Friday, May 10, 2024

Turtles All the Way Down (2024)

Streaming Service: HBO Max
Movie Name/Year: Turtles All the Way Down (2024)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 1h 51min
Rating: PG-13
Director: Hannah Marks
Writers: John Green, Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
Actors: Isabela Merced, Cree, Judy Reyes, Felix Mallard, Maliq Johnson, Miles Ekhardt, J. Smith-Cameron, Poorna Jagannathan, Tim Gooch, Jason Kientz, Hannah Marks, Rico Romalus Parker, Debby Ryan

RottenTomatoes Blurb: Turtles All the Way Down tackles anxiety through its 17-year-old protagonist, Aza Holmes. It's not easy being Aza, but she's trying... trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, and a good student, all while navigating an endless barrage of invasive, obsessive thoughts that she cannot control. When she reconnects with Davis, her childhood crush, Aza is confronted with fundamental questions about her potential for love, happiness, friendship, and hope.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I first watched the trailer for Turtles All the Way Down in preparation for May's Top 20 article, I will admit that I somewhat wrote it off as just another YA novel adaptation that would hit just about how they all do.
I am of 2 minds about that trailer now. First, it gave away far too much of the story. Without knowing all of the context, however, it's not entirely chock full of spoilers. (There are some big ones though, so keep that in mind if you decide to take a peek.) At the same time, it didn't fully capture how much Turtles All the Way Down hit differently than the typical YA flicks.
I never thought I'd have ugly tears over a car... but here we are. When I learned that the screenwriting team that adapted John Green's (Paper Towns, Let It Snow, The Fault in Our Stars) novel was the same duo behind the series This is Us (2016-2022), it made more sense. I cried with every episode of that one. (I'm not kidding. That's a story for another day.)
The basic elements were all there so that it comfortably fit into its teen romantic drama genre. Even so, there were just so many more layers to Turtles All the Way Down that resonated on a much deeper level.
While some of the actual medical terms/facts might be a little iffy – something I've seen a few reviews and even IMDb trivia poke at – that wasn't the point. I just let that go as I was watching. The substance of Isabela Merced's (Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Migration, Madame Web) character Aza's struggles was uncomfortably on-point all the same. I don't generally struggle with full-blown OCD, but I do understand anxiety and negative thought spirals. I understand getting locked inside my own head and absorbed in everything right in front of my face to the degree that I forget to communicate with others sometimes.
I could also identify with Aza's mom, played by Judy Reyes (Smile, Birth/Rebirth, Dr. Death). There are some days that I just question myself whether or not I'm doing enough - or if I AM enough – to help my own daughter with her mental health struggles. This can sometimes even be a trigger for my own thought spirals – she got a big chunk of her genetic jackpot from me.
At the same time, Turtles All the Way Down is just as much about hope and real connections between people as it is about finding a way to grow through mental struggles. I adored the friendship shown – and especially how these BFFs weren't perfect and were generally opposites, yet meshed all the same. I think Cree (Game Shakers, Mr. Iglesias, Big Sky) was an excellent fit for Daisy, as well.
I also appreciated how the ending both answered so many questions without epilogue and at the same time left much up in the air. I was left with a cathartic hopeful feeling. Turtles All the Way Down is absolutely worth giving a shot if Drama and Romance are genres you enjoy.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 94%
Metascore – 64%
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – /5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
Movie Trailer:
P.S. = If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety or other mental health distress, there are resources available to you. Below are just a few of the options available. Just remember, you are not alone.

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Anxiety Hotline – Available 24/7 - National Mental Health Hotline at 866-903-3787 to speak to a professional about anxiety symptoms and get help with mental health resources.
  • Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a volunteer Crisis Counselor 24/7 or
  • Text CONNECT to 741741 for free, 24/7 help for specifically anxiety.
  • Suicide & Crisis Lifeline - 24/7: Dial or Text 988

Monday, May 6, 2024

Unfrosted (2024)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Unfrosted (2024)
Genre: Biography, Comedy, History
Length: 1h 33min
Rating: PG-13
Director: Jerry Seinfeld
Writer: Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Andy Robin
Actors: Isaac Bae, Jerry Seinfeld, Christian Slater, Jim Gaffigan, Hugh Grant, Kyle Mooney, Mikey Day, Drew Tarver, Patrick Warburton, Amy Schumer, Max Greenfield, Cedric the Entertainer, Bailey Sheetz, Eleanor Sweeney, Earthquake, Melissa McCarthy, Jack McBrayer, Bobby Moynihan, James Marsden, Peter Dinklage, Bill Burr, George Wallace, Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Dan Levy, etc.
Blurb from IMDb: In 1963 Michigan, business rivals Kellogg's and Post compete to create a cake that could change breakfast forever.

Selina’s Point of View:
The trailer for Unfrosted looked so cute and funny that it was one of the top 5 films I thought would be worth watching in May. It had a stellar cast and a cute little premise. We added it to the schedule as soon as possible.
What I saw was disappointing, at best.

The best actors from the cast were cut down to cameo parts that absolutely wasted their talent. There’s nothing wrong with cameos, of course, but in a situation like this where the actor’s names are used in the marketing, you just expect more. I’m also not a fan of Amy Schumer (Trainwreck, Snatched, I Feel Pretty) at all, and not really the biggest fan of Melissa McCarthy’s (The Heat, Tammy, Spy) brand of humor (though I’m not saying she’s a bad actor). Both women were at the forefront of Unfrosted, and that didn’t really work for me.
In fact, most of the jokes were on the stupid side. Either that, or just designed to reference things that really felt weird to reference for a movie like this. Politics, Mad Men, etc.
Unfrosted didn’t work, and it felt like a chore to watch.  

Cat’s Point of View:
I wish I could say that I found Unfrosted funnier than I did. Though, I do feel the need to add the caveat that I am considerably sleep deprived, so that could have colored my watch-experience.
I expected more “Laugh-Out-Loud” moments that just didn't happen the way I wanted them to. There were several giggles, though I was generally more amused with the cast than the story. Don't get me wrong, though. Everyone involved really worked hard to sell their parts. I was buying what they were selling, even if it tasted a little bland.
For Jerry Seinfeld's (Bee Movie, Louie, Curb Your Enthusiasm) feature directorial debut, this did feel about par. What that translates to is simple – not everyone loved his pet project, Seinfeld (1989-1998) either. As for myself, there were some episodes that I adored and had me rolling with laughter. Others, not so much. I still quote at least one to this day – and it was a running gag between a friend of mine and I in college.
Some are going to adore this movie from beginning to end, and others might have a more lukewarm reaction.

I do have to say, though, that Unfrosted was very well cast. Hugh Grant (Glass Onion, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) was the perfect choice to lend a voice and persona behind Tony the Tiger. Christian Slater (Inside Job, Chupa, Freelance) and Peter Dinklage (American Dreamer, She Came to Me, The Toxic Avenger) were just fun to see in their respective parts. I'd watch them in just about anything. Jack McBrayer's (Wander Over Yonder, Queenpins, Eureka!) Schwinn was a bonkers addition to the team but appreciated. I love his generally optimistic and wholesome characters. I also had a significant giggle regarding the Easter Egg that was John Hamm (Good Omens, Mean Girls, Fargo). I could go on, but I think you get the drift.
All the Saturday Night Live (1975-) cast alums fit right in with what felt like, essentially, a string of sketches woven together.
I do plan to watch Unfrosted again with my daughter to see if my opinion changes with some sleep. Until then, I can only advise you to take my notes with a grain of salt and give Unfrosted a chance to determine for yourself how you feel. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 39%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 50%
Metascore – 43%
Metacritic User Score – 5.0
IMDB Score – 5.6/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 3/5
P.S. Bloopers and extra scenes during the credits.
Movie Trailer: