Vivarium (2019): As Strange As 2020

mv5bymeyzgqymmitztdjmc00ymzhltk4yjutnzkzzdc2ndyymgmxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzqwmty2nzk40._v1_

“Vivarium” is directed by Lorcan Finnegan (Foxes, Without Name) and stars Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Green Room) and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Now You See Me) as a couple who want to purchase a house. An agent shows them a house located in a quiet, seemingly peaceful area. Oddly, just about every house is identical and every aspect of the neighborhood feels like something specifically crafted for a lower budget, artsy Tim Burton picture or something. …Maybe the 2018 film “A Wrinkle in Time.” That one in particular is done by a different director, but nevertheless. As the couple tour what’s marked as house #9, they eventually find themselves without the agent, trying to escape the neighborhood. They never manage to find their way out. After the endless search, they find an infant, and are given instructions… “Raise the child and be released.”

Oh parenting, the hardest task in the world. Here. We. Go.

2020 has been a strange year. There has been talk amongst film fans, including myself, on what Best Picture could end up being. “Sonic the Hedgehog,” should nothing else arrive, could end up being a big contender. “The Invisible Man” has received plenty of positive verdicts. Honestly, with all things considered, I wouldn’t sleep on “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” That is… if I controlled the Academy and had all the power. Love those guys. But one of the lesser talked about films of the year is this little flick called “Vivarium.” Prior to today, the film has a box office total of $123,044. I knew very little about the project, despite how it has some notable names attached. Although I did buy the Blu-ray, popped it in the player, and watched the movie later on. Do I regret watching it? Not really… But… Kinda.

Let me just say, as a movie from a technical standpoint, “Vivarium” is very pleasing. I like the production design and framing of the film. It very much reminded me of a Tim Burton project like “Edward Scissorhands” if it were set in a slightly more modern time. The movie has this blend of fantasy and touch of reality that gives it its own unique feel. I kinda dig it. I think all the actors including Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jonathan Aris did a really good job playing their respective roles. They were all believable and well cast. If I were to watch this in a theater, I’d probably do my best to stay quiet and admire all the detail as things go by on the big screen. Although, I cannot see myself watching this movie many more times in the future.

One of the most controversial movies of the past year is Ari Aster’s “Midsommar.” For the record, I liked Ari Aster’s directorial debut, “Hereditary,” so I figured “Midsommar” would be a worthy follow-up to what he has provided in the past. I was wrong. It turned out to be one of the most insufferable film experiences I have put myself through in recent memory. Like “Vivarium,” “Midsommar” looked pretty appealing and had fantastic design to keep me gazing on the screen. It even had a good cast, I think Florence Pugh is a likable actress. Although if you ask me, I’d recommend an alternate film of hers to watch, “Fighting with My Family,” directed by the very talented and hilarious Stephen Merchant. But the film annoyed me in the long run. It was a film that tried to be disturbing and haunting, but just ended up feeling overly grotesque and off-putting. And while “Vivarium” feels a lot more tame, it kind of has that “Midsommar” feel. Upon finishing “Vivarium,” a part of me felt a little icky. And that’s a bit odd to say because while “Vivarium” is technically a horror movie, there is not really much that kept me disturbed. Maybe there were some spooks intact, but it didn’t really feel like something horrific or life-ending in a sense. It comes off as one of those artsy films that really tries to go all out there and be as strange as possible. In all likelihood, that may have been what the crew was going for, and in some ways, it works. But there are some cases where flaws happen to stand out.

I mean, no movie’s perfect, but this is a movie that really could have been awesome, but if the script didn’t go a certain way, I probably would have felt a little more satisfied. What way would I have wanted it to go? Well… I can’t tell you. That would perhaps spoil a great portion of the movie. But let me just say one thing, it involves the “kid” character, who I honestly grew to hate by the end of this movie. That’s all I can spit out without getting arrested by the spoiler police.

I like the way that this movie tends to handle parenting because it does go to reveal the disconnect between parents and their kids sometimes. Maybe the parents have a certain thought on their mind which may have to do with “helping the kid” or “doing what’s best for the kid” to which the kid ultimately disagrees or throws a tantrum or something of that nature. This movie sort of reminds me of why I may not want to be a parent anytime soon.

This is partially shown through say the performance given by Jesse Eisenberg, and I think that this is one of his better performances that I can think of if you ask me. Because when I think of Jesse Eisenberg, I will point out, I often reflect upon him in a positive light. I’ve seen him do good things, but he always seems to have this dimension to him that he carries from one character he plays to another. He’s a fast talker, almost to the point of mumbling, and it feels like he often plays a live-action cartoon. It’s like he’s on caffeine for extended periods which makes him rather obsessive and hyperactive. Here, from what I can recall, Eisenberg is calmer compared to other times I’ve witnessed him. Granted, I have not witnessed everything from Eisenberg. I still need to watch “The Social Network,” and not just the first two or three minutes which I think I DVRed one time.

I will say though, I am writing this review at the end of July 2020, and in a way, this movie may get a little too close to home for some viewers. Why? Well, it basically dives into what happens when a couple isolates in a home. Like, you know, just like every single one of us has in 2020. So do I recommend “Vivarium?” I’d say yes, minus the final five to ten minutes which were kind of a letdown for me. But remember, if you stayed in your home for four months, this could be a little bit… I’ll say creepy. I’m just hoping none of you have kids, maybe then it’ll get super creepy.

In the end, “Vivarium” started out alright, became pretty good, but nearly crashed during the climax. I know for storytelling purposes, there’s not really much that could necessarily be changed about the “kid” character, but that kid was one of the single most annoying characters I have seen in a movie in a long time. I get it, but… still, it drives me mad. I’m going to give “Vivarium” a 7/10.

Come on, 2020! Give me something great! Yes! We have “The Way Back!” We have “The Vast of Night!” We have “Hope Gap!” Those are good movies. I want GREAT movies. I think the last great movie I saw that was new may have been “The Farewell,” which technically speaking is a 2019 film even though I watched it in 2020 as I was wrapping my cycle for the 2019 lineup. If “Tenet” doesn’t come out on the first weekend of September, there is no hope left for movies this year. I wish I wasn’t being this dramatic. I want to avoid going into a rant, so… Let’s just move on.

Thanks for reading this review! I’m not sure what my next review is gonna be. I wanted to watch Greyhound on Apple TV+, but I’m trying to figure out the best way to watch it on my TV. After all, my smart platform, which is included with the television set, is Android TV, which of course, is from Google, one of Apple’s biggest competitors. This may be why there is no deal between the companies to have Apple TV+ on the Android TV platform. Nevertheless, if you want to see more great content from Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the blog’s official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Vivarium?” What did you think about it? Or, how is isolation going for you? Are you still in the house? Are you out and about? As one who lives in the United States, I HATE MY LIFE. That’s all I can say. Leave your comments down below, and hopefully my next blog post will come sometime soon! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Irresistible (2020): Just in Time for a Pandemic, An Election, and More

mv5bytvhmdiwogetmty1zi00yzu1ltk0ntetmwjhodhmm2eym2vkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymda4nzmyoa4040._v1_sy1000_sx800_al_

“Irresistible” is directed by Jon Stewart (The Daily Show, Rosewater) and stars Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes, The Office), Chris Cooper (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Adaptation), Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049, Terminator: Dark Fate), Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3, Interstellar), Natasha Lyonne (American Pie, Orange Is the New Black), and Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class, Neighbors). This film is about a Democratic strategist who is trying to get someone he meets up with to successfully run for town mayor. One of big catches here is that the person of importance is running as a Democrat, and the town, which is located in Wisconsin, has maintained its conservative traditions for years.

Ah… A new movie. It’s an experience I barely get to have today, so I’ll take it whenever possible. I did not pay for this movie. I tuned in during the first few minutes as my mother rented it On Demand and I was kind of intrigued by what was going on. Gotta say, I was pretty entertained by what I saw. However, as I watched, I was reminded of a common complaint some people have about modern movies.

Screenshot (50)

Hollywood is such a magical place, where dreams come true as long as you spend spare time waiting tables. But as of recent years, it has also become a place hated by certain people because of a supposed agenda. And I am not going to deny that when it comes to today’s Hollywood culture, a lot of it is on the left. If you ask me, I really don’t care. I would still be following it if it is still on the right, I enjoy the art form of film, I don’t usually often give a crap about one’s political views. That’s why when I do the Jackoff awards every year, I usually stray away from politics. Granted, I did subtly bring up global warming one year, but that’s a human issue turned political. So that’s why I let it slide.

If you watch this movie, I don’t really think you, or too many other people would need that keen of an eye to realize that this may be somewhat done with ideas of the left. After all, the story follows a political strategist trying to get a Democrat mayor to succeed during an election. The movie makes references to our political climate today and everything surrounding it. I will also point out that there are some big jabs towards the conservative-friendly outlet Fox News. Also, these jabs had me in stitches.

Also also, CNN gets some jabbing as well, which also stuck the landing for me in terms of comedy. This movie is not afraid to go after the cable news outlets and bang em’ over the head. Those honestly may have been the most entertaining parts of the movie for me.

I will point out that this movie is a mix of comedy and drama. Both genres blend perfectly to balance each other out and they don’t feel like two different movies. This movie knows what it is. It’s funny, charming, but it also wants to get a little serious every now and then. Maybe Steve Carell has something to do with it, because I will admit, even though he may be an actor I tend to overlook, I have seen him be funny in the past, while also being dramatic in the past, and he can do both very well. To see a mix of that here in “Irresistible” is a good mix for Carell.

Honestly, 2020 may just be the pinnacle for crappy movies. I have seen a few good ones, like “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” (who knew I’d be saying that), and “Emma.” I have not had much time to watch movies in general, mainly because I’m not always willing to cough up a $19.99 rental for a movie that probably would be a better experience in the theater, but when I did have time, nothing really stood out this year. “Irresistible” is kind of in that camp, but if no Oscar-bait movies come out this year, this could have a shot at some awards. After all, we are in an election year here in the United States, which makes this movie incredibly topical. It has some good performances given by Steve Carell and Chris Cooper. As for Jon Stewart, this could have a shot at a screenplay nomination. Granted, I do not want to get ahead of myself as it is only June and a lot of the good movies come out in October, November, and December. However, if all those movies get delayed, I think “Irresistable” could have some potential during award season. Besides, you know how I mentioned Hollywood seems to be a bit on the left more than the right? That could be another factor in this movie’s favor! All it really needs from here is a montage making fun of Donald Trump and then it’s the perfect “Hollywood left story.” With that being said, this movie may not be for everyone, but even if you are on the right politically, there is a solid chance that you might be entertained by this from a story perspective. I mean, it is funny. Granted, a lot of the humor seems to be geared towards politics, but there is still some general humor sprinkled here and there. But given that this movie has dramatic elements to it, it does not feel overbearing.

One of the biggest compliments I would like to give to “Irresistible” is its pacing. When I get into negatives during my reviews, one of my gotos is pointing out that maybe one or two scenes feel a bit too drawn-out or too slow, maybe every once in a while the pacing is so fast that it destroys your brain. Here, the pacing is very well done. Will I remember this movie by the end of the year? Parts of it, yes. Some, maybe not. But regardless, this movie went by like a plane. Not too fast (if that makes any sense), not too slow, just right. I feel like there are going to be various scenes and characters from this movie that will probably be erased from my memory come 2021, but as of now, I enjoyed the movie enough that I don’t really care much about the future. Although… It’s 2020. I really should care about the future.

In the end, “Irresistible” is not my favorite movie this year, but a damn good time. If you really don’t like politics in your movies, you might want to sit this one out. After all, it is written and directed by Jon Stewart, who hosted “The Daily Show” until Trevor Noah took over. Before we go any further, I would like to give one last compliment towards the film, and I will say that any excuse to use “dial up Internet” within a joke is worth your time. It worked in “Captain Marvel,” which looking back, is almost the worst Marvel movie, but I liked the dial-up joke. Nice to see it here too! I’m going to give “Irresistible” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I am going to post my review up for “Minority Report,” the final entry to June 2020’s event, Tom Cruise Month. I hope to get it up by the 30th, but if I don’t, it’s because I’m getting sidetracked with other things. Hopefully in July I get to talk about some newer movies, and I will also point out that Regal Cinemas are scheduled to reopen on July 10th, so I plan on visiting one soon. The same goes for AMC, which is currently scheduled for July 15th. I’m not sure what I’m going to see. If it is not a 2020 film, I’m probably not going to review it, but still. Speaking of 2020 films, be sure to check out my review for “My Spy.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you want to see more movie talk from Scene Before, go like my Facebook page! Otherwise if you want more politics, go like CNN or Fox News. I want to know, did you see “Irresistible?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that seems to have a hint of bias behind it? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

My Spy (2020): Dumped Onto Amazon? No Kidding.

mv5bnteznjy2odmzn15bml5banbnxkftztgwmzuzmta4nzm40._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“My Spy…” That is a name I have been waiting to say for the LONGEST TIME. Nevertheless, “My Spy” is directed by Peter Segal (Grudge Match, 50 First Dates) and stars Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Stuber), Chloe Coleman (Big Little Lies, Transparent), Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers, Gravity Falls), Ken Jeong (The Masked Singer, The Hangover), and Parisa Fitz-Henley (Jessica Jones, Midnight, Texas). This film is about a CIA operative who is on a mission alongside a fanatic/newbie in Chicago, who is supposed watch over a particular family’s apartment, only to run into a nine year old girl who lives in said apartment. As this happens, the CIA operative is now at the mercy of this nine year old who can potentially affect the entire mission.

If you wonder why I started this review the way I just did, here’s some context. I have waited FOREVER to talk about “My Spy.” Not because I knew about it for a long time and was finally getting to see it. Not because I was looking forward to it. Hey, this is no “Star Wars.” Before the COVID-19 craze happened, prior to when it was announced that this film would be going straight to Amazon’s Prime Video after multiple delays in the United States, I was invited by STX Screenings, which is an outlet based on the studio responsible for this film, to see “My Spy” a couple towns away from me. So I got on a train. Remember trains? Those were so much fun. I headed on over, saw the movie, but I knew one thing was for sure. I could not talk about it. That is unless I turned Scene Before into an Australian outlet, because this film already released in Australia months ago. Without saying much about the film, I did not hate myself, but it didn’t feel buzzworthy.

By the way, THIS WAS IN JANUARY. And it’s not like I went to a big festival or something or a test screening. No! This was a finished product! This was a screening meant to promote the film, get people to think about it, and that sort of thing! It was a simple free screening that just so happened to take place on a Saturday in January at 10AM! They really wanted families for this thing, didn’t they?

But guess what? I’m a Prime member, so I took the opportunity to watch this film again. After all, a lot can change on a second viewing, and I did forgot a lot about this movie over the last five months.

Once again, I did not completely hate myself for watching “My Spy.” But to call it Shakespeare is laughable.

Oooh! Here’s a hashtag! #ThisAgedWell.

Now don’t think I’m nagging on Dave Bautista, I love his work and he often comes off as one of the most down to earth celebrities working today. He doesn’t let the attention and fame get to his head, and he seems like an all around fun guy. I also love his passion for the film industry, those involved in said industry, and unlike some people, he is not afraid to project his opinion beyond the stratosphere (even if sometimes it might not work out in his favor). And I’ve seen him do good work. I think Bautista was a good pick to play Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He had a solid screen presence during the beginning of “Blade Runner 2049” as Sapper. I even liked “Stuber!” It’s not a masterpiece, but… It has its moments. Well, Bautista’s performance in “Stuber” wasn’t his finest, but I liked the movie nevertheless. Here in “My Spy,” he looks the part from a physical standpoint, but the way the script translates onto the screen is weird at particular points where Bautista happens to speak.

Continuing on with what I just said, Dave Bautista DOES NOT give a career-damaging performance. At this point, I’m still excited to see him if there is a “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is seemingly in development at this point, so I can’t wait to see where that goes. However, when it comes to how his character is written. It’s very hit or miss. And the same can be said for some other moments of the screenplay as well.

While I did end up buying the mother/daughter relationship between Parisa Fitz-Henley and Chloe Coleman, there are a couple utterances of their lines and interactions where they didn’t feel like real people. Yes, one of the core objectives of a film is to stretch the truth and reality to a certain point, but there are one or two moments where it breaks the barrier and goes a little too far. I bought into the characters, but this is nevertheless how I felt as I witnessed said characters on screen. I also think the chemistry between Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman is admirable, which does kind of end up being the heart of the film, so I gotta give credit to the casting department where it is due. Although, it is not like I haven’t seen this type of chemistry done better in the past. This film kind of reminded me of “The Game Plan” starring Dwayne Johnson. You know, that movie where he unexpectedly meets his own daughter. Although, that movie handles something better that this seems confused with, its identity.

While I often criticize Disney for its unwillingness in regards to pushing boundaries, their movie, “The Game Plan,” at least feels consistent. It always feels family-friendly, it always comes off as somewhat warm yet exciting, it projects a sense of clean fun throughout. Here, it feels kind of weird. Did they make this movie for young teenagers who wanna hear people drop a couple bombs? Did they make this for kids? Families? The movie starts off with a strategically laid out action scene that almost glorifies violence, but later on we get this family drama that turns out to be the heart of the movie. It feels like a PG-13 action movie in one moment, but for almost the full remainder of the runtime, it feels PG at best. I am willing to bet, that if this movie was PG, it MAYBE could have gotten away with as much violence as there is. Maybe if it was just toned down or edited with slight differences, it would have gotten the PG rating. If they took out a few naughty words, it would have gotten a PG rating. Do I want this movie to be PG? No. If you ask me, I am always for the dark route whenever possible. But I want this movie to have a tone that works, but it almost fails when it comes to having its own identity. It feels like a conglomeration of ideas that are randomly placed together to waste a little more than an hour and a half.

“My Spy” is a technically competent film. When it comes to aspects like editing, camerawork, and music, “My Spy” works. It’s not the greatest movie ever made. Far from it in fact, but it is confusingly laid out and doesn’t feel like it really knows what it is. The movie also tries to be a comedy, and there are moments where the comedy does land, but it also comes off as a little traditional, like I’ve seen it before. Bautista has a couple well-executed comedic moments as the movie goes on, but if you have seen a lot of movies, it is probably not going to stick the landing as perfectly as one would hope.

For those of you who don’t watch a lot of animated movies, one of the cliches from that realm of film is that there is a dance sequence of some sort. Now, “My Spy” is not animated, but this does honestly nearly, not COMPLETELY, but nearly come off, as a movie meant for kids. Much like the typical animated fare, “My Spy” has a dance sequence, but I will say the way they handled it here was not exactly annoying. It wasn’t completely exciting or exhilarating, but it felt like it had a noticeable purpose compared to some other movies (I’m looking at YOU, “Uncle Drew”). For a movie like this, seeing a dance sequence that actually worked and didn’t make me want to rip my hair off was sort of delightful.

In all seriousness though, “My Spy” is probably going to end up being one of the more forgettable movies of 2020. How do I know that? Because as I mentioned, I already saw the film in January and a lot of it already faded. It feels disposable, slightly typical, and doesn’t really offer anything spicy to the table. I think Chloe Coleman, who plays the young girl in this film, has a bright future ahead of her, but if she becomes successful, I don’t think “My Spy” will be the film I will end up remembering her for most.

In the end, “My Spy” is probably going to be watched once and then quickly left in the dust. The only thing I can say at this point is that if you are bored and you pay for Amazon Prime, watching this movie won’t exactly kill you. If it’s a family movie night, you can do better, but you can also do a lot worse. Now I saw this movie twice, and that’s because I wanted to refresh my memory on what happened in the film and how it presents itself. Was it worth the second watch for those reasons? Sure. But if we’re talking about entertainment value, there are superior options out there. I like the people in the movie, but the movie itself, not as great. I’m going to give “My Spy” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! It is almost the end of June, so that means that we are getting closer to the day I release my review for Tom Cruise’s “Minority Report.” This is the conclusion to Scene Before’s Tom Cruise Month, which has been fun for me personally, as I do enjoy Tom Cruise as a professional. I have not seen “Minority Report” yet, but I assure you that I do have even just the slightest anticipation to talk about it. If you want to see more great content like this from Scene Before, please give the blog a follow! If you have proper account credentials, give this post a like! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “My Spy?” What did you think about it? Or, since it’s relevant… Did you ever see the 2007 movie “The Game Plan?” Tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

CHECK OUT MY TOM CRUISE MONTH REVIEWS SO FAR:

OBLIVION (2013)

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES (1983)

DAYS OF THUNDER (1990)

TOP GUN (1986)

Scoob! (2020): Scooby-Don’t See This Movie

mv5bntm5ywzimzqtndqxzs00odi0lwjjntqtzmq3owu3njg4nwyyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzc4ntu3njg40._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“Scoob!” is directed by Tony Cervone (Back at the Barnyard, The Looney Tunes Show) and stars Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth, The LEGO Movie), Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Ted), Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery, Star Wars: Rebels), Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, Carmen Sandiego), Zac Efron (Neighbors, High School Musical), Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!, First Reformed), Kiersey Clemons (Angie Tribeca, Transparent), Ken Jeong (The Masked Singer, The Hangover), Tracy Morgan (The Last O.G., Rio), Simon Cowell (The X Factor, America’s Got Talent), and Frank Welker (The Smurfs, DuckTales). This film is yet another addition to the “Scooby-Doo” franchise created by Hanna-Barbera, but this was a rare case for the franchise in which this was supposed to be a big theatrical movie.

…If only more theaters were open…

Now, it has premiered on streaming services and On Demand. Nevertheless, the film’s ideas themselves remain the same. “Scoob!” centers around the popularized gang of characters who split up as the vicious Dick Dastardly plans to unleash a “dogpocalypse” to the world and its people.

I saw the main trailer for this film and I was pretty indifferent about it. I had no strong feelings of excitement towards the movie itself, nor was I thinking it would be the worst thing I’d ever see. When it comes to children’s content, I was pretty sure that “Sonic the Hedgehog” was going to get on my nerves more, which didn’t turn out to be the case whatsoever as it might be my favorite movie of the year so far. But, judging this year’s resume of films, that really doesn’t say much as the highest score I have given to a film so far this year remains at a 7/10. Speaking of things that get on my nerves, “Scoob!” is a crime against humanity that has officially engulfed my brain in flames.

Let’s start out with the positives, and I’m not saying there are positives because I’m a nice guy, in fact, isolation is probably turning me into an entitled asshole, but nevertheless. The film is decently animated. A lot of the images are shiny and vibrant. Then again, it is 2020, and at this time, good animation is a requirement. Plus, I did rent the movie in 4K. The other thing I liked about the film, and while I wouldn’t call it some of the best material I have ever seen, are the introductory scenes. The way that Shaggy and Scooby-Doo meet is kind of nice to see. Granted, I saw it in the trailer, but the way it plays out in the movie makes for a somewhat entertaining scene. However, there is one moment in the scene that I probably consider to be a little too far-fetched. Even so, it’s still a delightful scene. I will also add that getting Iain Armitage to voice young Shaggy is a perfect casting choice. The first scenes of the film where Shaggy and Scooby grow up together make for good buildup while also focusing on the mysterious and spooky elements of the “Scooby-Doo” franchise. The way the gang meets and sticks together makes for a fun scene and montage and even though it did not seem to promise an absolute masterpiece, I did at least expect to be somewhat amused throughout the hour and a half runtime of this movie.

As soon as we get around the first scene with Simon Cowell playing himself, I lost any and all interest I could have possibly had with this film. Because as soon as the main course starts, this movie basically becomes the latest incarnation of *insert superhero title here*. “Scoob!” is essentially an attempt to turn the “Scooby-Doo” franchise into a superhero movie. Everyone at Warner Bros. must have been thinking, “Marvel’s popular. Our very own DC is popular. Scooby-Doo? Not cool enough.” I guess this is one reason why Warner Bros. thought it was okay to release this film in May and not October. The movie takes place during Halloween, geniuses!

As for the heroes in this movie, both super like Blue Falcon and Dee Dee Sykes and less than super such as Scooby and Shaggy, I basically rooted for none of them. Everybody felt stupid, underwhelming, and even though Scooby and Shaggy have probably never been a part of a superhero mission in their lives as this movie likely suggests, some of the things that go on in this movie make me think that they need to look The Official Encyclopedia of Predictable Superhero Movie Actions. That sort of thing does not exist, but goddammit I would buy it if it were out there! There are one or two moments in this movie that drove me so mad, both as a fan of superhero movies and as someone who wants the characters in “Scoob!” to be competently written. Now I do not mind predictable movies as long as the people behind the project can make it fun. I just talked about “Onward,” which I could think through, but the overall fun and emotion provided within the movie makes up for its predictability. But “Scoob!” reached a level of predictability that I did not only avoid expecting to see, but as far as how the characters handled it, it angered me to the moon and back. When a decent amount of your movie’s characters are morons, why should I root for them?!

As for the villain, Dick Dastardly, he kind of feels like a D-list Thanos. He’s heavy, he’s got kind of a punch-able face, and he might honestly be the best character in the movie. Keep in mind, compared to Thanos, he’s nothing. But I liked the way they handled his character because there was some depth to him. Granted, they tried to dive deep into some secondary superheroes who play a role in the plot, but I couldn’t even come close to rooting for them. There is a saying that a movie is only as good as its villain, but when the heroes turn me into a villain, then it probably doesn’t matter how much I liked the antagonist of “Scoob!.”

May I just remind everyone that four people are credited for the screenplay for “Scoob!?” How did we get here?! Also, three people worked on the story. When it comes to these bloody genius writers, some of their previous credits include “Playing with Fire,” “Norm of the North,” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” just to name a few.

I’m not lying when I suggest that this movie is basically trying to copy the success of a superhero film. There’s a big team trying to stop the bad guy, there’s a couple scenes with hi-tech gadgets and techno wizardry that develop the plot, and you know how I mentioned that Dick Dastardly is basically Thanos in this movie? Guess what his plot is? Trying to find a series of bones to complete his collection! We get it! “Avengers: Infinity War” is one of the most successful movies of all time! It happened! Just be “Scoob!!” Actually, you know what? I take that back. Don’t be “Scoob!,” “Scoob!” is terrible. Be a better movie.

To add on to the superhero craze, you know what Warner Bros. is planning on doing in the future? Well, if you look at the Wikipedia page for “Scoob!,” it suggests that “Scoob!” “is intended to be the first installment in a series of films set within a Hanna-BarberaĀ shared cinematic universe.” F*cking hell.

If you have ever been remotely interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you should be thankful that critics gave “Iron Man” positive reviews, otherwise the MCU probably wouldn’t even exist today. As far as I am aware, “Scoob!” is getting mixed verdicts across the board. Who knows what’ll happen there? But nevertheless, if I have to sit through a cinematic universe full of material as bad as this, I am officially no longer a movie person.

In a world full of superhero and comic book movies, “Scoob!” is like that kid trying to join the cool kids table saying, “Hey, I like Fortnite,” but everyone else thinks the kid is just trying to get attention. I will give a ton of credit to the animators behind “Scoob!,” because the film does look nice on a screen. Again, I watched it in 4K, the colors really stood out to me. The one thing I wish I could do right now as a movie-watcher is declare whether or not something is worth checking out in theaters. But, I can’t do that. So instead, I shall pose the question, is “Scoob!” worth renting for $19.99? As far as I’m concerned, that question earns a strong “no.” This film feels like a Marvel flick that doesn’t even know who its audience truly is. The film tries its hardest to “modernize” the “Scooby-Doo” property, which I honestly think was a big mistake. Well, at least they got Frank Welker to voice Scooby. There’s even a joke regarding the character of Fred Jones that involves him being compared to one of the Hemsworths! This film is infuriating and unbelievably forgettable! In the end, “Scoob!” is ninety-something minutes of “what the f*ck just happened?” and I’m going to give it a 3/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I usually don’t talk about movies that avoid a theatrical release, but as long as movies are not hitting theaters or as long as there are no theaters open to play them, I will be talking about movies that hit streaming or DVD early. There will likely have to be some sort of previous intention to have the film theatrically released, but that’s just what I currently have in mind. I just want to watch movies that are better than “Scoob!” at this point, that’s all I care about. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, be sure to check out my Facebook page, which will hopefully be updated with content involving much better movies in the future.

Also, movie theaters, PLEASE COME BACK.

I want to know, did you see “Scoob!?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Hanna-Barbera property? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Onward (2020): Peter Parker and Peter Quill Cast Spells

mv5bmtzlyzk3nzqtmmviys00ywzmltk5ztetnwe0ngvjm2mzywu1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndg4njy5otq40._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“Onward” is directed by Dan Scanlon and stars Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War, Spies In Disguise) alongside Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) as two brothers. These two brothers live together in a magical realm, or more specifically, a magical realm that has increasingly evolved over the years due to advances in convenience and technology. Now that both brothers are of appropriate age, they are able to execute a magical spell that can help them bring back their father for one day. When they are only able to bring part of their father back to reality, the two brothers go on a quest together to figure out how they can get the rest of him back.

First and foremost. It’s good to be back. While we are not back to normal yet, and yes, NORMAL, I’m tired of whatever the “new normal” is supposed to be! It is still nice to talk about a movie that has come out this year without as much distraction towards the greater pain of reality. “Onward” was one of the last movies I saw in a theater before everything ground to a halt. The film started off with a somewhat underwhelming box office performance, perhaps likely due to COVID-19 taking effect, but I did see it opening weekend, so I feel glad to be one of the chosen people. While there were other movies I was looking forward to this year more, many of which I won’t get to see for awhile, “Onward” was definitely one that had my attention. For starters, it’s a Pixar movie. And Pixar, kind of like Marvel Studios or A24, is one of those distributors that always delivers a midas touch. Heck, I even like all the “Cars” movies! I’ll go as far to say that I really enjoyed “Cars 2!” If you want action, that’s a Pixar movie I’d recommend. So even though “Onward” was not my most anticipated film of 2020, it was one that I thought would be at the very least, solid. And that’s what it was. A solid movie. As much as I make fun of Disney for their business practices, which work for them even though I don’t fully support them, I will forever love Pixar, which might be the mega-corporation’s greatest asset in terms of quality. Over the years, a lot of their films have been well-written, conceptually creative, and of course, beautifully animated. Especially over recent years, even if one of their films was never in my top 5 from them, I would not deny the amount of work that must have been put into those films to make them family-friendly, while also trying to keep not just kids, but adults interested. Even though I was, and I hate to say it, disappointed, with their late 2017 film, “Coco,” it is some of the studio’s finer work in terms of color and animation detail. Even though “Toy Story 4” is probably the worst movie in the series, there is a shot of a cat in that movie that looked like something out of real life. For the record, I saw “Cats” later in the year that “Toy Story 4” came out and none of the cats from “Cats” hold a candle to that digitally animated feline! That’s how much I appreciate Pixar as a studio.

Once again, Pixar does not let me down from an animation standpoint. Everything fits its respective environment, it’s crisp, and the attention to detail is spot on. I saw this film in IMAX and the animated shots of this movie shine on the big screen. I cannot say that it is Pixar’s best technical work, but it is absolutely superb nevertheless. The film is now on Disney+, and I imagine that the film does look pretty good on Disney+, but since movie theaters are starting to reopen, if “Onward” is playing near you, take the opportunity to see it! Because even if the movie is not that great for you story-wise I imagine it will still be fun to look at. It is a film, kind of like recent Pixar entries, that I see holding up for years if you want a tech demo.

As for the screenplay, I think it is at times predictable, but that is also what makes it work in certain moments to deliver a satisfying story. There is conflict in just about every single moment, there’s a good amount of setup and payoff that is done effectively. The playaround and mashup between this fantastical, dungeons and dragons-like sort of environment and our modern lives is undoubtedly entertaining and creative. It makes for some fun scenes and ideas. In a way, it almost reminded me of Disney’s “Zootopia” which came out four years ago. That’s a really good movie by the way! Because that movie took a bunch of talking animals, put them in a world like ours, and while that film more or less was a satire on modern society, it was cool to see a blend of fantasy and reality put together to deliver a fun time.

As for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, I think both characters are well-written, but when it comes to casting. That is where things begin to become questionable. Now, I will say, Tom Holland as the younger brother is definitely worth keeping. But when it comes to Chris Pratt, I like him as an actor, but I feel like he’s more closer to a father figure than an older brother in this film. That’s just the first impression I got from him. After all in real life, Tom Holland is 23 right now. As for Chris Pratt, he’s 40! Now I know you can get away with a lot more in animation in terms of details, actions, voices, personalities, but hearing Chris Pratt’s voice attached to someone perhaps close to my age is a little bit weird. I’m not saying it’s off-putting, it’s just weird. Both characters are great, serve the movie well, and have likable chemistry, but I just don’t think Chris Pratt was the right choice for the character of Barley Lightfoot. Nothing against him, I respect Pratt as an actor, he’s got decent talent, but I think he was a little bit miscast.

As for Tom Holland, I think his casting was perfect. He plays a teenage boy, and I am willing to bet that due to his marvelous (no pun intended) performance as Peter Parker, that there may be some worries down the road that he may be typecast. Because Holland’s still in his early twenties, and he has tons of charisma that can convince somebody he’s likely able to play an older teen for a while. But nevertheless, when it comes to this animated role, his voice completely fits the character. It’s in this tone that is almost in what I would call a “downer” mood, I just made that up on the spot! I don’t even know what I’d call it! But Holland’s pitch matches his lanky character to a high degree. I will also give props to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, Veep) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Ma) who also stood out for their fine performances, plus the solid casting on someone else’s part.

Funny thing is, going back to Pixar’s quality, I will admit that I have not checked out all their films yet. I own “The Good Dinosaur,” but I have yet to watch it. I also still need sit through “Monsters University” and “Brave.” When I was at university this semester, I had a screenwriting professor who saw “Onward” and he pointed out that when it comes to Pixar, it’s one of their inferior movies. He also went on to suggest that bad Pixar is better than a lot of movies. He’s got a point. From an animation standpoint, “Onward” is pristine. Story-wise, everything adds up, makes sense from beginning to end. Compared to some other notable animations or family movies that completely rely on immature fart jokes, “Onward” just tries to tell a needed story from beginning to end, which is usually what I go to movies for. And yes, the occasional visual spectacle of “Onward” is a much-desired and satisfying cherry on top of the sundae, but story must come first, which Pixar typically succeeds with, even in cases like this when it is not their finest work. Pixar was supposed to come out with another movie in June, specifically by the name of “Soul,” but that unfortunately has been delayed. Much like “Onward,” “Soul” is an idea that has not been tested out before by the studio. Going into these movies, I am always looking forward to where Pixar takes their characters and its creative concepts. When “Soul” comes out later this year, I will continue to anticipate attention to detail, but at the center, a dang good story.

In the end, “Onward” is a fun ride from start to finish. It is a movie that you can watch with your kids without really feeling the need to tune much of anything out. Pixar’s always had that intention and plan of execution in mind. I remember the first time I saw “Up” in the theater, and years later, my dad and I still remember the movie, and if I’m not mistaken, he’d probably watch it again if it were in front of him. Would I watch “Onward” again? Probably. Maybe not right away, but I can see the effort put into this film and that is something I totally respect. I’m going to give “Onward” a 7/10. Fun fact, a 7/10 is honestly a low score for the Pixar brand given their resume. So even though this is one of, and as weird as it is to say, Pixar’s worst movies, I think it is still worth your time. I’d probably rather watch this again than “Coco,” which, was good! But I expected a lot more from it. Maybe one of the downsides of that film is waiting until 2019 to watch this, whereas I watched “Onward” right away. But I could be sticking my feet into hazardous mud here.

Thanks for reading this review! Once again, it’s finally nice to talk about something that is not specifically about COVID-19! I wish I could do this more often. I don’t know if I’ll be doing a part 8 next week to my Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes series, but I’ll have to find out what I’m doing, what kind of mood I’m in, and so on. But if I were to review a new movie, my next one is likely going to be for “The Way Back” starring Ben Affleck. I will say, given how it has been a couple months since I’ve seen that movie, I wonder how much of a challenge it’ll be for me to talk about the film in detail, but that question shall be answered as we cross that bridge. Maybe I’ll rent the movie if I need to watch it again, but I also don’t to waste $5 or $6 for the sake of wasting $5 or $6. These reviews typically regard my first impressions, and I had little intention on changing anything in regards to how I do my blog, but this pandemic did it for me. It took some control away from how I operate everything I do at Scene Before. Or, maybe I’ll soon do my review for “My Spy” which is about to debut on Prime Video. I am officially one of the few that has ever seen “My Spy” in a theater, which I feel pretty lucky for doing. But as of recently, the film changed plans, and instead of getting STX to release it in theaters, the plan is to get the film on Prime Video as an exclusive. Given how very few, if any, sources in the U.S. have even talked about or reviewed the film at this point, it might be necessary to hold that review off for a little bit longer. It’s a truth that is difficult to handle at this point, but what isn’t difficult to handle during a pandemic? If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, give the blog a follow either through an email or WordPress account! Like this post, share it with your friends, show some appreciation for the Movie Reviewing Moron! Also, instead of scrolling across some clickbait articles with misleading information about COVID-19, check out the Scene Before Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Onward?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your LEAST favorite Pixar movie? Why? Would you still consider it to be “enjoyable?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Emma (2020): Such News! This Movie’s Solid!

mv5bogriodezm2qtotuyyi00mwrlltg4mzmtzgi0ymuznwuymjq0xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymda4nzmyoa4040._v1_sy1000_sx675_al_

“Emma” is directed by Autumn de Wilde and this is her feature-length debut. This film stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Thoroughbreds), Johnny Flynn (Song One, Beast), Josh O’Connor (The Crown, Florence Foster Jenkins), Callum Turner (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Only Living Boy in New York), Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac, High Life), Miranda Hart (Spy, Miranda), and Bill Nighy (Norm of the North, Underworld). This film is based on a Jane Austen novel of the same name and follows its titular character as a selfish woman living in 1800s England. Throughout said time, she is revealed to be meddling in the love lives of the people she happens to know.

When I created Scene Before, my original intention for the blog was to give my honest thoughts on various matters. And to be completely truthful, this movie is not my cup of tea. In fact, the main reason why I went to see it is because there was a free screening at a local indie theater where Anya Taylor-Joy and director Autumn de Wilde happened to be appearing. I figured it would make for a fun night out. But when it comes to original material this movie is based on, I was never previously invested. In fact, I have a feeling this is going to piss off some bibliophiles reading this, Jane Austen wrote the book that I had the most miserable experience reading in high school, specifically “Pride and Prejudice.” I never found it that interesting, entertaining, or compelling. It was the complete opposite of a page-turner, but I was forced to read it, so I had no choice but move along. When it comes to “Emma,” I have never picked the book up. However, I was somewhat interested in this movie. In fact, if anything, this trailer right here PUMPED. ME. UP! Watch this trailer!

 

The music! The cuts! The fast-pace of it all! Whoever edited this deserves some toilet paper and hand sanitizer to get through this dire time!

However, that’s just a trailer. How was the movie itself? Pretty decent, actually. While “Emma” is undoubtedly nowhere near my cup of tea as far as stories go, I found myself chuckling, smiling, and overall having a fun time watching this movie. And a lot of it may have to do with the attention to detail of everything in it. The production design could eventually go down as some of my favorite of the year. The colors are vibrant and match the charm of this movie’s specific time frame. The performances, across the board, are well executed. The ensemble of “Emma” is well put-together. If this were a silent film, I don’t think I’d be able to remove my eyes away from the screen just from how hypnotizing everything feels. It’s easy to tell that Autumn de Wilde brought her vision to life, or depending on who you ask, Jane Austen’s vision to life. In fact, before she took on “Emma” she dived deep into photography, which may partially signify how a lot of the movie’s individual frames feel like a painting or something you’d find hanging in an art gallery. The cinematography in the film at various points is extremely pretty. I am not lying. As for costume design, that is another highlight. Granted, when it comes to movies that take place in a period or setting like this, it is not that surprising that costume design is a key factor into what could make the movie at least partially work.

This is not the first “Emma” adaptation brought to the screen, but given how I have not seen the other adaptations of this kind, I don’t really have much to compare it to. But I feel that if I were to read the original novel of “Emma,” I would at least be somewhat satisfied by the writing style of this adaptation, given how it is true to the period, and the vibe of the film has a rather witty feel to it. Jane Austen is an author who seems to bring an individual feel to her stories, and that seems to be translated well here. Granted, when I read “Pride and Prejudice,” the writing style made it one of the most infuriating experiences of my time on this planet. But a movie like this, brings life to said writing style and evokes a sense of imagination.

Fun fact about the Emma character, when she was being portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, the actress thought she kind of came off as an unlikable being. Granted, that is kind of the point. And knowing what the movie is about and what it exactly contains, I can understand why. But at the same time, Emma is a character who I consider to admirable despite how selfish or manipulative she happens to be. Part of it may go towards the way the movie presents her and how I cannot imagine anyone else in Emma’s shoes except Anya Taylor-Joy. The casting for Emma herself was very well done given how there happens to be some sort of individualistic flair attached to said character.

As for problems, while this film is well-paced, it still has one or two moments where it is kind of a drag compared to others. Regarding the movie itself, it is somewhat forgettable. I may be cheating with this given how I am reviewing this almost a full month after seeing it in the theater, but this is a story that I do not think I’ll want to tune into again while it is still fresh in my memory. Granted, Comcast-owned studios, including Focus Features, the distributor of “Emma,” just so happen to be putting their movies that were supposed to be in theaters onto VOD, so I could watch it again at home if I really wanted to, but “Emma” is not a movie that I felt an instant connection to. I just thought to myself, “Eh, that was a fun couple of hours.” Maybe the novel is better. Because, you know, apparently every book is SUPPOSED to be better than the movie. The “Emma” movie is witty, charming, and marvelous to gaze upon, but it’s missing something. It has the vision, it has the individualistic style, but it doesn’t have the oomph factor I want in movies nowadays.

In the end, I found myself rather satisfied with “Emma.” I don’t think this satisfaction will ever encourage me to read the book, but at the same time, the experience I had while watching the movie in a pretty full theater could have been a contributing factor to making it feel somewhat communal. By the way, remember when we went to movie theaters? It was a long time ago! “Emma” is not my cup of tea, and I think this review kind of shows it. However, I will not deny that I indeed had a good time. I’m going to give “Emma” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let you all know that my next review is going to be for Pixar’s new movie “Onward.” By the way, if you want to watch the movie before I review it, it is coming to digital tonight due to all the theaters shutting down. So if you want to rent it and read my review if you want to see where we stand in terms of our thoughts on the film, feel free to chill out on your couch, go to a preferred digital service whether it be Prime Video, Fandango Now, Google Play, or Vudu, and you’ll have access for the movie, that way you can watch it and determine your thoughts on it before reading my review. That is unless I somehow list my thoughts for “Onward” before the movie drops everywhere, but we shall see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can tuned for more great content! Also, since you clearly have all the time in the world, be sure to check out the Scene Before Facebook page to get the latest updates of the goings on for the Movie Reviewing Moron. Hey, that rhymes! I want to know, did you see “Emma?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see any of the other adaptations of “Emma?” What are your thoughts on those? Did you read the book? Give me your thoughts on that! Leave your thoughts and opinions down below, and stay safe everyone! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Impractical Jokers: The Movie (2020): All Other Movies Can Suck It

Screenshot (48)

WARNING: The following blog post contains paragraphs of graphic fanaticism among a Movie Reviewing Moron who writes to avoid embarrassing himself.

Da-na-du-dun!

mv5bnwywnjvhzdutzjk2yi00mjc5ltkwywmtmzu2zdy1n2vjzgu1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyode5nze3ote40._v1_sy1000_sx676_al_

“Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is directed by Chris Henchy, a name behind the scenes on various Will Ferrell titles and co-creator of the website, Funny or Die, one of the production companies behind this movie. The film stars Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn, and Sal Vulcano as the four Jokers that pull pranks on unsuspecting people all the while trying to embarrass each other. Joining them is Paula Abdul, who is throwing a party in Miami. She invites the Jokers to come down to the party, but due to how they are missing an extra ticket, the four lifelong friends compete against each other to see who will and who won’t go to the party. Given how there’s four people, the one big loser sits out.

If you know me, it would not be that much of a secret that I adore the “Impractical Jokers” TV show. It is probably the best thing on TV right now that is not a game show. I’ve watched the show, I’ve been to their live comedy gigs, I’ve bought their merch, and I have personally talked to one of them up close. These humble gentlemen honestly deserve every solitary speck of success they can get. They may play cruel boys on TV, but trust me, they are some of the finest men I have seen in my life.

With this in mind, this brings up a problem that I will continue to highlight in this review. Not with the movie specifically, but with me reviewing the movie. Although my review process could admittedly, end up translating to what I think of the film. I am an “Impractical Jokers” fan. As a fan, there are certain expectations that I am waiting to have fulfilled. I want fun challenges that are purely hilarious. I want the four guys interacting with each other, maybe having a good time, or getting angry at one another. But I was honestly curious not only how an “Impractical Jokers” movie could work, but if it will work. After all, the equipment they use for television works for what it is, but I wondered if that is what they’d use for the movie. I have no idea what the movie is shot with, but they did a good job in terms of differentiating this film in terms of appearance from the TV show. It looks bolder, the color grading looks really good, and it still maintains a similar feel to the show itself. After all, the aspect ratio looks similar and the on-screen graphics are within the same barrier, while having some differences.

Speaking of similarities, I think like the TV show, the movie is really good. Now, there are several episodes of the show I’d probably rather watch again before this movie, but “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a fun trip from start to finish. “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a film that knows exactly what the fans want. Great challenges, a fine display of chemistry between the four Jokers, and “in the moment” stakes. Honestly, it’s funnier than a good portion of the recent comedies to have come out. Why? Because like the show, this movie tries its best to be raw. During the challenges, I felt a connection to the guys. The reason why “Impractical Jokers” as a concept works so well is because these guys are not pranking because they want to be jerks. Scour them in real life, they’re wonderful! but they highlight how scary pranking unsuspecting people really is.

However, this also brings a flaw into play. I will admit, even though I did enjoy the road trip bits, that is the inferior portion of the film. The reason being is because “Impractical Jokers” becomes reliant on a written script. “Impractical Jokers” is at its best when it is spontaneous, because I cannot see exactly what is coming. The best thing about the real lives of Joe, Q, Sal, and Murr is that you cannot write what happens next, making you willing to go along with what is happening as if everything was improv. When I was watching “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” I noticed a few scenes that took place in hotels, and they specifically focused on Murr. The movie basically could have left out those scenes and barely affect the final product perhaps.

I will probably end up remembering this movie for how far it goes with its challenges. I am not going to go into all of them, because you know, spoilers. But they teased one scene online involving a tiger. INSANELY AWESOME. I cannot go into specific detail about it, but it is one of those things you kind of have to see to believe.

Speaking of things you have to see to believe, Murr faces a challenge that he called the most embarrassing moment of his life. All I can say is that it takes place in a club. That scene alone is worth the price of admission, because I lost my ability to breathe from laughing so hard at such a scene.

And of course, the guys are charismatic and relatable. They are legit best friends and this movie made me feel like the fifth Joker joining the ride alongside them. Each Joker has their moment, especially considering how this movie takes the time to insert multiple dedicated punishments. Each one of these is as great as the next and some of these I cannot even talk about because I need to guarantee that everyone going into the theater will laugh as uncontrollably as I did while watching it.

I will also mention once again, I am an “Impractical Jokers” fan, and as a fan, I have been impressed by what I saw. I enjoyed myself from beginning to end. But that brings a question… How much would this movie appeal to people who have never seen the show?

One of the things about “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” that I personally enjoyed is its tendency to deliver on inside jokes. There are cameos from people who are heavily affiliated with the show, there’s a “Where’s Larry?” joke, and even a mention of “Up your ass, and to the left,” one of the show’s commonly used phrases.

But this movie, based on what I have heard, was mainly made for the “Impractical Jokers” fanbase, which I believe is quite honestly an underestimated fanbase. One of the issues that can come from that is the fact that there seems to be an inserted sense of exclusivity. As a fan, I had fun with this tribute of sorts, but I still wondered what the average Joe (whose last name is not Gatto) would think of it. I think if you are not familiar with the “Impractical Jokers” show, you can have a good time with this movie. The guys are likable, but the road trip elements could be a little bit iffy. Plus, Paula Abdul is someone in this film that I am surprised I am not talking about more. It is at its core, FUN. And of course, pranks are not for everybody. I have grandparents who probably won’t watch stuff like this. I get it, no biggie. I think if you go into this movie expecting to chill with four friends on screen who maybe you’ll want to befriend yourself, this could be a movie for you. If you have never seen the show, some things could fly over your head, but the movie does stick to a story that many can enjoy. Maybe this movie will end up being swell enough for you to want to check out the show on television. It’s on literally all the time on truTV, so if this film is good enough in the theater, it could translate to how much you’d like the show on television.

I will say though, as much as I enjoyed how “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” differentiates itself from the show instead of just simply being an extended episode of the property, although ultimately brought to the big screen, it’s also a detractor. If I were to make another movie in this franchise, which I do want to see, I wish there was a tremendous focus that goes to what makes the show great, and if they were to have a subplot again that steers away from challenges, I wish it just had a little more dimension. Granted, the concept is intriguing. Having the jokers resolve an incident from high school was a pretty good idea, but for some reason, based on the sudden steer from reality at certain times, it just didn’t pay off every once in a while. I don’t know why. Again, when I think “Impractical Jokers,” I think of “in the moment” challenges, I don’t think of extended plots. Speaking of which, I get that this movie does have to make money, and I’m not suggesting “Don’t support it,” but there was one scene that felt like it was made for television. Why? Because it censors nudity. “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is PG-13, and has some language to back it up. But there is a scene shown in the marketing where Murr is getting on a boat and his butt is revealed. Only thing is, it is censored by a graphic of Murr’s face. Should “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” have been rated R? I’m not so sure, but it would make some parts of this movie somewhat juicier. But again, gotta make that money! Besides, the show itself is TV-14, so by the movie being PG-13, it sort of does attract a similar audience. Maybe they ultimately made the right move. Does this take away from the buttload of fun I had with the movie? HELL NO! I dug this film! That my friends, is no joke!

In the end, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a fun film. In fact as of this review, I saw it twice! Is the road trip plot a little lackluster? Sort of, but the guys make up for the lackluster plot by being themselves. Four breathtaking dudes who have a connection. The movie does a good job at adapting the source material for the big screen, allowing it to feel like a separate entity from truTV’s long-running program. The challenges are gutbustingly funny, there is a sense of replay value that could be achieved with this film over time (again, I saw it twice), and there seems to be a lot of passion put into the final product. Now, the movie would definitely be better if they heightened the situations a A LITTLE LESS, and if I cared more about the recently mentioned road trip stuff, but I can probably confirm that when I look back at 2020 in film, this will be one of the year’s funniest flicks. I’m going to give “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Just want to let you all know that my next review is going to be for “Emma,” directed by Autumn de Wilde and starring Anya Taylor-Joy. The film is based on a Jane Austen novel and is being marketed as a new vision of the classic tale. What do I think of it? Find out in my next review by following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Another way to find out is by liking my Facebook page, and supporting Mark Zuckerberg’s quest for world domination of all mankind. I want to know, did you see “Impractical Jokers: The Movie?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite Joker? You know, what the hell? I’ll even count Batman Jokers! Who is your favorite Impractical Joker? Or who is your favorite on-screen interpretation of the Joker character from DC’s Batman? Let me know down below, or you’ll be tonight’s big loser! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): Goes Fast, Does Not Crash

mv5bndc1ztlmowutndy2ys00ogu5ltg2mtytytk2mmqzmge2nzuwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyodkzntgxmdg40._v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

“Sonic the Hedgehog” is the feature-length debut of director Jeff Fowler and stars Ben Schwartz (DuckTales, Parks and Recreation), James Marsden (Westworld, X-Men), Jim Carrey (Batman Forever, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), and Tika Sumpter (One Life to Live, Ride Along). This movie is based on the hit SEGA video game franchise of the same name, which has officially become one of the biggest titles in the industry. The film follows Sonic, who is sent to Earth from his home world, and eventually adapts to his current lifestyle. But when one thing leads to another, he needs to go to San Francisco all the while keeping the evil Dr. Robotnik from conquering the universe. So Sonic teams up with Tom Wachowski, AKA “Donut Lord,” in order to get to his destination.

I have never dove deep into the realm of “Sonic the Hedgehog.” I know about the games and its characters, but I have barely played them. Although, if “Super Smash Bros.” counts, I have played a lot of that. But I do know a bit about the film’s source material. Sonic is a witty, upbeat character that likes to go fast, because let’s face it. If he were slow, this movie might go on longer than “The Irishman.” But one I thing I think many people going into this movie knew about waaas…

This.

This f*cking face right here graced the Internet with all the memes possible! People thought it looked creepy, revolting, and an insult to humanity! Now I’m going to be completely honest with you. I do not create content to please people, I create it to enforce my personal asshat opinions. Speaking of asshat opinions, I did not think the original design was all that bad. Now, is it great? Maybe not. But it’s not like it is the end of the world! The reality is that this is a live-action movie, and you have this cartoony character in the middle of all of it. There are a number of possibilities they could have gone with. Hell, I would have been fine if they went down the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” route and made Sonic 2D. Would it have been weird? Sure! But again, this is an over the top animated hedgehog! I will say when I saw the first trailer, I was not as skeptical about the film as most people. It’s just a design. There have been plenty of good movies with lackluster visual effects. Look at “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” they CGIed Tarkin’s face, and it was choppy at times, but it didn’t take me out of the movie. In fact that movie’s GREAT. And say what you want about removing Henry Cavill’s mustache in “Justice League,” I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was fun. It felt rushed, it sorta clashed in tones, but it was still a fun ride.

Now to be fair, it is refreshing to have a film’s crew and the parties alongside them to respond to the fan backlash, because let’s face it. Fans can be rowdy. And the newer design that unfortunately shut down the visual effects company who worked on it, paid off. For putting in the effort and doing whatever’s possible to make the best movie you can, thank you. Movies are hard to make, I get it.

To be honest though, this does bring up something very important. I saw the first trailer and ended up feeling somewhat confident that this movie COULD work. It had the essentials for a solid story of its kind. Then I saw the second trailer with the design. Sonic looked dope, but the movie itself looked like s*it. There’s a saying that looks aren’t everything, and that is the truth about the second “Sonic the Hedgehog” trailer. A lot of comedy gags looked cheesy and weird, Sonic almost sounded kind of annoying, and it kind of had a similar vibe to “The Smurfs.” I mean what do you expect when you have a blue, animated creature from the middle of nowhere transporting themselves to our planet, uniting with a newfound human acquaintance, and unraveling a plot that affects both sides?

Cannot believe I’m saying this. Sonic freaking rocks! In fact, DARE I SAY IT. I want a sequel! This is the best video game-based film I have seen to date. Granted, I am missing a couple core titles like “Mortal Kombat” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” but still, this is the best video game movie I have ever seen not counting specific partially unrelated titles like “Tron,” “Ready Player One,” or “Wreck-it Ralph,” a movie which Sonic actually happened to be in.

Is it the best movie I have ever seen? Absolutely not. It doesn’t even come close, but it has pretty much what it needs to fulfill the requirements of a film of its kind. This film is for kids, there is no hiding that. But the thing I noticed is that for the most part, it doesn’t feel like it is treating kids like morons. Granted, it is not Pixar quality, but it doesn’t spend every other minute trying to make Sonic fart in Dr. Robotnik’s face. This movie has some nice nods to Sonic’s power, specifically super speed. There’s an occurrence where Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is playing, Sonic has a comic book collection and pretty much every copy in said collection is from “The Flash,” and they even make a joke about “The Fast and the Furious.” More speed jokes, less fart jokes, I know I’m happy! My one complaint here though is that the baseball scene that is shown in the trailers is a little far-fetched, but it’s not a terrible scene, so I can kind of live with it.

Let’s be real, the Sonic character in this film is pretty much what I would want him to be. He is upbeat, he is lively, he is wild, he is fast, he is Sonic. Part of me thought that his constant hyperactivity would be a detractor of the film, and I will say that there are a couple moments where that does not help the product. There’s a moment in the trailer that is just as flat in the movie as it is there, specifically where Sonic and his newfound human acquaintance, Tom Wachowski, are passing by a sign that is advertising the world’s largest rubber band ball. It’s gags like that which don’t work. But the Sonic character is a ball of fun. He’s cute, but occasionally not cuddly. He’s almost one-dimensional, but one thing I will say about that is that the recent games from what I have seen, pretty much portray Sonic in a similar manner. He feels like a brother somebody has and they’re often annoyed by, but everyone else who knows the guy loves this brother. Sonic is my annoying brother, and I love him. Great job, Ben Schwartz!

Speaking of annoyance, Sonic is definitely annoying somebody, and that somebody is the recently mentioned Tom Wachowski who is wonderfully played by James Marsden. James Marsden is the main human character in the film, he is a cop in rural Montana, and the movie partially focuses on Wachowski’s acceptance to the police department in San Francisco, California. This partially plays into the hedgehog’s overall story, where they have to travel to San Francisco to avoid a deadly situation. The chemistry between the two here is surprisingly decent, I was never turned off. I also enjoyed his cop sideplot a little bit, but going back to unfunny jokes, there was one joke that I was able to predict pretty much what was happening right off the bat. Granted, if a kid sees it, it might be pretty funny, but not for me. I won’t go much into it, but it involves a tiny donut. Although, Tom Wachowski does earn a rather slick nickname from Sonic, specifically “Donut Lord.” Technically speaking that’s wrong, Homer Simpson is the REAL donut lord, but it is nevertheless a cool nickname.

But let’s talk about the best character in this movie, and I think a lot of people will agree with me on this, Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. When I saw the first trailer for this film, Robotnik almost felt like a flat, beyond cartoony, madman. Having seen the film, just remove the word flat, and you get Robotnik. I watched that recently mentioned trailer thinking Robotnik could be the worst character in this movie, turns out he is probably one of the best villains I have seen in a film made for children and families! Seriously! Carrey’s portrayal is incredibly zany and electric! And this partially has to do with how well written Robotnik is. He has the stereotypical villain mindset where he thinks he is better than anybody else, but that’s what makes him so great. There’s a moment where he delivers a line to another character having to do with him being the smartest man in the world, therefore everybody else is stupid. It is one of the best executed villain lines I have ever seen! Robotnik is such a great over the top villain that he has a lightshow dance party in his lab as he does his evil deeds. There’s a screen that allows him to simulate getting his head chopped off by a dinosaur! It’s bonkers! This feels like something Robotnik would do every day after smoking a couple joints! Robotnik had the finest lines, he was in on the best jokes, and as of right now, I don’t know if anybody else could play him.

HOW AM I– WHAT IS HAPPENING?! This was supposed to suck!

Now, this movie is a surprise if there ever was one. It’s a video game movie, meaning that it is filed under a kind of movie that does not usually do well critically or financially. Time will tell how much of a financial success “Sonic the Hedgehog” will be, but I did not expect so much positivity with this film. It sort of reminds me of what people must have thought before seeing “The LEGO Movie.” But, I will admit, unlike “The LEGO Movie,” “Sonic” is not flawless.

I’m pretty sure some of you reading this know that one of the staples of filmmaking is product placement. Some movies like to fill themselves up to the brim with an effort to make commercials within the film. The “Transformers” movies are an obvious example. 2017’s “Power Rangers” wanted to remind its audience that when they think “Power Rangers,” they also think Krispy Kreme! You also have movies like “Uncle Drew” that is literally produced by Pepsi! Honestly, product placement is one of the most annoying necessities in a film. When it’s obvious, it is sometimes cringeworthy. When it’s bloated, it’s embarrassing. The reality is that I came to watch a movie, not a commercial. If I wanted commercials, I’d just watch the Super Bowl.

But hey! After watching “Sonic the Hedgehog,” why don’t you take your family to Olive Garden and get a taste of their neverending pasta bowl? IT NEVER ENDS! Maybe afterwards, you guys can look at houses on Zillow and never buy anything because your kids will miss their friends in school! Seriously! There’s like, two or three mentions of Olive Garden in this film at different times! And each time feels as commercialized as the next. I remember seeing “Blockers” a couple years ago where the main girls are making a sex pact and they reference Olive Garden, say what you want about that in terms of how obvious it is that such a mention is there to be product placement, it nevertheless feels more natural than what this movie provides!

Also, as well done as the movie is from a visual perspective, even if a little extra complaining was needed to put in more effort, there are a couple of scenes in the film where I am looking at the laser sensors from Robotnik’s minion machines where they did come off a little more cartoon-like than I would have preferred. It could have been worse, but still. There are also a couple of moments where the effects looked a little TOO GOOD, as if they were too clean and glossy. Maybe it’s just me, but a LITTLE grit could have gone a long way.

But this does not take away from “Sonic the Hedgehog’s” positives. It pays tribute to the games, while also realizing that in order to stand out, it needs to be its own thing. The performances are good and fit the characters well. Robotnik is one of the most well-written villains I have ever seen, at least in a movie for families. There is a chase towards the end that is up there with some of my favorites I have seen on screen. I am not going to go into much detail, but one more notion I want to provide about “Sonic the Hedgehog,” I THINK the writers behind “Sonic the Hedgehog” took a moment to make fun of alternate video icon, “Super Mario,” OR… THEY TEASED A VIDEO GAME CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. Overall, this kind of makes sense, Mario has crossed over with Sonic in the past, Nintendo has put Sonic in a number of games also featuring Mario characters like “Super Smash Brothers” and “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.” Why not bring that crossover to the realm of film? As far as I know, that might not be happening because Universal and Illumination are seemingly working on an animated “Super Mario” film and that would probably interfere with “Sonic the Hedgehog’s” universe, because it is live-action. Plus, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is under the Paramount name, so the two characters are probably under exclusive maintenance from different studios. But, you never know! Disney owns Marvel and yet they’re letting Sony collaborate with them on “Spider-Man.” Plus, Universal also has the Hulk, and yet he’s been in several of Disney’s MCU films. Anything’s possible in the money-grabbing, magical, bonkers wonderland of Hollywood! Don’t take this as news, the movie has been out for two weeks and I am not confirming anything about this.

In the end, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is fast, vast, and an utter blast! This feels like a movie that if I were a kid, it would get me more into movies, potentially even into how they’re made. Maybe it would even get me into gaming a little bit more if I were not already into that. Then again, what young boy doesn’t like a good video game? Depending on how 2020 pans out, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is highly unlikely to reach the top 10 movies of the year for me, but for now, it is easily one I’d go back and watch. While this does not say much, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is the best video game movie I have seen in my life. The competition against it is not really that stiff, but it’s the truth! With that being said, I’m going to give “Sonic the Hedgehog” a 7/10!

Thanks for reading this review! My next review I am going to be doing is for the all-new film based on truTV’s biggest show currently on the air, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” I love the “Impractical Jokers” TV show, so naturally I just had to check this movie out and see what it is all about. Does the show translate well to film? You’ll find out in my review! I just want to take an opportunity to wish everyone who was born on Leap Year Day a very happy birthday! It must feel great next year, for those of you who have just turned 5, to finally drink at the legal age of 5 and a fourth! In other words, happy birthday on this rare occurrence of a day! Happy Leap Year! If you want to follow Scene Before and see more great content, do so using an email or WordPress account! If you want to go all the way and support Mark Zuckerberg’s mission for social media domination, check out my Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Sonic the Hedgehog?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played any “Sonic” games? What was that like for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Damned! (1998): An Impractical Joke

AND NOW… A special 45 second preview of The 2nd Annual Jackoff Awards!

*All copyrights belong to their respective owners*

Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about movie that even its director knows might stray away from award territory!

mv5byza5ntfkmzktmzc0yy00zdk5lwjmndytndu3ytyxn2nkmjy3l2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjg1mji3mda40._v1_sy1000_cr006841000_al_

“Damned!” is directed by James Murray, who also has a role in the film as Judas. This film has a cast including Ronney Ascher, Marti Cooney (The Thing About My Folks, Lie Down with Dogs), Matthew Glass (Blood Done Sign My Name, SK8 Magic), Hank Poje (Guilty Pleasures), David Hubbell (Rockabilly Vampire, Sleepy Heads) and Jeremy Guskin (Henry Danger, Just Add Magic) and the story follows Jesus in his teen years in an alternate telling of biblical tales.

I want to get some information out of the way before diving into this review. “Damned!” is one of the earliest pieces of media with some sort of relation to James S. Murray, now famous for his presence on truTV’s hit series “Impractical Jokers.”

This is also a film that according to said show, Murray himself tried to hide from existence. Such a fact was stated when the film was screened to a small audience as part of one of the show’s trademarked “punishments.” Some would suggest that “Damned!” is nearly feature-length, clocking in just over the fifty minute mark, which is slightly longer than a typical episode for certain network TV shows.

With that being said, I figured since “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is coming out pretty soon, I figured I’d get in the mood and watch Murr’s supposed disasterpiece. Having seen it, it’s not a disasterpiece. I don’t even know what exactly this is.

True story about this film, it was revealed from Murray himself that since he recently graduated college at the time, his parents were going to buy him a Ford Taurus. Instead, this movie was made for about $25,000 to $30,000. This must be driving this guy nuts.

In all seriousness, this movie is not even close to being good, nor is it close to being competent. I am not sure how much training Murr has had to become a filmmaker prior to the late 1990s, but I feel like some of the basic rules of filmmaking are ignored here. There are a lot of shots in this film, most notably in the first ten minutes, that feature human subjects in center-frame, which is kind of awkward. I do not exactly feel like I am immersed into the interactions between characters because of this. Yes, as a viewer I understand the differences between characters, what they look like, that sort of thing, but there are times where shots feel like I see one person and there is a sudden morph in the next one when I see somebody else. Speaking of the opening scene, there is an action sequence that takes place that may be the weirdest in history. Between the handheld, in-your face punching shots, the overacting, and one cartoony special effect, it all adds up to make you wonder if Tommy Wiseau secretly directed this!

Oh hai Jesus!

I should point out that the one of first lines of this film is a forced utterance of the phrase “Jesus Christ!” Congratulations, “Damned!” You have joined Fred Durst’s “The Fanatic” in the ranks of the oddest opening film lines ever!

The bewildering and odd action continues to the film’s culmination, which for the select few who currently intend on watching “Damned!” in the future, I won’t spoil much related to it. I get that this film is lower in its budget compared to many others, but hearing the song that played in the opening titles also play in the final action sequence almost felt too repetitive. This may be a fortunate reality we’re dealing with here, and I think James Murray himself will be proud of me for saying this, I do not think I’ll remember the climactic action sequence all that well. Only time will tell though…

Screenshot (45)

Let’s talk about Christ himself. Obviously this is not the Christ many followers will look up to. Jesus in this film is sort of whiny, and occasionally so in a over the top manner. The first scene in this film where we meet Jesus involves him finding out he is adopted. Later on in the film, this brings in an important point to the story, where Jesus has a meeting with God, his real father. This movie barely has a concept of time. It describes events that happen through white text on black backgrounds. But it takes about fifteen to twenty minutes of runtime to get from the exposition of Jesus finding out he is adopted to personally meeting with God. I would imagine that not that much has happened in that time, at least that is what the movie makes it feel like, and Jesus may still be dealing with these newfound internal thoughts of his. I found myself bewildered as soon as I heard God say “Are we gonna start this again?,” once Jesus refuses to call him dad? Did the people of Earth suffer brain damage? Is God suffering from brain damage? AM I SUFFERING BRAIN DAMAGE?!

Screenshot (46)

One of the aspects that kinda sorta maybe ties this film together is that the main story often cuts away to this show about Bible Mysteries and how it tries to solve various myths. “Damned!” is the kind of movie that I would consider to be so bad that it is full of cheese, and part of it has to do with this quirky show that has this overacting host who tries to emphasize how bold he is, but it almost makes me wonder if seeing stuff like this takes away from the actual movie. Maybe it kind of ties everything together, but for some odd reason, it does not feel like it belongs in the final product. It feels slapped together and randomly inserted at various points, almost as if “Damned!” really was two different movies in one and it has multiple personality disorder.

I also want to point out one of the funnier aspects of the film, maybe not if you are some random viewer who tunes into this, but it could get a laugh out of you though. For those of you who watch “Impractical Jokers,” which as mentioned, Murray stars in, you may know that one of the four Jokers goes by the name Sal Vulcano. Guess what? He’s in this movie! Yeah, he plays a character by the name of “Lawnmower Boy,” who is basically a random third party observer of the main action. Just a little factoid for those who wanted to know. His role does not really stand out in the film, but it honestly makes the film slightly funnier than Murray probably intended that it should be in the beginning. What makes this even funnier is that the color scheme and background on Vulcano’s end feels a bit depressing and out of place compared to the slightly less depressing background on the other characters’ end.

Screenshot (47)

Speaking of interesting performances, one of the characters in this film goes by the name of Herbie and I don’t know what exactly James Murray happened to be thinking when drafting this character. I can honestly imagine him in front of a typewriter going “I’m going to write a guy who gets excited over breakfast being the most important meal of the day and random bowling balls!” To say that HE of all people happens to be the most cartoon-like of all this movie’s characters is actually kind of insane. It’s almost unbelievable!

Even though I have decided on my final thoughts on “Damned!,” there is a part of me that does not entirely know what to think of it. I say so because “Damned!” is different from some bad movies I have seen. Films like “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” made me feel gross. Films like “Batman & Robin” made me laugh for the wrong reasons. Films like “Cats” made me nearly fall asleep. Films like “The Emoji Movie” made me feel angry. Granted, all those films are more than an hour long, and this thing barely passes fifty minutes, but those films all made me feel something for however long they went on. “Damned!” on the other hand made me feel nothing. I just watched in awe of the sheer madness of whatever it was that was happening on screen, but rarely had I experienced any full emotional outburst or experiential feeling inside me. And the reason why I can sum that up to be the case is because the film does not lend itself to being one thing. Is it a Bible mystery movie? Is it a teen Jesus movie? Is it a comedy? Is it an action flick? I do not know! If James Murray has an answer to this, please tell me! IMDb defines it as a comedy, but was that Murr’s vision? I want to know!

In the end, “Damned!” is… Something. I don’t even know what! All I know is it’s not good! I almost wish I was a part of the screening Murray experienced against his will in the mid 2010s just to experience what the atmosphere must have been like. This is a film with some of the most mind-numbingly terrible acting I’ve seen, some of the worst framing I have seen, and some of the worst writing I have ever seen! And I will say I am glad that Murr himself realizes that this film is what is, a disaster. He even suggested that if he were to go back in time, he would have taken the Ford Taurus. In fact if you look at the poster I showed at the beginning of the post, the top says “A JAMES MURRAY MISTAKE.” For all I know, maybe this film was not a mistake. Because what would have James done with the car? Use it to move away from New York? If that were the case, maybe “Impractical Jokers” would have never happened. So for my sake, I think that is one of the biggest positives I can say about “Damned!” But still, this is f*cking horrendous. “Damned!” is a film that is like those easily viewed neighbors you go by every day on the train. You don’t know why you’re looking at them, but somehow you are. You don’t know what to feel afterwards, but mission accomplished. I’m going to give “Damned!” a 1/10!

2nd Annual Jackoffs LOGO

Thanks for reading this review! TOMORROW, FEBRUARY 16TH, IS A BIG DAY! That’s right! The 2nd Annual Jackoff awards are here! By the way, as of this post’s publication, VOTING FOR BEST PICTURE is open for less than SEVEN HOURS. Once the clock hits midnight on February 16th, voting is CLOSED! If you have yet to vote for Best Picture, this is your final chance!

BEST PICTURE VOTING FORM!

Also, if you are an “Impractical Jokers” fan, I should have you all know that this Thursday is the premiere of “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” in select theaters, and I am going to be at the first show in Dorchester, MA! With that in mind, I will have a review up very soon! Also, be on the lookout for my reviews for “Birds of Prey” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Be sure to follow Scene Before, otherwise known as flicknerd.com, if you want to see more great content! To do so, subscribe via an email or a WordPress account! I want to know, did you see “Damned!”? What did you think about it? Or, are you going to see “Impractical Jokers: The Movie?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

 

Dolittle (2020): Why, Downey? Why?

mv5bmdnkoda5zgqtodczos00otqxlthhmtitmjk0zmnhmdm0yjnmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymdm2ndm2mq4040._v1_sy1000_sx675_al_

“Dolittle” is directed by Stephen Gaghan (Gold, Syriana) and stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Chaplin), Antonio Banderas (Interview with the Vampire, Shrek 2), Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, Masters of Sex), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Late Night), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), John Cena (Trainwreck, Playing with Fire), Kumail Nanjiani (Men in Black: International, Silicon Valley), Octavia Spencer (Gifted, Hidden Figures), Tom Holland (Spies in Disguise, Captain America: Civil War), Craig Robinson (Last Comic Standing, Knocked Up), Ralph Fiennes (The LEGO Batman Movie, Skyfall), Selena Gomez (Monte Carlo, Wizards of Waverly Place), and Marion Cotillard (Allied, Inception).

This film is the latest reboot to the “Doctor Dolittle” intellectual property. This time around, Robert Downey Jr. plays the man who can talk to animals and it follows him in a story where a Queen is dying and the only way to save her is to go on a journey to find a healing tree. On said journey, he is joined by his fellow animal friends and a new human apprentice (Harry Collett).

I have no memory of watching any previous material from the “Doctor Dolittle” franchise from beginning to end, so this was sort of my introduction to this world on film. Granted, I knew about about the character, I knew the whole thing about how the character can talk to animals and said animals do not spend too little time making a presence for themselves. I had the basics down, but for this movie, I was getting a new experience, one I never really had before.

But just because my experience was new, does not mean it was enjoyable. If “Cats” made me never want to ever interact with a feline ever again, then “Dolittle” has officially destroyed any chance I previously had of wanting to so much as think about any animal in existence. Thankfully, unlike “Cats,” which I praised for the CGI *at times*, the effects in “Dolittle” are a lot less unsettling, and a bit more satisfying to look at. But if Robert Downey Jr. is going to continue doing films like this after throwing in the towel with the MCU, movie audiences everywhere are in for a world of pain.

Granted, I will say, one of the interesting things about this film is that Robert Downey Jr.’s wife, Susan Downey, is a producer on the film. Plus, the two have kids, and it was just revealed on a clip of “Today” that this was the first premiere that they were taken to. After all, unlike most of the movies that Downey Jr. has done recently, which have been PG-13, “Dolittle” is PG. If “Dolittle” was a chance for two related people to work together, it may sound sweet, but quality should ALWAYS come first. This is why I get worried whenever Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, are doing a project together, because statistically speaking, they are not usually that well-received. Granted, maybe I am getting a little bit more apprehensive than I really should because the Downey team are also working on a film together to be directed by Richard Linklater, who also directed “Boyhood,” which even though I have not seen the film itself, I know enough about it to realize how innovative and groundbreaking of a film it really is.

As for Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, I could tell that maybe there was some effort put into it, but holy mackerel, that accent sounds like crap! It almost sounds as if Downey was doing a really bad impression of Bilbo Baggins from “The Hobbit!” It’s overemphasizing in how bold it is supposed to come off and unfortunately, it makes me think Robert Downey Jr. at one point must have gotten acting lessons from a ship-sailing pirate.

Speaking of Robert Downey Jr., there is a point in this movie where he says a line where he basically invaded my mind and snatched an idea out of it. Now I know this is a kids movie, I know it is a family movie, some people will tend to say that these types of movies can get away with a few things here and there, cause ya know, kids just want to be entertained. I think that is a cop out of an excuse for a least a good portion of how many times such a thought is uttered. But what I find hilarious about this movie’s script is that there is a point where a bunch of characters are in a room together and Dolittle is basically providing a blueprint of his plan to save the Queen, and there is a point where he has to point out how preposterous his plan sounds.

Shut up, movie. Shut up.

The CGI in this film is not half bad, but that’s something I’d come to expect at this point, I’m willing to bet that maybe if this came out in the past decade or maybe sometime prior to say 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” this could be like another “Avatar.” Granted, if it came out in 2009, which is when “Avatar” came out, it probably would be just another movie, but this feels like a movie that would have probably worked as an experiential technological achievement from the 2000s, but since it came out in 2020, it needed something more.

I do not want to provide too many spoilers for this film, for one thing it just came out, and I imagine there are some people, not everybody, but some, who may have sort of a nostalgic attachment to the “Doctor Dolittle” IP. Out of respect for those people, this review is as spoiler-free as I could possibly make it. With that being said, the climax of this movie delivers one of the most infuriatingly off-putting gags ever put in a kids movie. There is a scene that I imagine young kids will probably get a kick out of, but I thought was the dumbest thing on the face of the earth. It involves farting. That is all I will say. Oh, and speaking of which, the humor in this film is as stale as whatever the latest pop song that always plays radio happens to be! Not all the jokes stood out, but when a joke did, it made me hate my life and everything in it. I am a bit young to have kids, but if I ever did have kids, this movie would probably be banned from movie night. If a find a DVD copy of this thing in the house, chances are I’m going to throw it through the window and break the glass. Any movie that has a scene containing a barely understandable human being playing chess with a gorilla who shows his ass as a way of insulting his opponent is officially on my eradication list.

Ironically, there is a song at the end of the film by Sia. I do not have all that much to say about the song itself, but apparently, in this attempt to recreate “Doctor Dolittle,” the song that plays is called “Original.” This world is becoming increasingly dumber, and there needs to be a cure for this combined dumbassery.

In the end, “Dolittle” just… did little to leave me happy. Will kids like it? Probably if they’re under maybe 10 years old. But I don’t think that this will be a film that families will go to and endlessly remember and quote for the rest of their lives. If anything, this is going to be a film that kids will watch, enjoy, and either move onto the next thing or continue watching until they grow out of it. “Dolittle” as a whole is just boring, formulaic, and none of the iconic names in the cast can save this mess! Robert Downey Jr. in this movie may not be a people person, but now after coming out of “Dolittle,” I have reevaluate my respect for the art of film and ask myself whether or not I am a movie person at this point. I am going to give “Dolittle” a 2/10. Now while I don’t see Universal Pictures dying a horrible death these next few months or anything, this is not the best of times for them. They just did “Cats,” which was awful, and apparently this is one of their next big releases! As one who enjoys Universal’s movies, I wish them luck during this dire time.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want everyone to know that my next review is going to be for Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen,” which I just saw at an advance screening aaaaaaannnnnd… There’s too much to talk about. I’ll save my thoughts for the review. That’s all I’ll say. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you want to leave a like or comment, make sure you have the proper account credentials, and speaking of liking, why not hop over to my Facebook page and give that a like too? I don’t see any reason not to! I want to know, did you see “Dolittle?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Doctor Dolittle” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!