Friday, March 29, 2019

Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho (2019)
Tagline: None
Genre: Comedy
Length: 62 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Den of Thieves, Netflix
Producer: Brett Carducci, Ken Jeong
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Ken Jeong
Actors: Ken Jeong

Blurb from Netflix: In his first-ever stand-up special, Ken Jeong pays tribute to his wife and shares stories about Hollywood and how “The Hangover” saved his life.

Selina’s Point of View:
Ok. I’m going to be straight up and then I’ll try to explain. I enjoyed this stand-up special.

Now, the explanation part is a little more complicated. I’m not sure how to accurately describe how I feel.

As an actor/comedian, I think Ken Jeong (Crazy Rich Asians, Bob’s Burgers, Dr. Ken) is fun to watch. I especially love when he works with Wired for the Doc Support videos. It’s a series where he answers medical questions from Twitter. I highly recommend it. That said, this is his first comedy special – so I didn’t know what to expect from it.

It didn’t really feel like a comedy special at all.

I love stand-up comedy. You give me a Christopher Titus (Bad Parents, Big Shots, Scar), Gabriel Iglesias (The Star, Coco, Magic Mike), Lewis Black (The Last Laugh, Inside Out, Accepted) or George Carlin (Dogma, Jersey Girl, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures) special and I’ll put my phone down and zone right in. There are plenty others that would command my attention, too – those are just the first to come to mind. The point is, they all have this aura about them. They draw attention. I see them on stage and immediately get ready to settle in for some laughter. The COMMAND attention.

Ken Jeong doesn’t. Not really. It’s less like he’s up there monologuing and more like he’s having a discussion with the audience. He doesn’t feel like a comedian in this special. He feels like your happy-drunk friend that’s have a damn good night.

It didn’t feel wrong or anything, just different. In general, I just really liked it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve got to say, this Ken Jeong (The Duff, Community, Wonder Park) comedy special was not at all what I anticipated. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what I expected, aside from something over-the-top like Mr. Chow from The Hangover (2009) asking audience members “but did you DIE?”

This particular special was a bit of a departure from what I’ve come to expect from a Netflix comedy show. I got the feeling that it was done quite intentionally, however, as Jeong mentions specifically his choice to film for a ‘small’ comedy club crowd rather than a giant arena. The choice seemed to work in his favor, since he has less of a gimmick and didn’t have a thematic set of bits. Jeong was able to draw more from audience interaction than he would have in a larger venue.

While I didn’t find myself laughing until I couldn’t breathe, the show was overall entertaining. It felt almost like a hybridization of a comedy-themed TEDTalks (2006-) and a comedy show. Moviephiles will likely get a good deal more out of this special than anyone looking for a pure stand-up show. Jeong relates funny memories, and even some touching moments from ‘behind the scenes’ of various films, he’s participated in, actors he’s worked with, and even moments from his personal life.

I have always found Jeong to be a fascinating individual. Anyone else that feels the same will likely enjoy his show quite a bit. For those that aren’t fans? I don’t know if this special would be a conversion experience for you, but it’d definitely give you a peek at the person behind the persona.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 17%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.7/10

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

P.S. Stick around for the credits, there are some funny moments in them.

Movie Trailer:

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

To the Bone (2017)

Movie Name/Year: To the Bone (2017)
Tagline: Don’t fade away.
Genre: Drama
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: AMBI Group, Sparkhouse Media, Mockingbird Pictures, Foxtail Entertainment, BondIt Media Capital, To The Bone Productions
Producer: Talal Al Abbar, Allison Avery Jordan, Monika Bacardi, Bonnie Curtis, Anita Gou, Andrea Iervolino, Tyler Justice, Shea Kammer, Joseph Lanius, Julie Lynn, Matthew J. Malek, Karina Miller, Courtney B Turk
Director: Marti Noxon
Writer: Marti Noxon
Actors: Rebekah Kennedy, Lily Collins, Dana L. Wilson, Ziah Colon, Joanna Sanchez, Liana Liberato, Carrie Preston, Don O. Knowlton, Valerie Palincar, Hana Hayes, Keanu Reeves, Kathryn Prescott, Lindsey McDowell, Alex Sharp, Retta, Maya Eshet, Karen Zahler, Alanna Ubach, Leslie Bibb, Ciara Bravo, Lili Taylor, Brooke Smith, Ani Sava, Leann Lei, Ronnie Clark, Lauren Jenna

Blurb from Netflix: Ellen, a 20-year-old with anorexia nervosa, goes on a harrowing, sometimes funny journey of self-discovery at a group home run by an unusual doctor.

Selina’s Point of View:
I put To the Bone as my #8 for the Top 20 Movies to Look Out for in July of 2017. I stated that the movie was likely to be “a heartbreaking and engulfing story” that was “both relatable and chilling.” I’m not always right, but in this case I definitely was. In all honesty, I think that speaks to how well they edited the trailer.

Lily Collins (Rules Don't Apply, Stuck in Love, Abduction) was absolutely amazing in her role. She held my attention and tugged at all my heart strings.

I felt this movie to my core in a lot of ways.

We’ll start with the most obvious of them – I’m bulimic. I have been since high school. You see plenty of films touch on eating disorders, but a lot of it tends to feel manufactured from an insider’s point of view. This movie, however, got a lot more of it right than usual.

Watching the characters try to work through their issues was a very familiar sight for me, and I related most to the main character’s mentality. Collins absolutely nailed her portrayal of that pessimistic mentality that can lock people into an addiction.

On top of that, To the Bone also showed how different varying methods of psychology can be. Not everyone reacts the same to therapy. For some people, that option to just lay on the couch and talk until something clicks works just fine. That’s never how it’s been for me. Chalk it up to my trust issues, but I can’t just sit in front of someone and open up. I don’t like feeling vulnerable and I will avoid it at all costs unless I truly trust the person I’m sitting with.

It’s not easy to trust someone you’re paying to care.

The best therapist I ever had, and the one that helped me the most, was just like Keanu Reeves’ (The Matrix, John Wick, Destination Wedding) character in this film. She took a different approach and made it a two-way conversation, never just relying on me talking about me. She never told me what to do, instead she helped me get there on my own by sharing her own stories and walking me through the logical options. She introduced me to works of art that helped me find something to cling to when I needed something to alter my thought process.

So many movies just show therapists as these suit-wearing, note-taking, clock-watching professionals. As a result, that’s what people think of when someone says the word: “therapy.” Worse than that, when they actually need help, they think that’s the only kind of therapist out there and that if it doesn’t work for them then that’s on them… when it isn’t.

Everyone needs something different to heal and grow. If one method doesn’t work for you – find someone with a different method. Don’t worry about offending therapists if you need to switch. They’re professionals, they can handle it. The good ones expect it. Do what you need to in order to get yourself right. Go through 84 of them to find the right one, or stick with the first one you meet if you feel they’re effective.

I know I’ve digressed, but this is important. People are out there, struggling with all manner of addiction or depression or other mental health issues, and they aren’t getting the help they need because they don’t know the right help exists. Be proactive. Find the RIGHT person. Find the RIGHT treatment. If something doesn’t work for you, find something that will. You deserve to be healthy.

Writing is my outlet and, sometimes, movies like this will trigger my need to go a little more in depth than review sites tend to go. I opt not to censor myself in cases like this, because I know I’m not alone.

I struggle to keep my mental health in check, there are unavoidable triggers all around me. I struggle to keep my eating disorder and physical health in check, despite those around me not understanding – or even knowing, in some cases. I write about it when I can, because I know I’m not the only one struggling. I also know that others forget they’re not alone either. Help is out there.

Cat’s Point of View:
To the Bone was a powerful dose of perspective into the life of a woman struggling with anorexia. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea – and it will likely make many uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be that way, though.

Eating disorders are scary.

Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Okja) really nailed this part, and I commend her strength to do it. I have to admit I was really worried about her when I saw production photos before this movie released. Thankfully, it’s been reported that she was under the care of a nutritionist during the period she dropped weight for the role and also in returning to a healthier weight afterwards.

Alex Sharp (How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Better Start Running, UFO) was a pleasant surprise here, as a relative unknown to me. This is, of course, his first film credit on IMDb; but he was definitely not a greenhorn when it comes to acting and performance. Two years prior to this role, he’d won a Tony for a lead role on Broadway. This background clearly fed perfectly into the over-the-top nature of his character.

One of the things that really resonated with me here was the impact of Keanu Reeves’ (47 Ronin, The Bad Batch, Replicas) character, Dr. Beckham. When you’re struggling to get through something – depression, addiction, an eating disorder… it helps to have someone in your corner that defies conventional expectations.  It’s hard to find that person, sometimes. I really appreciated that the movie made it clear that recovery isn’t something immediate and really only works if a person is ready to accept help.

All told, this movie feels like a definite must-see – just keep in mind that it’s not going to tiptoe around the issues it’s covering.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 70%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%
Metascore - 64/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer: