ABC Film Challenge – Random – T – This is Where I Leave You (2014)

Director: Shawn Levy

Writer: Jonathan Tropper (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant

 

Plot: When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch

 

Story: This is Where I Leave You starts as the father of the house passes away, his dying wish is that his family respect Shiva which means the family must spend the week under one roof. This brings Judd (Bateman), Wendy (Fey), Phillip (Driver) and Paul (Stoll) to live with their mother Hillary (Fonda).

As the family comes together memories of the childhood come out as tensions between the siblings come out, as we see the family dynamics come out, we also get to see how the lives they siblings have been living haven’t gone the way they had planned, but most importantly how much they need the family.

 

Thoughts on This is Where I Leave You

 

Characters/PerformanceJudd is a big city producer who earns his wife has been cheating on him, he must return to his home town to be with his family after his father’s death but now he must look at himself and wondering whether he should take more chances in his life. Wendy is the only sister of the siblings who has been married with children but we see the regret in her life as she always wondered what could have been. Phillip is the youngster sibling that has been the loose cannon mostly acting up about not being able to live up to his elder siblings. Paul is the eldest sibling that has been running the family business and trying to start his own family but having troubles. Hillary is their mother that brings the family back together for the funeral, she has always controlled them but also let them live their own life. We also see loved ones and lost loves coming the lives the siblings have lived or are living.

Performance wise, we do have an all-star cast here with Jason Bateman is in the leading role he shows just how capable of an actor he can be, Tina Fey even steps away from the comedy she is known for very well too, Jane Fonda shows us once again she can never be forgotten just how skilled she is, Adam Driver continues to grow his ever-growing body of work with Corey Stoll continuing to make his move up the film world. We also have wonderful performances from the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story of the family coming back together for their father’s or husband’s funeral is one we have seen before, we get to see the problems the family has been having too. This is one of the good ones that covers everything, sure it does seem to be slightly too much for one family but this is one of the most interesting dynamics between the siblings over the weeklong visit.

Comedy/DramaThe comedy used isn’t about a laugh a minute, it is more about the light-hearted moments in life and the drama involved around it shows the relationships the people have with each other.

SettingsThe hometown setting shows how the people of the world have to come back to where it all started to look at how lives went.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best bringing the family together for a funeral to look at life, the what could have been, the where things are going and is easily one of the most powerful and interesting ones I have seen.

 

Overall: Wonderful family reuniting drama.

Rating

 

 

Jason Bateman Weekend – Bad Words (2013)

badDirector: Jason Bateman

Writer: Andrew Dodge (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall, Allison Janney, Ben Falcone, Steve Witting, Beth Grant

 

Plot: A spelling bee loser sets out to exact revenge by finding a loophole and attempting to win as an adult.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Comedy

 

Story: Bad Words starts as we meet Guy Trilby (Bateman) a 40-year-old man who has decided to enter into the national spelling-bee for children. He finds a loop-hole for his entry and working with Jenny Widgeon (Hahn) his national sponsor to take on the authorities.

After qualifying for the national championships Guy gets frowned upon while making friends with Chaitanya (Chand) a contender whose parents leave him alone. Jenny tries to learn the story behind Guy’s decision to enter the tournament.

Bad Words is a comedy that takes on the spelling bee culture going around America and how if you study rules you can make any tournament eligible for entry. We get to see a sad back story which has driven Guy to act the way he does which is all good for why he is taking part in the spelling bee. The unlikely friendship also works because Guy sees himself in Chaitanya making him change over time. But on the negative the subject matter isn’t going to be for everyone and in the end could turn people away.

 

Actor Review

 

Jason Bateman: Guy Trilby is a 40-year-old man who wants to enter a spelling-bee for kids after finding a loop-hole. He doesn’t care who he offends by entering this tournament and is a terrible example for all the kids involved. Jason gets to use all his comedy chops here

Kathryn Hahn: Jenny Widgeon is a reporter trying to write a story about Guy’s story of entering the spelling-bee. She is also his sponsor for the tournament with her news outlet funding his journey. Kathryn is solid in this supporting role.

Rohan Chand: Chaitanya Chopra is a young Indian boy who is also entering the spelling-bee who befriends Guy along the way he is the only person that shows Guy any sort of light on his dark path. Rohan is great and working opposite Jason.

Philip Baker Hall: Dr Bowman is running the bee and takes an instant dislike towards Guy but he does try to keep everything together in difficult tournament. Philip works well in this role.

Support Cast: Bad Words has a supporting cast which do all help the way the story eventually ends up going.

Director Review: Jason BatemanJason does well directing this easy to watch film with the comedy being where needed.

 

Comedy: Bad Words has good moments that do get laughs without being full blown laugh out loud moments.

Settings: Bad Words keeps the settings in and around the spelling bee without having anywhere too iconic.
Suggestion
: Bad Words is one to try that does have moments of enjoyment but might not be for everyone. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Jason and Rohan have good chemistry.

Worst Part: Certain racial jokes which miss the target.

Funniest Scene: Final showdown.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $10 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

Tagline: The end justifies the mean.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but not memorable comedy.

Rating

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Captain Fantastic (2016)

capDirector: Matt Ross

Writer: Matt Ross (Screenplay)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crook, Charlies Shotwell, Trin Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Ann Dowd, Frank Langella, Missi Pyle

 

Plot: In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Story

 

Story: Captain Fantastic starts as we meet Ben (Mortensen) who has been raising his six children Bo (MacKay), Kielyr (Isler), Vespyr (Basso), Rellian (Hamilton), Zaja (Crooks) and Nai (Shotwell) in the forest of Pacific Northwest away from society. Ben is teaching his children in his own way so they could be ready for the anything life be it, self-defence, educational material or just plain old music.

When Ben has to go back into the real world he takes the recently completed boy to man Bo but is only treated to tragic news about his wife. Ben reluctantly takes his children to his wife’s funeral against the orders of her family. Over this time, we get to see how Ben learns that everything he thought was correct might not actually be right for his children.

Captain Fantastic is a wonderful story that gives us the idea that we always know what is right for our own children might not actually be correct. We see how family wants to support any decision but there will always be that tension within. Viggo Mortensen gives a heavyweight performance that could easily being contention when Oscar season hits and all six of the children are brilliant in their roles. I will say this has moments of being slightly too slow but in the end each scene comes off fascinating to see where the characters will be going next.

 

Overall: Brilliant story, brilliantly acted and the real outside shot for the Oscars.

Rating93

 

 

Tomorrowland (2015)

logoDirector: Brad Bird

Writer: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof (Screenplay) Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof, Jeff Jensen (Story)

Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key

Plot: Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Ambitious Idea

Story: Tomorrowland starts with Frank (Clooney) trying to prepare us to the world we are going into where we learn of his love of science from the moment he entered the world invention competition at a tender young age where he meets Nix (Laurie) who is impressed with his work along with Athena (Cassidy) but as the invention doesn’t fully work he gets dismissed. Athena likes the idea and gives Frank instructions to a world where the future has already taken over, but the older version still has the warning with an impending clock counting down.

Casey (Robertson) brings a fresh prospective to the story because she is an optimist as we follow her choice to make a platform from being destroyed and saving her father Eddie’s (McGraw) job. When she get caught upon her release she is left with a mysterious pin that upon touching takes her to a mysterious world, Tomorrowland.

Still not sure what is happening Casey looks for answer which Athena tries to bring her as Athena searches for people who can save Tomorrowland from a future threat. Which means getting to the stage where Casey meets Frank and make up for a creation which witnesses the end of the world, but Tomorrowland is nothing like any of them imagined.

Tomorrowland can not be fault for actually trying to think outside the box and being original, in a year where we had a large amount of successful sequels it had been a rare thing to see something like this, this year. I did like the idea of working between the two dimensions and that we are looking into the idea of the world ending. What I didn’t like was the way too long of an introduction to each character and not enough time in the Tomorrowland. I can’t help but love the ideas used this film and think it needs to be watch.

Actor Review

George Clooney: Frank Walker is the man who was exiled from Tomorrowland and lives in isolation, he knows the world is going to end and has just accepted it. When he meets Casey he learns that he could in fact change the future once and for all leading him to go back into Tomorrowland to change the future and save the world. George gives a good performance that really works in a grumpy old man performance.frank

Hugh Laurie: Nix is the leader of Tomorrowland where he rules knowing that the world will end, he is happy for the world to end because him and his people are safe in a new world. Hugh is criminally underutilized in this film we should have seen him in a much more villainous role like the one created than this.nix

Britt Robertson: Casey Newton is the rebellious teenager who gets selected by Athena as the potential savour of the world, she gets attracted by Tomorrowland and ends up having to fight for the world, but ends up asking too many questions through the film. Britt steps out of no where to end up becoming one of the potential break out stars of the year.casey

Raffey Cassidy: Athena is the little girl who recruits the dreamers of the world to come to Tomorrowland but after she is banished she searches for the people who can help save Tomorrowland from its potential destruction. She is a robot and has been trained to defeat all enemies in combat. Raffey really is the star performer in this film nailing all the scenes where the image of her character never seems to fit in the performance.athena

Support Cast: Tomorrowland has the basic supporting cast with the family of Casey that all work to show her almost being held back from her potential along with the robots hunting them down that all look very much out of place.

Director Review: Brad BirdBrad gives us such an ambitious project that does need to get more respect than the box office scores show it having.

Action: Tomorrowland has good action but really is just standard fight scenes throughout.

Adventure: Tomorrowland puts Casey on a brilliant adventure that takes her to a new world puts her life in peril which all works well for an adventure film.

Family: Tomorrowland could be one for all the family to enjoy with something everyone will enjoy.

Mystery: Tomorrowland does leave you wondering what is actually happening with the characters and Tomorrowland.

Sci-Fi: Tomorrowland brings us into a future world where dreamers are encouraged rather than pushed down which all works to show the difference between the two worlds.

Settings: Tomorrowland creates a beautiful world for Tomorrowland while the Earth settings are very generic.world
Special Effects: Tomorrowland has flawless settings with what is going on in the Tomorrowland because it needs to look amazing for the idea in the film.

Suggestion: Tomorrowland is one to try I think most people will enjoy it more than they would think. (Try It)

Best Part: Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy both are great.

Worst Part: Not enough with Nix.

Favourite Quote: Nix Every day is the opportunity for a better tomorrow.

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Could have one.

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $208 Million

Budget: $190 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

Tagline: Imagine a place where nothing is impossible.

Overall: Brilliantly ambitious that could be one of the best original ideas this year

Ratingcard

Movie Reviews 101 Halloween Midnight Horror – The Visit (2015)

logoDirector: M. Night Shyamalan

Writer: M. Night Shyamalan (Screenplay)

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Samuel Stricklen

Plot: A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow Paced Horror

Story: The Visit starts with Mom (Hahn) giving an interview to where she is now in her life where she got married, divorced and has two kids Becca (DeJonge) and Tyler (Oxenbould) who get a chance to make up with her parents who have never met their grand kids. The two kids are are filming the events of their journey and week with grandparents Nana (Dunagan) & Pop Pop (McRobbie).grandparnts

We follow as Becca & Tyler continue to go through the generic found footage annoying behaviour before the first night in the house when Becca discovers something about Nana. As the visit continues strange things start happening and Becca & Tyler get worried about Nana and Pop Pop’s behaviour.

The Visit comes off as a simple found footage idea which leaves you wondering what is going on throughout, it takes it times to give us the final reveal and equally leaves us with plenty of options out there. I would like to ask the one big plot hole issue for me and that would be not showing the kids a photo of the grandparents first. Over looking that issue the final act really ends up great because it would keeps you guessing from start to finish without giving too much away.

Actor Review

Olivia DeJonge: Becca is the eldest of the children who wants to document the visit giving us the found footage excuse as she films every moment of the trip, she also has to look after her little brother. Olivia comes from nowhere to give a great performance in this role.

Ed Oxenbould: Tyler is the younger of the sibling who is acting way older than his age but he also believes that he could be responsible for his parents divorce. Ed gives us a great performance for the young actor.

Deanna Dunagan: Nana during the day comes off like a normal elderly woman but by night she ends up having a secret where she comes off very strange with the way she acts. Deanna gives us a good performance in this role where she changes mind set in almost every scene.

Peter McRobbie: Pop Pop is the grandfather who has issues during the day but protects his wife during the day from her nightly activities. Peter does a good supporting role that doesn’t do much extra even though he has something uneasy about him throughout.

Kathryn Hahn: Mom is their parent to the kids who sends them to have a weekend away with her parents that she hasn’t seen in since she ran away from home when she was 19. Kathryn is mostly on web cam just checking in on the kids.

Support Cast: The Visit really doesn’t have any supporting characters with anyone else just appearing in one scene.

Director Review: M. Night ShyamalanHe is back on top of the genre here with a good horror that shows he is getting back to what he does best.

Horror: The Visit has an overall feel of creepiness from start to finish.

Thriller: The Visit keeps us wondering about what is happening without hinting too far before finally giving us the reveal.

Settings: The Visit is set mostly in the remote house giving the whole film giving it an isolated location feeling.
Special Effects: The Visit doesn’t end up using special effects which shows you don’t need them for horror.

Suggestion: The Visit is one to watch for all the horror fans out there because they will enjoy it all. (Horror Fans Watch)

Best Part: The reveal.

Worst Part: It does come off slow to start.

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $60 Million (US)

Budget: $5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

Tagline: No one loves you like your grandparents

Trivia: M. Night Shyamalan used his fee from the Will Smith produced science-fiction adventure story After Earth (2013) to self-produce the film in question. In his own words, this was “an attempt to regain artistic control” after his recent movies had been denied final cut, and were even taken away from him in post-production.

Overall: Slow burning horror thriller that really does have a disturbing final twist

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