Monday, August 28, 2023

"Strays" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Strays" as well as "Master Gardener," and "Bird Box: Barcelona"]

Strays (2023)

A little dog whose owner has abandoned him teams up with some strays to get revenge.

I know. An R-rated movie starring anthropomorphic dogs.  But, hey, sometimes you just need to go for it and dogs are hilarious, especially dogs that talk, use the F word and consider a billboard featuring a postal worked "the devil in the sky." I'm glad I went for it!

Since this movie is R-rated, I am going to have a difficult time relating the plot or quoting from the movie without offending someone, but basically it's all about little Reggie (voice by Will Ferrell), a border terrier who lives with Doug (Will Forte).  Reggie was Doug's live-in girlfriend's pet but when she left, Doug kept Reggie out of spite even though he hated little Reggie and called him bad names (names I can't repeat here).  You see, Doug is not a very nice person. In fact, he's a bad man.  But Reggie doesn't know that Doug is a bad man.  He thinks Doug loves him and that when he takes him out into the country, throws a ball for Reggie and then drives off that Doug isn't abandoning him, he is playing a game with him called "Fetch and F***."  Doug throws the ball, tells Reggie to fetch and when Reggie finds his way back home Doug says "F***!"

But one day, when Reggie makes his way back home once again, Doug has had enough and takes Reggie three hours away to the big city, and this time Reggie has trouble finding his way back home.  But he meets up with Bug (voice of Jamie Foxx), a street-wise Boston Terrier, Hunter (voice of Randall Park), a Great Dane wearing a "cone of shame," who failed police dog school and is now a therapy dog at an old peoples' home, and Maggie (voice of Isla Fisher), a sweet Australian Shepherd with an uncanny sense of smell, and the three take Reggie under their wings, er, paws and become Reggie's friends.  They convince Reggie that Doug does not really care about him and that he is now a stray.  Reggie can't come to grips with that at first, but when he does, he gets mad and decides that he wants to take revenge by, well, what they want to do to Doug is a bit graphic, but let me say it involves biting a part of Doug's anatomy off and that part rhymes with "stick."  So off the four go to seek revenge on Doug.

And now we have an R-rated version of "The Incredible Journey (except without the cat)."

The screenplay by Dan Perrault is very scatological but hilarious with references to other films like "A Dog's Purpose" and "A Dog's Journey" (there is a funny bit featuring Josh Gad as a Narrator Dog) and Dennis Quaid even makes an appearance being, well, Dennis Quaid. And misfit dogs on an adventure finding friendship is a sort of dog version of "Stand By Me."  

But the dogs themselves are the highlight. This is not an animated film. This film stars real dogs and the dogs "talk." You know how sometimes when the mouths of animals move in films and it looks wonky?  Not here.  It's all spot on and the body language of the dogs reflect the dialogue and emotions perfectly. These are well-trained dogs! But like I said, it's R-rated so lots of leg-humping, butt sniffing, pooping and other activities we have come to know and love from our canine friends. And they are brought to life by wonderful actors.  Jamie Foxx is always funny and I don't think I will ever look at a Boston Terrier the same way again and Will Ferrell is perfect as Reggie.  

But the film, directed by Josh Greenbaum, isn't just about dogs dropping the F-bomb and revenge, it's also about getting out of toxic relationships and the power of friendship.  And believe it or not, I think you will tear up from time to time. But you will also laugh - a lot- especially when Doug gets what's coming to him to the tune of Miley Cyrus's anthem "Wrecking Ball!"

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, the movie is very scatological and obsessed with poop, but if, like me, you love dogs, you will laugh and you will cry and you will run right home and give your furry friend a hug.  And it's only an hour and 33 minutes long! (In theatres)

Master Gardener (2022)

A buttoned up horticulturist with secrets is the caretaker for a garden on a beautiful estate.

Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton) tends the gardens at Gracewoods, a beautiful estate owned by the wealthy Mrs. Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). He also tends to Mrs. Haverhill, if you get my meaning. Unbeknownst to those he works with, Roth has a dark past and a dark secret that belies his passive nature, reminding us in these dark political times that we have no idea what is going on inside our fellow humans. And that's the case with Narvel. Slowly it unfolds just who Narvel was. But he has found solace in his role as gardener, quietly tending to plants.

But then enter, Maya (Quintessa Swindell), Mrs. Haverhill's grand-niece, a young biracial girl. Her mother has died and Mrs. Haverhill wants Roth to take Maya on as an apprentice so that she can eventually take over the Gardens, an odd assignment since Mrs. Haverhill has little to do with Maya while she is there.  And it doesn't help when Maya and Roth become close (we saw that coming a mile away). When Norma spots Roth leaving Maya's room, she fires them both. 

Like Roth, Maya has a troubled past, and though she is trying to clean herself up, her drug dealer, R.G. (Jared Bankens) and his friend, Sissy (Matt Mercurio), show up and cause her trouble and eventually vandalize the gardens leading to a violent showdown.

Writer/director Paul Schrader is known for his gritty films like "Hardcore," "Raging Bull" and "American Gigolo," and one can't help but draw parallels here with one of his most famous films - "Taxi Driver."  An odd older loner befriends a troubled young girl that culminates in violence? Mmmm, sounds very familiar.    

But though it's slow to get going, when it does it exudes the dark, sinister quality we have come to associate with Schrader, but unlike with "Taxi Driver," Schrader has softened a bit because there is an optimism here as he draws parallels to the life of a garden to life itself. And Schrader shows here that he is also the master of his film garden with interesting camera angles, an intense focus and artistic juxtaposition of the quiet solitude and healing of a garden and the violence of the real world.

Joel Edgerton has perfected the hang dog, troubled-guy-with-demons persona and newcomer Swindell holds her own with him.  And 73-year-old Sigourney Weaver, who doesn't look a day over 50, lends her own finely honed persona, that of the well-bred icy wealthy woman.

As an aside, this film is all about flowers and plants and stars Weaver.  Interestingly, there is a series on Amazon Prime right now starring Weaver called "The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart" which is also all about flowers and plants. I guess flowers and plants as symbols of life is a thing. But I digress...

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you seek a "smart" movie like "Oppenheimer," except shorter and better, this not only gives you something to think about but combines an interesting story with lots of drama. Worth seeking out.  (Amazon Prime)

Bird Box: Barcelona (2023)

There is an evil entity out there and if you look at it, you will kill yourself.  

"Bird Box" starring Sandra Bullock was one of the most popular movies of all time on Netflix and this film is clearly taking advantage of that.  I am usually not a fan of remakes or sequels, but in my mind, this one isn't really either of those things. It's a more like another chapter. It makes sense that the evil entity we first encountered in "Bird Box" would have taken over the world and is now in Spain wreaking havoc there, so I am not mad at that, and this is in fact a sort of reverse version of the original as it has a major twist.

If you remember from the first one, there is something out there that no one can see but if their eyes are open when it swirls around and they "see" it, it somehow manipulates their emotions and they will instantly kill themselves. So everyone wears a blindfold when outside. 

At the beginning of the film, we meet Sebastian (Mario Casas) and his daughter, Anna (Alejandra Howard), but in a series of flashbacks we learn that Sebastian lost his wife and driven by grief and despair is on a mission. We also learn that our hero is perhaps not really a hero.

It seems that some people can look at the entities and not turn to self harm and a cult has formed around these people led by Padre Esteban (Leonardo Sbaraglia), who believes that the entities are angels and that humanity would be liberated from suffering by embracing death. So there are people out there trying to avoid looking at the entities and other people out there trying get people to look so they will be saved. In flashbacks, we learn that Sebastian encountered the Padre and his life changed. 

Later, Sebastián encounters another group that believes that they will be saved if they reach Montjuic Castle, considered a safe haven. Sebastian joins them but has an existential crisis as he begins to doubt his beliefs.

Written and directed by David and Alex Pastor, unlike the original "Bird Box," the film has many religious overtones that questions organized religion and blindly following one's beliefs.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the flashbacks that eventually reveal Sebastian's mission are confusing at times, the film is engrossing and scary and one can't help but wonder if this is the beginning of a franchise.  Is "Bird Box Paris" next? (Netflix - In Spanish, English and German with English subtitles)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)


Saturday, August 12, 2023

The Best Movies of 2023 So Far (according to the New York Times): What Rosy the Reviewer Thinks!

[I review Wes Anderson's latest film "Asteroid City" as well as "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret," the French film, "Full Time," as well as "Polite Society," "Showing Up" and "Sanctuary."] 

It's been a tough couple of years at the movies, and I have to say, it's been slim pickins,' so I was happy to see this list of must see best films from The New York Times (dated July 5). I am always looking for recommendations for some must see good movies. 

But do I agree that they are really must see? After viewing the films, here is what I thought. 

Asteroid City

A retro-futuristic play within a movie that depicts the events at a 1955 Junior Stargazer convention in the fictional town of Asteroid City.  

The film opens in black and white with Bryan Cranston as a TV host a la "Twilight Zone," informing the audience that they will be watching a rehearsal for a play. Written by Conrad Earp (Edward Norton), the play takes place in the fictional town of "Asteroid City," so named because a meteor fell on it.  The story centers on Augie Steenbeck (Jason Swartzman), who has arrived in Asteroid City for the Junior Stargazer convention with his daughters and brainiac teenage son, Woodrow (Jake Ryan). Woodrow is being honored at the convention. Augie's father-in-law, Stanley (Tom Hanks) later joins them. It seems that Augie's wife has died and Augie has neglected to tell his kids. Augie and Woodrow meet Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson) and her daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards).  Dinah is also being honored and love blooms for both Augie and Woodrow. 

Other convention attendees include five-star general Grif Gibson (Jeffrey Wright); astronomer Dr. Hickenlooper (Tilda Swinton); Ricky (Ethan Josh Lee), Clifford (Aristou Meehan) and Shelly (Sophia Lillis), three other brainiac honorees, and their parents, J.J. (Liev Schreiber), Roger (Steve Park) and Sandy (Hope Davis); elementary children chaperoned by teacher June Douglas (Maya Hawke); and a cowboy band led by singer, Montana (Rupert Friend). They are all looked after by the motel manager played by Steve Carell.  Did I miss anyone? Oh, right. Jeff Goldblum plays The Alien, but I will get to that.

Just as the convention commences at the Asteroid City crater, a UFO appears and an alien emerges and steals a fragment of the meteorite that created the crater in the town, which throws everyone into a tizzy and forces a military quarantine (a nod to Covid lockdown)? But in the meantime, more romance blooms, this time with Montana and June.

Just when the quarantine is about to end, the alien comes back to return the meteorite fragment thus continuing the quarantine for an indefinite period of time, which upsets everyone once again, but the brainiac kids contact the press about the lockdown thus exposing a military cover-up (a nod to Roswell)? So we have a desert town, astronomy, space cadets, romance, an alien, a quarantine, the military, a cover-up, and atom bomb testing. There is a lot going on.

So, in vibrant color, that's the play. And it's all very Wes Anderson.

In "real life (filmed in less vibrant black and white)," we also get to know the writer and the actors playing the parts in the play (in a nod to The Actor's Studio and the creative process). So like I said, there is a lot going on. In fact, too much. While recording the play, Jones Hall, the actor playing Augie (who is also Schwartzman), confronts the play's director, Schubert Green (oh, right, Adrian Brody is in this too), telling him he "still doesn't understand the play."

And that, my friends, is the most profound statement in the film.  Despite the star-studded cast (everyone and their grandmother seems to want to work with director Wes Anderson - Margot Robbie also has a cameo in this), I not only didn't understand the play, I didn't get the point of the film, and worse, I did not enjoy it. But maybe that was the point. It wasn't supposed to be enjoyable. There is a lot of talk about the meaning of life and it's no fun trying to figure that out.

However, I give Wes Anderson props.  He is one of our best directors. You can count on his films being colorful and idiosyncratic with first-rate production values and original screenplays (this one written with Roman Coppola), but he can be an acquired taste.  His films are all over the place from linear, understandable and enjoyable ("The Isle of Dogs" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel") - I loved those - to way, way out there ("The French Dispatch").  I didn't like it.
Rosy the Reviewer says...sadly, this one for me, falls into the "I didn't like it" category.
(Streaming on Peacock and for rent on Amazon Prime)

Are You There God, It's Me Margaret

The angst of adolescence.

It's the 1970's and Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) returns from a great summer at camp only to discover that her family is moving from Manhattan to New Jersey.  Margaret is not happy about that because New York is where she has grown up and where all of her friends are.  This leads her to ask, "God, are you there?" And Margaret keeps talking to God as she navigates, not only the changes to her life in New Jersey and the pressures from her new friends, but the changes in her body as she enters puberty.

Meanwhile, Margaret's parents, Barbara (Rachel McAdams) and Herb (Benny Safdie), are also navigating their new lives.  Barbara has given up her job as an art teacher to become a stay-at-home Mom, and she is not doing well with that.  She volunteers for all of the PTA committees because she has nothing else to do, but her heart isn't in it.

So Margaret is struggling to adapt to her new life in New Jersey, and so is her mother. But what 11-year-old cares about what is going on with her mother when there are so many other things to think about like...boys?

Herb is Jewish and Barbara is Christian, so they deal with that by not celebrating any religious holidays. They want Margaret to make her own decisions when it comes to religion. When Margaret's teacher assigns Margaret a paper on religion, Margaret starts asking questions about Barbara's parents. Margaret has a close relationship with Herb's mother, Sylvia (Kathy Bates), but doesn't know Barbara's parents at all. Barbara shares that they were not happy about the marriage and disowned her. Now Margaret's conversations with God are really urgent as she grapples with religious choice.

I trained as a young adult librarian and, when Judy Blume came on the scene with the book upon which this film is based, it was a huge deal because she dealt with real tween and teen issues, something that hadn't really been done before, especially all of that talk about menstruation, which has caused this book to be banned many times over the years.  Never mind that young girls might need some reassurance that puberty is natural and that they will get through it.  Judy Blume performed a public service to skittish parents who avoided these kinds of discussions but what thanks does she get?  Her book gets banned. 

Blume was able to capture the tween world of young girls, and this movie also does a good job bringing it all back to those of us growing up in the 60's and 70's. Margaret is befriended by Little Miss Know-It-All, Nancy Wheeler (Elle Graham), who confidently talks about boys and bras and the importance of getting one's period.  She brings Margaret into her secret club where the girls are obsessed with boys, practice kissing on their bedposts (I practiced on my Dr. Kildare pillow), and long to wear a bra, diligently performing exercises to fit into one - "I must, I must, I must increase my bust?!" When that fails, stuffing it with toilet paper works!    

Adapted from Blume's book and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, the film is well-acted (I especially enjoyed Fortson who is fun to watch because she has one of those really expressive faces) and captures the spirit of the book and the times and what it's like to be a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. I am surprised it has taken this long to get this film version made.  The book was written in 1970.  Judy Blume is one of the producers, so maybe it's one of those things where if you want to get something done, do it yourself. There is nostalgia for those of us who lived this era - Princess phones and 70's music - but hard to believe today's 11-year-olds would be this naive.  I mean, do kids still play "Spin the bottle?"

Fortson is the center of this film as her face tells it all.  But McAdams is also wonderful, exuding a loving warmth as Margaret's mother.

Rosy the Reviewer says...A fitting tribute to a watershed coming of age book. (Amazon Prime)

Full Time 

What it's like to be a single working Mom in France...during a transportation strike.

Julie Roy (Laure Calamy) is a working mom with two kids.  She has moved to a Paris suburb to give her kids a good life, but it's not such a good life for her because she works in Paris as a maid supervisor in a five star hotel and her commute time is killing her. She takes her kids to a babysitter at the crack of dawn and then embarks on a long slog to get to Paris. Her babysitter is threatening to stop caring for her kids because her schedule is so erratic. The ex-husband is slow with his child support and her money is running out.  It comes to light that she had a high end job at one time, and she has managed to get an interview for a better job, but how does she get to that interview without her boss finding out?  She can't afford to lose her current job but it's not looking good for her. Add to that a transportation strike and her life is hell. What will happen?

Who knew a movie about a single mom trying to get to work would turn out to be a thriller?

Written and directed by Eric Gravel, the film will pull you into Julie's world. The acting here is wonderful.  Calamy is believable and powerful and the production values are also first-rate. Whether it's Paris or the U.S. this is as real as it gets when it comes to a single parent trying to do the best for her kids and it's about time these folks get some props for the stressful balancing acts they must perform every day. 

Rosy the Reviewer's a gripping foray into the world of a working mom.  I liked it, but as a film experience perhaps not for everyone. (Amazon Prime) 

Polite Society

Ria plots to save her sister from a bad marriage.

Ria (Priya Kansara) is a young Pakistani girl growing up in upper class London with her parents and older sister Lena (Ritu Arya). She aspires to become a movie stuntwoman like her idol, Eunice Huthart, who won the British TV series "Gladiators" and then came back as a Gladiator herself known as Blaze.  Ria calls herself "The Fury" and creates YouTube martial arts movies with the help of her sister, Lena, who has dropped out of art school, discouraged and depressed, feeling she wasn't good enough to become an artist.  Ria's parents are not too happy with Ria's dream, but Ria does not want to live up to conventional expectations.   

Both sisters are very close until Lena meets the suave Salim (Akshay Khanna), and they decide to get married and move to Singapore.  But when Ria discovers Salim's dark intentions, she is determined to stop the wedding, so she enlists the help of her two best friends, Clara (Seraphina Beh) and Alba (Ella Bruccoleri), and they concoct a plan to save Lena.

First they try to use diplomacy.  That doesn't work.  Then they try to find dirt on Salim and eventually they plan to smear his name by breaking into his home and planting incriminating evidence. It all goes very wrong and is all very funny.

Written and directed by Nida Manzoor, there is a lot to enjoy here. 

From Ria's Jackie Chan kicks as she practices her martial arts to "waxing as torture" when Salim's mother (Nimra Bucha) catches Ria breaking into her house, the film is a nonstop mix of genres and it's a delight.  There are funny nods to spy movies, sci fi, musicals, westerns, even Jane Austen and actress Kansara is obnoxiously endearing.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a joyful comedy of manners that is over-the-top but stylish and fun and with a message to young girls that cuts through cultural lines. Be yourself and follow your dreams. (Streaming on Peacock)

Showing Up

A sculptor prepares for her upcoming show but everyday battles threaten to interfere with her life.

Michelle Williams stars as Lizzy, a quiet woman living in Portland, Oregon, who just wants to get her art show ready.  But stuff keeps happening.  Not very much stuff, mind you, but stuff.

Her water heater doesn't work and her landlord and seemingly best friend, Jo (Hong Chau), is taking her time getting it fixed. Jo is also an artist and Lizzy is envious of Jo. Jo is the opposite of Lizzy.  Where Lizzy is downtrodden and rarely smiles, Jo throws parties and seems to have it all figured out. And then there is a wounded pigeon that Jo foists onto Lizzy and taking care of it also interferes with her work.

Judd Hirsh plays Lizzy's father and there are some humorous moments with him but all in all, this was kind of a slog, because Lizzy is a downer. 

This film is Williams' fourth collaboration with director Kelly Reichardt (who also wrote the screen play with Jonathan Raymond), but I have to wonder what drew her to this project.  The film is deliberate and slow and not much happens. I know it's all about the world of artists and the creative process, but the film didn't make me care about Lizzy or that, and the bit with the bird is a rather obvious metaphor about breaking free but...yawn. It just took too long to get to the point and I'm not even sure what that was.   

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, Michelle Williams is in this film and she is a fine actress but otherwise?  Zzzzzz (Amazon Prime)


Gee, what does a man do when his dominatrix goes rogue?

Not something most men have to deal with (I hope), but that's what happens to Hal (Christopher Abbott) in this rather kinky two-hander (that's Brit for a film with just two actors) that also stars Margaret Qualley, Andie MacDowell's talented daughter. 

Qualley has cut quite a swath through Hollywood. She came onto the scene in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" as one of Manson's girls and later starred in "Maid," a wonderfully good mini-series.  Here she plays Rebecca, the dominatrix for Hal, a man who has just inherited his father's hotel empire and Hal, anticipating his new high profile role, wants to end the relationship so he doesn't get found out.  Rebecca says, "Nope!"

Written by Micah Bloomberg and directed by Zachary Wigon, it's just Qualley and Abbott in something like a love story.  It's all about the acting and the relationship between the actors, and I can appreciate that but it's yet another kind of a slog.  I have a high tolerance for slow moving talkie films, but this one took too long to get to the point.  It's all about control and gender and sex but you don't even get to see any sex.

Rosy the Reviewer's well-acted and an interesting concept, but I can't for the life of me understand how this got on a mainstream "best of" list.  This is TOTALLY not for everyone. (Amazon Prime)

So my final word...

This New York Times list came out before "Barbie," "Oppenheimer" and even the latest "Mission Impossible" and Indiana Jones movies, so one can't help but wonder if any of those films would have made that list.  I have a feeling the answer would be no.  Except for "Asteroid City," the entire list is made up of indies, so that seems to be the jam. I would like to have seen "No Hard Feelings" on this list because it's one of the few comedies I have seen in the last few years that actually made me laugh, but comedies don't often get the respect they deserve. But it's on MY best of list.

All in all, I question whether these films are the best films for the first half of 2023, but thank you, New York Times, for alerting me to some movies I might not have known about, especially "Polite Society," which was my favorite on this list. 

So, the "best of" moniker aside, were these films at least must sees?

Rosy the Reviewer order of appearance...maybe, yes, sort of, yes, and no and no.

So there you have it. You and I are not in agreement, New York Times, but no hard feelings?

And as Rosy the Reviewer always says...I see the bad ones so you don't have to!

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

"Barbie" and "Oppenheimer"

I just couldn't bring myself to name this post "Barbenheimer."  I didn't want to jump on that odd couple bandwagon but turns out it was a genius marketing ploy because the film industry was able to turn the openings of two disparate films into one of the top five biggest opening weekends in film history.

But I was not lured into seeing the two as a double feature.  Even I, Rosy the Reviewer, can't do five hours in a row, but I managed to see both films within four days of each other (c'mon, I'm old.  I need to recover from things).

So...What did I think?  Well, I am glad you asked.

Barbie (2023)

Barbie has an existential crisis and must enter the Real World to save her perfect Barbieland.

I was 11 or 12 when I got my first Barbie doll.  I know.  I was still playing with dolls at 12! But little girls weren't as sophisticated in the 50's as they are now. No Internet to warp our little minds.  Just Walt Disney.  Anyway, I think of that doll often, particularly what she might be worth today if I still had her.  I had the black velvet evening gown and the pink party dress and all of her accessories.  I kept her safe for years but when I went to college my mother said my niece wanted my Barbie.  I hesitated but then said okay but I wanted her back when she was done playing with her. Guess what?  I never saw her again.

But Barbie had an impact on me.  And that's what this movie is also trying to do.  Yes, it's silly - I mean it's about a doll coming to life - but there is a message.

Barbie (Margot Robbie) lives in Barbieland, a perfect world where she gets up every day in her pink bed in her pink room in her pink Dream House.  Looking perfect, she greets her fellow Barbies and flies out of her house into her pink Corvette to go do whatever perfect dolls do. Barbieland is a society where the women run things.  They are self-confident and successful and hold all of the important positions, from doctors and lawyers and astronauts to positions on the Supreme Court to President.

Margot Robbie plays "Stereotypical Barbie," but Barbieland includes all of the various Barbies that Mattel has created over the years - from Midge, the pregnant Barbie (never knew about her) to Share a Smile Becky, the Barbie in a wheelchair.  Tanner, a toy dog that actually poops, is also there (didn't know about him, either) along with Ken's long forgotten friend, Allen (Micheal Cera), a running joke throughout the filmAnd, yes, then there are the Kens, but they hang out mostly at the beach. They don't have much to do. Beach Ken (Ryan Gosling) only feels good when Barbie acknowledges him.  He wants to have a relationship with her but Barbie prefers her independence and girl sleepovers. It's all a perfect Barbie World.

Until one day Barbie suddenly thinks about... DEATH!

What!!!  And then her naturally high-heeled feet go flat and horrors of horrors - she has cellulite.  What is going on?  She goes to see Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon). In case you didn't know, Weird Barbie is a Barbie who has been tortured and mistreated by her child owner as in having her hair cut off and her face painted with markers.  Anyway, Weird Barbie tells her that there has been an opening in the dimension separating Barbieland and the Real World and it has been caused by a child playing with her and feeling bad and Barbie needs to go to the Real World and find that child to solve the problem.

So off she goes and wouldn't you know, Ken has stowed away in the back seat of her Corvette.  She reluctantly lets him tag along.  Not good.  When they get to the Real World, which in this case is Los Angeles, Ken discovers the patriarchal system so rampant in the Real World and likes it. Here it's men who run things and he likes that. He feels respected for the first time.  He heads back to Barbieland to institute his own version of the Patriarchal System, which to him is more about horses and little beer fridges, but he also manages to subjugate the other Barbies to handmaiden status.

Meanwhile, Barbie has located the cause of her doll version of an existential crisis.  It's Gloria (America Ferrera), a Mattel employee, who was depressed about her daughter rejecting her so she started reminiscing and playing with her daughter's Barbies, thus transferring her angst onto them and causing our Barbie's issues.

Still with me?

When Barbie returns to Barbieland with Gloria and her daughter, she is horrified to learn what Ken has done and become.  He has become a mansplaining bro and turned her Barbie Dream House into the Casa Dojo Mojo House. 

Barbie needs to extricate her fellow Barbies from Ken's control and at the same time bring back her own self-esteem and help Ken with his.  Will she be able to do it?

Gloria gives Barbie a great speech about what we women have to live with and it helps shake Barbie out of her stupor.

"It is literally impossible to be a woman...Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we're always doing it wrong...You're supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you're supposed to be a part of the sisterhood...You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line... I'm just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don't even know."

Needless to say, you can image how this message would fly with certain male politicians and pundits.  Well actually, it hasn't flown. They are already objecting to the feminist themes and the portrayal of men in this movie, but of course the oppressors don't want the oppressed to talk about their oppression.

Margot Robbie is the perfect Barbie.  She is a really good actress but also beautiful.  Funny moment when toward the end of the film, Barbie says "I'm not pretty anymore" and narrator Helen Mirren says "Note to filmmakers: Margot Robbie is not the actress to get this point across."

As for Ryan Gosling, at first I thought he was an odd choice for Ken.  I think of him as a serious, even grumpy actor, who would never deign to play Ken, but he is quite wonderful and, if anything, steals the show (and I'm not talking about his abs).  He is funny and all in (and those abs are real)

Funny story about Ken playing second fiddle to Barbie.  When our daughter was growing up, she had Barbies but one day came home from a friend's house and said, "She has the MAN!" So, Ken, you had some fans out there!

The Barbie Doll has been a controversial figure because of...well, her figure.  Some have said she gave little girls unrealistic expectations about womanhood, but Barbie was also a feminist icon that showed little girls that they could aspire to any role.  Barbie was an early female astronaut, a doctor, even President!

There are some great moments in the film with lot's of pop culture references but the opening sequence, homage to "2001: A Space Odyssey" is particularly funny as is Ryan Gosling's Bob Fosse dance number. Also Mattel makes fun of itself with its all male Board of Directors headed by the clueless (and very funny) CEO (Will Farrell).

The film was written by Greta Gerwig and her partner, Noah Baumbach, and directed by Gerwig. It was the biggest weekend opening for any female director, which happily plays right into the theme of this film which is female empowerment and a reminder that the Real World is still a male dominated society, but we women don't do ourselves any good living in a bubble wishing for perfection.  It's all about dealing with the vagaries of life and going for what we want.

Rosy the Reviewer's very silly at times and uneven, but it's also vibrant and fun, the production values are fantastic and so is the message to young girls.  Mothers, take your daughters! (Now streaming on Max and available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime). 

Oppenheimer (2023)

Biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the inventor of the atomic bomb.

The younger generation probably knows little about Oppenheimer but also doesn't know much about The Cold War and what Baby Boomers went through during those years because of his bomb, how we had nuclear war drills at school which consisted of diving under our that would save us from an atomic bomb.  But the fear of a nuclear war was very real in those days and it seems we came very close during the Bay of Pigs.  But I'm not blaming Dr. Oppenheimer.  In the end, he actually felt guilty about his bomb.

But this film begins way before that.

J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy) is often called "The Father of the Atomic Bomb."  After getting a B.A. in chemistry from Harvard, he studied in Germany at the University of Gottingen where he received his doctorate and brought quantum physics to the U.S. He became a professor at UC Berkeley in 1936 and made significant contributions to theoretical physics. 

As portrayed in the film, Oppenheimer was highly intellectual and a brilliant scientist, but he was also arrogant and had a very messy private life. His wife, Kitty, played by Emily Blunt, was not a happy camper for a variety of reasons. 

And, in the end, Oppenheimer appeared to have had reservations about his part in dropping the atomic bomb on Japan to end WWII. To make matters worse, in the 1950's during the Red Scare, he was also denounced as a traitor because of his past with the U.S. Communist Party and his opposition to the development of the hydrogen bomb which led to the revocation of his security clearing. The film also gets into the whole issue of jealousy within the scientific community, especially related to his association with Lewis Strauss (played by Robert Downey Jr.), the Atomic Energy Commission chair, who turned out to be his arch nemesis.

So the film, based on the book "American Prometheus" by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, does a good job of covering Oppenheimer's life and career, but, sadly, it was very slow to get going and was an hour too long. There just wasn't enough drama for such a long film. 

Writer/director Christopher Nolan seemed to realize he needed more drama, so it felt like he tried to drum up some drama with a distracting score that was sometimes so loud it obstructed the dialogue and special effects that were irritating.  And speaking of the dialogue, it was either the kind of snappy dialogue you find in a sophisticated comedy or it was overdramatic. The editing was also distracting as it jumped around from Oppenheimer's personal story to one Congressional or court hearing after another and changed back and forth from black and white to color, the purpose of which was fuzzy. There was a lot of scientific talk which we civilians sometimes can't quite understand, so a little less jumping around might have helped us process all the big words and concepts like molecular wave functions and neutron stars.

However, the acting was first rate. 

Cillian Murphy was understated but fine and actually looked very much like the real Oppenheimer. Matt Damon, who played General Leslie Groves, the Los Alamos military advisor, was also good and believable, but I kept waiting for Robert Downey Jr. who I had heard was wonderful in this, and so was floored when I realized at the end of the film that he played Strauss!  I would never have suspected that it was he in a million years.  And it wasn't just the make-up.  In every way, he was someone other than Robert Downey Jr.  Expect Oscar nominations for him. Gary Oldman was also unrecognizable as Truman as was Florence Pugh in a small role that probably didn't really need to be in the film. Other big names came and went. But special kudos to the make-up department led by Luisa Abel.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...though I give this film props for its historical significance, all in all it was disappointing. There was not enough drama to sustain a three hour movie.  I would have enjoyed it more as a documentary (Streaming on Peacock Feb. 16).

Final thoughts: "Barbie" depicts a world run by women.  In "Oppenheimer," the world is run by men.  No bombs in Barbie's world.  I'm just saying.

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)