ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – R – Ricki and the Flash (2015) Movie Review

Director: Jonathan Demme

Writer: Diablo Cody (Screenplay)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Sebastian Stan, Nick Westrate, Ricky Springfield, Audra McDonald

Plot: A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her family.


Tagline – Get Ready to Rock. Get Ready to Love. Get Ready for Ricki.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dysfunctional Family 101

Story: Ricki and the Flash starts when paycheck to paycheck singer Ricki (Streep) gets called back home by her ex-husband Pete (Kline) to help support the daughter Julie (Gummer) who is going through a messy divorce, even though Ricki hasn’t been part of their lives for years.

As Ricki tries to reconnect with her own family, she learns that she will have plenty to regret from her life choice, but knows that her mistakes could have caused the damage to Julie’s life.

Thoughts on Ricki and the Flash

Characters – Ricki has been a free spirit her whole life, this has seen her leaving her kids for her husband to raise, as she follows her dreams in music, she performers as often as she can, while also needing to work in a supermarket. When her daughter is going through her own struggles, Ricki must face her past and realize the mistakes she has made and learn that she can always try to help however far she is. Pete is the ex-husband that remarried and raised their children, he calls in hope of getting Ricki to help their daughter, he just wants the family together for once, hoping Ricki could start attending certain family events. Julie is the daughter that has gone through a messy divorce which sees her needing her mother for the first time in years, this is an important moment in her life, one she needs to go well, to restart it all over again.

PerformancesMeryl Streep is great to watch in a role you wouldn’t instantly put her in, while Kevin Kline is great to see in his supporting role, it is Mamie Gummer that makes the biggest impact on this film, showing she could easily compete against her own mother on the screen.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that gave up her family to follow her dreams, where she was only ever just a performer, never a big star and now she needs to come back into her adult children’s lives before it is too late and they will turn on her. This does show how we get the spin on the usual, we often see the father wanting to reconnect with his family, but here we spin in this right around that the mother needs to do this. We can focus on the family relationships and it would have been nice to learn more about Ricki’s kids as they only really get the mentions of being married, about to get married and being gay, there just is no depth to these characters.

ComedyThe comedy in this film doesn’t always work as much as it could, with everything feeling too serious for the jokes to work.

SettingsThe film does show the different lives Ricki could live, from her LA home to her family across the country.


Scene of the Movie – The wedding.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not learning enough about the kids.

Final Thoughts This is a simple by the book comedy that shows how life can always catch up on you if things don’t go the way they could.

Overall: Simple Comedy.

Olga Kurylenko Weekend – Momentum (2015)

Director: Stephen S Campanelli

Writer: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan (Screenplay)

Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, James Purefoy, Jenna Saras, Greg Kriek, Richard Lothian, Adam Marcus

 

Plot: Alex, a mysterious thief, is pulled in by her former partner for one last heist. She quickly finds it was never just about the diamonds. A brutal murder sparks a cat and mouse chase between Alex and a master assassin. Now she must uncover the lies behind the heist and discover the secrets behind the men who have made her a target.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action 101

 

Story: Momentum starts as we see how Alexis (Kurylenko) operates her heist team and takes control when things go wrong, she finds herself needing an escape after her identity is revealed on the latest heist, this isn’t her only problem though, her team have take evidence that could bring down a Senator (Freeman) who has hired an assassin Mr Washington (Purefoy) to retrieve the video.

Alexis must stay ahead of Mr Washington who is relentlessly searching for information including going after the family of her former partner.

 

Thoughts on Momentum

 

Characters – Alexis is a master thief, she can put a team together to get any job done with a team even after trying to get out of the life. The latest job goes wrong and Alexis must stay ahead of an assassin that wants her latest score which could bring down a Senator. We see all her skills in evading capture and taking out enemies one at a time. Mr Washington is the assassin who is guiding a team in search of a drive for the Senator, he will do whatever he can to get information and isn’t afraid to kill anyone who gets in his way. The Senator is trying to cover up his own secrets using the assassination team.

PerformancesOlga Kurylenko is good in this leading role, she can handle the action well and can get the emotional moments down well enough. James Purefoy looks like he is enjoying the villainous role getting the speech moments while being the sadistic assassin. Morgan Freeman doesn’t need to do that much other than be a man on the other end of the phone. The rest of the cast don’t get too much to do either.

StoryThe story follows Alexis a thief that has been trying to get out of the business, when she completes one more job, she finds herself needing play cat-n-mouse with the assassin set to clean up the senator’s mistakes. This does follow the routine that we would imagine seeing from the action thriller genre with each encounter becoming more intense for the two sides involved. The story never tests us which is fine, any twists coming we would expect to see through the film, for the action genre we get everything we need to see.

Action/CrimeThe action is shooting, fighting and shows us just what Alexis is capable of when it comes to fighting to survive. The crime in the film shows how a routine robbery turns into a deadly game.

SettingsThe film doesn’t get any major settings to work with, the highlight being the station scene which keeps everything on edge during the end of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The station showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing is overly original.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple to watch action film, it keeps everything easy to watch for the action junkie without pulling us to the edge of our seats in the film.

 

Overall: Simple and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – N – Night Owls (2015)

Director: Charles Hood

Writer: Seth Goldsmith, Charles Hood (Screenplay)

Starring: Adam Pally, Rosa Salazar, Rob Huebel, Tony Hale, Peter Krause

 

Plot: After workaholic Kevin has a drunken one night stand with the beautiful train-wreck Madeline, he’s horrified to discover that she’s actually his boss’ jilted ex-mistress. When she takes a bottle of sleeping pills, Kevin is forced to keep her awake… and over the course of the night the two begin to fall for each other.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Life Comedy

 

Story: Night Owls starts when Kevin (Pally) has a one-night stand with a mysterious girl (Salazar) and when planning on leaving he learns this isn’t her house and is in fact his boss’s house. Panicked he tries to figure out what to do with his best friend Peter (Huebel) advising him what to do after she tries to commit suicide.

Saving Madeline, Kevin tries to learn her story and the affair she has been having with Kevin a sports star, the two must learn about themselves to get through the night and refocus on their own lives.

 

Thoughts on Night Owls

 

Characters – Kevin works for Will, he has a one-night stand only to find out who the woman is, he tries to help her with her own problems which also helps him address his own problems, he is nice guy middle-aged and filled with regret. Madeline is the girl that brings Kevin back for the night, she has planned on killing herself because of the man she has been seeing until she gets a chance to open up with Kevin to talk through her own problems in life. We do get a couple of supporting character, but most barely in appear away from the lead two characters.

PerformancesAdam Pally and Rosa Salazar are both good at carrying this movie, they are both strong as they are the ones going through the conversations in the film. the supporting appearance are good enough for what they are doing, but they don’t make an impact in the film.

StoryThe story follows a woman who had planned to kill herself to get back at her lover and the man she takes home that wants to help her out of the situation. This is a conversation-based movie which is very interesting as we get to focus on the real problems people are facing in life be it careers, relationship or just being relevant in life. We see how both have problems and spending the night talking to somebody can change your look on life.

ComedyThe comedy in the film comes from little moments that happen between the two, giving us light moments to the serious conversation.

SettingsThe film takes place in one house for the whole time through the night, it shows us talking it through problems can help as we never need to leave the house.


Scene of the Movie –
The pool.

That Moment That Annoyed Me They do seem to repeat the arguments at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good conversation-based movie which is one that can teach life lesson for both sides of the conversation, strong leading performances too.

 

Overall: Life lessons 101

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – M – Mississippi Grind (2015)

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (Screenplay)

Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds, Sienna Miller, Alfre Woodward, Yvonne Landry, Analeigh Tipton

 

Plot: Down on his luck and facing financial hardship, Gerry teams up with younger charismatic poker player, Curtis, in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what’s been lost.


Tagline – We can’t lose.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shocking Look at Gambling Addiction.

 

Story: Mississippi Grind starts as down on his luck gambler Gerry (Mendelsohn) returns to his latest grind on the tables, this night he meets charismatic poker player Curtis (Reynolds) and the two become friends through the shared love of gambling.

Curtis enjoys the fun in gambling and knows when to walk away, he wants to work with Gerry, who just doesn’t know when to quit, which sees his addiction consume him as he leaves himself isolated from friends and family, even the only person that will give him a chance Curtis.

 

Thoughts on Mississippi Grind

 

Characters – Gerry is a gambling addict, it has cost him his wife, daughter and friendships. He keeps returning to the tables, where he can play, but he keeps blowing it on the first attempt he can on a longshot in a dog or horse race. Curtis sees his skills and wants to work with him to make some money, only for this to bring out an even worse side to him character. Curtis is a poker player and gambler who just enjoys the games, he knows when to walk away even if he is giving up his love to continue to move around to follow his own dream. When it comes to the rest of the characters we meet the people on the journey whose lives have been effected by their gambling actions.

PerformancesBen Mendelsohn gives us a wonderful look at a character that has become consumed by gambling addiction, he shows how he can come off helpless, but will do anything to get his latest fix. Ryan Reynolds brings the charming gambler to life here, which isn’t going to be difficult because this is the type of character he can play in his sleep. The supporting cast are strong when needed without getting too much screen time.

StoryThe story follows two gamblers at different stages of their addictions who go on a road trip in an attempt to complete one big score only to see just how they are going to get their latest fix. This shows us how easily the addiction can consume the victim and however hard they try, they will always be drawn back causing pain to their loved ones. We do have a couple of loose ends which don’t get added up together because certain elements in Curtis’s life just don’t feel complete. This does feel like it could have had a much darker because of the subject matter and by the end it does feel like the story falls slightly short.

ComedyThe comedy comes from just how Curtis handles everything, it isn’t a laugh out loud comedy, but one that you can see the positive vibes.

SettingsThe film takes us on a list of gambling locations on the road which shows how they know where to go for them.


Scene of the Movie –
The first game together.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not darker enough for me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very strong look at gambling addiction and is one that should show how the addicts can ruin their lives with their actions.

 

Overall: Gambling the not so dark side.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – J – The Wedding Ringer (2015)

This is under J for Josh Gag in the leading role

Director: Jeremy Garelick

Writer: Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Affion Crockett, Kaley Cuoco, Jorge Garcia, Dan Gill, Corey Holcomb, Ken Howard, Colin Kane

Plot: Two weeks shy of his wedding, a socially awkward guy enters into a charade by hiring the owner of a company that provides best men for grooms in need.


Tagline – Doug needs a best man, in the worst way. Jimmy is the best friend money can buy. But sometimes when you buy a friend, there’s a price to be paid..

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Friendship Comedy

Story: The Wedding Ringer starts on the eve of Doug Harris (Gad) wedding to Gretchen (Cuoco), he has been struggling to find his grooms with only 2-weeks before the big day, Doug turns to Jimmy Callahan (Hart) who runs a company that arranges groomsman for weddings, only for this job needing to become the most challenging for Jimmy, needing to build a whole team.

Doug and Jimmy work together to come up with a completely story to use for the wedding as the whole team get prepared for the big day, where Jimmy learns more about why he does this and Doug gets to live for the first time in his life.

Thoughts on The Wedding Ringer

Characters – Jimmy has his own business where he helps out men who struggle to complete the numbers required for groomsmen or even best man, he has been working for years in this business and now he will be facing his biggest test to date a whole team, this lets his start to reflect on his own life, where he seems to be more about business than friendship. Doug is the businessman that has spent most of his life working noting having time to make friends, which has become a problem for his wedding, which sees him turn to Jimmy instead of telling his fiancée the truth. Gretchen is the bride to be that has the perfect wedding set up in her head, she doesn’t seem to know anything about Doug though.

PerformancesKevin Hart does give one of his better performances, he doesn’t fall into his stand up routine which does make him more interesting to watch, Josh Gad is strong too, though he does need to deal with more slapstick than he should do. Kaley Cuoco is going to have to work very hard to shake the sitcom background, because that does limit her performance skills in the film.

StoryThe story follows a man that must hire groomsmen for his own wedding to keep his fiancée happy, only to learn about his own way of seeing life that he might need to change for him to enjoy more from his life. This story does leave us asking more questions than not, because it does seem strange that the fiancée doesn’t know anything about Doug, never met a single friend or stalked him like most partners do. It does have an important message about making time for friends or fun, because it will put a smile on your face for the most part. This story does try to play into the strengths of the actors involved and does seem to borrow from other films too, though it could pass the time through the film.

ComedyThe comedy does play into the strengths of the actors and for once not just having Kevin Hart doing his stand up routine.

SettingsThe film is set in the everyday LA life which shows that the family does have a lot more money than most, the wedding is so luxury it is unrealistic for anybody and does return to finding locations.


Scene of the Movie – The bachelor party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Gretchen doesn’t know Doug hasn’t gotten any friends.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that does play into strengths of the actors, while it does seem to give us an unrealistic story.

Overall: Simple Comedy.