Directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine & Octavio E. Rodriguez (co-director)
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Olivia Colman
Music by Henry Jackman
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device. Ron’s malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship.
Was surprised to see this pop up on Disney Plus so soon after it was in cinemas but was very happy to be able to see it since there’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character (well, Grogu is giving him a run for his money). So this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.
I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. It’s one of those where I don’t know where to rank it on my year end list I’ll post next week. If I’m honest, I enjoyed it more than Encanto (which I reviewed HERE yesterday) but Encanto is certainly the better film. It doesn’t have a robot in it, though! Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. It was the same with Big Hero 6, although that’s obviously a much stronger film with better characters than this one. But Baymax was what made it so fantastic.
I also really liked the message in this film. As with most animated kids’ films, there’s of course a message (or two) but it’s done subtly & works within the movie. Mainly it’s about friendship but they touch on the evils of social media a bit too. I realise I’m typing this post on a blog, which will auto-tweet to Twitter, but I’m old so I remember the days before all this & I think most of us were much happier then. The movie isn’t at all preachy about any of this, though, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I also thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending.
Oh – Ron also sang a funny song with the grandma which the daughter & I went around singing for the next week whereas I can’t currently remember any songs from Encanto even though we only just watched it a couple of nights ago. It was really cute & I wish Encanto had a similar moment as I really do want to like that one a bit more. Maybe it will grow on me but I know that Ron is already one of the better characters from all the movies I’ve seen in 2021.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.
Oh man. When did this come out? A few weeks ago? I already barely remember it so am not sure what to say. The main thing to say is this: This movie is for Pokémonfans and Pokémon fans ONLY. The movie will gain no new fans. It’s not a very good film. If you absolutely lovePokémon, you’ll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing so many of the characters. If you know nothing whatsoever about Pokémon, watching this will be a complete waste of your time.
Let’s see… What do I know about Pokémon?! Not much. I’m old so it’s not from my era. However, I have a young kid who was the right sort of age when Pokémon Go became a thing so she was a fan for a brief amount of time. Okay, I admit that I got intoit a bit too. Okay, okay… I admit that I still have the app, although it doesn’t get opened all that often. Annnnnd…. okay, maaaaaaaybe I was the one who kind of pushed the kid into going to this film with me as she has sadly outgrown stuff like this. What can I say? I like Ryan Reynoldsbut I love Pikachu. Pikachu is adorable. Screw all those other weird-ass looking Pokémon! Pikachu is a great character. This is why there’s an entire damn annual festival dedicated to Pikachuin Japan. Not gonna lie – that looks adorably fun.
Um. This movie. Yeah. It’s a weird one. It’s sort of aimed at the original now twenty-something (or would they be 30?!) fans but is also very much a “kiddie” film. It’s too silly to be fully embraced by those who aren’t hardcore fans. I think my daughter was mostly bored. I could tell she was thinking “I’m too old for this shit!”.
I have almost no knowledge of Pokémon beyond playing the app sometimes so I know this movie isn’t aimed at casual or non-fans anyway. Pikachu talking is strange. The boy, Justice Smith, is perfectly fine but the love interest, Kathryn Newton, is annoying. Why am I still talking about this movie?! There’s nothing really wrong with it and I didn’t hate it (I enjoyed it more than my kid!). It was just a bit boring. Pikachu is still adorable, though. I guess it’s just a shame that the film couldn’t have been aimed at somehow attracting new fans while still keeping the original fans happy, but I’m sure that’s a hard balance to achieve.
I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.
Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!
My Rating: 4/5
Every Day by David Levithan
This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.
Here are two quickie reviews of two movie adaptations of two books that I read recently. Since I read the books, I figured I better finally watch the films. I never really enjoy a movie much after reading the book and, in the case of one of these, I pretty much hated the book so I wasn’t hoping for much from the movie. Here we go!
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.
I did a very short review of the Paper Towns book HERE (I rated it 2.5/5). Full of hateful characters, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. The main boy (played by Nat Wolff in the movie) was okay but a bit bland. The girl he loves (Margo, played by Cara Delevingne) & his best friend (who is a sexist little shit & calls all girls “honey bunnies”) are annoying as hell. Seriously, Margo isn’t interesting & mysterious – she’s a bitch. But I liked the story, which involves Margo’s friends trying to track her down through a series of bizarre clues she’s left behind.
Once I’ve read a book, I always try to watch the movie adaptation but it’s never that exciting to me since I already know the story & get a bit bored. This one is a pretty straightforward & faithful adaptation. If you like the book, you should like the movie. I think this is a rare occasion where the film is better & I’d say it’s mainly down to them making Margo seem a little more human & less hateful. I also thought Nat Wolff did a good job as Quentin & made the character less dull than in the book. If you’re interested in the story, I’d actually recommend watching the movie & skipping the book as the book doesn’t really flesh out the characters any more than the film does and the movie doesn’t leave out anything important (from what I can remember).
Even though I’m WAY past “Young Adult” age, I still really enjoy reading/watching YA stuff as I can still relate to most of it. Trust me – when you get old like me, it’s very likely that it’ll still feel like you only just finished high school yesterday. It’s a traumatic time in life & I remember more from that time than I do from when I was a twentysomething. However, Paper Towns was one I couldn’t relate to at all. Maybe I’m finally out of touch? Or maybe John Green just doesn’t quite capture what teens are really like? The characters didn’t feel real to me, unlike the ones in things like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic film & book!). But that one was set in my own era of high school with an awesome soundtrack while Paper Towns is set now & the characters refer to things from their own youth that mean nothing to me (like singing what I assume is the Pokémon TV show theme tune). No, I think the characters are weak and are the real reason I can’t connect with Paper Towns. At least the movie improves on the book slightly so I can’t give it a low rating as it’s a good adaptation and I think plenty of teens/twentysomethings probably really like it. But I’d recommend other YA stuff to people my own age before I’d recommend this one.
My Rating: 6/10
The Book Thief (2013)
Directed by Brian Percival
Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Heike Makatsch, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home.
I reviewed The Book Thief novel HERE (along with all 14 books I read last year – I ranked this one my 8th favorite out of 14 & rated it 3.5/5). Unlike Paper Towns, this book had strong characters & I really cared what would happen to them. The book was actually let down slightly by its unnecessary gimmick (it’s narrated by Death aka The Grim Reaper) and did feel overlong. I really liked the book but didn’t love it like I was hoping, despite loving the characters. Still, I’m glad it got the characters right as that’s really important to me.
In this case, I’d definitely recommend reading the book before watching the film. It’s a good adaptation with fine performances but they’ve had to leave things out (as to be expected with a long book). The characters are just so richly developed in the book, which rarely gets captured as well in a film. They did come close, however – both Sophie Nélisse (Liesel – the main character) & Geoffrey Rush (Hans, her foster father) are fantastic & exactly as I pictured. Emily Watson (Rosa, her foster mother) & Nico Liersch (Rudy, her best friend) are also very good but have far less time spent on them than in the book. Rosa is a complex character so it will have been hard to capture this but I was most upset with how little we got to know Rudy in the film as I absolutely loved him & his beautiful friendship with Liesel in the book. Ben Schnetzer (as Max, the Jewish refugee they’re hiding) was also very good & as I had pictured but, again, he sadly doesn’t get enough time devoted to him in the film.
Luckily, the movie leaves out quite a lot of the Grim Reaper’s narrative. It’s done well & not distracting, whereas it kind of threw me out of the story every time they came back to it in the book. But don’t let that criticism talk you out of reading the book as I’d definitely recommend it if the story interests you. I’m not sure how to rate this movie… I thought it was quite good but, knowing the novel is better, I couldn’t help but be just a little let down despite great performances & some perfect casting. If you’re someone who really doesn’t like to read, then by all means watch the movie instead & probably add an extra point to my below rating. It’s a good film & they’ve done the best they possibly could with a somewhat difficult novel to adapt but, ultimately, the film doesn’t deliver the same emotional punch as you don’t get to know some of the characters as well as you do in the book.
My Rating: 6.5/10
**Okay, I admit to knowing the Pokémon song very well now since my kid has become addicted to the show….
And here are some of the best Pokémon we’ve caught (I love annoying people with this!) 😉