The Deadpool Before Christmas

We’re beside ourselves with Christmas joy over this one: IT’S THE DEADPOOL BEFORE CHRISTMAS! 

What a fantastic gift for the fans. Ryan Reynolds is my new bestest friend. And then there’s Fred Savage, who’s just annoyed at the whole thing. He seriously needs to be booped on the nose. Really. Because what could be better than The Princess Bride mashed up with Deadpool?

Watch it for yourselves, little children:

You better be good this holiday season, or Deadpool will absolutely put something naughty in your stocking.

 

 

The Three Types of Movie Reviews at RunPee

runpee-movie-reviews
RunPee’s movie reviews are the “Reel” deal. 🙂

At RunPee.com, we write plenty of movie reviews. A lot (and I mean a LOT, like literally hundreds and possibly a thousand) of insightful write-ups, upon viewing 10 years of films… all to get you Peetimes for the RunPee app.

New, current reviews can be read on either our blog, or in the app (all reviews are linked from the individual movie screens). The vast majority of our reviews are written by the members of the RunPee family; they’re as opinionated as we are ourselves.

Recently we added two new categories of featured reviews to our content index. So it’s not just the brand-new flicks…we want to let you know what we think about every movie out there. A life-long task, to be honest. You can help too, telling us what you think of a movie in the comments.

Here are the three kinds of film reviews at RunPee: 

  1. New Movie Reviews  – We just call these simply “Movie Reviews.” These are the articles we write “live”, so to speak, the day after a new movie comes out on the big screen. We cover mostly wide releases (since we don’t see a lot of limited release films.) The majority of reviews on this blog are for these new movies.
  2. Movie Rewatch Reviews – These rewatch reviews are for movies we’ve seen before, but are taking a second (or third, or more) viewing. These include both classic films from long ago,  and movies that are relatively recent, but decided to take a closer, more analytical look at.
  3. Virgin Movie Reviews – A Virgin Movie Review is one where we haven’t seen the movie in question when it came out, and finally got around to seeing it — with no particular expectations, and often no foreknowledge of plot, or actors, or relative popularity. It’s a lot of fun to see what a newbie thinks of something everyone else has seen and formed opinions about. Imagine seeing Back to the Future, or The Raiders of the Lost Ark now, with no prior knowledge? (We’re too geeky to even pretend we haven’t watch these dozens of times. But you get the idea.)

So, hey: if you read a review you enjoy, do us a solid and Like or Share it on your social media of your choice. Or comment. Word of Mouth is our best (and only) marketing avenue — we’re grateful movie fans love us. Thank you!

Find most of our great RunPee Movie Reviews here. 

Learn all about the RunPee App (the only app in the galaxy telling you exactly when to Run and Pee at the movies so you don’t miss the important bits. Or if there is anything extra after the credits.) #YesWe’reSerious  🙂

Can Dune be done? Should Dune be done? Bringing Long Books to the Screen

herbert sandworm dune
If you walk without rhythm, you won’t attract the worm.

Until the last generation, when Peter Jackson proved The Lord of the Rings could not only be made into a successful film — but be so off-the-charts good that it took home 11 Oscar Awards — it was unheard of to succeed at translating most of the great sci-fi and fantasy epics of literature to the big screen.

That’s not for lack of trying. Larry McMurtry’s  Lonesome Dove book-to-film effort was a grand feat, but it’s the mini-series scale that made it work. The book is too big and involved to be made into one cinema-length film. Nowadays it would be at least a film trilogy, but I don’t think it needs a reboot — the 1989 miniseries is already a flawless snapshot of the last gasps of the Western Expansion. So they could make a new movie with these characters, yes, but I’d say it’s time to move on and  tackle other works of genre literature. (Also, who’s going to try improve on Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duval?)

Watership Down is another epic tale in a brick-sized book, but it’s a hard sell, being entirely from the point of view of rabbits. And it’s absolutely not for children: the themes are mature and often mesmerizingly frightening. (The rabbits even have their own word for being stuck in a “mesmerizingly frightened” state — called Tharn –). The 1978 animated feature has its fans, but most people who’ve loved the book pretend the “movie” doesn’t exist. (Seriously, it’s like a long scary drug trip.) Hazel’s troop of rabbits could now be done with puppets, animatronics, or CGI — instead of animation —  but the question here is “Why?” We’ve seen entire CGI movies like Avatar, and they can be lush and sweeping films, but it still remains that Watership Down must be seen at rabbit-height and from rabbit-eyes. It would take a very special studio or director to take that on. This is probably why nobody is chasing this particular story at the moment.

Here’s a full length video of Watership Down, if you’re curious:

In  the Post-LOTR and Harry Potter world,  the densest, longest, and most involving books can come alive on film…with inspired directing, gobs of studio money (and little studio interference), the right acting ensemble, and legions of dedicated crew members. Not to mention a crack PR team dropping hints and teaser trailers to excite the fans. (See: anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

The key to adapting epic novels to the big screen, it seems, is respecting the source story. Behind the sets, Sir Ian McKellen (as Gandalf) would pace around Peter Jackson with this LOTR novels, saying, essentially, “Peter!That’s not how Tolkien wrote it!” This is probably one of the many interconnected reasons why Lord of the Rings, previously considered unfilmable, worked so well.

It’s not that a script can’t deviate from a source, but the result should clearly be recognizable from it. Book fans will be waiting for certain beats, beloved details, fantastic settings worthy of a grand story, and most of all: a faithfulness of essence to its literary origins.

There’s a line between slavishly book-faithful recreations (as in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), and movies that recalls its novel by name only (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, AKA Blade Runner, or Lynch’s Dune).

So, yes, finally. We get to Dune. It’s been tackled several times, although none were recent enough to benefit from the current seamless FX at our disposal. (Which doesn’t excuse anything at all. Look back on the practical effects of Star Wars: A New Hope, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and tell me those films failed — they don’t.)

david lynch dune
Lynch’s Dune – looks good, tastes bad.

Lynch’s 1984 Dune remains a problem, and its not from poor effects. It’s mainly that Lynch took Herbert’s book, tore a few pages he liked from it, and threw away the rest. It’s only “Dune” because the characters have the same names, there are Fremen and there are Sandworms, and Arrakis, the desert planet, is still called Dune. Otherwise, it’s a sprawling, sometimes grotesque mess, bearing little likeness to the story they aim to tell. I admit they got to the story’s conclusion just fine, but the path to get there was completely unorthodox. I know Lynch’s Dune has its fans, so I’ll let it lie.

scy fy dune
SyFy gives Dune a try. Definitely more Herbert, but definitely still wrong.

When SyFy made Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000) into a television miniseries, you can see there were many attempts made to be faithful to the book…but Sy Fy also took liberties in the telling. The main arguments I’ve heard seem to coalesce around the casting, that the actors didn’t look like the part, or didn’t act like the part. I’d say in both versions they got Jessica right, and Chani, and Irulan, for that matter, but the men’s roles are hit or miss. I think they got a lot more right than wrong, and crafted a personable, sensible, enjoyable tale without a whisper of heart plugs.

In my grading system, I’d give Lynch’s Dune a D+. (While I thought it was overall atrocious, he got a few things right, and that’s where the + comes in.) I’d give SyFy’s Dune a nice fair B score. It crumples a little as time marches on, but at least it’s recognizably Dune. SyFy even went on to combine Dune Messiah and Children of Dune as a second mini-series, which was ambitious, welcome, and mostly effective.  That one gets a B as well; maybe a   B+ — I’d have to see it again.

jodorowksy dune
Jodorosky’s Dune. Third time’s a charm?

A lot of people mention Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), which isn’t actually a movie. It’s more like an appetizer for a film, or a promise of Dune. You can watch the movie-length documentary for $3 on Amazon, or check out the free trailers on IMDb. However, if you watch the video, you can’t help but notice that it’s even stranger than Lynch’s version. There’s a lot of people who want to see this one picked up by the studios, but I’m not one of them. I want to see the story the way Herbert saw it in his mind’s eye.

The time is right to try Dune again, using a well-funded production studio, a director who is comfortable with an epic scale,  and detailed sets in grand desert locations. I want to see world-building. Toss in some smart humor, dynamic ensemble casting, and of course, magnificent sandworms: make me long to be a rider. The movie should be a visual delight, engulfing the audience so much you’ll think you can smell the sietches, taste the spice, and feel the grit of sand, sand, sand.

So, it’s exciting news that director Denis Villeneuve plans to try his hand at a multi-film Dune. He says he hopes to make Dune into the Star Wars movie he never saw. “Most of the main ideas of Star Wars are coming from Dune, so it’s going to be a challenge to [tackle] this,” Villeneuve said. “In a way, it’s Star Wars for adults. We’ll see.” (Read the Dune News page on IMDb.)

It ‘s a promising start. We’ll record the news for this Dune project as it comes along.

While you wait for the right version of Dune to thrill you, entertain yourself with Fatboy Slim’s song Weapon of Choice. The lyrics are definitely Dune-inspired, even if the setting isn’t. But watching Christopher Walken putzing  around an empty hotel is a whole lot of awesome by itself…

Which version of Dune is your favorite? Do you think it will be done right by Villeneuve?

Thanksgiving Holiday Movies

snoopy charlie brown thanksgiving
I guess it’s okay for birds to eat birds after all.

I originally thought there was just the one Thanksgiving movie: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Turns out the RunPee fans stepped in to correct this error, and gave me a few more Thanksgiving films to consider.

The first one to add is a 30 minute TV Special that comes annually on Turkey Day. It’s the animated short film where Snoopy makes toast and popcorn to serve his Thanksgiving guests,  which turns out to be a problem for everyone… until Linus gives a little speech about the first Thanksgiving, and about…well…thankfulness. So, by now you’ve guessed it: it’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. And I think maybe Snoopy didn’t want to serve a turkey in the first place, seeing that his best friend is a bird. As I child I never noticed that, since food was something that came from the grocery store. But it doesn’t matter much, since Snoopy serves Woodstock a slice of turkey at the end anyway.

Is it the best Charlie Brown Special? I’d say no — the best ones are the Halloween and Christmas Specials, but never mind. Watching these always heralded the extended October through December holiday season, and have endured through their simple and sincere sentimentality. And I think calling this racist is kind of overthinking it. It’s like admitting Lucy is a bully (which she is).  Or I don’t know. Franklin does look a little lonely on his side of the table. You tell me.

It turns out you can’t watch this for free on You Tube, but you can buy it for $2: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

There’s more. A lot more. If you love this holiday, sit back and appreciate this surprisingly bountiful list of movies about Thanksgiving:

  • The Oath (this one just came out)
  • Jack and Jill (Adam Sandler does Turkey Day)
  • Free Birds (animated)
  • Garfield’s Thanksgiving (animated)
  • A Chipmunk’s Celebration (animated)
  • A Winnie The Pooh Thanksgiving (animated)
  • Hallmark Movies A Family Thanksgiving
  • The Mouse on the Mayflower (animated)
  • The Turkey Caper (animated)
  • Thankskilling (yes, a horror movie where the birds strike back)
  • Maybe Spider-Man…? (I’ve included a video arguing just this)
  • A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (wow, we’re reaching way back now)

I think that’s plenty.

Let’s get straight to the videos then, shall we?

Here’s a scene from the Steve Martin/John Candy delicious duo from Planes, Trains and Automobiles:

Or you can buy the full show for $3 on YouTube.

Here’s the trailer for Jack and Jill:

Free Birds is actually free on You Tube, a full length film:

Garfield’s 25 minute special is free too:

The Chipmunk’s Celebration:

Winnie the Pooh gets in on the action:

The Turkey Caper:

Hallmark’s Family Film:

 The Mouse on the Mayflower:

The full ThanksKilling trailer:

If you’re feeling open to a new idea, here’s an argument why Sam Raimi’s Spiderman is the perfect Thanksgiving film:

There’s actually more movies I could list, but honestly, I’m feeling a bit full. Kind of like after the Thanksgiving feast, where you want everyone to go home so you can sleep off those tryptophans in peace.

Rewatch Movie Review – My Cousin Vinny

joe pesci and marissa tomei in my cousin vinny
They really don’t blend.

Even though this movie was a weird choice to show on network TV, it’s still a super good flick holding up beautifully over time. Why is this a weird choice, you ask?

I’ll tell you: it features New Yorkers.  People who like to curse. In New York, cursing is like breathing, and this movie overflows with cursely monikers needing to be bleeped out. It was just bizarre to watch a film where half the lines were missing. They didn’t even bother to replace the phrases with non-offensive synonyms or a bleeping sound.

Fortunately, I’d seen this film enough in the past to not be confused by sentences like, “You little [dead space]”. But still, it felt like traveling back to the 80s. We can’t deal with a few [redacted] in our [redacted] lives? 

Back to the movie. Joe Pesci as the title character was incredibly funny, and I don’t normally appreciate his humor. He embodied the role, full stop.  He reminded me of Jack Black in Jumanji 2 — another actor I normally dislike, but was so [redacted] perfect for the role that he won me over.

Ralph Macchio did a fine job as well, although the “two yutes” were basically fodder for Pesci ‘s particular style of New Yorkness. When Vinny finally got a good night’s sleep in jail made sense: If you’ve ever went to bed in Manhattan, you’ll realize that people yelling and banging around is a New York lullaby.

But here I have to stop and talk about Marissa Tomei.  Despite the title, this was her movie. Try to imagine My Cousin Vinny without her contribution. It would just be a fish-out-of-water Pesci vehicle, and the Vinny character would revert back to Pesci’s usual annoying shtick. Here he was softened, humanized, and even sympathetic. Vinny was in over his head, with the lives of the youngsters in his hands, and he only made it work with his fiance’s contribution.

Tomei (as Lisa) upstaged everyone effortlessly, and had most of the best lines in this highly quotable film, like the highly usable,”Oh yeah, you blend.” She stomped around rural Alabama in impossible heels, wearing outrageous outfits that qualify as everyday attire in New York City. I’m from New York originally, and I certify you can possess an entire wardrobe without a hint of actual ‘cloth’ in it. That poor judge. (Who, by the way, played Herman Munster back in the day. This here was a shining role for the man. It’s hard to play the heavy and still be completely amusing. RIP, Fred Gwynne.)

Plot-wise, things come together somewhat conveniently (really? Lisa took a photo of tire tracks?), but you forgive these things because you’re having such a good time.  Lisa’s technical know-how is not only played as flirting with Vinny (see: “Dead-on balls accurate”), but has a true payoff in a final courtroom scene that is not to be missed. There are enough clues scattered around to hint at Lisa’s expertise, and even if the ending is unlikely, it feels satisfying. So, besides watching a film that’s funny just for the sake of being funny, it manages to be a clever and involving story.

It kind of makes you want to take a road trip to Beechum County, AL, just to find a restaurant with a menu consisting of “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” and “Dinner.”  And, as we all know, it takes 20 minutes to make real grits. Ever had grits — real southern ones? They’re actually quite good.

So there you have it. A funny, happy film, still very watchable, where you’ll laugh a bit and love how everything comes together in the [redacted] end. Too bad they never gave us a sequel where Lisa and Vinny road trip across the country. I’d totally watch the [redacted] out of that.

Movie Grade: A-

 

 

Movie Review – Ralph Breaks the Internet

 

Movie Review - Ralph Breaks the InternetI didn’t see the first Ralph movie, but it turns out that doesn’t matter. Everything interesting is explained, and the fun begins immediately.

I’ll say, off the bat, that this movie is worth seeing on the big screen, although I look forward to having this on DVD so I can start and stop each frame at my leisure: I don’t think there’s another movie with this many in-jokes , asides, and easter-eggs crammed into each part of the story. It IS about the internet, after all. In fact, right after the film ended, I went up to the  larger than life movie marquee poster and examined it for about ten minutes, to catch all the little internet allusions without stress. I was there so long one woman asked me to get out of the way so her family could take a photo in front of it. Oops. I moved away with alacrity and some embarrassment. I’m supposed to be a grownup and not excited by cartoons, right? LOL. I’m (proudly) geeky enough to announce that this film was a big treat and not only to me: the audience roared with laughter the entire runtime. It made finding Peetimes a challenge.

You do NOT want to miss the Disney section, at all, with the Princesses and the Star Wars characters. And I can happily report that almost everyone playing their original characters showed up for a voice cameo. And then some! Look at the cast credits as they scroll, and see if you picked up on any of the many celebrity voices. You’ll have to sit there until the end in anyway, to catch the prankish extra scene.

Ralph 2 simply rocked. See this in 3-D if you can, but see it on the big screen no matter what. This movie is ginormous fun and should not be missed.

If you take the family to see this on the holiday season, I promise that kiddos and adults alike will have a great time.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Note: my showing had a ‘thank you to the fans’ segment before the film began. Don’t start the timer at this point. Wait until the Disney Castle fades afterward. I’d recommend the 1st Peetime if possible. The movie is so chock-full of great things to see in the internet-verse, with so many in-jokes that are truly amusing — you won’t want to miss much of this film.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Ralph Breaks the Internet. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Movie Review – Robin Hood

 

Movie Review - Robin HoodFirst off, I’m going to say this movie doesn’t deserve an involved review, but I’ll tackle it anyway. It’s bad. My theater was full last night, but when talking to others after the film ended, they weren’t impressed. It’s a disposable version of the old story, adding nothing to the tale. I’m scratching my head raw trying to ascertain who the target audience is, and why the powers that be bothered with yet another Robin Hood re-boot.

I’m giving this underwhelming flick a D+, since it’s sub-par in almost every way…except for the lush landscapes, the majestic castles seen from afar, and the detailed interior sets of the city of Nottingham. It’s got just enough pretty to engage the eye. Robin himself is also pretty, but why they insist on calling him “Rob” makes no sense. Rob. Really? Anyway, that’s where the + comes from: good sets. 😉

And here’s the thing — it’s a strange, strange film. The men had modern haircuts. The women had space-age futuristic hairstyles (see the “casino” scene, which was lifted right out of Star Wars). Their clothing bothered me too. Since when do medieval clergy or members of the police force wear stylishly cut leather jackets and dusters? Actually, maybe not so stylishly: they reminded me of the sorely lamented Members Only garments from the 80s. Whatever: they took me out of the narrative.

What I liked, besides the sets and scenery:

Friar Tuck was a hoot. He played the role in an unusual way, as a sort of spiritual seeker who is also an archetypal fool. I could watch a movie of his amusing Confessional sequences. He brings the only charm to the film.

The best Robin character moments are the scant scenes where Robin sucks up to the Sheriff — I hadn’t seen that angle before. They should have done more of that, paving the way for a new interpretation of a classic story.

I liked the poverty-stricken city-dwellers nailing up symbolic hoods all over town. That was cool — there was a ground swell of support for The Hood, expressed in the only way the populace could manage without being dragged off to the gallows.

The outlaws only move to Sherlock Forest at the very, very end. Disappointing. They are clearly setting up for a sequel no one wants, especially with the “new sheriff” business. But since I was waiting for the scenes with the Merry Men, I was glad the forest finally made a cameo. Nothing merry made this cut.

And…um. Looking over my notes, that’s all I’ve got for the good.

Some more observations before I wrap this forgettable film: They tried too hard to take themselves seriously as a medieval story, but undercut themselves with bothersome anachronistic details. Even the soundtrack was bizarre. It’s like the producers watched A Night’s Tale and Ladyhawk, and decided they could replicate those successes by slipping old and new into one film.

They failed. A Night’s Tale is one of the most enjoyable medieval tales in the business. I’d say you’re better off watching that one again, and stomping in the tourney stands along to We Will Rock You. And Ladyhawk is mostly straightforward, but features a strangely workable rock soundtrack, and the sublime Matt Broderick reprising his Ferris Bueller shtick in breaking the fourth wall and talking to the camera (or God — same thing).

I don’t want to waste any more time reviewing a sub-par movie, so I’ll wrap this up. This Robin Hood shouldn’t be on anyone’s playlist rotation. There’s barely any humor. The prisoner character (‘John” – acted by the reliable Jamie Foxx) did what he could in a lackadaisical script, but unfortunately came across like an Arabian superhero who could dodge arrows and survive brutal beatings without a scratch. I don’t like seeing people beat into a pulp, but there should be consequences if they are.

Then the climatic scenes where Robin fires five arrows at once that mysteriously all connect to a target…is he an Avenger, like Hawkeye, with heat-seeking rounds? How long does it take to master these skills? I thought Robin Hood was supposed to arrive with this talent, and not pull a sudden “Rocky” turn where a few days of training equals super mighty prowess. I know I’m overthinking this, but there’s nothing else in this film to distract me from the dismal minutia.

Here’s my suggestion. And I HATE to say this: just watch the Kevin Costner Robin Hood version again. That’s not a good movie either (understatement), but the lost and lamented Alan Rickman brings the funny, and is a sort-of engagingly demented rogue. Don’t get me started on this Sheriff. Evil for evil’s sake? I’m done.

What else? I need to see Men In Tights again, because I want to know if it STILL might be better than this. Can a spoof film be superior? I’d say yes, if they respect the source material, like The Princess Bride. For this Robin Hood, I appreciate they might have been going for a Lord of the Rings feel, blended with A Knight’s Tale, but it dropped like a dud grenade.

Lastly, the much ballyhooed line of, “If not now, who? If not not now, when?” came across strangely, like they suddenly decided to use a modern cozy homily as the crux of the narrative. Did Maid Marion coin this line? Why? Oh, gods, I don’t even care.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: The best Peetime is a nice long one; I recommend using that one proactively. All you will miss is a training montage. The 2nd and 3rd Peetimes give you a choice of missing some character dialog or an action scene, but neither add much to the plot, so select whichever your bladder needs.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Robin Hood. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Virgin Movie Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane
He sees you when you’re sleeping.

I hadn’t seen any of the films with Cloverfield in the title, not Cloverfield itself,  or 10 Cloverfield Lane, nor the Cloverfield Paradox. I’m not clear if they’re even related to each other. Some sources say yes, but think it might indicate a anthology of unrelated trippy stories, like a  movie analog to TV’s Twilight Zone.

So while I cannot confirm or deny if these movies are even in the same universe, I will go on record to say 10 Cloverfield Lane is a very enjoyable film. It’s kind of like one of those “experience” movies, where a first time viewing is the best, because you don’t know what’s going on, or how things will end up.

It’s also one of those films you can’t describe without spoiling it, like Cabin in the Woods and Gone Girl and — you know what? Even just saying there’s stuff I can’t say is a spoiler.

If you’re spoiler averse, you might want to stop reading now and come back after you see this flick.

Okay, here we go. This psychological suspense thriller could have been penned from Hitchcock himself. It’s a perfect example of a bottle show, taking place almost entirely in a confined room. The claustrophobic tone is enhanced by the camera  staying very close to the characters’ faces. There are a few takes where this is very noticeable, like when Michelle and Emmett are sharing their life stories.  The camera swaps tight images of their faces without pulling back to show them in  the same frame, to enhance the feelings of separation and loneliness.

There’s a lot of close-in, canted angles, interesting framing devices, and many symbolic shots cleverly taking the place of verbal exposition — like Michelle’s nail polish slowly chipping off to show the passage of time, and the recurring image of the Eiffel Tower reminding us of possible dark deeds around the fate of Howard’s daughter. An agitated Michelle in the teaser tells us all the backstory we need about this character, without a word.

There are very few wide shots, and the few we do see just reinforce that the entire movie is filmed in a small bunker. We don’t see any landscape shots until the last act, with a surprise tonal change that manages to genre-shift the entire movie. What began as a tautly compelling suspense mystery suddenly turns into a science-fiction feature. I enjoyed both storylines, but it really was an abrupt mood swing.

One cool bit of attention to detail: Howard was watching Pretty in Pink, and they manage to name drop the movie out loud for our benefit. If you recall, that’s the one were Molly Ringwald wanted to be a clothes designer. Which is what we know Michelle wanted. (Ya think that will become important?)

So, is Howard right, or is he looneytunes? (Answer: both.) What’s with the girl who may be Megan, but is more likely Tiffany? Who wrote HELP on the window and what happened to her? Why does Howard have a barrel full of hydrochloric acid? What were those things doing to the world?

I kind of like that so few elements were resolved: I can use my imagination to fill in the rest of the blanks. I also have to wonder…what would I have done in her situation?

Movie Grade: B+

One cool thing I wanted to add: there’s a scene were Howard tells Michelle “Let’s go — bathroom time!” Wouldn’t that be the best meta cue for a Peetime?

RunPee’s original Movie Review of 10 Cloverfield Lane

Movie Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane

Virgin Movie Review – Sully

tom hanks in sullyLet’s just open with this axiom: Tom Hanks can do no wrong.

Done.

That’s not much of a review, is it?

Starting again: I just watched Sully last night for the first time. Somehow, I never heard about “The Miracle on the Hudson.” I shy away from the news, because “news” usually equals “bad news” and I don’t need any more of that. But in this case, as with The Apollo 13 mission, the story fell into the rare “good news” category.

Funnily enough, both Sully and Apollo 13 star Tom Hanks. This man can really lead a film — and I kind of felt, watching Sully, this was a bit like “Apollo 13 with Planes.”

Take a situation where the wrong split-second decision (here it’s a 32-second decision) means a loss of all hands.  155 people survived because Captain Chesley Sullenberger saw no feasible options, and came up with a brand new one. He landed a passenger aircraft on the Hudson River, and everyone — everyone  — survived. RunPee Mom, who used to be an airline attendant, tells me no one survives an emergency landing on water. I assume this aspect led to the “Miracle” moniker. The image of everyone standing on the wings as the Airbus plane slowly sank into the Hudson River is indelible, iconic perhaps.

(The rescue scenes in the frigid water reminded me of Titanic, another true-life-based disaster film, but in that case, only 706 out of 2208 souls were pulled from the water. I assume that’s because Tom Hanks wasn’t there to save them.)

Since everyone lived, there had to be SOME kind of plot jeopardy. In Sully, it’s the “blood sucking lawyers.” The climactic formal hearing was tense and well-structured: it perfectly illustrated the obfuscating influence of insurance companies needing to place the blame on someone. How about on the shoulders of the calm-under-pressure hero who saved all the people? Great, let’s go after him! He’s about to retire anyway.

I for one loved the simulation sequences. I’m a sucker for that kind of movie exposition. I liked it when they did it on Titanic, too. It’s an early version of Star Trek’s holodeck!

What else happened in this film? There’s the inquiry and the hearing. The simulations. Tom Hanks acting opposite a cell phone. Tom Hanks having traumatic flashbacks and nightmares. He gets a drink named in his honor: The Sully: Grey Goose Vodka with a splash of water. Get it?

tom hanks and aaron eckhart
You have 32 seconds to save 155 people. What do you do?

Aaron Eckhart had an agreeable role as the co-pilot. I appreciated that he had Sully’s back. He was there; he knew what happened (“BIRDS!”).  He loyally told everyone that he trusted Sully’s judgement and was grateful to be alive. Laura Linney, playing a thankless role as Sully’s wife, had absolutely nothing to do, stuck on the end of a cell phone, in the kitchen with their daughters. That’s one of the misfires of this film. Mike O’Malley, playing the heavy, looks like he tried, but he still seemed to me like Burt Hummel from Glee, and it was hard to take him seriously. I’m glad he found a leading part in a good movie, but it was probably miscast — someone either scarier or more arch would have been a better choice. (Maybe he looked like the real person. I don’t care enough to check.) 🙂

Trying to make a side plot with some of the passengers didn’t pay off so well. Early on we are introduced to a trio of golfers getting last minute seats on the plane. That went exactly nowhere. There was also a woman with her wheelchair bound mother shoehorned into the narrative, and that was a dead end too. It was a bizarre choice: what worked in Titanic with people’s stories was only a token effort in Sully. Those well-drawn characters are what made the Titanic film so immersive and enduring. We know what happens at the end, but you kind of forget the ship will sink, because you’re caught up in the story of Jack and Rose.

Maybe they wanted to pad out Sully’s 88-minute run-time, but if so, they should have expanded the film to have these side-stories resonate. Or don’t bother trying to put a human face on the passengers, and expand on Sully’s family watching the news, back home (again, as in Apollo 13).

tom hands and sully photo
Tom Hanks and the real hero, Sully

I really enjoyed Sully and don’t want to nit-pick on it anymore. It’s a feel-good true to life story, and an inspiring one. It’s a relief to know that sometimes things work out.

By the way, Tom Hanks can carry an entire movie just talking to a volleyball. How’s that for good acting?  Who would have guessed from his early comedic films like Bosom Buddies and Big that he had so much talent? I think without him, this sometimes dry and definitely spare film would have felt like a documentary.

I also think the non-linear, almost Roshoman-type story structure helped keep the interest high. There are no world changing stakes, but things could so easily have gone wrong, and crashing a plane into New York City’s skyscrapers would have rocked the nation with memories of 9/11. We can be lucky Manhattan escaped this time, and we saw from Sully’s nightmares that this was entirely on his mind. What if? Thankfully, we never found out.

(Just thinking — maybe it’s time to move the NYC airports out of the city, like Denver did, closing down Stapleton Airport. The new one is safely out on the Colorado plains, and is a state of the art, lovely airport to get stuck in.)

Overall: Sully provides an easy hour and a half of entertainment, with a real-life disaster tale and a happy ending. You get to know a little bit more about the historical events and Captain Sully himself. I was glad to see it. Like I said, there’s too much bad news out there.

Movie Grade: B+

 

Movie Review – A Private War

 

Movie Review - A Private WarI’ll start this review by getting one thing out of the way. I’m giving A Private War an A grade, which I don’t award often. And in this particular case, it’s something of a surprise that I’m not failing it with an F.

Let me explain: I had a terrible time with this film. It’s brutal, and this is exactly the sort of movie I need to avoid. I only sat though it to the end because it’s my job…as Marie Colvin says, “I see these things so you won’t have to.”

I honestly don’t think anyone could sit through this and say they had a good time. I had to wrack my brain to come up with the target audience for it. (More on that in a second.)

So, it’s bad? It’s good? Which is it?

I’ll start with the good: Everything in A Private War is indicative of top shelf movie production. The acting, soundtrack, lighting, set design, nonlinear storytelling, characterizations, direction, everything. It’s like this film was created as Oscar bait. I’m sure it will win a lot of awards. (And that’s the target audience. The Oscar Committee. )

I recently watched Gone Girl for the first time, and it was a surprise to see Rosamund Pike again in this. She knocked this out of the park, carrying almost the entire movie by her lonesome. Pike seems to specialize in portraying complicated characters who make questionable choices, then see their lives spiraling out of control. She does this very, very well.

The only other “character” to rival her powerful performance was the war setting itself. The director and crew crafted an indelibly inedible smorgasbord of the gruesome ferocity of war, and the effect it has on the bodies and minds of the unwitting people damaged by it.

Or even on the people going there on purpose, like Pike’s Colvin: a real person, on a real mission, who deliberately sought the worst places on the planet as fodder for her war column.

So, here’s the bad: This is a really terrible movie that no one should have to endure. By the time the parade of grotesquely mangled bodies is done you’re done — done in. I had to wash my mind out with soap. And then I sat in again to Fantastic Beasts 2 for a while, just to feel like myself and not a war torn victim.

This movie relentless bombards you with extremely graphic imagery of mangled bodies and violent, disturbing imagery. For example, there’s a scene where a throng of war correspondents stare silently at the body of one of their own. Or rather, what’s left of him.  You get to see it too: this is the stuff nightmares are made of.

We’re also bombarded by bombardment: endless mortar explosions, gunshots, pounding artillery, and automatic rifle salvos provide a sensory overload that will make your head ache and ensure you won’t sleep well that night. But it will most probably win awards, and is effective at getting across a message we should all understand by now: that war is hell, and the people who wage it are the real demons.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This isn’t a short movie, but every scene is either action-filled, or emotionally resonant. I have 3 Peetimes avoiding the war action. I recommend either the 2nd or 3rd Peetimes, as the 1st has an intense series of emotional cut-aways, but will still serve — the whole film is intense, and you won’t miss anything that won’t be shown later. Alert Peetime Note: This film is very graphic. For example, we see images of dead people with their lower torsos blown off, with their intestines spread all over the floor. I will probably add a few Alert Peetimes later, but you should realize that around a third of the movie is disturbing.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Private War. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)