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Quick Reviews: Week Of 07.15.2022
Flash Reviews Of The Past Weekend's Movie Releases
Here are my thoughts on the movie releases from the weekend of 07.15.2022 in alphabetical order of their respective release dates. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
DON’T MAKE ME GO
- Plot: When a single father to a teenage daughter learns that he has a fatal brain tumor, he takes her on a road trip to find the mother who abandoned her years before, and to try to teach her everything she might need over the rest of her life.
- Review: If you’re going to watch Don’t Make Me Go, go into it (no pun intended) knowing that this film hits you with one of the most ballsy gambles of a twist ending I have seen from a movie’s climax in quite some time. The swerves in last year’s 8-Bit Christmas and Red Notice have absolutely nothing on what screenwriter Vera Herbert dared to do with this one. Obviously this isn’t a spoiler review so I can’t go into exactly what happens here, but just know that its that decision by the film at the end that will either leave you astonished and impressed they’d do such a thing, raging at the movie for tricking you, or even both at the same time.
I have mixed feelings on the finale myself, but I thought that, for me, the rest of the film justified itself enough that I liked it. If there’s any glaring issue I have with the movie its that I do think it needed to have some edits here or there to tighten it up a bit.
But the film features great performances and chemistry between leads John Cho and Mia Isaac, a great soundtrack, and I legitimately chuckled at the moments of levity and found myself holding back tears in some heartfelt moments that showcased the tender relationship between father and daughter - and we could use more positive portrayals of men these days. This is the definition of a sweet little road trip movie even if it does drive its audiences to debate themselves about the climatic twist it has the balls to go with. I’m surprised this wasn’t slated for a Father’s Day weekend release actually.
But all in all, I thought this was a decent enough movie and I enjoyed the two hours I had with it. Its ending is dividing folks, but on my end I was happy to have gone and seen this.
- Initial Grade: B-
MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS
- Plot: A cleaning lady in 1950s London who falls in love with an haute couture dress by Christian Dior, and decides to gamble everything for the sake of this folly.
- Review: There’s something about an adaptation to a beloved classic that attempts to try a few new things here or there to make it feel like a whole new story. We’ve seen Paul Gallico’s comedic novel Mrs. ‘Arris Goes To Paris adapted to screen before. But now this 2022 version with Leslie Manville playing against her typical type of performance as the title character has come to us, and as someone who loves the aesthetics of period pieces and adores movies like 2017’s Phantom Thread or 1964’s My Fair Lady which touch on fashion and class, I was pretty confident I’d at the very least like this. What I wasn’t prepared for was for it to end up a strong contender to make my “Best of the Year” list.
From the start of the film when Rael Jones’s comforting score hits, as we are introduced to Mrs Harris, who is played by Manville with such a sweet and sugary demeanor that its hard to believe this is the same woman who played a terrifying evil grandmother in 2020’s Let Him Go, this movie basically sits you down with a nice cup of tea and biscuits ready to give you two hours of comfort. The aesthetics and vibe of the movie fully embraces what it is - an old fashioned delightful simple tale of a woman chasing a dream. Packed with great character writing (all performed well by its ensemble which include such names as Isabelle Huppert and Jason Isaacs among others) and interesting arcs for practically every one of them and moments of levity and heart. All up until its finale where I found myself literally holding back tears as Mrs. Harris finally got her dress. That’s how I knew the film had done its job telling her story.
Its not like this film has been getting negative reviews, its currently in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes as I write this, but those good reviews tend to be B-tier rated ones. I have to say I liked this just a little bit more than my peers did, and I think this could in time become a nice comfort food sort of movie for cinephiles like me who love their British period pieces. Its funny, its inspirational, its heart warming, and it left me in tears. I was very happy to have gone to Paris with Mrs. Harris and may find myself revisiting her journey for years to come.
- Initial Grade: A-
PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK
- Plot: A hard on his luck hound Hank finds himself in a town full of cats who need a hero to defend them from a ruthless villain’s evil plot to wipe their village off the map. With help from a reluctant teacher to train him, our underdog must assume the role of town samurai and team up with the villagers to save the day.
- Review: From Paramount’s Nickelodeon Movies, Paws Of Fury: The Legend Of Hank, is the latest animated film from the studio that for some reason they decided to release theatrically rather than streaming. And I am at a complete loss as to why after seeing it.
Its not to say EVERYTHING in here is terrible, the voice work is competent enough from a pretty impressive roster lead by Michael Cera and Samuel L Jackson, its based on the comedic classic Blazing Saddles, and it has a few fourth-wall breaking jokes that landed with me. The story isn’t terribly bad either in terms of it doing just enough to probably make the kiddos happy - though I highly doubt they will end up growing up with this movie as if it were the latest Disney hit.
But the rest is hard to excuse even for someone like me that strays from giving animated films too harsh of a review. I mean for good lord’s sake I made a case for a C-tier review for Marmaduke! The animation is mediocre and honestly feels more like it was produced for a kids’ series, and the production level for the rest of the film makes it feel that way as well!
Unless your kids are begging you to go take them to see this, I would honestly just wait to rent this for them months down the line or recommend you go see Lightyear or Minions: Rise Of Gru instead. This deserved to be a straight to streamer, because no one is remembering Hank’s legend by the end of the year.
- Initial Grade: C+
- Plot: Living with her snobby family on the brink of bankruptcy, Anne Elliot is an un-conforming woman with modern sensibilities. When Frederick Wentworth, the dashing one she once sent away, crashes back into her life, Anne must choose between putting the past behind her or listening to her heart when it comes to second chances.
- Review: Back in 2020, the adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma ended up one of my absolute favorite films from that year. Flash forward to 2022 and we have an adaptation of Persuasion with a diverse cast that includes the likes of Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, Henry Golding, Richard E. Grant, Nikki Amuka-Bird among others. Showing up on Netflix and already stirring up debate among the hardcore Austen fandom for the film’s decision to change up the personality of the leading lady versus the source material, and attempting a Fleabag-style fourth wall breaking method of narration.
The film’s comedy is more hit than miss with me, and I found (most) of the characters interesting enough. As a sucker for period pieces I dug the aesthetics including the costume and set designs. I also actually liked the decision to do the fourth wall breaking, though I can see why it might not have worked for some of the most hardcore Austen traditionalists. I genuinely wanted to see Anne happy at the end, and for the most part I think this hit the right spot as a fan of these romantic period pieces. It did its job in my opinion with the story it wanted to tell.
However I do see why this movie has had some rough reviews among my peers. The first act felt engaging and fun, but the middle dragged to a point I found myself almost bored before it won me back in the third. Also as happy as I wanted to be for the character of Anne, I also didn’t really care that much for the chemistry between her and the character of Wentworth; as he just came off overly awkward and never bought that these two were once in a torrid romance. Instead I just saw him as a vehicle to Anne’s happiness. That’s not Jarvis’ fault, as much as it is the writing and direction’s. And finally I have to admit that as fun as Dakota’s performance is at times, I was a bit distracted by her, um, let’s just say less than convincing British accent.
Even so, I still generally liked this and thought it was a decent adaptation of an Austen classic that took some risks. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d personally persuade you to give this one a shot if you love your period romances or if you’re a Jane Austen fan opened to new interpretations.
- Initial Grade: B-