RunPee – Our 2109 Movie Review Rankings (and who was stuck with the worst films!)

Avengers: Endgame - And I, am the all time box office leader.

Avengers: Endgame - And I, am the all time box office leader. $2,797,800,564 world wide. You can buy a lot of Infinity Peecoins with that.

2019 closed out a decade of movies, not so much with a bang, but with a snapAvengers: Endgame was a tour de force that culminated a decade defined, both culturally and monetarily, by the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Between 2010 and 2019 MCU movies brought in a combined $21,738,254,556. (That’s all MCU movies except the first Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, both of which came out in 2008.)

Avenger’s Endgame was just one of the 152 movies we added to the RunPee database this year.

According to the Peeps — people who do Peetimes for RunPee — we had a pretty decent crop of movies in 2019. Here’s a breakdown of the grades our Peeps gave to all the movies this year.

2019 - All movie grades by Peeps
93 of our movies were rated B or better — 65%

We really appreciate all the comments we get about our movie reviews and grades. We’re not anything like professional movie reviewers, but we do our best. Our goal is to give you our honest feelings about a movie, without spoiling it.

Because we see all wide release movies, we’re often stuck watching really bad films.

Each of the Peeps likes to think that we’ve suffered the most by watching the worst movies, but numbers don’t lie. Looks like I (Dan) win The RunPee Award for watching the most crap movies in 2019. I had 4 movies I rated below a C-, Sis and Jill both had 2, and Mom just 1. RunPee Mom really likes to think she’s the martyr, and to be fair, she has watched a number of really bad movies, but not this year. 🙂

Here’s a chart breakdown of the above data2019 Peeps grades chart

 

2019: movies that stood out, for better, or for worse.

RunPee Sis (Christene Johnson)

As I look over my list of movies for 2019, I’m struck by the fact I enjoyed almost all of them. Almost being the key word in that sentence. I gave out only one F this year, and it was totally earned. Hands down, the worst of the worst for me was The Lighthouse. Before I shred this movie apart again, I have to include my favorite movie of the year, JoJo Rabbit. I wish there was a better grade than A+, because it deserves the highest of all praise.

This is where I noticed something very interesting. My expectation going into each of these movies were polar opposites. Seeing the trailers for The Lighthouse had me instantly enthralled. It contained all of my favorite things. I love both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. I’ve always been entranced by anything water and storm related, so my expectation was at an all time high. I knew I’d love it, and waited months on pins and needles to be blown away.
Now let’s hop over to JoJo Rabbit. I saw one trailer for it and dismissed it right away. I don’t like war themed movies and I’m not really a fan of movies set in the past. I was dreading doing Peetimes and forced myself to suck it up and do my job.
I was 100% wrong on so many levels with both of my expectations. Where the movie I was waiting for, The Lighthouse, had me seeing red and wanting throw my popcorn at the screen, JoJo Rabbit was as refreshing as the spring after an unusually hard winter. There is a quote from Bill Watterson that says, “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.” He’s absolutely right. My high expectations for The Lighthouse and low expectations for JoJo Rabbit demonstrated that philosophy perfectly.

Jill Florio (RunPee co-founder and COO)

Peanut Butter Falcon: A+
The absolute best movie of 2019. And this isn’t even the kind of film I usually like, so you should take my word for it. I lean towards fantasy/Sci-fi/Superhero stuff. This is none of the above. It’s just a gorgeous drama, beautifully written, with superb dialog, amazing characters, lovely on-location scenery, meaningful connections, consistent humor, a rollicking tale, and a satisfying ending. The audience laughed and clapped and walked away happy. It’s just crazy good. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll conclude by saying SEE THIS. You don’t even need your tissue box. What are you waiting for? It’s out on DVD right now. Definitely going on my annual rewatch list. Really, shoo, shoo: go watch it.

Avengers: Endgame: A+
Okay, this was a phenomenal feat. How to wrap up 20+ movies in a way that people will universally be happy? I would have said that’s impossible. We’ve all been burned by franchises that falter at some point, or have a “Chris Carter ending” (ie – X-Files) that make you feel stupid for believing things will be resolved. I don’t know who sold whose soul to do it, but Avengers: Endgame pulled off a cinematic miracle. Are there any MCU fans that were let down? As a Browncoat in Firefly would say, “We’ve done the impossible. And that makes us mighty.” I’m not bothering to explain anything from Endgame, because you’re either an MCU fan that doesn’t need a synopsis, or you’re not the target audience. This was a once in a lifetime event. I don’t even care what happens in the MCU after, because I am replete. [Contented sigh.]

Escape Room: A+
I have no real clue why I gave this such a high grade at the time. I think I was surprised by liking it. It’s probably just worth a B+, thinking about it now. It was cute and mildly clever, and I had a nice time watching it. Sometimes things just shift in your mind over time, and an A+ is totally off in this case. So do I go back in and change the grade?

Rise of Skywalker: A-
I’m…pleased. I could end this blurb here, but I should probably explain. I was 12 when A NEW HOPE (just Stars Wars, back then) premiered. I waited, like many others, for 6-8 hours in line to see this film in the theater. Not even Lucas’s later futzing could ruin Star Wars for me… Until the frakking Ewoks — and the prequel Force retcons — came along to make my faith in the Force falter. The Force Awakens gave me new “hope” and although the newer movies were hit and miss, I was satisfied with the saga finale in Rise of Skywalker. I’m just glad it didn’t suck. And you know what? Grading Star Wars on a curve, I have to admit I more than liked how things concluded. Please, Lucasfilm, stop making these movies. We’re done and it was good. Thank you.

Downton Abbey: A-
When I first watched Downton Abbey on TV, I was captivated. I’m not sure why. There weren’t any spaceships. I just enjoyed the story, even if some subplots totally failed (hello, Anna and Bates). Before the film came out, I was excited, and rewatched the entire six seasons to get ready. The series rewatch was still pretty good the second time around. The movie is just like that: pretty good. And they dropped the Bates’ endless blahs, so yay! I can’t say this is a great film, but if you are a Downton Abbey fan, you’ll be pleased with how the story continues. So pretty, so fun, and everyone we liked is back for seconds, on top of their game.

Knives Out: A-
What a surprise! After royally messing up The Last Jedi, Rian does us proud in an amusing and coherent mystery story about a family of awful people that we’re fascinated to watch. It works, even on several viewings. I was glad to do the Peetimes for it, because it’s a ton of fun and never cheats. Perfect casting, BTW.

The Lion King: A-
I am not entirely on-board with Disney making “live” versions of their classics, but this made me laugh, made me cry, and ultimately moved my soul. I think it was the casting and beautiful visuals. It’s not an A+ like the animated original, but I can’t help but feel reminded that adopting the Hakuna Matata motto is more important as you grow older and life gets more complicated. This is the best version of the animated updates in my opinion, and I think it’s largely due to some stirring and amusing scenes that just made me…happy. There were a few parts that actually improved on the original, and I can’t say that often.

Terminator: Dark Fate: B+

I liked it. Didn’t love it, but I’m okay with that. Not sucking is a great feat these days in a franchise revival. I don’t even care that the otherwise decent T3 was tossed out of continuity. I would have felt better about this film except for three things:  1. The Tar Terminator was trash compared to the T2  liquid metal effects (and awesome acting by Robert Patrick), and 2. the new Chosen One was completely forgettable. I don’t even remember her name or what she did in the movie. Truth. And 3. The unceremonious death of someone. ARG.  I am not going to forgive this.  I can’t. I’m mad as a hornet.

Dark Fate good things: Grace Mackenzie. Linda Hamilton. Arnold. Carl selling draperies. The subplot about immigration. Eating chips. And, of course, sacrifice for the greater good. This is a fine entry in Terminator canon, but I need time to get comfortable with some of it.

Jumani 3 – The Next Level: B
I admit, I was disappointed. I adored Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It was one of my favorite movies of that year. This one was….IDK. Passable. Maybe I was expecting too much from a threequel. I liked it, but have no real desire to watch it over and over like I did with the previous film. I didn’t laugh as much. The plot was….um…what was the plot? Something about yet another jewel. The body swaps weren’t as fun. There were some weird set pieces. But since I was so looking forward to this film, it sticks out in my mind as something worth discussing. I think a B grade is just about right.

Happy Death Day 2U: B
I loved the original Death Day film with it’s comedic, horror-lite, tight mystery story. This was a good follow-up that I did — admittedly — enjoy, but it didn’t approach the delight of the first. What stands out: genre hopping! Instead of horror/mystery/comedy, we got something like a Back to the Future sci-fi flick. It was a good follow up. Recommended, but not wonderful.

Spider-Man Far From Home: B
Not my favorite MCU film, but a decent coda to the MCU Infinity Saga. I wish it had been as fun as Spiderman: Homecoming, but it did a nice job concluding the long and winding road of Marvel storytelling. I’m worried, though. Phase Four needs to be better than this.

Ad Astra: B
I have such mixed feelings on this Brad Pitt almost-solo wonder. There are other characters, briefly, but none of them matter. We get some super interesting set-pieces and quite a bit of philosophical interpersonal conception. Yet…it’s often deadly dull. This movie stands out by being great occasionally, and frequently bad. I look forward to seeing how this stands up to time. I mean, space movies are my thing. But this is more 2001 than Guardians of the Galaxy.  Fair warning: I didn’t like Gravity, which this is sort of like. “Brad” Astra (Ha, get it?)  is more serious and contemplative than adventurous, with a few short but memorable set pieces on various objects in our solar system. You tell me: I just didn’t know what to do with this film.

First Man: B
I wanted to love this, the same way I loved Apollo 13 and The Martian. Perhaps focusing on an emotionless man was the root of the evil. How could the first lunar walk be so boring? I love space. I used to work at AstroCamp, and adore space films. I think Tom Hank’s Jim Lovell said it best in Apollo 13: “Armstrong? Really?” How could such a momentous occasion be so miserable an experience? The man is on the MOON. Try to enjoy the moment. If you can’t appreciate being the first man, give the chance to someone else, who would feel the wonder and joy. For comparison, Second Man Buzz Aldrin was bounding around in excitement. As would I. And probably you. Honestly, thinking about this makes me just mad. First Man gets a B from being competently filmed and well acted, but don’t expect to like anything on screen. What a mirthless excursion.

The Hustle: C-
I don’t want to discuss this. It was bad. Just go see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels again.

Beach Bum:  D+
I love Jimmy Buffet — who was in this trainwreck — and I want to be a professional beach bum someday in my own version of Margaritaville. I was excited to see it! Too bad Beach Bum was garbage. I think this is a film to watch absolutely stoned out of your gourd. You tell me if that improves it.

47 Meters Down: D-
Singularly the worst movie I saw all year, and I am pretty forgiving of shark films. So much wasted opportunity. They could have made a fabulous undersea sunken “lost city” adventure, patrolled by blind cave sharks. Instead, it was just another jump scare movie where we don’t know who will survive by the end. Keep in mind, sharks are — in reality — animals, not monsters. The original 47 Meters Down was a fine film that did right by the genre.

This was just a jumbled, murky, messy, pointless opportunity to exploit shark mania.

Seriously, this could have been a fascinating and exciting story along the lines of, say, “Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Sharks“. I suppose I’m asking too much. Don’t pay any money to see this on any level. It barely misses an F, because there were occasional moments that didn’t totally bomb. The movie has zero connective tissue to the sensible story in the first film. Pass.

RunPee Mom (Ginger Gardner)

They Shall Not Grow Old: A+
Superior to any other war movie ever made. There’s a Russian proverb that says, “A wide road leads to war; a narrow path leads home.” No other movie has exemplified this more than TSNGO. This should be included in every course on military history.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: A
This movie was perfect in every way, right down to the fact that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are actually related.

The Art of Racing in the Rain:  B+
For all animal lovers. I applaud the fact that this movie was from the dog’s point of view, and Kevin Costner was the perfect voice for Enzo.

Stan & Ollie: A
As a kid, I never really enjoyed the Stan & Ollie act. I didn’t like the fat guy constantly yelling at the skinny guy. This movie wasn’t so much about the act, as it was about the men behind the act. I believe that John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan both deserve an Oscar nod for their performances.

Blinded by the Light: A
I love Bruce Springsteen, but this movie was so much more than a great soundtrack. The overlying story of a culture clash between the father and son was intense and well played out by Viveik Kalra, as the son, and Kulvinder Ghir as the father. In this year of some really great music bio’s, Blinded by the Light took an entirely different approach to spotlighting the music of the The Boss.

Dan Gardner (RunPee CEO)

Ford v Ferrari: A+
What a surprisingly delightful movie. Of course the partnership of Matt Damon and Christian Bale packed a powerful one-two punch. I expected that and wasn’t disappointed. But everything about the movie just cruises.  It’s movie making at its finest.

Knives Out: A
This is my sleeper of the year. On the surface, this movie is funny and enjoyable. But the subtext of this movie is brilliant. The message that immigrants are the real moral backbone of this country — while entitled white boomers are responsible for its decline — is so subtle that it seems like no one noticed. But once you see it, you can’t help but see anything else.

Yesterday: A
The screenplay is written by Richard Curti: Love Actually, About Time, War Horse, The Boat that Rocked, etc. That’s all I needed to know.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: B- and falling.
RoS had many enjoyable moments, and that’s about it. The more I think about the story, the more I get annoyed. JJ Abrams doesn’t deserve to be piloting this franchise. There are so many errors in storytelling in this movie that it could serve as the exemplar in a class on how not to tell a story.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix: D-
At least Rise of Skywalker had enjoyable moments. Dark Phoenix was so bad as to be cringe worthy.

Hellboy: F-
Even if Hellboy came out 25 years ago, it would have been criticized for lackluster special effects. And as bad as the effects were here, it will only be remembered for being so forgettable.

 

2019 Peeple’s Poll Movies – Year in Review

What’s New in the RunPee App Version 5.0 – Movie posters can can draw on, MCU Peetimes at a glance, and much more!

A Open Response to Kevin Feige (re: Using the Bathroom During Endgame)

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

So many Star Wars movies. So many lightsaber and “lightsaber-adjacent” fight scenes over 42 years. Which saber duels are the best, the most visually stunning, or emotionally moving?

I don’t know much about sword technique (<—- we wrote about that here) beyond endlessly watching Lord of the Rings or Xena: Warrior Princess, but I know when a scene satisfies. Of course, this ranking is subjective. DUH. 😉 

Warning: spoilers ahead for the saga through Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker.

Counting down my top lightsaber fight scenes, with the videos to illustrate them…here we go!

6. Old Ben vs Darth Vader — (A New Hope)

It was slow;  it was sluggish, but it was our first lightsaber fight, and the emotional stakes were sky(walker) high. Looking back, it’s a wonderful galaxy-building scene, and when Luke sees Obi-Wan die, it packs a punch every time. Even after dozens of viewings.

(Even though the old Jedi Master doesn’t seem to become more powerful. I blame this on Sir Alec Guinness, who famously hated the role. That’s probably why we got Yoda in the first place.)

But this real life knight didn’t let us down — his expression when he sees Luke at the end of his Vader duel is subtle and fantastic. He gives a small smile to Vader before he puts up his sword. Iconic. Look for it. Well done, by a true acting legend.

RunPee Dan has a video explaining why this is actually one of the most realistic sword fighting styles shown in Star Wars, and here is the scene in question:

5. Young Obi-Wan vs Anakin Skywalker — (Revenge of the Sith)

I’m not a big fan of the prequels, but some scenes stand out. In Revenge of the Sith, I kept waiting for it to feel like Star Wars, instead of a documentary. I got that in the last half hour of Revenge of the Sith. And in my recent saga rewatch, I felt terrible for new quadruple amputee Anakin. Then he caught on fire and cried to his former ‘brother’ Obi-Wan. Ob-Wan is clearly full of torment, but almost casually picks up Anakin’s lightsaber and walks off. A real pal would have killed Anakin, instead of wandering away to let him burn to death. But then we would never have had Darth Vader, so….go with it.

The deciding fight on Mustafar is nicely done, if we can ignore the problems with the estranged Jedi duo fighting a foot away from LAVA. LAVA. I feel like I need to say this a third time: LAVA. Does being a Jedi give you heat resistance?

Oh well; the fight was still good. I think it gave us the emotional catharsis that we, the fans, needed, to buy fully into Akakin’s final fall from grace. As in killing Jedi Younglings and genociding the Sandwalker race isn’t enough!

For an up to date reference: Rey healed a serpent monster. Respect! And that worked into the rest of the narrative (including The Mandalorian, on Disney Plus). That made me happy and gave us important exposition without shoving our noses in it. Rey FTW.

Raise your hands if you think it’s any Dark Side coincidence that Darth Vader made his Mustafar Burad-Dur fortress on the planet he lost everything on. The Dark Side needs a constant source of pain and hatred fueled to keep fully aligned with the Sith need for anger/fear/resentment. Good way to keep hatred burning in your heart! I do get that: it gives unlimited Dark Side vested interest.

Yet…every time we see Vader in the Bacta Tank, or meditating in his oxygen cocoon, we can’t help but think he longs for his body/soul purity back. At this point I think he wants to escape the Emperor, but realizes he’s trapped by a mostly mechanical body and a well of bad deeds — he’s burned bridges from everyone who might have helped him purge the anger. It’s hard to redeem yourself after genocidal acts, even if” bringing order” to the galaxy seemed seductive at the time. No one thinks they are the Bad Guy in their story. I think Anakin did think he was helping the known worlds, and that the Jedi were the ones in the wrong with their non-attachment credo.

This video section is in 2 parts on You Tube:

4. Darth Vader vs the Data Tape — (Rogue One)

This bit gives me chills every time. It’s only a few minutes, and only at the very end, but we get to see Vader in his Sith-y prime, effortlessly wiping the walls with rebel troops. It’s a desperate scene, tracking the Death Star data tape, but fits into the beginning of A New Hope with crackling style. Even though  I knew the rebels got the plans, I was on the edge of my seat, urging, “Hurry, hurry, OMG HURRY.” So wonderfully done. When the Tantive 5 speeds away I couldn’t help but cheer. If you watch this scene directly before A New Hope you’ll notice some continuity problems, but that doesn’t diminish the power of this…raw slaughter. This is why we love to fear Vader:

3.  Luke vs Kylo Ren — (The Last Jedi)

By the Maker, this was an excellent duel: even better on repeat when you know Luke is just a Force projection. In my theater viewing, I noticed Luke’s feet didn’t stir up the salt or red iron soil beneath, unlike every other person or vehicle on Planet Crait. I chalked it up to bad continuity at the time, but then cheered like a fool when I realized this was no mistake. Mark Hamill sells the deception for all it’s worth, and when he dusts an imaginary speck off his shoulder I had to give him props for the ultimate in cool. Way. To. Go.

And the top 2 lightsaber fights…

2. Rey and Kylo vs Snoke and the Imperial Guard — (The Last Jedi)

For one thing, it was neat to see different laser weapons than sabers (the Guards’ weapons), and two…the rewatchability level of this battle royale is outstanding. The choreography was unprecedented — seeing two Force users playing off each other’s skills to fight together, like Hercules and Iolaus in The Legendary Journeys. It also lit a lot of shipper’s torches for the star-crossed couple of Rey and Kylo Ren. This was simply an outstanding scene. Great chemistry and a few really creative moves.

It lacked a distinctive theme soundtrack, and that brings it down a little.  It just isn’t the number one lightsaber fight, and that might contribute. Listen to this as it plays: it’s an “action wallpaper” of sound. But…it’s still emotionally satisfying, and impressively choreographed to show two people totally in sync.

1. The Duel of the Fates — (The Phantom Menace)

Say what you will about The Phantom Menace, but this prequel has the single best lightsaber battle in the live action Star Wars stories. John William’s soaring, ominous, chant-filled score is among the best tracks in any Star Wars movie, and Darth Maul is legit skilled and scary. When we see Qui-Gon quietly meditating on the floor, while Maul paces like a caged tiger who can’t wait to kill, it’s a perfect wordless exposition on the Dark and Light sides of the Force. And when the red laser walls kept Obi-Wan out of the fight while he watches Maul kills Qui-Gon…MAN. This was a stunning 5-minute scene that never drags.

I was surprised Obi-Wan bested Maul, despite knowing he lives through A New Hope. And losing Qui-Gon Jinn really hurt. He’s my favorite Jedi, and I was thrilled to hear his voice in Rise of Skywalker. (I held out hope til the end that Qui-Gon got together with Shmi Skywalker, so Rey could be a grandchild of the Skywalkers. Or a Kenobi: my favorite theory. But wishing does not make it so. At least we found out the truth in the end, and it didn’t fully suck.)

Just watch this again without Jar-Jar-Colored blinders and you’ll see this is inevitably the best Lightsaber duel on any level: 

Honorable Mention: Kylo Ren vs Finn

Finn’s desperate “traitor” stand against Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens was an emotional and successful moment — but missed out on the BEST OF scenes because it wasn’t that great a fight, overall. Finn was wildly overmatched, and that he stood as long as he did was a tribute to the character’s determination and concern for Rey. He also might have a touch of Force Sensitivity (See Rise of Skywalker). But a great lightsaber scene? Not as such.

Just Missing the Cut – Luke vs Darth Vader (Twice)

I didn’t include either of Luke’s lightsaber fights with Darth Vader for a few reasons that took a lot of time to consider. For one thing, Vader in Empire and RotJ was clearly toying with Luke. Vader basically Force-tossed the scenery at his son, instead of actually dueling. He wanted to make a point and then turn him to the Dark Side, not kill him. Mostly. “All too easy.” Until the whole ‘Sister’ thing came up in RotJ, when Luke started wailing on his father in rage.

The people Luke loves are his sore spot, and probably why he went into exile eventually. When Luke got angry enough in RotJ, his fighting style changed to swing, hack, swing, hack…and it’s clear he was using the Dark Side when he battered his father and cut his arm back off. (With the Emperor cackling like a damn fool from the sidelines.)  It’s a very emotional moment, but the lightsaber action isn’t that exciting. If this article was about meaningful fight scenes, this would be ranked highly. But as for a lightsaber showdown, it doesn’t perform.

 

Which top duel and/or lightsaber fight scenes did I miss? Yoda vs Count Dooku? Anakin and Dooku? Obi-Wan and General Grievous? Yoda and Palpatine? The big Order 66 showdown? Does anything from Rise of Skywalker make the grade? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.

Video Essay – How to Film a Good Sword Fight

All Star Wars Movies, ranked by personal watchablility. Now including Rise of Skywalker

 

Infographic of every Star Wars movie ranked by fans on IMDb and RottenTomatoes

Star Wars Revealed: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a lying liar who lies

Jumanji Character Names and Skills

cast of jumanji 2 and 3
Pretty easy to guess who is who.

Just to get you quickly up to speed, Jumanji 3 will reprise the adult “avatars” from Jumanji 2, although there’s a new twist in the characters who play them. Happily, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black are back. Do you remember the Jumanji skills for each character?

Here’s a reminder of the Jumanji 2 foursome’s skills, strengths, and deadly weaknesses, with some Jumanji 3 updates:

1. Dr. Smolder Bravestone (The Rock)

jumanji 3 the rock
Yeah, yeah. You’re good at everything. We know.

Legendary Adventurer
Explorer
Archaeologist
Hero

Strengths  

Fearless
Strength
Speed
Climbing
Boomerang
Smoldering Intensity (yes, he uses this one the most)

Weaknesses

None known…yet

2. Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan)

karen gillan ruby roundhouse
Who isn’t allergic to venom?

Commando
Deadly Dancefighter

Strengths

Dance Fighting (Seriously… Awesome)
Karate
Tai’Chi
Aikido
Nunchucks

Weaknesses

Venom

3. Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart)

kevin hart jumanji 3
Too bad about that cake.

Zoologist
Expert Weapons Valet (Backpack Man)

Strengths 

Zoology
Weapons Valet
Linguistics

Weaknesses 

Cake (Really!)
Speed
Strength (Strength is his weakness. He doesn’t think that makes sense either. )

4. Professor Shelley Oberon (Jack Black)

jack black jumanji 3
Jack Black playing a young girl in Jumanji 2 was actually awesome.

Renowned Cartographer & Cryptographer

Strengths

Cartography
Archaeology
Paleontology
Geometry

Weaknesses

Heat
Sun
Sand
Endurance

Here’s the scene from Jumanji 2 where the characters discover their strengths and weaknesses — the 3rd film seems to have added a few, if you study the photos above.

Where were the Jumanji house and jungle scenes filmed?

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

First View Movie Review – Jumanji (1995)

20 Groundhog Day Type Movies – The Ultimate Repeating Day Film List

 

“There is no way that this winter is ever going to end as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don’t see any other way out. He’s got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.”

Groundhog Day is February 2nd in the US, and it’s a truly bizarre national holiday. The premise: a large rodent might/might not see its shadow, predicting when spring will or won’t come. How does one celebrate this, unless they live in Punxatawny, PA?

How long does it take to start thinking you are a god? To give up on unique ways to solve the day/kill yourself/become a better person? (Pay attention to the film and ask yourself how long it would take to master his many skills.)

Phil escapes the time loop only when certain conditions are met. We assume this, because it’s never stated why he finally moves on to the next day. However, the repeating day motif is not new to this movie, and in each instance, time repeats indefinitely until the protagonist finds a way out. The movie in question isn’t even the first film or TV show to feature this theme.

That makes it really fun each year. We at RunPee get to pick a rewatch of something with a distinct “Groundhog Day theme” every year in Feb. There’s an interesting lineage here. The theme actually starts with Star Trek: The Next Generation!


 Let’s take a look at who has used this Groundhog Day theme, in order by year.

Links added go to RunPee’s reviews. We hope to get them all reviewed eventually. One of these Groundhog Days we will! (Promise! Feb 2 does come ever year…) If we haven’t added some kind of commentary, we haven’t seen it. Feel free to instruct us in the comments below. 🙂

  1. Cause and Effect (TV ep, Star Trek, the Next Generation) 1992 — NOTE: Air date before Groundhog Day. Was this the first to do it? Here’s how it starts…right before the teaser ends we get this indelible image: Picard yelling for all hands to abandon the Enterprise. Then it explodes. And keeps on exploding. From there, the mystery never lets up on this superb storytelling. I don’t think any TV episode gave me chills like this before in my young life. It still works.
  2. Groundhog Day — Feature Film — 1993 : When I Iived that year in the UK, this  first-run movie saved my sanity. For real. Long story.
  3. Been There, Done That (TV ep, Xena: Warrior Princess) 1997 : This show could do no wrong in my eyes during it’s 7-year run. It’s only natural that Xena’s version is funnier than EVERYTHING else on this list. Plus, we’ve got Romeo and Juliette being dorks,  a laundry list of reasons why Xena didn’t bite Gabrielle (lol), a name drop of Hercules (and Sinbad), and an adorable cameo by Karl Urban as Cupid. A top ten Xena ep anyone can enjoy.
  4. Run, Lola, Run — Feature Film —  1998: Although the movie is a scant eighty minutes, you feel like you’ve been on a journey by the end of it.  Tykwer uses music, sound effects, and editing, to make you feel both the pressure Lola is under, and all the ground she is covering. It’s very effective. 
  5. Back and Back and Back to the Future (TV ep, Farscape) 1999: set in the mostly benighted season one of an otherwise stellar Sci-Fi show, Back and Back is notable for Crichton’s trying to change the timeline in small ways (breaking Zhan’s sacred mask on purpose, instead of letting time inevitably play out).
  6. Monday (TV ep, The X-Files) 1999: You don’t think there’s a mystery trope left examined in the X-Files 9 year run? Look again. Notable: a guest actor is at the center of the plot, with Mulder and Scully mostly in reaction mode…and it STILL works. A standout during a mostly experimental season.
  7. Life Serial (TV ep, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) 2001 : In Buffy’s sixth season, “real life” was the scary big bad. Shudders! This episode was a needed dash of fun. The “Trio” are nerdy doofuses with too much power and no real direction. I love everything in this season, and this is a highlight.
  8. Deja vu All Over Again (TV ep, Charmed) 2008
  9. Mystery Spot (TV ep, Supernatural) — 2008
  10.  Source Code — Feature Film– 2011: A soldier wakes up in someone else’s body and discovers he’s part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train. A mission he has only 8 minutes to complete.
  11. Edge of Tomorrow –Feature Film — (Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt film) 2014 : Exciting, well-acted, and with a gripping jeopardy premise, Cruise and Blunt take what could have been a two-hour slog of repeating action into something believably exciting in a fresh take on an alien takeover plot. Highly Recommended! Every time they ‘”level up” you want to cheer! Also: theme song Love Me Again deserves a spot on any movie lover’s playlist: lyrics and movie video here. 
  12. Hell is Other People  (The Vampire Diaries) — 2016
  13. Before I Fall  — Feature Film — 2017: Another mystery that must be solved before time moves on. Well written, well acted, well directed. It surprised us.
  14. Happy Death Day  and the sequel — Original Feature Film — 2017: Imagine relieving your death, over and over? Want to try? Neither do we. (Awesome movie, though!) NEW article: All the clues to the killer in Happy Death Day (Spoilers!)
  15. Hot Mess Time Machine (TV ep, The Mindy Project) — 2017
  16. Naked — (Netflix show) — 2017 – YAY! A new one to check out!
  17. Dr. Strange  — Feature Film — 2017: I don’t know if this should be included, so I’ll toss it up and let you decide. At the end of the film, Strange wears down his enemy using an infinite time loop of destruction. He could stop it at any point, so it’s not like the other plots. Does this count?
  18. Russian Doll – A new and exciting dark comedy Netflix series that’s somewhere in between Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day. (2019)
  19.  Travelers has a great, unique take on this now too!  It streams on Netflix….
  20. Looper  — Feature Film — 2012: In a future where time travel is a thing, not everyone has the best intentions. [ED NOTE:  I just watched this one, and Looper is not a GHD movie. So I’ll make my virgin review on Looper soon — it’s a good movie — but I need to take this film off this particular list. 

At RunPee HQ we’ve been collecting movies and TV episodes with Groundhog Day themes, and make a point to choose at least one each year to rewatch on each Groundhog Day.  I mean, hey: what else are you going to do to celebrate how vermin might predict the weather?

So, did we miss something? We’re always looking to add new shows to celebrate on this obscure, yet infinitely geeky holiday. I’m sure this fascinating well of plots hasn’t dried out just yet. The recent and finely wrought Edge of Tomorrow indicates there are still ideas to be mined.

Movie Review – Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)

Edge of Tomorrow – Lyrics and Video to Love Me Again – A Kickin’ Action GroundHog Day Themed Movie

Movie Review – Happy Death Day – Very Fun, Almost Cute Horror Film

Happy Death Day – All the Clues to the Killer (SPOILERS)

Movie Review – Looper

Virgin Review – Source Code

Movie Review – Before I Fall

Run Lola Run – A Rewind Review for a Rewind Loop Film

A Quiet Place – RunPee 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? [pullquote]A Quiet Place isn’t really straight-up horror — or more accurately, it’s a sub-unit of such: scary suspense. [/pullquote]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. [pullquote position=”right”]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.[/pullquote] (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 — the enchanting episode called Hush. As it was, I was entirely, and enjoyably, gripped by A Quiet Place.

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, there 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. [pullquote]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.[/pullquote] 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 (two 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