Moview Rewatch Review – Elf

Will Ferrel from Elf, and the four food groups.
Will Ferrell eating a nutritious meal.

Elf is one of those rare truly rewatchably joyous, feel-good family films that everyone, everyone likes. I’ve never met a child or even cranky grownup that doesn’t get animated and shout, “Santa! I KNOW him!”, or spout off a very mildly sly or just plain silly line from this highly quotable film, like, “Hi, I’m Buddy! What’s your favorite color?” or “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!” How to explain this outpouring of passionate holiday optimism? And by the way, I want to start answering the telephone like that. (Best not to call me at all.)

Even my grownup niece turned around while bar-tending at Hooters, to shout at strangers grinching about Christmas: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” The entire bar looked at her like she might have been a little insane, but if you poke around an Elf Quotes search page on Google, you’ll see people tend to be a little like Will Ferrell about this film: a bit too loud, and a whole lot of wholesomely inappropriate.

Even my RunPee Tweet and Facebook posts on Elf got people excited and happy within literally seconds of putting up that “What’s your favorite color?” quote. A poll about favorite funny Christmas movies, up against the storied likes of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, and Home Alone has Elf clearly in the lead. How did Farrell manage this?

For one, Ferrell is a highly underrated actor. Because he tossed in his lot with comedic fluff films, it’s a little hard to take him seriously.  But he manages to put a surprising amount of pathos into goofy leading roles, whether it’s as Ron Burgundy with Anchorman, or Daddy’s Home 1 &2.

In Elf, he’s quite remarkable in a weirdly off-putting, often overly enthusiastic way, like a big golden retriever who still thinks he’s a puppy.You want to take this large man and protect him like the child he seems to be. If you were raised by Papa Elf at the North Pole, you’d probably be filled with happy wonderment too. And also believe sugar is the only form of food fit for consumption: a prestigious list including “Candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.” Again with my niece: she told me there are untold videos of people making maple syrup/MnM/Pop-tart/Hershey’s syrup/spaghetti meals and chowing down (after mashing it up with their hands, of course). I’ll take her word for it.  😉

So is Will Ferrell kind of brilliant? I’m starting to think so. Ferrell does the straight man funny, the narcissistic buffoon funny, and and the man-child even funnier. My guess is the guy himself takes joy from being funny and put his whole heart into it. His sense of comedic timing doesn’t depend on physical gyrations like Jim Carey, now torrents of running commentary as the late Robin Williams could bestow.

In a nutshell, we just plain like movies where people manage to blunder their way into greatness. Look at the enduring appeal of Forrest Gump, Big, and Elf. You want to root for their people, in their simpleminded innocence, to find their way in life and be loved.

It’s easy to laugh at these guys, but there’s something more at stake.

That’s why Elf sneaks under the cynicism layer. These films feature a fish-out-water story, a narrative as old as time, but with an undeniable twist of  simplicity and earnestness. These kind-hearted leading lugs strike a chord of paternalism and you want them to be happy when their adventure is done. We feel we’d be lucky to have loyal friends like these, even if their trip over their own big feet.

Note: Results of this Twitter Poll will be automatically published after the voting period ends, but so far Elf is crushing it: (Disclaimer: Poll only includes outright Christmasy movies. Die Hard and Lethal Weapon aficionados have to wait their turn 🙂 .)

Okay. Seriously now. I dare you to eat this:

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Rewatch Review – The Birdcage

the birdcage with gene hackman, robin williams and nathan lane.
I’m still giggling. Some of this movie is just not cool today, but the basic madcap humor and earnest message is a win.

When The Birdcage opened as a feature film in 1997, I don’t remember people being quite so terrified of gay men…so it surprised me, 21 years later, to see such fear in the hearts of the young straight couple to admit the groom-to-be had two fathers. Or, as this movie made clear, one male father, and one male mother.

I’m guessing the producers chose to make the young lady’s parents so super conservative to even be close to being okay with this premise — even to making Callista Flockhart’s character’s father an uber republican senator, basing his platform almost entirely on a Moral “Something-Or-Other” Coalition.

I can’t imagine this movie being produced today. The son made his doting, supportive parents pretend to be something society deemed acceptable, deceive his fiance’s parents, bring on a “fake” (sort of–it’s complicated) cis female mother, and REDECORATE THEIR ENTIRE HOUSE to appear heteronormative. It felt so completely unfair and inappropriate that I had to sit back, reminding myself the original version of the story came out even earlier, in a time when “the gays” was a legitimate source of humor. (Gene Hackman’s senator is an equal-opportunity xenophobe: he also says “a Black.”)

As per the Wikipedia, The Birdcage was previously known on Broadway as La Cage aux Folles (written in 1973): “The original 1983 Broadway production received nine nominations for Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The success of the musical spawned a West End production and several international runs. The 2004 Broadway revival won the Tony Award for Best Revival, and the 2008 London revival garnered the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. The 2010 Broadway revival was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, winning the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. La Cage aux Folles is the first musical which has won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical twice and the show that has won a Best Production Tony Award (Best Musical or Best Revival of a Musical) for each of its Broadway productions. The show has had five nominations for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical from the three Broadway productions, twice for Georges and three times for Albin, and won twice, both for Albin.”

Not too shabby. I’d love to see it on stage, myself.

Anyway. I’ve decided not to judge an old story on new norms. So be it: in this film’s universe, it’s a screaming hoot to present a wildly feminine fellow as a manly men’s man. Yes, I’m being sardonic, but if we go with the old and acceptable trope of mixed identities and madcap humor, this really is a super fun film. It made me a little sad to see Robin Williams here, knowing now how his genius stemmed from intense depression, but he was note-perfect as the long-suffering father who stands by his man when it counted. Nathan Lane, as William’s effeminate mate, was at turns amusing and heart-breaking, but always fantastic. And Hank Azaria (as their houseboy) was a non-stop delight, and not because he was gay, but from being such a wonderful weirdo in all incarnations. (I want an entire movie based on the life and times of Agador Spartacus. )

Hank Azaria in the birdcage
Oh Hank Spartacus, you rock my world!

Everyone committed to their parts with genuine glee and abandon. It was a real pleasure and treat to rewatch this film, so many years later, in spite of the genuine frustration of intransigent attitudes that hopefully don’t persist today.

I give this a super high grade only because the film made me laugh harder than I have in many (many!) years, from seeing everyone scrambling to hide phallic statues and bowls with Greek boys playing “leapfrog” around the rim, serving shrimp soup with no shrimp (and uncracked eggs floating around) as the only dish, and the joyous end with Hackman’s senator finally accepting the inevitable and the ridiculous. I’m still  smiling two days later.

I don’t want to write any more for this review, for two reasons: it’s immensely funny and shouldn’t be spoiled, and because I’m kind of uncomfortable making a lot of comments on using Gay Panic as a source of humor. If you have any suggestions how to handle both loving and being disturbed by the themes of a  movie, please leave them in the comments below. 

Movie Grade: A+ (For being legitimately enjoyable when taken on its intended merits: showcasing great acting, playful humor, and showing that society should never make one feel ashamed of themselves. )

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

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

The Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day.
Spoiler: I cried at the end.

I don’t know if you can technically call a 26-minute television Christmas Special a movie, but let’s go with it, since it’s almost Christmas, and I owe the nice people who like sappy holiday shows a kind-hearted review.

Filmed in 1966 and based off the classic 1957 children’s tale by the beloved Dr. Seuss (who didn’t invent the term grinch, but did coin the word nerd), the short film really stands up well over time. It’s cranky yet sweet, has some great tunes you can’t help but sing to, and the late, great Boris Karloff narrates the thing.

Seriously. How can you NOT love this song?


The animation itself recalls old Looney Tunes, specifically The Road Runner shorts. Watch the special and listen, and see if you don’t agree.

The Grinch himself is basically Wile E. Coyote, but more creative. I couldn’t help but chortle as he slunk around the presents like a green furry snake, wearing a gleeful grin.

This version is just as long as it needs to be, telling an economical tale that’s got a good message and tugs at the heartstrings without being treacly.

And you know, the Grinch isn’t really evil; he’s misunderstood. I’ve even defended him here.

I’ll tell you a secret. I watched this last night with my mother, sang the Grinch song out loud, and cried at the end. I wasn’t just misty-eyed; actual tears ran down my cheeks. I was careful to hide this show of sentimentality, of course, but when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes, and he saved Max and all the presents and rode into town like a hero, I felt like my heart grew too. Like the Grinch, I can’t be all bad, right?

At this time, I’ve seen every Grinch movie, and saved my rewatch of this one for last. I really hoped it would still be good, that I hadn’t hardened too much to appreciate it, and that it wasn’t showing too many seams as the decades slipped by. I was thrilled when I realized it was as good as I remembered. It blows all other Grinches out the water: Jim Carrey’s live action movie is just too darkly weird, and the new full-length Grinch movie is oddly milquetoast. I’ve reviewed them as a set here.

Movie Grade: A

Happy Holidays to everyone, whether you’re a sentimental sort or a Grinchy grump!

Read more Grinchy Reviews on RunPee: 

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

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  🙂

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

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-

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Virgin Movie Binge Reviews — Rocky 1 and 2

creed 2
Let the games begin…

Rocky is something I’ve heard about for all my life, but to be honest, I had never seen any Rocky films. The first Rocky related movie I watched was Creed in 2015, and I thought it was a pretty good movie. Now, as Creed 2 is about to be released, I took on a project to watch all of the Rocky films.  (We’ll enter this movie binge in two movie increments.)

Rocky (1976)

Wow! I am truly amazed at how amazing this movie is. I’m also really surprised at how a movie that is now more than 40 years old has such a great storyline and cinematography. I can only imagine how viewers at the time felt about it.

I think this first movie did character development very well. I think that Rocky is a very charismatic, charming, and funny character. He really allowed me to get sucked into the movie and really feel for the character of Rocky. In terms of movie theme, for a sports film about boxing there was very little time spent boxing. I will say that the boxing scenes were spectacular. I was cheering from my couch!

On top of this, I learned so much from Rocky: 1) A split decision does not mean it’s a tie! 2) There were 15 rounds (then) in a boxing match. 3) If a boxer is down for 10 seconds, then the other boxer wins the whole match (not just that round). 4) Rocky is a South Paw. Which means his left hand is his dominant fighting hand.

One question still unanswered: did Adrian truly believe that Rocky could hear her through the crowd and the reporters swarming him?? 🤔

Grade: A

Stay tuned for Rocky II. I’ll be adding these reviews here as I binge through the franchise.

Rocky II

The beginnings of this movie were exciting because it gave a recap of the previous movie. I think that’s a pretty cool technique. Even though I am binge watching and my memory of Rocky I is still fresh, I still found it helpful. I think many viewers would appreciate if all movies gave a recap of the previous movie, especially if a few years have passed.

This movie picked right back up where the last one ended. There’s a lot of scenes that don’t seem relevant to boxing in the beginning of this movie. About half of the movie is about character development and build up for the rematch between Rocky and Creed. It isn’t until an hour in until a rematch is even set. If Rocky wasn’t such an entertaining character this would have deterred me from continuing the movie.

The first half of the movie, Rocky carelessly spends his money and attempts to film commercials. But during the commercial filming, everyone learns that Rocky can’t read, which I think is the main driver for Rocky’s boxing interest in the first place. In this movie, Rocky isn’t too interested in boxing because he’s already proven that he can box to himself, but due to his inability to read and find a decent job, he feels he has no other option. The way he spends his money also adds to the storyline and to the character development of Rocky. He’s never had this much money before and yet he’s not afraid to spend on those who he loves. I find that to be pretty selfless. I also see more character development with Adrian in this movie. Frankly, I wasn’t too sure of Adrian’s purpose in the first movie, specifically because she didn’t have many lines, but as I continue watching, I see that her character is just shy and is slowly becoming her own woman.

When Rocky finally decides to go up against Creed again, I learned he has a significant blind spot in his right eye. He’s determined to fight, so he trained to use his right hand. Remembering that Rocky is a South Paw, I find this to be one heck of a strategy and also is very inspiring.

The funniest scene in my opinion is when Rocky stops to see his priest before his fight. He’s already late, but he drives up to the priest’s window and yells to ask for a blessing.

The fight scene at the end rivaled an actual fight, because it was longer and it wasn’t only a bunch of clips strung together. During the fight scene, Creed really brings his all. This isn’t a joke to him anymore, because Rocky has shaken his confidence in his title. I wasn’t too sure how things would end, and during that final round both Creed and Rocky got knocked down. I was once again on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure the direction the fight would go. I thought for sure Rocky was going to lose, and that would be the premise of Rocky III. What I loved most about this movie was the twist at the end, when everyone waits to see who will stand up in time.

Honestly, I have so much respect for both Rocky and Creed. You could see the exhaustion in both of them, but they both refused to give up.

Here’s a quiz question for the next time: What can you count on to happen in a Rocky film?

Grade: A

Stay tuned for the answer and for Rocky III!

Virgin Movie Binge Reviews – Rocky 3 and 4

Virgin Movie Binge Reviews – Rocky Balboa and Creed 1

And here is our original review when Creed first came out:

Movie Review – Creed

Shani Ogilvie

Watching movies in theaters is an indescribable experience for me. This, doing laundry, and visiting the Container Store bring me true joy. When I’m not watching movies or getting Peetimes, I like keeping up with the latest technology, learning to code, and building things. Career wise, my passion lies with improving access and equity within the health, tech, and social sectors.

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

He's still a mean one.
He’s still a mean one.

With the newest incarnation of The Grinch arriving under our trees (albeit a bit early) this season, we thought it was time to take a look at the history of this mean green creature, who is both dastardly and oddly sympathetic.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas  (1957) – The original kid’s book by Dr. Seuss is beloved, and for very good reasons. It started it all, showing us a grumpy Gus who hates the holiday (shades of A Christmas Carol). He steals, he lies, he abuses his dog Max, and breaks Cindy Lou Who’s trust…but eventually hears the joyous music and comes through in the end. This is an allegory for humanity, in a real way. We can be mean, we can hurt others to hide our own miserable loneliness…but if we open ourselves — just a crack — to others…well, we might learn to belong after all. Who hasn’t known this kind of profound alienation? Who doesn’t secretly dream of being accepted despite the petty crimes we’ve committed? The message hits us right in the feels. Dr. Seuss knew it. This is among the three top stories he gifted to generations of children. (Along with The Lorax and The Cat in The Hat. Can’t argue with those.)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas –  A faithful and rousing rendition of the Dr. Seuss book, the animated 26-minute special from 1966 is definitely something…yes, special. Growing up with this, it was a traditional treat to rewatch it every year, as a child. I still watch it now to herald the holiday season. Good animation, great songs (I can still sing the refrain), and a story to make your heart grow three sizes in the end. A+ work.

The Grinch (2000) – The live action version with Jim Carrey dropped on the scene to a mostly poor reception. (It seems Carrey doesn’t always have the magic touch.) I recently watched this for the first time (um, as in today, to get ready for the upcoming rebooted animated Grinch), and thought it was…lacking. Middling, dank, arbitrary, and a bit sour. Ron Howard himself directed, and usually produces great films. What happened to the color, the joy, the fun? Not everyone panned it, however. The Wikipedia reports, “Despite mixed reviews that often compared the film unfavorably to the 1966 special, it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Art Directionand Best Costume Design.”

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – Did we need ANOTHER Grinch? Why reboot this one; it’s been done enough, surely? In spite of my fears, every time I saw the new animated trailer in theaters I smiled and giggled in spite of myself. It looks a world of better than the live action version. I think they might get it right! I’m not the kind of critic who wants to see the same darn themes rebooted every few years, but agree Pixar knows how to craft a film. The trailer looks charming and fun: I’m all over it. If it doesn’t suck, it might put this story to bed, finally. NOTE, after seeing the 2018 movie: it didn’t. Here’s my Grinch-like review.

Watch The Grinch Trailers, to get you in the proper mood for the Mean One this Christmas: 

The Final Grinch Trailer:  

Movie Review – The Grinch

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie ReWatch Review – RED

bruce willis and morgan freeman in RED
Retired, Extremely Dangerous

To start with, the title RED in this film is an acronym for Retired, Extremely Dangerous. As retirees, we see these characters don’t have much of a life anymore. That’s the set-up, starting with Bruce Willis’ Frank Moses, lost in an empty house devoid of personal decor. I can see where it would be tough for such deadly folks to ease back into American suburbia, after a career of honing themselves into CIA weapons.

What do you do, after a rough life of adventure and government-condoned murder? Make bogus government paycheck calls in a desperate attempt to connect with someone, like Bruce Willis’ infamous black-ops character? Pine away over lost love, like Brian Cox’s Russian spy; live in a bunker, like John Malcovich’s crazy bomber; or make flower arrangements and bake like a Martha Stewart clone, as Helen Mirren’s wetworks expert is reduced to?

These are good questions, and I don’t know how the real-life ex-agents manage to “transition,” as Moses puts it.

In RED, it’s nice to see the connection — and grudging respect — growing between Karl Urban’s ambitious young agent, in contrast to Willis’ older, jaded Moses. Urban’s Cooper is well on his way to becoming just like the people he’s hunting, but we start rooting for all of them somewhere along the way. There’s a lot of care to establish these characters as gifted, yet fallible people, and not impervious superhero agents. They take bullets, make costly mistakes, love the wrong people, and — in spite of the pain —  they miss the old days.

Make no mistake.This is a clever, funny movie. It doesn’t shy from violence, but there’s a lot of discretion shots and it’s not gory. The soundtrack is absolutely affable, with the whole affair as slick and stylish as Pulp Fiction — or even better, an older and more lethal version of Ocean’s 11. When Freeman gleefully announces, “The band’s getting back together,”  I wanted to cheer.

These actors are known for their authentic character roles over decades of work, and the ensemble meshed like magic. I couldn’t get enough of their amusingly tense sparring, and can’t wait to see the sequel I somehow missed the first time around. I’ll catch RED 2 next and see if the story picks up right where it leaves off.

Helen Mirren’s Virginia reminded me of a gleeful, older Xena: Warrior Princess. She has the same focused, deadly, competent joy in her work; she just seemed grateful to get to murder with the other kids again. You go, Dame Mirren!

Even though this movie came out in 2010,  the actors haven’t aged at all. Morgan Freeman and Mirren both just headlined a brand-new fantasy feature this week (The Nutcracker and the 4 Realms), and honestly, they look the same. Good genes, I guess. (I don’t think Morgan Freeman ages. He did play God once…)

Usually the villains in CIA/FBI shoot-em-up movies are lame, with the MacGuffins fungible. Here, I felt invested in the stakes and cared about the outcome. The Vice President was a sad figure in the end. That worked.

Richard Dreyfuss’ self-titled Bad Guy was a bit over the top (not in the good way), and detracted somewhat from the otherwise graceful “execution” (lol) of a really enjoyable thriller. Dreyfuss is usually an extremely competent actor. But his was the only off-key note in RED. Maybe I can  blame the director for that.

Basically, this is darn good movie that holds up nicely over time. I’m excited to view the sequel tonite, and will post a review to the link soon.

Movie Grade: A

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Rewatch Review – Deadpool

Chimichangas for everyone
MAXIMUM EFFORT!

What is it about popular films on TV and their commercials? It seems the more beloved the film, the greater the number of ads.  Watching Deadpool with my mother last night, the commercials came hot and heavy every few minutes — I’m positive at least 45 minutes of runtime were aggressively selling something. As opposed to Deadpool himself, who only sold laughs, naughty references, and gonzo violence. But since one can DVR television these days, we fast forwarded our way through the barrage.

My mother had never seen Deadpool before, and normally doesn’t like superhero films. When the Marvel credits flipped through, she almost deleted the film right there. But I promised this was was super maxi fun, so she watched it, and even liked it. The magic of Deadpool is that it’s so clever and cool and funny that even non-geeks enjoy it.

All this lead up disguises the point that I didn’t take a lot of notes while watching. Normally I fill up several pages of thoughts, asides, and commentary. This one, not so much: I hated taking my eyes off the screen for even a moment. The notes I did scrawl were written so fast they’re illegible. Deadpool has an endless stream of visual gags, Easter-eggs, in-jokes, out-jokes, and cinematically cool moments, starting with that amazing time-stopped opening sequence that must be seen to be believed. And then re-seen, over and over again, just to be sure to catch all the special touches in the background/foreground/everywhere, and firmly plant Angel in the Morning in your head all day.

The only time you can really take a break from devouring the screen is while Wade Wilson is being tortured…which is also, by the end of that sequence, the only scene were Wade stops cracking wise. (Sad face. But he gets his groove back soon enough.)

I did notice I few gags I missed on previous viewings. A good one: Deadpool’s merc bar is called Sister Margaret’s Home For Wayward Girls, which spoofs on that other sign we see in front of the X-Men Mansion (Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters). In another scene, Deadpool references a good time for a Pee Break, which of course we at RunPee appreciate. Francis mentions sewing Wade’s mouth shut, which calls back to that unfortunate incarnation of Mr. Pool in Wolverine: Origins (shudder). And lastly, Deadpool predicts his own future movie franchise when he talks about how superhero origin stories (Deadpool 1) are followed by a sequel (Deadpool 2), which is then turned into full larger ensemble team effort (X-Force is coming. Lord help us).

A common question is where does Deadpool fit in the Marvel pantheon? The answer: wherever you want him. Really. As a character who name drops his own actor and regularly breaks the 4th Wall (ie: talks to the audience, just like Ferris Bueller — which he also references), he fits into our own viewing universe. He hangs out with X-Men (in both timelines, even if he can’t keep the continuity straight), and even leaves hints that the Marvel Cinematic Universe exists.

We’ve covered Deadpool, both 1 and 2, in some detail here on RunPee, and happily crowed about the upcoming PG-13 Deadpool 2 coming this Christmas season (with 15 minutes of new footage!) Rejoice, my friends! MAXIMUM EFFORT!

Movie Grade: A+

More Deadpool Articles on RunPee.com – 

Every Deadpool post — and we have a lot of them — is here.  <—– Click it.  You know you want to. (And watch some of those Lego Deadpool videos.)

The Deadpool Before Christmas – A PG-13 Version: New Footage, New Film

Deadpool MCU Crossover Moments

Every Hilarious Deadpool 2 Trailer

Deadpool 2 Outtakes, Bloopers, and Banned Jokes

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Rewatch Review – Solo (A Star Wars Story)

Han shot first.
He’s got a really good feeling about this.

I don’t know why so many Star Wars fans have a problem with Solo. All I can think of is that it was released too close to The Last Jedi, which really incited the fan base. Otherwise, I can’t imagine why this excellent film was panned. I loved it, and I’m not sure yet where I’d rank Solo, but in the top four or five of the Star Wars films, at least. (Okay, I added my ranking on the link above. Feel free to disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, in the comments below.)

I recently re-watched Solo on the seat back of my cross country Delta flight, and I was delighted. It’s definitely better the second (or third, or fourth) time around, and what’s nice about the seat-back thing is that I could pause it and rewatch the little random and funny moments to my heart’s content. I paused it a lot: watching joyful references to previous Star Wars movies, and I laughed out loud several times (probably annoying my seatmates).

What was so great about Solo? It was a rousing adventure with several great villains, lovely set pieces, and a likable cast. We’re introduced to a young, wet-behind-the-ears Han, who’s still idealistic and dreams big. Over the course of the film we start to see his trademark cynicism kick in, culminating with Han definitively shooting first. But he’s so sweet and baby-faced here, and so willing to be a hero. It’s a nice contrast, and I can see why he both felt frustrated by and protective of the young Luke Skywalker — it reminded him of himself, back in the day.

The new Han actor is a special find, and I’m thrilled with his performance. Harrison Ford gushed over him (and Ford is a normally taciturn man), and told him — when Alden Ehrenreich was cast — to make Han his own. I think Ehrenreich walked a good line between an homage to “old Han” and a gentler, fresher version. It worked for me. Plus, he had great chemistry with the new Chewie, and most of the laughs came from their early friendship (the rest of the laughs came from Lando, but I’ll get to that in a moment). The scene where Han and Chewie shower together, especially, is really cute. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) Chewbacca has always been a grounding force for Han, operating as a sort of conscience for the experienced smuggler he becomes.

The ensemble sparkled, unlike the problems inherent in the characters of Rogue One (come on, admit it). Q’ira is a complex love interest, and adorable to boot. Her story arc is sensible, sad, and intriguing. Woody Harrelson’s Becket made for a great conflicted mentor, kind of like a less reliable version of his Hunger Games Heymitch character, if that’s even possible. Paul Bettany’s villain is outstanding, period — he’s amusing, personable, complicated, and very, very frightening.

Which brings me to Donald Glover’s Lando. Dear God, the perfection. He effortlessly stole every scene he was in. I could view an entire movie of Lando playing Sabaac, or trying on just capes, and be entertained. Can our next Star Wars Story feature him? Please?

Lastly, the Millennium Falcon was a big character in Solo. She’s always been a fast ship — when she worked — but that’s because of Han’s special modifications over the years. Here we see the Falcon as a brand-new, squeaky clean ship, with all the bells and whistles and wet bars and cape closets. It’s amazing to be presented with a white-walled interior after all the grungy years.

The ensemble absolutely clicked, and I’m left wondering, again, why people didn’t like this movie. Maybe it was the coaxial heist plot, which wasn’t all that exciting. Coaxium, hyperfuel, whatever: it’s just a MacGuffin to hang the narrative on. Solo is a small-stakes story, which is just fine after so many retread Death Star plots. It doesn’t always have to be about saving the universe to be a great movie.

Lastly, I wanted to make a note about the muchly-heralded escape from the Maw in 12 parsecs (nice correlation to the old Extended Universe novels, BTW). It’s not the most exciting element of the film, and doesn’t feature Han doing anything particularly skilled. As RunPee Dan said in his review, “It’s a group effort.” I have no issues with that, since Han said “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.” The ship. Not that he’s the big bad pilot that did it. His off hand comment allows for what actually happened, instead of being a misleading boast. Han has many flaws, but he’s never one to mislead others.

It also puts to bed the problem with parsecs being a measurement of space and not time. It worked for me, mostly…but I won’t lie and say the Kessel Run sequence doesn’t make for a great Peetime. The Maw’s effects weren’t up to the standards of Star Wars, and the space dwelling monster was just plain atrocious. I prefer the asteroid-based space slug from Empire, if we have to have an impossible creature feature. 😉

While there were a lot of super fun nods to the original trilogy, I have to say my favorite was Han saying, “I have a good feeling about this.” I found it cute, and it made me smile. I think I need to make a list of every character in the rest of the series intoning, “I have a bad feeling about this.” (UPDATE: I DID IT HERE.) Which, yeah, bad things happened indeed, but it was a pleasure to see a Star Wars film where people were kind of having fun, for once.

Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

I have a bad feeling about this…

Ranking The Star Wars Films

Star Wars Last Shot – A Han and Lando Novel

13 Scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had RunPee

Movie Review – The Last Jedi

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)