Fighting with My Family (2019)

Director: Stephen Merchant

Writer: Stephen Merchant (Screenplay)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Stephen Merchant, Jack Lowden

 

Plot: A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.


Tagline – A Comedy About a Family That Fights a Little Differently

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny & Inspiring

 

Story: Fighting with My Family starts as we meet the Knight family, father Ricky (Frost), mother Julia (Headey), children Zak (Lowden) and Saraya (Pugh) who are wrestling family, they have their own gym where they put on the shows, train the children from the local area of Norwich. Zak and Saraya both have a dream, that dream is to become WWE superstars and champions.

When the WWE offer them both a tryout with coach Hutch (Vaughn) only Saraya gets offered a place in the developmental brand NXT. Saraya will need to move to Florida at the age of 18 to follow her dream, where she must learn the difficulties of the training and adapting to life in another country, while Zak starts to spiral out of control after seeing his own dream shattered. Can both put their lives back on track to be a supporting and successful family?

 

Thoughts on Fighting with My Family

 

Characters – This is based on the real Knight family, while certain performers and coaches tend to have their names changed. Saraya is the youngest member of a wrestling family, she has been in the ring for years and at 18 she gets her chance to try out for the WWE, getting the job, moving across the world, isolated and alone, she is different to the rest of the other women selected, she has a wrestling background, while they have an athletic or modelling background. We see how she must learn to grasp her chance to follow her dream, which would see her lead a revolution in women’s wrestling. Zak is her brother, he has been working in the ring longer, dreaming that he could make it, he has a child on the way and is the main teacher at the wrestling school, he is left shattered by the idea he can’t follow his dream, closing off from the world, ready to follow in his step-brothers violent reaction to not making the cut. He needs to learn to enjoy his sister’s success and live his own life where he is achieving amazing things nobody else is. Ricky and Julia are the parents that fell in love over wrestling, they turned their own lives around to make something of themselves and push their children to succeed in the ring. Hutch is the coach that selects the potential talents, he is strict with the candidates and knows his decisions will make or break dreams. Dwayne Johnson is playing himself in this film, he gives the speeches where needed and shows that he is the good guy we all know.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh has made a big impact in her short career and this showed her puling off another role that required a lot of physical training to go with the emotional side of the story. Jack Lowden impresses here too, his character deals with the lose of the dream and he shows us this in every scene as the look of disappoint grows as time goes by. Lena Headey and Nick Frost show wonderful chemistry through the comedy of the film, while Vince Vaughn is strong in the coach role, which must be the calming pushing presence. Dwayne Johnson is mainly playing himself and isn’t in too many scenes that you haven’t seen in the trailer.

StoryThe story follows the career of WWE superstar Paige, from her wrestling family in Norwich through the life changing opportunity to be part of the WWE developmental brand NXT, while her brother much deal with the fact he didn’t get selected and must focus on living a life where his dream doesn’t come true. This is based on the real family, the real journey, the real moment bought a tear to my eye watching it live. This does bottle down to the idea of t chasing the dream, taking the chance given to your movie, which is the Saraya side of the film. I did however think the Zak side of the story is handled well because seeing him dealing with losing his own dream and seeing his life feel like he is worthless, his hard work was for nothing shows just how hard the news can be. This does feel like a feel-good story of inspiration dreaming.

Biopic/ComedyThe biopic side of this film shows how hard the family has worked to be successful in the wrestling business, it shows the life changing decision being made. The comedy will have you laughing at every joke, with many being British humour.

SettingsThe film does show the different worlds, the small-town Norwich wrestling which could see people falling into the wrong side of the law, to the big glossy heights of the WWE, it shows how you can start at the bottom to reach the top.


Scene of the Movie –
Training.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Skipping the success Paige has in NXT.

Final ThoughtsThis is a feel-good inspirational story that will give you a smile, even if you do know how the story ends, both in the film and the years after.

 

Overall: Delightfully funny biopic.

Rating

 

 

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The Way We Weren’t (2019)

Director: Rick Hays

Writer: Brian DiMuccio, Aran Eisenstat, Rick Hays (Screenplay)

Starring: Fiona Gubelmann, Ben Lawson, Tobin Bell, Keith Powell, Amber Stevens West, Alexandra Davies

 

Plot: Two people meet just after their previous relationships have imploded, so in an effort to make themselves more appealing, they exaggerate, fib and outright lie, and after they move in together all the deception unravels.


Tagline – No Couple Has Ever Been This Badly in Love!

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Twist on Love

 

Story: The Way We Weren’t starts as school teacher Charlotte (Gubelmann) breaks up with her non-committal boyfriend ending up in jail. On the other side of the country, Brandon (Lawson) is still struggling to show his commitment with women. When the two decide to take a change on what they look for in partners, Charlotte and Brandon end up meeting, falling in love with their new selves and rush into marriage.

10 Days later, they want a divorce, we flashback to see what happened as the two discover the truth about each other, which is a relationship built in lies, until they can learn to tell each other the truth.

 

Thoughts on The Way We Weren’t

 

Characters – Charlotte is a school teacher who has spent 14 years with her boyfriend, who doesn’t have much in common with her, while not being ready to commit. The break up pushes her to take a chance and becoming somebody different which leads her to meet Brandon, she wants to keep certain parts of her past a secret though, including her jail term. Brandon is a womaniser that can’t commit, his business isn’t going well. Out of a newly failed relationship broke, he wants to meet a new woman for a relationship, He lies just like Charlotte being someone he isn’t, only for the truth to bring him the new positive vision of life. Jerry is the father of Brandon, he is part hippie and has been fighting the system for his and his wives relationship. He knows how to help Brandon without telling him everything. Dan is the neighbour and best friend who reluctantly lets Brandon use his car to impress Charlotte, he gets the best reactions to anything happening to his car.

PerformancesFiona Gubelmann and Ben Lawson are both wonderful to watch, both stars get to show the range of the emotions their character are going through, each has their moment to shine too. When it comes to the supporting cast get plenty of laughs through the film.

StoryThe story brings us a new look at love, it follows the idea of jumping into marriage to prove how spontaneous people have become only to learn, like if most relationships, not everything is as it seems after the early getting to know each other stage of a relationship. This does show how honest should become more important, but that we can always be afraid of what is in our past being judged. While certain sides to the lies or hidden truths could be considered farfetched ones they come out we get to see just how you can misunderstand somebody who has been working towards something.

ComedyThe comedy through the film will get laughs, be it from learning the truth with a natural reaction or trying to hide it from everybody else.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which sees just how far Charlotte will travel for love and to escape the life she once had.


Scene of the Movie –
Garden party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain support characters don’t seem to have their own lives, which is an issue with a lot of comedies.

Final ThoughtsThis is a funny comedy about love and just how difficult it can be or everyone, this does bring a new twist on the love story too.

 

Overall: Funny comedy.

Rating

 

 

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Director: Christopher Landon

Writer: Christopher Landon (Screenplay) Scott Lobdell (Characters)

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Ruby Modine, Israel Broussard, Suraj Sharma, Rachel Matthews, Steve Zissis

 

Plot: Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.


Tagline – Death makes a killer comeback.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smartly Written

 

Story: Happy Death Day 2U starts when Ryan (Vu) starts going through the same experience that Tree (Rothe) did one year ago, Tree knows how to break the cycle which only brings us to his lab work, which brings us a couple of new characters in Samar (Sharma) and Andrea (Yarkin) that help solve the case only for the outcome to take Tree right back to September 18th waking up in the dorm room of Carter (Broussard).

Tree sets out to end the cycle quickly only to learn she is in a very different version and she must figure out who the killer is all over again, while helping Ryan figure out how to put time back together again.

 

Thoughts on Happy Death Day 2U

 

Characters – Tree is back first off helping Ryan handle the repeat day, before being forced back through the day she got stuck in, this time not everything is as it seems and she is faced if difficult decisions ones, people might never get to decide over. Carter is Tree’s boyfriend and the student’s room she keeps waking up in, he has a different life this time around though. Ryan is the slacker roommate of Carter’s who has been working on an experiment which has put him into the loop, he seems to have two sides, one is the stoner slacker roommate, the other is a genius scientific mind, it is hard to believe the two are the same. Lori returns to, as we learn how different the realities have become. We do have all the characters returning here which does give them a different spin and a different suspect list.

PerformancesJessica Rothe steals the show once again with her performance, with her character going through different emotional decisions than the first film which saw her go from bitchy to understanding, this time she has harder decisions to make. When we get into the supporting cast, sadly, nobody gets as much time as they should do, Phi Vu seems like he is going to get a lot of time from the opening sequence, only to spend most of the film at a computer screen.

StoryThe story here is one that does feel like one of the most interest written ones I have seen in a long time, first we know how the first film unfolded, so, how do we handle a sequel? We change the genre, that is what we did, because the first film used more fantasy elements to create the loop only for this one to put us into a sci-fi factor. Now, this story does focus a lot more on choices, most importantly ones that Tree can make, with a brand-new look at life and chances she didn’t know she could have being bought back for her, this is the highlight of everything we see. The weakness of this comes from the fact we do have a new killer and we don’t really spend anytime figuring out who they are. The best way to describe this would be imagine Sidney could relive the events of Scream and the killers were different and her life changed from the one she was living, only she knew about it. This sounds complicated though, it doesn’t feel like that.

Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe horror and mystery factors do take a backburner this time, we do have a killer, we don’t seem to truly investigate this enough for the film to get the time to shine.

SettingsThe film is set in and around the university, we return to certain locations, but strangely this doesn’t offer anything new to the genre.


Scene of the Movie –
The blind student.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The overuse of suicide in a comic way.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sequel that does continue to build on the original, it will give you laughs, but will take the mystery away from everything, Jessica Rothe does steal the show again.

 

Overall: Fun, improved sequel.

Rating

 

 

Devil’s Path (2019)

Director: Matthew Montgomery

Writer: Matthew Montgomery, Stephen Twardokus (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Twardokus, JD Scalzo, Jon Gale, Michael Hampton, Steve Callahan

 

Plot: Two men encounter each other on a dangerous gay cruising park trail, and quickly find themselves caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Twist Filled Thriller

 

Story: Devil’s Path starts as two men Noah (Twardokus) and Patrick (Scalzo) both go to a notorious gay cruising park about to go about the business of the quickie hook up, before getting attacked by two men.

As the two men search for safety and to stay one step ahead of the attackers, the two men get to know each other, learning they are different than what they were expecting from the hook up, the dangerous game of cat and mouse only adds to the intensity of whether they can make it out alive.

 

Thoughts on Devil’s Path

 

Characters – Noah heads into this forest to search answers, he is acting like the rest of the men as he locates somebody to help him in his search, he carries tarot cards which he uses as a conversation starter, he has his reasons which will become clear after spending time with Patrick. Patrick is another man in the woods, he is looking for the quick hook up even if he does have a secret which will keep his time with Noah there for a reason. We don’t meet anyone else for more than a couple of scenes, even with the two men hunting down our couple.

PerformancesWe have two main leads in Stephen Twardokus and JD Scalzo who both give strong performances as we see how they go through the uncomfortable meet, while trying to learn the truth behind each one being in the woods.

StoryThe story follows two singletons heading into the woods in search of a quick hook up only to find themselves needing to hide from two men searching for them, only for everything to get turned on its head, when the true motivation of being in the woods comes out. This is a thriller that deals with the twist and suspense elements, it isn’t going to be as routine as two people hiding or fighting back the whole time, we get the twists which help us reach the final goal. The story does feel like it is well written with each moment having an importance to the final outcome of the film without having any pointless filler too.

ThrillerThe will keep you guessing as you are never sure what to think about either of the two men, who is holding a secret or not, which is nice to be watching things unfold.

SettingsThe film is set in the woods, it is known as a location for hook ups which is all we need to know.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Running shaky cam.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that will keep you guessing and will surprise you with how it all ends up playing out.

 

Overall: Smart thriller.

Rating

 

 

Departures (2019)

Director:  Peter Hutchings

Writer: Fergal Rock (Screenplay)

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Maisie Williams, Nina Dobrev, Ken Jeong, Tyler Hoechlin, David Koechne, Peyton List

 

Plot: A hypochondriac working as an airport baggage handler is forced to confront his fears when a British teenager with a terminal illness enlists him to help her carry out her eccentric bucket list.


Tagline – Living in the moment is hard to do alone.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Rollercoaster

 

Story: Departures starts as we see Skye (Williams) receives the news that her terminal cancer isn’t giving her much more time, even though she takes the news positively. Meanwhile teenager Calvin (Butterfield) believes he has cancer with his hypochondriac state, even though every test says he is completely fine.

Calvin attends cancer support groups where he meets Skye, who wants a ‘To Die List’ which sees Calvin reluctantly help Skye complete, even though he can’t find the courage to tell her the truth, even though she is teaching him to live hi life more, than he could ever imagine.

 

Thoughts on Departures

 

Characters – Calvin is a hypochondriac luggage handler, he goes through tests believing he is ill even though every test says he is fine. He attends cancer support groups in a hope to get prospective of his mindset, only to meet cancer victim Skye who brings him out of his shell, he goes from shy to outgoing through his time with Skye. Skye is a British teenager that has been given the terminal diagnosis for her cancer, she has gotten to the stage where she just wants to make the most out of her remaining life, which sees her befriend Calvin, mostly because he is the only friend she can find in the world, using humour as her biggest defence to what is going to happen to her. Izzy is a flight attendant that has been having no luck in love until she meets Calvin and sees a different type of guy in him. The remaining characters we meet include the parents that have been through their own problems, two random police officers that end up helping the two complete the goals which will get the laughs.

PerformancesAsa Butterfield takes the leading role here and over the past for years he has handle a few of the teenage coming of age roles, he has never put a foot wrong with his own performances in these, with this film once again showing him to be a big talent in the future. Maisie Williams steps out of Game of Thrones to a role that is full of energy, which should be lower in her character, to show us a character that just wanted to live life to the fullest. Nina Dobrev is the best of the rest, with the supporting cast getting their moments when needed for an extra emotional moment or a laugh.

StoryThe story follows a teenage girl that is going to die who befriends a teenage boy that is scared he is going to and the two help each other learn to make the most of their life, through their time together. The story doesn’t hide any facts about the two characters from the audience, which with other films using the same subject matters have used as a late twist in the film. This story is about friendship, adventure, enjoying life and taking chances. While the story might be easy to read just where everything is going to go, you will still need to bring the tissues for this film.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure elements used in this film are a lot simpler than you would imagine, this is because we get to see how Calvin learns to make life an adventure instead of being scared about what could happen. The comedy in the film is handled tastefully, I have always seen people say ‘you can’t have comedy in a cancer film’ this comedy comes from seeing how Skye is dealing with everything, she wants to laugh and not feel sorry for herself.

SettingsThe film is set in New York, using the airport as one of the main backdrops, elsewhere we see how Calvin ends up going places he never would have considered until he met Skye.


Scene of the Movie –
The real list.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I am going to pick timescale, not sure if it was days weeks or months.

Final ThoughtsThis is an emotional rollercoaster of a film, it will make you laugh, smile and cry, sometimes in the same scene.

 

Overall: Must watch with tissues.

Rating