A Very Bad Day (2017) Movie Review

Director: Judy Greer

Writer: Gary Lundy (Screenplay)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Bradley Whitford, Katie Holmes, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, Kumail Nanjiani, Common, Andres Holm, Storm Reid

Plot: During the course of one day, a group of students at a school in Los Angeles find themselves caught up in a plot of sex, lies and dead bodies.

Runtime: 1 Hour 21 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict:

Story: A Very Bad Day starts when staff at a high school Principal Nichols (Jenney) and Mr Pendlehorn (Riggle) discover a body on the school, needing to move it before the student turn up. Outside of the school single parent Daniel (Common) sees his affair exposed by the husband Bob (Reeves), all in a working day.

When the events of the day seem to get mixed up the many different people we meet, teachers, students and parents see this being on of the bad days of their lives.

Thoughts on A Very Bad Day

Characters – Daniel works for a publishing company, he is a single parent preparing to talk at his daughter’s career day, he also learns that the husband of the woman he has been having an affair with has learnt about them and wants to meet. Principal Nichols discovers a dead body on the school and wants to protect the school only to learn the problems with doing that. We get the school kids trying to understand love and the different teachers dealing with their day.

PerformancesIt is hard to judge the performances because we have such a big cast and nobody gets enough time to give a career best performance, everyone does well without shining to the top level. Everybody does get the laughs required though.

StoryThe story here follows a day in lives of many different people who all connect, with most having bad days about everything going on today. This story does connect together well, though it doesn’t feel like this many different people having a bad day isn’t that normal, but we don’t get enough into the details of why everything is falling apart on the levels it could have. It does show how life can be difficult if things aren’t going your way. The big problem with the story comes from how the story doesn’t seem to end up the way it could, leaving most people looking left out.

ComedyThe comedy in this film shows how people can have a bad day can have a funny twist to everything.

SettingsThe film does bring us to everyday locations which shows how easily life can see you having a bad day without warning.


Scene of the Movie – The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not really going into Mr McRow’s problems, which seem much deeper.

Final Thoughts This is an overcast comedy that just doesn’t give the massive cast enough time to show how bad the day is going for them.

Overall: Too big for its own ambition.

Freak Show (2017) Movie Review

Director: Trudie Styler

Writer: Patrick J Clifton, Beth Rigazio (Screenplay) James St James (Book)

Starring: Alex Lawther, Ian Nelson, AnnaSophia Robb, Celia Weston, Abigail Breslin, Better Midler

Plot: Follows the story of teenager Billy Bloom who, despite attending an ultra conservative high school, makes the decision to run for homecoming queen.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Flamboyantly Enjoyable

Story: Freak Show starts when gay teenager Billy Bloom (Lawther) who isn’t afraid to show his flamboyant side, which sees him showing off this style at a new high school after needing to move away from his mother Muv (Midler). Billy doesn’t take long before he becomes the target of hate from the school with his only friends coming from a girl he never caught her name, branding her Blah Blah Blah (Robb) who fills him out about who the school hierarchy is.

Billy does make one more friend, Flip (Nelson) the star football player, who is one of the only players that doesn’t torment him, in fact he defends him the best he can, this makes Billy believe he might have found a new crush, which drives him to run for homecoming queen.

Thoughts on Freak Show

Characters – Billy Bloom is a gay teenager, he was encouraged by his mother to express himself however he feels, which sees him struggling to be accepted in his new high school, he refuses to back down however difficult the hate gets him towards him, while trying to get his father’s love, waiting for his mother’s return and dealing with his first attempt of love, while trying to change the world by running for homecoming queen. Flip Kelly is the star of the football team, he does befriend Billy trying to help him through the hate, potentially hiding his own closest homosexual, while being the hero of the school. Blah Blah Blah is the student that supports Billy the most, she will help him despite the fact he doesn’t know her name. Muv is the mother of Billy that has encouraged him to flamboyant and himself, though she does have her own motives for her behaviour. Lynette is the rival homecoming queen competition, she is the most popular girl in school and has been planning for this for years now.

PerformancesAlex Lawther is wonderful in this leading role, he embraces everything his character goes through and never looks out of place in any scene in this movie, showing the intern struggle his character is going through. Ian Nelson does bring the conflicted character who is trying to make a difference without giving away his own secrets in the world well. AnnaSophia Robb is strong though we could have seen more form her, while Bette Midler does do everything she needs to her role.

StoryThe story here follows a openly gay high school student that isn’t afraid to make a statement with his love of fashion, dealing with the hate in the new school, learning to make a difference in the school and in the mindset of his classmates, while remaining himself. Set up to be like most teen comedies about a new kid moving to a new school, needing to learn the hierarchy and usually become the target of bullying, this story follows that arc with ease, with the standing up to make a difference coming through in the end. We get the generic bully figures that spend their time trying to make his life hell, with most of the focus left on the idea of a gay student running for homecoming queen. The core of the story is everything you want, while there are clear problems with the amount of money being spent on trying to become homecoming queen is ridiculous.

ComedyThe comedy in the film feels like most teen comedy material, it might have a less crude jokes, but will look at life with a laugh at times.

SettingsThe film is set in two main locations, the high school where Billy doesn’t fit in and his home where Billy isn’t accepted by his father, both prove to be places where Billy needs to help make the change in mindset, which is important for the message of the story.


Scene of the Movie – The vote, even if the idea of using smart phones in a school is funny.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – People in America put too much money into a popularity contest.

Final Thoughts This is a teen comedy with the important message of accepting people for who they are, no matter what they choose to be in life.

Overall: Important Message Movie.

Rachel Weisz Weekend – My Cousin Rachel (2017)

Director: Roger Michell

Writer: Roger Michell (Screenplay) Daphne Du Maurier (Novel)

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen, Pierfrancesco Favino, Simon Russell Beale

 

Plot: A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin’s mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.


Tagline – Did she or didn’t she?

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Slow Drama

 

Story: My Cousin Rachel starts when young man Philip (Claflin) gets letters calling for help from his close cousin Ambrose about his wife Rachel (Weisz) he goes looking for answers, only to learn that his cousin has died, believe Rachel was the cause of his death, he invites her to the family home.

When Philip starts spending time with Rachel, he learns of a different side and even starts to fall in love with her, this offers him a chance to learn about the tragic story of her previous love, showing his early feelings against her were misled.

 

Thoughts on My Cousin Rachel

 

Characters – Philip spent his life with his cousin until he got married moving away from him, only communicating through letters, become concerned about his cousin he searches for answers which gives him bad news and a new look on life, even if his jealously can cause his own problems. Rachel is the mysterious cousin’s wife that comes into Philip’s life after her husband’s death and soon she doesn’t seem like any of the letters created her to be. When we look at the rest of the characters none make an impact with Louise being a family friend who offers advice, while Kendall is the guardian trying to advise Philip.

PerformancesI can’t complain about the quality of acting in this film, Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin are both strong in their roles without hitting the full levels that show us just how far their characters will go. As for the supporting cast they are mostly fine, they really don’t have enough to do to stand out in this film.

StoryThe story follows a young man trying to figure out just what happened to his cousin, with the only living connection to him being Rachel to whom he falls wildly in love with. This plays out like a mystery which is the interesting side to the story, though it falls into forbidden love that never really connects on the levels it was hoping too. The story doesn’t feel as dark as it should, it focuses way too long on the romance or any of the mystery to stand out and teases too long into the sanity of Philip over the mystery. The other clear frustration with this story is that we focus too heavily on rich people having too much money for their own good.

Mystery/RomanceThe mystery comes from not knowing just what is going on for the most part, it never connects us enough to know the truth because the romance overshadows everything when it clearly doesn’t feel real or need to be that upfront.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the rich society setting, which frustrates because we know they have too much money for their own good.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The romance doesn’t work.

Final ThoughtsThis is a mystery romance that doesn’t connect enough on either side, it falls flat and ends up feeling like something we could have skipped.

 

Overall: Romance without the sparkle.

Rating

 

 

Emma Stone Weekend – Battle of the Sexes (2017) Movie Review

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Writer: Simon Beaufoy (Screenplay)

Starring: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming

Plot: The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs.


Tagline – He made a bet. She made history.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Great Look at History Making

Story: Battle of the Sexes starts when women’s tennis champion Billie Jean King (Stone) decides to boycott the Lawn Association Tournaments run by Jack Kramer (Pullman) who isn’t offering equal pay to the women’s games to start her own tournament for the women. Bobby Riggs (Carell) a former grand-slam winner has been dealing with his gambling addiction which is costing him his marriage.

When Billie Jean’s tournaments start taking off, they are excluding from the Grand Slam events, Bobby Riggs comes up with the idea to challenge Billie Jean to an exhibition game which would get the press interested in both the players, putting the spotlight on the women players in the way they deserve.

Thoughts on Battle of the Sexes

Characters – The characters here are based on the real people, I have no idea how accurate they are. Billie Jean King is the number one tennis player in the world, she wants to earn the same prize money as the men and after not getting it she starts her own competition for the women in the game and beating Bobby would change everything for her, off the court she is dealing with her own feelings towards another woman despite being happily married. Bobby Riggs is a hustler and former grand-slam winner, he has a gambling problem which has cost him his marriage and has come up with an idea to challenge one of the top women’s players, defeating the current number one, Billie Jean steps up with the press turning the match into major deal. Bobby does play this like the exhibition that it was, knowing he is taking the bad guy role in this game, not truly caring about the outcome, more focused on the show around it. Marilyn is a hairdresser that does start an affair with Billie Jean, her role leaves Billie losing part of her game being involved in what was considered a forbidden romance. Rosie is one of the women players that joins Billie in her new league, one of many that just wants to be treated equal.

PerformancesEmma Stone and Steve Carell are both fantastic in the leading roles, we see just how much Emma makes Billie look like a player that wants to change the game, while Carell makes us love to hate his cocky arrogant player. Elsewhere in the cast we have strong performance throughout the film without taking the shine of the performances of the leading pair.

StoryThe story follows the real events leading up to one of the most watch games of tennis in history. We get to look at how Billie Jean lead the change in tennis for equality within the game which should be front and centre of the story. We do get to see how both Billie and Bobby have personal problems with relationships which were being explored at the time. The big and most entertaining part of the story comes from seeing the build up to the big game, where Bobby is playing into the press more than anything. The slightly confusing part of the whole story comes from wondering if Bobby knew what he was doing and whether he was actually supporting the women’s game, the film shows him making it a show for the cameras, which could see him trying to bring them to the forefront of the conversation rather than just being somebody trying to put them down.

Biopic/ComedyThe biopic side of this film does show us just how much of an impact Billie Jean had on tennis during the 70s how she made a difference for the prize money and views of tennis. The film is set with a comic tone with most of the laughs coming from just how outlandish Bobby is meant to have been.

SettingsThe film is set in the 1970s with each location, costume or outfit looking like we are part of that time.


Scene of the Movie – The match.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The scoring in the match, it isn’t clear enough.

Final Thoughts This is a great to watch biopic about one of the biggest games in tennis history, it has brilliant performance throughout and will leave you want to see what happened next.

Overall: Brilliant biopic.

Thomas Jane Weekend – Hot Summer Nights (2017) Movie Review

Director: Elijah Bynum

Writer: Elijah Bynum (Screenplay)

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Emory Cohen, Thomas Jane, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner

Plot: In the summer of 1991, a sheltered teenage boy comes of age during a wild summer he spends in Cape Cod getting rich from selling pot to gangsters, falling in love for the first time, partying and eventually realizing that he is in over his head.


Tagline – One summer can change everything.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Simple Drug Drama

Story: Hot Summer Nights starts when Daniel (Chalamet) gets forced to spend his summer at Cape Cod where he doesn’t fit in with either crowd, the townies coming for summer vacation or the locals that just get by. When Daniel meets Hunter (Roe) he starts to learn about the local drug supply, who offers him friendship as the two start working together to improve their business.

When Daniel and Hunter start working with people higher up the chain in Dex (Cohen) they start seeing the money flying in, as they take the role of supplier rather than the dealers, which sees business skyrocket.

Thoughts on Hot Summer Nights

Characters – Daniel is a teenager that is drawn into grief back home forcing his mother to send him away for the summer, he isn’t considered one of the rich families coming to town, he isn’t considered one of the locals, leaving him in the middle of no man land, he befriends the local drug dealer, starting to make movement in the industry, while dating the dream girl of the area, these 3 months are special for him, a chance to reinvent himself. McKayla is the dream girl around town, every boy wants to just have a conversation with her, she is Hunter’s sister and is starting a relationship with Daniel behind his back, even though she doesn’t talk to him anymore. Hunter is the local drug dealer that the holiday makers visit for their local score, he is running things smoothly even with the cops getting closer to him, when Daniel offers up ideas to take the heat away from him, he gets a chance to enjoy his life more, even trying to reconnect with his sister once again, though he does start to lose control of Daniel and his ambition. Dex is the supplier for the two, he will take out anybody who crosses with his business, with him keeping a keen eye of the pair.

PerformancesTimothee Chalamet does do a great job here, he looks like the innocent kid who get in over his head, which is what is required with this role. Alex Roe does show the other side of the partnership well, being the one everybody looks at and is scared of getting on the bad side. Maika Monroe is strong to watch too, though her character is like every women caught in the middle of a love story between a drug dealer and believing they are not in this world. Thomas Jane doesn’t get many scenes but does all he needs to with his scenes.

StoryThe story here follows a young man who gets set to Cape Cod for the summer where he starts to get involved with the local drug dealers, with ambitions to grew the business and have a summer romance with the most popular girl in town. This is a story we have seen before, following somebody who gets drawn into a crime world that they think they know better than the person they are working with, which sees their new ideas working well to start with, but never working out well by the end, we also get a love story which for the most part isn’t anything we haven’t seen before and by the end this is such a routine story and being told in narration form, from somebody who only heard it second hand doesn’t help with how it unfolds.

Comedy/Crime/RomanceThe comedy in this film comes more from how the story is told more than anything else, which does include going into the drug dealing operation, which shows the crime side of things, with the romance being just on the back burner of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in and around Cape Cod which would be a perfect location for the drug dealer to operate in, with the drugs being required by the rich and famous.


Scene of the Movie – The fair ground scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It really doesn’t offer too much more.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book crime comedy romance that might not look for a lot of laughs, while trying to say just how ideas can spiral out of control.

Overall: By the Book.