And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: TOP GUN: MAVERICK

As sequels 30+ years in the making go… TOP GUN: MAVERICK delivers at mach speed. The high-adrenaline action drama is like a remake, homage and sequel all rolled into one. If you’re like me and can recite most every line of the 1986 classic, then you’ll feel very much at home with the pacing, characters, and latest shenanigans of fearless Naval aviator Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise).

“Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash.” “I feel the need; the need for speed.” “Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.” “You can be my wingman anytime.” I could go on… but I digress! The dialogue in TG: MAVERICK may not be quite as quotable as those particular gems, but it’s close enough to elicit a chuckle, lump in the throat, or a flash of memory–seemingly right on cue. “Talk to me Goose.”

Spoiler-Free Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

This particular Doctor Strange movie is an odd duck. It infuses traditional Marvel/MCU superhero stuff with a psychological horror vibe–and zombies–which is great if you’re a fan of director Sam Raimi’s horror franchise The Evil Dead, and not so great if you aren’t. I’m a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch in most any role, including Stephen Strange, so I can cut the film some slack. But horror’s really not my thing. I prefer my Avengers more grounded in reality–even if that ‘reality’ involves parallel universes and alternate versions of themselves (see: Spider-Man: No Way Home).

Review: The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys… aint so bad. And neither is their movie. The film is basically an animated animal version of Oceans 11. A heist movie for the under 12 set, paced to keep both kids and adults at least moderately entertained. The plot revolves around a menagerie of outlaws who get a kick out of grand larceny. Their lifestyle choice is more about the camaraderie than the crime. They just happen to be very good at being bad. Until the law finally catches up with them and they are forced to rethink what they do, who they are, and what they want to be. Good? Bad? A little of both perhaps?

Quickie Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

This has to be a quickie review because I don’t want to get into trouble with the Wizarding World and all you muggles out there who pay close attention to all things related to Harry Potter. I’m merely an occasional visitor to the Potter universe and have not (gasp!) read the books. So I view and review these films through the lens of a casual observer with limited insight into the interwoven subplots and backstories that take place over the course of many decades. The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third film in the “Harry Potter” prequel series, following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). There may be a fourth, and even a fifth depending on how the sci-fi fantasy fanbase takes to this latest adventure sprung from the mind of outspoken, best-selling author J.K. Rowling. If I had to take a ‘wild’ guess, I’d predict more Beasts ahead.

Review: All the Old Knives

I keep forgetting the name of this movie– wanting to call it Knives Out, which it isn’t. It’s not as sharp, or entertaining. But it is engrossing. There are worse ways to pass the time than watching a rakish Chris Pine and alluring Thandiwe (formerly known as Thandie) Newton engaging in intense dialogue (and other stuff too) while seeking to unravel the mystery of who is lying to whom.

Review: Better NATE than Ever

The DUMBO in the room with Disney’s family-friendly musical dramedy Better NATE Than Ever is the irony of timing–as the film’s release just happens to coincide with the passage of Florida’s ridiculous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Nate is a charming little message movie that draws from the likes of Billy Elliott, Adventures in Babysitting, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off— if Ferris were in middle school, and a musical theater geek struggling to find his place and his people. That place is Broadway baby!

Review: The Adam Project

The Adam Project falls squarely in Ryan Reynolds’ wheelhouse. It’s a family-friendly, PG-13 time travel action adventure film packed with snark, humor and heart. It doesn’t rise to the level of Back to the Future or E.T.–two classic films to which it pays homage–but The Adam Project is an easy watch with an engaging cast. Reynolds plays Adam Reed, a pilot who travels back in time to stop the invention of time travel which, in the future, poses a fatal threat to the entire planet. For help, he turns to his younger self (Walter Scobell), a decent kid who’s been acting out at school, picking fights with the local bully, and being less than kind to his mom (Jennifer Garner). Young Adam and his mother are both struggling with the loss of their father/husband (Mark Ruffalo) in a car accident about a year earlier. It’s a life-changing event that older Adam is still grappling with decades later.

Review: Lucy and Desi (documentary)

Everybody loves Lucy. So it only follows that everybody will at least like the documentary Luci and Desi about the mutually dependent success of one of Hollywood’s original power couples, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The film explores the partnership and legacy of the pair who first met on the set of the 1940 musical comedy Too Many Girls, got married, started a family, created DesiLu productions, developed and starred in the iconic sitcom I Love Lucy, divorced in 1960 after the last Lucy episode was filmed, and remained lifelong friends.

Review: Marry Me

If you’ve never seen Notting Hill (1999), I strongly advise you watch that particular romcom before stepping into a theater– or onto a Peacock (network)– to see Marry Me. The premise is similar but the execution of the Julia Roberts-Hugh Grant classic is sooooo much better. If you’ve already seen Notting Hill (a few dozen times), then you will be forgiven if drawn into the fluffy imitation starring the likeable duo of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson.

Quickie Review: Blacklight

Now where did I put that last review of a Liam Neeson action movie? I can probably just dust it off…

At nearly 70 (!) Liam Neeson remains quite watchable. But the action shtick is getting old. Move it along — nothing new to see here folks. Unless you just feel compelled (as I often do) to watch Neeson exercise those particular skills that have carried him through every action thriller since Taken, which set a bar that few of Neeson’s films– in this particular genre– have been able to match.