Movie Review – The Aeronauts

Movie Review - The AeronautsThis was a nice way to spend an hour and (nearly) three quarters. Lots of lovely visuals, chemistry between the cast, and a few thrills thrown in for good measure.

I’m not sure how much of the visuals are CGI, but a good proportion of them are. Nothing in London is taller than the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster. (Big Ben for you non-pedants!) The air is quite clear, and there wasn’t one aeroplane, so there couldn’t be much live footage. Also the actual ballooning was done in the Midlands so they wouldn’t accidentally splash down in the Thames. Still, it was all very pretty and nicely done.

The cast seemed to work well together, but then Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne proved they can work together on The Theory Of Everything.

One slight niggle is that Himesh Patel seems to have a lot of presence in the publicity but his actual screen time is quite low, perchance a case of cashing in on the success of Yesterday?

The thrills come from the fact that it is a (partly true) story of the early days of aviation meteorology, when they didn’t know how atmospheric pressure, temperature, and content varied when you went so far up, but I’ll say no more on that subject.

It deserves to be seen at least once on the big screen to appreciate the visuals, but it will have a longer life as a passably pleasing way of passing a wet Sunday afternoon.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This movie has some stunning scenery, and a lot of it. I did my best to avoid the pretty bits in the Peetimes.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some peril and thematic elements
Genres: Action, Adventure, Biography

Movie Review – Harriet

Movie Review - HarrietAs many of you know, I am a fan of biopics. I said to myself, “Self, is Hollywood going to mess this story up?” But, surprisingly, they didn’t let me down. Harriet is a must-see for sure. Given that many people may not know the full story about Harriet Tubman, this movie does a good job with the golden nuggets about who she was and how she became one of the most renowedn conductors of the Underground Railroad.

While watching, I didn’t feel as if the scenes were over dramatic or over saturated with the use of the N-word. The drama, location, and subtle use of humor were blended nicely for such grim subject matter.

The actors did a great job! I can never get enough of Janelle Monáe.

Cynthia Erivo played an excellent Harriet, although many of us may still be partial to Cicely Tyson in that role in 1978. Cynthia also sang one of the songs on the soundtrack — Stand Up. It will raise the hairs on your skin. Speaking of the soundtrack, you might add this one to your musical playlist; it’s hella good.

A couple of quick things that resonated for me. There’s a part in the movie where Harriet makes up her mind to go back to rescue others. Marie, played by Janelle Monáe, teaches Harriet how to blend in and not look or sound like a slave. That scene validated what I tell the women I mentor all the time. Don’t dress like the job you have; dress like the job you want.

The last thing that was paramount in Harriet’s journey was her realizing what her journey was all about. She went back with one mission, but she quickly had to shift gears when she learned that wasn’t her mission at all. That was the moment her real transformation into a courageous, strong-minded, ingenious hero began.

There’s a lot more I can say about this movie but I’ll stop here for now. Feel free to share your thoughts below. I want to know what resonated with you about the movie.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t too difficult selecting Peetimes. This is a biopic about a well-known figure in American and Canadian history; therefore, sensitivity to the plot was imperative. There are 3 Peetimes. I recommend the 2nd Peetime.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Movie Review – The Current War

Movie Review - The Current WarUnless there’s some compelling reason you have for seeing this movie in the theater, I think it would make an excellent movie night at home when it’s streaming online, or on DVD.

The only negative thing I have to say about this movie is that the pacing goes way too fast. The scenes cut back and forth between settings way too fast. A long scene in this movie is probably only 3 minutes long, and there’s few of them.

I think this movie could have been much better if it were 30 (or even 45) minutes longer. I felt like I was watching a movie and not experiencing a movie — if that makes any sense.

The casting and acting were good, but not great. It was cool to see Dr. Strange and Spider-Man side by side for a few scenes. But honestly, I think the character of Mr. Insull was totally wasted on Tom Holland. Not that Tom did a bad job — there just wasn’t anything in the script for him to work with.

If there’s one place the movie totally fails, it’s that they focus on the main characters and plot at the expense of establishing just how profoundly impactful electric lights were to the common man.

Can you remember that feeling the first time you used a smartphone? Now take that and multiply by a billion. Humanity had lived forever in darkness, minus a candle or campfire, until the advent of electric lights. (Yes, there were oil lamps on streets in select cities, but even that was ultra new.)

Electric lights, along with the phonograph and telephone, were nothing short of the introduction of magic. They just scratched the surface of expressing that in the movie.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: It was hard to get Peetimes for this movie because it cut from one short scene to another fairly consistently. Most of the longer scenes were too important, and full of dialog, to use as Peetimes. I have three Peetimes spaced through the movie. I can’t really say than any one of them is better or worse than the others.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some violent content and thematic elements
Genres: Biography, Drama, History

Movie Review – Judy

Movie Review - JudyI was sitting in the theater watching Judy when I realized I’m the target audience. I grew up idolizing this gifted woman and was well aware of her continuous struggles to rid herself of the demons that seemed to dictate her life. So I feel most qualified to review this movie.

When you see Renee Zellweger’s interpretation of Judy Garland, you’ll see why everyone (that matters) is raving about her performance. Some people (who really don’t matter) are panning Renee’s performance as over-exaggerated and off-key.

I think perhaps these people didn’t grow up knowing the real Judy Garland — they only know Dorothy Gale. Renee’s gesticulations were spot on. And because Renee’s voice didn’t reflect the golden tones of a sixteen year old girl singing about rainbows and such, she was unduly criticized. Director Rupert Goold explained that during 1969, Judy’s voice was older, and the years had not been nice to her vocal cords, nor the rest of her body. In short, Renee nailed it. Move over Oscar #1, Mamma’s bringing home Oscar #2.

I have to say that in my theater the demographics were couples over sixty. I spoke with several couples who found, just as I did, that Renee’s interpretation was spot-on. I fear that movie-goers younger than fifty will not get the same enjoyment as the baby boomers will have. But this does not include folks under fifty who actually have very good cinematic taste.

In all respects, this is an excellent movie; well acted, directed, and written. Also, major kudos to the costume and makeup departments. I see an Oscar nod in their future. BTW, the ending alone is worth the price of a ticket.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: About midway through the movie I’ve given you a 5 minute break. You may want to take advantage of this Peetime, because it’s the last one, and there’s still about another half hour of the movie left.

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

Rated (PG-13) for substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Movie Review – Brian Banks

 

Movie Review - Brian BanksI really love movies based on a true story. I’m always curious to see how the storyline will play out, and if it seems grossly embellished or not. Brian Banks is relatable and “reel” on so many levels.

Yes, this movie can be categorized into the files of the “MeToo Movement” for sure, but with a little twist, and intense and valid emotions throughout the whole movie.

The actors were very good, and I’m a huge fan of Morgan Freeman. Freeman is not one of the main characters; he is a catalyst to the transformation of Brian Banks. Morgan is never bad; he’s like the godfather of movies. He shows up and shows out at the most opportune moments.

Was He Like the Real Brian Banks?

I watched interviews with the real Brian Banks before going to see the onscreen depiction, just to be able to validate whether Aldis Hodge (Brain Banks) gave us a top notch reflection of the real guy.

And Aldis did. His movements, diction, and emotions were on target. Now, I’m not sure about seeing Aldis in another movie involving him in jail though, which comes out December 2019. I clutched my pearls with confusion when I saw the trailer for Clemency immediately before the Brian Banks Movie started. I thought Brian Banks had begun, and that I missed the cue to start my timer. LOL! But I digress…

The pace was good for one hour and 39 minutes. The use of flashback scenes were very effective, especially toward the end when Brian was waiting to hear the judge’s decision. All the critical moments in his life flashed before him as he awaited yet another moment that would change his life.

An Insightful Film

What I found very insightful was how the director explored the dynamics behind criminal law. He peeled a lot of the onion back to reveal crucial case law, how attorneys collaborate, and why some things are presented in the courtroom or not.

I especially liked that, because I know I sometimes ask myself, “Self, why didn’t they say this?” “Why wasn’t that important?” or “What in the heck was the judge thinking?”

So pay attention to the law narrative. I also liked how there were lots of plot pieces, but the director pretty much flushed them all out to the end;he didn’t leave me hanging.

Everyone had a connection to Brian’s struggle directly or indirectly, including his workout partner. Ultimately, I was tuned in to see if the plot was realistic and believable for such an event that happened to teenagers. And I was elated that the plot made you think and get watery-eyed; not frown and question the likelihood of the tragedy.

The use of light was very emotional; reminded me of an epiphany at its best. Another thing that resonated was the “tether.” The tether took me back to Jordan Peele’s movie Us. I admired how the director ended the movie at the exact location where the movie and Brian Bank’s dreams started.

Check it out for yourself, and take your teenagers, because when they know better, they will certainly do better. We have to teach/show our children how to stop and think about the “what ifs” on a daily basis, thus to matriculate through life without becoming a part of the existing societal problems — instead becoming an intelligent, good-natured, ethical citizen that’s part of the solutions.

(By the way, for those that may be running late, there were 24 minutes of previews in my showing.)

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t difficult selecting Peetimes, given this is a biopic, and I knew a little about the back story — which gave me some perspective. I recommend the 1st Peetime.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content and related images, and for language
Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport, True life story

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Movie Review – Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Movie Review – Rocketman

 

Movie Review - RocketmanI had a hard time with this review. Rocketman is both extraordinary (in costuming, sound, and visual sequences) and by-the-numbers (a creative life plagued by inner demons).

Elton John’s musical biopic is a grand fantasy with exciting numbers that feel like a top notch Broadway extravaganza. It’s got great pacing, fun set-pieces, an ideal cast, and a very special find in Taron Egerton.

Egerton looks like John, acts like him — and best of all — sounds like him. Except for the original Elton John song played over the end credits, Egerton does ALL his own singing. That’s no small feat. He’s simply brilliant. Egerton more than inhabits the role.

Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman
Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman

Rocketman is also very depressing. John has exactly two people in his life who are nice to him — his grandmother, and his long-time best friend and lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Everyone else is either mildly abusive or very abusive. That isn’t fun to watch. Almost everything between the rollicking tunes is about John’s sorrow, loneliness, obsessions, addictions, self-loathing, and an insane ability to absorb decades of personal torment…but somehow still be a beloved worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.

Was John’s life really this difficult? How much of this tale is true? Or did they make things so awful for John’s film character just to ‘liven things up’?

I don’t think you have to be a personal disaster to be a creative icon. But what do I know?

Since John’s alive (unlike, say, Freddie Mercury), these questions are askable. Reportedly John was so happy with Rocketman that he cried with joy to Egerton after his personal screening. I’d like to know specifically what parts gave him that joy. I just want to know if his life was/wasn’t that awful.

Taron Egerton as Elton John on stage in lights
Our rocketman, in lights.

A friend told me no one wants to watch movies about creative happy people. I’d love to condemn that statement, but I’m also told I have an atypical POV on entertainment. I like to have a fun time at the theater. I want to go home feeling like a damn superhero. If I want turmoil and drama, there’s enough of that in the day-to-day. Or I could simply watch the news.

So, if you’re an emotional sponge who found A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody dismaying, just stay home and watch all your favorite Elton John songs on You Tube. Eventually every cool musical performance by Egerton will appear too, so you can realistically catch 90% of Rocketman for free. (There were so many songs in Rocketman that finding even three non-musical minutes for Peetimes was a challenge.)

But should you see this? Almost every review of Rocketman RAVES on it. It’s super ingenious from start to end. Many sequences are  absolutely in the realm of fantasy, but somehow it all works flawlessly as a biopic. The flick is probably destined to become almost as iconic as the legend himself. Rocketman makes Bohemian Rhapsody look like a documentary.

I’m giving Rocketman a solid A for being so lovingly, thoughtfully, gorgeously made. It’s a remarkable film on many levels — not the least being the framing sequences with John’s outrageous demon costume slowly shedding away, as the inner man reveals himself.

If you can handle intense drug and suicide themes, you’ll enjoy this Elton John tribute. It’s also worth it just for catching Egerton’s performance: there will be awards, without a doubt.

Finally, I’m genuinely happy Elton John is alive to see his film — and if the credit notes are true, things worked out happily in the end.  🙂

Grade: A

RunPee movie meme of rocketman
Fun with the RunPee #MovieMeme. Taron Egerton had literally big shoes to fill, but more than pulled it off in Rocketman.

About The Peetimes: As expected, this was a tough film to find Peetimes for, packed with iconic musical performances and hugely emotional scenes. The first 2 Peetimes are pretty good: I recommend the 2nd at 42 minutes — a nice long break. I avoided any major Elton John songs, as I assume these are what you came to see.

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

Rated (R) for language throughout, some drug use and sexual content
Genres: Biography, Drama, Music

Elton John – Lyrics & Video to Bennie & the Jets

Lyrics & Video to Rocketman by Elton John

Did Rami Malek Sing In Bohemian Rhapsody?

Movie Review – Tolkien – Biography of the Master of Middle Earth

Movie Review - TolkienI don’t normally watch biographies. We don’t usually get Peetimes for them either, but this was TOLKIEN. The author of my favorite novel, movie, and world: The Lord of the Rings. So it wasn’t just any biopic to me, and Tolkien wasn’t just any author. Lord of the Rings (or LOTR) is a magnificent 1000+ page work of high fantasy, penned by JRR Tolkien as a sequel to the shorter, more youth-oriented The Hobbit.

With The Hobbit published and successful in 1937 (which the movie gets around to in a fantastic end moment that made me literally weep with joy), Tolkien was tasked with creating a ‘hobbit sequel’. This is a case where the sequel outshines its original by a great magnitude, and is literally Tolkien’s life’s work. (Let’s not discuss The Silmarillion here.) [/CanOfWorms] 😉

A new form of world-building fantasy

According to the Wikipedia, LOTR was “written in stages between 1937 and 1949, and is one of the best selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.”

LOTR also established the groundwork for nearly every novel, series, and film franchise in the fantasy genre to follow, introducing readers to a form of world-building never accomplished before. Tolkien invented entire languages and thousands of years of backstories, timelines and genealogical histories for his handful of mythological races, which he called the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth.

Before Tolkien, we had ancient ballads, plays, and operas to give us fantasy worlds, yet works like Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Beowulf, Shakespeare’s plays, The Iliad and the Odyssey, and the collected stories in Greek/Norse Mythology are very grandiose and quite a bit remote.

LOTR gave readers a story about fallible, often funny individuals who weren’t princes or warriors. In fact, the two main heroes of LOTR are a bookish young man and a gardener. The warriors, kings, and even wizards and dragons appear, of course (it’s still a high fantasy saga), but mostly as supporting characters. You didn’t need a professor to explain the plot to you. You could relate to the heroes. No one had seen anything like this before.

Legacy of the Lord of the Rings

There wouldn’t be any Harry Potter without The Hobbit and LOTR. The Star Wars Saga, Game of Thrones, modern Disney, Pixar and even the 23+ movie spanning Marvel Cinematic Universe owe a huge debt to Tolkien. Name any memorable work of fantasy or space opera, and you’ll find roots buried deep in Middle Earth.

Tolkien – the LOTR author’s biographical movie

Okay. So, I just went off on a long, rambling tangent, not unlike the super long novel in question, and the great films of Peter Jackson that finally paid justice to the source. But was Tolkien, by itself, a good movie?

Yes, very much yes. You have to be a Middle-Earth fan to appreciate it, but I loved seeing JRR — Ronald to his friends — in his early life, full of experiences that informed his creations. Tolkien has said he “cordially despises allegory in all forms”, but it’s hard not to see Mordor and the works of Sauron in the No Man’s Land of World War 1. Ronald is a sort of proto-Frodo, with a young Sam, in the trench scenes. Flames, ash, and great black clouds recall the fumes of Mount Doom.

I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the horror of The War to End All Wars before. It must have felt like the end of an Age. And in many ways, it was. (Compare: World War 2 offered a modern battle tableau, although it wasn’t long after WW1.)

One movie scene in particular, where Ronald lies unconscious in a hole full of the dead by a pool of noisome toxicity, recalls almost precisely Frodo’s fretful sleep before the Black Gates of Mordor.

Other ways The Lord of the Rings is hinted at in Tolkien

What else? Edith has an otherworldly personality and intellect — clearly the basis of Arwen Evenstar. The ‘Cellar Door’ courting scene is exquisite, and Ronald waited as long for Edith as poor Aragorn did for Arwen.

The pastoral countryside of England is very like The Shire, and Ronald’s passionate literary friends had obvious nods to The Fellowship  of The Ring (as explicitly noted in the trailers).

One of Ronald’s buddies had an immortal line where the audience barked in laughter: “It shouldn’t take six hours to tell a story about a magic ring.”

He was talking about Wagner, but Tolkien must have took that as a personal challenge. I’d love to know if his friend actually said that. (In another note, I did attend a showing of Wagner’s Ring Cycle Opera in Vienna once, and it IS incredibly long. Too long. Especially if you don’t speak German.)

A trip to Oxford, and The Inklings

The Oxford scenes had especial meaning to me, as I lived and worked at Oxford University in a post-college internship, and personally wandered through many on-location settings in the film. It was a vast treat to return there cinematically, making me long for an extended visit these many decades later. I even frequented The Eagle and the Child, a pub where Tolkien and The Inklings — who are fated to only appear after the movie ends — sat and shared literary chapters as they wrote them. It thrilled me to quaff a pint at the same table where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis discussed Lord of the Rings and the Narnia stories, working out the kinks of their epics.

Summarizing Tolkien as a movie experience

So, I’m a total geek with an encyclopedic working knowledge of Tolkien…but I think this biography is accessible to anyone who’s ever read the books or seen Peter Jackson’s movies. I was engaged, moved and thrilled, and though no Hobbits nor Rings of Power appear, Tolkien the film is still a very good time. I’m glad I expanded my horizons enough to look at the author as a real man, and not just a random shadowy figure recording the journeys of Frodo, Gandalf, Strider, Gollum, and Samwise Gamgee.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This was a hard movie to find Peetimes for. The movie cuts back and forth between war action, “Fellowship” character building, and important scenes at Oxford University. Both Peetimes center on the romance in Tolkien’s life: while they are nice, they are the least crucial bits building up to Tolkien’s masterpiece. The 2nd Peetime is recommended. Note: There are no Peetimes in the second hour, so plan accordingly.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some sequences of war violence
Genres: Biography, Drama, War

Are Modern Movies Too Long?

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Movie Review – Breakthrough – Not a breakthrough in faith-based films

Movie Review - BreakthroughI do Peetimes for most of the faith-based movies. The Christian production company “PureFlix” turns out some really good faith-based films. Woodlawn comes to mind as an excellent representation of such films. Breakthrough isn’t one of those films. This movie was distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. This movie feels like a cheap attempt to grab some money over Easter Weekend.

The movie lacks decent production values, and I felt that the real life characters were not represented well. There was a lack of chemistry between the main cast members that could have brought the film up a notch or two.

Having been an ER nurse for a very long time, I’ve stood outside an examining room and heard the prayers and the pleas to God to let a loved one live, but to no avail. Often times, afterwards, the prayers turn to anger. My heart breaks for the loved ones who get no answer. Had I have witnessed a medical miracle such as the one we saw in Breakthrough, would it have changed my mind concerning the power of prayer? No. Having been a student of medicine, I know these ‘miracles’ can (and do) happen with medical intervention. It’s just science.

A very personal note: I did not want to see this movie.

The “all you need is prayer and faith, and all is right with the world again” theme has been a ‘thorn in my side’ (pun intended) for a better part of my life.

I’ll preface this review by telling you I’m the daughter of a Methodist minister. I grew up in the church, hardly ever missed Sunday School, and said my prayers every night.

Then Viet Nam happened.

My brother, Danny, two years older than me, was my best friend and confidant. When he left for Viet Nam, I prayed day and night that he’d come home safely. Then there were only eight days left before he came home. Oh, and by the way, it was only two weeks until Christmas. I was confident my prayers had been answered. Praise God: Danny’s coming home.

Then came the knock at the door. My brother was not coming home.

Why?

During my period of mourning that question was most often answered with the trite comment, ‘It was God’s will’ or ‘God needed another angel in heaven’. The message I took away from this tragedy was that it doesn’t matter how hard you pray or how deep your faith: no one is listening. Or, God had already made up his mind that this remarkable young man would die in a foreign country without his loved ones nearby. Neither answer brought me even the slightest bit of comfort.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: I have a recommended Peetime that gives you 4 minutes to get back to the theater — half way through the movie — and an Emergency Peetime giving you only 3 minutes, coming late in the movie. 

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

Rated (PG) for thematic content including peril
Genres: Biography, Drama, Religious

Movie Review – The Best of Enemies

Movie Review - The Best of EnemiesThis biopic is set in Durham, North Carolina, in 1971. First of all, the plot took me by surprise, given the magnitude of racial tension that still exists. This is not your normal racially-charged kind of black-versus-white-movie where tensions escalate, folks get hung, justice is never served, and everyone walks out the movie theater quiet and mad as hell. Nope, this one is completely different.

Durham is faced with a court-order to desegregate its schools when the black school becomes severely damaged, and those students need a place to learn. Unfortunately, the whites are against the blacks coming to their school, so a court-order is issued, and the town must figure out how to solve the problem themselves with little financial help from the State. The State calls upon the help of a Raleigh organizer known for his success in implementing charrettes.

char·rette /SHəˈret/ (wiki)
a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions.

During the span of the Durham charrette meetings, two co-chairs are selected who are the most vocal/influential in the white and black communities, respectively; then more community members discuss issues and concerns, a senate is developed of representatives that will vote on desegregating the schools overseen by the co-chairs, and an open-forum is held where everyone from the community are invited to witness the voting process.

Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell) are chosen as the co-chairs. C.P. is the president of the Ku Klux Klan and Ann is an aggressive and “by any means necessary” community activist. The two of them know of each other very well and the thought of working together for the charrette makes their blood boil, but they agree to co-chair for selfish motives. C.P. is a typical KKK member with a family and owns a gas station. He has a son with Down Syndrome that doesn’t live with the family, but in a nearby psychiatric center. While C.P. is a tough guy filled with hatred, his weakness and soft spot is his ill son. Despite the hatred Ann has for C.P., she uses this weak spot to forge their Best of Enemies relationship.

While the relationship isn’t like that seen in the movie Greenbook, Ann softens C.P.’s heart, one artery at a time. The dynamics of how their role in the charrette plays out is really interesting and thought-provoking. C.P. discovers the void in his life as a child that influenced his membership into the KKK may no longer be valid, but that epiphany comes with drastic consequences. However, his newfound friend comes to his rescue, yet again.

Overall, the acting was good. The plot kept a good pace and didn’t dilly-dally to get to the climax. Ann’s brass and sassy humor will have you laughing throughout the entire movie. In addition, Taraji’s acting was spot-on, right down to that walk (I chuckled a couple of times watching that walk).

On the other hand, the plot doesn’t provoke a need to discuss the issues with friends later on after seeing the movie. The movie will, however, stimulate some self-reflection on how we treat others. But, given that our country seems to be widely-divided right now and sometimes mirrors the 60s and 70s racial undertones, I’m not sure many people will leave the theater creating a charrette of their own, or singing Kumbayah. Wait for the credits at the end to discover how C.P. and Ann’s friendship evolved after the charrette experience.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: It was difficult finding good Peetimes for this well edited and well paced movie. At times, it seemed like the start of a scene would make a good Peetime, but then the plot thickened, adding value to the story. I would suggest suggest the 2nd Peetime.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic material, racial epithets, some violence and a suggestive reference
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Movie Review – Fighting with My Family – Pleasant, Non-Demanding Fun

Movie Review - Fighting with My FamilyFighting with my Family is a pleasant little true-life-based sporting movie leaving you feeling a little happier than when you went in.

It’s not about Earth-shattering events or anything particularly profound for humanity, and it doesn’t need to be. It’s a small and surprisingly charming story: a young woman gets plucked out of obscurity in the UK to train for the big leagues of US WWE Diva wrestling. Cue the nominally familiar underdog narrative…but it works.

The best part of the movie is how it’s grounded by a loving, oddball wrestling family. The rough-n-tough parents seem intimidating at first, until you realize how sweetly kind these people are, and how much they care for each other.

The comedy is never over the top: you buy the reality of these people. Kudos to the acting and directing team for making this tiny corner of history so palatable — and relatable.

I also appreciated the brother’s side-tale of changing the lives of underprivileged youngsters in his neighborhood, via instruction and a strong sense of community. (The blind wrestling teen was a highlight, and I could have watched an entire movie about him. Somebody make this film happen.)

In any case, Fighting With My Family is almost entirely about the daughter. Paige’s story is a quite a bit like the blockbuster scenario of Rocky — just younger, female, and on a different scale. Also, this series of events really happened. 🙂 We get a young “buck” with a lot of raw potential, who gets tested too far, and lets her coach and family down. She finds her “Eye of the Tiger”and gets serious about pursuing a WWE championship goal. This isn’t brand new material, right? But the movie makes it fresh.

Something I appreciated was Paige’s clear joy in the sport itself. And make no mistake, the movie makes pro wrestling look exhausting, but also super fun. Now I want to be tossed around a ring, bounce off the bungies, and leap over people who know when to duck (yet know how to make it look real). I had no idea the whole pro wrestling scene was so playful and adventurous. There are scenes where pros decide whether to take random PR stunts in stride, like being thumped on a bed of thumbtacks, to getting smacked in the head with a garbage can lid. If you can take it, it adds to the fun, and everybody gets paid. Even The Rock is thankful for someone who took a spectacularly painful fall to make him look good (in a really satisfying small scene that’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention).

However. One thing you should know before you go: The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) isn’t in this film very much — he bookends the plot. But he shouldn’t be the center of this film. It’s not his story. As he was involved in these real events — creating this film was his passion project — he takes up just as much visual space as he should. It works. I hope it went down in reality just like this.

Still. This is THE ROCK, and he’s got quite a WWE legacy before he became a movie star. His opening “mentoring’ scene is NOT to be missed. It’s priceless and I’m still smiling over it. Don’t run to the toilet then…use our Peetimes. 🙂

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This was an easy film to find Peetimes for. I won’t let you miss any moment The Rock appears, or any of the best fighting action. I recommend the 2nd Peetime if you can manage it, but all are fine.

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

Rated (PG-13) for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content

Genres: Action, Biography, Comedy, Drama, Sport, True life story


 

More Movies Starring The Rock: 

Quiz – The Rock AKA Dwayne Johnson – Action Hero with Surprising Range

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious

Movie Review – Skyscraper

San Andreas – movie review

Movie Review – The Tooth Fairy