Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - The Edge of Seventeen - Bad Moms
We're getting into the thick of the fall movie season, which means there's a lot of options of movies to check out! More than I even have time to see. I think I'm going to be skipping Bad Santa 2 (haven't seen the first one), Rules Don't Apply (don't know what this is), and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (the trailer looks stupid).
But what I have to talk about for now covers all the demographics! From teenage girls to, um, 30-year-old moms to, well, 1920s wizards... Ok, I can't really relate to any of this, but I will try!
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
What is this about? This is a prequel to the Harry Potter films, following a 1920s wizard named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who wrote the wizard textbook "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." He started writing that after he realized his original book on experimental jazz fusion, "Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them", probably wasn't going to sell as well in the wizard community.
Was there anything good about it? Sure, it's good. It has a lot of the fun wizardry and whimsy that everybody likes from the Harry Potter universe. I'm not sure if you were surprised to see Colin Farrell and Jon Voight in a Harry Potter movie, but I was!
I think the best part of the entire movie, though, was Dan Fogler's character, Jacob Kowalksi. Kowalski was the muggle (which means he can't do magic; person-living-under-a-rock who didn't know that), and he had the best character arc by far of anyone in this. He had an actual beginning, middle, and end to his story. I felt genuinely happy for him at times, and he also has the only emotional moment in the entire film (and it's a very good moment).
Aside from that, it's mostly just a fun movie. I don't know how much more you can ask for from movie escapism than a bunch of wizards trashing New York City. Well, I guess you could also watch Dr. Strange for that, too...
Certainly there was something crappy too, right? I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, but I really don't like Eddie Redmayne. I don't like his dumb acting face, I don't like his forced mannerisms, and I don't like his try-too-hard attitude. He had one really good scene in the movie (the one with the rhino), and aside from that, he was Mr. Overrated once again. I'd love to see him do a role where he just plays a normal person. That might actually win me over with him. For now, everything he does seems like an obviously calculated attempt to win an Oscar. Just chill out for once, dude.
Other than that, I had two very small gripes. 1) There were a couple of not-super-entertaining scenes, and 2) It seems like a lot of spells are just excuses for wizards to not have to pick up really small objects, probably because they're lazy.
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
What is this about? A slice of life movie about smarmy 17-year-old Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), whose life starts to fall apart when her best friend (played by Haley Lu Richardson [so many Haileys]) begins to date her older brother, and become popular. I know that sounds like the plot from an awful movie via the early 2000s; but this is actually a well-written, well-made movie (produced by James L. Brooks, if that does anything for you).
Was there anything good about it? I love coming of age movies, and this is one of the better ones in the last few years. It's entertaining, it moves fast, and they do a good enough job with the characters that you actually care about what happens to them.
The casting on this movie was probably as legit as it gets. Hailee Steinfeld knocks it out of the park. It's hard to complain that they actually cast a genuine teenager to play a teenager, AND she did an amazing job acting in it. Getting a 19-year-old to play a 17-year-old is about as close to realism as you'll get in a movie of this genre. In addition to that, Woody Harrelson is hilarious as her teacher, Kyra Sedgwick plays a pretty good frantic mom, and the dude who played her brother was realistic as a reserved-but-cocky older brother type. Oh, and the guy who plays Nadine's "love interest" (Hayden Szeto) kills it as the awkward dude who struggles to formulate working sentences while talking to girls. SURPRISINGLY RELATABLE CHARACTERS ALL AROUND.
Certainly there was something crappy too, right? I mean, I guess if you boil it down, the conflict in the movie is vastly unimportant. However, it *would* be the most important thing in the life of a self-centered teenage girl, so if you look at the movie in that light, it's a story that makes sense. This is a very white privilege, first-world-problems kind of movie; but to its credit, I think that's entirely what it was going for. It exists solely in the bubble of a suburban American white girl, and the problems a suburban American white girl would have. That's a good thing and a bad thing, I guess. But it's not like this movie was trying to extend its philosophical reach beyond the characters.
My wife said as we were driving home, "Nadine was just kind of a bad person." To which I relied, "Aren't *all* seventeen year olds kind of bad people?".
What is this about? Mila Kunis is an over-worked (but part time?) 32-year-old mom of two, who just snaps one day and decides not to care anymore, in a movie I regrettably decided to rent while having a few drinks last weekend.
Was there anything good about it? I don't know, maybe I laughed eight times? Mostly at Kathryn Hahn. She's funny as usual.
Certainly there was something crappy too, right? Ugggghhhh. I almost feel overwhelmed thinking about describing all of the stupid little things about Bad Moms. All of the unrealistic decisions with no consequences... All of the failed physical comedy... All of the one-note characterizations... This is a movie that was bound to be successful with its broad, low-hanging-fruit comedy. I don't blame the American people for wanting to go see this movie. It fits perfectly in line with what I would expect. It's dumb, it's loud, it has swears. It's the same THIS vs THIS formula that Hollywood has been milking out of the comedy genre for a while now. Whatever. It's definitely not the worst comedy I've ever seen, but I could have lived my entire life never knowing of its existence and been just as good.