Jexi (2019): Smartphony

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“Jexi” is directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also co-wrote the movie together. This film stars Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse, Love, Simon), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Dora and the Lost City of Gold), and Rose Byrne (Damages, Neighbors) in a story about a guy who is too attached to his phone. The main character of Phil uses his phone which has this voice control service named Jexi, pretty similar to Siri, Google, Alexa, or Cortana if that’s still a thing. The film eventually arrives at a point where it is established that the phone is controlling Phil’s life, perhaps in an abusive manner. So, basically imagine if Siri became HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Going into “Jexi,” I honestly had little to no hopes for this movie whatsoever. I watched the trailer before going in and even though it put a slight smile on my face for one moment, I thought this movie was just going to plain suck. But at the same time, the plot can resonate with society today, so maybe it could be a fine allegory for how much we as people rely on our phones. Once they’re in our sights, or in our hands, we’re hooked. This point is emphasized at the very beginning of the film. The main character enjoys playing on his phone, he uses it as an alarm clock, he uses it as a calendar, and when it falls when accidentally bumping into someone, he tends to attach more value onto the device than other people. So when Phil’s phone breaks, I as an audience member got a sense that this incident sort of ruined his life.

Speaking of ruining lives, I think my life has officially been tossed to the ground, shattered, stepped on, and in need of repair at the Geek Squad. This movie… I don’t even know what to say except… WOW. This was one of my least anticipated films I have seen all year, and I honestly can’t say it’s the worst I’ve seen this year. But… To call this movie Shakespeare would be impractical to unimaginable degrees. F*ck! This! Movie! I mean… Seriously! I still don’t even know how to describe what just happened! My head is spinning as I write this! If I had to be honest, out of all the movies I have seen this year, aside from John Travolta’s “The Fanatic,” this is definitely the one that I will remember as that “so bad it’s good” type of film. Because a lot of elements are inserted to make something interesting, but it’s funny for the wrong reasons. Granted, this is a comedy, and the job of a comedy is to make me laugh. I cannot say I was happy with myself for laughing because I felt like what I was watching could have been written by Patrick Star from “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Without spoiling anything, here are my main thoughts on this movie’s BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END… In separate paragraphs.

BEGINNING:
The first act provides a fine sense of where this movie will eventually go. It establishes our society’s insatiable hankering for smartphones. The humor is a little bit mixed, but when it’s bad, it easily messes with my brain. Most of the standout moments and lines, kind of to my surprise, come from the AI. BUT THE MAIN CHARACTER IS STUPID.

MIDDLE:
Alright, this part is not too bad. I think the chemistry between the main character and his love interest is a tad off. Although wait a minute… DID THEIR CHEMISTRY JUST CLICK?! WHAT AM I WATCHING?! Also… That phone is starting to annoy me a bit.

END:
Never thought I’d say this, but “Jexi” has somehow built itself up pretty well. I’m somewhat irritated by the movie, but I do think it is funny at times, maybe for reasons I can’t live with, but things seemed to have moved in the right direc–wait wait wait! WHAT?! NO! F*ck this s*it! I’m done! I can’t! Why is this happening? This makes no sense!

As of this point, “Jexi” has tarnished my soul and made me feel somewhat insignificant.

As mentioned, THE MAIN CHARACTER IS STUPID. Granted, that is kind of the point of the movie. I guess Phil is supposed to represent the stereotype of a phone addict. Phil uses his phone to control pretty much every aspect of his life. He’s that kind of person who would work at a job for a good portion of time and still try to ask his phone what the fastest route to work is. Granted, he is in a major city so it’s not completely nonsensical, but it still feels weird! Also, when Phil first gets a phone with Jexi on it, he needs to agree to various terms and conditions. You know how a lot of people join something new without reading the obnoxiously long terms and conditions? There’s this joke where Phil just blindly accepts whatever is in front of him. It takes some time for him to want to switch to a new phone. He’s incredibly petrified given his recent situation and just takes whatever phone is given to him. There’s no process as to how he manages to get a phone, he just takes one and walks away. So he gets a new phone, which also has Jexi on it. He’s given the terms and conditions again. And just like last time, he doesn’t read through them! WHAT ARE YOU STUPID?! I’m pretty sure in a situation like this, that MIGHT have something to do with what’s happening here! It sounds absurd, but I think Captain Obvious whispered in my ear as this movie went on! As I expected, this leads to Jexi eventually activating herself and recognizing Phil. And then I had to suffer through the rest of this crap!

Screenshot (38)

I will give credit to Jexi though for being a proper definition of what a crazy AI on a phone could be. It follows you around, it’s with you forever, and it has all of your information to use against you. In fact, Jexi is voiced by Rose Byrne and she is PERFECT in her role. There is not a moment where this felt like I wasn’t listening to a phone robot. Well done!

Although one of the more interesting characters in the film, even though she is part of an off and on marathon of interactions is Cate. The reason why I find her so interesting is because she is not attached any electronic devices. She mentions at one point that she used to be about that sort of life, but she gave up and decided to focus more on reality. I for one went in the opposite direction, where I gave up on reality for a greater dive into social media. It does make me wonder though, is it worth talking to a bunch of people I don’t know? Because there’s a high chance that I won’t meet everyone I talk to online, so do we have real relationships? It is a question worth considering.

Although aside from Phil, there are two characters in this movie I hate with a burning passion. One of them is Denice, who happens to be working at a phone store Phil makes multiple trips to during the movie. As I saw her in multiple scenes, I just had to ask. WHY is she here? She should be fired! For all I know she could be one of the higher-ups there, but wouldn’t somebody call, USING A PHONE THEY PROBABLY BOUGHT FROM THE STORE, to complain about their experience to the corporate office or something? I am just dumbfounded! How did she get a job working at a phone store, if she is making fun of a target demographic for the smartphone industry? Is it supposed to be played for laughs? I guess. But in reality, this does not make sense! It’s like if I applied for a job at Amazon and I made fun of everybody who chose the fastest shipping options. I would not be the prime pick for them!

Speaking of terrible work environments and people in them, let’s talk about Phil’s boss in this movie. Phil works at this company that may as well have been created because maybe the writers could not use the name BuzzFeed. Essentially, it is a bunch of people’s jobs, including Phil’s, to come up with random click-bait type lists that will go viral for like a day until they create a new one that also might last for a day in terms of popularity. Phil’s boss is played by Michael Peña, who isn’t really as much of a dick as say Kevin Spacey from “Horrible Bosses,” or… well, Kevin Spacey, but he’s just annoying. There’s this gag where people have to drop beats to let him move away from a certain area and it made me want to beat myself in the face.

But the absolute worst thing about this movie is the ending. I talked about it a little bit, but I need to dive a little deeper because… F*CK! A lot of what happens with Jexi in this film may be rather supernatural or unrealistic to a certain standard, but I was still able to let it slide because at times, it was funny. Then we get to the ending. The big… fat… ending, where all hell and its fiendish minions break loose. I will not go into much detail, but something truly significant happens during the ending, that would probably work if it were a nightmare heavily involving technology, but if it were put into reality, it would come off as insane. I’m still flabbergasted, I’m still a little hurt, and this was ultimately the biggest turnoff that I can point out in “Jexi” because the second act seemed to have sparked a slight sense of improvement in the movie, and all of a sudden, this s*it happens. It just goes to show, a bad ending can ruin a good movie. Granted, “Jexi” was average at best before this, but this was a huge downfall. At least it’s only 84 minutes! …Well, 84 minutes of doom.

“OK Google, set a reminder on my calendar for every day for the rest of civilization to never watch Jexi again.”

In the end, “Jexi” tries to be hilarious, but just manages to be a defect of a movie. I’d rather be stuck in the woods with no bars on my phone, holding a 5% charge, and have a high possibility of being eaten by a bear than watch “Jexi” again. Maybe if I’m 21 and happen to be drunk, I’d slap it on the TV and see what happens. Maybe I’d laugh my ass off, because this is not just a bad movie, it’s occasionally got that so bad it’s good vibe. It has a lot of aspects worth questioning, both for good and bad reasons. And with that notion in mind, it could make the movie watchable. But in all seriousness, I’m going to give “Jexi” a 3/10. One last thing, I know this movie was probably never supposed to be a standout for its technical aspects, but the cinematography was SO OFF-PUTTING at times. There are multiple scenes where the cinematographer or the director just had this fetish to zoom in or out on something. This almost reminded of why I don’t watch shows like “The Office.” The camera is always in motion, it feels kind of uncomfortable. Just… “Jexi” can suck it.

Thanks for reading my totally objective and not at all opinionated review. This movie somehow managed to turn out better than I originally thought it would, but that must not say much at all, because I thought this could have been the worst movie of the year. Turns out it’s just… another bad flick. And speaking of movies where phones happen to be possessed, I will have another review up this week, specifically for the new movie “Countdown.” I just got to see it at an advance screening last Thursday, and I have some things to say about it. Be sure to look out for that review, and if you want to be notified of said review, please follow Scene Before either with an email if you want to get news about my blog in your inbox, or with a WordPress account to like or comment and get informed about the latest at Scene Before through your very own WordPress feed! Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Jexi?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite voice control AI? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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Zombieland: Double Tap (2019): A Presidential Zombie Flick

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“Zombieland: Double Tap” is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who also directed the original “Zombieland” back in 2009. The film stars Woody Harrelson (Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Edge of Seventeen), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Scream Queens), Emma Stone (Easy A, The Amazing Spider-Man), Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Men In Black II), Zoey Deutch (The Year of Spectacular Men, Dirty Grandpa), and Luke Wilson (Concussion, Enlightened). This film takes place, appropriately, ten years after the original “Zombieland.” Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock are back and they have survived in an America that has basically become zombified. We see them in the White House, continuously living with their current reality as an imaginary dysfunctional family. Meanwhile, Little Rock flees away with a guy which prompts the remainder of the White Household, plus a new teammate, to go find her. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget, there’s zombies.

I first saw “Zombieland” back in 2016, which happens to be 7 years after it came out. While it was not the best comedy of its particular year, I found it to be rather funny. Granted, it also tries emphasize various horror elements, but the more I think about it, it almost feels like a pure comedy. That’s not to say that “Zombieland” is a bad horror movie, but it just feels like it was meant to be funny more than it is meant to be scary. This is why when I saw the marketing a couple times, I was a tad turned off, because it didn’t seem that funny.

Although at the same time, one thing I didn’t consider is a common complaint among various moviegoers. You know how there are a lot of comedies out there that show all the funny parts in the trailer? This movie, at least from my experience, saved a great portion of the funniest parts for the final product. By the way, if you have NOT seen the recent red band trailer for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” DON’T. There’s a moment that is not in the main film, but instead, during the credits. I didn’t watch this red band marketing piece until after watching the movie, but I saw something in there that I would have preferred the marketing team to leave out because I would rather have it be a surprise. Granted, it involves something I knew about going in, but it involves a specific moment that should have been unmentioned for a greater effect.

This is also a warning to all of you who are going to see “Zombieland: Double Tap,” stay for the entirety of the credits. You will not regret your decision.

One of the best parts of the film is perhaps the characters. I say that because they all have lovable chemistry. I mean, it shouldn’t be too surprising. The main cast consists of great actors, all of whom were at least nominated for an Academy Award. Granted, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is not the type of movie that would be going for any acting awards, but it is hard to deny when it comes to being together as a team, the characters tend to shine. You’ve got Tallahassee who is the same quirky, gun-loving redneck we have seen from the first film. There’s Columbus who will stop at nothing to follow his own rules. Little Rock shows up and while she does not have as much screentime as the others, her story in the film is rather interesting. Wichita’s here too, and there’s a subplot in this film involving her and Columbus, it gets nuts. Also, I don’t know how anyone else feels, but to me it feels kind of weird to see Emma Stone in this movie. I say that because I thought based on her last few choices of work, it seems she has increasingly made a transition to Oscar bait material or smaller budget films. Guess she just wanted a change of pace, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Based on how much I enjoyed this film, I should rephrase myself… There’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with that.

Much like the first film, I must warn everyone, this is a horror comedy. Although I feel just like the first one, this is more funny than scary. I will also state, personally, this isn’t really a bad thing. Because of level of humor in “Zombieland: Double Tap” is freaking unbelievable. I was with a relatively active crowd, and there’s a good mix of chuckle-worthy, burst out laughing, and kneeslapping moments. There’s even a couple of moments where the crowd managed to applaud.

Sticking with the theme of things that worried me slightly when I was going into this film, let’s talk about Zoey Deutch’s character, Madison. We first see Madison in a surprise moment for Columbus. Specifically, he’s in an abandoned mall and he’s trying to defend himself. From this moment, I’ve gotten the impression that she is a talkative teenager in an adult’s body. I thought as soon as I saw her, she was going to be the reason for me wanting to slap someone in the face as a way of taking out anger towards this movie. I WAS DEAD WRONG. She’s also associated with the dumb blonde stereotype, which gave for PLENTY of laughs. Speaking of funny scenes with her, she is involved with perhaps the most hysterical sex scene I have witnessed in recent memory. I will not go into detail about it, but look forward to it.

The film is incredibly well paced, finely written, and while I’m not sure if this film will get many nominations for cinematography, there is one kick-ass action scene that is all done in one take. The set used for it is incredibly vibrant, which only adds to the overall sense of satisfaction I achieved from watching the particular clip. This movie happens to be shot by Chung-hoon Chung, who also shot 2017’s “IT.” To me, “IT” has good cinematography. After seeing “Zombieland: Double Tap,” there’s a good chance “IT” might as well eat its own heart out. Or in this case, its brains out.

If I had any flaws with “Zombieland: Double Tap,” there are a couple lines that don’t exactly land, and there is a line that happens to be a callback that feels kind of awkward as one particular character responds to said callback. Also, there are certain portions that do become slightly predictable. But even with that, it pretty much fails to detract from the overall fun to be had watching this movie. And again, this is mostly a comedy. I don’t consider it a “flaw” per se that this feels more comedic than horrifying, but if you are going in expecting pure scares or dark vibes, look elsewhere. Then again, I guess I couldn’t go wrong with a fun zombie movie every now and then. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

In the end, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is a sequel worthy of the “Zombieland” name. It may be as good as the original, if not better. It’s fun, crazy, and hilarious. Halloween is coming so there’s a lot of horror material right now in theaters, so if you want your horror fix while also slapping your knees, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is worth seeing. In fact, if you just saw “Joker” and need something light to watch, I would probably recommend this movie even more because you have a transition from something incredibly disturbing and depressing to something absolutely bonkers and energizing. It would probably be a pretty good double feature if you ask me. I’m not sure on my final rating yet, but I enjoyed “Zombieland: Double Tap” just about as much as its predecessor, so I’m going to give it a rather high 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that next Wednesday, I have an advance pass to the upcoming film “Countdown.” This film is about a nurse who downloads an app that predicts when people would die, only to find out she has three days left before she bites the dust. This sounds like a neat concept, so I am absolutely curious as to how it will be executed. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email if you want notifications about the blog in your inbox, or with a WordPress account to like, comment, and get notifications in your WordPress feed. Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, as of this review, there have been a number of advance screenings that have taken place. So, did you see “Zombieland: Double Tap?” What did you think about it? Are you looking forward to it? How does it compare to the original for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Isn’t It Romantic? (2019): When Jack Met Natalie

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“Isn’t It Romantic?” is directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson and stars Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, How to Be Single), Liam Hemsworth (Independence Day: Resurgence, The Hunger Games), Adam Devine (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Modern Family), and Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch, A Kid Like Jake). This film revolves around a woman named Natalie, who we first see in this movie as a young kid watching “Pretty Woman.” In this scene we hear her mother tell her that she’ll probably never see a romantic comedy about her, or she’ll never truly experience a fantasy worth living. Keeping this in mind, she grows up and questions the purpose and value of the rom com. Meanwhile, she eventually gets trapped in a PG-13 romantic comedy and now she has to deal with a new reality she never experienced before. Meanwhile, we as an audience, get to experience a parody that pokes fun at the rom com genre. AND IT F*CKING BLOWS, and I’ll explain why in just a sec!

Romantic comedies are not my preferred genre of film. In fact, the only two reasons why I am reviewing this film is because I found a Blu-ray copy of it at Newbury Comics for $5.99, which is probably the cheapest price this movie could be right now in the United States. Plus, in school, I have to do a project on something that I, a straight white male, happen to find “gendered,” so I figured this was a good opportunity. I almost considered watching “The Bachelor,” which frankly, probably would have been a better idea. Why? Because it’s free! I probably could have found an episode or two On Demand or something and just gotten it out of the way. It involves entitled brats fighting over a flower, but it still wouldn’t mean I’d be typing this crap away! F*ck this reality!

And in fact, speaking of realities, this movie has an alternate reality that’s less s*itty, less of an increasing everyday wasteland, everything is happy go lucky. I have nothing against this reality, except that nothing entertaining happens in it. I’m just going to have you all know, “Isn’t It Romantic?” is PG-13, and because of that supposedly intended rating, it tends to make jokes about how the movie can’t push the envelope to the tenth degree.

Remember that “Family Guy” episode, PTV? The one where the FCC starts censoring real life? One of the big jokes of this film is that Rebel Wilson is in this universe, and while she’s here, she cannot swear, she cannot have sex, and the only way she can enjoy an actual man’s genitalia is by sneaking a peek when the male’s getting dressed or something. “Family Guy” did something like this ten times better. The way the characters in “Family Guy” question this reality (for the most part) and overall the writing there much more clever. Here, it’s like an overstretched “Saturday Night Live” sketch. This is especially true when Liam Hemsworth’s character says “Good morning beautiful,” to Rebel Wilson’s character for the third freaking time in a minute!

Also, guys? Can we just agree that Chris Hemsworth is a much more relevant Hemsworth?

This movie attempts to parody the style and traditions of numerous romantic comedies. There’s the gay best friend who is incredibly hyperactive. There’s the big, hunky billionaire that someone lusts after. The movie has a joke about the lead character having a voiceover moment. I honestly think the biggest problem about a movie like this is that it not only is self-aware, but even the characters in the movie know about the self-awareness that’s ensuing. It kind of makes me feel unintelligent as a viewer!

I cannot say I watched a plethora of parody films, but do you guys remember “Spaceballs?” That’s a parody, but that was never talking down to its audience! The closest thing in that movie to letting the audience know that someone had the knowledge that they were in a parody was during the scene where they show all the merchandise. Oh and let’s not forget, “Spaceballs” is hilarious. The most generous thing I can say about “Isn’t It Romantic?” is that it got a laugh out of me out of at a couple of points, but 99.9% of the moments dedicated to this film have irritated me to no end. I think the fact that the main character has almost no knowledge of how a romantic comedy works made me end up not liking her. Just about every single choice from a screenwriting perspective pissed me off.

And I’ll be honest, I never fell in love with Rebel Wilson as a performer. She’s never been that funny, she happens to be put in roles that don’t exactly appeal to me. Her movies are not usually in my demographic, so therefore I can’t entirely blame her. Although at the same time she was in “Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” and she just goes to show how this happens to be the worst “Night of the Museum” movie. In fact, I just saw her in a couple Match.com commercials recently and I cannot say that I was happy to see her. They were obviously trying to be funny, not to mention real about the dating game. They failed miserably. I pretty much already established my displeasure with her performance here in “Isn’t It Romantic?,” but like another movie Rebel happens to be in, “Pitch Perfect,” she certainly gives effort in her performance. But for some reason, the execution leads to a result that doesn’t sit well with me. And if Rebel’s character was supposed to symbolize how stupid lead characters can be in these types of movies. Maybe I could understand, but it still made me want to throw up on the Blu-ray copy I bought for this film.

Remember how in the abomination against humanity some like to call “Uncle Drew” there’s a dance sequence? In my review for that film, this is what I had to say about it… “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… THE MOST. POINTLESS. DANCE SEQUENCE. IN HISTORY!”

Now, “Isn’t It Romantic?” fortunately does not have a pointless dance sequence. OK, technically it does, but it doesn’t exactly hurt the movie as much as such a thing hurt “Uncle Drew.” But, ladies and gentlemen, I give you… THE MOST. POINTLESS. KARAOKE SEQUENCE! IN HISTORY!

I cannot recall the last time I got so angry towards a sequence like this. I was in fumes as this happened! I had a bunch of questions! What did this have to do with the plot? How does this benefit the characters? Why is this happening? Granted, it does address an “important” rivalry in the film. But as the scene went on, I thought… WHY?!

As for the movie’s ending, it is perhaps one of the most convoluted things I have seen in recent memory. A lot happens in a few minutes, I feel like there’s not much that I care about, and I continued hating my life. It also tries to tack on this lesson that feels amazingly forced and is a complete twist on almost everything that has been built up. This movie broke me! If I put this movie in my Xbox 360, it might just flash the red ring of death as a sign of begging for mercy.

In the end, “Isn’t It Romantic?” has destroyed every fiber of my being, tarnished my dignity, and it feels like the writers bitch slapped me in the face like I’m on reality TV! And you know what? This may not be my type of movie, but seeing the low IMDb ratings from both genders make me wonder if this movie was for anyone to begin with. “Isn’t It Romantic?” is almost the most anger-inducing movie I have witnessed all year. It might actually be more intolerable than “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which if you have seen that review, says A LOT. I did not expect to love this movie, but I also did not expect to have the urge to bury it in the ground either. But, it’s time to bury! Good riddance! I’m going to give “Isn’t It Romantic?” a 1/10. Thanks for reading this review! This Tuesday I’m going to be heading to an advance screening of “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I have no idea if I am going to like this movie, if I won’t like this movie, but I enjoyed the first one, so anything’s possible! I’m also interested in seeing Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” starring Will Smith, and if I have time, I might be able to catch it in the high frame rate edition. It will give me a film to review plus something else to talk about! If you want to see these new movies get talked about, or other great content, follow Scene Before with an email address to get notifications in your inbox. Or, you can use a WordPress account to like and comment on all my posts past or present. While you’re at it, give a like to my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Isn’t It Romantic?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Rebel Wilson movie? Seriously! I need a good one to watch to turn my opinion around regarding her! Please comment to save my life! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Joker: No Laughing Matter (2019)

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Before we get into my review for “Joker,” I just want to iterate a quick thought. I am well aware of this movie constantly being compared to “Taxi Driver,” and I’ll have you all know, I have not seen “Taxi Driver,” so none of those comparisons will be coming from me. I would love to check it out one day, but my schedule is pretty stacked up at the moment so it might have to wait for a little bit. So without further ado, let’s dive into the latest controversial movie!

Man, this poster is badass!

“Joker” is directed by Todd Phillips (Due Date, The Hangover) and stars Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot) as the famous, psychotic killer clown originally created by DC Comics. This film is about the character of Arthur Fleck, who eventually becomes known as the Joker. Essentially, it is a character study of what would happen if the Joker were placed in a depressing environment, with depressed people, in what could perhaps also be a depressing time.

If you have missed out on a lot of comic book movies recently, there is a good chance you probably have no recollection of big, explosive, not to mention expensive, blockbusters that purely exist to be part of a collected universe and happen to be somewhat friendly for both kids and adults. Maybe there’s an occasional dark vibe here and there with movies “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” or “Avengers: Infinity War,” but nevertheless, comic book movies, over the past decade, have mainly been big budget films that get a lot of audiences, including families, in the theater. There’d also however be an occasion where a film would be rated R. Some examples include “Deadpool” and “Logan,” both of which have been successful. And when the MPAA would end up slapping an R on these movies, there would usually be a reason. Gorey violence, language, perhaps bloated sex scenes, and so on. “Joker” is the next to join the club, and honestly, I am very happy to say that.

Before going to see “Joker,” I had some thoughts in mind regarding comic book villain movies. I was very skeptical before we had one of these films come out, and some of you know this already, but last year, audiences witnessed “Venom.” This was one of the earliest examples of an origin story of a comic book character who is usually seen as the villain. Once I heard we were getting a “Venom” movie, I thought all hope was lost. Granted, this was at a time when I realized comic book movies were perhaps the biggest force in the industry, and it seemed like the only thing people would willingly go see. I wasn’t sure how people such as myself or other audience members would go into “Venom” and enjoy him as a character because it’s hard to relate to a villain. Plus, as a viewer, I traditionally aspire to be the hero. Why should I aspire to be a monster who eats people? And the last nail in the coffin… a PG-13. This made every action scene feel lifeless, it made the editing feel odd at times, and it honestly just showed that perhaps Sony or somebody else behind this movie wanted a quick, disposable money grab. However, oddly enough, as time passed, I did become curious about the “Joker” movie.

There was not enough evidence that “Joker” was going to be a masterpiece or even a halfway decent movie once I first heard about it. But it was hard to deny that I was not at least intrigued. The various details that stacked up in 2018 got me interested. Then the trailers dropped this year, and whoever edited them, you deserve a cookie! All the while, the movie played at events including TIFF and Venice Film Festival where it received the top prize, the Golden Lion. Keep in mind, everybody was saying that “Avengers: Endgame” was going to be the biggest and best movie of the year, but when it comes to chances at awards, “Joker” may have an answer. “Joker” may be tapping on the shoulder of “Endgame” saying “On your left.”

So… It’s time for answers! Is “Joker” worth the hype? Is it worth jumping up and down over? Is it worth every single penny? Did it deserve all the praise it received during snobby film festivals? In a word, yes. This is pretty much EXACTLY what I would want out of a movie like this. Serious, dark, sort of slow, and honestly, kind of poignant. Because I cannot even believe I’m saying this, I sort of felt for the Joker character. Granted, he spends a lot of the movie making stupid decisions and mistakes, and the Joker is a guy you don’t want to mess around with, but even his moments that would make a person in this particular movie turn against him may as well be all part of his charm. In fact, as I watched “Joker,” I thought to myself that the movie was not trying to approve of his actions, it was just showing a realistic view of what could happen if this guy existed in our society. And by our society, I mean how it was years ago. You know those controversies that happen to be surrounding this movie? Honestly, they’re pointless. Granted, there is an argument to be made that every single movie ever made contains the slightest of bias. But “Joker” is not a movie that is trying to hammer a message down your head. It’s trying to say, “Hey! Here’s this character, here’s his journey, it’s pretty twisted, we just want you to believe it.”

I should also not go without mentioning that Joaquin Phoenix acts his ass off in this movie! I’m honestly having trouble right now on whether I should declare him the best Joker or if I should stick to my opinion towards Heath Ledger being the best of them all. I know it’s only October, so there is an argument to be made that maybe Phoenix won’t get an Oscar for this movie, but he BETTER get nominated, or there will be riots!

OK… Not literally! Movies don’t promote violence! It’s just the truth!

Anyway, Phoenix manages to handle a role where he has to be the biggest laughing maniac possible. At the same time he has to be creepy, while also occasionally being sweet. There are a lot of, get this, JOKER cards that Phoenix himself has to flip over to showcase the core elements of his character.

I also really liked Robert De Niro’s character. He plays a late night host, and as I watched this movie and saw Arthur Fleck watching the show at home with his mother, I kind of felt immersed into the world, probably realizing that this was a pure form of escapism for most people in society. The two are talking and I remember it being mentioned by the mother that this late night host, AKA Murray Franklin, is relatable to them. Now this movie took place in 1981, so I got a good sense that this guy was a fine alternative to Johnny Carson. Not to mention, he’s charming and has a good presence, which is something all talk show hosts should possess.

The acting overall in this movie is pretty much off the charts, I think the only other movie where I have seen a group of cast members put so much effort into their roles this year might be “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Although “Us” comes relatively close as well. But other standouts of excellence in “Joker” come from the technical side of the spectrum.

I mean, my gosh! Let me just start off by saying, I had the special privilege of watching “Joker” on a 70mm print. Thanks to Warner Brothers and everyone else involved with this film for making such a thing happen! The color grading on this film is some of best I have seen this year. It’s pale, it’s depressing, and it’s almost off-putting in the best possible way. The cinematography is great too. This movie is directed by Todd Phillips and if you watch some of his movies like “The Hangover,” you’d notice they are shot by Lawrence Sher, and much like that film for example I have seen from the two of them together, the pair combine to deliver some delicious hot and spicy buffalo wing level shots! There’s a scene where Arthur is walking down an enormous staircase and between his motions of dancing on the steps and jumping in puddles, the camera manages to catch each one and make me want to have them all as a desktop photo. The editing’s pretty stellar in that scene too, it’s eye candy. I’m almost shocked that I’m saying that about a scene in a comic book movie that doesn’t have much glossy CGI.

And speaking of depression, this entire movie has nothing but people who are almost too upset to acknowledge existing, and almost nobody manages to care about another living soul. There’s a scene where Arthur is playing peek a boo on a bus with a kid, and the kid’s mother is just plain annoyed. The film also manages to go into certain problems regarding people with mental illnesses, and it features a deep struggle that Fleck himself has to face. There is a scene where he comes to the realization that he’s meeting with his therapist for the last time due to funding cuts. Even though I knew who the Joker character was, I still couldn’t help but sympathize with Fleck at times. It feels weird to say that, but I have been taught at a young age that is not nice to lie.

If you ask me, I think the absolute best part about “Joker” is the fact that it has the rare qualities that you wouldn’t manage to find in many other comic book movies. This film was given an R rating from the Motion Pictures Association of America, and once I heard that was going into effect, I felt like climbing a tree, pounding my chest, finding a banana, and tearing it open! Going gorilla style! It was one of the most glorious moments of my life! Having seen this movie, let me just give a message to all the parents and guardians who are planning on seeing this “comic book movie” with their kids.

Don’t. Just don’t.

I mean, you can… Maybe they are mature enough to comprehend everything that is going on in a movie like this, but this is NOT a film for kids in the slightest. It deals with real world issues, it’s bloody, kind of disturbing, and without going into much detail, I’d say there’d be a moment or two where I would not blame a kid if they cried out of pure fear.

Let’s look at it this way. Let’s take one of the most recent comic book movies that also had a couple heavy moments, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Without going into detail about the ending, if you have a kid who cried at the end of “Infinity War,” I think there’s a good chance that same kid, depending on their transition of age, will weep for sweet release of death during “Joker.”

Having said that, I realize simply having dark moments in a movie doesn’t automatically make it good, but these dark moments were an absolute highlight and a reason for me to keep my eyes glued to the screen.

In the end, “Joker” is one of the most unique comic book movies I have ever seen. I honestly would love more movies like this in its particular genre. I am a bit curious to see “Taxi Driver” now that I have seen “Joker,” but I’m just hoping it doesn’t ruin “Joker” for me in any way. Everything about this movie was done to A+ levels. The acting, the camerawork, the music choices, the screenplay. It’s all worthy of two thumbs up. If I had any issues with the movie, I’d say there’s a couple moments, as I put on my brain, that I could see coming a mile away. Also, there’s a moment or two where my head drifted off into space, signifying a slight issue with pacing. Granted, it’s not a big deal, but nevertheless. “Joker” is a movie that I personally think may be one of the most individualistic in its genre. I have almost seen nothing like it. Just for that alone, it gets a ton of praise from me. I’m going to give “Joker” an 8/10. One more thing. After walking out of this movie, I did have a question on my mind: How much replay value is this going to have down the line? It’s a really good movie, but is it going to get a ton of replays in the DVD player? I can see reasons for some people declaring “Joker” to be a movie that is good for a single watch, but because of how heavy it is, maybe a second watch would be impossible. Even so, I enjoyed “Joker.” I personally want to see it again because of the enjoyment factor. Hopefully when it comes out on Blu-ray, I can catch it another time.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week I am going to an advance screening of the new film “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I saw the first “Zombieland” a few years ago for the first time. I’m personally intrigued as to how they are going to handle this sequel. I don’t know if it will be as good as the original, but Bill Murray’s back, so anything’s possible! If you want to see this review or other great content, consider following Scene Before either with an email, or if you want the ability to comment or like, use a WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Joker?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite R rated comic book movie? For me, the answer is simple, “V For Vendetta.” It also might be Natalie Portman’s best movie for all I know! Leave your opinions, or if you want to be a moron, completely objective and factual statements down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Fanatic (2019): Fred Durst Presents: THE ROOM

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“The Fanatic” is directed by Fred Durst, who achieved fame overtime from his involvement in the band “Limp Bizkit.” This film stars John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Battlefield Earth) as the character of Moose. He is an obsessed fan of an actor made up for this movie’s script, Hunter Dunbar. After a failed attempt at getting Dunbar’s autograph at an event, Moose tries to get Dunbar’s attention in whatever way possible, no matter how creepy or invasive these ways may be. He tries to go to his house, follow him around, whatever. Dunbar, who is a busy actor with little time on his hands for fan interactions, wants Moose out of his life due to his stalker tendencies.

I first heard about this film back around the end of July and beginning of August. Believe it or not, John Travolta went to a local convention in my area, specifically Fan Expo Boston. I never went, I never got his autograph or anything, but part of the reason he was there in the first place was because he was on a promotional tour for this movie. I didn’t hear too much about the film until that point, and while I can appreciate the fact that Travolta is showing up to a convention for autograph signings while trying to promote a film involving a similar concept, it didn’t mean I had much faith in this film. I know a lot of people like John Travolta, but over the years, it has been revealed that he’s kind of like Nicolas Cage. He can be great, but he doesn’t always pick the finest roles. He’s been in films like “Battlefield Earth,” one of the biggest fails in the realm of blockbuster science fiction. And most recently he starred in “Gotti,” which did not do too well critically or financially. Although that says something because “The Fanatic” opened to just a little more than $3,000.

Originally, I had no real plans to watch “The Fanatic.” If I were low on options, it would probably be close to a last resort move in my playbook. When I checked once to see where it was playing, it was only at one location with two showtimes. Safe to say, I missed out on the theatrical experience. But no matter how I could get the movie, let’s just say I was gonna grin like an idiot once I can turn it on. Why? Because I have heard nothing but terrible things about it, but that’s why I wanted to watch it. It’s a film that is not exactly Shakespeare, but because it is complete and utter trash, it makes it almost have the feel of a masterpiece. On the surface, Fred Durst’s “The Fanatic” sort of reminds me of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” It’s a film that is totally cringeworthy and disastrous in ways that amount to utter amazement. A number of viewers would seemingly wonder how it actually got made.

Having seen “The Fanatic” recently, I can pretty much confirm what I previously expected. It’s hot garbage. But again, it’s the kind of garbage that you don’t want to take out for certain reasons. There are moments during the movie where I felt a little turned off, but at the same time, those turnoffs are met with a variety of awkwardly funny lines, questionably insane scenes, and admittedly, a surprisingly decent performance (at times) from John Travolta.

When it comes to John Travolta’s character, I found him to be relatable in the worst possible ways. He plays a guy who dresses up as a character on Hollywood Boulevard for a living. He has one friend who we see throughout the movie, they seem to be relatively close, but I never bought their chemistry for a second. Nevertheless, Travolta does not have many friends. This point is also emphasized because he fails to stand up for himself on the job. There is another guy on the street who people tend to flock towards, Travolta interacts with this guy, and it gets to the point where Travolta is getting harassed. To add onto this, Travolta’s character of Moose loves movies, collects tons of memorabilia and other junk, is obsessed with an actor to the point where he’d do anything to get an autograph or a follow from him on social media, and he has autism! Let me just point out, this guy is almost me! I’m obsessed with Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds, Supernatural), I have three autographs from him, we follow each other on social media, and while I tend to keep my distance from his personal business, I would not blame him if at one point or another, even right now, he thought that I was a stalker. I love movies, I collect a lot of movie-related items. And I have been diagnosed with high-function autism. Seeing John Travolta as Moose is almost like looking at a mirror image of myself if I spoke at a poor vocabulary level, if I never went to college, and if I had grey hair. So from those points, Travolta doesn’t give an F minus performance. But it’s also hard to say that his performance is also Oscar-worthy. Because just like “The Room,” there are a ton of unintentionally funny moments. There’s a clip of the movie where Moose is in a bar, he’s interacting with an actress. He receives a compliment about his shirt.

His response, while if you watch the movie, makes sense, comes off like it’s the best comedy gag of all time. The response, “It’s the only one in the world.”

Holy s*it, the amount of laughter I let out in that moment was beyond unreal! The scene may try to symbolize how awkward interactions between fans and celebrities can be, which can be interesting. But it’s so goddamn funny that I feel like the film accidentally sent me the wrong message. You want to know how convincing Moose is in this movie? We are introduced to Moose, we see him enter a store where he happens to be a regular customer. One of the first lines in this scene, out of Moose’s mouth is, “I can’t talk too long, I gotta poo.”

I mean, there is so much to talk about in this movie that could be regarded as hilarious without pure intention. It’s ridiculous if you ask me! It’s a masterpiece of crap!

I’m not gonna dive into spoilers, but here are some amazingly hysterical moments from “The Fanatic” that probably should have been serious, but turned out to present itself in a completely different manner.

There is a death scene where someone lies on the ground with blood on their face. John Travolta is looking at this person and thinks that they could still be alive, and just reflects on a time he has a nosebleed, saying things like “it wasn’t fun.”

Remember how John Travolta can’t defend himself? There’s a scene where the opposite occurs and the moment where he begins to go into self-defense mode, he almost becomes a serial killer version of himself. The moment he starts strangling somebody’s neck, and this boom sound effect goes off, I made the Joker’s laughter look tame.

But not all the hilarious gags come from Travolta. One of them comes from the actor who won’t give an autograph to the main character, Hunter Dunbar. As mentioned in the beginning, the movie is directed by Fred Durst, who is a member of Limp Bizkit. There is a scene where Dunbar is driving his kid to school, and he’s playing Limp Bizkit in his car. He’s reminiscing of the good old days where he’d listen to the band’s music. It’s almost like listening to Limp Bizkit is the only way Dunbar can get a hard-on!

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This movie also features narration. It’s not from some voice that has no other significance in the movie. It’s also not from Moose, but instead, from his only friend, Leah. She’ll have a line here and there, and there are a couple unintentionally humorous lines out of her when the narration goes down. As for the actual character, I’d say that’s not always the case, at least from my experience. But one thing I will point out is that she may not be in the entire movie, but she plays an important role. She introduces Moose to an app that allows people to look up where celebrities live, and perhaps gaze at their homes. I don’t know how that would be legal, unless certain celebrities either publicly disclose their location or if they hear about this app and give someone permission to put their house on the app. Nevertheless, it’s a thing. It’s like “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Why does it exist? I have no idea! But some freak wants this idea out there, so here we are!

Speaking of characters, I want to talk about Hunter Dunbar in depth. As mentioned, he’s an actor who is being stalked by Moose. The way this movie plays out, it almost tries to make Moose look like the main antagonist. And believe it or not, there are ways that I can personally relate to Moose. But, we have this actor who is getting followed around. I don’t know who to root for more in this movie. Dunbar, or Moose. For all I know, I shouldn’t be rooting for either of them. Because, speaking of things done perhaps without intention, both characters come off as assholes. Moose is a stalker, but Dunbar occasionally presents himself as a dick. There are times where I can stand by his actions when he acts in this sort of way, but when Moose first meets Dunbar, I can’t say the same thing. Why? Because he doesn’t even take the time to acknowledge the presence of a fan. When Moose presents a jacket Dunbar wore in “Space Vampires” in front of him, his response is “How about I sign your face with my f*cking fist?” Now, we see him having a personal matter being dealt with at this moment, so in a way, I can understand if a celebrity is a little bit angry with what’s happening. Maybe they have some bad vibes going on in their head. But it doesn’t give them the right to say something like that to a fan. Now if Moose originally introduced himself and started to talk s*it about some mistakes Dunbar did during his career, I could stand by his reply. Either that or who knows? Maybe he’ll agree that he took on one or two projects and had regrets about them. Celebrities are human. We all make mistakes. It happens.

But still, my point still stands. Who should I root for? It’s almost like a worse version of “Avengers: Infinity War.” I say that because that movie could arguably be Thanos’ story as he tries to take down all the heroes, because his motivation is clear, and he sees himself as the hero. That is something “Infinity War” handled very well. At the same time, we have all the heroes and their point of view. As an audience member, I am rooting for the heroes at all costs, partially because I have gotten to know them from eighteen other movies that came out before “Infinity War.” This movie almost doesn’t even know who the protagonist is, and who the antagonist is. You could almost flip a coin to decide who is who! I don’t even know who I should be rooting for. Because in terms of being complete assholes, both characters are almost equal in their own little ways. But one is clearly written to be the protagonist and one is clearly written to be the antagonist. As an audience member, I can easily pinpoint who is who, but the script and final product almost make it a guessing game as to who is the hero or the villain.

This movie has increments of good ideas. I won’t go into all of them, but between moments of the performance given by John Travolta, giving Moose autism, and one particular moment that happens at the end of the movie that I won’t spoil, there are things to admire. But this movie overall, fails. If this movie presented itself as a more competent product, then I would probably call it a fine allegory as to why you should never meet your heroes. Maybe they’ll treat you like crap, maybe you’ll get too close to them and invade their much valued privacy, or maybe in relation to one of those two previous ideas, you’ll forget to see the humanity in them. I can imagine that a lot of people view celebrities in the same way certain people will view religious figures. They’re not just folks that certain fans tend to like, but they’re like gods among us. It’s almost as if they were on this Earth for a reason. And that reason may associate with impressing and pleasing their fans. Although in reality, as much as they, hopefully, try to do that, they’re like the rest of us. They value time for themselves and don’t always have time for fans.

Technically speaking, the movie’s not terribly shot. The cinematography isn’t astounding, but it works. The same goes with the lighting. It just works. The real problems with this movie are the characters, some of the acting, occasional narration, plot holes, and an over-abundance of utterly funny moments. I guess the biggest compliment I can give “The Fanatic” is the fact that it’s so bad it’s good. But if you think I like the movie, you need your brain checked.

In the end, I think “The Fanatic” may be one of the interestingly horrible movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Much like “The Room,” there’s a plethora of wholeheartedly questionable scenes that just make me laugh for all the wrong reasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone involved with this movie eventually wrote a book on their time working on the movie and the process of how it got made. You know, sort of like Greg Sestero did with “The Disaster Artist.” Surprisingly, there’s nothing in this movie that made me truly angry. Maybe it’s because of my expectations going in. Before I saw this movie, I watched Chris Stuckmann’s review of it, which went into a deep dive about a ton of the movie’s highlights. I pretty much got the vibe of the entire of movie from there. There are certainly problems worth pointing out and a ton of “What the hell is going on with the plot,” moments, but to say I felt infuriated about “The Fanatic” is like going into a Microsoft Store trying to buy a MacBook Air. Why would I do that?! Even so, this movie still sucks, lacks sense, and wouldn’t be one I’d be turning on again anytime soon, so I’d say “The Fanatic,” despite my laughs here and there, is still worthy of a 1/10. One of the best things about this movie that I have yet to mention… IT’S BASED ON TRUE EVENTS FRED DURST EXPERIENCED! And to add onto the hilarity, this movie was dedicated to Bill Paxton. This movie does star one of his children, but even so, it’s almost seemingly crazy! This is one of those movies that you honestly have to see to believe. Then again, based on various career choices John Travolta has made, this may not be as shocking as I’d make it out to be. But even with that in mind, this movie is still the definition of “unintentionally hilarious,” and just for that, it could be worth checking out despite my low score. Thanks for reading this review! Unfortuantely, I will not have my review for “Joker” up this weekend. But fear not! Because I’ll have my review up next weekend! I’m going to be seeing “Joker” in 70mm next week, I cannot wait! For all I know it could be a life-changing event, but we’ll have to see. Be sure to follow Scene Before, check out the Facebook page, give this post a like, and share it with your friends! It really helps me out! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Fanatic?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the worst John Travolta movie you have ever seen? I’m quite curious about what your comments will be, because I have a feeling there are quite a few contenders. Nevertheless, let me know with a comment and if you want me to sign something for you, I wish I could automatically teleport a Sharpie through my screen. Until then, good luck finding me. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!