ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – J – Just Before I Go (2014)

Director: Courteney Cox

Writer: David Flebotte (Screenplay)

Starring: Seann William Scott, Olivia Thirlby, Garret Dillahunt, Kate Walsh, Kyle Gallner, Mackenzie Marsh


Plot: On the verge of giving up on life, a guy travels to his hometown to make amends.

Tagline – Ending it all was only the beginning.
Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Moving Story


Story: Just Before I Go starts as Ted Morgan (Scott) fills in the reasons why he returned home to kill himself, the average life he has been living and the recent break up, first he wants to return home to confront the people that pushed him back in his hometown, before he goes.

Staying with his brother Lucky (Dillahunt) and his family, he sets his plan in motion until he meets Greta (Thirlby) who wants to document this situation.


Thoughts on Just Before I Go


Characters – Ted Morgan was a dreamer in high school, but he was bullied and as soon as he was old enough he left town, he lived a normal life, in a normal employment role, but after his wife cheats on him, he decides he wants to confront his past before killing himself. Ted is the average man that never became the guy he thought he would, middle-aged and alone facing a reality he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Greta is a stranger to Ted, she wants to record document the motivation behind Ted’s choice and to try and help him find a direction. Lucky is the older brother that never put his arm around his younger brother when he was younger. This movie has wonderful characters that have affected Ted’s life in different ways.

PerformancesSeann William Scott is an actor I grew up watching his comedies, but he seemed to fade away, this performance seems to be a career highlight for him, he keeps everything calm through the film which is something that is important for this role and something new for him. Olivia Thirlby is great in the supporting role too which is the type of role we can see her doing a lot. Garret is an actor you can always find in good supporting roles and this is no different.

StoryThe story here follows one man who sees his life going nowhere and wants to face his past before killing himself, this is a simple side to everything, we end up dealing with a lot of everyday issues about treating people equally, dealing with the fine line between loneliness and emptiness, as well as showing that other people close to you will have their own problems. For me this is one of the most underrated stories I have seen and having been through elements of these issues I could relate to as well.

ComedyThe movie has moments of comedy, but doesn’t rely on the comedy which is something I was happy with, the drama was the main part of the film.

SettingsThe film takes our character back to his own home town which shows how many people might not leave and still make a life for themselves, the settings work for the going down memory lane.

Scene of the Movie –
On top of the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The sister-in-law is difficult to talk seriously and we don’t need her weakness.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that hit home hard for me, I can understand Ted’s mentality and difficulties which makes this a film I wish more people could see.


Overall: Must watch for anyone that has had a hard time.




The Senator (2018)

Director: John Curran

Writer: Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Clarke, Kata Mara, Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan, Olivia Thirlby, Clancy Brown


Plot: Depicting Ted Kennedy’s involvement in the fatal 1969 car accident that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne.

Tagline – The Untold True Story

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Strong Political Thriller


Story: The Senator starts on July 18th 1969, man is about to land on the moon and Senator Ted Kennedy (Clarke) the last remaining Kennedy child is start his early Presidential campaign. That night Ted and friends are celebrating when he drives one of the campaign strategists Mary Jo Kopechne (Mara) home, when they are involved in an accident, killing Mary Jo.

The morning after the news breaks and Ted must use all of his team to help come up with a smart enough story that will cover him from any wrong doing, the bonus for Ted, man just landed on the moon is the biggest story in the world.


Thoughts on The Senator


Characters – When we look at the character, we must first acknowledge that these were real people. Ted Kennedy is the last of the Kennedy siblings, always in the shadows of his brothers, now embarking on his own journey to become President. He is involved in a car accident which leads to a death of a young woman and we see how he is planning to keep his career on the right path showing how difficult each decision he was making. Mary Jo Kopechne was the victim, she has been a key part of the previous Kennedy campaigns with her work and Ted was recruiting to his latest one. Joseph Gargan is the most trusted man to Ted, he knows what should have been done and gets increasingly frustrated with the attempted cover up. Joseph Kennedy is the father of the Kennedy’s he wants to see Ted follow in his brother’s footsteps always feeling let down by his last remaining son.

PerformancesJason Clarke is the leading role is wonderful, when it comes to serious roles he hasn’t always been given the leading role, here he shows us that he is ready to be taken seriously in a leading role. Kate Mara is good for her smaller part which is all we needed. Ed Helms surprises in a serious role because we are used to see him in comedic roles. Bruce Dern shines in role which shows him in a disabled role where he still shows the disappointment on his face.

StoryThe story we follow takes us into the week surrounding the death of Mary Jo Kopechne which had an impact on the political career of Ted Kennedy. The story shows us how the Kennedy camp was trying to put a spin on the accident to clear Ted of any wrong doing. This plays into how this is an incident is one that remained a talking point even though it was overshadowed by the bigger story in human history. Seeing how the politics system was run to spin any story to show innocence to the keep campaign strong even if it means stepping on the people who are affected by the act.  This is strange because we always seem to get two major news events together where one will end ups getting forgotten.  

History/ThrillerThis is a look at a moment in history that would have had a lot bigger story nearly any other day of the week, one that never really got too the truth about. This does keep us on edge as we wait to see just what will happen if the truth was to come out.

SettingsThe settings in this film show how behind closed doors the operation to clean up a political disaster works.

Scene of the Movie –
The speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It would have been interesting to see more of the girl’s impact after the death of their friend.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good political historical drama that shows us just how one story about one of the biggest iconic family’s in America history the Kennedys.


Overall: Interesting political thriller.




The Darkest Hour (2011)

logoDirector: Chris Gorak

Writer:  Jon Spaihts (Screenplay) Leslie Bohem, M.T. Ahern, Jon Spaihts (Story)

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, Veronika Vernadskaya


Plot: In Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Invisible Aliens Attack Again.


Story: The Darkest Hour starts by introducing us to our American’s Sean (Hirsch) and Ben (Minghella) as they head to Moscow for a business trip as they are looking to expand their App. The boys find their idea stolen by Skyler (Kinnaman) so to blow off some steam they head to an elite club. The boys meet fellow American Natalie (Thirlby) and her friend Aussie Anne (Taylor) who enjoy the night out together. The night takes a turn when all the power is lost and these mysterious light clouds descend from the sky dissolving anything they get in contact with. Chaos takes over the streets of Moscow and the four friends find themselves hiding for their lives against an invisible enemy.

Morning comes and the four friends and Skyler seem to be the only survivors of the initial attack and set out to find any other survivors and help. The streets of Moscow are totally abandoned, cars left all over the place and of course the safest way to search the city is in pure daylight where the creatures could find them, you know those invisible ones that they can’t see. When the group finally figure out it will be smarter to travel at night they build a warning device to let them know when the creatures are getting close to them. The group have to find answers and survive in a city where they don’t know the language against an enemy they can’t fight.

The Darkest Hour takes the alien genre and mixes it with a slasher, we get the idea that our main group don’t know where they are either which adds to the horror side of the story. We get to see plenty of terrible decisions being made as always for the genre before we get to meet the traditional generic characters that end up offering nothing new to the genre. On the positive I did like how the aliens did their kills because they are brutal and truly frightening. This ends up being very glossy and could easily be forgotten after seeing what has happened because you don’t really care about the characters. It was nice not seeing purely military trying to stop the aliens and we only see the group trying to survive rather than full fighting. (5/10)


Actor Review


Emile Hirsch: Sean is the slacker of the two guy friends who can put on a good face to sell anything, he takes up the leader role for the group making all the brave decision for the group. Emilie continues to slip away after his impressive outing in Into the Wild. (5/10)


Olivia Thirlby: Natalie is our America tourist who happens to find the guys through their App and along with her friend bump into the guys on a party night. She has to group up with after the attack staying loyal to her friend. Olivia tries her hand in this genre but never really stands out. (5/10)


Max Minghella: Ben is the smart worrying friend who always sees life going one direction and the whole trip things take him outside his comfort zone. Max looks like he should be the main character which is what is surprising what happens to his character. (5/10)


Rachael Taylor: Anne is the Australian friend of Natalie’s who joins in the survival attempts. Racheal is pretty much just a victim in the race for survival and never really gets much time to do anything. (4/10)


Support Cast: The Darkest Hour has supporting cast that is very generic we get the asshole that is with them, we get the crazy local who knows what is going on and we also see the warrior wannabes. They help our characters get to the next chapter of their adventure.


Director Review: Chris Gorak – Chris does a solid job but never takes the film to the next level of originality. (5/10)


Action: The Darkest Hour is filled with chasing and basic weaponry fighting against the aliens but nothing stand out. (5/10)

Horror: The Darkest Hour does actually put us in a horror environment stuck with no way of getting home, lost in a country where they don’t know the language and the brutal alien kills. (8/10)

Sci-Fi: The Darkest Hour uses the alien invasion angle we have seen plenty of times before. (7/10)

Thriller: The Darkest Hour does make you want to know what will happen and how they will escape but you don’t really care which one will die next. (7/10)

Settings: The Darkest Hour uses the Moscow setting with Americans not knowing their way around the city. (8/10)
Special Effects
: The Darkest Hour uses good effects with the alien kills even if the final reveal of the aliens is slightly CGI heavy. (7/10)

Suggestion: The Darkest Hour is one for the sci-fi fans to try, it can be enjoyed by all but don’t expect too much. (Try It)


Best Part: Alien kills.

Worst Part: Generic supporting characters.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Vanishing on 7th Street.


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $64.5 Million

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

Tagline: Survive The Holidays

Trivia: Production was suspended for a planned two weeks due to the extraordinary air pollution caused by heavy smoke from the wild fires surrounding Moscow in August 2010. It eventually resumed three weeks later. Even with this precaution, smoke still made it into a lot of shots and had to be digitally removed in post production.


Overall: Darkest Hour is very generic but enjoyable sci-fi horror.

Rating 65

Juno (2007)

logoDirector: Jason Reitman

Writer: Diablo Cody (Screenplay)

Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, Rainn Wilson


Plot: Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Nice Indie Comedy


Story: Juno starts by showing our two young lovers Juno (Page) and Paulie (Cera) awkward first time. We follow Juno as she deals with the idea that she is now pregnant leaving her to wonder what to do next. Juno’s first reaction is to call her best friend Leah (Thirlby) before deciding to speak to Paulie who is less than helpful when it comes to making a decision on what to do. At first Juno wants to get an abortion but can’t go through with it.

Juno looks at other options like giving up the baby adoption and she picks a couple Vanessa (Garner) and Mark Loring (Bateman). Before going through with that, Juno has to tell her parents Mac (Simmons) and Bren (Janney) who are disappointed but also supporting in their reaction. After making the decision to let them have her baby Juno goes through the pregnancy process but as the baby grows she deals with all the high school politics and watches the boy who made her pregnant move on, all while she questions whether it is the right thing to do.

Juno is one story that goes straight to the point and though it has relationship issues it keeps the primary teen pregnancy story at the forefront. It does a great job of showing how Juno is too young to really understand the situation she is in, but also shows how she learns as the baby grows. This really is an enjoyable film that will make you feel what the characters are going through over the time period. It also becomes one of the most recognisable stories in recent years. (9/10)


Actor Review


Ellen Page: Juno our quick talking teenage girl who is pregnant and struggles to decided what to do, we see her as she does keep the baby grow and make decision that will affect the peoples involved lives. Ellen gives what will be her best performance in this role and it will always be difficult to beat this. (10/10)


Michael Cera: Paulie the boy who is the father, he is too young to realise the affect it will have on his life and continues on his school and sports life. Michael gives a good performance as shows how unaware a teenager could be when it comes to dealing with pregnancy. (7/10)


Jennifer Garner: Vanessa the wife of the couple who are looking to adopt Juno’s baby, she is career driven but wants to have her own family. Jennifer does a good job and shows how a mother to be acts. (8/10)


Jason Bateman: Mark husband of the couple who is just going along with what his wife wants and also reflexes how unprepared he will be to be a father. Jason gives a solid performance but doesn’t show all his abilities. (6/10)


Support Cast: Juno doesn’t have the biggest support cast, it mostly consists of family members and friends who support Juno with her pregnancy. They all add laughs and the feel of the story.


Director Review: Jason Reitman – Jason does a good job directing this classic film that quite rightly got him an Oscar nod. (9/10)


Comedy: Juno puts a light hearted spin on the subject but never falls into a joke a minute level of comedy. (6/10)

Drama: Juno shows the real problems that would be faced by a teenage pregnancy very well. (9/10)

Romance: Juno would have to come over as an alternative romance film because we do have a romantic angle but it is how people hold back their real feelings. (9/10)

Settings: Juno has good settings used throughout to make the story flow showing the difference in class between Juno and potential parents. (9/10)

Suggestion: Juno is one to watch, it is a delightfully little comedy that will be enjoyed by all. (Watch)


Best Part: Juno and the furniture

Worst Part: It might have been a little bit more if we had seen more of Paulie reaction.


Believability: It tackles some very real issues with teen pregnancy. (9/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Won Best original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Leading Actress and Best Director.

Box Office: $231 Million

Budget: $7.5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

Tagline: A comedy about growing up… and the bumps along the way.

Trivia: Jennifer Garner dropped her A-list salary to a percentage point agreement for Juno when it was expected to be a small, low-grossing indie film, but the decision paid off when Juno became a breakout smash at the box office – giving Garner her best payday yet.


Overall: Enjoyable

Rating 80