Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Cheaper by the Dozen (2022)

Streaming Service: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: Cheaper by the Dozen (2022)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: 20th Century Studios, Fox Family Films, Khalabo Ink Society, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Pictures, Disney+
Director: Gail Lerner
Writer:  Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Craig Titley, Kenya Berris, Jenifer Rice-Genzuk
Actors: Gabrielle Union, Zach Braff, Erika Christensen, Timon Kyle Durrett, Journee Brown, Kylie Rogers, Andre Robinson, Caylee Blosenski, Aryan Simhadri, Leo Abelo Perry, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Christian Cote, Sebastian Cote, Luke Prael, Brittany Daniel, Cynthia Daniel, Simeon Othello Daise
Blurb from IMDb: The raucous exploits of a blended family of 12, the Bakers, as they navigate a hectic home life while simultaneously managing their family business.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ll start off by saying this: I’ve never seen the 2003, or 1950, versions of Cheaper by the Dozen. I’ve seen clips here and there of the 2003 version, but nothing of the one that came before hand. That means I can only judge this remake on its own merits.
I can make a few leaps of logic, though. Seeing as the diversity in the first two films wasn’t exactly overwhelming, I imagine that the bits of story going into race and privilege are new.
I found some of it fascinating. It did offer some unique ways to show how a mixed family like the Bakers would face prejudice. It managed to do so in a way that was a little easier to understand, with less overt shock-value than is usually used. People who might have defiant reactions to the more ‘in-your-face’ methods used by less family-friendly films, may have an easier time learning through this film.
If they opt to sit through the entire thing.

There were some cute aspects of Cheaper by the Dozen, but it was otherwise a bit boring.
It followed a very strict recipe and was longer than it needed to be. There were also some issues with character depth that was hard to ignore.
I have to admit, though, that Cheaper by the Dozen is not geared toward my flavor of comedy. I’m not a big fan of cringe, and there was a decent amount of it involved. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I did have to pause it a few times to guard against the second-hand embarrassment.
On a very personal level, I don’t believe Cheaper by the Dozen is for me. That said, I did think it had some decent moments. It might be a cute option for someone looking for background noise.

Cat’s Point of View:
In this #12 entry on my March 2022 Top 20 list, I discussed a bit why I had to take a step back and rethink my reaction to Disney taking another shot at this concept. Now that I’ve watched the movie with my family, I don’t regret my decision for even one second.
I adore Steve Martin (Home, Love the Coopers, Only Murders In the Building), as well as SO many of the cast from the 2003 movie. To me, that version of Cheaper by the Dozen remains a classic. At the same time, I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that I’d completely forgotten the last name of the family in that movie was also Baker. As soon as I watched the trailer for the new version, I knew we were in for a whole fresh take on the giant blended family concept.
There are similarities within this Cheaper by the Dozen, but the new version makes great strides to stand on its own.

I loved the layers within the story that made everything deeper and more nuanced without having to be overt about it. This was one of those rare times that the trailer didn’t give everything away. There were story elements that it didn’t even hint at. Even so, the trailer drew me in with its charm and comedy.
Another factor that impressed me with Cheaper by the Dozen was its attention to real issues without being preachy about them. There were some real modern hot button topics covered without the usual vitriol that comes with them. It was a generally realistic approach and spoke some truth about diversity and systemic racism in a way that would be easier to spark conversation within families. I didn’t feel like I was being lectured at and it remained a wholesome experience for the family while still having a point.
Can we also talk a minute about how one of the kids in the movie was in a wheelchair and they didn’t make the plot about that at all? She was just one of the group and in on the shenanigans. There was no hype about it. I even thought twice before mentioning that story element here – but I was so excited to see this level of inclusivity without all the usual virtue-signaling that goes with it that I had to say something.
The narrative was endearing, the comedy on point, and the cast delivered wonderfully. If you have access to Disney+, don’t miss a chance to stream this gem. Cheaper by the Dozen is available without the need for premium access.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 38%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 29%
Metascore – 42%
Metacritic User Score – 3.1
IMDB Score – 3.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4.5/5
P.S. Some epilogue stuff at the start of the credits.
Movie Trailer:

Monday, March 21, 2022

The Spine of Night (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Spine of Night (2022)
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Gorgonaut, Reno Productions, Koch Films, Velvet Spoon, Wild Duck Productions, Freaks On, RLJE Films, Shudder
Directors: Philip Gelatt, Morgan Galen Kingr
Writers: Philip Gelatt, Morgan Galen King
Actors: Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel, Joe Manganiello, Patrick Breen, Larry Fessenden, Jason Gore, Maggie Lakis, Tom Lipinski, Nina Lisandrello, Rob McClure, Malcolm Mills, Abigail Savage, Jordan Douglas Smith
IMDb Blurb: Ultra-violent, epic fantasy set in a land of magic follows heroes from different eras and cultures battling against a malevolent force.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Spine of Night was both a surprising delight and grisly spectacle that has seared itself into my mind forever.
That being said, I’m afraid this movie will suffer from a very niche target audience. I happen to wholeheartedly live in their demographic, though. Before I get into why I adored this film, I do need to provide a disclaimer – which ties in with why I’m afraid The Spine of Night might struggle a bit.
While animated, The Spine of Night is absolutely not suitable for children whatsoever. Hard no. This is not a ‘cartoon.’ Aside from the generic full frontal nudity of male and female characters alike, it was a bloody gore-fest of violence. 

We’re talking skull-splitting, evisceration, and immolation in grand animated glory. This has to be one of the most brutal things I have ever experienced. But hey, there’s zero sex involved with The Spine of Night. The nakedness of characters is only a backdrop. That’s just how they culturally dressed (or didn’t, as the case may be). Honestly, though, if you’re watching people being cleaved in half and disemboweled, a few nondescript bits of anatomical pieces bobbing around on screen shouldn’t be an issue. I digress…

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff.
My primary concern for The Spine of Night was the fact that it was pitched as an anthology. As I mentioned in the March 2022 Top 20 article, my relationship with that particular film framework is a bit strained. It left me a little guarded with a hint of trepidation for The Spine of Night. I was so excited after the trailer that I was dreading something like that messing the experience up for me.
The good news is that I hardly noticed. If this was supposed to be an anthology, it is the most seamless one I’ve ever seen. The Spine of Night flowed smoothly through its story, which was mostly told through flashbacks. Speaking of flashing back, I was hit with all sorts of nostalgia because this felt so much like Heavy Metal (1981). This sort of narrative could have even been in the same universe with the story arc from that classic.

Other than some bits of the ultra-violence, the only thing that remotely put me off even a little was the animation style, itself. I’m not the biggest fan of the rotoscope style, in this fashion. The Spine of Night made it work, however. The overall production was simply gorgeous. The contrast between the characters and the breathtaking backgrounds was interesting more often than distracting.
The story made my sword and sorcery fantasy-loving heart happy.
Out of all the streaming services available, Shudder is the perfect place for The Spine of Night to call home. You’ll be able to catch it there as a Shudder Exclusive starting Thursday, March 24th.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 76%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 62%
Metascore – 57%
Metacritic User Score – 7.6/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R (borderline NC-17)
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer: