Showing posts with label Horror films. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Horror films. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2018

"Tully" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "Tully" as well as DVDs "Winchester" and "Flatliners."  The Book of the Week is "Meghan: A Hollywood Princess," just in time for the Royal Wedding.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Story of a Cheat."


The mother of two young children and a newborn is having trouble coping so she hires a night nanny who ends up not just taking care of the baby but of her too.

Marlo (Charlize Theron) is pregnant with her third child and she is already struggling with the two children she already has, an eleven-year-old aughter, Sarah (Lia Frankland), and an autistic six-year-old, named Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica), though no one will say the word "autistic." "Quirky" is what Marlo's husband and the principal of Jonah's school like to say.  But the truth of the matter is that young Jonah needs a lot of special attention and is not above throwing tantrums on the way to school by kicking the back of Marlo's seat or having a meltdown if she doesn't park in a particular parking lot.  Marlo is nine months pregnant and it's all down to her.  Marlo's husband, Drew (Ron Livingston) is a nice guy but kind of useless.  

Marlo's brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), is everything that Drew is not and Drew knows it.  Both men think the other doesn't like him and there is something to that. Drew is a hard-working guy with a regular job, Craig is a smug, pretentious rich guy living the high life. How pretentious is he?  Let's just say that Craig's dog's name is Prosecco, for god's sake.  Craig is married to Elyse (Elaine Tan), one of those skinny bitches who seems to have it all together and is also smug saying passive aggressively to Marlo, who is standing there sweaty and nine months pregnant, "I know the ninth month can be difficult.  I found it very hard to go to the gym."  

But despite a somewhat fractious brother/sister relationship with Marlo, Craig is well-meaning and one night when the four are having dinner together, Craig pulls Marlo aside and tells her he has bought her the services of a night nanny as a "new baby gift."  However, Marlo dismisses the offer because, one, she is not keen on having a stranger in her house, and two, does not want him to think she can't do it all, but Craig presses the phone number on her just in case she changes her mind.

And naturally once the baby is born things get much worse.  Now Marlo not only has to deal with Jonah's special needs and try not to ignore Sarah, she can't get any sleep.  Her days and nights are filled with getting up, feeding the baby, pumping out her breast milk, taking Sarah and Jonah to school and fixing meals, over and over again. Did I say that Drew was pretty useless?  Like I said, he is a nice guy but he is at work all day and can't very well get up in the night to breast feed the baby.  But he's also a guy and, no offense guys, but when it comes to babies, most of you are pretty useless, right?

When Jonah is kicked out of his school because they just can't handle him and Marlo finds herself having a screaming meltdown in the school parking lot, she decides maybe it is time to call the night nanny.

And then...there she is.  Tully (Mackenzie Davis).

Tully arrives and that changes everything.  Tully is not only there to take care of baby Mia but to take care of Marlo, too.

Marlo meets Tully, a free-spirited twenty-something who has good advice about everything.  She is compassionate and takes charge. The two become friends and Marlo's life changes for the better. She gets up in the morning to find a clean house and even some decorated cupcakes she can take to school for the kids. The women bond over sangria in an empty hot-tub and Marlo shares what she was like when she was young and didn't have a family to look after. Marlo's life is changing for the better because of Tully. However, as the movie went on, I kept wondering where the film was going.  Is this film just the story of a twenty-something Mary Poppins coming to save a harried new mother?

... and then there was the twist that I did not see coming at all and which turned this film into something else entirely.  

I always pride myself in seeing twists coming a mile away but I must either be getting old and losing my movie smarts or this was a brilliant Oscar worthy original screenplay by Diablo Cody, who also wrote "Juno"  and "Young Adult. I prefer to choose the latter.  Diablo Cody is one smart woman and deserves an Oscar nod for this screenplay.

Directed by Jason Reitman who also collaborated with Cody on "Juno" and "Young Adult," two films about the realities of teens and young adults, this film shows the realities of motherhood and no doubt represents Cody's move into another realm as she had just had her third child herself when she wrote this screenplay.

We have a tendency to glorify motherhood calling it a blessing.  No one dares to say what a nightmare it can also be.  When a woman gets pregnant she gains weight and no longer has control over her own body.  Total strangers want to touch her big stomach and have no problem passing judgments if they think the mother-to-be is doing something that isn't good for the baby. When Marlo orders a decaf at a coffee shop, a woman, or should I say, busybody, standing nearby, feels the need to remind Marlo that even decaf has some caffeine in it.  And then once the baby is born, the weight gain remains (and Theron gained 50 real pounds to play this role) and now there is the accompanying body shaming, and the lack of sleep, the baby's constant crying, the depression, the guilt, - all of this laid at the feet of the mother.  This movie shows the realities of pregnancy and motherhood. 

But don't think this film is a dirge.  It's not.  It also funny because if you don't laugh, you will cry.

As for Charlize, despite her Oscar for "Monster," she is not one of those actresses I think of right away when I think of the best actresses.  If someone asked me who I thought the best actresses of today were, I would most likely say Meryl Streep, Annette Bening or Julianne Moore.  I wouldn't automatically say Charlize Theron, and I don't know why because, like I said, she has an Oscar.  I sometimes think that the actresses who are natural and not that actressy are not thought to be great but after seeing this film I am reminded that Theron is right up there.  And despite her beauty, she is not a cream puff about her roles either. She made herself over to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster," bad teeth and all, she shaved her head to play the one-armed Furiosa in "Mad Max: Fury Road" and here she gained 50 pounds, though she still looked damn good.  Theron is right up there with the best actresses and she deserves an Oscar nod for this role.

And let's not leave out Mackenzie Davis as Tully.  She exudes a youthful New Age exuberance that is just right for the character and Ron Livingston may have been the nice but useless Drew but he plays nice and useless very well.  It was just right.  Husbands can be useless but it's often because they just don't know what to do to help their wives.

However, speaking of Oscars, films that show up this early in the year are often overlooked, and I don't think this film was marketed in the best way.  The trailers make it look like Mary Poppins shows up to solve all of the problems of a harried mother - and how exciting would that be? - not!  Sadly, I can't say more because the film does go in an unexpected direction but let's just say it is a direction that will surprise you and one that drives home the realities that mothers face. 

We expect mothers to take care of their families and to live up to some impossible motherly ideal, to be able to do it all and not complain. This film is a reminder of how important it is for us mothers to also take care of ourselves and to never let go of who we once were and who we really are just because we are mothers.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a wonderful movie with a brilliant screenplay and great performances that brings home the realities of motherhood, and it's just in time for Mother's Day.  One of my favorites of the year. Oh, and by the way, I cried at the end.  It was that good.

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Winchester (2018)

Did Sarah Winchester really keep building her strange mansion because the ghosts of the people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle told her to?

That's what this wannabe horror film wants us to think, but not sure where that came from because I have been to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, and I am pretty sure that I was told there that Sarah Winchester kept building her house because a medium had told her that if she stopped she would die.  I don't remember the ghosts.

But what I remember doesn't really matter if this film is a good horror film.  But, sadly, it's not.

We can all agree, though, that Sarah was a bit of a nutter.  If you don't know her story, she was the wife of William Wirt Winchester, the manufacturer of the Winchester repeating rifle and when he died Sarah inherited a vast fortune and 50% ownership of the company.  What started as an eight room house became a seven story structure with stairs that went nowhere and over 100 rooms.  It's a fun place to visit if you ever get to San Jose and some of the movie was actually filmed in the house itself, which, I am sorry to say, was the best thing about this movie.

In this fictionalized version of events, in 1906, Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) is called in by the Board of Directors of the Winchester company to evaluate Sarah's (Helen Mirren) mental state because they want to have a reason to take over her shares.  However, Dr. Price is a bit of a libertine and addicted to laudanum and doesn't really want to take on this assignment, but he needs the money and off he goes to meet Sarah Winchester.  And so begins a haunted house odyssey with things that go bump in the night. 

(And I'm not kidding.  This movie is all about making you jump.  I actually kept track of the gotcha moments - 12 of them - except I didn't jump even though I knew I was supposed to).

When the doctor arrives, he meets Sarah's niece, Marion (Sarah Snood) and her weird little son, Henry (Finn Scicluna-O'Prey), and you know how much I like weird little child actors. Not! Helen Mirren may star as Sarah but she doesn't appear until 20 minutes into the film (you can tell how bored I was that I kept track of the gotcha moments and how long it took Helen to appear), but she makes a grand entrance ensconced all in black.  

Sarah tells the doctor that she is cursed and the house is haunted by the souls of the people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle and she is consumed by guilt. She must make amends. The ghosts tell her what rooms to add and she must keep doing that or die.  She must reconstruct the rooms they died in and then they can come alive again and then rest in peace...or something like that.  Naturally the good doctor sees and hears things but is it ghosts or the laudanum?  You see, the good doctor also has his own issues with guilt about his wife's death that make him kind of nutty too.

For a horror film, I found this amazingly dull despite those gotcha moments and the creepy house and despite the presence of Dame Helen and Jason Clarke. 

Mirren doesn't have much to do except walk around looking dazed and Clarke, who seems to be everywhere these days, has a story line that doesn't really go anywhere.  As a horror film, it's not, and even if this film was just going for gothic thriller, it was still zzzzz, because in the end there really isn't much of a story here.  Sarah Winchester was wacko, plain and simple, and even Dame Helen can't rise above this mess.

I mean, c'mon, one of the lines is "Fear only exists in your mind."  Duh.

Or "Conditions can be cured, Doctor.  Curses cannot."  Duh.

Directed by the Spierig Brothers (who I have never heard of) and written by them and Tom Vaughn, this film plays like a Lifetime Movie, but a bad one and that's saying a lot since Lifetime Movies are supposed to be kind of bad or so bad they are good. This film even had one of those Lifetime Movie endings. You know the kind.  The bad guy is dead...or is he?  The ghosts are all gone now...or are they? 

I actually like Lifetime Movies (check out my homage to them that I wrote a few years ago) and this movie is so bad it's almost an insult to Lifetime Movies for me to compare them.

Rosy the Reviewer says...While watching this film, I said out loud, "Dame Helen, what were you thinking?"

Flatliners (2017)

Five medical students try to experience death by stopping their hearts for short periods of time.

OK, first of all, I have some questions:

Question #1 - Who thought we needed to remake this film?  Wasn't the 1990 version starring Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt enough?

Question #2 - James Norton.  You left "Granchester" for this?

Question #3 - Where the hell has Ellen Page been all of this time and why did she surface for this film?

Question #4 - What kind of a high can you possibly get from dying?  I thought death was the ultimate downer?

Question #5 - Why is it that empty hospital corridors are so ominous?

Anyway, those are some thoughts I had while watching this film, but none of those questions really matter because if you saw the first film, even though the stories are a bit different, you don't need to see this one.  And if you didn't see the first one, you haven't really missed much either.

But for the sake of this remake and this review, I will recap the story.

Courtney (Page) is a medical student who has been studying the part of the brain that experiences near death. Courtney has somehow discovered that she can stop her heart for a short time and can experience death.  I guess everyone is searching for the answer - what happens after death?  Is there a white light? Do we see our loved ones?

Courtney gets some other medical students involved in this: Jamie, the handsome ladies man and trust fund kid; the stressed out Sophia (Kiersey Clemons); Ray (Diego Luna), a guy who looks way too old to be a medical student but we are told he was once a firefighter, which I guess is supposed to explain why he's so much older than the others; and Marlo (Nina Dobrev), the pretty one.  They all hang out in an underground bunker at the hospital.  

OK, I have another question.  How can these kids take over the basement of a hospital with all of the equipment they need to stop their hearts and no one discovers them? 

Anyway, best to not try to go too deep here.

Courtney wants to be able to experience death, map it and document it.  She asks Jimmy and Sophia to stop her heart for one minute and then bring her back.  Wouldn't you know, when she dies she experiences the life she really wants and when they bring her back she seems to have more energy and mind power.  Now they all think she is on to something and they all want to try it.

"It's like her brain has been rewired."

But...don't count your chickens, guys, or should I say brain waves....there are some side effects.

Their competitive natures have them trying to stay dead longer which is not a good idea.  Turns out they all have "demons," in their past. For example, Courtney's little sister was killed in a car crash and Courtney feels responsible for her death.  All of the students have things in their past that haunt them and now those demons have come to life in flashbacks and hallucinations.  Kind of like an LSD flashback (not that I would know what those are).  So now the kids have to find out how to stop them.

I guess the message here is take responsibility for your past actions.  Yawn.

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev with a screenplay by Peter Filardi and Ben Ripley, this film interested me for the first hour but then my mind started to wander and I started to want someone to actually die.  I know, that was bad.

It's funny that Kiefer Sutherland is also in this one as a sort of homage to the first film, I guess, but this time as a doctor.  He overacts like mad and looks and acts like a mad scientist.  Perhaps that was his way to show he didn't really approve of this film either.

Rosy the Reviewer says...another "scary movie" that's not scary and you know how I feel about remakes - this is one I certainly didn't hear people clamoring for.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

144 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Story of a Cheat (1936)

It's all about a charming scoundrel.

Sacha Guitry, who wrote, directed and starred in this film about The Cheat, a man who learned early that dishonesty pays, was a poet, a comedian, a playwright, actor and filmmaker who produced more than 100 plays and 32 movies.

It's a film within a film as the now 54-year-old Cheat narrates and reflects on his life as he writes his memoirs in a cafe.

At the age of 12, the young Cheat is caught stealing money from the family grocery shop, and as punishment, is not allowed to eat dinner, a lovely meal of mushrooms.  However, the mushrooms turn out to be poisonous and his family all die. His mother's cousin takes him in and uses his inheritance for his own benefit showing the young man early that dishonesty pays.

He runs away and works at various jobs, such as doorman and hotel bellhop and eventually a croupier in Monaco. He actually tries to be honest but is drawn into nefarious enterprises. In Paris, he is drawn into a plot to assassinate the visiting Czar, and he meets up with a woman who tries to get him to help her cheat the casino. Later, the Cheat is picked up by a beautiful woman in a restaurant who turns out to be jewel thief. All of these schemes end in failure until after several other jobs of a dubious nature and some humorous adventures, he is finally able to go straight.

The film acts like a silent film because in lieu of dialogue Guitry uses his narration as dialogue while the characters mouth their lines. It's almost as if the actors are Guitry's puppets. It sounds strange but Guitry's tales, observations and bon mots as his character moves through his dishonest life are so charming it will draw you in.

Why it's a Must See: "Widely regarded as Sacha Guitry's masterpiece..."

Rosy the Reviewer says...Despite the film being over 80 years old, it was quite charming and au courant.

(b & w, in French with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

Meghan: A Hollywood Princess by Andrew Morton (2018)

Just in time for the May 19th wedding.  Everything you didn't know about Meghan Markle.

If you are a royal watcher, like I am, you already have your fascinator and your teacup ready for the Royal Wedding.  I got up to watch Charles and Diana get married and I am not going to miss this one.  I just hope it has a happier ending than Charles and Diana.

I think it will. 

Meghan and Harry are both mature people who seem to have figured out what they want out of life and that started early for Meghan.  Meghan's choice of quote for her high school yearbook was from Eleanor Roosevelt: "Women are like teabags; they don't realize how strong they are until they're in hot water."  That tells you a lot about Ms. Markle even from a very young age. 

And things have changed within the British Royal family.

As Morton writes:

"When the American actor Rachel Meghan Markle walks down the aisle at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, she will be making history.  In the last important royal wedding for a generation, Prince Harry's glamorous bride will be the first biracial divorcee ever to marry a member of the British royal family.  Their union, blessed by Her Majesty the Queen, will make the monarchy seem more inclusive and relevant in an ever-changing world."

And this is all really huge. 

It's no longer necessary for a Prince to marry a virgin (Diana) and even a divorcee is not off limits these days, though when Edward VIII tried to marry the woman he loved, a divorcee, it caused a constitutional crisis and he had to abdicate. Likewise Princess Margaret had to give up the love of her life because Group Captain Peter Townsend was a divorced man. And the fact that Meghan Markle is also biracial is another milestone in the Royal Family bringing themselves into the 21st century.

If you may remember, Andrew Morton also wrote "Diana, Her True Story," which really was Diana's true story as she was secretly feeding him information about what was happening behind the palace walls and within her marriage, and it blew the lid off of the fairy tale marriage of Charles and Diana. Since then he has chronicled the Royals for most of his career (though he has also written biographies about celebrities as well), most recently "Wallis in Love," the story of Wallis Warfield Simpson and her aforementioned love affair with Edward VIII and his subsequent abdication. 

Here Morton presents a thorough and well-balanced look at the life of Meghan Markle, the future Duchess.

I was surprised how much I did not know about Ms. Markle.

  • She was high school homecoming queen
  • Her parents divorced when she was two
  • Her family nickname was "Flower.
  • Her advocacy started young. At age 11, she found a Procter and Gamble TV ad for dish soap to be sexist ("Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans") and wrote letters of protest, not just to P & G but to Hillary Clinton and others.  She thought the ad should say "People all over America..."  She heard from Hillary but not from P & G but soon after the ad was changed to "People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans." 
  • Her Dad was an Emmy-award winning lighting director for TV shows ("General Hospital," "Married With Children") and Meghan often hung out on the "Married with Children" set
  • She has a B.A. in international relations from Northwestern University
  • She is a goodwill ambassador for the UN
  • She was a suitcase model on "Deal or No Deal"
  • She is a skilled calligrapher and addressed the envelopes for Robin Thicke's and Paula Patton's wedding invitations (hey, it's not easy being an aspiring actress!  You have to make money where you can!)
  • She made five pilots before finally landing her recurring role in "Suits"

But apart from the facts of her life, the book also gives a detailed look at the courtship - how they met, how their love blossomed, how they kept it a secret, how and when Harry proposed - all of the juicy details that we Royal Watchers really want!

So I will be glued to the TV to watch the Royal Wedding with my fascinator perched atop my head, my tea cup with my pinky sticking out, and Hubby at my side because May 19th is also the day WE were married and it's been a (mostly) happy 34 years. 

I can only wish Meghan and Harry the same.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a must-read for Royal Watchers and anyone who wants to know more about the future Duchess.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 

"Life of the Party"

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 
I Die Project." 

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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 down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.

Friday, April 13, 2018

"A Quiet Place" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "A Quiet Place" as well as DVDs "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" and "Father Figures."  The Book of the Week is "Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Two or Three Things I Know About Her."]

A Quiet Place

There could be monsters in our future.

Imagine having to go barefoot everywhere, live in a basement, communicate in sign language, eat off of lettuce leaves so plates and cutlery don't make noise, play Monopoly with cloth tokens or, worse, give birth in complete silence so that you won't call attention to yourself and get eaten by a monster.

Such are the lives of the Abbott family.

It's some time in the apocalyptic future and somehow really, really ugly and scary monsters have taken over the world. There is no backstory as to how that happened, but it doesn't really matter.  They are here and now everyone has to deal. The good news is that they are blind.  The bad news is that they have very good hearing and track their prey - you - through sound, so even the slightest sound out of the ordinary can bring those monsters a calling.

Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) and their three children - Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who ironically is deaf, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward) - have all worked out a routine of living in silence, but one day on an outing to pick up supplies in the deserted town Beau finds a little toy rocket ship.  Lee takes it away from him and removes the batteries, but young Regan, feeling sorry for her little brother, secretly gives it back to him not knowing that he has also grabbed those batteries.  On the way home he fires up the little rocket which makes a loud noise and as soon as that happens he is grabbed and eaten by a monster right in front of his horrified family.  These monsters are not playing!

So now it's a year later and it's just the four of them. Regan is wracked with guilt and the family is grieving but they have figured out a way to survive even though 
Evelyn is now pregnant. One wonders how that's going to work out.  Not only does Evelyn have to give birth quietly but they will have to keep the newborn baby quiet somehow. Life is not easy for the Abbotts. 

This is what I call "adult horror." 

It's slow to get started as we get to know the family and settle into their lives.  Like most horror films that bank on huge amounts of blood and gore to make you clench your armrest, this one doesn't, but that doesn't mean the film isn't scary.  It is, but what is scary is watching ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, parents trying to take care of their children against all odds. Instead of the cheap thrills of chainsaws and blood spewing everywhere, this film is all about people who could be you or I having to adjust their lives to a life of intense silence in order to survive, every day, every hour, every minute, a war of survival as they try to stave off the inevitable sound that will bring the monsters while still living their lives, loving and protecting their children. We are the Abbotts, and though it's slow going at first, once this film gets going, there are plenty of jolts to go around.

Because the family must live in silence, they communicate in sign language and there is little dialogue. There is an irony in the fact that the monsters have acute hearing and Regan is deaf, though that explains why the family knows American Sign Language and her deafness also is a plot line that plays into the ending of the film, another irony.  The silence gives the actors the opportunity to show off their acting skills, because they must rely on facial expressions and body language to express themselves and their characters and this ensemble cast is up to the job.  It isn't long before you are drawn into their world and you become part of the silence. 

Emily Blunt is wonderful here but we are used to seeing her in dramatic roles.  Such is not the case with Krasinski, who is Blunt's real life husband and who is more known for comic roles than dramatic ones, but here he holds his own with his wife. Millicent Simmonds, who made a big splash in "Wonderstuck," and who is deaf in real life, has a wonderfully expressive face, and young Jupe, who you might remember as Jack Will, Auggie's friend, in "Wonder," rounds out this impressive cast.  Oh, and the monsters do their part, too.  They are also impressive.

Krasinski stars but has also written and directed the film (screenplay co-written with Scott Beck and Bryan Woods), and this is 90 minutes of nail biting intensity, though I have to say that the ending, though empowering, was a bit too pat.  But that doesn't mean this wasn't a really, really good horror film.  It was and is one of the best.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a terrifying experience and one of the runaway hits of the year that you don't want to miss. 

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Four teenagers are pulled into a video game and must figure out how to win the game in order to get back to reality.

This is the sequel (of sorts) to the 1995 original which I have already forgotten, but homage is paid here to the first film when a kid finds the Jumanji game on a beach and gives it to a friend.  The friend puts it on a shelf where it stays until it transforms from a board game to a video game.

Fast forward to the present day where we meet Spencer (Alex Wolff), a nerdy teen who is also a nervous germaphobe; The Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), a high school football player; Bethany (Madison Iseman), who is obsessed with selfies; and Martha (Morgan Turner), the smart girl who really wishes she was a hottie like Bethany.  All four of them find themselves in detention together where they find the old Jumanji game which has transformed into a video game. They turn it on and when the game tells them to choose their avatars, they do, but instead of just playing the game, they are pulled into the video and become the game.  

Spencer has transformed into Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). 
True to his name, Bravestone looks like a dashing character known for his brave exploits and smoldering look.  Unfortunately, in real life Spencer is a scaredy cat. The academic Martha has become sexy Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan); the big, tall football player Fridge is now the short, wimpy Franklin "Mouse" Finbar (Kevin Hart); and Bethany, thinking Shelly was a girl's name chose Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) as her avatar, not realizing that Shelly was a male cartography professor. Right from the moment they all start the game they are fending off monsters and on the run from bad guys.  I knew detention was bad but not this bad.

They eventually figure out the point of the game: to lift the curse of the Jewel of Jumanji and return it to it's rightful place.  It had been stolen by the evil Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) from the eye of the jaguar statue and a curse fell over the land.  The four must use their skills to return the jewel to the jaguar's eye and thus get themselves out of the game and back to reality.

"Return the jewel and lift the curse!"

Directed by Jake Kasdan with a screenplay based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, the film showcases a series of comic adventures as the four seek to find the jewel and return it to the statue, but it's also the story of four diverse school kids who would never have been friends in real life, but just as the four game characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, so, too, do the real life kids and they all come to know and respect each other for those differences. 

The actors all do a good job of playing their characters within their characters.  Despite their video game personas, we never forget who they are in real life.  For example, Jack Black may look like a chubby professor but the self-absorbed fifteen-year-old Bethany is still apparent. Kevin Hart is, well, Kevin Hart, a particular favorite of mine.  His double takes, wide-eyed expressions of fear and mumbling asides under his breath always make me laugh. Karen Gillen, who I remember as Nebula in the last "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie pulls her weight here, which isn't easy with those two comedic power houses to deal with.  

And then there's The Rock.  I am fundamentally opposed to body-builders and wrestlers becoming actors and leading men.  It's just wrong so I have never wanted to like Dwayne Johnson but, darn it, I can't help it.  He is just so damn likable and self-deprecating, and he is very good at these action films. Here he does a good job of looking like a he-man but reminding us that he is really the nerdy and fearful Spencer.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you can suspend disbelief, it's a lot of fun.

Father Figures (2017)

When two fraternal twins find out their mother has been lying to them about who their father was, they hit the road to try to find their real Dad.

It can be quite a shock to realize that not only the man you thought was your Dad wasn't really your Dad, but also that your mother was kind of a slut.

Such was the case for Peter (Ed Helms) and Kyle (Owen Wilson) when their mother (Glenn Close) tells them that she had lied about their Dad.  He didn't die when they were young.  She just told them that because she wasn't sure who their Dad was.  Hey, it was the 70's!  When they find this out, Peter and Kyle, who up until now had not been that close and had lived very different lives, embark on a comic odyssey to find their real Dad.

Peter is a doctor but he's not happy and it doesn't help that he's a proctologist and has to deal with a**holes all day long - literally.  He is divorced and his own son doesn't even really like him.  He's a lonely guy and a bit of a sad sack.

However, Kyle is living the good life in Hawaii.  He is the face of a BBQ product that has made him millions.  He is the opposite of Peter.  He's happy and positive.  The two come together for their mother's wedding and that's when they discover their Dad was not who they thought he was.  In fact their mother tells them their real Dad is ex-football star Terry Bradshaw.

So it's a road tripping buddy film as the two brothers fly and drive across country to try to find their real Dad.  Kyle lists their top mission: Find Dad.  However, Kyle also has what he calls some sub missions - Get Peter laid followed by eating some salt water crabs and swimming with dolphins.

First stop, Terry Bradshaw.  Peter couldn't be happier.  A real life Hall of Fame football player is his Dad!  When they meet Terry, Terry remembers their Mom, thinks it's possible that Peter and Kyle could be his sons, embraces them, and invites them over to his house where they all bond. However, they soon discover that Terry is not their Dad and so, disappointed, they are on to the next possibility: Roland Hart (J.K. Simmons).  

Roland lives with his Mom, played by June Squibb (If you need an actress to play a foul-mouthed old lady, she's your gal) and paints himself as a repo man, but is in fact a car thief, and when the brothers accompany him to a "job," they get embroiled in the theft of a Ferrari, Roland ends up in the hospital and they discover their blood types don't match so possible-Dad number 2 - nope.

On to possible Dad #3 - who turns out to be a dead cop.

And so it goes.

In the meantime, there is a funny scene when the brothers pick up Katt Williams, an amiable hitchhiker.  They make him swear he's not a serial killer and then tie him up in the back seat just to make sure.  

Oh, and Peter finally gets laid.

I have to say, I know that fraternal twins don't necessarily look alike but Owen Wilson and Ed Helms are not even in the realm of familial possibility.  But maybe that was the joke and I just missed it. Wilson has made a name for himself playing happy-go-lucky and often irritating surfer dudes and here he is again.  He is a likable actor so I don't really have a problem with him.  But Ed Helms?  I just don't get him at all.  Maybe it has something to do with his teeth.

Directed by Lawrence Sher with a screenplay by Justin Malen, once again here I am with hopes high, watching a comedy and... I don't think I laughed. More and more I am questioning my sense of humor.  Why?  Because I never find any of these newer comedies to be very funny.  They are rife with old ladies saying inappropriate sexual things, pratfalls, and cheap puerile humor, not to mention far-fetched scenarios. For example, for all of the predicaments the brothers found themselves in - stealing cars, getting hit by a train, Peter thinking he has slept with his sister - there are no consequences for any of it. 

But, my peeps, in the interests of not becoming redundant in my bitching about the state of comedies in the world, I have decided to lower my standards. I will try to at least chuckle a couple of times.

Rosy the Reviewer says...So I will say, I didn't hate this film.  Katt Williams made me chuckle a couple of times.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

148 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967)

Only Godard could tell the story of a bored Parisien housewife/prostitute (Marina Vlady) and manage to work in the Vietnam War and the evils of commercialism.

The film is narrated in a whisper, as if the narrator is telling us things we aren't supposed to know.  The movie is already irritating me.

Director Jean-Luc Godard was a huge influence on many American directors, but sometimes when I watch movies like this, movies that are so far beyond comprehension that you must dig deep to figure out the point, I can't help but think that the director is having a laugh at our expense and there really isn't a point.

From what I can figure, this film is about the Vietnam War, the evils of commercialism and TV, we are all slaves to the industrial complex
and we are all going to die.  Godard also doesn't seem to like women much. He also likes to use the Brechtian technique of distancing us from the actors and reminding us that that is fiction. I found it to be unwatchable.  

I had to drink way more wine than usual to get through this film.  It's one thing to try to use film to make a statement, to educate, even be poetic but when you create a film that requires that I spend more time trying to figure out what the hell is going on than enjoying the story or caring about the characters, then what is the point? And speaking of telling a story, there really isn't one. It's just people going about their boring mundane lives living lives of quiet desperation. But does a movie have to be boring to make the point that most of us live boring lives?  Do I have to be made to feel desperate while watching this to understand that most of us are?  Even if I understood what was going on here, the film would still not be enjoyable.  For me, a film needs to be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience on some level at least.  And this wasn't.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film] is one of several ...Godard films that take prostitution as a metaphor for life in the modern capitalist state.  For Godard, a woman selling herself for money provides a perfect image of how what is most personal and life-enhancing --the sexual act -- becomes, like everything else, a commodity.  The human being becomes alienated from herself, a mere thing to be bought and sold."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Godard's movies are lovely to look at but this felt like an in-your-face blatant diatribe about commercialism and human stupidity.  I didn't need to sit through 90 minutes of this to figure that out, though I felt stupid watching it.  Eight of his films made the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book. I just don't get it.  Godard supposedly didn't work from a screenplay but rather improvised as he went along.  It shows. 

And I never did find out the two or three things...

Rosy the Reviewer says...I have one more Godard I need to see as part of my "1001 Movies" project and then I am done with Godard!

***Book of the Week***

Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure by Amy Kaufman (2018)

The inner workings of "The Bachelor" revealed!

How is it that a 69-year-old long-time-married woman finds herself reading a book by a 32-year-old single woman and agreeing with her on everything?  What could those two possibly have in common?  Why the same guilty pleasure as millions of others: "The Bachelor!"

Kaufman clears up many questions and suspicions and I learned some things that I didn't know, though not as much as I had hoped.  Mainly what I learned was that I already knew way more about "The Bachelor" than I should.

What I suspected:

  • The producers do ask the Bachelor to keep on certain women who are "good TV," even if they don't have a chance at the Final Rose.

  • Producer Mike Fleiss is related to the notorious Hollywood Madam, Heidi Fleiss.  They are cousins. Must be something in their genes that tells them how to market what people crave: love and sex.

  • Yes, there is sex in The Fantasy Suite. Duh.

What I learned:

  • The Bachelor Mansion is called Villa de la Vina and is located near where the Kardashians live and is owned by Marshall Haraden.  He and his family live there ten months out of the year and leave when production for "The Bachelor" is underway.  Twice a year the production staff removes everything from the house and then spends two weeks setting everything up the way they want it including repainting the walls and adding props - big lanterns, stone sculptures and over-sized candlesticks are popular. 

  • The big room in the Mansion where everyone hangs out is called "The Mixer Room" and the foyer that leads to it is called the "Tink Tink Spot," because that's where Chris Harrison stands and taps the glass to get everyone's attention.

  • Believe it or not, the Mansion only has three bedrooms and contestants sometimes sleep in bunk beds twelve to a room.  Everyone does their own laundry and cooking and absolutely no distractions are allowed - no TV, no books, no computers.  And the contestants have to bring all of their own clothes.

  • The editing process is done by staffers who never have any interaction with cast members.  Loggers - employees who watch the raw footage - transcribe it all and give it to the story producers who tell the editors how they want an episode to go and then "Frankenbiting" is used to create certain narratives.  A "Frankenbite" is a sound bite that has been re-cut so that it has a different meaning.  For example, if the Bachelor says "I do not want to go on a date with Mary," an editor can take out the words "do not" and change it to "I want to go on a date with Mary."  Just think of the possibilities there!

  • Warner Brothers has a whole consumer line of Bachelor products - wine, candy and the "Will You Accept This Rose?" Bento Box.

Kaufman imposes a little armchair psychology to the whole proceedings:

"I think we watch The Bachelor because we're anxious about our own love lives, and the show gives us an outlet to express our fears about the modern dating world.  It allows us to see a world filled with courtship, chivalry, and romance -- and while we may scoff at the helicopters and hot tubs, deep down I think many of us still long for those kinds of things while we're spending hours swiping left on Tinder."

Rosy the Reviewer says...well, like I said, Kaufman is 32 and single but that certainly doesn't explain what I'm doing watching "The Bachelor!" If you just can't bring yourself to watch every week, check out Reality Steve.  He has the whole thing figured out before it even airs. 

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 

"Isle of Dogs"

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 
I Die Project." 

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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 down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.