Friday, January 17, 2020

Booksmart (2019)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Booksmart (2019)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 102 minutes
Rating:  R
Production/Distribution: Annapurna Pictures, Gloria Sanchez Productions, United Artists Releasing, Cineforum, Digicine, Eagle Pictures, Entertainment One, Forum Film Bulgaria, Forum Film Slovakia, Forum Films, Forum Hungary, Imagem Filmes, Myndform, Odeon, SF Film, SF Norge A/S, Star Films, Svensk Filmindustri, Universal Pictures International, WW Entertainment, Weltkino Filmverleih, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, NOS Audiovisuais, Sierra / Affinity
Director: Olivia Wilde
Writers: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Katie Silberman
Actors: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Billie Lourd, Skyler Gisondo, Diana Silvers, Mason Gooding, Molly Gordon, Eduardo Franco, Austin Crute, Noah Galvin, Victoria Ruesga, Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, Jessica Williams

Blurb from IMDb:  On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.

Cat’s Point of View:
I remember finding the trailer for Booksmart hilarious and was quite optimistic for the movie. In fact, it landed at #12 on my Top 20 for its May release.

I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Booksmart exceeded my expectations. I laughed, I cringed, and I felt the rush of memories of my own high school experiences. Ah, nostalgia.

I can’t say that I was exactly an academic all-star, but I did spend most of my time focused on study rather than other extracurricular activities. I was very much like the main characters here in a lot of ways. When I began to come out of the shell I’d built around myself through all my parochial school years, I got a little reckless in my rush to make up for lost time. The story was incredibly easy to relate to.

Olivia Wilde (Her, The Lazarus Effect, Love the Coopers) really hit it out of the park with her full-length feature directorial debut here. I’m eager to see what she decides to bring to the screen next. Wilde captured diversity, humor, feminism, and all the awkwardness of finding yourself as you come of age with such an intelligent perspective. There were also little twists and turns that popped in just when I thought I had an outcome figured out.

There were layers to the characters that generally fall as flat stereotypes in most recipe movies of this genre. Of course, some of that credit has to be shared with the cast here. I can’t think of any single integral character that wasn’t portrayed well. If I had to pick a favorite character from the bunch, however, it would not be one of the leads. Billie Lourd’s (American Horror Story, Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, Billionaire Boys Club) character, Gigi, was quite the unexpected treat.

The movie is definitely not for tweens or younger children, but well-timed for those that are ‘of age’ for the film’s rating. Some of the humor is raunchy but it doesn't go too far. I wouldn’t mind giving Booksmart a recommendation or even watching it again. 

P.S. - There is a brief scene during the beginning of the credits, shown in slow motion. Water balloons are involved. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 97%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 77%
Metascore – 84%
Metacritic User Score –  4.4/10
IMDB Score – 7.2/10
CinemaScore – B+

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Big Sick (2017)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: The Big Sick (2017)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Length: 120 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Apatow Productions, FilmNation Entertainment, Story Ink, Amazon Studios, Caramel Films, Cinetopia, Elevation Pictures, Energía Entusiasta, Finnkino, GAGA, Impuls Pictures, Lionsgate, Sabay MVP, Scanbox Entertainment, Shaw Organisation, Spentzos Films, StudioCanal, The Searchers, Thimfilm Filmverleih, Vertigo Média Kft., Weltkino Filmverleih, Youplanet Pictures, Amazon Prime Video, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, Gutek Film, Lionsgate, NOS Audiovisuais, StudioCanal, Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic, Universum Film, Weltkino Filmverleih, Yleisradio, Youplanet Pictures
Director: Michael Showalter
Writer: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Actors: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Jeremy Shamos, David Alan Grier, Ed Herbstman, Shenaz Treasury, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kuhoo Verma, Mitra Jouhari, Celeste Arias, Shana Solomon

Blurb from IMDb: Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations, and his true feelings.

Selina’s Point of View:
Back when this came out, it was #14 on my top 20 list. Since then, I’ve heard a lot of good things. Now that I’ve seen it? I definitely think it should have been much higher.

Having dated someone of Gujarati descent when I was younger, I can say that I 100% believe that this film was based in reality. No one got sick in that relationship, but all my interactions with his family and with him ABOUT his family? Oh man, was that part of the script spot on.

Outside of just how honest the entire film felt, it was still funny and romantic. As a rom-com it was refreshingly unique. I am known to say that not all true stories need to be told in a movie form – but this one worked very well.

Kumail Nanjiani (Stuber, Dolittle, Portlandia) and Zoe Kazan (The Kindness of Strangers, The Monster, Max) had enough chemistry that I was rooting for them from the moment they first appeared on screen together. As the story progressed and Ray Romano (Paddleton, Parenthood, Men of a Certain Age) and Holly Hunter (Song to Song, Strange Weather, Breakable You) came into it, I found myself relating to them and feeling the weight of their characters emotions very deeply.

One of the things I like the most, is the humor you see in the Pakistani family. Often in pop culture you see only the severe side of that family dynamic. In The Big Sick we see the family laughing, joking, and teasing each other. It made them so much more relatable. As a result, when things did get more serious, it felt more heartbreaking. Zenobia Shroff (The Affair, When Harry Tries to Marry, Percy) and Anupam Kher (Hotel Mumbai, Aiyaary, Love Sonia) were so comfortable in their parts that they almost seemed to become their characters.

There was very little I disliked about this movie. I only had one minor issue.

I wasn’t overly fond of the ending. Yes, I know that it was based on a true story… but the ending could have cut maybe 5 minutes earlier and felt less long-winded. It wouldn’t have changed what audience took away from the film.

I’d absolutely recommend The Big Sick. It’s not cloyingly sweet, but it’s not overly bitter either. It’s just a great, original, rom-com.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 98%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 88%
Metascore – 86/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.0/10
IMDB Score – 7.6/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13

Movie Trailer: