Licorice Pizza (2021): Paul Thomas Anderson Delivers a Pizza Crap

“Licorice Pizza” is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread, The Master) and stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn (Mystic River, Milk), Tom Waits (The Old Man & the Gun, The Dead Don’t Die), Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy, A Star is Born), and Benny Safdie (Uncut Gems, Good Time). This film follows the connection between Alana Kane and Gary Valentine, not to be confused with the guy who plays Danny on “King of Queens,” as they spend time together in the San Fernando Valley in 1973.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 05: Director Paul Thomas Anderson attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Paul Thomas Anderson is a name I have not followed as much as other directors, and it is something I feel guilty of doing in regards to my film watching journey. Not only because he is an acclaimed name, but he also went to Emerson College, which I was probably going to attend had I gotten past the waitlist. So he has a bit of history in Boston, which as someone who lives near the Massachusetts state capital, is something I take a bit too seriously. I’ve seen “The Master” towards the end of the 2010s, but that’s all I have watched from him. I remember it being magnificently shot, but the story is not something that stuck with me to this day. I still need to watch “There Will Be Blood,” I own copies of “Inherent Vice” and “Phantom Thread” and still need to watch those. I still haven’t seen “Boogie Nights!” There are quite a few directors I have gotten around to over the years in terms of catching up on their filmography, but Paul Thomas Anderson fails to make the list.

When I saw the trailer for “Licorice Pizza,” I thought it sort of nailed the nostalgic aspect. The film takes place in the 1970s, and not only does it get a thumbs up for the production design that reminds me of walking into my grandparents’ house, but some of the music is okay as well. I think this film from a presentation point of view, checks a lot of boxes. It looks like it is from its focal decade, the acting, despite the leads having no evidential experience, is top-notch. For all I know, it could be on Anderson’s part. If I have learned anything from James Gunn over the years, he can take an actor with less experience like John Cena and make them pop. The best thing I can say about “Licorice Pizza” is that Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman give good performances regardless of the material that’s given to them.

I’m not using that last sentence lightly, because “Licorice Pizza” is probably the most uncomfortable I have felt watching a movie in some time. Okay, well, maybe not as uncomfortable as “Music,” that s*it was downright personal. I live in the age of social media and in my teens I would talk to people far from my age group and nothing weird happened. Although I believe it is commonly agreed upon that adults should not be dating teens that are ten years apart in age. Gary in this film is 15 years old and Alana is 25.

Do you see the problem?

Now, if Alana was 18, that would be one thing, because that’s also technically an adult, but she is also old enough to still be in high school, just like Gary. TWENTY-FIVE?! The film is kind of a back and forth sort of thing in terms of the romance, where Gary sometimes claims Alana’s his girlfriend, but then the two go back to calling each other “business partners” or something else, but I honestly could not justify myself liking the character of Gary. Because when I think of these sorts of relationships, maybe I’m thinking the adult is in the wrong of dating someone that is significantly younger than them. But with Gary, he’s a literal pervert, and he’s not afraid to hide it. And he’s not a cool pervert like Ron Burgundy who has some personality, granted the movie he’s in respectively has a different vibe, but every time I look at Gary and he says some other line, I want to put some tape over his mouth.

Look, I’m a guy, and it is scientifically evident that guys love anything that has to do with sex. We are revolting creatures. But oh my god. Gary is a downright creep who I occasionally wanted to punch in the face throughout this film’s poorly paced runtime. Seriously, it felt like it was 15 or 30 minutes longer than it actually was. If it’s not about getting to see Alana’s boobs, it’s about making money. Downright power. That’s what we’re dealing with here. Now, I’ve seen “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort in that film has a semi-similar personality, but he’s also proven that he can be chill, he can be cool. Granted Belfort’s not a teenager, that’s one big difference. Even so, I never got that positive vibe from Gary. I felt like he was trying too hard to be cool when in reality, he felt disgusting.

Now, and I cannot believe I have to say this on a blogging platform that my family reads… I don’t think Paul Thomas Anderson is interested in showing his junk to young girls. I mean, if the genders were reversed, where Alana sees a 25 year old Gary’s junk, who knows? I am comfortable with a storyline about sexual exploration, it’s not something I wouldn’t expect out of some coming of age tales, but this was poorly executed in the worst way possible. I would not want Gary as my friend, and I would want out of any matters involving him if he ever tried to get into Alana’s pants.

One of the most important things about a romance film is that the two leads are likable. I don’t even like their characters by themselves all that much, and even less so together. Because despite what I’ve been saying about Gary coming off as a creep, movies have shown how characters can develop and change. Compared to some other films that I’ve seen, including another recent 1970s nostalgia fest, “The Tender Bar,” I could not really catch onto much character development, especially from Gary. I think Alana’s character has some moments where I could feel her emotion, her stress, the want to escape from reality and other people, but it’s barely enough to make this movie the slightest bit watchable.

If I had any other positives to give “Licorice Pizza,” it is that Bradley Cooper shines as Jon Peters. He honestly came off as a bit of a drugged-up Hugh Hefner type. I think his presence in the film allows the costume design to show its power. Cooper was well directed by Anderson and I would not have minded seeing more of him.

In the end, “Licorice Pizza” is a film that I was looking forward to, but as soon as they stated the age difference, that was an immediate turnoff. This harkens back to the saying that first impressions matter. And if you think this is my only problem with the movie, I’ll mention once again that this movie could have been fifteen to thirty minutes shorter. The movie occasionally dragged, it felt boring. Gary Valentine is by no means a likable character. In fact, he’s probably the character that I hate the most of any project I’ve watched in the past 12 months or so. If you think “West Side Story” was worth skipping because of the Ansel Elgort controversy, I will not stop you from doing that. But based on the fictional elements presented in “Licorice Pizza,” this is a film that part of me wishes I could have skipped. It’s barely any fun, it’s creepy, and I wish the script was good enough to match the amazing talents of some of the actors on screen. I’ll probably go back and watch some of Anderson’s work like “Phantom Thread,” but I hope his next project, whenever that comes out, won’t be as off-putting as this. If you want a 1970s nostalgia fest, just go watch “The Tender Bar.” It’s on Prime Video, and worth your time. I’m going to give “Licorice Pizza” a 4/10.

“Licorice Pizza” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! This week I’m going to be watching the all new Japanese animated film, “Belle.” I have heard nothing but good things about this flick, and I am quite curious to see how it is. I will have a review coming soon, and if you want to see more content like this, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Licorice Pizza?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a film, one specifically that IS NOT in the horror genre, that genuinely makes you uncomfortable? For me, I’d say that would be “Music,” which I literally talked about in my worst of the year list a couple weeks ago! Let me know your pick down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Chaos Walking (2021): The Noise Awakens

“Chaos Walking” is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Onward), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Peter Rabbit), Mads Mikkelsen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Hannibal), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life), Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale, Harriet), Nick Jonas (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Midway), and David Oyelowo (Gringo, Selma). This film follows a guy named Todd who lives in a dystopian future. In 2257 A.D., the men of New World go about their daily lives after an unfortunate war. One thing our protagonist, Todd, has in common with everyone else is that he has this thing called “noise,” where his thoughts are outspoken despite not opening his mouth. However, one day, a ship crashes on the planet and it peaks Todd’s curiosity. Turns out, the rider inside the ship is a girl, which Todd has never seen before, given how all of them died in the recently mentioned war.

I saw this film on the second weekend of March. Therefore, per usual, I am getting this review out late. That’s the bad news. The good news however that comes with it is that I likely have more time to process and think about what I saw, which I have done when it comes to this movie. With my previous review, “Raya and the Last Dragon” to be specific, I did not flip back and forth between much. The only thing I flipped around with was the score, which I was wondering whether I’d give it either a 8/10 or 9/10. I settled for the latter. I thought a little more about “Chaos Walking,” but not much more. Sure, I kind of flipped around on the score here as well, but that is not the only slice of this pie we have here. The big question I thought about was if I was actually going to see myself watching this movie again. The short answer would be… Maybe? But not now? I dunno… The thing is, when it comes to the young adult novel adaptation realm of filmmaking, I usually watch those movies once and I normally don’t have an urge to go back to them. Yes, I’ll buy the Blu-ray, but it ultimately may just end up sitting on my shelf. I like the “Divergent” movies, in fact I personally think it is better than “The Hunger Games” as a franchise, but I don’t usually watch those movies while sitting at home on a Friday night. I am somewhat mixed on “Chaos Walking” as a movie, because using the recent example, “Divergent,” I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining at times than “Divergent,” specifically the first installment. I interestingly enough find “Insurgent” to be a better movie. If anything, I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining than “Divergent” because “Chaos Walking,” whether it is intentional or not, comes off as somewhat funnier and maybe has a little more fun with its concept. In fact, I think the concept is slightly better, because I think it is a little more cliche to do the whole “divide people into groups” and boom, we have our movie idea. This movie eliminates an entire gender and as a viewer, I am somewhat intrigued to see how the survivors are going about their days.

At the same time though, similar to some other young adult novel adaptations, this film does get borderline cheesy. Sometimes it provides for a fun line, which is cool. But if you are looking for a Shakespearean, timeless flick with some of the best writing and directing imaginable, go elsewhere. Going back to the movie I recently mentioned, “Chaos Walking” came out the same weekend as “Raya and the Last Dragon.” That is a much better film in my opinion, so if I had to pick between two films to watch, the choice would easily be “Raya” by a long shot.

Moving onto characters, I want to talk about the chemistry between Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. On their own, these two are great actors. I loved Holland as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I adored Rey in “Star Wars,” so to see these two nerd icons come together in one movie is almost magical. As for their characters I bought into them as a pair as they sometimes found each other odd, sometimes they found each other likable, and so on. Going back to what I said about this movie having fun lines, there are a couple character establishment moments between these two that are personal highlights of the script. One other highlight of the script for me is that like every other young adult novel or every other young adult adaptation, the guy or girl has to crush on the other person or fall in love with them. I will not go into much detail on that, but this film almost felt like it was parodying that cliché at times, and I mean that in a positive way. There are moments where we see Tom Holland’s character specifically either thinking about kissing her, which was hysterical, and maybe there will be another scene in the film where we simply see that he finds her attractive. That may have been the best part of the movie because it takes a cliché, has fun with it, and makes it a kneeslapper.

I also want to talk about the driving gimmick of the film, “the noise.” When I saw the trailer for this film, I thought I was going to hate every single second that this, well, noise, was going to be emitted. It sounded awfully rugged, and it kind of goes against the screenwriting rule where you have to use as little words as possible to get points across because film is a visual medium. Yes, there is writing in it, but ultimately it is a matter of what you see. Seeing someone doing something is usually more entertaining and calming than hearing someone saying they are going to do something. And I will admit, when I heard this early on in the film, I was kind of pissed on how it played out. I figured if they were just going to utilize this thing for a poop joke, which more likely belongs in a disposable Illumination or DreamWorks project if anything, I figured this film was not going to be worth my time. But the gimmick was surprisingly well utilized to a certain degree. It does not change the fact that when it comes to most movies, less is more, but “Chaos Walking” is a weird animal where more is more when it comes to screenwriting.

In the end, “Chaos Walking” is just weird. I like the movie, but I cannot confirm that I’m ever going to watch it again. When comparing it to other young adult genre entries, I’d rather watch the first two “Divergent” films again. “Noise” is a terrible gimmick on paper, but an okay one when ultimately executed on screen. This film is cheesy, but weirdly attractive at the same time. This is a film that took years to make, and it honestly shows. A lot of the lines are borderline wooden and it almost feels like the only reason why this movie exists at this point is for the studio to poop it out in a pandemic where it is almost impossible for some people to go to the movies. “Chaos Walking” is a good movie, but not a great movie, so I’m going to give it a 6/10.

“Chaos Walking” is now available in theaters wherever they are open and the film is also now available to buy on video on demand services such as Fios, Xfinity, Google Play, and VUDU.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Mortal Kombat” as part of a review series I am calling “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” which I am doing as a lead-in to the all new R-rated “Mortal Kombat” movie which is out in theaters and on HBO Max on April 23rd. I will also have my review up for “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” available starting April 12th. I should also soon have reviews for “Boogie,” “Nobody,” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” To stay tuned for these reviews, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Chaos Walking?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite 2021 film so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021): A Fine Black Panther Film

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is directed by Shaka King (Newlyweeds, Mulignans) and stars Daniel Kaluuya (Queen & Slim, Black Panther), LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, Sorry to Bother You), Jesse Plemons (Game Night, The Irishman), Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, Project Power), Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, Captive State), Darrell Britt-Gibson (20th Century Women, Barry), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Uncle Drew), Algee Smith (Detroit, Earth to Echo), and Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Departed). This film centers around a time where the Black Panther Party increasingly rose to prominence. When Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) becomes chairman of the organization’s Illinois Chapter, criminal Bill O’Neal, who meets FBI Special Director Roy Mitchell, is assigned to infiltrate the group.

This film is based on true events that took place in the late 1960s. About thirty years before I was even born. Therefore, I have zero recollection on these events other than maybe hearing about them through school and perhaps the Internet. I’ve seen trailers for “Judas and the Black Messiah” multiple times, given how it is a Warner Bros. property and when I went to see films like “Tenet” and “The Little Things” in the theater, this film would be one that comes up. Each and every time I thought a couple things. The cast looked phenomenal, the performances might strike the heart, it might have a couple moments that sound great in a cinema, some of the camerawork looks really good, but as for whether the film would be for me, that was a big question. I say this because even do I do stand by events including the Black Lives Matter movement and many of the positive stories that have been spawned from Black History, I wondered if I, a straight white male, would connect with this film as much as someone who happened to be black. “BlacKkKlansman” was really good, I enjoyed that film quite a bit. And I am not saying I went in expecting to hate the film, because again, I had a relatively positive reaction to the trailers, I just went in wondering what exactly to expect, because not every film is made for the same individual. I mean, when it comes to expectations, I had ideas, but they were almost all over the place.

I walked out of “Judas and the Black Messiah” with some expectations met. The film looks and sounds like the revolutions themselves. Wide, loud, and clear. “Judas and the Black Messiah” has moments of excitement, intensity, and power. Experience-wise, I saw the film in Dolby Cinema, and unfortunately, I cannot recommend you go there, because I do not think it is playing in Dolby Cinema as of now with films like “Tom & Jerry” and “Raya and the Last Dragon” coming out after it. But there is a speech scene in this film, and I think those of you who have seen the film will know precisely what I am talking about, that pulled me into the scene and made me a part of the revolution. It was like I went back into the 1960s.

The absolute highlight of the film is the cast. Between Jesse Plemons, LaKeith Stanfield, and Dominque Fishback, “Judas and the Black Messiah” does not fail to deliver the goods in terms of performances. In fact, the man who may be the highlight of the film, Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Fred Hampton, is wonderfully obnoxious and has one of the most powerful voices I have heard in recent cinema. In fact, in between me watching and reviewing this film, Kaluuya won a Golden Globe for his performance, which I’d say was deserved.

Despite seeing trailers for this film, a small part of me felt like I was going into “Judas and the Black Messiah” rather blind, and I would not say I was disappointed with the film from a story perspective. They took a mighty revolution, made it theatrical, while at the same time, taking a fascinating detective story associated with it and having both elements be executed to a satisfying watch.

By the end of the film, I was on the edge of my seat. Now, I have touched upon various points of Black History in school, but keep in mind, if you have not guessed by now, I have gone to a school with mostly white kids, lived in a town with mostly white people, and mostly learned about white history under the direction of a public education system. So part of me did not really know what was coming at times, and when the movie came to an end, I was rather invested in what was going on.

One problem I had with the film, and this problem has admittedly become a Jack Drees trademark over the past couple years, is the pacing. The pacing is not horrible, but there are certain moments that feel slower than others. Let me just be clear, when it comes to the simultaneous theatrical/HBO Max debuts that have been coming out recently, if you watched “The Little Things” about a month ago and nearly fell asleep, I do not blame you, although I think “Judas and the Black Messiah” is more likely to keep you awake. Let’s move onto my next trademark problem, replay value. One of the advantages for having “Judas and the Black Messiah” on HBO Max while it is also in theaters is that you do not just have the option to watch it from home, but if you watch it at home, you can do so as many times as you want as long as you pay a monthly subscription. I saw the film in the theater, but if I watched it at home, it would be one of those films that I would turn on once, perhaps enjoy while it is on, until the point where I move onto the next thing. Maybe I’ll turn off HBO Max until “Tom & Jerry” pops up.

Nevertheless, these negatives do not imply that “Judas and the Black Messiah” was a waste of time, it just means that there are perhaps other priorities I would make before turning it on again. The performances, the atmosphere, the technical aspects, the direction, all of it is done with precise skill, but I would not watch “Judas and the Black Messiah” strictly for entertainment. Granted, the film is based on a true story, which in itself was not adapted solely for the sake of entertaining people, but telling a relevant piece of history for those who may or may not know about the subject matter.

In the end, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is one of those weird movies that I am into as I’m watching it, but as soon as I leave, part of me forgets just a tad of it every single day. I am not saying it is bad, but there are other films that I would watch first. If I had to compare it to another recent film experience, I’d go with “Dark Waters.” Remember that film from 2019 on the DuPont Scandal? It’s a good film, but it is one I do not think I recall all the way through. “Judas and the Black Messiah” may be worth a second watch, but part of it is because I may want to refresh my memory on what might have faded from the first experience. Do I recommend the film? You betcha. Can I tell you every single thing about it? No. Partially because it has been almost a few weeks since I saw it, and it is one film that I saw and happened to forget about the longer it’s been since watching it. Great performances, stunning vision, I just wish I liked it a little better. I’m going to give “Judas and the Black Messiah” a 7/10.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open, and for the next few days, keep in mind, it is going away soon, you can catch the film exclusively on HBO Max at no extra cost as long as you are subscribed.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the 3rd edition of the most important movie blogging awards ceremony in history, The Jackoff Awards! I am hard at work, making sure all the touches are finished, and much of that hard work will carry over into the next few days, but on Sunday March 14th, it is finally here! You’ll get an all new awards show with nominees, winners, a new edition of Film Improvements, a COVID-themed intro, a monologue, and a big announcement as to where Flicknerd.com will be headed in the future. Stay tuned! Speaking of staying tuned, keep up with my content by following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and liking the official Facebook page! Also, speaking of the Jackoffs, there is STILL TIME if you want to, that you can vote for Best Picture! I selected 10 films to be nominated, only one will win! CLICK RIGHT HERE to make your pick! I want to know, did you see “Judas and the Black Messiah?” What did you think about it? Or, did you watch the Golden Globes this past Sunday? Tell me your thoughts on those! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Superintelligence (2020): F*ck You, 2020. Just Die.

“Superintelligence” is directed by Ben Falcone (Life of the Party, Tammy) and stars Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters, The Kitchen), Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire, Will & Grace), Brian Tyree Henry (Vice Principals, Atlanta), and James Corden (The Emoji Movie, The Late Late Show with James Corden). This film centers around a former corporate executive named Carol Peters, who is chosen to be studied by a Superintelligence. When this Superintelligence conflicts itself over whether it should enslave, destroy, or save humanity, Carol must convince the A.I. that people are worth saving.

“Superintelligence” comes from the same husband and wife team that brought us 2018’s s*itshow, “Life of the Party.” That ended up receiving a 1/10 from me, ended up being my #1 worst film of 2018, and officially earned the #10 spot on my Worst 25 list on my Top Movies of the 2010s countdown event. Safe to say, when I heard these two were going to collaborate on another movie, I think many of my brain cells began a civil battle to see which ones would survive by the time this movie comes out.

Another stinger, and part of this is due to the pandemic, but I will address it anyway, is that “Superintelligence” is skipping theaters and going straight to HBO Max. Before COVID-19 hit, when a movie typically chooses to ditch theaters and go straight to streaming such as “The Cloverfield Paradox” and “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle,” the results have not always been positive. Thankfully, due to the pandemic, we have seen some distributors sell rights of their movies to streamers and it has occasionally worked out. Some are calling “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which was sold by Paramount to Prime Video, one of the funniest movies of the year. Sony sold “An American Pickle” to HBO Max, which ended up receiving positive reviews.

The unfortunate thing however when it comes to this HBO Max deal is that the distributor of the movie is owned by the same conglomerate who has their hands tied to HBO Max, AT&T, which owns Warnermedia, which oversees Warner Brothers. So far, Warner Brothers already has dumped one of their movies onto HBO Max, “The Witches,” which ended up being one of the worst films directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Now who knows what would have happened? If “Superintelligence” was in theaters, chances are it would have made nowhere near enough money to turn a profit. But I imagine part of why Warner Bros. is putting “Superintelligence” on HBO Max is because it is being dumped on there. While Melissa McCarthy is a big name, Ben Falcone has never made a critically positive film when he sat in the director’s chair.

All of this just so happens to be my thoughts before the movie. So, what are my thoughts after the movie?

I would have probably have gotten ten times the satisfaction out of eating paper instead of watching “Superintelligence!” I cannot even fathom how this movie came to be. In my imagination, I feel like the only reasons why this movie exists to begin with is because it allows Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone to spend more time together. Plus, Falcone has already directed a few movies for Warner Brothers, so why not let him whip up another piece of s*it?!

I almost have no words.

Every time I write a sentence to give a description on what I thought about this movie, my brain just switches off! I cannot remember the last time I was this infuriated about a film. This is honestly just as bad as any of the “Sharknado” movies. Who do I blame here? The director? The producers? Maybe 2020? This is honestly the movie equivalent to finding out your computer has been smashed, the enter key is broken, and all your data has been wiped! Oh, and top of that, your computer has a f*cking virus! Time to call tech support.

I think my previous analogy fits quite well here, specifically the one about my brain cells fighting a civil war. It’s almost as if throughout the runtime of the movie, my brain cells engaged in a fight to the death, all until one cell remained, and now my brain cannot do anything about it!

I don’t even know where to start with this thing! There are some movies that I have reviewed that are bad to the point where I cannot stand them. This is one that I would never be able to watch again even if James Corden popped through the screen, came out, reached into his pockets, and slapped me in the face with a ton of cash shouting, “Jack! I will give you $100 million! All you have to do is watch ‘Superintelligence’ from start to finish.”

Speaking of James Corden, I have to ask, WHO APPROVES OF HIS FILM CHOICES? Does he have an agent? Does he get to pick the roles himself? Because in recent years he’s been in “Norm of the North,” “The Emoji Movie,” “Yesterday,” and f*cking “Cats!” WHAT IS HAPPENING?! Was John Oliver unavailable? Was Conan O’Brien too expensive? Was Seth Meyers too busy hanging with writers coming up with creative ideas for Donald Trump jokes?

For the record, James Corden plays the Super Intelligence, the A.I. that chooses to study Carol of all people. Conceptually, his link with Carol brought some good ideas to the table. Unfortunately, they were brought into to shoddy-ass wreck of a time that I will never be able to get back. The A.I. manages to allow Carol to live her wildest dreams, and in a way, this movie sort of resembles that be careful what you wish for type of story. Except that instead of wishing, everything is just given to Carol. This may be the biggest weakness of the film, and that’s because it goes against the traditional storytelling idea that the protagonist is the center of the story.

Now I know that the film is called “Superintelligence,” and it is partially about an A.I.’s indecision on what to do with humanity. However, a good portion of the movie dedicates itself to our protagonist barely earning anything. If anything, Carol is forced to go through with protocol after protocol, whether she likes it or not. Of all the protagonists I have seen in 2020’s cinematic calendar, I could make a convincing argument that Carol Peters may be the worst of the bunch.

And this would be fine if the movie were funny, or at least convincing! But it’s neither of those things. It is anger-inducing and awkward! That is all! Oddly enough, even though Ben Falcone wrote the other Melissa McCarthy-centric films he directed, he did not write “Superintelligence.” Instead, that dishonor goes to Steve Mallory, who co-wrote “The Boss” with Falcone. “Superintelligence” is the first feature Mallory wrote without assistance, so I will do my best to acknowledge Mallory could have a bright future ahead. But this script belongs in one place. Inside the software waiting for further edits. That’s it.

Not all movies are created equal, but this movie really needed some preplanning. Maybe there was plenty of preplanning that did not work out, but this movie felt rushed while also being lazy. Carol is uninteresting, awkward, and unfortunately for the audience, not funny. In fact, part of what makes this a reality is that a good portion of the comedy is boring Melissa McCarthy schtick. She might get angry on one occasion or another, she’ll go on with something for a long time, and of course, she falls.

Over the history of storytelling, I cared about protagonists not only because of their desires, which Carol has plenty of, but their willingness to take steps to their goal. Romeo Montague immediately went up to Juliet Capulet to express how he feels about her. Charlie Bucket bought a chocolate bar for a chance at a golden ticket. Luke Skywalker joined Obi-Wan to learn the ways of the force. The problem with Carol Peters is that so much is handed to her in the early stages of the film. She gets a lot of money, a penthouse, a Tesla, and she does end up doing things here and there to move the plot along. But the film burns out as it progresses, kind of like my single-cell brain. AGH! WHAT IS GOING ON WITH MY BRAIN?!

Did I mention that almost every joke in this film failed to impress me? In fact, there were one or two moments where a character would do something, and someone else makes a remark signifying they find the moment funny. Guys! Your universe sucks! What do these people find to be the funniest show on television? Static? Because I can assure that the first genuine laugh of any kind that I had during “Superintelligence” came in around the 44 minute mark.

If I had to compare “Superintelligence” to any other movie, it would have to be “Jexi” starring Adam DeVine. For those of you who have not seen “Jexi,” it follows a man who works for a Buzzfeed-like company. He’s obsessed with his phone, and when he gets a new phone, it basically takes over all aspects of his life. Aside from being a journey through his life, love, and so on, the center of it all is a rivalry between the main character and his phone, or more specifically, the virtual assistant on his phone. Much like this movie, it has a script that makes me want to shove needles in my eyes! It’s an abomination! However, the romance in that movie is handled much better compared to “Superintelligence.”

If this movie tried harder to formulate a more likable protagonist, maybe center the story around what SHE does a little more than the supercomputer’s motives, if possible, this could be slightly more tolerable. For all I know, this movie also could have worked better as a drama, because one of the worst parts of the movie are the attempts at humor. They’re either forced, awkward, or both at once! I screamed at my television countless times whenever someone did something dumb, someone said something dumb, or the movie treated me like I was dumb. That’s what this movie should be called! Not “Superintelligence,” but “Super Dumb!”

Maybe if “Superintelligence” were written as a drama, it could be the next “Terminator” or “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Maybe even if it had a different director, or lead actor, maybe even a new writer. This is an idea that could work if it were massively revamped. Instead, we get whatever the f*ck “Jexi” is! I’m surprised I still remember that movie existed!

When I stop caring before the halfway point of the film, that is an enormously epic fail. I don’t know what else I can say except that Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone need to get their s*it together. I have “Tammy” and “The Boss” on Blu-ray. I have not seen either of them. But after watching “Life of the Party” and “Superintelligence,” I think I might have to consider passing on those two movies.

There are several movies that I have watched over the years that are unashamedly goofy. Movies like “Anchorman,” “Elf,” or “Game Night.” But these movies are consistent with their vibe and translate to an instant good time. “Superintelligence” hurdles with world-ending events, serious government s*it, romance, and goofiness. Sadly, it cannot even get a single aspect down to a science.

In the end, “Superintelligence” is arguably in my top 10, maybe even top 5 worst comedies ever made. Throughout a great portion of this review, I had trouble formulating even a single sentence. Some movies are too good for words, others are so bad you do not have any words. This movie was so intolerable I lost my brain to process whether I could come up with words. Since I cannot come up with words, I’ll use numbers. If this movie were to associate with any number in the world, it would be the number 2. And speaking of numbers, I am going to give “Superintelligence” a 1/10.

Fun fact, there is only one other movie that I have seen this year that I have officially given a 1/10 to, and that is “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.” That film is directed by Daniel Farrands, who also directed “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” That ended up being my worst film of 2019. In 2018, I saw “Life of the Party,” which became the worst film of that year. Guess who directed that film? Ben Falcone! So far, the only 1/10 movies in 2020 are from directors who held projects that went on to be the worst movies of their particular year on Scene Before. That is honestly heartbreaking! Not just for the crew who made those movies, but as a viewer, I do my best to have even the slightest of optimism for a movie. So what should I expect? Are these two going to improve their craft anytime soon?

I am almost curious to watch “Tammy” and “The Boss” to see what else Falcone has up his sleeve. But at the same time, 2020 has taken so much of my sanity that I do not know how much more I am willing to sacrifice. This has easily been the worst year for movies. While there have been plenty of decent titles, the bad ones TRULY stood out. I cannot wait for this year to be over, and last but not least, avoid “Superintelligence” at all costs!

“Superintelligence” is now available on HBO Max. Watch it if you dare, but if you want my recommendation for something to watch on HBO Max, just watch “Harley Quinn” instead. That show kicks butt!

Thanks for reading this review! I would love to tell you what my next review is, but this current review has hurt my head so much that I cannot even think about what I will have for dinner tonight. So my next post is… Something. We’ll just have to find out what exactly that something is. I… Can’t even believe I survived to watch this movie. F*ck 2020, f*ck it to Hell and back! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Superintelligence?” What did you think about it? Or, of the Ben Falcone-directed movies starring Melissa McCarthy, which is your favorite? Given the track record between these two, I doubt this question is a reflection of quality. But I figured I’d ask it anyway. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Gretel & Hansel (2020): You’ve Heard the Story. Prepare to Fall Asleep to It.

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“Gretel & Hansel” is directed by Oz Perkins, AKA Osgood Perkins (Legally Blonde, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) and stars Sophia Lillis (It, Sharp Objects), Samuel Leakey (MotherFatherSon), Charles Babalola (Bancroft, The Legend of Tarzan), Jessica De Gouw (Arrow, Dracula), and Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Chariots of Fire). This film is based on the classic tale by the Brothers Grimm. This has received adaptations in the past, but this is one of the latest attempts at adapting such material because well, originality is dead. So the best we can do now is take something in hopes of flipping it on its head hard enough to get something different, but also interesting.

Safe to say, this movie… Didn’t do that. I’ll get to that later.

Now, I will be fair to “Gretel & Hansel” here. Because the truth is, I am not that familiar with the material which this film happens to be based on. Have I heard the name thousands of times over the years? Sure. But you can say the same thing about my knowledge of other aspects regarding culture. Things like “Fortnite,” “Stranger Things,” “South Park,” Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, Fanta, AKA a drink that wouldn’t exist if it were not for ties to Nazi Germany. It’s true by the way, look it up.

Let me just start off by stating some things I like about the movie. Oz Perkins does a really good job at providing an intimate feel to this picture. It made me wonder why I didn’t wait until say September or October to watch this. Granted, this film did come out in January, at least in U.S. cinemas that is, but if it came out in September and October, it would have provided a proper vibe for spooky season. After all, “Gretel & Hansel” is in the horror genre, it is genuinely creepy at times, not to mention kind of quirky, and the environment just screams “autumn.” In some ways, this film reminded me of the 2015 flick, “The Witch.” Now let me just say, I HATED “The Witch” upon my initial viewing, and I still haven’t watched it a second time. But I will admit, the style presented in “Gretel & Hansel” kind of reminded me of that movie. Things that stood out in this context include the slightly less than wide aspect ratio, the bold and nearly colorless grading, and the somewhat extended pace of the film. It all worked… At times.

In other times it was just… BOORRRRRRRRRING!

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Wow! I don’t think I’ve nearly come this close to tuning out a movie since maybe “Cats!” But let’s also be fair here, “Cats” is a disaster in every sense of the word that makes all other movies look like Shakespeare. Compared to “Cats,” which is an injection of infinite cyanide, “Gretel & Hansel” is one tiny little dart aimed at your leg. It hurts, maybe you’ll get to the point where you’ll pass out, but you’ll inevitably get back on the horse. Your chances of instant death are significantly reduced.

Nevertheless, I do want to point out, despite the fact that I do appreciate the art of filmmaking itself, not to mention an assortment of motion pictures that are perhaps, intentionally slow, take the “Blade Runner” films and “2001” as just a couple of core examples. I was just bored by whatever the heck was happening during “Gretel & Hansel.” I mean, I got the concept down willy nilly, but the in between of it all was just… tiresome. It’s really unfortunate that the movie just so happens to fall into a mess like this. Because there are several scenes that are visually stunning, not just from a practical perspective, but even some effects that are clearly fantastical manage to pop. There’s a nice blend between the grim–

Wait a minute, is that a pun? I think that’s a pun. Anyway…

There’s a nice blend between the grim reality and horrific fantasy here. Too bad I won’t remember a lot of it. In fact, as I write this review, I can only back track to what could be a very select few highlights of the film in terms of what I liked. Not the best of results if you ask me.

I will say though, when it comes to casting Gretel and Hansel for this film, I do think the department did a fine job when it comes to finding people who look the part and happen to provide fantastic chemistry. At this point, for an interpretation like 2020’s “Gretel & Hansel,” I almost cannot imagine anybody else filling in the shoes of these characters. They feel like two kids who try to work off each other despite having some differences. Given what time frame this movie takes place in and what this film in general has to offer, this feels like a legit brother and sister duo. Thumbs up to Claire Curry and Julie Harkin for their swell job on casting. In addition to that, thumbs up to both Sophia Lillis and Samuel Leakey for giving it their all in regards to their performances of their individual characters.

I don’t know what it really is about this movie… Why does it get a below average vibe from me? The production value is excellent and everyone involved does a top notch job. But the directing and screenplay doesn’t really seem to be that well executed when translated to screen. I can almost imagine the pitchroom meeting.

“We’re going to reinvent the German folktale for a new age! We do not need a lot of money to do it. The audience will take in the beauty and wonder of what will be a depressing world in which to live. It’s gonna be great.”

I like immersion and great production as much as the next guy. But if you have seen me review movies a lot over the past year or so, one of the big things I bring up is pacing. If you have a good movie, but it isn’t well paced. You’re not always gonna get a pass in that department. Did everything that happened in “Gretel & Hansel” need to happen? That’s a tough question to answer. Because guess what? This movie is ONLY EIGHTY-SEVEN MINUTES LONG! By today’s standards for feature films, that’s pretty freaking short! This is the Napoleon Bonaparte of feature films! If “Gretel & Hansel” cut out a lot of what made it slowly paced, I almost wonder if it would just perhaps barely be feature-length by technical standards. According to the Academy it would probably be a feature because by their standards, features are over forty minutes long. Same goes for the AFI (American Film Institute). But you might not get a pass from the Screen Actors’ Guild, which considers features to be seventy-five minutes at minimum. I wonder… Does that include credits? Just curious.

In the end, “Gretel & Hansel” is making me sleepy-eyed just thinking about it. Seriously, as I type this, my face is tilting towards my shoulder. I do not think I will be watching this film again anytime soon, despite the excellent production factors put into it. I enjoyed “Gretel & Hansel” as something to look at for an hour and a half, and compared to other movies that I will not watch again, I did not exactly want to rip my face off afterwards. However, that is not enough for this borefest to qualify as a quality movie. I’m going to give “Gretel & Hansel” a 4/10.

This year, man. This year. Although this film came out in January so this is somewhat normal. In other news… Disney is getting greedier than Mr. Krabs by making “Mulan” a Disney+ exclusive that you have to pay $29.99 TO WATCH ON TOP OF YOUR MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION. I’ll pass! I’m already paying for Prime Video, HBO Max, and I just got Peacock the other day! I am not that much of a streamer, and I don’t need more! By the way, my YEARLY PRICE for Peacock is the exact price you have to pay for “Mulan” on Disney+. Buh-bye for now!

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Capone,” starring Tom Hardy. I just bought the Blu-ray a couple weeks ago, and I popped it just this past week to gather some thoughts on it. Stay tuned for that review and other great content from Scene Before! Follow the blog through a WordPress account or an email to see the latest goings on! OR, if you want bonus content, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Gretel & Hansel?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your preferred adaptation of the “Hansel & Gretel” material? Are you an oldtimer who doesn’t want anyone on their lawn? Say the original material for all I care. Either way, there’s a good chance I have not checked out any of your answers so any thought I give to it may be invalid. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Way Back (2020): Batman Coaches a Basketball Team

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“The Way Back” is directed by Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant, Jane Got a Gun) and stars Ben Affleck (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Town), Al Madrigal (Night School, About a Boy), Michaela Watkins (Big Mouth, The Unicorn), and Janina Gavankar (Arrow, True Blood). This film is about Jack Cunningham, a man who grew up to reign as one of the finest players on the basketball team within the high school he went to. However, he did not really associate much with the game from that point forward. Now, he is given an opportunity to coach a younger generation of players, which could lead to redemption. Only thing is, the combined skills or legacy of the team was never as prominent as it was since Jack played.

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Well, if I had a couple words to give right now, it would be a phrase that begins with “holy” and ends with “crap.” For context, I originally saw “The Way Back” in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take a massive effect here in the United States. However, if you want me to be quite honest with you, even though I do my best to give a boisterous commitment to Scene Before, I saw no real rhyme or reason to review the film at the time. For the record, I saw the movie when I was staying in Los Angeles, so I was sort of in vacation mode. I was busy at Universal, trying new restaurants, checking out the scene in Burbank and Santa Monica, I was having too much of a blast to have anything else interfere. But… Another factor to consider is that when it comes to content on my blog, movie reviews didn’t really matter much for a long time. I felt that I needed to make a temporary shift to discuss the goings on of the COVID-19 pandemic in an attempt to stay relevant while also preserving the content I already have. I had to get a little conservative. So let me just start off by saying, this movie was good the first time I watched it in the theater. Remember the theater? Such a fun place. But, for all I know, things could change, so I bought the film on Blu-ray to see what I would think of it now.

To be completely truthful, it might be slightly better the second time. But you also have to consider something, I was in a MUCH BETTER mood. The day of my initial viewing had a ton of conflict. Everything started closing.  The audience for the “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” taping I was set to go ended up getting cancelled. I had to deal with the fact that a relatively new virus could possibly kill me at any instant. If you’re wondering, I’m fine, I have never experienced any full-on symptoms of the virus as of yet. And now, with a great mood, comes a great responsibility. “The Way Back” is one of my favorite films of the year. To finish this familiar phrase, I’m gonna remind you that this year is 2020 and that REALLY does not say much.

This film is directed by Gavin O’Connor, who also directed “The Accountant” back in 2016, a superb action film that I related to at the time, and I still look back on today. Mainly because of its gritty and admirable portrayal of a man who happens to be on the autism spectrum. The film also has some cool action scenes and I really liked Anna Kendrick in the film as well, she was very charming. TheWrap's Awards Season Screening Series Presents "Warrior" - Q&AHere, this film is a little less action packed, but given how much of the film revolves around basketball, they did make the atmosphere around that sport feel like it could pack a punch or two here and there. The games were relatively fun to watch regardless of the scenario or matchup and the tone felt simple, but pure. That’s what the film as a whole kind of feels like. The movie, throughout, feels kind of gloomy, but I don’t mind that, it works. If you look at some of the marketing or the IMDb description of the film, you might think for a second that it is about a basketball team or a guy trying to coach the team to victory. It’s not, really.

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The film centers around Ben Affleck’s character of Jack Cunningham, and the movie does dive deep into his contributions to the high school’s legacy, his heavy relation to the sport of basketball, and how much of an impact he made in terms of those two things. But this movie also feels like an allegory on why you shouldn’t drink.

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Here’s the thing about men… They like their alcohol… But, here in “The Way Back” it is a case as to why you should be cautious with alcohol. “The Way Back” handles this sideplot very well. So well in fact that “The Way Back” really feels like two really good movies in one package. One of which is about the basketball side of things and the attempt to make a struggling team as relevant as it once was, and the other being the alcoholism allegory. When it comes to Ben Affleck in this film, I cannot imagine him taking his particular role in the film just so happening to be a coincidence. The movie represents a side of Ben Affleck that believe it or not appears to exist in real life. For those of you have followed Ben Affleck in recent years, you’d know that he plays the DCEU’s Batman, or more accurately, he used to. He quit the role due to fear that he’d drink himself to death. Knowing this prior to going into “The Way Back,” it makes Ben Affleck a stellar casting choice and therefore a seemingly personal film on his part. It doesn’t feel like a guy losing control over his life because of a drinking problem. It feels like Ben Affleck reenacting events from his life or providing a look into what he feels his future could have been or could end up being depending on the way time flows.

This movie is shot, graded, and compiled beautifully. As if the audio for the film made me feel like I was a part of it already based on the basketball scenes, the camerawork and other technical aspects made me want to jump in further. It matches well with the movie’s vibe, even though there are probably other movies I will go back to for their technical aspects first. However, I do need to say one thing, and I will need to revisit this topic at some point to see where I officially rank it, but “The Way Back” may have one of my single favorite final shots from a movie I have ever seen. The only other movies that may compete with this for me are “Blade Runner 2049,” “The Third Man,” “Roma,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Inception,” and “The Dark Knight.” “Spider-Man 2” might be somewhere up there too… Without going into much detail, the final shot not only looks crisp and beautiful, but when combined with the dramatic score, it seemed to symbolize everything that this movie was all about and gave a sense of satisfaction. I could not take my eyes off it!

There’s not many issues I have with “The Way Back.” I think if you are going to go into this movie expecting a coach trying to get through a basketball season and lead a team to victory, you’re going to get that. But it’s not necessarily that kind of movie when the puzzle is fully assembled. It’s about why drinking can be dangerous and what it can do to people. I enjoyed the basketball aspect, but I stayed for the drinking aspect.

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In the end, “The Way Back” is a really good movie and one of the finest of the year so far. Ben Affleck gives a stellar performance that, once again, feels personal. It feels like he really wanted to do this movie based on the effort he put in alone. I’m starting to like Gavin O’Connor as a director, and who knows? Maybe he and Affleck will continue to be a winning duo. Kind of like Michael Caine and Christopher Nolan. “The Way Back” was worth a rewatch specifically for this review, and will probably be worth more viewings in the future. I’m going to give “The Way Back” an 8/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Just want to remind everyone that I recently went to the movie theater for the first time since March! For those of you who don’t know, phase 3 was put into place in Massachusetts as of July 6th. As a result, a very limited number of theaters opened, and I went to see “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band.” That movie will be the subject of a future review. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Way Back?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie involving basketball? 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!

The Mule (2018): Clint Eastwood’s Second Disappointment of 2018

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“The Mule” is directed by Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Sully) and stars himself alongside Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy, A Star Is Born), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Michael Peña (American Hustle, Crash), Dianne Wiest (Life in Pieces, Law & Order), and Andy Garcia (Geostorm, Ocean’s Eleven). This movie is based on a true story and an article from The New York Time called “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule.” It’s a about a guy by the name of Earl Stone, who is a war veteran, and he claims that he made the mistake of putting work before family. He missed a couple of important events, he cared for his plants more than his children, and he seems to be always doing something that will keep him from his family. Throughout the film, we see Stone trying to get cash for transporting loads on his truck under the responsibility of a Mexican drug cartel.

I haven’t seen much of Clint Eastwood’s work. As a film buff, or at least that’s what I like to call myself, part of me is slightly surprised that I have not looked into more of his stuff. I have seen “Sully,” “The 15:17 to Paris,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Now that “The Mule” is in cinemas everywhere, it allows me to dive deeper into seeing how talented Clint Eastwood really is, not only as an actor, but as a director. What I’ve seen from him acting-wise is pretty serviceable, including what I’ve seen from him in this movie. However, thus far, I have seen him direct competently, but there are other directors I prefer compared to him. I much prefer the work of filmmakers like Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Memento), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs), and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land). While this is at times, a nice looking, and rather well done film from a technical and acting perspective, the fact is that I was honestly disappointed.

When I saw “The 15:17 To Paris” this year, I felt the same way as I do now. Clint Eastwood is a household name in Hollywood. But throughout a portion of the year, a part of me thought that was just Eastwood’s appetizer to get to the real film he wants to tackle in 2018. After all, the movie was released in February, which is one of the dumpster fire months for movies, so there’s a good chance that either the studio or Eastwood himself may have been dissatisfied over the outcome of what eventually became “The 15:17 To Paris.” The good news was that this was not the only film to be released in 2018 that is directed by Clint Eastwood. Maybe “The Mule” would be better than “The 15:17 To Paris.” Well, it was, but that’s not saying much because, again, I was disappointed.

Let’s talk about Clint Eastwood in this film, he does a good job performance-wise, but when it comes to his character, I have mixed thoughts about him. I can understand the way he felt at certain times. The way the character manages to develop is also charming. But there are certain qualities attached to him that are kind of off-putting. He would occasionally tell people they are stupid for using cell phones and the Internet, and there’s actually a scene that makes him come off as a less likable version of Hugh Hefner. I say that because Clint Eastwood is in his eighties, he’s playing a character around his age range. There’s a scene where we see him with some chicks in a bedroom, they’re all seducing him and removing his clothes, it’s not traditionally something that I would pay to see. Granted, “The Mule” is not a family movie, and I never asked for it to be. But I can’t recall the last time I said, I’m gonna go see Clint Eastwood f*ck someone twice as young as him. I also will say, age is just a number, and I’m not against someone dating a person much younger or older than them as long as it makes both partners of the relationship happy, but seeing an eighty-something year old Clint Eastwood engaging in sexual behavior with women that are much younger then him is not even close to my cup of tea. I don’t hate sex in movies, and this is based on a true story, so it could be worse, but it is cringeworthy as an idea.

I will say, despite my gripes with Eastwood’s character, I wouldn’t consider him the worst character in the movie, because a good portion of the film involves us as an audience getting a glance at the DEA investigators played by Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña, and Laurence Fishburne. I really didn’t care for any of these people. After all, the only time I legit gave a flying f*ck about them was towards the end of the movie. Oh yeah, I even completely forgot Laurence Fishburne’s character was even in the movie! Why are we here?!

This movie seems to pack in the moral that family is more important than work. It seems to suggest that being a part of a group of people you are attached to by relation is more important than being famous or busy. I will say, as a freshman in college, I did not choose to be busy for five days a week, other classmates who got to submit class choices before me did. But that’s not the point, my biggest wonder about the film is if Clint Eastwood has ever applied this moral that he seems to be hammering in towards his daily life. Granted, Eastwood did not write “The Mule” or the source material which it is based on, so therefore it cannot completely be his vision, but I wonder if someone as famous as Eastwood has been through his life making a similar mistake to this movie’s main character. Part of me wonders if Eastwood even relates to him. The regret of not seeing your family as much as one would desire can make for a compelling character, but the thing about Clint Eastwood is that he is such a famous actor and director. Not to mention he’s cheated many times. Granted, things are not as always as they seem, people change, and Eastwood is portraying a “character,” not himself. Nevertheless, despite a fine performance, part of me doesn’t completely buy Eastwood as his character.

I will say though, while I may be bashing this movie a little bit, one of the biggest positives I will point out is that there is one scene, I won’t specify, that has to do with death. It shows how people come together in a time of need, the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen when you’re going to die, not to mention the fear of dying itself. That is the best part of the movie and is probably the part I’ll admire the most as I reflect on “The Mule.”

In the end, “The Mule” is yet another dissatisfying attempt at a film from Clint Eastwood this year. I was talking with some family members as the year was coming to a close, and there are a few people I know who were anticipating and excited for “The Mule” to come out. I don’t know how many of them saw the movie by now, but in all seriousness, I don’t think got much good out of seeing “The Mule.” It’s not the worst movie of the year, not even close to be completely honest, but for a movie with Eastwood’s name on it, it seems that there could have been a lot more delivered to provide satisfaction than what was given to me as an audience member. I will say though, the acting is five times better than “The 15:17 To Paris” so that’s a plus! I’m gonna give “The 15:17 To Paris” a 6/10. Thanks for reading this review, pretty soon I’m gonna have my review up for “Instant Family,” a comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and from the same director who did “Daddy’s Home,” also starring Mark Wahlberg. Also, after I finish that review, be sure to stay tuned for my top 10 BEST movies of 2018 and my top 10 WORST movies of 2018! I will also say that the Golden Globes are on this Sunday, so if you want to see me talk about them, I might do a recap, but if I don’t, there’s a high chance I’ll be livetweeting throughout the show. To see my potential livetweets to the Golden Globes this Sunday, follow me on Twitter at @JackDrees, and feel free to hit the notification bell if you want Golden Globes tweets shoved right in your face. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Mule?” What did you think about it? Or, since Clint Eastwood has worked on both “The 15:17 To Paris” and “The Mule,” which of these two movies do you prefer? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!