Dusty & Me (2018)

Director: Betsan Morris Evans

Writer: Rob Isted (Screenplay)

Starring: Luke Newberry, Genevieve Gaunt, Ian Hart, Lesley Sharp, Lee Ross, Ben Batt, Iain Glen

 

Plot: A feel-good, heart-warming film set in Yorkshire in 1977 about an adolescent boy’s big summer after leaving school. It’s about a boy and a dog, class and ambition, first love, and above all, family.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Coming of Age Film

 

Story: Dusty and Me starts when Dusty (Newberry) just turns 18 and finishes school on the same day with his brother Little Eddie (Batt) taking him for his first pint, meeting a greyhound that local trainer Mickey the Bubble (Glen) can’t train, he offers to walk and train while waiting for his results.

As the days turn into weeks Dusty starts getting involved with Chrissie (Gaunt) who becomes his first love as he continues to try and help Slapper the greyhound reach his potential.

 

Thoughts on Dusty and Me

 

Characters – Derek better know as Dusty to everyone else has been in private school, he has just hit 18 and is now returning home while waiting to receive his results. In this break he befriends a greyhound and meets a girl for the vital time in his life where he can find his place in life. Chrissie is the local girl that Dusty falls for, she has helps him come out of his shell, while we never learn where she wants her life to go. Big Eddie is the father of Derek, he spends his time down the pub wanting to be proud of his kids in his own way. Mickey the Bubble is the local greyhound trainer, he is known for his awful wigs and we see how he helps Dusty get the most out of Slapper, we do have the rest of the family with overprotective mum and fast-talking brother Little Eddie who gets all the laughs.

PerformancesLuke Newberry in the leading role is great, we see how he feels as innocent as he is meant to be at the earl stages of film before becoming more open as the film unfolds. Genevieve Gaunt keeps her performance a joy to watch, her ever positive character just makes us smile. Ben Batt will get the most laughs in the film as a character that wouldn’t feel out of place in ‘Only Fools and Horses’. When we see the bigger names Iain Glen and Ian Hart are both great in their roles too.

StoryThe story here is a coming-of-age tale about young Dusty an 18-year-old that has never has the chance of life experiences, the two months we watch we see him make new friends, both human and a dog and see just how much his family cares about him even if they don’t always show it. We go through a check list of coming of age movie which has sweet moments and shows the ups and downs in life which will only help make Dusty a stronger character for the world once he is finished.

Comedy/FamilyThe movie does have plenty of comedy in it, the funniest moments come from Little Eddie as he is the guy that seems to be able to get anything and the moments while he is away in postcard form telling Dusty what to do are funny. This is one that the whole family could enjoy even if all the characters are adult age ranged.

SettingsThe film is set in Yorkshire, England in the 1977, we get the sense of community because of this, we do get football references to show which part they are from too with them being Leeds United fans, this little bit will help the English fans of the film understand certain jokes more than non-football fans.


Scene of the Movie –
The race day.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The villains are slightly too comical.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice sweet coming of age movie, we have likeable characters and the simple story idea for Dusty to grow.

 

Overall: Coming of Age fans watch.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – U – Underdog (2007)

Director: Frederik Du Chau

Writer: Adam Rifkin, Joe Piscatella, Craig A Williams (Screenplay) W Watts Biggers (Television Series)

Starring: (Voice Talent) Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warbuton, Alex Neuberger

 

Plot: A Beagle must use his newly-bestowed superpowers to defend Capitol City from mad scientist Simon Barsinister.


Tagline – One Nation, Under Dog.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Little Movie

 

Story: Underdog starts as we meet the beagle on the police force that fails his training, only to be left homeless a stray in the city. Taken by Dr Simon Barsinister (Dinklage) who wants to perform an experiment on the strays of the city.

When the experiment goes wrong the beagle becomes Underdog a crime fighting super dog, but Simon isn’t finished with Underdog yet.

 

Thoughts on Underdog

 

Characters – Underdog is a simple beagle kicked off the police force and forced into becoming part of an experiment which gives him super powers, now he must make a choice between a family that is willing to welcome him in or saving the city from evil. Dr Simon Barsinister is the genius scientist that have been coming up with a formula to create genetically enhanced animals to fight crime, but when things go wrong he uses his creation for evil. Dan Unger is the former cop that adopts Underdog for his son to keep him company.

PerformancesJason Lee as the voice of Underdog works well because he knows how to handle the comedy required. Peter Dinklage is a great villain and has wonderful chemistry with Patrick Warburton as his assistant. Jim Belushi is good but mostly under used in his role.

StoryThe story is nice and simple a dog becomes superpowered after being involved in an experiment to take on an evil scientist that wants to destroy the city. We do have a deeper story about being accepted into a family for a dog. Overall this is a by the book family film too.

Adventure/Family/Sci-FiThe adventure side of the film is where the dog goes to fight crime, this does have a message for family and welcoming a dog into the family. The sci-fi side of the film looks at how the experiment could create superpowered dogs.

SettingsThe settings keep us in New York which plays into the idea of parodying the superhero genre.

Special EffectsThe effects are hit or miss throughout because of the flying moments do seem strange.


Scene of the Movie –
The final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is pretty short.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple fun enjoyable family movie that never pushed the limits.

 

Overall: Simple enough.

Rating

 

 

Bennett’s Song (2018)

Director: Harley Wallen

Writer: Nancy Oeswein (Screenplay)

Starring: Tara Reid, Dennis Haskins, Harley Wallen, Calhoun Koenig, Aphrodite Nikolovski

 

Plot: Two very unique families on a collision course find laughs, music, and love, and a few answers about what it means to be an American family in the 21st century.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming, Sweet and Heartfelt

 

Story: Bennett’s Song starts when Cole (Wallen) takes his daughter to a dentist, the new dentist Susan Song (Nikolovski) only for a small spark between them which leads to few dates. Both have their own stories to why they are single and a secret they believe would scare most partners off, they both have 7 kids all adopted from different cultural backgrounds.

When the two decide to take a big step they must learn to cope with the problems modern day world has to offer, including the rule abiding neighbour Stevie Hawkins-White (Reid) all while we wait to see if ambitious young musician Pearl (Carlini) who dreams of heading to music camp.

 

Thoughts on Bennett’s Song

 

Characters – Cole Bennett is a former cage fighter, retired to be with his family, he lost his wife to cancer and opened a gym using his name to make an impact, he has seven of his own kids that he teaches the best things in life. When approaching dating he is nervous and stutters over all his worlds which only add to his good guy image. Susan Song is a specialist dentist with big reputation for her ability to deal with disabled children. She also has seven kids of her own always being worried any man wouldn’t want the baggage that comes with that. The two understand each other’s lives bringing them together to build a bigger family that knows how to support each other because of the love they want to share. Pearl is the daughter that we focus on the most, she is aiming for a big career in music needing to find a way to prove herself to a committee. We do have another 13 kids from a range of ages we could talk through here, each does get a moment in the film.

PerformancesHarley Wallen takes the lead role and directing duties on this film, he does give us a realistic approach to how each moment his caring character deals with each situation and the nervous behaviour for asking for a date seems like something we could all understand. Aphrodite Nikolovski in the leading lady role is great too we see how she makes her unsure about relationship comes through strong. With the kids they are good with Calhoun Koenig showing off her singing skills.

StoryThe story here focuses on two people that fall in love, only they have 7 kids each, each kid is from a different cultural background and has been raised to believe and follow dreams. The families become one and we get to see the problems life throws at them as they get used to the doubling of numbers. Now the story could easily have played out as a sitcom series because of the number of issues they go through and always find a positive way to learn life lessons, this does give us the only negative of the film, certain issues the family go through needed times to be looked at because they tackle true life issues a family like this would go through. If you do want to see a family dynamic that you would have never seen in such numbers, this is the one for you to be seeing.

Comedy/Family/RomanceThe comedy in this film comes from the different family laughs each different kid has a moment that makes them funny be it cuteness or trying to be overly confident. The romance shows how two people can just walk into each other’s lives and change it for the better even after heartache. The family side of the shows us just how people must learn to respect each other no matter where they have come from.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings feeling like an everyday situation this family could be living in, I do feel we could have learnt or seen more of the size of the new house together though.


Scene of the Movie –
The music performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is very hard to keep up with most of the kid’s name.

Final ThoughtsThis is one movie that shows us just how important teaching people life lessons the right way is, the get laughs and beautiful music performance that is the true highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Family film to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – J – Journey to Dinosaur Island (2014)

Director: Matt Drummond

Writer: Matt Drummond (Screenplay)

Starring: Darius Williams, Kate Rasmussen

 

Plot: A vacation becomes the adventure of a lifetime as a boy finds himself stranded in a world filled with ghost ships and prehistoric creatures. He embarks on a journey that will change his future forever.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Educational Dinosaur Movie

 

Story: The Journey to Dinosaur Island starts as son of a palaeontologist Lucas (Williams) is on a holiday of a lifetime when his plane has complication leaving him to awaken on a mysterious island with Kathryn (Thompson) the only human on the island that is inhabited by dinosaurs.

As Lucas learns about the island from Kathryn the two must figure out what is causing the strange time events which seems to bring people from different time eras, objects to the island that time seemed to have forgotten.

 

Thoughts on The Journey to Dinosaur Island

 

Characters – Lucas is the son of a palaeontologist that lives in the present day but finds himself living in the era he likes to study and must work with another trapped person to survive, I do question a lot about this character because on minute he is designed to be the clumsy idiot the next he is the smartest one of the two. Kathryn is from the 1950s, she has been on the island for years and studying it in this time, her character arc starts smart before slowly becoming the damsel in distress.

PerformanceIt would be hard to say anything bad about the young actors, they both seem to be enjoying the film and doing the best they can with what they are given.

StoryThe story is another attempt at The Lost World theory where dinosaurs could still be living somewhere in the world with a twist on the time being everlasting. This does work for a family because the kids can enjoy the story unfolding, it doesn’t become complicated and is happy to leave educational material in the film even if everything is by the books.

Adventure/Family/Sci-FiIf you are a fan of dinosaurs this is in fact a fun adventure movie that the whole family could enjoy the film. the sci-fi twist comes from a world that time never forgot where science fiction is steeped in trying to focus on the fact.

SettingsThe island looks beautiful even if it is mostly CGI and this makes for a wonderful setting for the adventure to take place on.

Special EffectsThe special effects are clearly all low budget but are constant through the film and do seem to fit the ideas behind the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is targeted only for kids.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good kids film, it is simple storytelling and dinosaur fans are going to enjoy themselves.

 

Overall: Dinosaur adventure, need I say more?

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – E – Earth to Echo (2014)

Director: Dave Green

Writer: Henry Gayden (Screenplay) Henry Gayden, Andrew Panay (Story)

Starring: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, Jason Gray-Stanford, Algee Smith

 

Plot: After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help.


Tagline – No one will ever believe our story.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Coming of Age Movie

 

Story: Earth to Echo starts as the three friends Tuck (Astro), Alex (Halm) and Munch (Hartwig) are spending their final week together before they are being forced to move for construction of a freeway. They go on one final adventure which takes them into the desert at night following a map which leads them to meet an alien.

The alien is lost and the three must work together to help the lost alien build a ship, so he can return home, this is one adventure the kids will never forget.

 

Thoughts on Earth to Echo

 

Characters – Tuck is the YouTube sensation that makes videos with his best friends, he is the reason why they have the camera in the first place and is looking for the final adventure before their move. Alex is one of the group, he is the one that will always go along for the ride without any pressure put on him. Munch is the one of the group that is always the nervous one that needs talking into going on any adventure. Emma is the one from outside the group that joins the adventure half way through bringing new ideas to stay ahead of the people chasing them. Dr Madsen portrays himself as a construction worker trying to keep a secret away from the world.

PerformancesThe child actors do all give a good performance, the three boys do act like they would be real friends and Ella does help make them feel lightly awkward. Jason Gray-Stanford is harder to watch after seeing him in Monk for years.

StoryThe story here follows four friends as they spend their last night together before being forced to move in different directions following a map which sends them on an adventure to help a standard alien return home. This has the same feeling you would say ET had, the unity between friends, an adventure they could never imagine and facing the reality things in life will be changing for these kids which is out of their control. This is a good coming of age story with the elements of sci-fi throughout.

Adventure/Family/Sci-FiThe adventure the friends go on, is a once in the lifetime one and has even more meaning because it was their last night together. This is one the family could enjoy with the sci-fi element of the film shows how the idea of aliens could leave us anywhere.

SettingsThe film is set over one night in one neighbourhood that can be travelled by bike, this keeps us understand the distant the characters will be going.

Special EffectsThe effects here are very good, which should be praised, but the problem is that this is shot like a found footage, meaning the effects should be looking this good.


Scene of the Movie –
Truck sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The camera work is annoying for this style of film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good entertaining coming of age movie that feels like it wants to be ET only to never reaches that level.

 

Overall: Coming of Age 101

Rating