A Simple Favor, American Animals & Slaughterhouse Rulez Movie Reviews

I’m determined to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Here are three quick reviews I never got around to and I have three more quickies ready for tomorrow (Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, and The Grinch. Merry Christmas! I know you desperately need to know my stupid opinion on movies…

A Simple Favor (2018)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Simple Favor follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.

My Opinion:

I went to this one night with no expectations as I had a couple of hours to spare. I enjoyed the shit out of this! It’s a fun film. A “chick flick” with dark humor and a fucking filthy mouth from Blake Lively, who gives her husband’s Deadpool character a run for his money. To be fair, I wouldn’t call this a chick flick but any movie with two female leads tends to be labelled with that annoying title. As a girl who isn’t very girly, I appreciate a movie with female leads that isn’t all soppy romantic bullshit or Bridget Fucking Jones or Mamma Barf-O-Mia (no offense to anyone who likes those). 😉 But this is more my type of chick flick.

Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively are far from favorite actresses of mine but they couldn’t have been more perfect for these roles: Kendrick as a nerdy prude and Lively as a beautiful, sophisticated bitch. They both seemed to be having a lot of fun and were pretty damn hilarious. I feel that actresses are rarely given any credit for being funny. Sorry – here’s a quick rant that I’ve had before: Speaking of the director, Paul Feig, he also did Bridesmaids. I don’t like Bridesmaids – it’s not my type of humor. But I can’t deny that there are funny moments and the women in it were very good for that type of film. The Hangover has very similar humor but an all-male cast and a much higher rating on IMDb. Neither are my thing but Bridesmaids is the far superior “dumb comedy”. There seems to be a real backlash anytime women do comedy. It’s odd.

Rant over! Back to this movie. This film falls into several categories and I kind of loved that it’s hard to define. Dark comedy, crime, mystery, thriller… The story has twists and it keeps you guessing and it’s kind of stupid but it’s meant to be silly. It was a great “chill out” movie – you’re not meant to take the mystery too seriously. I don’t know if this will make some turn their noses up but it reminded me of the pulpy mystery thrillers that are guilty reading pleasures of mine sometimes (but with added black humor, making things much more fun). Plus, Lively’s hubby was a hottie so that was enjoyable too.

I won’t say much more as this is a movie where you’re better off not knowing too much about the plot beforehand. If you watch it with an open mind & don’t take the story too seriously you should have a good time.

My Rating: 7.5/10

American Animals (2018)

Directed by Bart Layton

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Animals is based on the true story of a library heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.

My Opinion:

Okay – American Animals is a far more worthy film than A Simple Favor. However, it almost bored me to tears. Considering that the true story involving a bizarre library heist is really damn interesting, they somehow managed to make this film a bit of a snoozefest. Well, okay – the heist itself was exciting but it takes ages to get to that small part of the film. I think the biggest problem may be that it’s part-documentary, which didn’t really work. So it went back & forth between the actors acting it out & the real-life guys talking about it. This could’ve worked but it just didn’t. It gave the film a weird flow plus the main actor looking nothing whatsoever like the real guy was somewhat distracting.

Huh. I really have nothing more to say about this. It was disappointing. It actually would’ve made for a much better full-out documentary instead. At least they tried something a little different style-wise, I guess. Oh! I did like that they looked like the Beastie Boys in the Sabotage video when they put on their cheesy 70’s-looking disguises for the heist. Funny.

My Rating: 6/10

Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)

Directed by Crispian Mills

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Margot Robbie

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An illustrious British boarding school becomes a bloody battleground when a mysterious sinkhole appears at a nearby fracking site unleashing unspeakable horror.

My Opinion:

Wow. This was pretty dreadful. I was excited for this one before it came out as I think a lot of us saw “horror comedy” and the names Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and thought we’d have another Shaun Of The Dead on our hands. Ha! Not even close.

The idea was a good one: fracking causing creatures to come to the surface & attack a snobby boarding school. Plus, I wanted to see this as it was partly filmed at Chislehurst Caves in Kent. I’ve been there. I think I’ve been to most the tourist caves in England plus the catacombs in Paris. I have a weird fascination with creepy, underground places. Anyway – Chislehurst Caves is a cool place & I recommend checking it out if you’re a weirdo like me. Maybe I’ll help Kent tourism! Here’s their website: Chislehurt Caves. Here’s an image from the website:

Oh. Was I meant to be talking about Slaughterhouse Rulez? I honestly can’t be arsed. It was a wasted cinema trip but just about good enough to check out on Netflix if you want to zone out to something stupid. The main characters are fairly decent so it’s good that you want them to survive and the remaining over-the-top rich asshole students to die. Pegg & Frost are odd and there was really no point of having them in the film at all. Oh, and Margot Robbie is nothing more than a cameo on a screen so don’t get all excited thinking she’s in this. And I currently can’t even remember what the creatures looked like so that’s not saying much.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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The Edge Of Seventeen (2016) Review

The Edge Of Seventeen (2016)

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

My Opinion:

Yes! Another funny, well-written, smart “teen movie”. I reviewed The DUFF last week, which I really enjoyed despite my teen years being far far behind me, and commented that I hoped more teen movies would go in that direction as I do still enjoy a good one. Trust me – no matter how old you are you never forget high school. It’s a traumatic time! I think I’ll forever feel like it was only yesterday that I finally graduated & escaped that f*^king place.

So, yeah – I wasn’t exactly the Homecoming Queen and I could totally relate to Hailee Steinfeld’s self-loathing, angst-filled, neurotic nutjob in The Edge Of Seventeen. Hubby was like “I think she may be even more messed up than you!”. Hahaha! Nice. Funny. Seriously, though – I’d have been friends with this character as a teen. Okay, I lie – I WAS this character (but not as crazy – Holy shit, Steinfeld’s character is HIGH MAINTENANCE!).

For those who may get annoyed by phoney teen angst movies, don’t automatically avoid this one. This is teen angst done right. It has the right balance of humor & of more serious issues. Think a cross between The DUFF (pure comedy) and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic but a little too serious). The characters come across as genuine and I think it will speak to an audience of all ages from 15 or so & up. I do think certain teen films nowadays are written by people my age (like Perks), which is cool as it means people my age end up liking them but I’m not sure if they all work for actual modern teens. I think The Edge Of Seventeen avoids this problem. I can see a lot of friends my age liking this and, judging by the laughs & reactions of the much younger crowd in my cinema who made me feel very old, the younger generation seemed to be enjoying it a lot as well. I can find very little information on this film’s writer & director, Kelly Fremon Craig, but I’d hazard a guess that she’s written a bit of herself into these characters? I could be wrong but writing from experience often seems to make the most believable characters & she’s done an excellent job here. I’ll happily watch more of her work! Hopefully the positive buzz from this film is getting her noticed.

Just a quick FYI: the language & situations make this one not suitable for pre & early teens. It’s rated 15 in the UK and I think it’s rated R in the US?? Typical uptight America – R is too strict for this & means that 15 & 16 year-olds are missing out on a good movie. Maybe they should’ve added some guns & violence as opposed to swearing & sex talk, huh? Then it would be rated G in America! I’ve often thought the American rating system needs a rating in the middle, like a UK 15, which I think is the right sort of rating for this one. Sorry for the mini-rant… 😉 Back to the movie!

Besides Hailee Steinfeld’s darkly humorous unhappy teen, we have her parents and a very rocky relationship with her mother, her best friend who suddenly starts dating her attractive & popular brother who gets on her nerves, her crush, her teacher, and a boy who has a crush on her. They’re all great but the two stand-outs are Hayden Szeto as the adorably awkward boy with a crush on her and Woody Harrelson as the doesn’t-give-a-fuck teacher she confides in (probably due to seeing a bit of her own pessimistic attitude in him).

The chemistry between Steinfeld’s & Harrelson’s characters is great and I loved their complexity. There’s no sappy “teacher gives student meaningful life lesson” bullshit going on here. In fact, they speak quite horribly to each other & it’s hilarious. You can tell that, despite clearly thinking she’s a pain in the ass, Harrelson’s character also has a huge soft spot for this fucked-up kid. Both of these characters are two of the absolute best I’ve seen in a film this year and are why this shouldn’t be dismissed due to being a “teen movie”. Oh, and Hayden Szeto’s character with a crush on Steinfeld is probably the most likable character in a film this year. He’s hilariously, awkwardly adorable. Who is this guy?? He’s been in hardly anything! Put him in more movies! I’d have totally loved having a boy like him have a crush on me in high school. Damn you, Steinfeld – he’s a sweetheart. Date him! It’s like Molly Ringwald not wanting Jon Cryer in Pretty In Pink! Man, teenage girls are idiots sometimes. Anyway – Hayden Szeto, Woody Harrelson, and Hailee Steinfeld are all amazing in this but probably won’t get recognition due to the film being part of the teen genre.

Summary:

I’ve rambled on about this movie long enough. I’ve realized now that my saying this is something in between The DUFF & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t quite accurate. The Edge Of Seventeen is more like The Way Way Back with a girl instead of a boy as the central character & Harrelson filling the Sam Rockwell role in this one (their characters are quite different personality-wise but equally fantastic). I feel that teen movies get dismissed, especially if a girl is the central character, but this movie deserves recognition. If you liked The Way Way Back (I loved that one), you should like this one as well no matter what age or sex you are. Movies like these give me hope that maybe some modern teenagers will turn out alright after all & I appreciate filmmakers who credit them with some intelligence & don’t dumb their movies down for them. I still remember being a teen & I like to think I wasn’t a total idiot. And anyone who says they didn’t have a hard time in high school is a liar. Teen angst is real, people! I’m happy to say that The Edge Of Seventeen handles the angst in a realistic, humorous, and at times heartbreaking fashion.

My Rating: 8/10

You know I gotta end this with the brilliant Stevie Nicks song from my own teen years, which is not in this movie whatsoever. Wait – I wasn’t a teen yet when this was released… I just added several years onto my age there! Oops. Whatever. I love this song. 🙂

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) Review 

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Directed & Written by Richard Linklater

Starring: Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.

My Opinion:

I love Richard Linklater and Dazed And Confused is a favorite movie of mine. So, when I heard about this “spiritual sequel” to Dazed And Confused, I was SO excited! Screw all the superhero movies – this one was one of my most-anticipated films for the year. Does it live up to the hype (in my mind)?? Unfortunately, it’s no Dazed And Confused. It’s okay, though. It was an enjoyable afternoon watch (damn – I wanted that to sound more enthusiastic than it does…).

First off, I’ll say that this is a “Guy Movie” much more than Dazed And Confused was. And, hey – I honestly don’t have a problem with that. Stand By Me is a huge favorite of mine & the lack of female characters in that has never bothered me in the slightest – it’s a movie about young male friendships. Not every movie has to pass the Bechdel test to be good! But I suppose the boys in Stand By Me weren’t all “Pussy! PUSSY!!!! Want pussy. We want pussy. Tits. Pussy. Pussy!!!!!” for the entire duration of the movie. Okay – they didn’t say it exactly that way & not for the entire duration of this movie. But it’s not far off… But, hey, I was actually alive already in 1980 (when this is set), unlike a lot of younger bloggers. I think younger viewers may think these characters are exaggerated. Um, no. This is exactly what they were like. I think of the assholes I went to school with and it still amazes me that they found women who actually married them. Ugh. Anyway, don’t worry – not all the male characters are assholes. Linklater has given us a wide range of personalities just like in Dazed And Confused, so you’ll have your favorites & least favorites. The focus of this movie are these male baseball players so it’s fine that the female characters take a backseat. I just preferred Dazed And Confused feeling a bit more balanced in giving us more female characters (most of which were more than just “pussy” – we only get one girl like that in this one).


Look! It’s “the girl”!

Okay – that was my one main complaint that I had to get out of the way. I think it was also sort of a warning to younger bloggers. I honestly don’t think you’ll like this movie if you’re from a younger generation. Sorry – this movie wasn’t made for you anyway (which is fine – most are so it’s nice to have some films made for us old folks). 😉 You won’t have the same sense of nostalgia (thank you for once again giving us a great soundtrack, Mr. Linklater!) and you won’t be able to relate to these characters (or at least understand them since you knew so many guys like them).

My second complaint is that this didn’t feel as “natural” as Dazed And Confused. It felt a little too forced at times. I did appreciate how, through going to several different parties, Linklater shows us several different types of people in 1980 America. The jocks, the stoners, the punks, the disco fans, the drama majors, even the stereotypical country bumpkins. Which was fun! But, like I said, also a bit forced. I suppose it doesn’t help that Dazed And Confused exists so everyone is going to compare the two. Would I like this one more if that one didn’t exist? Yes, I think I most definitely would. The problem is that we’ve seen this movie before but done better.

Okay – I want to round this up by sounding more positive. Because I did like this. If Linklater makes another “spiritual sequel”, I’ll most definitely be watching it! This is an era I love and I’ll always have an affection for movies set in this time period (or, even better, actually made in this time period). To hear the music and see the clothing and the hairstyles and the record players and the cool album covers (actual albums! that you can hold in your hands!!) makes me smile. Oh how I miss that time! I’d go back there if I could (yes – even though the guys could be horribly sexist). At one point the hubby said “do you think younger people watching this will think it’s odd that all these characters are actually talking to each other?”. Yes, I sit here now typing this on my phone. I love my phone. I love technology. But I’d give this shit up in a heartbeat to go back to a simpler time and have proper conversations with people.

My favorite scene was probably when a few of the guys were sitting around (smoking weed, of course) and just chatting about music & The Twilight Zone. One dude was very proud of his big collection of Twilight Zone episodes that he’d videotaped (and labelled with all the episode titles!). I recognized the titles and, when they talked about one specific episode, I turned to hubby & said “Eye Of The Beholder“. In my defense, they chose one of the most well known episodes. But, yeah – I had a very similar Twilight Zone video collection & that character clearly would’ve been my boyfriend out of all the guys in this. And, luckily, he wasn’t totally sexist! Too bad he was a stoner… 😉

As a final note, the hubby & I kept noticing that these relatively unknown actors all seriously looked like existing actors. The hubby thinks that Linklater probably had existing people in mind then hired lookalikes. What do you all think? The main guy is SO Matt Dillon (also a bit like Jason London in Dazed And Confused). And the girl so eerily looks like Lea Thompson. There are a couple that have a total Matthew McConaughey vibe while the hubby swears that one guy is way too Jeremy Piven-like. Oh, and one guy really reminded me of Billy Crudup in Almost Famous (I didn’t realize until afterwards that he was the hot guy in the Teen Wolf TV show. Anyone watch that?? I gave up after season one). 

Anyway – time for me to shut up since I’m just rambling now. I enjoyed this but didn’t love it. Maybe it’ll grow on me. It did give me warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings, though, which is what I was hoping for. 

My Rating: 7.5/10


Look! It’s “the girl” again! 😉

I have to end this with a song as Richard Linklater so carefully chooses the music for his films and he once again has a great soundtrack. I know I should post Van Halen’s title tune but it’s not my favorite. I’m also mostly into rock but, if I’m honest, the below song is probably my favorite from the film. Here’s Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) by Parliament:

**Oh! I meant to add that there’s hardly any baseball in this movie about baseball players. Thank f*^k! But it’s inspired me to maybe do My Top Ten Baseball Scenes In Movies (from a hater of sports). 🙂