Toy Story 4 – A Fun Family Film, but not a Fans Favorite

Yes, I actually put up the money to see Toy Story 4 in theaters with the fiancé and her niece and nephew. I wish we made it to the cinema more often than we do.

I need to preface this review by saying I had EXTREMELY high expectations. Before this, TS3 was one of my favorite films of all time. The second was my least favorite, but I still enjoyed it immensely. The thing I think I loved the most is the ensemble that the toys create throughout the first three films. Yes, Woody feels like the main star, but then there’s Buzz. #2 saw Jesse, and Rex, the aliens, Slinky, and all have their place to shine. #3 saw Trixie and others who really helped to build this cast of loveable characters.

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Toy Story 4 felt more like a spin-off about Woody, Forkie, and (not a spoiler since she’s all over the advertising—–) Bopeep.  The scenes that included everyone were some of my favorites, however, they were far more seldom than the previous entries into the TS saga.  The animation and voice-acting were top-notch as always, but that’s not what I go to a toy story movie for.  Everyone I was with liked the movie a lot, but no-one was raving about it like I had hoped.  The story felt predictable, the Forkie character began to feel flat after the novelty wore off.  Overall we just felt like something was missing to make it as classic as the previous entries.

For comparison, I’ve included my rankings of the previous Toy Story films and TV specials –

Toy Story – 9.5/10

Toy Story 2 – 7.5/10

Toy Story 3 – 10/10

Toy Story of Terror – 7/10

Toy Story that Time Forgot – 6/10

Toy Story 4 – 7.3/10

Streaming in between – What Men Want

Streaming In Between (Coal and Gems) – What Men Want

This was a Redbox on-demand purchase for just 1.99 during their special. We felt like it was worth the $2 rental and definitely held our attention through the film, and caused us to audibly chuckle a number of times.  I am always a big fan of Taraji P Henson, Tracy Morgan (who feels like a carbon copy of his Tracy Jordan character from 30 Rock in this), and a number of the other supporting actors and actresses of the film.

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This film’s shortcomings lay in its own design. This is a rom-com through and through, and the storyline, lessons learned, and the outcome is predictable from the viewing of the trailer.  Just like its predecessor with Mel Gibson (What Women Want) the clichés, poor (cringe-worthy) choices/communication between characters and plot holes are abundant, but this one is still fun.

Don’t go out of your way to seek this flick out, but if you’re home on a rainy day and have nothing else to watch, it’s worth the few bucks for a few chuck (les)!

What Men Want – 5.5/10 

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Streaming Gems United States of Tara

United States of Tara Review –

Wow..

This show was phenomenally done. This viewing was a rewatch for me, and a first for my fiance, but we were both left floored and wanting more. All 3 seasons are available on Hulu and are a testament to the phenomenal acting chops of Toni Collete of Hereditary (Tara Crane/Gregson), and the pheonmenal supporting cast made up of Keir Gilchrist of Atypical (Marshall Gregson), Brie Larson of Captain Marvel (Kate Gregson), and John Corbett (Max Gregson).

While I sing this shows praise, I have to acknowledge that it also does a lot of things wrong at times.  This article at Psychology Today is a good dissection of media and the portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder which USoT hits the cliche nail on the head of almost every trope.

The acting in this show is phenomenal as well as the writing (at times) but I also become frustrated with the lazy attempt at having characters appear edgy by them occasionally dropping words like “Retard” and “fag”, while it may be characteristic for the teenage characters at a time like that, there are a number of other times it feels forced and pulls the viewer out of the immersion of the otherwise great dialogue.  There are also a number of other moments where you may want to scoff at the overly zealous attempt at cleverness by both Brie Larson and Keir Gilchrist’s characters; this series is created by Diablo Cody, creator of Juno, and there is a very common thread of nerdy-ironic quips that land most of the time.

Overall, this series is well worth the binge, and at only 3 seasons and 30 minutes per episode, it’s pretty easy to digest!

Here are a number of other films about Dissociative Identity Disorder – Split, Frankie & AlicePsycho, Identity, Me Myself and Irene,

I have a theory about the ending that I will post below, and would love to hear your feedback!

Overall I highly recommend this one and give it a 9/10

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!!!SPOILERS BELOW!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop reading here if you haven’t seen it yet, STOP!

I know many people feel like the ending is pretty cut and dry (and I agree) but I also think that the signs are there that the creators could take a different direction if they wanted.

My theory is that Tara actually dies when she jumps off of the bridge in the second to last episode of season 3 which causes Max to snap and be sent away by his family.

One clue of this is that Max never hallucinates about freaking out on others until the final episode.

When they are driving the truck away, there are the three altars that are supposed to be dead in the truck, whos not to say that Tara is also dead and that Max is heading off to check himself into a facility..

This would also explain why everyone wants a fresh start even though Bryce was supposedly “defeated”, and why Neal and Charmain want to take care of Marshall.

This may be a reach and is certainly more depressing but its an alternative way of looking at the finale.

The other possibility is that Max jumps after Tara and he also dies. The “final supper” is a gathering of the family as they remember those they lost, and then they all “send them off on a trip to Boston” with Taras dead altars.

 

!!!END OF SPOILERS!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians – A Beautiful World, Outside of the Bubble of Normal Society

Crazy Rich Asians

This film was a fun rental from the local Redbox.

I love what this film does for equity in filmmaking for Asian filmmakers, the way Black Panther represented a stellar cast and crew of actors of color.  The impact of that cannot be overstated.  However, the film itself falls short in a number of categories that makes it feel drawn-out and trite.

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I absolutely adore Constance Wu (The beloved matriarch, Jessica, from Fresh off the Boat), and think she did a great job in her role as Rachel Chu, as well as her counterpart Nick Young (played by Henry Golding).  The supporting cast was also strong in conveying the over the top personality of their characters staunched in ritz.   The set design, costumes, and props are utilized perfectly to create a beautiful world, outside of the bubble of normal society.

While this is a modern-day Cinderella (a classic genre) this film feels like it relied on the tropes and cliches a bit too heavily.  The story plays out rather predictably (no spoilers here!) and the actions of certain characters are textbook for the genre.

This is worth a rental or bargain buy, and you should definitely enjoy it, but don’t expect a classic or your new favorite flick here.

Crazy Rich Asians – 6/10

Holy movie marathon, Batman

I was really sick this past week so I loaded up on cough medicine and patronized the hell out of the local Redbox. I also caught a flick in theatres and streamed Queer Eye season 3, which “gave me life” as Jonathan Van Ness would say.

Catch some quick reviews about everything below, no spoilers as always!

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Fighting with My Family – The fiance and I were excited to see this while it was still in theatres this past week. As many people may know, I am a big wrestling fan (and she is not) so we both walked into this flick with different expectations and knowledge around the story.

Overall, this was really enjoyable for both of us.  As a casual viewer, she was entertained throughout, audibly laughed out loud a number of times, and didn’t feel confused or disinterested by the wrestling story-line. Do not expect to see the Rock a lot in this film, he has two scenes that he plays a part in (and in real life, he wasn’t involved in the story at all). I had a few complaints about the validity of the story and its sequence of events, but as a piece of entertainment, it hit all its spots perfectly. Timed well, with a great balance of humor and drama about the human struggle to achieve one’s dream, this is a great flick that has flown under the radar this year.

Fighting with My Family – 7/10

 

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A Star is Born –  Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga absolutely floored me with their performances (and his directorial debut). I am not sure if I was more impressed with Gaga’s acting or Bradley’s musical performance.

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My biggest complaint about this film was the pacing.  We paused it about 40 minutes in, and felt like we had already sat through a full film, and were almost discouraged to see we had over an hour left. The ending to this film, while powerful, is predictable, and it can be a tiring process to endure so much of the buildup, guessing what terrible fate may await.  While sometimes this dread can add to a film (like a thriller or horror film) it sometimes felt heavy-handed in A Star is Born.

The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal, which is important for a movie about music.  Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, with the caveat that they prepare to be bummed out.

A Star is Born – 8.5/10                                                           Available at a Redbox near you! 

 

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Overlord – This started as a tense war film with good special effects and questionable acting/dialogue.  At times the main characters are hard to believe and this feels like it would be at home on the Syfy channel (and not necessarily in a bad way?). Eventually, as one can guess from the trailer, things eventually go south and develop into a supernatural horror flick that would feel at home in the Wolfenstein cannon.

There is nothing revolutionary or exceptional about this film, but it is a good, mindless, adrenaline ride for an hour and fifty minutes.

Overlord – 5/10                                                                        Available at a Redbox near you! 

 

 

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Queer Eye (Season 3) – I have recommended this show to everyone I know. The reboot of Queer Eye (formerly Known as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in its predecessors years) is the most genuine, wholesome, empowering and wonderful thing available right now. The Fab 5 work with people across various identities to makeover their whole life and find a better, healthier, and happier way of living.   I have cried numerous times every season, and season 3 is no exception.  If you haven’t given this show a shot, please put your bias and preconceived notions aside and give this a shot.  There is a reason this show has been able to produce 3 beloved seasons in just 13 months!

Queer Eye (Season 3) – 9.5/10                                            All 3 Seasons available on Netflix

My top 25 – More on IMDB

Hey movie buffs,

I just wanted to share – While our Archives page has links to every review we’ve published here, our IMDB page has a compendium of ALL of our ratings of movies and TV shows (not just those with reviews). Check out our IMDB ratings here.

This is a great list of over 500+ items that you can look to for inspiration when trying to plan your next movie night!

 

For a sneak peek, here are our top 25 rated items (items with the same rating are not in a particular order)! 

 

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  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (10/10)
  2. The Wolf on Wall Street (10/10)
  3. Memento (10/10)
  4. Crash (10/10)
  5. Breaking Bad (10/10)
  6. Toy Story 3 (10/10)
  7. Toy Story (10/10)
  8. Amores Perros (9/10)
  9. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (9/10)
  10. City of God (9/10)
  11. The Raid: Redemption (9/10)
  12.  Being John Malkovich (9/10)
  13. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (9/10)
  14. The Office (9/10)
  15. Forrest Gump (9/10)movie1.jpg
  16. Gladiator (9/10)
  17. Adaptation (9/10)
  18. The Departed (9/10)
  19. The Dark Knight (9/10)
  20. Training Day (9/10)
  21. Get Out (9/10)
  22. Arrested Development (9/10)
  23. Pan’s Labyrinth (9/10)
  24. Love Actually (9/10)
  25. The Princess Bride (9/10))

 

 

Think any are rated too highly? Let me have it in the comments section! 

 

 

Streaming – Some folks trash is another’s treasure – 13 Cameras Review (10.19.18)

13 Cameras

This is not as bad as some of the reviews on imdb and other sites are saying.. It held my attention the whole time in hopes of something more. The landlord character is played well in the fact that he gives off the ultimate creeps; the logic of the story and acting of the protagonists feels hard to believe because of just how creepy he is.

Slumlord (2015)

I don’t see where a sequel can take off from this besides rehashing the same old storyline.. I am intrigued, but not sure if I want to commit the time.. I guess my interest is a sign that this isn’t the WORST film, but don’t expect much scares or entertainment.

Spoilers —

Last warning… There are spoilers in this next paragraph
I was really hoping for a twist, that the Husband character would be the one to cause physical harm / be disturbed and the voyeur landlord would save the day (blurring the lines of morality and who the actual “monster is”) but it turned out to be as straightforward, and cheap as one might expect. The gross guy is the bad guy, worse than the bad husband who acts grossly.

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Edit – After sitting with the film for a few days, I want to change my score. It’s sat with me and grown in a way and had me grossly intrigued for most of the time. My original rating of a 4 feels a bit harsh because I was expecting something more than what this is. It’s not a thriller. Its a horror with a low amount of gore, violence, and jump scares but full amounts of creep, something that can be equally terrifying.

13 Cameras (originally)- 4/10

13 cameras (revisited) – 5/10

 

Available on Netflix now!