Critical MeMe

Time spent watching films, even crappy ones, is time well-spent.

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Location: Missouri, United States
    These aren't comments on ALL of the movies through which I've cried, yawned, laughed, and rolled my eyes, but just about everything I've seen since early 2002 is here plus a few from earlier. Post dates reflect my screening & parenthetical dates are the year of US release (aka Oscar eligibility).
    Yeah, a movie review blog isn't very original. But originality is overrated. Just ask Michael Bay.


Four Christmases (2008)

Happy couple with no plans for marriage or family and no interest in visiting their own screwed-up families for Christmas feel forced to do so when their lie about doing charity work over the holidays gets found out. Since both sets of families are divorced, that means four different places to visit.

And boy. By the end of the first visit, if I were the woman I would've been suspecting that maybe the guy I'm with isn't all that great. By the end of the third, I'd have been sure of it. But, of course, that ain't what happens. Ugh. This one was painfully unfunny.



You've Got Mail (1998)

I originally saw this in the theater and liked it quite a bit -- but I had no idea if it would hold up or come off as dated. Happily, it holds up.

Hanks and Ryan are adorable as the couple who can't stand each other in real life but love each other online. Rather than coming off as creepy once he knows her identity but she's still in the dark, Hanks' manipulations come off as sweet and considered. It's just a happy little love story.

My one complaint is that there was no reason to make Hanks' girlfriend so self-absorbed. She could've just been wrong for him without making her unworthy of his love.



Boy Erased (2018)

Charismatic, popular son of a Baptist preacher is gay, but struggling with that because of the beliefs of his church, community, family and himself. I grew up in church, so this whole way of thinking isn't new to me: if what you are isn't in line with what the church says is right, press that shit DOWN or you cannot be accepted by other believers or even God himself.

There was a lot this movie got right, doing an especially good job of exposing the abuse that can go on when you shame a person about who he is. I'm not talking about the abuse of gay conversion therapy itself (though that is abhorrent), I'm talking about sexual assault that is unlikely to be reported by someone so ashamed of his or her own sexual thoughts and feelings. Also, Nicole Kidman was absolutely wonderful. That said, the film did not go far enough -- the conversion therapy felt sanitized. I know it's a lot worse than what we were shown.



Bridget Jones's Diary

Bridget is a bit of a mess. She comes across as a woman who is taking way too long to navigate the transition between college and adulthood. Her place is a trashed, her clothes are inappropriate/often rumpled, she's a boozy chain smoker, and it's really not as cute as the movie wants us to believe it is. I'm surprised that either of the two men in the love triangle are even interested -- not because of her looks, but because of her everything else. Get it together woman!

But, in movie rules, she's just fine. She even lands a spot as an on-air reporter despite zero qualifications and somehow gets the man of her dreams to fall in love with her FOR her, not despite her. And that's fine by me. Though it's not a good film, it's a light, fluffy, fun one in which love wins. Sometimes that's just what I want to watch, you know?



Widows (2018)

A group of men are killed while carrying out a heist. The widow of their leader is quickly put in the position of needing cash fast to appease the angry mobster they robbed. She enlists some of the other widows to carry out a heist that her husband had conveniently planned in a left-behind notebook.

On paper (and in the trailers), this sounds like a winner, but it wound up being a bit of a letdown. So many cliches -- old white guys are racists, black guys are thugs, politicians are all on the take, husbands are cheating dogs -- and there were, literally, zero surprises. Even the big "twist" could be seen coming a mile away.

But, even with all that, this could've still worked! A film can be successful even when playing the hits. So, I'm left with blaming the director. The pacing and storytelling were just off. I was often bored, feeling like I was waiting for something surprising to happen.



Green Book (2018)

Tough-guy bouncer is facing a multi-month layoff, so agrees to take a job driving a black pianist to his performances down south. This is basically The Odd Couple on wheels -- but with racism! That's not to say it's bad; matter of fact, it's pretty much a prime example of a crowd pleaser. But it IS broad.

Tony "Lip" throws trash out of his car window, takes his wife for granted, tosses out glasses that negroes sipped from, barely makes ends meet, and is a general fuhgeddabowdit tough guy. Don Shirley is a cultured and celebrated musician, has plenty of money, travels with a lap blanket, and has never enjoyed fast food. But wouldn't you know it: spending time with someone might just teach you that -- despite initial prejudice --  they're human just like you. You might even become friends.

I've seen it before and done better, but I'm not going to ding this movie for that. I'm sure the "real" story was a little less tidy than this one, but this was a good time at the theater anyway.



Ghost Stories (2018)

A paranormal "debunker" is challenged to explain away three cases that undid a well-known skeptic predecessor. Though it's got all the goods: great production values, solid acting, and some decent scares, I had this nagging in the back of my mind that I was being had.

And -- yeah, I was. But it was clever enough of a twist ending that I wasn't mad about it.



A Star Is Born (2018)

I've (literally) seen this story before. While it's probably the best iteration, there's very little new here. Still, Cooper is great and Gaga is fine -- though not, in my opinion, best actress nominee fine.