Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

mr rogers neighborhood
Even the trailer for this has me crying.

Everyone’s saying the Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers movie is great and I definitely plan to see it this Thanksgiving week. I remember loving “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a child, with the trolley and the cute puppet kingdom…but haven’t given the show another thought as the decades passed. Then 2018’s documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor hit the indie circuits, and people recalled Fred Rogers as a sort of folk hero.

I figured I’d watch the documentary before seeing the dramatic, wide release version.

I’m happy to report Won’t You Be My Neighbor is an absolutely lovely 90 minutes of time, well-spent. If you watch it before seeing Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, you’ll go in with a greater understanding of this incredibly kind, compassionate man. I look forward to seeing Tom Hank’s take on it: I’m told Hanks channels Rogers’ essence, instead of performing an exact mimicry.

The documentary shows clips of the television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (which ran 31 seasons, beginning in 1968), interview segments with Fred Roger’s wife and sons, and a bit of background on what the show was about — mainly (and I didn’t realize this as a child) to provide children a role model for dealing with difficult emotions. The show promoted tolerance for others and self-love.

In a world where hate is accepted as the New Normal, being reminded of human kindness/acceptance of differences is hugely important.

Did I cry while watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor? You bet I did. The documentary felt like a long, warm hug. Fred Rogers somehow radiated love and patience to everyone he met, even through the TV screen, to thousands of children everywhere. I’d forgotten this.

How often do you hear “I like you just the way you are?”

My guess is, not enough. Perhaps never. And that’s a damn shame. It’s so easy to accept and love one another, and yet we don’t. Life hurts us and we get jaded. We harden our hearts. And sometimes we hurt each other because we don’t remember what’s it’s like to receive unconditional love.

Watching a grown man reach out to others through old puppets, especially the sensitive tiger Daniel (who, like The Velveteen Rabbit, has most of his fur loved off) was surprisingly heartwarming. You absolutely buy into the notion that Mr. Rogers loves everyone. And everyone includes me and you.

Watching this made me want to be better — to be like him. And it made me feel more optimistic about humanity in general. I don’t think it’s possible to watch Mr. Rogers do his thing and not be comforted.

And I for one am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Movie Grade: A-

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Movie Review - A Beautiful Day in the NeighbourhoodFirst of all, big kudos to the writers, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster. They put together an amazing story which showcased the brilliance of the beloved Fred Rogers. Although the story was only partially true (the character of Lloyd Vogal was based on writer Tom Junod) the embellishments were there to emphasize the true nature of our….hero.

Tom Hanks, of course, did a spectacular job of capturing the essence of Fred Rogers. The tone of Tom’s voice was a little off, but every inflection and nuance was shown respect by this talented actor. For me, it was in the eyes of Tom Hanks that revealed the absolute perfection in which he portrayed Mr. Rogers. It has been said that Tom has the kindest eyes in Hollywood, and this characteristic translated beautifully into the eyes of Rogers. So beautifully that it should garner, at the very least, an Oscar nod for Supporting Actor.

This is not a children’s movie; they’d be bored senseless. Instead, I believe the target audience are those who grew up watching Mr. Rogers. Or, as it is in my case, had children who watched the show.

I give A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood a solid ‘A’.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I was able to get two good Peetimes in this movie. Both Peetimes have protracted scenes of very little dialog or complete silence as the characters have moments of deep reflection.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language
Genres: Biography, Drama, True life story

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

Ancestry.com has discovered that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are sixth cousins. That’s made all the more relevant due to Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers in the critically-acclaimed movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (Bringing a whole new meaning to getting into character.)

“It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks told Access Hollywood when the show informed him of the relation.

According to Ancestry.com, Fred and Tom share a 5x great-grandfather (Johannes Meffert), who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century.

At first glance, that seems pretty astounding, but when you consider probabilities of family trees overlapping, it becomes less and less impressive the further back in time you go. For instance, there’s nearly a 100% probability that any two people of European decent share an ancestor from 1,000 years ago.

And of course, if you want to get pedantic about it, that banana you had for breakfast was your 108-cousin. 🙂

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

What happened to Pete Miles – Ken’s son in Ford v Ferrari?

ford-v-ferrariPeter Miles was 14 years old — almost 15 —  at the time of his father’s fatal crash. Shortly after his father’s death, Peter went to work for Ken’s friend Dick Troutman at the Troutman and Barnes custom car shop in Culver City, CA. Peter worked there for 14 years.

Peter joined Precision Performance Inc. in 1986. He started out as a fabricator, and then became a mechanic, before advancing to the position of crew chief. Peter was the crew chief for Ivan Stewart when Stewart won the 1991 Nissan 400 in Nevada.

In a 2019 interview, Peter revealed that the last time he went to Le Mans was in 1965 with his father Ken.

Ray McKinnon in Ford v Ferrari – where have I seen him before?

Movie Review – Ford v Ferrari

Golden Man’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

JoJo RabbitAlthough I’m a fan of director Taika Waititi, the first trailer for Jojo Rabbit didn’t inspire much confidence.  The scene of an imaginary Hitler comforting a ten-year-old boy fell pretty flat.  Waititi isn’t the first person to mine World War II for laughs.  Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and the TV show Hogan’s Heroes have made light of Hitler and the Nazis.  Does Waititi find new ground to cover?  Oh yes.  And thankfully, there’s more to the film than hinted at in the trailer.

Roman Griffin Davis plays Jojo, a German Bart Simpson, whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler.  Jojo is full of patriotism and fanaticism.  Like most young boys, he does not want to admit he has anything as tender as a heart, but his innocence betrays him.

Waititi himself plays Hitler, and portrays him as absurd, funny…and scary.  He brings the same comedic sensibility to this role as he does to Korg in the MCU films.

The imaginary friend aspect leads to some great moments of physical comedy, such as what Jojo imagines Hitler eats or how he has Hitler exit a scene.  Hitler does not become a sympathetic figure like I was concerned he might.  Instead, he remains mostly a figure of ridicule….taken seriously by Jojo, much less so by the audience.  By his final scene, Jojo has seen the monstrous side of Hitler more than once.

Sam Rockwell plays the worst soldier/Nazi in the world.  The fact that he is put in charge of a camp full of children is both hilarious and terrifying.  At this point, we are going to have to deal with the fact that Rockwell is going to be a contender for Best Supporting Actor nearly every year for the foreseeable future.  If he got a nomination for playing W in Vice last year, he’s got a shot at Oscar gold again for playing yet another bad boy misfit.  (One who has a memorable and redemptive final scene.)

Scarlett Johansson is also probably in the Oscar race for Best Actress (or Best Supporting Actress, depending on Oscar politics) for her role as Jojo’s mother.  Her zest for life recalls characters like Maude from Harold and Maude or Anthony Quinn’s Zorba.

Thomasin McKenzie, who was so good in last year’s Leave No Trace, plays a Jew Jojo’s mother is sheltering.  McKenzie continues to do stunning work as a young actress.

Archie Yates plays Jojo’s buddy Yorki.  Yates is effortlessly funny and a total scene stealer.  I hope to see more of him in the future.

Although it’s rare for younger male actors to be nominated, Davis could receive a Best Actor nomination for his role as Jojo.  His face is so expressive.  He carries a lot of the film.  He plays a complex character.  And he captures the essence of childhood without being cutesy, cloying, or manipulative.

Jojo Rabbit  exists in its own universe, combining the madcap comedy of a Mel Brooks film with something more emotional and dramatic.  It’s rare for a comedic film to make it to the Oscars, however, this one will probably get a Best Picture nomination.  It has already won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Since 2011, every People’s Choice Award winner has gotten a Best Picture nom.  This one certainly deserves consideration.

Grade: A-

Fortunately, JoJo Rabbit just went into wide release so we now have Peetimes for it on the RunPee App. We also have Peetimes for all the major releases like Doctor Sleep, Midway, Last Christmas, and over a thousand more films.  Never miss the best parts of a movie when you use the RunPee app.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Movie Review – Midway

Movie Review - MidwaySorry to say: this movie doesn’t live up to the true events it attempts to depict. Unless you feel you must see the battle events on the big screen, this movie is better suited to DVD/streaming…in 2 or 3 months when it’s available.

To be sure, there’s plenty of explosions, bombs dropping, explosions, aerial dog fights, explosions, plane crashes, explosions,… 😉 That aspect of the movie doesn’t fail, except that it honestly gets a little redundant. (I wonder how many minutes of the movie were focused on closeups of Dick Best as he dive bombed — too many for sure.)

Where the movie falls short of it’s target, is in character development. And I mean all of it. There wasn’t a single character that had any sort of depth.

MIDWAY: between a bad movie and a horrible movie.Historically, I know the US Navy winning the Battle of Midway wasn’t just one miracle, it was several miracles. In the movie they tell us that, but we never really feel it. The story just doesn’t connect the dots in the way it should have. I’m not saying this is easy, but with a budget like this movie had there’s no excuse for not having a better script.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: I managed to find 4 good Peetimes and would recommend the 3rd one. There are no battle scenes in any of the Peetimes.

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

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking
Genres: Action, Drama, History

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 renowned 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

Best Superhero Movies That Were Never Made

Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker

Todd Philips’ controversial new film Joker opens this week.  It’s kind of amazing that a character piece with no connection to the DC Universe and no Batman in sight got the green light.  Many other movies aren’t so lucky.  Even movies with major talent attached to them.  Here’s a look at some superhero movies that were never made.

Superman Movies That Were Scrapped:

Christopher McQuarrie’s Man of Steel sequel

In July, the writer-director of Mission: Impossible-Fallout revealed on Twitter that he had pitched a Man of Steel sequel idea that would have tied in to a Green Lantern movie proposal.  Ultimately, Warner Brothers rejected both ideas.  McQuarrie did not give specifics of the plot of either film.

Matthew Vaughn’s Superman trilogy

The Kingsman director and comics creator Mark Millar pitched a Superman trilogy where the entire first film would have taken place on Krypton.  Superman would have grown up on Krypton, a change to his origin story, “maturing into an adult before having to reckon with his loyalty to both planets,” as Vaughn told Polygon.  This sounds like it could have really been epic.  I wish he’d reveal what his plans for the other two films were.

Superman: Flyby

J. J. Abrams wrote this Superman origin story that would have seen the hero fighting against new villain Ty-Zor, his Kryptonian cousin.  McG and Brett Ratner were each attached to direct the project at one point.  Warner Brothers ended up going with Superman Returns instead.

I want this sequel so bad!

Superman Returns sequel

Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns didn’t make enough money at the box office to revive the franchise.  He has hinted that a sequel would have been more action-oriented and might have featured the villain Brainiac.  This is the one that stings for me.  It always pulls at my heartstrings that SPOILER ALERT Superman has a son.  I really wanted a sequel to explore that concept in depth.  I remember watching Superman Returns with my friend Robert and both of us getting emotional during the scene where Superman watches his son sleeping.  This will always be one of the great unmade sequels for me.

Nic named his son Kal-El.

Superman Lives

This is the most famous unmade Superman film.  Tim Burton was attached to direct.  Nicholas Cage was going to play Superman.  Kevin Smith wrote a draft of the script.  There’s even a documentary about it titled The Death of “Superman Lives”:  What Happened?  The movie would have featured villains Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Doomsday.  “The Death of Superman” story line from the comics was part of the movie’s inspiration.  After seeing what Tim Burton did with Batman, one can’t help but wonder what his Superman would have been like.

 

Spider-Man Sequels We’ll Never Get to See:

I know, I know.  Spidey’s a sore subject ever since the Sony/Marvel split.  But the truth is that Spider-Man’s been breaking our hearts for a while with expected sequels that never made it out of the gate.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man

Casting rumors indicate that John Malkovich would have played the Vulture and Anne Hathaway would have played the Black Cat in this sequel.  Concept art indicates that villain Mysterio would have put in at least a cameo appearance.  Screenwriter James Vanderbilt was hired to write out plot lines for Spider-Man 5 and 6.  The exact reasons this sequel never came together aren’t completely clear.  Raimi takes responsibility and says he couldn’t deliver a quality film by the release date and didn’t want to disappoint the fans.  Adding insult to injury is the fact that we never got to see Dylan Baker’s version of the Lizard.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends with a cut scene that teases an awesome sequel.  It sets up a group of fan favorite villains called The Sinister Six which Spider-Man would have faced in the next movie.  Sadly, writer-director Drew Goddard never got to bring his vision to the screen though there are rumors it could still happen.

 

Batman Movies That Didn’t Happen:

Ivan Reitman’s Batman

The Ghostbusters director once had his eye on a 1960s-themed Batman project.  And the casting for this one is insane.  Bill Murray would have played Batman.  Eddie Murphy would have been Robin.  And David Bowie would have played the Joker.  (Aren’t you dying to see that?)  Fortunately, this movie fell apart, paving the way for Tim Burton’s Batman.

Robin Williams would have been amazing!

Batman Continues

If Tim Burton had made a third Batman film, Marlon Wayans would have played Robin and Robin Williams would have been the Riddler.  It would have set up a spinoff film for Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman as well.  As much as I like Batman Forever, I wish Burton could have completed his trilogy.

Batman Unchained

This would have been Joel Schumacher’s follow up to Batman and Robin.  Schumacher’s third Batman film, the fifth in the series, would have seen The Scarecrow and Harley Quinn make their first appearances on the big screen.  Batman and Robin also would have split up suggesting some of the darker storytelling associated more with Burton  than Schumacher.

 

Other Comic Book Movies That Never Made It To the Big Screen:

Would Armie Hammer have made a good Batman?

Justice League: Mortal

Before Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie came to fruition, Mad Max director George Miller was slated to direct this project in 2008.  The movie would have starred Armie Hammer as Batman, D.J. Catrona as Superman, Adam Brody and Anton Yelchin as dual Flashes, and Common as Green Lantern.  A high budget and a writer’s strike led to the movie being cancelled.

Still coming to a theater near you?

Doctor Doom

Fox hired Noah Hawley (creator of TV shows Fargo and Legion) to write a movie about Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom.  Hawley has described his script as being an antihero story and a political thriller in the vein of Captain America: Winter Soldier.  The movie is largely considered dead after the Disney-Fox merger, however there is still some hope that Marvel may make the film at some point.  Especially now that they have plans to revive the Fantastic Four.

Someday, I will get my Silver Surfer movie. Someday.

The Silver Surfer

Speaking of Fantastic Four characters, comic book writer Brian K. Vaughn was hired to write a script for a stand-alone Silver Surfer script.  This was about two years before the Disney-Fox merger.  This secretive project is probably DOA as most of Fox’s comic book projects have been under the merger.  There is no word on whether actor Doug Jones would have reprised his role from the Fantastic Four sequel.

Green Lantern 2

Ryan Reynolds starred in The Green Lantern in 2011.  A sequel was written that focused on Sinestro becoming evil.  The first movie was a box office failure and plans for a sequel were scrapped.  Reynolds made fun of Green Lantern’s poor box office performance in the more popular movie Deadpool.

Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman

Before the Allan Heinberg script that became Patty Jenkins’ vision, Joss Whedon wrote an unproduced Wonder Woman script in the early 2000s.  It was recently leaked to the internet and has faced a lot of criticism for being sexist and focusing too much on Steve Trevor instead of Wonder Woman, even going so far as to make him the main character.  Whedon recently quit the Batgirl movie without completing a script, leaving it in limbo.  Which makes it another movie we may not get to see or at least not for a long time.

Make this movie, Hollywood!

Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max

I saved one of the best for last.  This one is cool as hell and I wish they would make it.  Framed for an assassination, Green Arrow has to partner with famous DC villains to break out of prison.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?  Cinema Blend has speculated that this would be an excellent script to transition the Arrow TV series into films.

What is your superpower?

Ours is never missing the good parts of a movie.  Remember to take the RunPee app with you every time you go to the movies.  We always have Peetimes for the newest movies.  And you can get the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).