Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID-19 Cinema: Head Games (3)

We have officially finished week two of social distancing, home school, and whatever else self-quarantining demands, and the county we live in has just been ordered to shelter-in-place. That's not really the biggest of deals, as there really isn't any reason to go, well, pretty much anywhere.

My wife has been steadily working from home, so the kids and I have been on our own with entertaining ourselves, but recently, she emerged from her home office/our bedroom and suggested (/directed) that we watch something classic. The kids, who are clearly rookies, groaned aloud. I just nodded along. Sounds good, dear. What're you thinking...?

Film: Freaky Friday (1976)
Runtime: 95 minutes    Rating: G
Audience: Whole Squad
Status: Nostalgic, Horrified, Puzzled

You've never called me Daddy before. 

As previously stated, I grew up with two older brothers, so vintage Disney, unless they wanted to make fun of it, was off the table, resulting in many personal blind spots from Walt's vault. My own kids couldn't care less, but my wife sees these omissions in our collective filmography as something bordering parental failure. If only could switch places with her for a day, just someone who isn't my daughter. 

Freaky Friday is so flippin' weird, and beyond problematic as a premise for a children's movie. Yeah, I get it, we should all appreciate each other, but changing brains opens the door for so much awful, it's hard to fathom. Seeing a young Jodie Foster admire her own mother's boobs from the inside out is something I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fully wrap my mind around. Equally as bewildering, is the sheer amount of ensuing hilarity that unfolds in what amounts to the longest day ever. Seriously, this is eight episodes worth of hijinks ramrodded into the longest ninety-five minutes ever. My goodness. Freaky Friday? It felt like Freaky February. 

Yay: Even if she looks like a meth-head who might offer you something for a donut and some toilet paper, Barbara Harris is equal parts sexy and hilarious (she deserves better than reverse-Gomez).
Boo: Jodie Foster's extreme edginess gets old fast. She could have redeemed herself by punching that red-haired kid in the junk, but despite what Disney movies usually tell us, not all wishes are granted.
Homeschool Lesson of the Day: Staying out of mom's head is probably for the best.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

COVID-19 Cinema: Call the police! (2)

As week one stretched on, the routine became easier to manage, but harder to fathom. I don't think I've really considered how absolutely messed up this is for my kids, so publicly it's a bit of Hey, this is fun! while privately it's a lot of Holy shit, this is grave. Currently, our only problem is being on top of each other at all times, which if we can all be honest with ourselves, is nothing ever worth complaining about. Hell, we're probably not too far away from desperately longing for moderate annoyances. Or modern conveniences.

But for now, the show goes on, silly and unnecessary as it may be. I'm not trying to make light of this pandemic (but I'm an a-hole, so...), but more so to chronicle it. And as I've been doing for almost ten years here, through the (mostly bad) films I watch. Stay in. Stay safe. And while you're at it, stay frosty.

FilmMy Life as a Zucchini
Runtime: 70 minutes    Rating: PG-13 (what?)
Audience: Matty and Violet (no Mom, phew)
Status: Confused, concerned...and is this school?

Welcome to prison, potato-head.

Oscar nominated for Best Animated film? Should be fine. No need to check the rating at all. It's not like it's a movie about death, child abuse, suicide and, wait for it, the exploding willy. What the Hell, France? You can't make something look so childlike, only to have it be so very grownup, you progressive bastards. Honestly, it's a very, very good film, it's just not for little ones, at least not really, but there I was demanding my kids get off their devices and pay attention and read first. If you haven't seen it, it's a delightful tale about a little boy being sent to an orphanage, after killing his mom. If you want to know what happens next, ask my kids. Or their therapists.

Yay: It's a two-way race for silver between Camille and Cop Guy, with the animation taking the gold.
Boo: I always check Common Sense Media before starting a flick with my kids. This time? I trusted the Academy, which we all know, flies directly in the face of common sense.
Homeschool lesson of the day: The good news? Your dad isn't trying to scar you...physically.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID-19 Cinema: Secret of the Oohs (1)

Week one (of at least three) was pretty wild. Staying at home with my kids is essentially our summer routine, but those warm, carefree days include as many activities as possible, and summer madness typically takes place far, far away from the watchful eye of Sauron. (mom's home, dig?)

Ah, remember the Shire...

Clearly these are wildly different times. Like summer, I'm home, but now I'm playing teacher to my two kids, a first grader and a fifth grader, both attempting to navigate their initial foray into the dreaded world of online learning. Eventually, all fortitude and civility break down, and it becomes movie time. Family movie time. And when that's over? After dinner, showers, their second wind and my wife passes out? It's movie time. Again. Without the family.

Here's what went down in round one...

Film: Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Runtime: 87 minutes  Rating: PG-13
Audience: Matty and Violet  Status: Engaged some buttons.

Being that I'd never dipped my toe into the pool of D.C.s' direct-to-video animation prior, this little flick absolutely stunned me. A mysterious gang is snatching up all the tech in Gotham with plans to unleash a chemical agent all over the city. Enter the good guys, a ton of them (Batman's whole crew + the Turts), to kick the ass of a who's who of evil doers (Joker, Harley Quinn, Shredder, etc). Seriously, tell me they're making a $700 million dollar, four-hour live-action epic, and I'll pre-order my tickets now. Assuming, you know, movie tickets are still a thing.

Yay: The action is shockingly hard-hitting, and the comedy, even more surprising, is gut-busting.
Boo: I'm not sure my kids knew what to make of Joker and Harley frenching like/as wild animals.
Homeschool lesson of the day: Teamwork makes the dream work. Assuming your partner is really strong, really rich...or both.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Are we ever gonna be better than this?

The one that be Warren G.

I don't have a lot of interest in DJs, outside of hiring one for my wedding (he's in jail for murder, by the way), so it's not like I'd purposely seek out a movie about Pauly D when scouring Netflix a couple of nights back. But when I, perhaps desperately (uh, it was overwhelmingly desperate), searched the name of one of my favorite actresses like the pathetic hermit I've become (well, further become), a movie about a guy vigorously pushing buttons on his laptop seemed like quality cinema. I mean, as long as the impossibly sexy (and, if I'm honest, impossibly curvy) woman was featured?

Push those buttons, good sir. Oh, and if you could, do it with your head on your shoulder. So dope. Cool, cool. Now, with two hands bring the slider down, then up. Bro, you're killing it.

Look, I 'teach' (or used to teach?) f--king ultra-uninterested children for a living, so believe me, there isn't a job I'd ever really shit on. That said, I headed into We Are Your Friends thinking the whole idea of being a DJ was silly at best, unrelentingly pretentious at worst. And while I still think it's all kind of ridiculous, there's way more skill than I ever gave it credit for. And boobs. Boobs also seem to be a part of the profession.

Just not the ones I was expecting.

Zac Efron, also not slacking in the chest department, plays Cole, a young dude trying to make it as a DJ in the party-scene of southern California (back in the glory days when people were allowed to leave their homes and gather). Cole is actually a pretty good dude, but he may or may not be fully held back by his trio of friends, Bald Guy, Hat Guy and Other Hat Guy. These bros are close as f--k, and have formed some sort of Volton-like creature, that when assembled, might impact the periphery of an exclusive club or two. They dream big, but it's beyond obvious that only Cole has a chance of making something of himself. If only he could meet some kind of Mr. Miyagi type, who could take him under his self-important wing, and show him the way. Cue DJ Bootleg Wolverine.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Bad news, baby. It's not going to be okay.

When the manager of my local theater called me last Friday, I was totally rattled. I figured he was reaching out to all of the [potentially] infected, but instead, he was asking if I could come about half an hour earlier. Turns out no one else had bought a ticket, and he was thinking he could get his staff home just a little bit earlier if they could move my 10 o'clock showing up.

That's very nice of you, but, uh, how about I stay home altogether and you guys get out even earlier? 

He laughed, but informed me that there was another late show with actual paying customers, so whether I showed or not, they wouldn't be getting out any earlier if I stayed home. He then sweetened the deal with whatever snacks I wanted, free of charge.

The whole conversation had me thinking. Is it smart to go to the theater right now? But you'll be the only one in it. Exactly, because you know this movie sucks ass. But you love shitty movies. This is dumb. You're dumb. Stay home. But...Henry. He's so nice. And this might be the last time you go to a theater for a very long time.

Needless to say, there was a lot running through my head...while I hauled ass to the theater.

I didn't know about the existence of Bloodshot before my older brother Bryan showed me the trailer late last year, yet here I was, alone, disinfecting my stadium seat (and the adjacent ones at that). Being that Bry was so stoked with the premise, not to mention the promise of this latest comic-book flick (especially when Vin gets his face blown off in slo-mo to close the trailer), I immediately recommended we watch Upgrade [review] which seemed to be cast from a similar mold. And while there are easily identifiable similarities, let's be honest with ourselves: who the f--k cares? DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FACE?!?

Vin Diesel is not Groot, but instead plays a soldier named Ray, who after watching his sexy lady murdered directly in front of him, is himself shot in the head and killed. Or balls and wounded. It doesn't matter.

What might matter, is that Ray is somehow saved, and now enlisted in a super-secret super-soldier squad. Training with his insanely hot partner KT, Ray quickly learns he's basically a deadpan Deadpool, strong as f--k and capable of instant regeneration, assuming shit goes sideways. Heading the program is Guy Pearce, which doesn't do anything to dampen the Memento-vibe, which may or may not have been thrust our way intentionally.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Oh, and he told me to give you this...

I really wasn't looking forward to this one.

From the trailer, it looked like it was another dead parent movie, specifically dead dad, and at this time in my life, that's not a ride I really wanted to take. My daughter wanted to go, however, and as far as I can tell, her dad isn't dead. In fact, that dude is (currently) alive and well.

Even if Pixar is always trying to kill him.

For most of you, the last word you'd use to describe Pixar's Onward would be 'sneaky', but that's probably because you weren't bracing yourself as the lights went down. Assuming that Pixar was coming for my heart with the deceased father angle, I spent a good portion of the first hour steeling myself for the inevitable emotional outpouring. My dad was, at the time, less than a week out from major surgery, so I had to be ready for the moment, which in a way, never came.

Wait, what?

It turns out, Onward isn't about the relationship a young boy has with his father (or at least not really). It's instead a rather poignant story about brotherhood and those family ties that have nothing to do with our parents. I grew up as the middle of five kids and being that we've never all lived under the same roof, have punched the clock as the baby, the middle child, and the oldest kid in the house. Needless to say, I saw pieces of myself in both Ian and Barley.

Tom Holland plays the aforementioned Ian, a pretty shy high-school kid, struggling to find his way in the mythical/magical world of New Mushroomton (sounds like my favorite Mario Kart track). His older brother, Barley (Chris Pratt [and somehow not Jack Black]) is a bit of loser, obsessing over role-playing games and consistently (though inadvertently) embarrassing his brother. Barley's a good dude, but when you look at him through Ian's eyes...well, anyone's eyes, honestly...he's a bit...much.

Monday, March 16, 2020

You belong in your own private cage.

I don't know if this counts in true nerdom, but I'm way more of a general nerd than one of those a-holes who goes all in on something. I walk into the [overly-elaborate] (costume) party, dap up as many factions as I can, finish my Bai, and keep it movin'. Sam, Frodo, it's been too long. Oh, shit, looking good, Harry - hey, have you seen Ron? Maybe I'm not going home with anyone, but I'm still going to have a good night.

But you hardcore types, honestly? I'm jealous. While I'm shaking hands and admiring the costume you made yourself, you not only know all the same people I know, but are more than comfortable with fiercely ramming your tongue down the throat and dry-humping the shit out of a film series or TV show both proudly and publicly. You think I'm being condescending, but I'm not bullshitting you in the least: I f--king love people who know their shit. And even better?

When you don't see it coming.

If you met my brother Bryan on the street, you'd think he's a (mostly) normal late 40s guy. Hard-working blue collar dude, with a nice house, a big truck, a lovely wife and and an even lovelier daughter (my niece, weirdos). But if you somehow veered the subject to movies (away from New England sports or the pH levels of drinking water), you'd probably find out he's a fan of the Terminator films - a f--king massive one. And when he gets going on the's beyond impressive. And absolutely hysterical.

With a random day off and having the house to myself, I decided to crank up my new soundbar (f--k off, it's the best audio setup I've ever had) and blast the shit out of Terminator: Dark Fate. Had I not been thinking of the conversation I will inevitably have with my older brother (with a dash of Arnold-related anticipation), I think I would have been moderately crushed with this latest sequel. It's not terrible...but could have been so much better.

While we all know time-travel flicks shit all over anything related to a coherent understanding of reality as we know it, the Terminator franchise, at this point (at it's final point?), has totally set the bar for wait, when the f--k did this happen? Maybe if they make a Back to the Future sequel where an elderly Marty McFly runs over a young Emmett Brown with his DeLorean, there will be some conversation, but for now, if you want to a f--ked up timeline, have I got a mostly-human killing machine for you.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Well, to be honest, it feels like I've been running my whole life.

You know how they say you never forget your first time? Assuming they're talking about the first time you fell...asleep in a movie theater..., then it's true. Twenty-two years later, I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

It was the theater above the karaoke bar in Kona, and Nik Gindler and I sat on the right-hand side, toward the middle. Even though I had never watched the show before, Nik had convinced me we should check out the X-Files movie. Cool, I'm in. And then I was out. 

I don't know if it was the first, or tenth time that Scully had furrowed her brow while Mulder ran his hand through his hair, but at some point, I fell asleep. Not even the ol' heavy eyelids, malfunctioning neck combo of fighting the good fight. Nope. Asleep. Like, done. Good Night (Smoking Man in the) Moon.

Speaking of things that happened in the nineties, I took the whole family to Sonic the Hedgehog a few weeks back, and I'm happy to report that I didn't fall asleep during the movie. Nope. For the first time in my life...

...I fell asleep during the previews. 

The night before our opening-day show was parent conferences and being that teachers are all for doing things the hard way, we always opt for a twelve-hour day, followed by a three-hour one. Yeah, you get out early on that second day, but at what cost? *checks receipt*

$32.10, actually. Eh...

Luckily for everyone/no one, my kids stayed awake, so they will once again be able to help out their old man. They've oddly become increasingly willing to do this, and typically fight over who gets to go first and such. It's super fun...well, not really, but at least they're working together. Somewhat.

Now, I didn't crash the whole time, so I'll be able to verify most of what they're saying, at least some of it. Assuming I don't fall asleep while they are talking to me.