Movie Review – Replicas

Movie Review - ReplicasThere are two movies coming out this week about dogs. One is A Dog’s Way Home. The other is Replicas, which has no dogs in it, but it is a dog.

Question: why does the saying, “This movie is a dog,” imply that a movie is bad, yet we also know this one: “A dog is a man’s best friend.” Someone ‘splain English to me, please. 🙂

I can’t criticize the actors because they had nothing useful to work with. Three minutes into the movie, and the dialog was already clumsy and heavy handed. The only good reason to watch this movie is for a film student to see how not to write dialog.

It was strange that the CG for the computer displays — the 3D images seen when characters have the HUD on –were pretty snazzy, but then the robot CG was 15 years out of date. It was so jerky it looked like stop motion.

The only good thing I can say about Replicas is that the credits are 11 minutes long, making this only a 95 minute movie.

BTW, Keanu Reeves, if you’re reading this, my apologies.  I love your work. There’s nothing anyone could have done to save this miserable script. But I have to ask, “Did you lose a bet? Why on earth did you take this role?”

Grade: F

About The Peetimes: I have 2 Peetimes here. Both are fine, however, there is a crucial scene following the 2nd Peetime. The credits for this movie are 11 minutes long with no extras, so the movie is really only about 95 minutes.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic material, violence, disturbing images, some nudity and sexual references
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Quiz – Keanu Reeves And His Many Characters

Movie Review – John Wick 1

Movie Review – Holmes & Watson

 

Movie Review - Holmes & WatsonHolmes and Watson was really disappointing. Being a huge fan of the Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly comedy duo, I was expecting more. A lot more. I know these guys are amazing together; I personally think this film was simply poorly written.

The characters lacked a depth that made you care about them, and the off-beat secondary characters left you scratching your head as to why they’re even in the movie. They detracted too much — way too much.

There were some funny moments, but definitely not what I was hoping for. If you’re a fan you’ll understand; the humor in this one was at like a quarter volume, compared to Step Brothers on full blast.

The chemistry with the rest of the cast lacked terribly. I wasn’t a fan of any of them. The more I think about it, the more I really didn’t care for this one.

I petition that these two guys knock out another film soon, so I can get the taste of this one out of my mouth. Save your money; wait for Netflix, and chill with them then.

Grade: C-

Movie Released: 2018-12-25

About The Peetimes: This was a really short flick — I think 1 Peetime works just fine. I found a great one that gives you plenty of time.

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

Got Lice from Movies & Theater Seats? Steps To Get Rid of Your Lice

lice and nits on a lice comb
Lice looking like rice in a comb of nastiness.

I wrote an article about how I, an adult avid movie-goer for RunPee.com, got a gross, itchy, rashy head of lice and nits from my local AMC movie theater. My theater is normally a spotless establishment, but since a lice epidemic has taken the nation, all I can say is: pests happen. People are turning to the internet to 1. Avoid getting Lice 2. Test for Lice, and 3. Get Rid of Lice.

My prior article discusses how to avoid getting lice now and forever. This post tells you what to do if you’ve found those nasty critters and their eggs making a home on your head. (A follow-up article will report on my de-lousing process, and the results of my steps to never again donate blood to these tiny bloodsucking scalp tenants.)

Lice comb and lice head spray
You need something like this. (Photo by Target)

None of these steps are hard, so don’t panic! I’ll walk you through my experience.

WHat YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LICE, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:
  1. Lice and nits look like tiny oval round specks. You need a specialized comb to really see them and determine they aren’t dandruff. Comb from your hair roots in the back of your neck, and them  look at the comb. If you’ve got them, you’ll see the nastiness all over the comb’s teeth. Ugh.
  2. You have lice? Nice! Welcome to the club. Now you need to go online or to your doctor, and get de-loused. You might need more than one treatment.
  3. Keep checking every few weeks to ensure some old eggs haven’t repopulated your head. One nit can grow up to breed thousands of yucky little children.
  4. Lice Free? YAY! Now take some precautions for the future. I’ve been reading up about the movie seats, and this seems to make the most sense: have a clean towel each time you go, and lay it over the headrest. If the seats are solid (not plush), you can wipe the headrests down with Clorox wipes (cheap at Walmart or on Amazon).
  5. So that’s why you need the towel. This is probably one of the reasons the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy says to always travel with a towel. Use a clean one each time you head out, then sterilize that in a hot, hot dryer cycle. Or put it outside for three days.  Make it four days if you’re extra nervous.
  6. Also, put your hair up, and put on a special movie cap, or wrap your hair up in a scarf. You want to make sure your hair never again touches the seat back. That’s not hard to handle if you get into the habit. Be careful out there. 😉
  7. This advice should apply to airplane seat backs as well, trains and planes, or any place chairs are used communally, like Uber cars. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t take it lightly. You don’t want to deal with this particular parasitical problem more than once.
  8. If you’re a parent, none of this should be news to you. I remember catching lice one year at summer camp, and my mother combed my hair patiently for hours.  I actually treasure that memory. Like the Great Apes we are, humans find grooming each other soothing.
  9. Heed this message.  Lice are out there and want to make buggy love on your head. I’m 50 years old and never imaged my neck rash would be from lice, a children’s ailment. I guess you never get too old to host a happy head farm.
  10. OMG, I just saw a photo of someone having lice on their eyelashes.  Seriously. It makes me wonder about other hair zones…OK, maybe lice paranoia is a good thing.
combing out the lice and nits
Do this. Comb, comb, comb, then use a toxin made for hair to kill what’s left.

Next up: how my de-lousing treatment went and my (hopefully) lice-free results. Stay tuned for live action details. (It’s not like I can stop going to the theater with my job of seeing movies every week to get Peetimes. Call me motivated!)

Avoid Getting Lice At The Movies (a personal story and a PSA)

Rewatch Movie Review – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

chevy chase in christmas vacation by national lampoon
Well. That was ‘enlightening’.

I kind of remember National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation as funnier than it is, through younger and rosier colored glasses. Sometimes things don’t really stand up to the passage of time, and this ‘Vacation’ movie from 1989 seems darker and a little bit meaner than I remember. It’s rather judgmental, taking potshots at the expense of people’s quirks and personalities.

For example, the bits with the neighbors (with Elaine from Seinfeld) were distinctly unfunny. I’m not sure why I was supposed to laugh when Clark Griswold crashed a tree into their bedroom, for example. That’s an expensive fix and could have killed the couple. Was their big crime being stuck-up yuppies? I felt a little bad for them.

And then when the elderly couple arrived, the jokes around them seemed mean-spirited, relying on the “old is funny” trope. Which, really, it isn’t.

Also, it seemed a little odd on Clark’s part to let no inch of his house be uncovered by lights. It wasn’t pretty — it was just very bright. (And probably super expensive in electricity.) I can admire an artistic use of Christmas lighting, but this wasn’t it.

The nicest moment was when the little “redneck” niece hoped Santa would find her there, since he missed her last year. I rooted for her to have some kind of sweet holiday morning.  Here was some actual pathos, sneaking in among the random vulgarity of the Griswold family’s attempt at Christmas perfection.

From a recent poll I posted on RunPee, Christmas Vacation fell behind the votes for the sweet-natured Elf, but beat out Home Alone, and tied with Love, Actually. I probably would have given this second place too before my rewatch, based on older, fonder memories of the film. It does have funny gags, but if I look at it honestly, it doesn’t come close to the better chuckles of European Vacation, or even American Vacation. And by the third go-around, I would hope the Griswolds would have learned to roll with life’s punches a bit more.

Did anyone think holding the boss hostage for a bonus check was a real hoot? I know I’m missing the point — these guys are intended to be crude and tasteless. I just don’t find that funny anymore.

I’m not trying to stomp on anyone’s memories of this as a great holiday film: it’s just my review, so feel free to ignore it. It’s not an awful movie, and there are some decent laughs in there. So I’ll give it a score of “average” (a C), and add a plus for having a dog named Snot.  That made my mother laugh long and hard. I’m sure there’s something for everyone in there somewhere, and I apologize in advance for pooping on your holiday parade.

 

Movie Grade: C+

Virgin Movie Review – Merry Friggin’ Christmas

robin williams in merry friggin christmas
Not a funny movie, in spite of the title. Also, painful in retrospect regarding Robin Williams. RIP to a national treasure.

Merry Friggin’ Christmas was a strange, strange film to watch. It seemed to have the distinctive low production values of a Hallmark Holiday Special, yet somehow boasted the clout and cash flow to hire friggin’ Robin Williams as the co-star. (Not to mention Candice Bergen, in a throw-away role.) What happened? Why was this flick so  unforgivably boring and depressing?

Also, it was rather mean-spirited. Call it an anti-Hallmark Hallmark Movie.

Whatever’s the case, I expected a comedy, based on the commercials and the title. And while some scenes proffered the funny, it was mostly awkward cringe-humor, with a pervading stench of black comedy.  Did I laugh out loud? Maybe once.

I DVRed this on TV this Christmas, billed as a double feature with Bad Santa (also a darker comedy than expected). The difference between the two is while Bad Santa was also a dark comedy, it had good acting, a real dramatic story, and high production values.

Friggin’ Christmas was boring, with limp humor, thinly drawn characters, and a depressing narrative lacking a worthy payoff. They could have had fun with the road trip trope, for example. (Driving a truck full of porta-potties had so many unrealized possibilities – were the writers completely checked-out?)

At the denouement, the kid gets a present he can’t even use. Why? Is that supposed to make the narrative’s lengthy shenanigans ironic? It certainly wasn’t satisfying.

I don’t have a lot to say in this review, except to note that the late Williams seemed stuck under a thick cloud of depression, which might have been an indication of how the actor felt by that time in real life. His character oozed self-loathing. Knowing what we do about his death, it was painful to watch.

Looking up Robin Williams’s bio, I realized (and kind of guessed) he killed himself in 2014, the same year Merry Friggin’ Christmas came out. Ouch. 🙁

(Want to celebrate his Robin Williams’ life? Don’t see this. Rewatch The Birdcage instead, where he clearly had fun with his role.)

Rotten Tomatoes gave Friggin’ Christmas an aggregate rating of 16%, so it’s clearly not just  me turned off by the film. The best moments belonged to the amusing police officer, the cheery guy who pulled them over several times. I bet that character had a nice Christmas. (Remember, there are no small parts, only small actors.)

I can’t say more about this lackluster offering. I wish I could rate it higher, if indeed it’s Robin Williams’ swan song.

Movie Grade: D-

Virgin Movie Review – Bad Santa

Movie Review – Second Act

 

Movie Review - Second ActThis is a fish-out-of-water story, which is normally a reliable premise for laughs. Unfortunately, it feels like a half-hearted attempt to re-make a modern take on such classics like Working Girl and Pretty Woman. Or the more recent, and very wonderful The Devil Wears Prada.

A re-envisioning of an old theme would be fine if the film was very funny…but it wasn’t. I chuckled here and there, but mostly felt suckered into watching a drama. Everything that’s funny was stuck in the trailers, and the rest is a wide detour into a middling mother-and-daughter story.

Anyone who reads my reviews knows I like very few dramas, even the good ones, of which this one is not. This is a fluff piece.

Jennifer Lopez gave it a good old college try, and she’s not a bad actor. I’m just not sure she has the gravitas to shoulder an entire movie. I like her best in ensembles.

I don’t feel it’s necessary to go into the plot, direction, or style, since it’s shot like a television sitcom. Second Act was mediocre at best, and I hope there isn’t a sequel called Third Act in the works.

Average movie. Wait to stream it.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: I have 3 Peetimes here, nicely spaced out, but the 1st and the 3rd ones are better – they are mostly music montage scenes. I tried to avoid the most funny segments, or scenes with dramatic emotional impact.

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

Avoid Getting Lice At The Movies (a personal story and a PSA)

Enjoy your little head friends
Lice aren’t nice.

This should be a little embarrassing: I’m a grownup after all. But I caught lice at the movies. I don’t feel weird about it – in fact I’m actually glad to know why this rash on my neck wouldn’t go away. This is treatable with a $12 lice-killer from Amazon. There are far more difficult things to handle in life.

But nobody WANTS lice. They are  gross little bloodsucking creatures that live on your head and lay eggs in your hair. I’ve been a walking buffet for them for some time now and it’s going to stop. No more free rides, you little nits! You hear me? #GETOFFMYLAWN

Consider this a Public Service Announcement. I’ve been asking people what they think of the itchy rash on my neck, and they told me they heard about this “lousey” (ha ha) situation at the cinema. I don’t have any kids around to catch it from, but I do go to the movies at least once a week for Peetimes. The news shows picked up on this minor national calamity, saying there’s a lice epidemic from movie theaters.

one big louse, up close
Now I have to use eye bleach so I won’t see this again.

So, I got a lice comb from Rite Aid, and guess what? My head is teeming with vermin. You can’t wash them out, because the eggs stick to hair, hatch, and make your head in to a new casa de ranchero. Fun times.

I’m waiting for the mail to arrive with my de-lousing treatment, and getting ready to wash and dry everything I’ve worn or slept in all month (using the hottest temperature setting!).

And something you should know: lice can’t live away from a host’s body for more than three days. So you don’t have to chuck the things you can’t wash. Just put them in a bag outside for a few days. This link from the Mayo Clinic will tell you everything you need to know about lice, lice, and more lice.

I’ll update you on how evicting my tiny tenants goes.

In the meantime, I’m wrapping my head in a scarf and bringing a fresh towel to the movie theater, for two reasons: 1. I don’t want to pass my personal pests onto anyone else, and 2. I need to get into the habit of taking precautions at the moves to avoid donating future blood to bodily parasites.

Got Lice?

My easy list of steps will walk you through the de-lousing procedure. If you’re lice-free, be careful at the cinema, and keep checking every few weeks.

Have you ever picked up lice at the movies? Are you brave enough to tell your story? Tell us in the comments section below!

Got Lice from Movies & Theater Seats? Steps To Get Rid of Your Lice

Virgin Movie Review – Footloose (1984)

Kevin Bacon in Footloose
Yes, the songs are great. But is that enough?

Somehow, I’ve never seen the original Footloose before. I did catch the remake a few months back and found it mildly awful. I figured the iconic original would impress me more.

It did.

But only by a small margin.

I cannot figure out why this movie has iconic status, much less be considered a Teen Anthem. It boasts an extremely thin plot and cardboard characters.

The only emotional stakes belonged with the Ariel and her father…but I frankly thought Ariel was insane. I’m pretty sure she tried to kill herself twice for our viewing pleasure. Were we supposed to identify with her? I’ve done crazy stuff in my time, but nothing like standing between two cars barreling down the highway in the face of an oncoming Mac truck. When that girl took a lead pipe to her boyfriend’s ride I found it needlessly destructive. Yes, he should not have hit her, but she hit him first. I really don’t know where to go with this, but apparently casual violence is…hmm. I don’t know how to even finish that sentence.

Remember, the big climax in Footloose is Kevin Bacon and his friend brawling outside the prom. Yay?

The good: John Lithgow  was amazing, and he elevates an otherwise dull film. The directors could have taken the easy way out and made him a one note bad dad. His character certainly pounds that pulpit, and he has trouble with one-on-one relationships. But he’s also beloved in the community and takes his heartfelt service to the town seriously. Even the small children adore him (I loved when he teased the little ones in the church kitchen about their milk and cookies — see? Small moments matter). He also stops wacko community members from burning  library books. As the town’s preacher, he gives of himself freely,  and from a place of true belief, instead of chasing self-aggrandization. I’d hate sitting through his fire-and-brimstone sermons in person, but the actor makes his supporting role sympathetic and wonderfully layered.

Lithgow alone gives me a reason give this film a solid C instead of a C-. It’s supremely average. I guess this is damning it with faint praise.

And…Kevin Bacon? Again, I don’t know how to say this, because the man has a lot of good roles in his filmography. But here he’s inscrutable. He reacts, but doesn’t act. There’s only one scene where his character has agency, and that’s his big speech to the town council. They could have gone from there and straight to the prom, and we could call in a night. End scene.

To wrap this up before I whinge some more, I’ve recently rewatched a ton of classic movies from the 70s and 80s, and most of them stand up beautifully with time: films like Jaws, Rocky, Close Encounters, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…even other early ‘dance’ movies made me care about the characters. Take Dirty Dancing, Grease, Staying Alive, or White Nights — you CARE. Hell, Flashdance was a good ride.

By the end of Footloose, I figured out the problem: there are no genuine emotional beats, no real stakes that matter. The dance should have been a backdrop to the meat of the story. This movie was like a bread sandwich —  two slices of plain white Wonderbread with nothing inside.

I made other notes while watching Footloose, but it’s not worth analyzing this further. Someone, if you love this movie, please tell me why.  I’m open to correction, because I feel like I must be missing something.

Movie Grade: C

PS: The 80s pop soundtrack is great. I had fond feelings for every song. I think I’ll write about that next time and link to it from here. 

Virgin Movie Review – Jim Carrey’s The Grinch (2000)

Jim Carrey is the grinch
He’s a mean one. Also deranged, and possibly a pedophile.

Holy hell, this was directed by Ron Howard? Normally I love his touch. And as for Jim Carrey, I’ve always been a fan. Not with this. This is the Carrey equivalent of Bill Murrey’s Garfield: a true WTF?

I imagine (and know for sure, based on my own great-niece’s preferences) some people like this Grinch. Maybe they weren’t weaned on the 26-minute 1966 animated Dr. Seuss version like I was, that with even this year still made me cry with happiness. CRYING. TEARS running down my face.

This one? I was confused. I was bored. I had a headache from the non-stop and frankly exhausting Grinchy chatter intended as humor, and came off just weird — the bad kind of weird. It felt more like a Tim Burton offering. (Which is weirder than ever for me, since I normally am not a Burton fan. But then, I just did a Virgin Review of Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes and kind of loved it. It’s clearly opposite week for me.)  😉

Even Max the dog couldn’t save this effort, and I previously gave the 2018  ‘meh’ new Grinch full length animal feature a D+ for cute animal action. This one, sadly, gets only a D, at best, for Whoville’s creative set design, and a nice kiddo as Cindy Lou Who. This Cindy Lou was sweet, and saved the 2000 Grinch from a D- or F+ grade.

By contrast, I gave the old 1966 Christmas special an A grade, and I don’t give that grade away easily. I expected it look old at the seams…but it happily held up through time, and made my own heart swell three sizes by the end.

Back to the 2000 live-action Grinch. I watched it last night with zero foreknowledge and the best of intentions. And for the first time in EVER in Netflixing films, I had to fast-forward over entire sections of dullness. I would have turned this off and picked something else,  but had to watch it through for my review.

Also, I wanted to know why the Grinch was compelled to sound like Sean Connery? Minor note, but it distracted me. Jim Carrey normally is brilliant in his vocal and physical humor. Was he directed to filibuster like this? Is he proud of this film?

There were a few funny jokes landing among the barrage of awkward efforts: I thought the joke about Santa’s reindeer was cute: “On Thrasher and Crasher and Vomit and Blitzkrieg…” <—- heh. Some moments of cleverness stuck, but most felt like film spaghetti tossed at the wall to see what would stick. Robin Wiliams mastered that kind of improvisation, and maybe that’s what Carrey was going for.

Even the songs lacked. I expected a fun delivery of the classic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”…well, yawn. Then the final “Fahoo Foray” song was merely competent. Moving on.

What about the Whos in Whoville? Here was another cardinal sin:  these townspeople were unpleasant, underhanded, and a little bit creepy. While the Grinch, instead of being merely a cranky, damaged soul, was just deranged. I have no idea why this movie went down the paths it chose. Dark, weird, sinister, yada yada. The Grinch tale at heart is a story about alienation, rejection, and isolation, but it isn’t supposed to make you wonder if predatory sexual advances (with a whiff of pedophilia) are appropriate.

The Cindy Lou character saved this version me, but expanding her role also undercut the rest of what should have went down that fated Christmas morning in Whoville. I know this is subjective, but one nice child can’t a plot pivot make. I didn’t buy this Grinch’s transformation: I don’t think he did either. We weren’t given a beat to breathe or let the story have any emotional landing space.

A tale of two Grinches
Some Grinch on Grinch action.

Alternatively, the new 2018 full-length Grinch movie didn’t make me cry either. It had nice technical animation and cute critters, but the story was a cup of plain vanilla yogurt.

So here it is: I say it’s time to stop messing with a classic. It’s like when Peter Jackson made that short Hobbit book into three bloated, sometimes off-putting films: like butter scraped over too much bread. If you’re a big LOTR fan, you’ll get the reference.  But anyone who’s had breakfast will get it anyway. 🙂

Movie Grade: D 

Movie Rewatch Review — Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

Movie Review – Aquaman

Movie Review - AquamanWhat does DC have to do to shake off the feeling that it’s the poor man’s Marvel?

For starters: make better movies.

I’m not saying Aquaman is bad. Far from it. It’s a decent movie despite being as predictable as it is visually appealing. But it’s no better than the first Thor movie. Which would be fine if Aquaman came out a decade ago. Unfortunately, Marvel beat them to the punch. DC is trying to find their feet while Marvel is breaking Olympic records.

Here’s my best guess why Aquaman doesn’t soar: it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s an origin story for sure, but not much of one. For such a long movie, the origin of Aquaman only comes up in a few brief flashbacks and only one of them — when he’s a young boy — really works.

There’s a little romance, which is fine, but the timing of the scenes are completely wrong.

Then there’s a few scenes that feel like they were stolen from a National Treasure sequel.

The worst part of all of this is the inclusion of Black Manta. I don’t know why the writers felt compelled to throw this character into the story, because it only drags the plot beneath the waves.

All of this happens in the middle third of the movie, robbing the plot of any real dramatic weight when it needs it the most.

It looks like the creative decision makers behind the DC movies heard the criticism about their previous movies being too dark, and decided to “lighten things up a bit.” All I can say is it’s just not that easy. The audience needs a feeling of impending doom so the story grabs them, but there’s also a time and place for the distractions that make a story memorable.

That’s why DC movies are like a mixed salad of moments while Marvel serves a complex meal, where each serving is meant to compliment the others.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes. We recommend the 2nd and 3rd over the others. The 2nd Peetime is a chase scene — pretty — but nothing you haven’t seen in previous scenes. The 3rd is mostly a music montage, followed by a transitional plot that’s easy to summarize.

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