Jojo Rabbit (2019) Review

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Roman Griffin Davis portrays the title character, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, a Hitler Youth member who finds out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. He must then question his beliefs, while dealing with the intervention of his imaginary friend, a fanciful version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it like, yet again, Film Twitter did. But they love every current movie release that doesn’t totally suck. When will I learn to ignore the hype from obsessive young film fans?? I do love satire & dark comedy and, though this is obviously a controversial topic, it’s not like it hasn’t been done in this way before. Has no one watched any movies from before the year 2000? I do think Taika Waititi is pretty damn funny, especially on Twitter, and seems like a lot of fun to hang out with. But chill, people. He’s funny. He’s made some decent movies. Jojo Rabbit is a pretty good film. Again, though, let’s not overreact. There are better films (and worse ones, of course).

This is obviously a divisive film (although I’ve only really seen either love for it or people complaining about people hating it despite me seeing no negative tweets or posts about it??). A film like this is obviously always going to be an uncomfortable watch. “Funny Hitler” is a difficult thing to pull off. I’m not completely sure if Waititi fully managed to make it work but, overall, the movie succeeds in giving us some funny moments and some truly heartbreaking ones. I thought it maybe kept things a little too light for such a heavy topic but, to be fair, I think it will have been hard to get the perfect balance between the humor & the horror. Not being a lover of drama movies, the lighter tone worked for me anyway but it may not suit everyone.

Roman Griffin Davis is good as the title character & I knew Thomasin McKenzie would make it big after seeing her in Leave No Trace. I also loved the small part of the friend, played by Archie Yates (he’s adorable). They all did well portraying the innocence of young kids caught up in a horrific time. And Scarlett Johansson was great. I’m still not sure how I feel about her as an actress as she kind of rubs me up the wrong way but there’s no denying that she’s been brilliant in some of her roles. Her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for this movie is deserved. Her character and, of course, the kids are what make this movie and give it some heart. Without them, it would have been too “silly” and lacking in emotion. Overall, I don’t think Jojo Rabbit is a perfect film but it did well with subject matter that could turn into a truly disastrous film if not handled well. And, as I absolutely adore the Charlie Chaplin movies I’ve seen, I’m now kicking myself for not yet seeing The Great Dictator to be able to compare these two films. If I wasn’t taking a blog break, I’d do a post on them both. Maybe next year…

My Rating: 7/10

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Review

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Starring:
Anna Kendrick
Rebel Wilson
Brittany Snow
Hailee Steinfeld
Skylar Astin
Adam DeVine
Hana Mae Lee
Alexis Knapp
Ester Dean
Chrissie Fit
Anna Camp
John Michael Higgins
Elizabeth Banks

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

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My Opinion:

Movies like this aren’t really my type of thing, although I did think the first Pitch Perfect wasn’t too bad (review HERE – I gave it 7/10). I haven’t really liked many silly, cheesy comedies since the Eighties and find the ones aimed at teens/twentysomethings especially obnoxious these days. Plus I absolutely HATE things like Glee! I’m a big music fan & having to hear really good songs get mutilated & turned to shit always annoys me. Oh – they’ve done a song by A Tribe Called Quest in Pitch Perfect 2? Okay – I guess that makes Pitch Perfect really cool! (No, it doesn’t. I’m being a smart ass. Maybe not obvious in text). 😉

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I’m doing it again! I’m making it sound like I hated a movie when I didn’t! Pitch Perfect 2 is okay. If you liked the first one, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll like the second one. I mean, it’s the exact same film again (but with a weaker overall story). We have all the same characters again (with the addition of Hailee Steinfeld, who really added nothing to the movie & was only there to make sense of the final “twist” of sorts). Rebel Wilson is as Rebel Wilsony as always (she’s just as “love her or hate her” as Melissa McCarthy, although I’d have to say I maybe prefer her slightly to McCarthy but I sure as shit don’t love either of them). I was very happy that the crazy, quiet girl was in this again (Lilly) as she was my favorite thing from the first film. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get as many funny lines as in the first one and there’s no big “puke angel” moment (which I actually found hilarious although I did appreciate the lack of puke in Part 2).

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I think the most unfortunate thing about this film is that they seemed to not know what to do with Anna Kendrick’s character. She was by far the main star of the first movie so they tried to give her a “main character” storyline in this one but it felt really fake & forced. It just didn’t work – her character’s story (although cliché & predictable) was far more interesting in the first one. I found I “cared” about the characters much less in the sequel. These movies feel a lot like the 21 & 22 Jump Street movies to me. The first movie is the superior film with the much better story while the second one ramps up the humor and is actually more funny but is the weaker film as it just does the same thing again but not quite as well. I do like the Pitch Perfects a little more than the Jump Streets, though. It could be because I’m a girl who does still enjoy a girly popcorn movie when I’m in the right mood but I think, as the Pitch Perfects are more “female aimed”, they get a little less credit for being funny. Women can’t be funny, right?! Bullshit! Yes we can and things like Bridesmaids have proven that we can be just as disgustingly vulgar as men (although I’m not a fan of that film in the same way I’m not a fan of shit like The Hangover – I see the “girl” movie as being the superior one between those two, though). I did get a few chuckles out of both Pitch Perfects, which is rare for me. I especially like the un-PC jokes they’re able to get away with & loved the way Elizabeth Bank’s character laughed at the thought of Americans winning an international competition since everyone “hates us” (sorry – being an American living outside America I can confirm how true this is!).

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Speaking of Elizabeth Banks, I’m a fan of hers although I know she’d make some people’s Annoying Actresses lists. I’m not sure why some people don’t like her as I find her funny in her comedy roles but also think she does a decent job in other sorts of roles (she’s very good in the Hunger Games films). Anyway, I’m glad she’s had success directing this film & think she’s done a fine job here. The film does what it needs to do. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but it’ll certainly keep fans of the first film happy. Good job, Elizabeth Banks, and hooray for female directors!

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Summary:

Pitch Perfect 2 is really just Pitch Perfect 1 with less puking. What sequel tops the original, though? (Don’t answer that – I know some have). The story is weaker but the jokes are slightly more funny. If you loved the first one, you’ll love the second one but I think you’d have to watch the first one before seeing this to be able to buy into the characters as they’re far more developed in the first film. I wouldn’t say that you’d have to rush out to the cinema to see this but that’s probably just me as everyone clearly DID rush out to see this as it apparently beat the far superior Mad Max: Fury Road at the box office in America. Seriously?! This is why other countries hate us! Lol. Anyway, I did like this just fine although I’d have been just as happy watching it at home in my Snoopy pajamas. I know I sounded negative but I’m probably just trying to make excuses for my liking these movies okay as they’re not normally my type of thing. When did I become such a snob? They’re fun movies even if the cheesy singing does get in the way a bit.

My Rating: 6/10

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For all the young people who watch Pitch Perfect 2:

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014) Review

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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014)

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring:
Ben Stiller
Robin Williams
Owen Wilson
Steve Coogan
Dan Stevens
Ben Kingsley
Rebel Wilson

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The things in a museum come to life every night. For the third time. But in London this time!

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My Opinion:

Well, I had nothing ready to post for today so here’s a quickie! I saw this just after Christmas but never got around to reviewing it. What can I say? I actually quite like these Night At The Museum movies. As far as “family” movies go, anyway, I think they’re far more enjoyable than some of the other terrible “family” films these days that maybe only one member of the family actually enjoys. I still say they don’t make good non-animated movies for the whole family like they used to (such as Big. I miss things like Big!) but the Night At The Museum movies are a step in the right direction.

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Secret Of The Tomb is, of course, not as good as the first film but is at least better than the second one. I thought the second film was the weakest of the trilogy & went overboard on making so many exhibits come to life that the movie ended up a bit of a mess. It also forgot to focus on the main characters that we liked so much from the first movie so, in Secret Of The Tomb, they don’t make the same mistake again & they give us lots of time with our main favorites while adding only a few interesting new ones.

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I’m really not a fan of Ben Stiller at ALL but I don’t mind him in this series. There’s a “Neanderthal” version of him in this one which I found pretty stupid but I’m sure he was a hit with the kids who saw this. Owen Wilson & Steve Coogan once again make a fun duo and that damn monkey is just as lovable/hateful as always. Rebel Wilson does a great job playing “Rebel Wilson as a security guard” (she’s a love her or hate her – I’m pretty sure I don’t love her) and Dan Stevens from that movie The Guest that everyone goes on about plays the biggest new addition, Sir Lancelot. We even get to briefly see Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs & Mickey Rooney once again – love those guys! It was bittersweet seeing Rooney again but it just plain heartbreaking seeing Robin Williams, whose character I’ve always felt is the best thing about the Night At The Museum films. It was hard to not get teary-eyed over his final line in the film. SPOILER WARNING – this was the line:
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His final line, spoken to Ben Stiller, is: “Smile, my boy. It’s sunrise.” Which, if you’ve seen the movies, you know that means day has come & the exhibits will no longer be “alive” so he goes back to being a wax figure after speaking this line. So perfect but so sad.

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Summary:

There’s not much else I can say about Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb other than that it’s an enjoyable film for the whole family. Some of the humor is a little silly but that’s to be expected from a family film – I still had plenty of fun watching it as an adult. Possibly the best thing about these movies, however, is that I think they’ve made plenty of kids interested in visiting museums & learning more about history. What did I do about a week after seeing this? I of course ended up making a trip into London to visit The British Museum where we were told we weren’t the first ones to ask if they actually had the big nine-headed snake thing from the movie (they don’t). However, they DO have the cute little dude in my below photo (Garuda). 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Here’s a good link to check out if you plan on watching this movie then taking your kids to The British Museum: A Night At The Museum – Fact Vs Fiction

Pitch Perfect (2012) Review

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Pitch Perfect (2012)

Directed by Jason Moore

Starring:
Anna Kendrick
Skylar Astin
Rebel Wilson
Anna Camp
Brittany Snow
Adam DeVine
Ben Platt
John Michael Higgins
Elizabeth Banks

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Pitch Perfect follows a women’s college a cappella group, The Barden Bellas, as they compete against another a cappella group from their college to win Nationals.

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My Opinion:

Let’s get another review done! I need to start this review by saying this: I’m old. I grew up on John Hughes teen movies & NOTHING has ever or will ever come close to those in my old person opinion. I do still like watching movies aimed at teenagers & twentysomethings – I’m just always on the lookout for another Breakfast Club, though, and that has yet to happen. There have been some movies that I’ve enjoyed and are a bit of fun but won’t exactly become all-time favorites of mine. Pitch Perfect is one of these.

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The Good:

– Anna Kendrick: She’s a decent character I know I would have liked if I was still that sort of age. I always like a kind of “tough girl” (although, please! She’s not fully believable as one. Come ON – she’s SO not a “tough girl”! They obviously went “Let’s stick a tattoo on her & make her angry at the world!” Please). But a strong female lead is always a good thing & I’d happily have a teen daughter look up to this character instead of the many horrible female role models around these days.

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– The Crazy Quiet Girl: There’s a girl in The Barden Bellas (Lilly) who’s this tiny little thing who goes around mumbling and no one can understand her. When you DO catch what she says, it’s something completely insane like “I set fires to feel joy”. I loved this character! Her lines actually made me LOL and I am so NOT a LOLer. And when I recently reviewed Sound Of My Voice, I said there was no good puking scene in the history of cinema besides in Stand By Me (because puking is disgusting). Well, I forgot about Pitch Perfect. I don’t necessarily like the puking scenes in this but the thing Lilly does (I don’t want to spoil it) is disgustingly hilarious! I LOLed at that too. She really needed a bigger role in this & more lines because she was the highlight of the film for me.

– The Story & Humor: It’s not exactly the most original plot but it was fun & I do love a movie that ends with a competition of some sort. It’s also a fairly funny film overall. I think I have a weird sense of humor because I like very few comedy films these days so the fact that Pitch Perfect actually made me laugh a couple of times is pretty amazing. Heck, I also didn’t mind the predictable romance. I mean, I can SO relate to two people bonding over great movies! 🙂

– The Breakfast Club Reference: It’s funny how so many teen movies now seem to try to be like the great 80’s teen movies. I assume this is because the filmmakers are often my sort of age & grew up on Hughes as well. It’s good that some films at least TRY to live up to that.

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The Not-So-Good:

– The Breakfast Club Reference: Can’t current teen films just try to be good on their own without having to rely on mentioning the genius that is John Hughes? Easy A did this as well. However, it does fit better into the story in Pitch Perfect – it felt very forced in Easy A (I didn’t really like that movie).

– The Music: Okay okay. Sorry. I know that’s the whole point of this movie. But the reason I didn’t rush out to see this is because I hate things like Glee. Glee is awful. I tried to watch Glee for a while & just got annoyed whenever they took a good song & made it all cheesy & crap. Pitch Perfect is quite similar to Glee in some of the “slightly naughty” humor and, obviously, in the cheesy singing. Luckily, it works better than Glee. The story is better & funnier and the songs aren’t TOO terribly annoying. But stay the hell away from Simple Minds, people! LEAVE THE BREAKFAST CLUB SONG ALONE!!!! The best song in this is actually the original one.

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– Rebel Wilson: I dunno. I have yet to like her in anything I’ve seen her in. She does have some funny lines, though, and the fact that she calls herself Fat Amy “so twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back” was pretty damn funny.

– The Fact That I Can’t Remember Much Else Besides What I’ve Listed: I watched this several months ago & don’t remember it that well anymore. But I can recite so many lines from my favorite John Hughes teen movies even though I haven’t watched most of them in years.

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There’s a shower scene in this, btw

Summary:

Pitch Perfect is a fun movie with a predictable plot but some great unexpected humor thrown in which does make it stand out when compared to other current movies aimed at teens & early twentysomethings. Like many other movies for this age group, it wants to be a John Hughes film but of course can’t manage that. However, it does stay on the right side of the line in trying to achieve this. And I LOLed a few times. I don’t LOL much.

My Rating: 7/10

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