss out on this one. I didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did and yet here we are.

Although I am not familiar with Raiff’s work, he is quite the triple threat. His portrayal of Andrew is awkward and so very realistic; how many of us have struggled to figure out what we want to do after we finish school? It’s no secret that I’m a Dakota Johnson fan. Her performance here was endearing and honest and the two balanced each other well. The big stand out for me, however, was Vanessa Burghardt. Autistic in real life as well as on screen, she’s got such a career ahead of her and I can’t wait to see where it takes her.

The simplicity of the plot added a factor of intimacy I didn’t know I needed. It almost allowed me to look into the characters’ minds and learn exactly what makes them tick. I found myself laughing along with them, just as I found myself tearing up at certain moments. That conversation about depression, for example, was so on point that I couldn’t help nodding along in agreeance to what was being said.

Cha Cha Real Smooth is a movie that should not be missed. I don’t care if you don’t have Apple TV+. Find a way to watch it. I guarantee it will touch you in one way or another and will stay with you long after the screen turns black.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande follows the story of Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson), a retired teacher who lost her husband a couple years prior. Wanting to find herself again, she decides to hire escort Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack). What starts off as a business transaction develops into something more as both Nancy and Leo’s walls come down and the two form a heartwarming connection.

Emma Thompson is brilliant in all that she does. She is the reason why I wanted to watch this movie in the first place. Always giving it her all, the performance she delivers here is unlike anything I have ever seen. Daryl McCormack was equally as enjoyable to watch. His charm and attractiveness lit up the screen and there was a sort of simple yet endearing chemistry between them.

The single setting of a hotel room made for an intimate viewing experience. With Nancy and Leo in the forefront, we really get to know them. As the movie progresses, the layers are stripped back and we see not only Nancy and her reasonings for hiring Leo in the first place, but we also learn about Leo’s background. While the two characters may seem different, they have more in common than meets the eye.

With strong writing and some laugh out loud moments scattered throughout, I have to admit that I found the middle of the film dragged slightly. When those personal details started getting in the way of Nancy and Leo’s meetings, I lost a bit of interest and wasn’t sure I liked the direction it was going in. Luckily it picked up again for the final act.

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande was different than what I was expecting it to be going into it. I thought it would be about one woman wanting to conquer her sexual desires, but what I got was so much more than that. Considered to be a character study on Nancy, I really appreciated the way in which she came to terms with her new normal and how she learned to love herself in the process. It was quite powerful to see.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5