Film reviews: Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Incredibles 2

We’re in mid-June, right in the sweet spot for summer film releases.  The last few years have had weaker slates of films.  How are we looking for summer 2018?  Pretty darn good, enough to keep you busy so you won’t have to pretend to give a shit about the World Cup.  Let’s stop the charade, people.  You only to claim to care about soccer during the world cup just to seem appeasing to Europeans and temporarily enjoying a sport primarily for 7 year olds.  

Avengers 3: Amazing

A Quiet Place: Solid

Deadpool 2: Solid

Solo: Fine 

I’ve heard Hereditary was excellent and Ocean’s 8 is surprisingly good.  And in the next few weeks:

Jurassic Park 34: Laura Dern’s crow’s feet look like she fought a raptor.

Sicario 2: A solid attempt to make us forget about the complete waste of time Benicio Del Toro was in Last Jedi.

This week, a documentary and a sequel blockbuster.  

Here I am, recreating the infamous shoe flip.35363327_10217446230854565_32544891347140608_o

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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Congratulations go to this film as the only trailer that made me tear up.  30 seconds in and I’m welling up like being stuck in a car with someone cutting Indian food fueled farts.  You see, Mr Rogers and Sesame Street formed my early years of TV watching.  Those shows as well as Card Sharks, Press Your Luck, and Price is Right.  I had a thing for Plinko, Barker’s beauties, and white trash getting excited about winning a 1984 Toyota Corolla.  Mr Roger’s Neighborhood was one of my childhood memories that always bring a smile to my face.  He always made you feel safe and appreciated.  Mr Rogers hit on social issues like Vietnam, RFK’s death, and racial harmony.  He even un-retired to discuss 9/11 for his audience.  If he were alive today, I could easily see him talking to children about lockdowns in schools.   He TRULY gave a shit about kids and their feelings as well as fears.  Mr Rogers is one of the celebrities that would break my heart if he was ever outed as a pervert, child neglector, or Eagles fan.  

The film begins as he embarks on his post college career, deciding to get into TV over seminary school.  Mr Rogers eventually became an ordained minister and one fun fact is everyone interviewed made sure to disclose he never shoved religion down your throat nor through his show.  But you can see from his roots that his dedication to helping kids navigate through childhood was second to none.  It didn’t take long for his show to make its way to the stratosphere.  One scene you just can’t help your lip from quivering is where a little girl comes up to him and says, “Mr. Rogers, can I tell you something?  I like you.”  And he says, “I like you too.”  You see him visiting with countless sick children and watching their unbridled joy as he pulls out his puppets to temporarily brighten their lives.

Everyone from Fred’s wife and kids to cast and crew talk about him in the highest regard.  Yes, he was “like that” all the time.  No, he wasn’t gay.  You can thank him for saving PBS by testifying in front of a cranky Senator and swaying him with an inspiring tale of the importance of children’s programs.  One story they didn’t breach is the tale of how his car was stolen but once the thieves realized that the car belonged to Mr. Rogers, they immediately returned it with an apologetic note.  After googling (the only way to verify anything by reading the top 2 entries), this story was never verified by any of his family or close friends.  Mr Rogers also never spoke of this incident.  

And this goes out to the MPAA: How in the flying fuck is this film rated PG-13?  I believe they said, “ass” once.  They showed clips of someone saying dick and bastard.  Some footage of the Vietnam War and they showed a picture of a crew member mooning the camera.  THAT gets a PG-13?  You people need to remove that eyelash from your nether regions and calm down.

This film is nothing short of nostalgic magic.  The opening theme song got me teared up.  Him visiting kids, changing his shoes and clothes, as well as talking about horrific events in the news make your eyes puff up.  And hearing, “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” to end the film had the tears flowing too.  I don’t believe in God whatsoever.  BUT if there was one person who should be canonized and is as perfect as a person you could create, it’s Fred Rogers.  The man truly inspires others, even in death, to be better and caring.  My daughter just turned 3 and she’s a rabid Daniel Tiger fan, an offshoot cartoon of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  And I can’t wait until to show her MRN reruns on youtube.  I’ll just have a box of tissues nearby, just like when I watch ET again for the 193rd time.  Now excuse me while I go watch Bloodsport and Commando to get this lump out of my throat.

Absolutely loved this film and have tissues at arms length, 9/10.

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Pixar has birthed an insane number of hits: Toy Story 1-3, Coco, Monster Inc 1 and 2, and of course, the Incredibles.  Besides Marvel, name a studio that has this high of a batting average.  I get it, each of those studios only release 2-3 films a year but when they do come out, it’s rarely below “good.”  14 years later, the sequel has come out with all of the main voices returning: Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter (her lisp is quite noticeable at times), and Samuel L Jackson.  The Incredibles are a family of superheroes and in this installment, they learn the baby of the family, Jack Jack, has not one but multiple superpowers.  Mom/Elasticgirl is tasked with joining a pilot program to help lift the ban on superheroes; financed and created by Winston Deavor and his sister, Evelyn, voiced  Saul Goodman and Catherine Keener.  Which leaves Mr Incredible to watch the kids while Mom is off fighting crime and enjoying her time in the spotlight.

I didn’t rewatch the first Incredibles before seeing this but I felt it captured all of the fun elements from the first one.  Watching Mr. Incredible play Mr. Mom is quite funny as well as helping his daughter, Violet, get over a boy standing her up is also quite amusing.  I found myself trying to figure out where the reveal is with the villain and the motive throughout the film instead of enjoying the ride.  Brad Bird, who also wrote and directed the first one, does a great job of the reveal and ends with a flourish.  

There’s no need to break this film down any further, you get exactly what you come in expecting from this franchise and studio:  a smart, well-written script infused with humor and leaving wanting more.  Although this film clocks in at just under 2 hours, it’s still a well paced ride.  My only ask is that they don’t wait another 14 years for Incredibles 3.  And they will as it’s grossed 180 million opening weekend.  Hear that?  That’s Disney executives high fiving over another money printing press is firing on all cylinders.

Fantastic watch, 8/10.

 

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Film Review: Ready Player 1

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There are between 1-3 films I have circled every year that I absolutely cannot wait to see.  This year, it’s Avengers: Infinity War, Sicario 2 and Ready Player 1.  One is an obvious superhero sequel, the other is a sequel to what should have been nominated for best picture.  And that leaves Ready Player 1, which  is one of my favorite books of all time.  If you’re not familiar, you need to do so reallllly quickly.  It’s the story of a Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a young man who along with millions of other of citizens, take on a challenge to find a digital “Easter Egg” in the OASIS.  The OASIS is a VR world which is as real as you want to make it.  The winner of the challenge presented by recently deceased creator of the OASIS, James Halladay (Mark Rylance), wins his fortune and control of the OASIS. And of course, there is an evil CEO, Nolan Sorrento, (Ben Mendelsohn) who will stop at nothing to control OASIS. Halladay is a Bill Gates type who grew up in the 80’s, addicted to video games and films from the time.  All of his challenges have to do with both video games and films so turn the nostalgia factor on full blast.  Steven Spielberg directs this film and who better to take us down that road.

Parzival was initially against “clanning”; which is nerd speak for others joining is eventually joined by lady crush, Artemis,  ninjas Sho and Daito, and his best friend, Aech.  They call themselves, “The Top 5,” and they all mesh together quite well and especially when their real identities are given.

There are an absolute shit load of references, characters, and nods to films/video game characters throughout.  You’ll go crazy trying to keep track of whom and what you saw but I’ll give you a few: Goro from Mortal Kombat, Chun Li from Street Fighter, Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Robocop, the baby Alien, and even caught a Jack Slater from Last Action Hero reference.  Wade Watts’s OASIS character, Parzival, even drives the DeLorean from Back to the Future with the KITT from Knight Rider lights in the front.  Movie nerds and video game nerds, rejoice.  Scoring the film are 2 juggernauts from the 80’s, John Williams (if I need you to tell you what films he’s worked on, deport yourself) and Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future trilogy).  And you’re going to hear a TON of nods from their previous films in the score.  And you will smile.

So let’s do the eventual annoying “book to film” comparison.  The book was amazing because Wade had to play Joust with one of the guardians for the keys.  Wade also had to do “film syncs”  scenes from War Games and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  In the film, they don’t do either.  The first challenge is a race, the second is a scene within, “The Shining.” And the third is playing, “Adventure” on Atari.  I wish that Spielberg would’ve chosen different challenges, including doing the film syncs.  I know that would’ve brought the same charm and allure that the book brought.  My other biggest complaint is that one of the “Top 5” die in the book but Spielberg pulls the typical “everything ending is a happy one.”  Spielberg kept a ton of the book’s integrity (also noted that RP1 writer Ernest Cline did co-write the screenplay) by tweaking a few things, like the Zemeckis cube.

This film is good and you will get sucked into it without question.  The ongoing references and nods within the score will always keep an ear to ear grin.  But those 2 omissions are glaring ones and major points are deducted for such.  Otherwise, it keeps close to the book and Spielberg does his best work in over a decade.  It will also be the perfect excuse to get your kids researching the great films and games I/we grew up on.

The book is a 10, the film is a 7.