Zootopia - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - 10 Cloverfield Lane - The Brothers Grimsby
Again, I've been too busy to write full reviews as of late, but I've seen two weekends worth of new movies, so I should get my thoughts out now before it becomes three weekends, or eventually I'll just be posting once a month with eight movies in each post... So here we go!
Describe the movie like your grandma does on a phone call: I saw this movie that I think you'll love, sweetheart. It was so cute. It was called, uh... Ummmm... It was a cartoon, with a bunch of animals, and they um, have their own city. The rabbit was so cute. It, uh, was called... Ohhh jeez, I can't think about what the name of it was. It had a fox.
What's to like about this? It's basically an endless parade of mostly great animal puns and very impressive visual gags. There were some jokes where I wish I could have paused the movie and absorbed everything, because there were so many good jokes on the screen all at once. The animation is amazing, the buddy cop concept is solid, and the comedy is good for all ages (I assume). I've now seen that entire sloth DMV scene about four times (since it was also one of the trailers), and I still laugh at it every single time. That scene deserves four Academy Awards.
Yeah, but what didn't you like about it? I guess it lacks the concentrated animated sadness that Pixar has spoiled us on. There's not really anything emotional in it, it's more just a fun action comedy. Also, if I wanted to be one of those film critics, I could write a thousand words on how Zootopia failed to properly address race relations to the children who went to go see it. To them I say: I don't think this was supposed to be Zootopian History X. Lighten up, Chet.
Who do you recommend this to? Furries. Also, probably kids.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT (WTF, get it?)
Describe the movie like your grandma does on a phone call: Oh did you see that movie, um, that one movie? What was it called...? It has the girl from that show... You know, that one show, with the comedy. Ummm, she has the glasses, it was on late. Ohhh ummm... Saturday Live! She used to do the news. She was in this movie. It was called, um, uhhhhh... It had a weird name I didn't understand. It was uhhh, like, uhhhhmmmm. You know what I'm talking about, right?
What's to like about this? It's interesting. (stares at you for ten seconds) (coughs into hand) That's about the best way to put it. It's a very interesting story of a woman (played by Tina Fey, grandma) who didn't really feel like she had anything going on in her life, so she threw all her eggs into a crazy basket (being a reporter in the Middle East) and it gave her some sort of false sense of meaning for a while. I think we can all relate to that to some degree at some point in our lives (probably on a much smaller scale). There's obviously something appealing about living in a dangerous place and partying all the time when you have a previously boring, somewhat lonely life. And then you discover what you really want from yourself through that process of self-destruction. That's the theme of the movie, and probably the best thing about it. Also, it has a decent mix of funny and somber moments. Aaaaand, Tim had a really great interview with the directors: (https://library.creativecow.net/wilson_tim/fcpx_whiskey-tango-foxtrot/1) It was honestly more compelling than the movie itself, probably, haha.
Yeah, but what didn't you like about it? Felt like it went on too long. It has kind of an aimless second act that was probably intentionally aimless. It's not going to make anyone's top ten list at the end of the year, if they remember it at all nine months from now.
Who do you recommend this to? I would not recommend it to anyone who thinks it will just be a comedy. It's not really a laugh a minute. Probably more of a Redbox/Netflix watch than a theater trip for most people.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Describe the movie like your grandma does on a phone call: I saw this movie over the weekend with Estelle. You know Estelle, right? She's my friend from when I used to live in Marburry, Ohio. But she recently moved here again. You used to play in her apartment when you were a baby. Do you remember that? You used to love playing with her nutcracker collection. Anyway, we saw this movie and we did NOT know what it was. It had um, what's his face...? He was on that sitcom with that obnoxious woman. She yelled a lot. He was scary in this movie. But it was a very confusing movie. It was called, ummm, uhhhh... What was it called? It had a number in the title. Fifteen something. It was, a ummm, it was in a, ummmm one of those underground things. Yes! A bunker! You know which one I'm talking about. Very loud.
What's to like about this? It's awesome. It's very suspenseful. I think it might be some of John Goodman's best work outside of a Coen Bros movie. It's just kind of... fun. There's some good twists and surprising moments, and I don't really even want to talk about it that much, because it's way more thrilling to go into this movie without really knowing much of anything about it. This has one of my favorite trailers of the year, as well, for sure. I also saw it on the "Ultrascreen" for the first time ever, which I guess is Marcus Theaters' version of IMAX, and the sound system was so loud that it literally shook my seat, and in several occasions made my ears pop. It was great. One last thing that should definitely be mentioned: It's not a found footage movie, and it's more of a spiritual sequel/prequel to Cloverfield than it is something you need to even relate to it. It looks so much more well made than Cloverfield was, and cost $10 million less to make than the first one, too.
Yeah, but what didn't you like about it? There's not much I didn't like. Again, I guess it didn't really need the Cloverfield tie-in, other than for marketing purposes. They could have reworked the ending to be numerous different scenarios, and all of the great stuff in the bunker still would have worked. The screenplay was originally intended to be an unrelated low-budget movie called "The Cellar," and then it got turned into a Cloverfield movie when JJ Abrams got his hands on it. FYI.
Who do you recommend this to? In my last review post, I praised The Witch while simultaneously declaring that no one should go see it on my recommendation, because you probably won't like it. Contrary to that, I'm praising 10 Cloverfield Lane and *also* telling you to go see it, because it's fun and more universally watchable than a slow-moving artsy 1700's period piece kind of about a witch. But yeah, 10 Cloverfield Lane is very good, in my opinion. And if you go see it, you'll probably enjoy it, or at least be entertained by it, even if I assume you won't give it as high of a score as I'm about to right now. But that's just what I thought about it, so... ...sorry we disagree? I guess?
THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY
Describe the movie like your grandma does on a phone call: Your cousin Patrick visited me last week. On Tuesday. Or was it Wednesday? No, it must have been Tuesday, because I remember we had roast beef. He took me to see this movie he wanted to see. It was an English movie, it was very vulgar. I wanted to leave. I did not like it.
What's to like about this? Looking back, I do recall chuckling out loud a few times. However, I could not tell you what those moments were. I could tell you in detail about the elephant sex scene (which I don't think I laughed at because it was a little too... I don't know, desperate?). That scene is probably burned into my brain. But I don't think I remember a specific other moment that I found to be genuinely funny. I think the movie worked best when it was trying to be a regular spy movie, but then this dimwitted guy in sandals is running nonchalantly twenty paces behind the action. But even so it's still nothing more than a producer of quiet chuckles. It is only 80-ish minutes long, thank god. That was very nice of them. Wait, I just remembered something! The scene where Sasha Baron Cohen finds out the joys of shooting guns was legitimately funny. That was probably the best scene in the movie.
Yeah, but what didn't you like about it? Listen, I'm into low-brow humor. I am. Really, I am. But there's clever low-brow (Idiocracy, Step Brothers, Borat, etc), and there's dumb low-brow. This was the latter. Like I'm not against having a scrotum prosthetic in a comedy, but I want to laugh it that scrotum doing something; and not just be expected to laugh because it's a scrotum prosthetic. Make sense? No? Well, I'm moving on anyway.
Who do you recommend this to? People who like stupid comedies? I don't know. It was definitely funnier than the last few things I've seen Adam Sandler do, if that counts for anything.
I really enjoyed Zootopia. There is a reason it is breaking box office records for Disney. I felt it was a great kids movie that had plenty of great stuff for adults and I laughed a lot. This is a film worth checking out.
Scott, as for what a Grandma would say about the film, I love it! Yet another creative take on how to present a review. You really should try to write reviews for your local paper.
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Haha, thanks Stephen! Feels like I barely have time to write these fun reviews for free!
Interesting thing to me about Zootopia is that they had done something like two years' worth of work on the production and decided they were telling the story from the wrong viewpoint character, so... they threw it away and started from scratch, to get the plot you have now. That's a significant amount of investment thrown away in the service of making a better picture.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is probably a victim of confused expectations because the trailers are definitely cut to play up the film as a yuck-yuck sitcom kind of thing, when it's not that kind of movie. If you saw a trailer pitching this as a semi-real story of a self-destructive journalist risking their life for a story nobody at home cares about, you'd probably approach viewing it with different expectations.
Saw the elephant gag online from Grimbsby and just...no. Just, no. No thank-you. http://imgur.com/OlN143i
[Mark Suszko] "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is probably a victim of confused expectations because the trailers are definitely cut to play up the film as a yuck-yuck sitcom kind of thing, when it's not that kind of movie. If you saw a trailer pitching this as a semi-real story of a self-destructive journalist risking their life for a story nobody at home cares about, you'd probably approach viewing it with different expectations."
M*A*S*H had the same problem in the beginning, but a boatload of awards (including 5 Oscar noms, 3 of which were lost to, ironically enough Patton) and strong word of mouth helped it build -- but Altman was an unknown, the lead actors were trying to get him fired, and nobody knew what they were looking at.
(Also ironically: the TV series also got off to a slow start, and didn't really take off until the movie was re-released into theaters in 1973. Its finale ended up being one of the watersheds in TV viewership of course, but none of this came easily.)
Ideally, they'd have tried to sell WTF exactly the way you describe, Mark, and would have specifically invoked MASH. The fact is that Tina Fey is terrific with this darker stuff, and could easily be playing more drama. I thought her organically sardonic take struck exactly the right tone, so I feel especially bad for her that the marketing didn't do it justice.
In fairness, I don't know that it would have helped all that much. I don't know how ready audiences are for Tina like this, and NO movies taking this side-eye approach to war are big sellers. Most recently, Sandra Bullock's Our Brand Is Crisis only took in $7 million in 17 weeks, vs. $7.4 million as WTF's opening!!!
Wag the Dog is probably the benchmark for this sort of thing -- with some huge, obvious differences -- but it only took in $43 million domestic over its 9 week run, and WTF may well outdo it.
The real issue here is that Zootopia took an awful lot of air out of the room, Deadpool was still strong in week 3, and while there wasn't much love for London Has Fallen, there was plenty of money for it: $21 million was good for second place, albeit $50 million behind Zootopia!
On the whole, the weekend was up a whopping 43% over last year!!! There just wasn't much left over by the time you got to WTF at #4.
The middling reviews didn't help, but I honestly can't help but think that properly setting expectations would have helped.
I finally got to see Whiskey tango Foxtrot on pay per view at home with the wife, and we thought ti was a terrific film. It is NOT a comedy, though there re many funny bits in it, some of which wifey and I are still quoting back and forth to each other a week later, so you know, the funny parts work. But it isn't really a comedy. And it was a dirty shame that the marketing for it sold it as that. It has a number of touching and thought-provoking moments in it along with the unconventional "meet cute" and character development arcs.
I'm reminded of another SNL alum, Bill Murray, for two reasons. One, the marketing for his under-rated "The Razor's Edge" put him in the same trick bag as Tina's movie, and also, his recent indie, "Rock the Casbah", would make a fun double-feature with Fey's film.