Movie Review: Joy

I have been accused on the iKnowBadeaux podcast of only reviewing movies that I enjoy but, my feelings about Joy are mixed.

Let’s start with the good.

This movie is a must-see solely due to Jennifer Lawrence‘s performance. She plays Joy Mangano the inventor of the Miracle Mop and brings forth complexities of the character that no other actor would have been able to. One can’t help but be amazed at the Lawrence’s ability to elevate characters and entire movies with her emotional performances.

She delivers, once again, a “Best Female Actor” worthy performance.

Unfortunately, the movie could not keep up with her performance.

Director, David O. Russell‘s screenplay is the same that we have seen from him with Silver Linings Playbook and American HustleIt has become old hat and has lost all of its charms. The same steady cam, continuous shots that were once artistic and innovative have become boring and predictable.

The story itself leaves much to be desired, feeling disjointed and rushed at times while also moving at a snail’s pace at others.

Robert DeNiro returns as basically the same character he played in Silver Linings Playbook and it is hard to tell if his performance was lackluster or if the screenplay just didn’t lend itself to allowing a better performance. Throughout the movie relationship dynamics are glossed over making it challenging, at times, to understand why people are behaving the way that they are towards one another.

What can’t be denied is Russell’s ability to pull amazing performances from his actors. It is this quality that will keep audiences coming back to the box office for his movie.

Bradley Cooper turns in a great performance with a limited supporting role as Neil Walker a QVC executive. Lawrence and Cooper’s chemistry cannot be denied, in their limited screen time together, they are able to do what so much of the movie isn’t able to… make you forget that it is another David O. Russel movie. It doesn’t seem like they are repetitive characters participating in the same witty banter that captivated audiences in Silver Linings Playbook. 

This is a testament to David O. Russel’s directing. He is what my wife calls, an actors director. This movie is clear evidence of that.

Bottom line, see it (love it?) for Jennifer Lawrence and her amazing acting chops. But don’t be surprised when you feel like the movie as a whole was a let down when the credits roll.

 

 

Movie Review: Spotlight

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The last movie review that I did was a bit tongue in cheek but, this week I have a real review. In an effort to earn my keep as the “Official Movie Reviewer” for the iKnowBadeaux podcast I am trying to do some more serious work. Here we go.

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight.

McCarthy wrote and directed an incredible film that is a must see.

Disclaimer: I am a lapsed Catholic. Continue reading

Movie Review: Inside Out

There you are… standing awkwardly in front of the ticket booth at the movie theater trying to decide what to see. What is the most bang for your buck?

Well, Jurassic World if you haven’t seen that yet (in which case you are a little late to the party).

Do not hesitate, walk to the counter and buy a ticket to Inside Out.

Pixar does it again.

From start to finish this movie is amazing and just as entertaining for 30 year old men as it is for children.

First, the movie leads off with an amazing 5 minute short (with the most catchy song of all time). Only Pixar could create a strong emotional connection to a volcano in 30 seconds and have you on the verge of tears.

Disney/Pixar

Disney/Pixar

Once you dry your eyes, the main attraction starts and Pixar delivers a perfectly crafted story with great depth.

The majority of the movie takes place in the head of the protagonist Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) with her five emotions playing the lead characters: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

The movie takes an amazingly simplistic look into how memories and associations are formed based on our core emotions.

The movie follows Riley through her move from Minnesota to San Fransisco and how she deals with a new home, school, friends and culture. A very difficult thing for an 11 year-old to deal with.

All of the voice acting is perfectly cast. Amy Poehler as Joy is enough to keep you entertained but Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Anger (Lewis Black) steal the show. All of the emotions attempt to work together to achieve some sort of harmony for Riley but, have trouble when they are unable to act outside of the emotion that they are.

The simplicity of how the story shows the brain as a working machine is delightful. Memories are sorted as little orbs that create associations when touched by the core emotions in headquarters. The are then sent to be filed away with millions of other memories.

Pixar delivers humor and emotion in the way that only they can with their amazing story telling that allows people of all ages to enjoy. It is definitely a must see that is sure to collect some hardware come awards season.

I will give this one 4/4 Pixar Lamps. A definite must see.

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Jurassic World is an absolute win. Well… relatively speaking that is.

Nothing will ever touch the visual effects that were put on the big screen in 1993 (which still stand up today). The realism that we felt then is something that we will tell grandchildren about… they will roll their eyes and not understand the magic of seeing the masterpiece that Spielberg created.

That being said, the effects that explode off the screen when seeing this movie in Imax 3D are nothing short of brilliant. Shot beautifully, you will find yourself wishing that a theme park half as cool as Jurassic World exists.

The CGI of the dinosaurs is distracting at some points and makes you wish for the simplicity from 1993, but not enough to ruin the experience.

The characters are underdeveloped. If you are going to see this to achieve a deep emotional connection with any of the characters, you are going to have a bad time. The movie is about the dinosaurs, not about the people. The acting leaves much to be desired but the self-deprecating script and screenplay make this an afterthought.

The movie makes countless references to the original. Some are obvious and others are a little more subtle. The writers seem to go the route of 22 Jump Street in making fun of the fact that the movie is a sequel. Even though it is not as overt, the humor is there and provides a nice break between dinosaur attacks.

Chris Pratt cannot lose. Everything the guy does is amazing right now. He definitely gives a performance that is head and shoulders above the rest of the cast.

The rest of the cast is as good as they need to be to carry the story. They deliver the corny lines and catch phrases that make movies like this great.

Nothing beats the suspense of people being hunted by dinosaurs in a movie where everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

While the messages of corporate greed and human insatiability are a little nauseating; the movie delivers as a suspenseful thrill ride that brings us as close as we will ever get to an actual dinosaur theme park.

Overall, the movie is enjoyable because the filmmakers didn’t take themselves to seriously and this is obvious. They had a clear vision of what the movie needed to be to stand on its own and executed. It is a blockbuster that you will find yourself watching for years to come.

I give it 3.5/4 – “Clever Girl’s”