Movie Review – Overboard (2018)

I’m not sure why anyone felt a need to remake *Overboard*. The 1987 original has a sparkling and famous cast, led by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel. It was sweet, it was funny, and despite the kind of casual sexism often shown in that era of movies, was a small cult classic. I loved it. I still love it and watch it when I need cheering up. But, remember, as major hits from the past go, this is still minor-league. It would be like remaking *So I Married An Axe Murderer*. Both are cute, fun little romps, perfectly made — but not exactly in the realm of important films of the 80s.

I can see re-doing *Ghostbusters* , a major movie from that time, still on any complete must-see movie list. That remake was gender-flipped, and featured good natured cameos from almost everyone in the original. Which leads me back to *Overboard*.

Someone must have noted when the gender swapped *Ghostbusters* made enough of a splash to justify its existence, and thought the concept would work for other old properties. Cue *Overboard*.

Does it work? Yes and no. With the gender reversals and current climate of correctness, it’s a lot less sexist. It also features a large Latino cast to balance out all the blond girls. The good mom (Kate, by Anna Faris) finds love and  a father to her girls; the selfish alpha male (Leo, by Eugenio Derbezlearns to be warm, caring, and responsible…so the message is nice and the audience walks out happy. There are legitimate laughs along the way, mainly via Leo struggling to learn construction under the benevolent hazing of his co-workers. I smiled a lot. This should all be fresh and new for audiences not raised on the original.

What doesn’t work is how underwhelming this version is. It’s not as charming as it hoped to be, and the cast doesn’t have that ringing chemistry of the first. The family moments feel rushed and unearned. Kate’s “nurse” story lacks the cool cleverness of Kurt Russel’s “Wonders of the World Golf Course” scenario, and the children don’t have enough anything memorable to do. The side-plot with Leo’s rich family is simply dull. That’s way too bad; the antics of the crew on the “Immaculata” were wildly entertaining.

On all these levels, *Overboard 2018* doesn’t come close to adding anything interesting that a remake should. Only the character of Leo is consistently amusing, but with his role doubling for the formidable Ms. Hawn, the actor really doesn’t stand a chance in comparison.

If you’re a huge fan of the 1987 original, you might enjoy this reboot. It’s nowhere near as charming, but has its moments. There are many lines lifted exactly from the first, with expressions and tones carefully rendered the same way (ie: “Sometimes dads leave”). A lot of memorable shots are nicely echoed (as in the quiet, tension-crackling scene of the limousine driving toward Elk Cove ). It’s fun to find these elements honored and recreated.

One thing I would have enjoyed: there should have been cameos from the original cast scattered around, as they did with the aforementioned ghost busting movie. If they didn’t want to be that self-referential, they could have slipped in cameos to the extra scene during the credits. I was mystified by the cameo absence. Evoking exact phrases and scenes from the ’87 version showed that they weren’t hiding their roots. And it would have lent a respectful sense of fun for actors and viewers alike.

Enough about comparisons. I’ll grade this movie a B- on its own merits: it’s likable and fun enough for an easy afternoon at the theater. If you want to see something much more touching, that’s rollicking and straight out funny, with far superior acting, rewatch the original.

Movie Grade: B-

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A Quiet Place – Jilly’s Movie Review (with SPOILERS)

I thoroughly enjoyed A Quiet Place, even though I can’t stomach horror movies. Thank Thor RunPee Sis craves those films, or I don’t think we’d have Peetimes for them. But, you know what? A Quiet Place isn’t really straight-up horror — or more accurately, it’s a sub-unit of such: scary suspense. And those are perfectly fine viewing for movie-goers who don’t enjoy being frightened witless, or mentally disturbed after bedtime. I can do suspense.  After all, Alien  and Signs are among my favorite films. Take heart, and see this movie if you’re unsure.

Silence. Shhhhh. Both showings I attended were dead quiet — the hearing-a-pin-drop kind. When one person rustled their bag for popcorn, the room en mass shot dirty looks at the unwitting assailant. I’ve since read this spontaneously happened across theaters every night, every time. One person directly in front of me made two near-silent coughs and took herself right out of there. Good call. We might have just as silently killed her for it. Such was the magic of attending this kind of movie, a rare theater-only experience. (Only films like Avatar, Titanic, and  the first Jurassic Park are really the main theater related “experiences” I can offhand recall.)

If this was an art-film made to showcase a dialog and soundtrack-free production, or an old-timey silent film, I wouldn’t be interested. The only things I could previously appreciate was a silent (and also scary) TV episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. As it was, I was entirely, and enjoyably, gripped.

Our only exposition are the many news clippings tacked on basement walls, things panned too quickly to really read. Are the aliens Death Angels of God? Aliens from a Meteorite? Subterranean creatures from a cave in Mexico? It’s enough. It doesn’t matter. More important are the words scrawled on the family white board: THEY HUNT BY SOUND. THEY ARE ARMORED. Local Area has (3) confirmed.

That’s all one needs for the story, and we’ve guessed most of that by this point.

Like in Signs by M. Night Shylaman, we get a one-family take on a War of the Worlds theme, and it really works. The stakes are upped — as we see by the nightly lighting of fire beacons, they may only be small pockets of humanity left. We’re talking a few local outposts with the intelligence and ingenuity to live in silence indefinitely.

And more pointedly, we see up close several reasons WHY this family does so well. There’s a well-equipped barnhouse bunker as a birthing room and sanctuary, and a sound-proofed box for their soon-to-be squalling baby, equipped with working oxygen supplies. There’s enough tools and sundries for any end-of-the-world scenario. Who needs zombies when you have this?

Outside the bunker, the family knows to walk barefoot and not make sounds in surprise or pain. All common pathways outside are deeply lined with sand, any squeaking steps in the house are clearly marked for avoidance, and red lights are strung about to announce an attack. The father keeps loud rockets in his pockets to draw off intruders. He knows you can speak under a waterfall, how to set traps for fish, and where to forage in the empty towns for supplies he can’t make himself.

He also, almost too fortunately,  knows how to construct high-tech hearing aids. And this is also where A Quiet Place treads too close to Signs, where the daughter has an extremely fortunate habit of leaving undrank glasses of water everywhere in the house. In A Quiet Place, it’s all about a coincidentally “different” daughter again. Their daughter was deaf and the family knew sign language? Impressively useful. How convenient the father kept tinkering with better hearing devices?  Yeah, yeah. But you know what — in the entire world, surely this scenario would occur somewhere. We just follow the family that has it going on.  While it’s less comedic (read: never) than Signs, it’s a story that actually makes more sense.

So they’ve got things mostly covered. It sounds…doable. They manage for at least a few years. And that’s where things get going, in deadly earnest. In spite of all their planning, Emily Blunt’s character breaks her water early. She’s alone in an unsound-proofed area, in a tremendous state of pain and terror. We remember (from the prologue) that the family was used to grabbing pain killers from an empty pharmacy. But then, more than a year goes by. Blunt’s character didn’t take any pills when her contraction begins and never gets the chance later. That’s a difficult enough birth under normal circumstances.

But her suffering has to be silent; absolutely so. No moaning, screaming, nor normal crying. She bleeds out in a bathtub with an lethal alien crawling about the room. This is gripping storytelling. I went in a second time to watch this scene, because Blunt portrays her character’s experience entirely, compellingly, with only eyes and expressions. Her hands grip her womb, seemingly to keep the baby safely inside, or push it out quickly, to somehow protect her baby from the consequences of its first cry.

This is one versatile actress. Remember when Blunt’s big debut was as a supporting break-out character – that self-absorbed mean-spirited assistant from The Devil Wears Prada? Her main goal in life was eating just enough cheese cubes to keep from passing out (the better to carry off size 00 couture from Paris). Her smaller roles became leads, including an aggressively skilled warrior in Edge of Tomorrow, and a pathetic, grief-stricken soul from Girl On A Train. These are wildly diverging roles she carried off with deftness and verve.

In A Quiet Place, there aren’t great set-pieces or sparkling dialog to carry the film. It doesn’t offer much in the way of visuals, either.  (It’s a somewhat claustrophobic movie, as a clearly Hitchcockian-inspired flick would be.)  Blunt shoulders nearly the entire movie with no more than a few words of wistful, pain-wracked regret. These rare lines don’t serve to propel the action or plot: they’re just quiet moments of drama.

John Trasinski (as the father that is – directorially he’s superb) does a fine job too, but this isn’t his movie. His character’s climactic sacrifice, however, lends a tragically necessary gravity to the story. Life ends, life begins. There’s no happy ending, just the reality of survival.

The denouement confused me at first. As they watched their land’s video cameras, I thought the rest of the family was about to be overwhelmed and snuffed out. Talking about it among the RunPee family showed me it’s actually a thread of hope. Now that this family knows how to kill the aliens, they can wipe out the local pocket (tow more left) of intruders. They can reach out the the local families (right, as seen by bonfire) and show them how to do that too. And from there, hope for what’s left of humanity can spread. I’d watch that sequel.

Which leads me to announcing there is a sequel, or maybe a prequel in the works. The Quiet-Verse has lots of stories to tell. If there’s a franchise to be had here, I can only hope all involved want to craft any subsequent movies as perfectly as they did this one. Earning a rare A+, all a normally reluctant horror-phone can say is:  see this film.

Movie Grade: A+

RunPee Dan’s (Unspoiled) Review of A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place 2 Announced

 

 

Movie Review – Avengers: Infinity War

[No Spoilers]

I have to hand it to the MCU creative team. They delivered an epic.

Step back and think about that for a second. The lead up to this movie was 10 years in the making; it has a cast of characters that sprawls for pages, yet we know every one of them better than we know many of our own family.

There are 19 movies in the MCU, and not one of them is bad. Sure, some weren’t great, but I never left the theater disappointed. That alone is astonishing. In what universe would you expect anyone to create 19 movies and not a one of them sucked? No one else has come close to trying this level of epicness, let alone succeeding.

Any complaints about Infinity War has to be tagged in the category of nit-picking — which I will gladly do below.

I really enjoyed the pairings in Infinity War. Of course, there are way too many characters to throw into one big dynamic. The way they are split up and then brought together was perfect. A lot of credit has to be given to the editor/directors for putting this sprawling story together in such a way that it’s easy to follow. The movie changes gears between groups seamlessly and keeps the tension building with each scene jump.

Grade: A+

[Mild spoilers below]

Here’s the only thing I can find to nit-pick on: the continuity of power. By that I mean: how strong/weak is a character and their powers in the evolution of the story?

The two clearest examples are of Captain America and Vision. Captain is nothing more than a super human, but human nonetheless. When he holds Thanos to a standoff, for a brief moment, even Thanos is surprised. But in the reality of the MCU, there’s just no way. Thanos beat the Hulk into submission. Captain America couldn’t clip Thanos’ fingernails.

On the flip side, Vision got whipped in every altercation. He’s made of vibranium. How’s that work? In my book, the only character who should come close to containing Vision is Thanos himself. Any other foe should melt before him.

I won’t deny that this is a difficult task for the creative team to manage. They want to deliver epic  moments; moments when we see a character rise above expectations: such as Captain holding off Thanos.

And, immensely powerful characters must have a weakness that can be exploited, otherwise there’s no story. It would be awesome, but ultimately underwhelming, if Vision just rips the Infinity Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand and then uses it to beat him senseless.

It is exceedingly rare to see a story remain consistent throughout. Good guys can’t miss and bad guys can’t hit water standing in a boat; good guys can take a beating; bad guys get shot in the shoulder and fall down to die, silently.

All I can say is when this rule is violated, at least make it worth it. So here again, the creative team can’t be faulted too much, because they cashed in on every scene where a character rose above their abilities.

[Big Spoilers Below]

 

 

 

 

Well now what? Practically everyone is dead, but we know that’s not how the story ends because there’s a Spiderman Homecoming sequel planned for 2020 and so forth. How do they get out of this mess? In March 2019 there’s the origin story of Captain Marvel,Marvel,  to be followed by the Unnamed Avengers movie two months later. From what I’ve read, Captain Marvel’s origin story takes place in the 1990s, so we’re going back in time to find out about her, and then come back to the present to figure out how she’s going to back things up and fix them two months later.

The anticipation surrounding Infinity War is going to pale in comparison to what the next two movies will bring.


Avengers t-shirt

LEGO Super Heroes the Hulkbuster Smash-up

Mark Ruffalo Sneaks in a Hulk Movie

We’ve had two prior Hulk movies no one was happy with, and then Avengers rolled around. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk was the one we’ve been waiting for, gifting us with a charming, quietly surprising underdog in his version of Bruce Banner. His friendship with Tony Stark enchanted, matching Robert Downy Jr.’s alpha male character unassumingly, while Banner’s tender, unexpected, and  tentative relationship with Black Widow was satisfyingly organic (if completely up in the air at this point).

Suffice to say Ruffalo could sell the big green goods in a way no one since the 1970s could, when the combo of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno touched us via small screen.

All well and fine. So, will we finally we get a proper Hulk stand-alone movie? Apparently there are rights issues. Spiderman had rights issues, and it worked out eventually with Marvel’s Civil War and Homecoming. But at this point in the MCU (Phase Whatever), I’m not sure a Hulk standalone would fit. He’s shown up in an outstanding co-starring role for Thor: Ragnarok, and Hulk’s story will continue through Avengers 3 and 4 (the Infinity Wars).

According to this quick interview below, Hulk gets a “mini-movie” snuck in, spread out over the course of other Marvel ensembles. I guess we’ll have to be content with that. If Ruffalo is fine with it, we can be too.

So…for Thor 3 – Ragnarok…Rotten Tomatoes has it rated among the highest-rated Marvel films yet. Our two RunPee Ragnarok reviews (here and here) rate it in the A to A+ range, and we agree it’s a magnificent addition to the MCU. Thor’s Ragnarok is hysterically weird and beautiful, with a great plot and stylish characterization. It’s also got a direct lead-in to Thanos’ big entrance. A must-see before Avengers – Infinity Wars!

Where the Hulk will continue his “mini-movie” is anyone’s guess, now that we know Bruce and the Green Guy are at dire odds in their uneasy connection.  We’ll probably see Bruce Hulk out again…but at what cost?

How would you continue — or possibly end — this story? And will a Black Widow romance be a part of it? We find out part of these answers during the first part of Avengers: Infinity Wars. Soon, friends, soon.

Read More Marvel-Related Articles on RunPee.com

 

Movie Review – Traffik

From the trailers that I had been seeing, I was really hyped for this movie. Yet again, I was disappointed. The plot is a good one. It could have been a really great movie, but they flopped on the ending. There was so much build up and tension that when the finale hit, I was thinking it would go crazy. Nope; it’s almost as if they were told they had a day to wrap up and finished too quickly. The ending didn’t compete with the rest of the movie.

I’m wondering if they edited the cr@p out of this movie. It seems like there was so much more but it didn’t make it to the final cut. I wouldn’t say that there were major plot holes, but a lot of loose strings. The first 80 minutes I’d give an A, but the last five minutes were rushed and not polished.

It’s an okay movie, but I’d probably wait for the DVD; it’s not worth the price of a movie night out.

Grade: C-

Movie Review – I Feel Pretty

Two kinds of people will like this film: Amy Schumer fans, and anyone who is body conscious (meaning: a lot of women). It doesn’t treat Schumer kindly (all the humor centers on her being chubby, yet thinking she’s hot stuff), and that kind of thing will be offensive to some. My very pretty movie companion felt really sorry for the character of Renee, and walked out a bit sad. She expected I Feel Pretty to be a whole lot funnier and seemed a bit downcast about it all.

I actually found this silly fluff movie empowering. Early on, Renee gets knocked out, and wakes up to think she’s suddenly become thin and sexy. While I don’t usually like ‘cringe humor’, I did appreciate that the character of Renee wills herself into a great new life, coasting on pure self-assurance. It reminded me that confidence and a great smile are the best accessories a girl can wear.

Things bog down a bit when she ignores and embarrasses her old friends for the new ones, but that’s presented in a rote fashion (message: don’t ditch your good pals for the new cool crowd). This isn’t what the film is about, though, unlike say, The Devil Wears Prada (which I love; don’t judge). Let’s get back to the point about confidence: just say YES to being vivacious and happy in your skin, no matter what society tries to sell you about unrealistic beauty. It’s presented here that even the skinny models worry about their looks, while portly Renee gets attention and accolades by simply believing she is the total package. Others feel it, and come to believe it too. It’s a nice little reminder for us all.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review – Super Troopers 2

This movie gets an “F” and it’s not short for “funny.”

I don’t find this type of movie remotely funny, but if this is the sort of thing you like I’d highly recommend waiting for the DVD, and watching it at home where you can relax and enjoy it in an altered state of consciousness.

I did laugh at one of the insults they made about America not using the metric system. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Grade: F-

Movie Review: Sgt. Stubby – An American Hero

Sgt. Stubby is an amazingly good movie. It seems that service animals have become quite popular in today’s cinema and that’s a good thing. My father had a saying, “The more I’m around people, the better I like dogs.”

To animal lovers, our pets are a member of the family — and how gratifying it is to see these four-legged heroes being honored, by giving them their own biographical movies.

I do recommend this movie to everyone — however I’ll include one caveat; there are some very tense moments when Stubby is doing his hero thing. Even though I knew Stubby was going to survive the war, there were times I had to turn away from the screen, in fear that somehow the writers felt that they should put a different spin on the movie and not let Sgt. Stubby come home. Hollywood has done some mean things just to make a bio a little more interesting — I’m just saying.

Anyway, if you feel that the little ones might get too stressed and have nightmares, maybe you should save this film for later.

Grade: B+

Movie Review – Truth or Dare

I’m impressed. It’s so hard to come across a good horror/scary film anymore that I’ve kind of given up. I went in with really low expectations and walked out really satisfied.

This storyline was a solid foundation paired up with some great actors and directing. It’s new and fresh. The many layers of the movie were well executed and had meaning behind it. Each of the characters had their own problems that were dealt with during the game of Truth Or Dare. I think that’s why I liked it so much.

This wasn’t a case of kids getting slashed up, there were actually reasons behind it. Thinking about it now, there’s a message behind the movie. You could basically sum it up by saying, “Live right or die.” Your dark secrets will come out eventually.

This is a fun movie, grab your Friday the 13th date and head to the theater. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Grade: A-

Movie Review – Isle of Dogs

Do see Isle of Dogs if it comes anywhere near your theater. It’s creative and quirky, with a great voiceover cast of big stars…and this is honestly something I haven’t seen before. Everyone in the production really pulled out a stylish little film. There are moments in this stop-animation tale that are sort of strange and artsy (I’m not normally a fan of artsy), but the story settles into a small-scale kind of epic adventure once the dogs start talking. There’s light humor, and “biting” humor, so both kids and adults will be able to “sink their teeth” into this (sorry about the puns).

I appreciated the conceit that the dogs are totally understandable, and the humans speak in gibberish (to them, and therefore to us, unless you speak Japanese). That was pretty clever. All the dogs were given a loving treatment, with their own personalities, and best of all: they didn’t come across as furry talking people (as Disney/Pixar oft do with their animal sidekicks). Their behaviors and conversations were recognizably doggie. Another item: the dogs of “our pack” stoically bear the kind of dorky names people have given them across time, like Chief, Spot, Buddy, Rex, Duke, King, Boss…it was cute.

And be warned, the cats in this movie seem fairly evil. “Finding the Cats” could be a vastly amusing drinking game — the corrupt government officials uniformly carry them around; they appear as statues, as logos on appliances and storefronts, and as iconography incorporated into maps and artwork. It’s somehow both subtle and overt. I kept expecting the proliferation of cats to have some great meaning, but that would be too obvious. Isle of Dogs is smarter and sneakier than that.

Really, the dogs as individuals were great. I could have sat through an entire movie with just the pack, hanging out, talking about favorite foods and their masters, flirting with the females, and composing Canine Haiku. Anytime we cut away to the people in the city, I started losing interest. Fortunately, most of the movie centers on “our pack” in this doggie dystopia, and it’s really groovy. There’s a few heartwarming moments to get teary-eyed, scattered throughout, but no real sob-worthy scenes. (I always like a head’s up if there might be ugly crying in my movie future. Yes, I’m still wary of seeing Toy Story 3.)

And I’m a sucker for hearing Jeff Goldblum’s voice from a dog’s snout. (The man embodies quirk.) Listening for all the celebrity voices was a treat. The screen lists the characters and actors in the intro, but it goes by so quickly that you can’t remember who plays what dog by the time you meet them. Part of the fun is recognizing these A-List actors as the film plays out.

There are a TON of visuals packed into most scenes, and it occurs to me this is the perfect kind of film to own on DVD, and play when you want something enjoyable in the background on house-cleaning day. You’ll keep finding things you missed on prior viewings. I can think of several scenes I wanted to pause the movie at, just to keep up with the casually sly asides going by.

Well paced, easy-going, unusual, and at times highly satiric. A real creative showstopper, Isle of Dogs gets a well-deserved A.

Movie Grade – A