Battle of the Sexes

When is a sports movie not a sports movie? When it’s about so much more than the game. As is the case with Battle of the Sexes. Yeah, it’s about a tennis game, but even moreso it’s about feminism, and equality, and LGBTQ rights, and various other issues that are still as relevant today as they were in the 70’s.

The game in question was between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, played here by Emma Stone and Steve Carrell. Riggs decided that at 55 years old, he could beat any female tennis player in her prime because men were just so much better at the sport than women. Meanwhile, King was fighting her own battles for equality, having helped create a women’s tennis league to prove that the ladies can get just as many spectators in the seats and therefore deserved to be paid the same as the guys.

As enjoyable as this movie was, there were some parts of it that were just so frustrating. While I adore Carrell, his character was infuriating. I could not stand the attitudes he was brandishing, nor could I fathom how he’d get so much support behind him. Bill Pullman played a similarly chauvinistic character that I likewise couldn’t stand. Scenes with those two flaunting their idealogy were enraging.

Thankfully, the women were there to save the day and the movie. Billie Jean King is fascinating. On the one hand, I’m apalled that I didn’t know who she was before this movie. But on the other, learning about her has been such a joy (not just in the movie, but she’s also made some great promotional TV appearances). She is the type of role model I could certainly get behind, and I’m excited to one day show this movie to my hypothetical someday future daughter. Emma Stone absolutely captured her spirit, and dare I say that this was a much better role for her than La La Land?

All of that just added layers that raised the stakes of the game once we finally got there. This wasn’t just a sports movie where you’re rooting for the underdog because you’ve come to love them over the past two hours. You’re rooting for them because the fate of the world really does rest in their tennis rackets. And that makes for a truly special and emotional movie watching experience

Battle of the Sexes – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Lego Ninjago

The Lego Movie was one of the most unexpectedly brilliant comedies (kiddie or otherwise) of the past few years. Then came Lego Batman which tried (with minimal to moderate success) to build an entire movie around a few key jokes. Now we have Lego Ninjago which tries to apply the original Movie formula to their popular line of toys. Similarly mixed success.

Where Ninjago succeeds is primarily in the first half of the movie. For a little while, it seems to recapture the same magic that made the first movie so special. It was funny and clever (Meowthra!!) and bolstered by some great voice work (Justin Theroux and Dave Franco in particular). And then it just got kinda dull.

Part way through, it seemed to lose the fun of Lego and focus more on the Ninja. There are many saying that this is what the new Power Rangers movie should have been, and at the very least I'll agree that Ninjago was superior. But for me, once that focus shifted, it could have been any kid friendly martial arts franchise. It didn't maintain the humor is started with, and it lost my interest.

It's still no question that Lego Movie was the best by far. I'm torn about Batman vs Ninjago.

Lego Ninjago – \m/ \m/ \n

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

So I did very much enjoy the first Kingsman movie, but I always had this feeling that it was missing something I couldn't ever quite figure out. Therefore the idea of a bigger sequel actually sounded like a good idea to me. Maybe it would add whatever was missing before. The new cast members certainly looked like a step in the right direction. It worked for me, but the response on Stardust seems to have been rather mixed.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton, whom I still absolutely adore) is back in action with the other superspies, until a rejected recruit enables a super villain to take out nearly the entire organization. He and Merlin (Mark Strong) find their way to their US cowboy counterpart Statesman for help rebuilding and revenging.

It took me a little while to get into it. The first action sequence was so over the top unrealistic, I had a hard time buying in. It wasn't until I realized part way through the first act that realism was never promised, that I decided I was okay with the practically scifi level superspy abilities and just went with it. Once I made my peace with that, I really appreciated the rest of the action sequences. Sure, they mostly go against all laws of physics and nature, but they look pretty dang cool. This is one of those movies where it's okay to care more about looking cool than being scientifically accurate.

The big win for me though was in the new additions to the cast. Channing Tatum was born to be a Statesman, I only wish we saw more of him. Halle Berry fit in so much better as a Q type than she did at her questionable Bond girl role (which is to say I prefer to see a girl acting smart over pretty). The standout for me, however, was Julianne More. First off, points for a deluded lady villain. Not something seen often. I later found that others thought her performance divisive, but I loved it. Yes, over the top, but over the top is what this movie called for. She was essentially channeling Gene Hackman Lex Luthor, which I thought was fitting and expertly done. The other cast standout was Elton John's expanded cameo, which was a total scene stealer every time.

If you're looking for the prestige of Bond or grit of Bourne, this ain't the game for you. But if you want something a little crazier that's more of a spectacle, then I say it was a jolly good show.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Stronger

I’ve been waiting nearly a year and a half to write this blog post.  In hindsight, I prolly should have written the first part back then and then waited to finish it.  Anyways, the reason I’ve been waiting is that back in April and June of last year, while still in Boston, I got to work a couple of days as a background extra on this film!  I was holding off on blogging about the experience until it was released.

After responding to a couple of cattle calls for extras, I was on an email list for background film work.  I’d respond to things here and there, but few opportunities were workable for someone who worked full time 9-5, and I rarely ever got a response back.  Until the one time that I did.  A phone call told me when and where to be, and advised that I purchased some Boston Bruins gear to wear.

I arrived in my sweatshirt that was way too big for me and found myself at what appeared to be a store or restaurant space that was under construction.  Lots of people were piled in there.  Half of them thought they were there to work on Patriot’s Day, which was filming at the same time in the city.  Waited in a line to get a form, then waited in a line to get my costume approved (the hoodie was apparently good enough; those without Bruins stuff were mostly handed Blackhawks stuff), snacked from a buffet and then waited.  There would be a lot of waiting that day.  I musta read about half of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary by the time I left over twelve hours later.

Eventually, they walked us over to the TD Garden.  Some of us were handed props as we walked over to our seats.  I at one point was given a near beer to hold, but I don’t think I started with it.  This was so exciting.  I was on a real life movie set!  Yet somehow I was also on the same street where I had worked for three years at my first post college job.

At some point some dude who was in charge started placing us and giving us things to do.  Me and some other guy had to wait a few beats and then walk to our specified seats and then chill like we were waiting for the game.  A few takes of this were done, then we were rearranged and the camera moved, and we did it again.  Apparently Jake Gyllenhaal and other key people were in one of the boxes next to us.  Two guys in full out Blackhawks gear would start walking in across the way, yell something out, and have something yelled back to them from the box.  I was just freaking out that I was so close to Donnie Darko.  I also found it odd how much other activity was going on in the Garden, setting up for the game and such.  Kids were playing on the ice.  Did they really not need to rent out the whole place?

After a few rounds of background shots here, they moved a few of us into a hallway.  While awaiting instructions, an elevator opened and out wheeled Jake in a Bruins jersey and a wheelchair contraption that hid his legs.  I stopped breathing.  He moved into the box.  I would catch similar glimpses of him throughout the day, but never really got any closer.  Us extras were split into two groups and put on either side of the entrance to the box and directed to walk towards each other.  Once we’d pass the door, we were instructed to get in the back of the line and cross again when we reached the front.  We could almost hear the scene being shot inside the room we were walking past.

There was a bit of waiting inside the Garden while more was filmed.  Eventually we were sent back to holding.  We were gonna wait out the game there and come back after.  This wait was miserable.  We weren’t allowed to touch the food that was laid out until everyone was back (a few were held back to keep filming), and then union peeps got to go first.  The hollowed out restaurant was freezing.  There were only some hard plastic folding chairs.  The porta potties set up outside for us were overflowing.  I got a lot of reading done, while constantly checking my phone to see how close the game was to finishing.

Finally, the game was over and they let us back in.  Fans at the game had been encouraged to stay behind, and we could hear them cheering as the Jake/Jeff was on the ice waving the flag.  Wait, why did they keep us this whole time if they could have just used game attendees?  Doesn’t matter.  It meant more time in the experience, and it eventually put us into double overtime (I think my take home after taxes and after accoutning for the sweatshirt was somewhere just shy of $100).  But yeah, they let us in and we’re on the opposite side of the arena, facing Jake/Jeff as he waves his banner.

Fun fact about that bit.  You prolly saw it in the trailer.  He’s waving the flag with a huge crowd around him.  There was not a huge crowd when it filmed.  There was a small cluster on either side of him, and another across.  And the lighting was different.  Movie magic at work!

They rounded us back up inside the Garden, held onto a few people (not me) to film an elevator scene of some sort, and let the rest of us go home.  Which really meant sent the rest of us back to the cold holding area to wait in line for an hour to get our paperwork done.

Once I rested and recovered, I was so excited about what had happened, but also kinda disappointed.  It was so cool to actually get to work on a real full scale movie (that starred one of my faves!), but we also weren’t treated very well.  And I was pretty well convinced that I wouldn’t see myself in any footage from the day.  Oh well, at least it was something I could say happened.

But it didn’t stop there.  That was apparently one of the first days of filming.  They were there for another two months.  Fast forward to June, and I’m still seeing emails going out about needing extras.  And there’s one for a Saturday!  Except it’s at like 4 AM.  Having been on this email list for a while, I knew that sometimes if they’re in desperate need of people, they’ll start sending out text alerts the day of.  I figure I’ll wait for that.

The texts start the night before.  Emergency call!  Extras needed.  I decide to wait until I have enough sleep before responding.  I eventually do, and I get a call back with the when and where.  We’re filming the marathon stuff on Boylston street.  I’m on it!

This time, they hold us in the basement ballroom of a hotel or something.  Infinitely nicer than before.  Real working bathrooms!  I had quickly thrown together a few potential costume pieces, knowing that I likely wouldn’t have any viable shirts that didn’t have logos or anything on them.  The costumer loves my pink plaid pants, and tries a few options before settling on a mint sweatshirt she lends me.

Then guess what?  Waiting!  I think I was re-reading American Psycho by this point (Pet Sematary was loooong finished).  Again, half the people I talk to think they’re there for Patriot’s Day.  They walk us out to Boylston street, where the rest of the extras have been standing on one side of the road watching our small group of runners.  They stick us on the end of the crowd for the last couple takes.  The runners start to run in, and on cue, they look towards the finish line in shock.

And break time!  Almost as soon as I got there.  They shove way too many of us into McGreevy’s where there’s an assortment of snacks waiting.  We’re told we have an hour.  I see Jake across the street just chilling.  It takes all my willpower not to run over to him and profess my love of Donnie Darko.  After that hour, the mass of extras are assembled.  They call for the people who came in the later group.  That’s me!  Because we hadn’t already been on camera that morning, we were gonna be put closer to the camera.  I knew procrastination had it’s benefits!!

We move a couple blocks down the street towards the finish line.  Most of the crowd is piled together on the sidewalk.  The twenty or so of us from the later crowd are given specific placement and direction.  I’m paired with some guy and we were told to walk down to the street to the crowd.  As almost an afterthought once our instructions are given, the dude placing us reiterates the instructions including “You’re gonna be walking behind our hero”.  Um, what?!  Did I just hear that right?  I couldn’t have heard that right.  We’re just walking in the background like at the Garden, yeah?

We do the first take.  People start to move.  My buddy and I wait for our queue.  We start walking from a block away towards the crowd.  There’s an alleyway we cross to get there.  But before we reach the alley, guess who walks out?  Yuuuuup.  And we really are right behind him OMGWTFAHHHHH!!

There were a bunch of takes like that.  He comes out of the alley, turns to the crowd, and goes to hold up his sign.  Then there were a few takes with another group put in between us (boo), but def more with me right behind my guy.  At one point, we were standing around in our starting point waiting to go.  Jake comes out from the alley and calls to someone behind me.  He’s basically 6 feet away from me, looking just past me.  I couldn’t breathe again.

At some point, it’s over.  We’re rounded up and told to go back to holding unless we had wristbands that designated us for a bar scene.  That was not me.  Waited in line to return my borrowed costume piece and then another line to get my paperwork done.  It was a shorter day (though my take home was still close to $60), so I had time to head to the AMC Boston Common nearby and catch a matinee.  Win of a day!  Much better experience than the day at the Garden too!  And a better chance of screen time.

Then I just had to wait.  We thought it’d be released in December, but obvs they didn’t wanna compete with Patriot’s Day.  Months go by.  I move to LA.  The release date gets announced.  Then a trailer is released.  It has a couple of shots of Jake/Jeff waving the flag, and a couple of him holding his sign in the marathon crowd.  So there are at least scenes I was on set for.  This is promising!!

The day finally comes.  I had decided that I wanted to go all out and see it at a nice theater.  Cinemark Playa Vista is showing it, so I get tickets for the reserve level.  Order a hamburger delivered to my seat and sit back in the nice reclining seat.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious for a movie.  At least I know that one of my potential scenes is early on, so I don’t hafta wait too long.

The film gets to marathon day.  Once again, I can’t breathe.  Heart is pounding.  The movie plays out, and here’s a shot behind Jake as he walks out of the alley.  IRL I’m right on the other side of that wall, except the movie doesn’t show that.  It cuts from that to him in the crowd, as I later feared it would.  Alas, left on the cutting room floor.

Halfway through the movie, Jake/Jeff starts talking about going to a Bruins game.  For some reason, I thought this was meant for the end of the movie, but okay cool, we can get this scene done and then I can really just sit back and relax.  I watch the scene inside the box, and it’s all such tight closeup, you don’t see any extras at all.  In fact, the shots of him in the crowd had also been pretty tight close up.  You couldn’t even see 5 out of the couple hundred extras.  We see him on the ice with the flag, but there’s no way to distinguish one person from another in the crowd.  Again, on film it was packed.  IRL, there was only a fraction of that many people.  Then he has a scene in an elevator (no, there weren’t extras inside the elevator as I’d previously assumed), and then we’re on to the next scene.

So all that waiting, and no screen time.  I’d kinda expected as much, which is why while I did talk about this a bit, I tried not to make a big deal.  It was more about the experience.  I’m sure once the DVD is out, I’ll go frame by frame of those key scenes just in case, but I’m not too optimistic, and that’s okay.  I’ve been there, I’ve seen the sausage being made, and that’s something I can check off my bucket list.  And I’m glad that the movie’s doing really well.  It coulda been RIPD that I had this experience on instead, but thankfully they never responded to my sign ups on their call list.

Now we finally get to what this blog is usually for.  Movie write ups (I don’t like to call them reviews).  Clearly, I can’t be objective about this one since I’m connected to it.  So take all this with a larger grain of salt than you normally would.  However, most of what I’m thinking does seem to line up with the general consensus out there, so I’m not all that biased!

I mostly have two points to make.  The first is the cast gave fantastic performances.  Jake was pitch perfect, and I would love to see him be a player this awards season.  It might be a tough battle, but he’s at least in the preliminary conversations, so that’s a start.  Tatiana Maslany is fantastic too.  I hadn’t seen much of her (I don’t watch Orphan Black) but she had this really grounded and un-glamorized quality that worked so well.  The dynamics of their relationship were also very real.  It wasn’t a Hollywood-ized love story.  It was the good and bad and really bad, and her being strong enough to know her limits.

The other point is yeah, it felt real.  It wasn’t a cheesy inspirational film.  It was an emotional film that showed real struggles.  It didn’t put Jeff Bauman on a pedastal, but rather showed him with all his flaws and inner demons.  Much of the film was shot really close, which gave it an even more intimate quality.  You saw the raw emotion and you felt it.  Again, it deserves any awards push it gets because it transcends the cookie cutter “true story” goop you normally see.  I’m proud of this to have been the first (hopefully of more to come) movies that I got to be a part of, even in some very minor way.

Stronger – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

American Assassin

What is it with Hollywood and spy movies lately?  When was the last time a truly unique, original, and engaging one came along?  Lately we’ve got great characters with solid casting, and we’ve had great combat and action sequences.  The stories however, leave a lot to be desired.  The enemies and events are all interchangable and it’s getting even harder and harder to hold my attention.  Such was the plight of American Assassin.

After swearing revenge on the terrorists that took out his fiance, Dylan O’Brien gets recruited by the CIA to join a super secret elite group of superspies trained by Michael Keaton.  Bad stuff is happening somewhere in the world, and it appears to be caused by Taylor Kitsch, who is a dropout of the same superprogram.

Basically gonna be quoting my Stardust reaction here, but what the movie gets right is the cast.  Keaton may not have had much to work with, but he always elevates any movie he’s in (see also, Spider-Man: Homecoming).  Truly a formidable boss man to reckon with.  I also really liked Taylor Kitsch.  This was a meatier role for him to sink his teeth into than anything we’ve seen from him.  Okay, it might have still been generic terrorist baddie, but it’s a step up from generic sensitive pretty boy.  My point is (and I’m trying to make this a compliment) that the role fit him well and it’s some of the best we’ve seen from him.

O’Brien was actually the standout.  The boy has some serious star potential, and this is a much better showcase for that than what we’ve seen in the Maze Runner series.  True, this material still needs some work, but if he follows this path and gets a really good script with a fantastic director, he could head straight to the A list.  He carried the film well, had a lot of attitude, and nailed the combat sequences (which were all pretty much on point).

Unfortunately though, the story was too lacking.  I actually was a bit uncomfortable with the initial set up of middle eastern terrorists, because that theme has been overdone and it’s becoming really insensitive.  Somewhere along the way we changed course to Russia, so I guess slight improvement there maybe?  Still, it felt a little half baked, which is a shame.  The other elements were there to make this a killer movie, but instead it’s innocuous.

American Assassin – \m/ \m/ \n

mother!

I know I’m probably getting annoying with all the Stardust plugging lately, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, Mother! should be your reason to.  All of the reactions (mine included) have captured this amazing look of trauma and shock and confusion.  It’s really cool seeing visible visceral and emotional responses on people’s faces.  There’s been a full spectrum of emotions on display.

Mother! is the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, you know the guy that brought us Requiem for a Dream, Pi, and Black Swan.  If you have any familiarity with those films, that should give you plenty of info as to whether or not this is up your alley.  Strange doesn’t even begin to cover it.  On the surface, the story is about a woman who lives in a house she rebuilt for her husband.  One day they have some unexpected guests come to stay, and everything goes a little haywire from there.

Sticking to the surface for now, it appears like a haunted house horror with a big Rosemary’s Baby influence.  The filmmaking techniques were excellent, and one that particularly struck me was how closely most of it was shot.  As it was, the story was disorienting, but so much of the shots were closeups of Jennifer Lawrence’s face.  That meant that you couldn’t see a lot of what was happening, which was even more unsettling, heightened by the intense reactions from her.  Her performance was great, but it was Michelle Pfeiffer who really impressed me.  The ferocity of her role proved exactly why she’s still here after all these years in Hollywood, and I loved seeing her go toe to toe with the next generation’s formidable leading lady.

This all sounds pretty tame so far, but keep in mind, this is Aronofsky.  Things got weird.  The third act was insane.  The whole thing was unsettling.  When I watch a movie, I usually take everything at face value at first.  I usually don’t try to unpack it and interpret things until afterwards.  Walking out of there, I had no idea what to think.  It felt like I’d just experienced a waking nightmare.  With the help of some of the spoiler-guarded Stardust reactions, I started to piece together some of the symbolism and deeper story.  I think I mostly get it.  It does all come together and make a strange sort of sense, but it’s not an easy journey.  Some of the Stardust videos I saw showed people who were very upset at some of the turns the film took.  For me, it’s more like I got smacked in the face and didn’t find out until the next couple days what it was that hit me.

This is one of those movies that just has to be experienced, but it’s not for the casual theater goer.  If you want something comfortable that doesn’t require a lot of thought, that’s easily enjoyable, this isn’t that movie.  If you’re up for a film watching experience that’s a bit of a challenge, this one is so worth it.

Mother! – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

IT

I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies with a whole group.  By myself, all the time.  One companion, fairly often.  Two, maybe?  But a group of five?  It’s been a while.  When the initial responses to IT started coming out and talked about how terrifying it was, it made me rethink my default plan of just going on opening night.  I invited a friend, who was already seeing it with another friend, and it all snowballed from there.  I’d forgotten how much fun it is to make a night of a movie with your crew.

We’d sprung for the Dolby auditorium where you’re upcharged for the nice seats and the better sound system.  I realized there were speakers in the seats, which would either end up being the best or worst thing ever for a horror film.  Because it was a big thing, I even bought popcorn (a rarity considering how often I see movies). I was even compelled to get candy (a rarer rarity than the popcorn).  At the last second, I impulsively switched the bag of (I think) Reese’s for the box of Junior Mints.  I’d never gotten Junior Mints at the movies before.  Later, I remembered the article Stephen King wrote for EW a few years ago about his favorite movie going snacks.  He talked about skewering Junior Mints on toothpicks as his go to snack.  I feel like this subconsciously influenced my choice.

This is certainly a movie to see with a big crowd, whether or not they’re a part of your crew.  A buddy on one side kept visibly jumping out of his seat.  One on the other side kept screaming “Why am I watching this?!” at various points during the film.  The energy in the room was palpable.  People were reacting and screaming and laughing and having every kind of response possible.  Me?  I was loving the whole damn thing!

I’ve railed about how bad horror movies focus on the scares and how bad Stephen King adaptations forget about the characters.  This movie gets right what so many of those get wrong.  At it’s core, the movie is a coming of age story about a misunderstood group of kids.  I could watch them all day (in particular Finn Wolfhard stole the show, with the signature King-ian juvenile trash talk).  I think I laughed more than anything else during the film.  But then on top that, it was a rather scary movie.  I’m not just talking jump scares.  There was certainly a psychological aspect to it as well, esp since Pennywise often took the form of whatever they were most afraid of.

Yeah, Pennywise.  Let’s talk about him.  Bill Skarsgard from Hemlock Grove (sidebar, that show has the all time best werewolf transformation I’ve seen) plays Pennywise the clown and he was brilliant.  So much range.  He was not a one note demon by any stretch, but fully embodied the capabilities of the entity to become anything he wanted.

This was a total win for me.  Despite being over 1000 pages, the book is already on its way to me from Amazon and I intend to drop what I’m currently reading and switch over immediately.  If I was this in love with the characters from the movie, I can only imagine how much more there is to discover in the pages.  I’m also keeping an eye out for gaps in my movie watching schedule so I can get in a repeat viewing.  Given how well it’s doing, I would wager it’s not going anywhere any time soon, so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to float over to the theater again.

IT – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Shimmer Lake

I’m a big fan of Benjamin Walker.  Most of you are prolly going “Who?”  He was the original Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway, and among his scattered film roles he was Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  And (possibly most important, or at least tied with BBAJ), he was Patrick Bateman in Broadway’s short lived American Psycho musical.  Love him.

Anyways, my main excitement on my commute every day is looking at the myriad of billboards along the way.  This being LA, a good majority of them are for movies and tv shows.  I like guessing which ones are gonna be switched out when and to what.  Anyways, there’s this one spot on my way home right by Sony Studios that’s almost always for a Netflix movie.  Imagine my excitement when I saw the poster on the billboard billed Walker first!

I was further intrigued when hearing that A) It was a dark comedy and B) the story played out in reverse.  I’m such a sucker for a timeline gimmick like that.  So back during Boston vacay (yeah I’m very late in writing this up), I ended up back at my friends’ place pretty early one evening.  What to do, what to do?  Oh right, I have Netflix on my phone and wifi access.  Good time to check out this movie, especially since there’d already been some talk about it on Stardust.

The story is about a bank heist, but again, it’s told one day at a time in reverse order.  At first I did kinda dismiss it as a gimmick, but it actually did make the story much more interesting.  Telling it this way made it a mystery.  Instead of being interested in what happened to everyone as a result if it had played out in order, it was about finding out what went down at the initial event.  The downside is that the first (last?) day shown can be a little confusing since you don’t have all the information yet, but I think the payoff was worth it.  I especially appreciated this one running gag with the passenger seat in the cop car.  Being vague so I don’t give it away or explain it all, it was fun seeing how what first came off as an absurd overreaction build up.

The comedy element otherwise was more subtle.  Not a laugh out loud dark comedy, but enough absurdity to unsettle you.  The film also had a rather interesting cast besides my boy: Rainn Wilson, Rob Corddry, Ron Livingston.  Ultimately I really enjoyed it, and I do think that Netflix was the proper venue for it.  It seemed a little too small to have worked on the big screen, but for a cozy night in, it was perfect!

The House Bunny

I hadn’t ever seen this before a couple weeks ago.  I always thought it looked really dumb.  As a fan of Anna Faris and Emma Stone, I was long intrigued, but it wasn’t until I got a free DVD from a friend that I finally watched it.  It was worse than dumb.  It was kinda dangerous, and made me extremely uncomfortable.

Real talk.  I get that the first two acts of the movie our titular bunny was supposed to have her priorities out of whack.  That’s half the point of where the movie is gonna go, correcting those harmful habits and mindsets.  She put too much emphasis on appearance and on changing yourself in order to be accepted by others, and she imposed those beliefs on a group of impressionable young girls.  Oh they didn’t need to be themselves, they needed to be heavily made up with dumbed down personalities in order to get boys.  Because apparently this is all that matters in life.  I could practically hear my therapist in my ear explaining their behaviors and how it was all driven by a lack of self esteem, and how unhealthy their attitudes were.

So spoiler alert, they eventually figure out that’s the wrong way to go and try to make a point to accept themselves and each other as is.  Problem was, that lesson was rushed through so quickly, it barely had a chance to sink in.  As opposed to the negative message that was hammered in over and over for the course of most of the film.  And even once they decided they didn’t need to be other than who they were, why were they still dressed in makeover mode?  Shouldn’t they have reverted to what made them comfortable instead of continuing to be dressed to impress?

And so much of the resolution also revolved around the girl getting the guy.  So even though they’ve learned they can accept themselves, it all doesn’t count if you don’t get a man in the process.  Colin Hanks’ character so deserved infinitely better than Anna Faris’s house bunny, and he had zero reason to ever give her a second chance after she played him multiple times.  But apparently that’s the only kind of happy resolution that Hollywood knows.

All I know is that my hypothetical-one-day-future-daughter will not be allowed to see this.  At least I’ve been around long enough to recognize how wrong most of what this movie was teaching really is.  I fear for any impressionable young mind that watches.

Columbus

Remember the #StarringJohnCho meme not too long ago?  I was all about that.  Not only because I am a fan of John Cho, I am also all about equal representation in film.  And there were a lot of good Photoshop skillz shown off during that thread.  So I was very much excited to see a film with Cho as the leading man, especially since it was getting rather rave reviews.

Cho finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indianna when his famous architect father suddenly falls ill.  While aimlessly wandering this town known as a mecca for architecture, he meets a young woman (Haley Lu Richardson) who has resigned herself to living in this small town to care for her mother, rather than going off to the bigger and better that she’s capable of.

I didn’t get it, the hype I mean.  To me it felt like any other character driven indie.  I get that there was a beauty to how it was filmed and the use of architecture in the film was something that made it unique.  What I couldn’t get past (and I said as much on Stardust) was that the characters were both too dissatisfied and disillusioned.  It’s very hard to get interested in somebody who isn’t interested in themselves.  #thestruggleisreal

I felt like Cho didn’t have too much to work with, other than standing there brooding.  He did well with what he did have, and again, happy to see him lead a film, but he deserves more.  Richardson didn’t annoy me for once.  I mostly mean that as a compliment here.  Her other roles have just bugged me, but this one proved that she’s capable of more (possibly when she has better written characters).  I’m sure she’ll get another chance to shine in a later film.

Columbus – \m/ \m/