Friday, December 13, 2019

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Why'd You Go, Bernadette



Where’d You Go, Bernadette – 3 out of 5

I knew nothing about the novel of the same name that Where’d You Go, Bernadette is adapted from.  However, that doesn’t say much because I spend most of my reading time with comic book and not with novels.  However, when I saw the trailer for this one in the theater, I thought it looked like one of those fun and endearing features about a person finding themselves after they’ve lost what they were.  Add in a great cast and it really sold me.  Recently, I sat down with it and found a decent but not wholly engrossing film.

This sure looks nice...from my computer desk in my heated place.

Is she looking for a manager to speak to?
Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) was once a successful and creative architect but eventually gave it all up and disappeared into obscurity in order to raise her daughter Bee (Emma Nelson).  Her reclusive nature and somewhat lack of polite interpersonal communication has led those around her, like her neighbor Audrey Griffin (Kristen Wiig), to despise her.  Her husband; Elgin Branch (Billy Crudup), is starting to worry about her mental health after she causing severe damage to Audrey’s home, has been hording medications and has, unknowingly, been giving her personal information to an identity theft organization operating out of another country.  Facing a breakdown, Bernadette flees to Antarctica in order to find herself while her husband and daughter quickly follow in order to find her.

"Hey Bee, it's really cold.  Maybe your mom will just come home on her own?"

Wiig is definitely one of those performers I will go out of my way
to see whatever she is in.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette has a lot working in its favor and only a couple of small drawbacks.  The film is never doing anything egregiously wrong and nothing to make it a feature that was a waste of my time but it did lack the little extra bit of “umph” to make it a feature that was memorable and had a stronger emotional resonance.  Overall, development of both its story and characters is a big issue that ultimately made the film feel like an average experience.  For the most part, the development is fine but, in the end, it is mostly just serviceable.  Characters and the central conflict of Bernadette’s felt like it needed a little bit more for it to really pop and help the overall emotional resonance.  The film also has a very definitive pacing issue as the film is either moving too slowly or too quickly and this only further aggravating the issues of fully getting behind and sympathizing with the characters.

He's letting them know that for everything else there is Mastercard.

While these issues were noticeable and ultimately kept the film from being something that I wasn’t able to invest into to the extent I was hoping for, that isn’t to say I found the film lacking in its entertainment value.  The story is still very good and has a great tone that balances heart, drama and humor.  Granted, it wasn’t the most moving and emotional story I’ve seen but it still had heart to it and it was still moving.  Finally, the film has a terrific cast.  Blanchett does a terrific job of leading the cast as Bernadette and the chemistry she had with Nelson as her daughter and Wiig as her neighbor adversary was very palpable and authentic feeling.  Without a doubt, the cast is definitely the feature’s strongest aspect.

I'll be honest, having James Urbaniak in this film was definitely a reason I checked this out.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a decent feature that had a lot of potential but doesn’t quite achieve it to the level I had hoped it would have.  The film isn’t bad, it isn’t boring and it isn’t a chore to sit through.  It has a great cast and the story is entertaining enough but it is lacking in development for its story and characters and it does have pacing issues that hold its promise back slightly and ultimately left it as an average, middle-of-the-road experience.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Bad Santa 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Bigger and Badder-er!



Bad Santa 2 – 1 out of 5

I saw Bad Santa when it came out in 2003 and found the dark comedy to be pretty amusing.  Hell, the film had both Bernie Mac and John Ritter in it.  How could it have missed?  I haven’t seen it since I graduated college in 2005 so I don’t know if it holds up or not but recently I decided to check out its sequel; Bad Santa 2, which came out 13 years after the initial film.  The only real reason I question if the first film holds up or if it has aged poorly is because I found this sequel to be so unfunny and so hard to sit through that I think my tastes might have changed…or this film is just a stinker all by its lonesome.  I'm not entirely sure which.

"Why have you awaken me?  What?  A sequel?"

Things aren’t going well for Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton).  The love of his life left him, he barely works and he is once again addicted to sex with random people and any alcohol he can get his hands on.  The only constant in his life is Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), the now grownup boy he met all those years ago.  As Willie hits his lowest low and decides to kill himself, a package arrives with lots of money from his old partner; Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox).  Against better judgement (since Marcus betrayed Willie), he heads with him to Chicago so they can con a charity out of millions of dollars.  This already doesn’t sit well with him but finding out that his estranged mother (Kathy Bates) is also on the job makes matters worse.  Reluctantly, and thanks to the charity being ran by a very attractive woman (Christina Hendricks), Willie agrees to the job.

Honestly, if they were robbing The Salvation Army, I'd be okay with their crime.
They don't support the LGBTQ+ community so eff them.

Maybe the kid's drooling will sterilize all the gross stuff
that is already definitely on that coat.
I can’t emphasize enough how unfunny I found Bad Santa 2 to be.  It was almost painfully unfunny.  It’s really hard to write deplorable main characters that are the story's essential protagonist because, on some level, you have to care about them somewhat and their shitty attitudes have to be somewhat endearing--or humorous in the cases of comedies.  The humor in this film is nearly universally anti-PC Boomer tropes where racist and misogynistic lines are thrown out like just being a mild racist and low-key anti-woman is somehow a joke or a punchline.  Too often the film presented these moments like they are instinctively funny but, instead, were rather just sad.  I realize saying this constitutes me being a “snowflake” who is “offended by everything” but just throwing out discriminatory language doesn’t constitute a joke so basically I just watched a film be a insufferable dick for an hour an half.  Sure, this film might work for the generic white standup comedian who constantly argues that nothing is off-limits and is still doing material about Jared from Subway going to jail and incorporating a 5 dollar foot long prison rape joke in 2019 but, for me, this film was just the scrapings of the bottom of the barrel and was never-ending punching down and that made nearly the entire thing come off as pathetic as doing a sequel to a film that never truly needed one almost a decade and a half later.  No, actually the humor is more pathetic.  Doing a sequel is fine.

Somehow the bigotry comedy coming out of Kathy Bates mouth seems less offensive.
Not by much, mind you.

I fully realize that the character of Willie is a shithead but in this film he is presented as an undeserving shithead.  The first film sees him learn and grow thanks to Thurman (a bit) and this one tries to give some backstory to him in order to make him sympathetic.  It didn’t work for me.  The story shows that Bates’ character was a bit of a negligent mother and is responsible for setting Willie up for a life of crime and misery.  How bad Willie has fallen is terrifically setup during the first act but any attempt at humanizing him or making him sympathetic is quickly undone moments after it happens—whether it is due to him being a racist or the fact that, for some reason, every woman in the city wants to sleep with him.  This undeserved affection and sexual gratification was very perplexing.  Why would these woman want this horrifying man?  Not to mention it is hard to feel sorry for a guy’s upbringing when the next scene is him having sex with a married woman in a Christmas tree lot.  Essentially, the story is unable to balance Willie’s shittiness with his sympathetic trauma and it made for a feature that felt like it went through many drafts with few rewrites done to reconcile the jump in character tones and aspects.  Like I said, it is hard to write those protagonists that are, on the surface, unlikable but have a weird underlying sympathy to them and I felt this film did not succeed with creating this dynamic.

So, did Thornton just have it in his contract for both films that he gets with incredibly
beautiful women that are totally out of his league and way above him for no real reason?

I’m not one to argue that certain films don’t need to be made because I operate under the false belief that because something wasn’t made specifically for my demographic that translates to no one wants it—I hear that shit enough in any and all comment sections whenever there is a remake, reboot, or sequel.  Did I watch the first Bad Santa and say, “I want to see another adventure involving that guy”?  No, I didn’t but I didn’t complain when one was released and proclaim that "no one wants it."  I fully believe there is potential in most pieces of entertain and will give the benefit of the doubt to all of them as I give them a chance.  Overall, however, I just didn’t enjoy Bad Santa 2 because the comedy just fell flat and doesn’t fit well in today’s society for me and the story is very awkward as it can’t really quite figure out how to handle, develop or present its main character.  The film starts promising enough but unravels too quickly and ends up being a difficult endeavor to get through.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A Merry Friggin' Christmas

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  And a happy friggin' New Year!



A Merry Friggin’ Christmas – 1 out of 5

I’m not too picky with the holiday-themed films I pick to watch during the month of December.  While I do also watch family-friendly features, the holiday-centric films don’t always have to necessarily be something for the whole family.  In this case, I’m venturing into the dark comedy territory with A Merry Friggin’ Christmas.  Sadly, it wasn’t very good.

Oliver Platt as a drunk, homeless kinda works...a little too well.

You don't want to disappoint this kid.  I've seen Looper.
He has dangerous powers.
Boyd Mitchler (Joel McHale) grew up with an emotionally absent father (Robin Williams).  Every Christmas memory he has was his father just destroying any potential for holiday cheer.  Since then, Boyd went on to have a high paying job and a family of his own and he works very hard so that his son; Douglas (Pierce Gagnon), never has suffer an unhappy holiday like he did.  After family circumstances end up forcing him to spend the holiday with his father, he finds out that he forgot Douglas’ present back at his home.  Boyd decides to make the eight hour round trip to get his present and his father decides he is going to join him.  They will either come to an understanding and be a family again or they will kill each other.

The perfect Christmas...one where the father looms over his son like a specter of
death as the child opens his presents.

I really didn’t enjoy A Merry Friggin’ Christmas.  Despite it having an absolutely fantastic cast, the film was just flat, extremely boring and filled with character attributes that kinda made no sense.  The comedy just didn’t resonate with me as it was too often Boomer nonsense that involved a lot of pointless racism and misogyny.  Most often the jokes would be just saying something sexist and/or mildly racist and acting like it was the punchline.  I guess I’m just too much of a snowflake but I kinda like humor that isn’t constantly punching down.  But if you are the type who watches a lot of videos of dudes in their pickup trucks posting videos to YouTube about what is wrong with the world and you think racial slurs are hilarious, then this movie is definitely for you.  For me on the other hand, it was just annoying and bottom of the barrel garbage.

The family sits down for a dinner that is believed to be chicken but is
actually squirrel hunted by Williams' character.  Mchale's character
takes a very small bite...
...and he spits out a piece much larger than he ate, included with an obscene amount
of buckshot.  Seriously, where were all those pellets hiding and how did he not see
it before taking a bite?

The strangest aspect about the film, ultimately, was how every character is basically reprehensible and unlikeable and all in the same way.  Ostensible, the story postulates that Boyd overcompensates on Christmas due to the treatment he received from his father.  You would think that means Boyd tries really hard to be a nice guy but McHale only really has one mode I ever see him perform as and that is a snarky asshole.  I never got the feeling that he was overcompensating for the holiday.  

I guess his love of the holiday and his jolliness is a character attribute that only exists
in concept only or when the story requires it.

Yes, he was willing to drive an 8 hour round trip for his son to make sure Christmas was great but the character spends the rest of the time being an unlikeable douche bag and that didn’t really scream “holiday cheer.”  I will grant that this dynamic did show that Boyd is more like his father than he realized but it also resulted in a story that was overflowing with unlikeable characters that never really improve enough for them to be enjoyable.  Not to mention that the dynamic of just saying that Boyd is overcompensating but never showing it beyond a few lines here and there and having him play the martyr by driving 8 hours to get a present doesn't make him look like he desperately wants to have a great holiday but rather is just out to show he's better than his father.  Regardless, the result is still the same and Boyd never looks like a decent man who might be misguided in his reasons but just looks like a dick who is desperate to make it kinda/sorta look like he might be a decent person. It’s strange that this formula wasn’t corrected because the script was written by the man who did the Wreck-It Ralph films and those moves are about a bad guy trying to be good so why wasn’t that same formula brought to this one to make it work?

Rest in Power, Williams.  I miss you.

The worst part about the film, ultimately, is there is a ton of talented people in it but none of them feel like they were allowed to use their talents.  Additionally, given the weak script, there is only so much that naturally humorous performers in this film like Williams, Clark Duke, Tim Heidecker, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Candice Bergen can really do to help the matter.  No one in the cast is phoning it in and they are doing absolutely fine considering the material but it is a shame to see all this talent go to waste on a product that feels very generic and uninspired.  I will say, however, that I truly enjoyed Oliver Platt as the unfortunately credited character of Hobo Santa.

It is a damn shame that Bergen was wasted in this film.

A Merry Friggin’ Christmas was a pretty weak-sauce dark comedy holiday film.  There is some immensely talented people in the cast but none of them felt like they were utilized correctly or played to their strengths thanks to a script that feels very generic and is overloaded with punching down humor.  Even worse is characters that were overwhelmingly unlikeable and very unsympathetic.  Overall, the entire experience was pretty grating at worse and utterly boring at best.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Abominable

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! It is a little insulting that we've called the yeti an Abominable Snowman.  What have they done to us beyond not showing themselves in order to prove their existence?



Abominable – 4 out of 5

The only real advertising of Abominable I remember seeing was a poster for it at the movie theater.  It stuck out to me because it was covered in fur.  Beyond that, I never saw a trailer or anything else but, dammit, if that furry poster wasn’t enough to convince me to check it out when the opportunity presented itself when it was released on the home market.  Since I reserve December for mainly holiday-themed feature and family friendly films, I felt this animated movie fit the criteria and decided to check it out (it's not a holiday film but I think the term "family friendly" applies to this one).  It was pretty great!

Something that fuzzy needs cuddles!

And now Yi is the proud owner of a golden fiddle.
A wealthy businessman by the name of Mr. Burnish (Eddie Izzard) seeks to prove to the world the existence of yetis but the young creature he has contained escapes one night and flees into night in Shanghai.  A teenager named Yi (Chloe Bennet) discovers the creature and names him “Everest” and quickly hides him from Mr. Burnish’s forces.  Discovering that Everest wants to go home and that it has magical abilities to manipulate and communicate with nature, Yi agrees to help the creature get home.  With the help of her friends; Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), she seeks to return the magical Everest to his family on Mount Everest but Burnish security forces, being led by Burnish himself and his mysterious colleague; Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson), are quickly on their tails.

Abominable?  More like Adorable!

Abominable is a really sweet and fun animated feature.  The story is very entertaining as we watch Yi and her friends get to know each other better but also do something amazing as they return Everest to his home.  Finally, the tone of the product is absolutely perfect.  It has the right balance of humor and heart to it so it’ll make you laugh just as much as it will make you tear up.

Cuteness overload!!!!

The animation in the film looks amazing and the use of colors, especially when Everest uses their ability to commune and nature is a feast for the eyes.  Additionally, the cast is great!  Chloe Bennet perfectly captures the emotional arc of Yi as she has lingering sadness in her that has an impact on the whole journey.  Eddie Izzard is a lot of fun as Mr. Burnish and Albert Tsai and Tenzing Norgay Trainor are very enjoyable as Yi’s friends.  In fact, I found Tsai to be incredibly hilarious as Peng.  From a wholly technical standpoint for animation and voice acting, this film is top notch.

That's the exact face my soul is constantly making.

Abominable is an animated film I went into with no real expectations.  I wasn’t expecting anything bad but I wasn’t exactly excited for either due to never seeing a trailer and only really knowing the most basic synopsis.  However, the film really grabbed me and I found it to be very sweet, fun and very funny.  The cast is great, the animation is fantastic and the whole presentation is a very entertaining.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Jack Frost

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Jack Frost nipping at your nose...like a jerk.



Jack Frost – 2 out of 5

The only Jack Frost 90s film I’ve seen is the horror/comedy one that involves a very problematic sequence with Shannon Elizabeth.  I knew of the Michael Keaton Jack Frost film that came out in 1998—one year after the other film—but I never saw it because I was high school student who was too cool to see family friendly films.  Since it is December and I pretty much only watch holiday-themed features I decided to finally give this one a shot.  I may have been a little shithead in high school that has mellowed out over the years (and is just a different degree of shithead now) but that still didn’t make this a good movie.  My past shithead self must have sensed how little entertainment value this one held.

I could have done without the scene where he checks to see if his junk made the transfer.
Also, I'm not joking.

"Freebird...Christmas Edition!"
Jack Frost (Keaton) is the lead singer in a band and somehow is able to afford to have a really nice house in Colorado.  Unfortunately, he spends most of his time out on gigs and away from his wife Gabby (Kelly Preston) and his young son Charlie (Joseph Cross).  After he returns home from a show one day, the family builds a snowman and Jack gives Charlie his favorite harmonica and claims that it is magic and he can hear it wherever his is if he plays it.  When a huge gig comes up and promises the band a chance to hit the big time, Jack initially goes running towards it but decides against it and would rather be with his family for the holidays.  Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t make it back and is killed in a car crash.  A year passes and Charlie makes another snowman and adorns it with his father’s hat and scarf.  Before he goes to sleep, he briefly plays the harmonica and it ignites some magic and brings the snowman to life with Jack’s spirit.  Charlie gets reunited with his father but the problem is he is now a snowman and no one will believe that Jack is back.  Not even Charlie’s mom.

And he went on an harmonica solo that made John Popper shed a single tear of pride.

"Really?  This hat?  I'm not in a ska band!"
It's really hard to pinpoint what Jack Frost is doing wrong because it is so ridiculously innocent with its concept that it really isn’t doing anything obviously bad.  In fact, the film does have some good elements to it.  The acting is legitimately decent and no one is phoning it in—which would almost be expected and kinda forgivable for a film about a father’s soul inhabiting the body of a snowman.  Additionally, the puppet effects to bring the snowman to life are genuinely impressive and it makes the character kind of adorable in a way.  Sure, it would be easy to dump on this film for being so aggressively 90s—the sad hair and fashion choices are very cringe-y to sit through in 2019 but that’s just how it was at the time and I won’t pretend I wasn’t guilty of these bad decision in 1998.  So, to be honest, on paper this film should be a watchable (albeit a touch sappy) bit of entertaining family friendly mush but, instead, it fell short of that and was more silly and awkward.

Aggressively 90s...(by the way the way, that is Dweezil Zappa, the first of many
odd casting inclusions)
Soooo aggressively 90s.

X-Treme Snowman!
Overall, Jack Frost comes off a bit boring as the comedy isn’t very strong and there’s a lot of straight-up awkwardness to the storytelling.  For example, there’s a lot of ADR by Keaton concerning the snowman in order to provide exposition when the character is doing the most simplistic of things.  There are also plenty of moments that should have been short scenes that were expanded for either a failed attempt at comedic relief or in an effort to extend the running length.  Finally, the film doesn’t quite develop certain aspects or explore concepts deep enough.  For example, the story could have really ran away with and had fun with Charlie trying to keep the secret of his father inhabiting a snowman but every time this dynamic is brought up it almost feels like an afterthought.  Heck, the film only kinda explorers his mother’s growing concern about his connection to the snowman.  It is there and not a completely absent element but too often it doesn’t feel like it is an important enough to explore.  Fellow kids and classmates of Charlie will comment on it in almost a throwaway fashion and never does Gabby’s concern really feel that overtly strong.  There’s even a sequence where one of Jack’s former bandmates has a talk with Charlie about the issue and it just comes off like two people talking about the weather.  This dynamic feels like it should be very important and probably could have helped not only the underlying drama of the feature but the very lackluster comedy as well but it ultimately comes off like it is seconded to the weak humor.

This movie also has a surprising supporting cast.  Like Paul F. Thompkins was an extra...
Henry Rollins was a hockey coach...
And Ahmet Zappa was a snow plow drive.  And his sister Moon Unit was in the film too.

Jack Frost never felt like a waste of time to me but it didn’t really feel like that strong of entertainment either.  The humor is never the strongest, the heart just wasn’t there and it does feel very wonky.  That sounds like a lot to destroy the whole viewing experience but, overall, it’s done at a level where it is just below serviceable.  So, in all, it was a watchable feature that does have some decent elements working in its favor but not enough to make it a middle-of-the-road watch or even a mildly entertaining feature.  It wasn’t aggressively bad like it is with its 90s fashions, it’s just kinda bad on a mellow level.

Noelle

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Disney is coming for your bread and butter during this season, Hallmark Channel.



Noelle – 3 out of 5

One of the many things that excited me about Disney+ was the film Noelle.  The cast alone was enough to make me want to check it out because I love Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader and Billy Eichner so much.  The trailer came out and I still wanted to see it because it looked like a decent, fun holiday movie.  Well, I checked it out and it’s not too shabby!

One major complaint, though...Ron Funches is in this movie and he is just in a few scenes
as a caroler.  That's not enough Funches!

Well, at least her leggings seem like normal attire.
Actually, it's a totes cute ensemble.
Noelle Kringle (Kendrick) is the daughter of Kris Kringle—Santa Claus—and it is her job to keep up the Christmas spirit as her brother Nick Kringle (Bill Hader) is one day destined to take the job of the jolly gift giver.  When the day arrives for Nick to take over as Santa, he quickly learns that he can’t handle the job and, to be honest, isn’t very good at it.  Nick starts to breakdown and Noelle suggests that he take a weekend to unwind but, instead, Nick just flees.  Noelle and her childhood nanny; Elf Polly (Shirley MacLane), leave to go find him and bring him back to the North Pole as her cousin Gabriel (Billy Eichner) is left to fill in.  Noelle heads to Phoenix, Arizona where she finds her brother but he doesn’t want to come back and has become a yoga instructor.  Meanwhile, as Noelle starts to learn that it might be her that has what it takes to be the next Santa, her cousin Gabriel is ruining the system and putting most of the children on the Naughty List.

Being a yoga instructor does seem like a smart decision considering the stress
that would exist being Santa.

Noelle is a pretty amusing holiday film with a tremendous cast.  I am a touched surprise it hasn’t got a lot of backlash from the toxic men of the internet because of the story saying that Santa Claus can be a woman (and I’m really shocked that Fox News hasn’t ranted about this being an example of the War on Christmas).  It might be out there and I just haven’t seen it but, either way, I’m glad I haven’t been exposed to this.  The film has the right blend of heart and humor—I’m not afraid to admit it made me tear up on several occasions.  Sadly, it did have some drawbacks that kept it from having a stronger resonance with me but, still, these drawbacks weren’t enough to kill the overall entertainment value it held.

As a guy who is always sweating and overheating year round, locking myself in a
grocery store's freezer section looks pleasant.

And Disney+ introduces another adorable baby.
The biggest drawback for me is the character development and character usage.  It would have been nice to see Noelle start to see her abilities develop a little earlier and see them used more often.  It’s still a pretty great scene when she first starts to realize what she can do but I kinda wanted to see more.  On the flipside, I wanted to see Nick fail a little more.  The portion of the film where he tries and ultimately becomes too overwhelmed with being Santa and realizes that he just doesn’t have the spark felt too fast and too small in comparison to the overall product.  As a viewer, it felt like he was giving up too quickly and I kinda just wanted to see him bumble more in the role before giving up.  Finally, I wanted to see more from Billy Eichner’s character of Gabriel.  I love Eichner and think he is so flippin’ funny and his scenes just didn’t feel like they were utilizing his strengths and didn’t feel like they were developing the overarching issues the North Pole was experiencing from him while Noelle was searching for her brother.

I'm just a big fan of Eichner and I'm not sure any amount of screentime is enough for me.

While these drawbacks were noticeable for me, they didn’t stop me from enjoying the film.  Anna Kendrick’s natural charisma, humor and charm carry the film terrifically, there are some really funny and sweet moments, and it makes Noelle a very fun and fresh holiday feature.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! He sure is a mean one.  Also, why a 39 1/2 foot pole?



Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch – 3 out of 5

When Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch came out, I heard a lot of people complaining about its existence and asking the question “Do we really need another film about the Grinch?”  They talked about how Hollywood has “run out of ideas” and it won’t hold a candle to the perfection that was the original animated feature—and then all the people forget how that original, untouchable and utterly perfect feature had some cash-grab sequels made.  I say it all the time but I don’t sweat it if a studio remakes, reboots, or re-adapts works and properties.  I don’t feel a need to complain about it (but I will complain about people complaining, I guess).  I won’t say I was charging as fast as I could to my local theater to see this when it came out but, rather, just admitted I would give it a fair shake and watch it when it hit the home market.  Well, I did and it was fine.

Is there a Whatsville?

The Whos in Whoville really love Christmas.  They go nuts for it and that doesn’t sit well for the green creature who lives on top of a mountain outside of town named the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch).  Fed up with their happiness and the fact he spent his childhood alone and unwanted, the Grinch decides he is going to take Christmas away from the Whos so they can be as miserable as him!

That's how I look pretty much all the time.  Including being green!

Nice seeing my body type being represented in
cartoon reindeer.
For the most part, The Grinch is basically the same as the old animated version and the live-action adaptation with Jim Carrey.  The basic core of the story remains the same as the Grinch is grinch-y and has a heart that is too small, Cindy Lou Who is here, and the Grinch steals Christmas only to realize Christmas is more than just presents, lights and decorations and his heart grows and the town accepts him.  This time around, there are some changes to make it a touch more modern and to ensure you aren’t seeing the exact same thing just done in 3D animation.  This time around the Grinch isn’t seen as a monster who resides out of town but rather the residents know him by name and one character actively tries to be his friend.  This time the Grinch is just a hermit who is actively avoiding the holiday and will go into town only when necessary (which I kinda relate to as a man who has a dream of being a hermit).  Additionally, the Grinch enlists the help of a reindeer for a brief period as he is in his planning stages of his heist.  This version also explores a different version of Cindy Lou Who (voiced by Cameron Seely) as she still is the girl we know from the book and other adaptations but this time she is presented with a mother (voiced by Rashida Jones) who is working nights and trying to take care of her and her two brothers during the day.  The character is essentially the same but her family dynamic is very different but wholly relatable in this day and age.

Cindy Lou Who is also extreme in this!  She knocks back those Mountain Dews.

Boomer Whos were also telling him to "suck it up" so
it's no wonder he hates people so much.
The Grinch isn’t really doing anything wrong and it’s a decent family friendly/holiday feature.  The animation is great, the voice acting is top notch (Benedict Cumberbatch was awesome as the Grinch) and the overall design of Whoville, the landscape, and gizmos the Grinch uses for his crime feel authentic to the world of Dr. Seuss and are legitimately fun and cool but there was one thing about it that felt a touch off.  In this film, the Grinch never feels very grinch-y.  Yes, it’s established he doesn’t like the Whos’ love of the holiday and he is seen being a bit of a jerk but it all feels very mild and this results in his hatred of Christmas not really being that well established or held.  Even when the story tries to show his backstory and illustrate why he feels the way he does it never truly feels complete or fully developed.  From a pop culture standpoint, we all really know his issues but the film didn’t really feel like it was truly showing us his problem nor were they illustrating fully how it made him a bit of a jerkface.

His heart grew three sizes that day...and resulted in cardiac arrest.


As an overall product, The Grinch is pretty good.  While some of the character development and characteristics aren't done so well nor cranked up as high as they should be, the film is amusing and sweet.  It has the tone of the source material, the animation looks terrific and the cast is fantastic.  Will it replace the other adaptations as required viewing material during the holidays for me?  No but that’s more because I’ve never had Grinch-centric media as required holiday viewing but, in all honesty, if you wanna switch it up, this one isn’t too bad to check out.  However, as far as a sustainable holiday film—one that pretty much demands you return to it each and every year—this one might not be it.  It’s a fun movie but one that ultimately feels like a “Well, I’ve watched it once, I don’t really need to see it again for a few years” type of feature.