Dia de los Muertos is a tradition enjoyed by many in the latin culture. It allows those among the living to remember those who have passed on. It also carries a hope that the spirits of the ancestors might visit the living to see their family still remembers them (which may provide some level of comfort for them in the afterlife). Also (for the living) it provides additional time to mourn the loss of family, grieve and possibly laugh and smile as stories are told recounting the cherished moments of time once spent together. So, does “Coco” deliver on the customs and traditions of this culturally important holiday or should we send this film off into the movie afterlife to only be forgotten? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
The design of this story is vibrant. It’s a colorful journey that explores the land of the living as well as the land of the dead. The two worlds don’t look identical either which makes for a pleasant visual experience at the movies. Normal life is a bit subdued with more plain tones, like tans, browns, etc. The afterlife is bright reds, greens, orange and more. The worlds are easily identifiable to us as viewers which made the overall presentation of this film enjoyable.
The story (in typical Pixar fashion) does pull, or attempts to pull, at your heart strings. The overall message seemed to revolve around family. We must love and cherish the family we have and the family we had. We must be understanding and supportive of each other while also still seeking out the blessings of our loved ones if we are to follow our hearts into unfamiliar avenues. The driving message of this film revolves around family and it does so quite well.
The movie doesn’t conclude as strongly as it begins unfortunately. It’s a boy who wants to be a musician but his family forbids it due to his great great grandfather leaving the family for life as an artist. So, instead of music, his family makes shoes. So the boy sets out on a journey to “seize his moment” and become the guitar player and singer that his great great grandfather was. And the whole movie revolves around him trying to be a musician, and his family saying no. Even after he finds his way into the land of the dead, his dead family doesn’t want him to have a life in music. For more than a single reason, he needs their blessing to follow his passion. By the end of the film we discover that his family is not who he thought they were and shoes are not the only means in which they’ll now be making money. However, the story of family, pursuing your dreams and honoring the dead suddenly takes a back seat to karma. The ending pivots and takes the movie in a completely different direction. The ending shows us that all will be made right in the end, and even death is not the great finale. However, death after death is possibly the very end? This was the emotional part of the film that punched most of the people in the movie right in the feels. I was too busy thinking about where this story was going and how we got to this shift in story.
“Coco” is in theaters now! I’m gonna recommend a big screen viewing for this film. While the ending felt separate from the story of a boy wanting to be a musician and needing his families blessing, everything leading up to that moment is great fun and worth while. In all, by the time the credits rolled, it felt like this story wanted to tell more than it was able to and because of that I left the theater slightly perplexed on what story specifically they wanted to tell. However, the musical numbers and the score are entertaining and there are some heartfelt moments sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed a few hearty laughs. Also, definitely keep your eyes on the visual design of Miguel as he travels through the land of the dead and becomes more translucent. The attention paid to his transformation was impressive and the team responsible for his transformation deserves a high five. Check this film out (maybe even in 3D)!
The boys are back in town and they are full of holiday cheer. Christmas is fast approaching and the dads, step dads and grandads are all coming together to make this Christmas one to be remembered. So, does “Daddy’s Home 2” deliver a festive and humorous Christmas tale or is this film being put on the naughty list? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
It’s been two years since “Daddy’s Home” and while the story leads us to believe there’s been some improvements or changes to the relationships between dad/step dad, it didn’t come across on screen. Dusty came across as someone who needs anger management because he seemed to be repressing anger instead of dealing with the issues. Brad felt more confident but only until an actual issue arises in which case he reverts back to who he was in the first film. So, in all, the two leads didn’t do much to show that any time had passed between stories. However, for the majority of the film they did get along better than the original.
The introduction of new characters wasn’t great either but I believe the writers weren’t focusing on the introduction of the grand fathers as much as they were trusting that we’d get to know their personalities as the movie unfolds. On a positive note, the onscreen chemistry between Mel Gibson and John Lithgow was a delight. In fact, as I watched the story I wanted to see a spin off film of just those two. They are polar opposites in personality type and it worked when they were on screen together. We also get to see that by the end of the film, a spin off story might be possible. I’d even be fine with a short feature of 30 minutes or less before “Daddy’s Home 3” if that gets made.
“Daddy’s Home 2” is in theaters now! This film has so much Christmas in it that if you want a comedic look at dude parenting in the modern world this might be a fun holiday movie to see in a room full of strangers. There’s plenty of Christmas movie tropes as well. Walking through forests for the perfect tree, Christmas light decorating gone wrong, and even a Christmas musical number at the end that talks about the meaning of… going to the movies at Christmas? Yup. That happens. A short Public Service Announcement about the importance of movie watching at Christmas. That aside, I had more than enough laughs and I was reminded of the importance of not allowing just anyone to adjust the thermostat. Check it out!
It’s been one year since we last spent time with three mothers who are trying to balance their schedule, their kids schedule and everything else involved in being a modern day mom. The Christmas season is in full swing for these ladies (and their families) when one surprise after another occurs ushering in new challenges and obstacles leading up to Christmas. So, does “A Bad Mom’s Christmas” deliver on the merriment and ho ho ho’ing we’d expect as a sequel or is this film getting coals in its stocking? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
This story over delivers on Christmas. In fact, there’s so much Christmas in this movie I’m surprised it was released as early as it was. This film might have enjoyed more positive feedback had they released it after Thanksgiving or the first weekend in December when there won’t be much competition (if any) for new movies. However, a more appropriate release date won’t do much for a drab, predictable and overly decedent film about Christmas gone off the rails. The biggest issue I had were the moments where the ladies are unhinged. The entire scene at the Mall where they’re getting drunk and partying felt so out of place in this movie. However, the bar scene where they’re watching male strippers dressed as Santa compete in a “dance off” felt appropriate for the characters. So, the wild and zany moments the girls have to relieve the stress of being a modern mom did and did not work. In short, the writing wasn’t great for this film. It’s unbalanced and predictable. I knew when a joke was being set up and what the punch line would be. I did enjoy a few laughs but the majority of this film left me with eye fatigue from one eye roll after another.
The characters also felt more like caricatures. The leading ladies all represent a personality type and their mothers over exaggerate those personalities. If Amy, Kiki and Carla are the personification of stereotypes of modern moms, then Ruth, Isis and Sandy are the hyper exaggerated versions of their daughters. In all, the screen time is split between characters that felt authentic and cartoonish versions of the idea of what personality types might behave like. This was a mixed bag of enjoyable on screen interactions and noticeably terrible on screen chemistry.
“A Bad Mom’s Christmas” is in theaters now. If you’re a drinker, female and need a girls night out this might be the film for you. Perhaps you hop into the group chat you have with your girlfriends and suggest dinner, drinks, this movie and then more drinks. It’s not a completely abysmal film because it did elicit some sniffles and tears from the girls that sat around me. Some of the points and themes of motherhood struck home with the ladies in the movie and for that I won’t completely disregard this film. It knew its demographic and was able to land a few key moments that paid off emotionally for the females around me. When I saw “Bad Mom’s” I was the only single guy in my showing. “A Bad Mom’s Christmas” I was the only dude in the theater. Gentlemen, you have been warned about this film. Enjoy the movie, ladies!
It’s time to unite the seven or more accurately the 5 or 6 if we trust one hero won’t be dead the entire movie. At any rate, some of the biggest heroes that DC Comics and Warner Brothers has to offer are coming together on the big screen for the very first time. The production was troubled almost from the beginning as story after story appeared in the news signaling this long awaited film will be a disaster. So does “Justice League” offer up an entertaining story that will make fans of these characters happy or should these super friends have called in sick? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
The story is brief but written in such a way that, surprisingly, it offers the viewers a chance to think for themselves without being spoon fed every single detail. We get backstories on each of the heroes and we understand (at least I was able to) their motivation for joining together to stop the villain. We are shown brief moments of bonding between the heroes as they become familiar with each other. Also, each hero has a moment to showcase their special ability and what they bring to the team. Finally, we get back story on the villain, his henchmen (the Parademons), and his motivation for world conquest. Each of the main characters is given enough screen time separate from the team to show us who they are and the world they come from. It’s quick paced but it was enough to get the point across in my opinion. However, because of these facts, we don’t get much character development which is a mark against the film. It’s the necessary information only and it worked for me, surprisingly, even though I would’ve enjoyed a bit more on Cyborg & Flash.
The special effects and visual graphics in this movie are not great. They aren’t terrible either. Some moments, like Flash running so fast it looks slow motion, were done well I thought. The way Cyborgs body restructured itself depending on the situation or threat also looked believable. However, the end scene where the villain is defeated and a nuclear wasteland is suddenly transformed into a bizarre garden that looks like it was pulled from Tim Burton’s “Alice and Wonderland” movie was noticeably bad. Also, the big battle scene that takes place to describe who the villain is and why he’s on earth looked awful. However, in that scene we did get to see Amazons, Atlanteans, Humans, Greek Gods & a Green Lantern all fight together which was pretty nice for the comic fans like myself. The Green Lantern appearance was a great surprise and I loved that Easter egg. That alone though is not enough to save the film from the bad visual effects that are prevalent from almost beginning to end.
In all, this film felt like they envisioned 130% of the story and delivered 75-80% on screen. As I watched the plot unfold I felt like the writers had written back stories on back stories and then edited everything down to just a basic understanding of the overall concepts. I imagine the conversation sounding something along the lines of, “We have 5 hours of incredible story written down… here’s all of that in a tweet.” Ok, maybe that’s a gross exaggeration on my part but I do believe the story had so much more depth than what we get on screen. I’m curious to see the “Extended” edition once it’s available on BLU-Ray.
“Justice League” is in theaters now! I am going to recommend you see this on the big screen. It’s a quick paced, brief story, that delivers on the basic concept of bad guy fights good guys and loses. That is not to suggest the manner in which the villain is defeated is ordinary. One positive, if not my favorite, aspect of the movie was the clever method used by the writers to end this movie. After battling the Justice League (individually and collectively) it’s the bad guys own fear that sends him reeling back to his home planet surrounded by his minions who feed on fear. I loved the fact the good guys didn’t beat the larger and more powerful villain by sheer force & number. Instead, the villain beat himself. It was quite poetic. I definitely give credit for creative story telling and surprising us with an offbeat ending that definitely worked. Also, some of the humor in this movie really lands well. Go see this film and stay for TWO post credit scenes!