Thursday, August 9, 2018

Bang - Right in the Childhood

I was all set to write an entirely different article for today’s publishing. Then I watched a couple movies that blew that plan entirely to smithereens. Boom. Right in the feels. I honestly couldn’t decide which one I’d rather talk about. Rather than choose, I decided to touch on both and the commonalities between them.

Which two movies sent me into an overload of nostalgic giddiness? None other than Ready Player One (2018) and Christopher Robin (2018).

I am seriously lamenting the fact that I didn’t catch Ready Player One in the theaters. Seeing that on a giant IMAX screen must have been something else. It is currently available on DVD and On-Demand, however. We did get to see Christopher Robin a local multiplex, and it was entirely worth it. Most of the audience we attended with actually applauded during the final credits.  (Just as an extra note, there’s fun stuff in the Christopher Robin credits; but nothing extra is mixed in with Ready Player One’s lengthy scroll.)

If I were giving you a traditional review for these films, I’d be assigning each of them a 5/5 stars. Both movies certainly deserve every accolade they’ve received thus far – and I hope the list of honors keeps growing. Steven Spielberg (Minority Report, War Horse, The BFG) proved once again why he is one of my favorite directors of all time, and Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace, World War Z) is steadily creeping up on that list.

Now I know I’ve recently used the phrase “nostalgia bandwagon” in a context that would generally indicate that it’s not the best thing ever. In the case of these 2 films, however, let’s just throw that out the window. Ready Player One is actually based on a novel by Ernest Cline. (My to-read list just gets longer by the day.) I have learned that there are some differences between the movie and the book, to be fair. Though, since I haven’t read it yet, I’m unable to weigh in on that. What I can say is that the spectrum of pop-culture goodies present in this movie was fan-flipping-tastic. There’s a little something for everyone thrown in there. The whole premise of the film is finding the ultimate Easter Egg – while experiencing a bazillion little ones along the way. I mean seriously – the light bar from KITT’s hood on the front of the DeLorean had me pointing at the screen while saying ‘look! Look!’ to my family.

At its heart, Ready Player One reminds us that it’s ok to escape on flights of fancy but we should remain grounded in reality.  Christopher Robin delivers an equally important message, if coming from the other direction. It’s great to be responsible and work hard, but at the end of the day don’t forget how to have fun and use your imagination. Both movies touch on the importance of our real-world relationships.

Let me tell you – the blend of illustration plucked from A.A. Milne’s books and the ‘live action’ for Pooh and his friends was something else. While this movie wasn’t focused on Easter Eggs in such a literal way as Ready Player One was, it was meant to take you on a meandering path down memory lane all the same. Bears with balloons and the morose ramblings of the clinically depressed donkey spoke directly to my childhood. Bring some tissues along when watching this one, though. My eyes did some leaking so it’s possible that could be a standard side-effect of this movie’s ‘feels.’

Whether you’re staying in and in the cozy atmosphere of your own home or going out to get the big screen experience, either of these movies will serve you well on an emotional and entertainment level.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Kissing Booth (2018)

Number Rolled: 89
Movie Name/Year: The Kissing Booth (2018)
Tagline: She can tell her best friend anything, except this one thing.
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Komixx Entertainment
Producer: Andrew Cole-Bulgin, Adam Friedlander, Ed Glauser, Vince Marcello, Alan Shearer, Michele Weisler
Director: Vince Marcello
Writer: Vince Marcello, Beth Reekles
Actors: Megan du Plessis, Lincoln Pearson, Caitlyn de Abrue, Jack Fokkens, Stephen Jennings, Chloe Williams, Michael Miccoli, Juliet Blacher, Jesse Rowan-Goldberg, Chase Dallas, Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Carson White, D. David Morin, Bianca Bosch, Jessica Sutton, Zandile-Izandi Madliwa, Molly Ringwald, Morne Visser, Byron Langley, Meganne Young

Blurb from Netflix: When teenager Elle’s first kiss leads to a forbidden romance with the hottest boy in high school, she risks her relationship with her best friend.

Selina’s Point of View:


I’m having a significant amount of trouble being un-biased in my take on The Kissing Booth.

Anyone who knows me knows that my best friend is a guy. We became friends in high school and have shed blood and tears together. He’s my BFF. Never-the-less, he has a penis and that means that people lose their fucking minds over it. Even people like our parents who know and adore us, still think it’s a little weird.

I attribute that discomfort to pop culture. It’s because every god-damn show, book, and movie anyone watches always shows that men and women can’t be friends. By the end of most stories, the ‘friends’ are together. It drives me up a wall. I hate it. Every time I watch a new film with a male/female best friend pair, I beg the screen for an outcome where they don’t wind up together. I’m almost always disappointed. Trying to think back, there’s only one that immediately comes to mind where the two friends don’t wind up together and neither of them are gay.

Considering how many films I watch a year (I did the math once, it’s impressive), that’s a horrible amount.

In The Kissing Booth, the romantic story isn’t between the main character and her male best friend. Even better than that? They don’t wind up together in the end. I did a little dance in my seat because of it.

Unfortunately, it’s making me see the movie through rose-colored glasses.

If I’m being honest with myself, there were some pretty big issues. There were definitely some plot holes and some unanswered questions. There were also some really annoying tropes utilized.

Even with the issues, I know I’m going to look back at the film favorably. Not just because of the less bullshit take on male/female friendships, either.

The main character was supremely likeable, even though she was shown as being flawed. In fact, all the main characters were easy to relate to. I could have done without the OMG girls, though. They did nothing but hurt the movie. The same story could have been told by replacing them with other characters.

Cat’s Point of View:

I was pleasantly surprised by The Kissing Booth. I thought I had the plot pegged at the beginning, but then it defied my expectations. I’ll admit that I rolled my eyes a bit when I first watched the trailer during my Top 20 list preparation for this past May. It wasn’t even close to making the cut. In retrospect, it probably should have at least been a bit closer.

Netflix was definitely the right platform for releasing this movie based on the novel by fledgling writer, Beth Reekles. (As an aside, I am rather impressed that she first published it at the age of 15.)

While the world that the story’s characters dwell in is glossy with the sheen of Hollywood affluence, the tale didn’t lack relatability. I found myself invested in the story and pulled along on the journey well enough that I was somewhat sad when the credits rolled, and there wasn’t more. I even shed a few tears along the way. (Admittedly, I’m a sap.)

Let’s talk cast! The production team for this movie really did well here when they selected the actors for these roles. Not only did they mesh well aesthetically, but they fit with their on-screen chemistry. Seriously, though – if I didn’t know better, I would think that Jacob Elordi (Max & Iosefa, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Swinging Safari) and Joel Courtney (Mercy, The Messengers, The River Thief) really could be brothers.

I also can’t tell you how appreciative I am that this coming-of-age tale depicts a best-friend pairing of opposite sexes. Seriously. I can’t tell you how excited I was that the romance part of the movie didn’t center on the besties. Instead, we see aspects of their friendship tested  by each finding romantic interests of their own – individually.

Teen rom-coms tend to get a reputation for playing up the cheese factor, aside from their tendency to follow predictable recipes. I’m glad to say that this film avoided that particular pitfall. There is also much to be said for young Elle having a backbone. I really enjoyed Joey King (White House Down, Fargo, Wish Upon) in the role. I’m quite curious, however, if the height difference between characters here was something within the book’s story or a choice made by movie production. Things that make you go hmm…

In all honesty, the film wasn’t free of issues. I was just enjoying it enough that I was less inclined to be bothered by them. Knowing now the age at which the author penned this story, I can chalk a lot of that up to an experience factor. Further, looking at the body of work by the screenwriter and director, Vince Marcello (Teen Beach Movie, Grace Stirs Up Success, Liar Liar Vampire), I can see a bit of a theme running. This seems to be a step in the direction of focusing on a slightly more mature audience for him. Who knows, some issues may have been caused by decisions in editing… but not all of them.

I’m definitely interested in keeping my eyes peeled for future works by both, out of curiosity to see how they grow into their craft respectively. In spite of its flaws, I certainly wouldn’t have any problems giving this movie my recommendation. 

Speech Available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles Available: French, English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 13%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 68%
Metascore - 38/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

P.S. There are some bloopers and cut scenes during the credits.

Movie Trailer: