Friday, February 18, 2022

Marry Me (2022)

Streaming Service: Peacock
Movie Name/Year: Marry Me (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Music, Romance
Length: 112 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Universal Pictures, Kung Fu Monkey Productions, Nuyorican Productions, Perfect World Pictures, Peacock, B&H Film Distribution, Cinemundo, Tulip Entertainment, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures Argentina, Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Kat Coiro
Writer:  John Rogers, Tami Sagher, Harper Dill, Bobby Crosby
Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, John Bradley, Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman, Michelle Buteau, Khalil Middleton, Katrina Cunningham
Blurb from IMDb: Music superstars Kat Valdez and Bastian are getting married before a global audience of fans. But when Kat learns, seconds before her vows, that Bastian has been unfaithful, she decides to marry Charlie, a stranger in the crowd, instead.

Selina’s Point of View:
Marry Me may be the most honestly marketed film I’ve ever seen.
Trailers are meant to give you a decent idea of what to expect. It doesn’t always work out that way. Too often, coming attractions will try to make a movie seem like some thing it isn’t. They’ll take a basic recipe film and try to convince you there’s a twist, or they’ll take a twisty-turny flick and show you all the important scenes right there in a two-minute video.
When I saw the Marry Me trailer, my first instinct was that it had a relatively original meet-cute. Delving deeper, I said it seemed like it would be a basic recipe flick with some heart-warming content. I also believed that the experience of Jennifer Lopez (Shades of Blue, Home, Second Act) and Owen Wilson (Wonder, The French Dispatch, Loki) would elevate it into something worth watching.
I’d love to take the credit for being 100% on point, but I didn’t exactly have any hot takes on this one. The advertising was just so spot-on that there was no way to get that wrong. I cannot say how much I appreciate that honest of a trailer.
The movie itself was cute.

I enjoyed the entire film. The actors really did elevate what could have been a basic story into something fun to watch.
There was no question about what would happen. It was definitely paint-by-numbers. I assume that’s why critics aren’t loving it. But if you look at the audience score, it tells a different story. The reason for that is because it’s FUN and it’s a dose of rom-com escapism that is well above most other films from the genre.
Just the fact that both main characters remain distinctly likeable throughout the whole runtime, sets this film apart from others like it.
It’s also got some great messages that I don’t feel like other rom-coms work hard enough to get across.
If you’re a fan of romantic comedies and you need something to throw on, especially after a break-up, this is exactly what you should watch.

Cat’s Point of View:
I had no idea that Marry Me was based on a webcomic and graphic novel series. I am now significantly intrigued and might just go hunt it down. I’m curious how well this big-screen adaptation captured the story’s essence and if it delves further into the lives of the characters past the end credits of this installment.
I fell in love with Marry Me when my family and I watched it together today. We laughed, we rooted for characters, and we found ourselves heckling the screen in a few places. (It’s a good thing we were streaming this on Peacock at home, right?)
My brain stuttered a bit when I attempted to even try to begin to explain what I enjoyed so much about Marry Me. It was the whole package, really. Was this film groundbreaking? No. Did I care for a single second? Hell no. Marry Me was a fun experience from beginning to end.
It felt like a little peek into the crazy world that celebrities like Jennifer Lopez live in. As outlandish as the premise of the plot may be, I had no trouble suspending disbelief. The production quality was outstanding. The dialogue felt genuine. There was even some chemistry between J-Lo and Owen Wilson. That, honestly, was the biggest surprise for me. They were an unlikely pairing, and I think that just lends more to the story.

For full disclosure, I might be slightly biased to Lopez, as I’ve been a fan of hers dating back to her stint as a Fly Girl on In Living Color (1990-1994). She is phenomenally talented and Marry Me is exactly the sort of movie that showcased it well. It felt like we got a mini-concert, and I was here for it. I haven’t always been a fan of Wilson, however. I don’t know what it is, but in some movies, I click with him, and in others I’d like to punch him. For Marry Me? I wanted to give him a hug – when I didn’t want to smack his character for being occasionally dumb.
They weren’t the only cast members that had me giddy, though. It was fun to see Chloe Coleman (My Spy, Big Little Lies, Kinderwood). Sarah Silverman (The Book of Henry, Don't Look Up, Bob's Burgers) was in her element. I was also super excited to see John Bradley (The Brothers Grimsby, American Satan, Patient Zero). Kudos to Maluma for his first live-action full-length feature, as well. While he voiced a character in Encanto (2021), his prior film credits were generally musical appearances. I enjoyed getting a taste of his musical performances and vocal styling.
Valentine’s Day has already come and gone, but if you’re looking for a feel-good rom-com to settle in with, you really couldn’t go wrong with Marry Me. Understandably, the critics don’t get it. This isn’t an art-house piece and it’s not meant to be taken so seriously. Audiences seem to be overwhelmingly loving Marry Me, and I have to agree. Marry Me was solid streaming entertainment. My answer to the title question was yes.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 58%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 92%
Metascore – 50%
Metacritic User Score – 6.5
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
P.S. Some short scenes play through during the credits.
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Kimi (2022)


Streaming Service: HBO Max
Movie Name/Year: Kimi (2022)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Length:  149 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Pictures Germany, HBO Max
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: David Koepp
Actors: Zoë Kravitz, Erika Christensen, Rita Wilson, Devin Ratray, Jaime Camil, India de Beaufort, Robin Givens, Jacob Vargas, Charles Halford, Emily Kuroda, Caleb Emery
IMDb Blurb: An agoraphobic Seattle tech worker uncovers evidence of a crime.

Cat’s Point of View:
Kimi snagged my attention from the jump. The movie might have landed as #7 on my personal Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in February 2022 list, but that was only because of the stiff competition within my top 10 picks. The premise was interesting, the production team solid, and Kimi had a banging cast on board.
With a dynamic duo such as David Koepp (Angels & Demons, Premium Rush, You Should Have Left) and Steven Soderbergh (Contagion, Logan Lucky, High Flying Bird) writing and directing, respectively, it’s no wonder the end product was high quality. The story embraced technology and wove both a love letter and cautionary tale at the same time. Simultaneously, they managed to successfully portray the main character’s agoraphobia. My heart was in my throat as she faced down her fears. I was on this rollercoaster and by the end of the ride, I found it not only well worth my time, but I’d take the ride again.

Before I get too far down the rabbit hole, I feel I have to digress a little. The tech utilized in the story of Kimi as well as the company that was responsible for it both gave me chills. We already exist in a time when our devices eavesdrop on us. How many times have you had a pop-up ad on your phone or computer shortly after talking about that very product? I can’t tell you how many times it has happened to me. Also, do we really read all of the terms and conditions of every program and application we use on a daily basis? I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always. What have we given these companies permission to do? What have we unwittingly signed away?  Things that make you go ‘hmm.’ Such are the issues that this plot tackled.
Albeit, this story isn’t driven by an eavesdropping device. It was close enough to be uncomfortable in that regard, however. I will refrain from following the white rabbit on secure data storage and proprietary customer information access. No, that’s a rant for another day I promise.

Zoë Kravitz (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Big Little Lies, The Batman) was bloody brilliant in her role as Angela Childs. In a very short time, she effectively conveyed the story of how she became a shut-in and the varying layers to her complicated existence. I have to give serious kudos to both her and the production team for crafting a character that was badass while neurodivergent without reducing them to a pitiful mess.
It’s safe to say I really enjoyed Kimi and even watched this one with my teen. She was right along with me rooting for Angela, and we both giggled at the cameo appearance that defied our expectations. If you have access to HBO Max, Kimi would be an enjoyable stream for fans of the crime thriller genre.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 52%
Metascore – 78%
Metacritic User Score – 5.0/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, February 14, 2022

They Live in the Grey (2022)


Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: They Live in the Grey (2022)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 123 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: STANDOFF Pictures, Whiskey Stream Productions, Shudder
Directors: Abel Vang, Burlee Vang
Writers: Abel Vang, Burlee Vang
Actors: Michelle Krusiec, Ken Kirby, Madelyn Grace, Audrey Moore, Ellen Wroe, J.R. Cacia, Bernard Bullen, Cami Storm, Ian Stanley, Patrick Hume
IMDb Blurb: Claire, while investigating a child abuse case, discovers that the family is being tormented by a supernatural entity.

Selina’s Point of View:
They Live in the Grey had a great trailer. It really sucked me in when we went through the coming attractions for February.
As it turns out, just about every single scare was in that trailer. Instead of a hair-raising horror/thriller, I wound up with a horror/drama.
Now, They Live in the Grey was not terrible. It was just badly advertised. It went into the effects of grief just as much as it did the supernatural elements. In fact, those supernatural elements almost seemed to be an after-thought. The same story could have been told if every ghost was removed from the film. The ending would have needed a couple of tweaks, but that’s about it.

Actually, now that I think about it, that might have been closer to a thriller than what we got.
It was also about a half-hour too long. The ghost events seemed to drag on in some scenes. Those moments didn’t make it scarier, either. Instead, the tension slowly subsided as the scenes dragged on.
There were some good twists, and there were a few very well-done scenes depicting the toll grief can take on a person and their relationships. I was never completely bored.
If you opt to watch They Live in the Grey, go into it expecting a drama. It will keep your expectations where they need to be.

Cat’s Point of View:
They Live in the Grey was a stand-out for me among the trailers we watched while prepping for February’s Top 20 Movies to Look Out For list. I really enjoyed the trailer and mentioned at the time that it was giving me some real The Sixth Sense (1999) vibes – but, you know, without the whole twist from that particular movie. This production landed at my #14 position on my personal list, though Selina’s article has They Live in the Grey squarely in the middle of the pack at #12.
Looking back now in the wake of watching They Live in the Grey, I question some of the decisions made in that trailer. Going into this film, I had the expectation of something along the lines of the aforementioned Sixth Sense blended with The Conjuring (2013). That’s not entirely what happened, and yet it was still a decent assessment.

When They Live in the Grey leaned into the supernatural and the daily terror that Claire Yang dealt with on a regular basis, things were firing on all cylinders. The pain that she felt was palpable and my heart was breaking with her. Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation, Hawaii Five-O, Shooter) had me deeply ensnared in her story and feeling every bit of emotion with her.
The wheels fell off the bus a little bit with the pacing. Regardless of how invested I was in the story, things just seemed to creep along. I checked the runtime progress two or three times along the way because I was starting to get twitchy. It was hard to stick with it in a few stretches, but I rode it out – not only for the sake of the review but because my curiosity demanded it.

The Vang Brothers, Abel and Burlee Vang, (Nyab Siab Zoo, Hollywood Chaos, Bedeviled) are still getting experience crafting full-length feature films, so it’s clear they’re in the learning curve with pacing and editing for clarity, etc. If you go into They Live in the Grey expecting the slow burn of a drama rather than a fast-paced thriller, you’d be better prepared to enjoy the experience. I'm really excited to see what they do in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, though. There are some thrills. There were plenty of jump-scares. Tension built now and again as you wondered when or if a ghost would present itself to embattled and grieving Claire.  There were a few bloody moments, but it wasn’t over-the-top. The production quality was actually pretty good – especially with the supernatural effects.
They Live in the Grey was a twisty and emotional journey that I don’t regret taking. It will premiere on Shudder February 17th, 2022.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None

Trust the Dice - Parental Guidance Rating: R
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5
Movie Trailer: