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

Sunday, April 30, 2023

When "Cocaine Bear" is the Best Movie You Have Seen in Weeks! Some Movies You Might NOT Enjoy Watching At Home.

[I review the movies "Cocaine Bear," "80 for Brady," "Magic Mike's Last Dance," and "Women Talking"] 

Is "Cocaine Bear" a wonderful movie?  No.  I wouldn't go that far. But I knew what I was going to get - an entertaining, sometimes funny, horror film - and that is important. I wasn't disappointed, so it's the best movie I have seen in a long while.  

Sadly, the other movies I am reviewing here were very disappointing. I think they were trying to do something more but failed miserably.  What is going on in the movie world these days? So far, for me, few have been worth seeing.  And that makes me sad.  Let's hope it's just a blip, but in the meantime, I'm going to be b**chy, er, tell it like it is about the movies. As always, you can count on me.

Cocaine Bear (2023)

A huge black bear goes on a rampage after ingesting cocaine.

So how does a bear find cocaine?  Well, a drug smuggler (Matthew Rhys) tries to parachute out of his plane with a duffel bag full of cocaine but knocks himself out as he exits the plane, falling to his death.  The duffel with the cocaine falls into the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest where a black bear eats it, likes it, goes berzerk and attacks two hikers from Iceland.  The hikers should have realized they were in trouble when they saw the bear beating its head against a tree. 

Meanwhile middle-schoolers Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery) skip school and head for the forest where they find a brick of cocaine and try some.  When she discovers that Dee Dee has skipped school, her mother, Sari (Keri Russell), enlists the aid of Liz (Margo Martindale), a forest ranger, and ventures into the forest to find her daughter.  At the same time, the drug smuggler's cohorts Daveed (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) are sent looking for the cocaine by their boss, Syd White (Ray Liotta in his last role) and some local delinquents are hanging around causing complications.  

All of these disparate characters encounter the bear and mayhem ensues - literally.  Legs and arms are flying around all over the place and it isn't always the bear doing the damage. The characters are not the sharpest tools and find ways to hurt themselves too! I have to admit I laughed quite a bit, because, though, grizzly (pardon the pun), this film is actually funny. Nothing like a head rolling into view after a particularly bad encounter with the bear.

Now I know the idea of a bear eating cocaine and going berserk sounds rather far-fetched, but believe it or not, this film, written by Jimmy Warden and directed by Elizabeth Banks, is actually based on a true event, though granted very loosely based. In the original event, the bear unfortunately died.  Here, the bear gets hooked and therein lies the comedy. All of the actors seem to be having a good time and you will too. And you will find yourself rooting for the bear, who it turns out, aided by lots of CGI, is quite a good actor.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like over-the-top comedy/horror, you will enjoy this.  And remember that old anti-drug commercial - "This is your brain on drugs?"  Well, this is a bear on drugs!  (now streaming on Peacock)

Okay, so I liked "Cocaine Bear." 

It didn't try to be anything but what it was - a comedy/horror film with a sense of humor about itself. But as for the next few movies I am going to review...let me preface them with this.

If you have never read the search description of my blog, here it is: 

"In her often humorous yet personal style, Rosy reviews movies, TV shows and books you will want to know about (and some you will want to avoid)!" 

Well, here comes the AVOID part.

(And I know some of these films may have fans, but you know that old saying "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like?"  Well, I know a lot about movies and I know what I DON'T like!)

80 for Brady (2023)

Four women of a certain age go on a mission to attend the Super Bowl and meet Tom Brady. 

Four friends - Trish (Jane Fonda), Lou (Lily Tomlin), Maura (Rita Moreno) and Betty (Sally Field) - are all octogenarians.  Well, not Betty, as she keeps pointing out. They bond over their love of Tom Brady.  They discovered him sixteen years ago when Lou was battling cancer.  They thought he was hot and they started a tradition of being super fans. So now it's 2017 and the Patriots have made it to the Super Bowl against the Steelers, and the four are determined to somehow go there to see their hero. They manage to win tickets for the game and off they go. Silly, Old Lady shenanigans ensue. And that's it. That's the whole movie.

I swore I was not going to see this movie, because I am not a fan of movies where Old Ladies are made to look ridiculous, and I had a feeling that's what was going to happen in this movie. But I am Rosy the Reviewer, after all, so I felt that I needed to do due diligence for my fans, and as an Old Lady myself, I felt I had the cred to give my take on this film. So I watched it and I was right. It was a nightmare of Old Ladies running around like madwomen trying to get tickets to the Super Bowl so they could drool over Tom Brady, and once they were there, getting themselves involved in all kinds of crazy stuff. It was also about Old Ladies obsessed with sex (which is almost always a theme in these kinds of movies), smoking pot and getting high (another cliche) and participating in silly antics for the amusement of the masses. 

"Oh, look at that old lady.  She is high and wearing a mask and thinks she is in an 'Eyes Wide Shut" scenario with a bunch of guys who all look like Guy Fieri. Isn't that hilarious?" Not

"Oh look Betty is competing in a hot wings eating contest and can eat the hottest of the hot! Isn't that hilarious?" Not.

"Gee, Trish writes erotic fan fiction about Rob Gronkowski.  Isn't that hilarious?" Not.

"Wow, look at Lou giving Tom a pep talk so that he can come back from behind and win the game! Isn't that hilarious?" Not. 

But the final straw was when the ladies made their way into the coordinator's booth and called the plays for the game!! What? Hilarious, right? Old Ladies calling the plays for the Super Bowl and their team wins.  I give up.

So here's the question.  

What are seasoned, award-winning actresses doing in a mess like this?  Shouldn't they be playing the great roles for older women created by Shaw, Lorca, Chekhov and Wilde?  But no, they have to pander to the masses and make fools of themselves, and for that, okay, they did a good job of that. Because instead of playing some of the great roles for women of a certain age, they are playing old ladies lusting after Tom Brady!

I know actresses of a certain age have to hustle for roles.  They are not respected as they should be and I get that but c'mon, ladies. Can't you finance something serious for yourselves that celebrates being a successful woman of a certain age that helps us learn something from your lives? Or maybe Broadway is calling. Broadway doesn't require close-ups (though Jane at 80 looks like a baby doll - I need to know who her plastic surgeon is!), and it doesn't pander to Avenger fans.  Don't soil your awards with stuff like this.  You deserve better.

Written by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern and directed by Kyle Marvin, this film is based on a true story and I will give it props for celebrating female friendships, but why make this movie? So four Old Ladies love Tom Brady and want to go to the Super Bowl.  That's really stretching it as the plotline for a film. Oh, right, Tom Brady is one of the producers.

The best thing about this movie was the football footage and I'm not even a football fan!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you want a good movie about older women watch "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" or "The Joy Luck Club."  But not this one. (Streaming on Paramount+, on DVD and for rent on Amazon Prime)

Magic Mike's Last Dance (2023)

Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) is back and offered a deal he can't refuse.

And thank god this is his last dance.  I mean, how many more hip gyrations can our now aging Mike do before he throws his hip out?

When the movie starts, Mike is 40 and the pandemic has taken a toll on him. He feels adrift.  He has given up dancing and started a furniture store but it was failing so now he is hustling and taking any gig he can get.  But then, while bartending at a charity event, he meets Max Mendoza (Salma Hayek), an older, very rich woman who is also adrift. Her marriage is in trouble and she is bored. She propositions him.  At first, Mike thinks she has mistaken him for a male prostitute, but then she explains that one of her friends had told her he did a "nice little dance."  She thought if he danced for her, it would lift her spirits.  She asks him how much and he says "$60,000."  That's a bit much even for a very rich woman.  How about $6000?  It's a deal.

Well, my peeps, let me tell you. Boy, did our Mike do a dance!  It was actually a bit cringey but when he lifted her up onto his shoulders and pressed her against the sliding glass door... Let's just say it all became less a dance and more like a simulated sex act, but still really cringey...and, then, well, they ended up in bed as one does after a dance like that.

And based on that dance, Max gets her groove back and decides to hire Mike to come to London to choreograph a show in her theatre.  You see, her husband (Alan Cox) owns a famous, historic theatre - Rattigan's - in the West End and Max looks after it. So far, they have been producing stuffy period plays but now Max, with her newly ignited passion, wants to capture the magic of our Mike and put on a male stripper show.  How do you think that's going to go over?

This is not just a sequel to the first hugely successful 2012 "Magic Mike" movie.  And you already know how I feel about sequels (if you don't, you haven't been reading my reviews very long). This is a sequel to a sequel  and the fact that it's a sequel to a sequel makes it that much worse.  They should have all stopped while they were ahead.  

I am a Channing Tatum fan and was a fan of the original movie, but this is a perfect example of wringing as much out of a concept as possible, and not in a good way. With a screenplay by Reid Carolin (he wrote the first two Magic Mike films), this is about as far-fetched as you can get and takes away any good feelings you might have had about the original film. It did for me, anyway. 

Why would a rich woman hire a perfect stranger, who gave her an elaborate lap dance, to come to London to choreograph a show at her theatre?  I don't care how good a dancer he is, she has known this guy for ONE DAY! And to make matters worse, the film is slow to get going, there is the requisite disaffected teenage daughter, which I have become sick of encountering in films, and there's not enough sex.  Some good sex can sometimes save a bad movie but, anyway, I digress.  This is basically a "let's put on a show" movie, but it makes you wish Judy Garland and Micky Rooney would turn up (I know, you young-uns don't have the slightest idea who I am talking about)! 

And then Max's husband does what he can to shut down the show. A bureaucratic prig has a problem with the stage, but the male strippers get her to change her mind by taking over the city bus she is riding on and doing a dance for her. Please. Have you ever been to London? THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. I am absolutely gobsmacked that this thing was directed by Steven Soderbergh.  He must have also been affected by the Pandemic!

It seemed this film was striving for a metaphor - dance is life or something like that. The teenaged actress playing Max's daughter (Jamelia George) narrates and brings up highfalutin stuff about dance and life but if you are going to do that, DON'T CHOOSE MALE STRIPPERS.  When male strippers personify dance as life, I'm saying, nope.

Rosy the Reviewer says...just awful.

Women Talking (2022)

In 2010, the women and girls of an unnamed, isolated Mennonite colony discover that the men have been using livestock tranquilizer to subdue and rape them. What should they do?  Nothing?  Stay and fight?  Or leave?

When the women discovered that the men had been raping them, they had been told that the acts were the acts of demons.  Right, demon men in their community.  The attackers are arrested and imprisoned and the women are told they need to forgive the men and that forgiveness gets them into heaven.  If they don't forgive they will have to leave the colony.  So while most of the men are away posting bail, the women decide to vote on whether or not to forgive the men.  So lots of talking and arguing about what to do and we get to know the women.

Scarface Janz (Frances McDormand) wants to stay along with Salome (Claire Foy) and Ona (Rooney Mara), who is pregnant after being raped, but she votes to stay only if new rules give women equality. However, Ona changes her mind and joins Mejal (Michelle McLeod) to leave the colony along with Mariche (Jessie Buckley). There are those set in their ways who want to uphold the status quo, even when there is abuse, and then there are those who want to embrace change no matter what. 

August (Ben Whishaw), the colony's schoolteacher, joins the women to record the meeting, as none of the women were taught to read or write. Their reasons for leaving are transcribed by August: to ensure the safety of their children, to be steadfast in their faith, and to have freedom of thought. They decide to try to take boys aged fifteen years and younger with them. The women plan to leave at sunrise but it's not that easy.  Who will get away, who will stay?

Oh, the evil that men do.  Sorry, guys, but we women don't do this sort of thing, subjugating you, making you powerless, and worse, drugging and raping you.  But the bottom line here is the power that women have once they start talking and sharing and when they realize they are not alone.  When women get together and share a common bond of mistrust and abuse, watch out!  

Written and directed by Sarah Polley, the film is based on a 2018 Canadian novel of the same name by Miriam Toews (who also contributed to the screenplay) and was inspired by rapes that occurred at the Manitoba Colony, a remote and isolated Mennonite community in Bolivia. 

This film was nominated for Best Picture of 2022, which brings me to my usual rant about the Academy raising the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10.  It is sometimes a stretch to get to 10 and, though this film has redeeming qualities in its message, I don't really see it as a Best Picture. It has limited appeal for various reasons i.e. it would mostly be of interest to women and those watching "Return to Amish (okay, don't come after me.  That's my sense of humor);" it's very claustrophic and talky; and it has a one note plot that is slow, slow, slow and not much happens. The film is aptly titled. The women talk and talk and talk and talk.  I usually have a high tolerance for movies like this, but my finger was itchy on the fast forward button for most of it.   

But it looks like I am in the minority. 

It was named one of the top ten films of 2022 by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute and won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 28th Critics Choice Awards and the 75th Writers Guild of America Awards. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time but I am thinking you won't be either. 

I wanted to like this film. 

It had qualities I usually like: a film about women written and directed by a woman, an outstanding cast and a hopeful theme - that the young people will learn from the past and come to save us. God knows we need the young people to save us these days but sadly they can't save this movie.

Rosy the Reviewer says..though the film features an all-star cast and has redeeming qualities, it failed at the most basic level. It was boring.

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)

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

When There Is Nothing Playing At The Movie Theatres That Makes You Want To Leave Home: Some Good Movies You Can Watch in Your PJ's! Part 2

[I review "A Man Called Otto," "Murder Mystery 2," and "M3gan"]

My local theatre has still not been able to lure me back, so here I am in Part 2 of sitting home in my PJ's with a glass of wine enjoying some good movies.  Join me?

A Man Called Otto (2022)

A grieving widower just wants to end it all but something always happens to interrupt his suicide attempts.

Based on the 2012 novel "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman, this is a remake of the 2015 Swedish dramedy made from that book.  I am usually against remakes of perfectly good foreign language films but since I didn't see that film, I am going to pretend this isn't a remake because FINALLY a movie I really loved!

Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks) is a 63 year-old widower living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Otto is not a happy man. He has not taken the death of his school teacher wife well.  In fact, he plans to commit suicide.  But Otto is also a control freak, and one of his roles in life is keeping order in his housing project, telling people off, making sure his neighbors are doing what they are supposed to do and that people don't drive down the private street in his complex, so these concerns keep interrupting his attempts to end his life.

Through a series of flashbacks, we meet the young Otto, played by Hanks' real life son, Truman. We witness his courtship of his wife, Sonya (Rachel Keller), see their lives together and get glimpses into why Otto is the way he is.

Speaking of neighbors, during a suicide attempt, Otto is interrupted by his new neighbors: Marisol (Mariana Trevino), Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and their two daughters, Abbie (Alessandra Perez) and Luna (Christiana Montoya). In fact, despite his gruffness and unfriendly demeanor, Marisol worms her way into Otto's life, asking for his help babysitting the children when her husband needs to go to the hospital and helping her learn to drive, all once again interrupting his attempts to kill himself. 

Likewise, other events happen to keep Otto alive.

Planning to kill himself by jumping in front of a train, Otto saves an old man who falls onto the tracks right before him. It goes viral and Otto is a hero.  Likewise, despite Otto's desire to die and his innate grumpiness, he has a soft spot for his neighbor, Reuben (Peter Lawson Jones), who had a stroke and is cared for by his wife, Anita (Juanita Jennings). A real estate company is trying to swindle them out of their home and Otto goes to bat for them. Otto also takes in Malcolm, a transgender youth, who was one of Sonia's students and whose parents have kicked them out of their home.

Slowly but surely, though Otto wants to die, he learns to live.

Many Brits consider Judi Dench a "National Treasure." I propose that Tom Hanks be given that moniker here in the U.S.  From his beginnings on TV as a guy pretending to be a woman so he could live in a women's only apartment complex ("Bosom Buddies") to his Oscars for "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump" to his AFI Life Achievement Award, Tom has proven himself to be one of our foremost actors and this performance is the cherry on top. I am shocked that it didn't give him an Oscar nod or that this film did not get any nominations.  It's one of the few films I actually liked this year and the acting ensemble is first rate with special kudos to Mariana Trevino.

With a screenplay by David Magee (based on the book by Backman and the screenplay by Hannes Holm from the 2015 film) and directed by Marc Forster, this is a sentimental, sometimes heart-wrenching story of finding meaning in life after tragedy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...finally, a movie I am not going to complain about.  In fact, I loved it.  You will too.  And I proclaim Tom Hanks a National Treasure! (on DVD and for rent on Amazon Prime and Apple+)

Murder Mystery 2 (2023)

Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) and Nick Spitz (Adam Sandler) are back but now they have started a detective agency but working together has taken a toll on their marriage.

This is the follow-up to "Murder Mystery," which premiered on Netflix in 2019.  I guess it was very popular, because here we are again for the sequel. I guess despite my verdict about it (that it was fun but you probably wouldn't remember it a few days later), someone did remember it and deemed it sequel worthy. I actually didn't remember it and had to read my review of the first one to remind myself.  I won't go into my usual rant about sequels (I don't like them), but this is timely since Sandler just won the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Award for American Humor and was roasted and raved about recently during the ceremony broadcast on CNN. And it's a fun movie.

So as a recap, in the first "Murder Mystery," we met Nick and Audrey Spitz.  He was a New York cop and she was a hairdresser and on a European vacation they got involved in a murder on a yacht and actually became suspects and had to solve the murder to save themselves. 

This time around Audrey and Nick have started their own detective agency and you know how working together can be for married couples..sometimes it doesn't promote togetherness.  Let's just say the two have a lively marriage with lots of bickering. Think Nick and Nora Charles from "The Thin Man," except less sophisticated banter, but I guess nothing brings two people together like solving a murder together.  And that's what happens.

Their friend, Vikram ‘The Maharajah’ Govindan (Adeel Akhtar), invites them to attend his wedding on his private island, all expenses paid, which the pair accept. Enter the soon-to-be usual suspects: Vik’s French fiancé Claudette Joubert (Melanie Laurent), his  business partner Francisco Perez (Enrique Arce), his former fiancé Countess Sekou (Jodie Turner-Smith), her lady-in-waiting Imani (Zurin Villanueva), Vik's sister Saira (Kuhoo Verma) and Colonel Ulenga (John Kani), minus his left arm courtesy of saving Vik from an assassination attempt.

At Vik and Claudette's reception, Vik makes a grand entrance on an elephant except it's not Vik, it's his bodyguard, Lou (Larry Myo Leong).  Lou has been stabbed and Vik has been kidnapped and the kidnappers want $70 million.  Enter hostage negotiator Connor Miller (Mark Strong) who doesn't think much of Nick and Audrey, and during a botched exchange of money with the kidnappers and more people dying, Nick and Audrey realize they are being framed once again and must solve the mystery to absolve themselves, the same thing that happened the first time around!

Written by James Vanderbilt and directed by Jeremy Garelick, there are lots of twists and turns, car chases, an out of control helicopter and Audrey hanging from the Eiffel Tower in what looks to be an homage to "True Lies" and an ending in true Agatha Christie style with all of the suspects in one room being interrogated by Nick and Audrey and the true killer and kidnapper unmasked.

Jennifer has perfected the twitchy, nervous character she inhabited for "Friends" and, Adam Sandler, well he has always been Adam Sandler from Stud Boy on the MTV game show "Remote Control" to SNL to feature comedy films like "Billy Madison" and "Waterboy," though now, in his maturity, he has shown his ability to take on drama ("Uncut Gems"). So if you are an Adam Sandler fan, he delivers his usual schtick, though toned down a bit and Anniston is at her fluttery best.

So when all is said and done, as we expect (so this is not a spoiler!), the mystery gets solved and their relationship is repaired. In fact, Nick has a romantic surprise for Audrey.  He takes her to Paris's Love Lock Bridge and they hang up their lock and then they are off to a "honeymoon" in Greece via helicopter.  But, uh oh, wouldn't you know, the pilot turns out to be a bad guy and we are all set up for "Murder Mystery 3!"

(By the way, this wouldn't be Rosy the Reviewer without a personal side note so here it is: Hubby and I also went to the Love Lock Bridge in Paris and left our lock there!  I'm just saying... but glad we didn't have to solve a murder to get there).

Rosy the Reviewer says...Anniston and Sandler deliver their usual schtick helped by some exotic locations and the occasional laugh. It's not "Citizen Kane," but do we really expect that when we watch an Adam Sandler movie? Yes, it's silly but maybe it's just the kind of diversion we need in this world of school shootings and government unrest and if you are an Aniston and/or Sandler fan, you will enjoy this. (Netflix)

M3gan (2022)

A robotic doll takes on a life of its own (as they do).

Yes, I enjoy the occasional horror film.  In my mind, there are two kinds of horror films - the really gory, bloody, scary ones like "Hostel" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and then there are the ones that aren't meant to be particularly scary or bloody and are actually kind of fun and funny like "Shaun of the Dead" and "Happy Death Day."   

This story of a life-size robot looking after a little girl falls into the latter category. 

Little Cady's (Violet McGraw) parents were killed in a car accident and she is now being cared for by her not particularly maternal Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), who just happens to be a busy robotics engineer.  Her toy company, Funki, makes Perpetual Pets, AI toys, and her boss is pressuring her to come up with a toy that is cheaper than the competition, but she has been secretly working on her own project - a robot that can bond with its human owner.  Because Cady is still grieving, Gemma creates M3gan, a Model 3 Regenerative Android with a Titanium core and gives her to Cady. M3gan can do everything from telling Cady a bedtime story to reminding her to flush the toilet.  She even can sing "Titanium!"   

But wouldn't you know...M3gan decides she not only needs to play with Cady and remind her to flush the toilet, but also become her protector. And who wouldn't want a robot friend to look after you and do your dirty work? But then as time goes by M3gan takes it a bit too far. Those who threaten Cady must be taken care of.

  • Hostile neighbor - check.
  • Hostile neighbor's vicious dog - check (warning for dog lovers.  Possible triggering)
  • A bully that hurts Cady - check

But despite some graphic ear pulling and all hell breaking loose in the last half hour, you will chuckle. This is one of those fun horror films.

With a story by James Wan, a screenplay by Akela Cooper and direction by Gerard Johnstone, this is a sort of modern day "Frankenstein," all about creating a monster and what can go wrong when technology runs amok.  One could argue, it already has. The monsters have already been created.

This is a timely story especially with the advent of AI's latest invention - ChatGPT - which can write essays and make art and even take your MCAT for you and get you into medical school.  Pretty soon we won't be able to tell the real from the AI. But this is also a cautionary tale about being a lazy parent.  Let a robot take over parenting duties and you get what you deserve.

This is a Blumhouse (Jason Blum) production.  Blumhouse has practically taken over the horror film genre but that's a good thing because Blumhouse can be counted on to dish up everything from scary, gory, bloody to scary, gory funny to just plain funny and sort of scary.

Side note: Though M3gan is played by Amie Donald (voice by Jenna Davis), I couldn't help but think that M3gan looked uncannily like Chloe Grace Moretz.  Sorry, sometimes my mind goes off in tangents! 

Rosy the Reviewer says...revenge is a dish best served cold and our little M3gan serves her revenge cold as ice but believe it or not the film is actually heart-warming. (on DVD and for rent on Amazon Prime and Apple+)

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)

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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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.