Tom & Jerry (2021): Who Shamed Roger Rabbit?

“Tom & Jerry” is directed by Tim Story and stars Chloë Grace Moretz (If I Stay, The Fifth Wave), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Jexi), Colin Jost (Saturday Night Live, How to be Single), Rob Delaney (Catastrophe, Deadpool 2), and Ken Jeong (The Hangover, The Masked Singer). This film places the iconic cartoon cat and mouse duo in a live-action environment, specifically in New York City. Simultaneously, we follow the character of Kayla, who acquires a job at a fancy hotel, occasionally runs into the two cartoons, and needs to accompany guests for a balls out wedding.

I have never watched the “Tom & Jerry” cartoons as a kid, except maybe once or twice. Therefore, like some other things that have been adapted into live-action like “The Smurfs,” I had little to no connection to it as a child. I know the titular duo always find themselves trying to take each other down, and conceptually, it sounds entertaining. If I were six years old, I could find it to be a solid time-waster. But there’s no real story or plot to it that I can come up with other than the fact that the two creatures do not like each other, as cats and mice probably shouldn’t and they always end up in shambles against one another. This leads me to my first positive of the film, there are a couple entertaining fight sequences. They’re not all memorable or fascinating, but they have glimmers of entertainment throughout. Unfortunately, that is where all the positivity stops.

After all, even though this movie is about two animated rascals trying to beat each other up, that’s not even the whole story. Instead, it is another lame, copypaste, live-action snoozefest that has no substance. I just want to say to everyone reading this who has kids, if you are planning on taking your kid to the theater this weekend, do not watch “Tom & Jerry.” Save yourself from going inside. The kids might have fun, although I will admit, since seeing the movie, I talked with someone I know who has kids and they were apparently bored instantly by the film upon first watching it. Go watch “Raya and the Last Dragon” instead! That film has substance, great characters, laughs, and even though one of the core elements of “Tom & Jerry” are the action sequences, that film manages to have better action! Both in terms of style and story! I have not seen many movies in 2021 so far, but this is currently the worst one of the year for me.

Now, let’s talk about some characters. That’s always a great place to start in a review, right? Well, the movie’s called “Tom & Jerry” so it would only be appropriate to talk about Tom & Jerry first, right?

Nope! This is not their movie! They’re on the title because you know, franchises make money!

Instead, let’s talk about Kayla for a second. How is she a positive role model for children? Sure, maybe throughout the movie she’s taming a cat and mouse, which might translate to some kids being good with pets, but as a person, she is not exactly fine and dandy. She starts off the film by quitting her job, going to a hotel where she runs into a woman trying to apply for another job, manipulates her into not applying, and tries to acquire the job for herself. How is this a teaching moment for children? How do you get to the top? Lying! Unfortunately, Moretz is not the only hairball in this mess. This movie comes with a sadly obnoxious Michael Peña, who very much reminded me of his character in the piece of crap people call “Jexi.” Colin Jost and Pallati Sharva play a rather entitled celebrity couple I almost did not even come close to caring about. Ken Jeong is a chef who is weirdly dynamic and I don’t really remember anything else about him or almost anyone in this movie. Granted, it has been a few weeks since I saw “Tom & Jerry,” but it really goes to show how disposable it is.

Let me just be clear. The cast of this movie has talent. I admittedly have not watched a lot of Chloe Grace Moretz’s work, but I can tell she always commits to her craft. And given the little substance this movie offers, she does her best. Michael Peña unfortunately has followed a trend lately where some of the movies he’s been in that I’ve personally seen are not some of his best, and this is one of them. Colin Jost is consistently funny on “Saturday Night Live,” keeping up with the genius of Weekend Update from one episode to the next. Rob Delaney is an actor whose work I need to follow more often, but he was one of the highlights for me in “Deadpool 2” as the powerless Peter. Ken Jeong is a dynamic personality that will take any project that he is in and improve it by just a sliver, even if it is already great! In fact he was in “Over the Moon,” one of the best animations I have ever seen and my favorite film of last year. While these actors have had better days in terms of performances, much of it has to do with bad writing and perhaps just as awful directing. This movie consistently feels like it is doing the bare minimum to keep kids entertained, but not enough for grown-ups to keep themselves from cringing.

Also I want to address a problem with this film that has been bugging me. I say this as someone who has never had a childhood attachment to “Tom & Jerry.” But this film is not about “Tom & Jerry.” If you take “Tom & Jerry” out, you have a slightly different film with more realistic drama and it is completely centered around the human characters, many of whom I did not give a s*it about. My point is, “Tom & Jerry” comes packed in with a couple of the same problems viewers had with the live-action “Transformers” movies, all of which, and this maybe even includes “The Last Knight,” are more entertaining than whatever this piece of crap happens to be! The film centers around “Tom & Jerry,” the iconic duo known from your childhood days watching cartoons, but they shove in all these forced human storylines just for the sake of going, “Bippity boppity boo! Here’s a movie! It’s not completely in shambles!” And those are not the only flaws this movie comes with, because remember, this is a live-action adaptation of a cartoon. Remember “The Smurfs?” This is basically the exact same thing, only it does not go into multiverse bulls*it and transport Tom & Jerry to earth! Now to be fair, unlike the Smurfs, who hail from their own fantastical village, Tom & Jerry come from more realistic environments, so you can say that they’ve always been on earth. But given how the older material usually strays away from complete realism, the comparison is close enough. You have these two imbeciles, they have their life of brawling each other, and to be fair, that part of the source material seems faithful enough. But they are not the center of the story, it’s f*cking Kayla! Whenever Tom & Jerry show up, they cause trouble, create shenanigans, and show that they really don’t like each other, which given things going on in the movie, is kind of a problem. However, they are not the main characters. Sure, their actions occasionally link to one’s successes or downfalls, but the direction they decided to take this movie in not only feels boring, but also repetitive. We’ve seen this weird creature/human interaction thing done before, but not always to positive results. Although I will admit, last year’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” is one of the delightfully positive exceptions.

Movies like this show that not everything translates to film. “Tom & Jerry” works as a series of animated shorts, not as a big blockbuster epic. And I will admit one of the positives of this film is that it actually is somewhat faithful to its source material. The duo come off like their hand-drawn counterparts, and unlike the live-action “Smurfs” or “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies, they are in 2D and not CGIed to another dimension. And while this is faithful, Tom and Jerry do not talk. I bet this is part of why they put all of these human characters in the film as an attempt to relate to its audience. While there may have been good intentions, they proceeded to bad results. I bring up Tom & Jerry not being able to talk because in a lot of these family movies, you have these characters that are expressive and excited or upbeat. At least communication was not a problem in those other movies. Here, the solution makes for something that lessens a problem, but it still creates another one by making me want to rip my ears and throw them into a trash compactor! Just because this movie comes off looking like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” does not mean it is the next “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.”

In the end, this movie feels like a lazy cash grab, and based on the box office, they certainly happen to be grabbing that cash! “Tom & Jerry” opened to over $14 million domestically, which would be a disappointment by pre-coronavirus standards. But with the current pandemic and Warner Bros. simultaneously releasing new films on HBO Max, that is actually not a bad result. I’m glad the studio is making money, I’m glad the theatres are making money. But I felt like I wasted my money watching this. I felt like I was in a giant mousetrap for the entire runtime! This is a ridiculous, lazy, and uninspired film with some of the worst writing and direction I have seen in recent memory. Some of the fight scenes were entertaining though and I will also leave you with this, there are a couple genuinely funny lines in the film, but sadly I do not even remember them. Save your money, go see “Raya” instead, or find something else to watch on HBO Max. I’m going to give “Tom & Jerry” a 3/10.

I said this to myself before going into “Tom & Jerry,” and that thought has not changed since. I’ve been looking forward a big event featuring two classic characters in the ultimate fight for society. And that fight will be settled… IN “GODZILLA VS. KONG!”

“Tom & Jerry?” I’m sorry, what are you talking about? It was a pass from me before watching the movie, and it is still a pass from me after watching the movie. Although I did see the movie with a friend who admittedly enjoyed himself, so good for him.

“Tom & Jerry” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open and is currently available to watch if you are subscribed to HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that my next review is going to be for Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon.” I saw the film in IMAX a couple weeks ago, but I have not gotten around to review it, kind of like “Tom & Jerry” due to my commitments with the Jackoff Awards. Also coming soon, I will have my thoughts on “Chaos Walking” starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, so look forward to that!

One more thing, awards season is in full swing, and if you have not done so yet, check out the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards, where one moron awards a ton of movies! Be sure to follow Scene Before with email or WordPress account, also check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Tom & Jerry?” What did you think about it? Or, did you watch the “Tom & Jerry” cartoons? What are your thoughts? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Witches (2020): Witch Imperfect

“The Witches” is directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, The Walk) and stars Anne Hathaway (Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Gifted), and Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, Transformers: Age of Extinction). This film is based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name and follows a young boy and his mother as they stay in a hotel together. One thing leads to another, and the boy finds out the witches’ plan to turn children into mice. From here, we have the main groundwork to let the rest of the movie unfold.

Not only is this movie based on a classic children’s book from Roald Dahl, but to my lack of knowledge, “The Witches” was made into a movie once before. I had no idea that this was true, but there was a 1990 adaptation of the film directed by Nicolas Roeg. I had no idea this movie existed, but here we are. But growing up with Roald Dahl, I cannot say that I am all that surprised. “The Witches” was never a book I was particularly interested in. I imagine I picked it up once or twice for a couple quick glances, but not once have I read it all the way through. Books like “The BFG” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” were of higher interest to me when I was younger. Unlike when I watched the 2005 “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for the first time, where I had the original book and 1971 adaptation in my memory, I don’t really have anything to compare “The Witches” to. I cannot say the book’s better, because I have not read it. I cannot say the 1990 adaptation was better, because I have not seen it. But what can I say about the 2020 adaptation of “The Witches?”

It’s not great. Really not that great.

This movie, particularly in the United States, was supposed to hit theaters, but due to a change of plans, it became a direct to HBO Max exclusive. Other than a few scenes that are visually wild, I can see why this went straight to streaming. Because the reality is that the script for this film is kind of bland. At times it’s a little stiff. I know that one major audience for “The Witches” happens to be children, and I will say that in this movie’s favor, there are some scenes that would give me heebie-jeebies at a younger age. That’s not the problem, because this movie is occasionally suspenseful and haunting. The problem is that this movie feels like it occasionally talks down to them. I’ve seen it done worse in a few other movies, but nevertheless. I don’t know who to blame here. Again, I have not read the book. Maybe this script was incredibly faithful to the source material, which can work as a compliment in many instances, but books are books, and movies are movies. They’re different mediums and sometimes everything in a book does not always translate to film.

One of my other big complaints about this film regards its pacing. I often talk about pacing as a complaint because when a movie moves too slow, it occasionally bores me. Thankfully, this movie is not as boring as some others I have seen. Boredom was not achieved. My problem, and this may be seen as a compliment by some people, is that this movie moves very fast. This film wastes no time whatsoever in getting from point A to point B, but I really would have preferred one or two moments where I could breathe. But that’s also probably because of the earlier complaint where this film overembellishes everything for the audience. There’s a whole elongated scene where Anne Hathaway’s character is exposes her plan to turn children into mice and squash them. It takes forever, but somehow it feels like by the end of the scene, only a few moments have passed. It almost feels like that if the movie did not extend itself unnecessarily, it could have been five to ten minutes shorter, maybe even fifteen. I could be wrong. This is arguably the weirdest complaint I’ve had for a film all year, but it stands. Runtime does not always matter, it’s what you do with it. And here, I think they’ve just wasted some of my time.

This is not to say the film’s all bad. I will say that one of the advantages of this film, especially compared to almost everything else in 2020’s slate, is that it looks quite attractive to the eye. The production design is quirky, and much like some other Dahl adaptations, this movie occasionally felt larger than life. For the record, this movie did release in theaters internationally, so they get the benefit of the theatrical experience. If you live in the United States, watch on the biggest home screen you can. For a movie aimed at families and children, this does look like something that would fit in that realm. This is live-action, but it’s colorful and poppy at the same time. Some of the effects, specifically where we see one of the witches sniffing like a maniac, is a little over the top, but other than that, they fit the movie in terms of tone.

One area where I am continuously conflicted is Anne Hathaway. Now, I adore Anne Hathaway. She’s in some of my favorite movies, she has talent, and I will point out that I can tell she gave it her all here. But the way her character is presented is very hit and miss. Again, this is part of the overembellishing problem with this film. I get she’s a witch, I get she’s evil. But at times, she reminded me of a female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze from 1997’s “Batman & Robin.”

“What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!”

I will say that per usual, Octavia Spencer is quite charming. She was a good fit for her role, and while I will probably not remember the movie all that much, her chemistry with her son was decent. Not the best I have seen, but decent. Speaking of which, the son character is played by Jahzir Bruno. The cast lists his character’s name as “Hero Boy.” What a name… Is this… A long lost relative of “Protagonist” from “Tenet?”

By the way, watch “Tenet.” Just my recommendation.

I will say, when it comes to Jahzir Bruno, he probably has a bright future ahead. Who knows what’ll happen in regard to his acting career? But his character, while likable, is just a small increment of why this movie is poorly written. One of the things I HATED about this movie, is how far-fetched it is at times.

Now, you might be thinking, that’s what it is supposed to be! It’s a movie where witches can turn humans into mice with a magic potion! You’re not wrong. I don’t mind that at all. What I do mind is that the movie has a scene that throws everything you know about hearing out the window. I do not know how good the witches can hear in this universe, maybe the book explains it more, but there is a scene where Hero Boy lays under a stage where Anne Hathaway’s character gives a speech. From what I can tell, he’s trying to hide, be secretive. When he takes in a certain piece of information, he speaks to himself almost like he’s having a casual conversation. I do not know if that is his fault, or the director’s fault. I hope not, because Robert Zemeckis has been in the business for years. And evidence sometimes shows that it is not always easy to work with child actors. I do not know if Bruno was following a specific order from the script, a last minute adjustment from Zemeckis, or what. I do have faith that Bruno will be in more palatable movies as time goes on, and he is still young, so he can improve his craft a just a hair. I just wish this project was better.

One of the big advantages though of watching this on HBO Max is that other than the subscription, this is practically a free movie. It was not like I was robbed of $12 at the theater, or in the case of the pandemic, $19.99 on Prime Video or Google Play. Even so, I can see why this was dumped to a streaming service. As cool as it would have looked in a theater, it does not have the writing and excitement to back it up.

In the end, “The Witches” could not quite deliver the cheese. I will point out. I’ve seen a lot of movies directed by Robert Zemeckis. All the “Back to the Future” films, “Allied,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” “The Polar Express.” I’ve enjoyed most of the films I’ve seen from him. Even ones I did not enjoy like “Flight” and “Cast Way” still had elements which I was able to appreciate. “The Witches” fits in the same category as those previously mentioned films, it is one of Zemeckis’s inferior days at the office. And as far as Roald Dahl adaptations go, this one is probably my least favorite. Much like’s Zemeckis’s cinematic library, I can not pinpoint one particular Roald Dahl adaptation I’ve seen that I legitimately hated. But this one was not a golden ticket. I’m going to give “The Witches” a 5/10.

If anything else, one of the best parts of this movie is the score. Unsurprisingly, considering how this movie is directed by Robert Zemeckis, Alan Silvestri did all the composition work. Time will tell, but it is hard to say whether “The Witches” will become a popular Halloween tradition for some. It wouldn’t for me, but who knows? This movie just felt rushed, but by being rushed, it did so by elongating, talking down to its audience. It does a lot by doing very little, if that makes any sense. This is the “Ludicrous Speed” of movies.

Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is one of the bigger ones in regard to movies this year. “The Witches” just hit HBO Max, Prime Video now has “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Empty Man,” even though it looks terrible, just hit theaters, and one of my favorite movies of the year BY STORM just hit Netflix and is still playing in some theaters. That movie by the way is the new animated musical “Over the Moon,” which centers around a young girl who longs to find an ancient Moon Goddess. I cannot recommend this movie enough, even though I know a few people who may want to skip certain parts of it. By the way, if you want to read my review for “Over the Moon,” click right here! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Witches?” What did you think about it? Have you read the book? Have you seen the 1990 film? Which version of the story do you like best? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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“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)

Cats (2019): Kitty Litter

EVERYBODY:
Go see “Richard Jewell!” Clint Eastwood has done it again!
Check out “1917!” It’s heart-stopping!
Watch “The Irishman” on Netflix! It’s worth the three and a half hour runtime! It’s REAL cinema!
Hey! “Queen & Slim” is getting positive reviews!
GO SEE “STAR WARS!”
“Bombshell’s” the movie we need right now!
“Frozen II” is a great Disney sequel!
“The Two Popes!” Check it out!
Hey Jack, have you seen Amazon’s “The Aeronauts?”
“MARRRRRRIAGE STOOOOOORRRRRY!”

ME:
Hey guys, I’m going to review “Cats!”

*Beat*

…Awkward. No matter what happens, this will unite us all. It’s time to review the NON-“Star Wars” movie coming out this weekend, because this is what I was able to see early on this week. Let’s get this s*itshow overwith.

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“Cats” is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Danish Girl) and stars James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Emoji Movie), Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Philomena), Jason Derulo (Everybody Dance Now, Drop the Mic), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor), Jennifer Hudson (The Voice, Dreamgirls), Ian McKellan (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Good Liar), Taylor Swift (The Lorax, The Giver), Rebel Wilson (Jojo Rabbit, Pitch Perfect), and Francesca Hayward. The plot of “Cats,” if there is one in this damn thing, is that a bunch of cats that look and walk like humans compete against each other to be the one to earn another life… That’s the best way I can describe this movie without cringing. Because holy s*it. THIS IS PUTRID.

Going into “Cats” on Tuesday night, I had two screenings to choose from. “Cats” being one of them, obviously. The other one happened to be “Bombshell,” which I said to you all that I would review. Well, expect a delay on that, when I finally got my RSVP for “Cats,” I could not pass it up, and by that I mean I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” with somebody else, because as far as I know, there is probably not one person that would want to see “Cats” with me. Did I have any plans to watch “Cats” originally? Absolutely not. In fact, if you follow the Scene Before Facebook page, and if you aren’t following it, CLICK THIS LINK and give it a like! Anyway, if you have kept track of recent happenings there, you may have noticed this recent post…

Well guess what? I ended up dragging myself on the underfunded transportation system in the Boston, Massachusetts area, put my ass in a cinema seat, and here we are. But let me just say, I did not go into “Cats” blind. I went in having seen bunches of the marketing, including the main trailers, which honestly just creeps me out the more I think about it! I had little to no real anticipation of this movie, even though I was expecting some decent numbers and neat visuals at times. Did I get those in the end? Kind of. The visuals were nifty, but the numbers are honestly forgettable. I have never seen any other related “Cats” material, not the play, nor any other adaptation. So this movie ultimately took my “Cats” virginity. As someone who has had their first “Cats” experience of any kind, I cannot imagine myself returning to this franchise in the near future. This movie BROKE me to no end. It’s honestly up there with some of the most anger-inducing content I have seen all year. In fact, I am honestly kind of glad I went to see the movie as early as I did. I love the moviegoing experience, and going to see a movie early, depending on the film is honestly kind of thrilling. I was in a theater containing some people who were enthusiastic. One person had cat ears on, some were Taylor Swift fans, and I think the best part about this movie is that the occasional reactions from people that were given with a hint of sarcasm. There was this one moment around the first act where this guy just belted out a snarky laugh and a bunch of us played along because I think a surprising number of attendees thought this movie was going to suck balls and we had almost no expectations for it. Maybe we collectively thought this movie was cheesy or a waste of time. Who knows? The point is, if I went to see this movie in perhaps January during a dead afternoon, it probably wouldn’t be as fun or lively. The only thing I probably would have felt at that time is pure anger. Being in the environment of a free screening before a movie opens definitely helps.

BUT IT DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE CRAP I SUFFERED THROUGH!

I have been noticing something about our current moviegoing audience. We seem to enjoy two things nowadays. Granted, that’s an understatement, we seem to enjoy lots of things in reality, but the two of the commonalities I’m seeing from the general moviegoing audience is spectacle and nostalgia. There’s definitely an argument to make about “Cats” being one of the more nostalgic movies of the year. It’s based on a hit musical from the late 20th century, which was inspired by poetry from T.S. Eliot. I think a lot of older audiences will gravitate towards this film, plus younger theater admirers. And I will point out one thing that I think could have ended up being a positive about this film, specifically the prettiness that’s intact. From the marketing, there have been a lot of shots that looked nice, the neon signage everywhere kind of adds a nice touch, the film is visually appealing on the surface. And throughout, at times, I dug it for its visuals. That’s probably the biggest compliment I can give.

Earlier this year, I reviewed “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is one of the worst blockbusters I have witnessed in recent memory, especially when considering how FANTASTIC the trailers were leading up to its release. To this day, the only compliments I can give the film are some of the shot choices and the appealing visual effects. That’s it. “Cats” is kind of like that. Granted, I did not like the “Cats” trailers, but you probably get my point. However, the good news is, and it honestly PAINS me in the ass to say this… I’d rather watch “Cats” again. As a movie, it is technically competent. Not to mention, competently… BOOOOORRRRRRRING!

This movie technically has a plot, but when it’s presented on screen, it’s an utter mess! It’s a nice looking mess, but a mess nevertheless! I guess we’ll call it a hot mess! The movie undoubtedly is trying to rely on the spectacle provided from each number. I didn’t expect this movie to lack singing, but the singing in this movie is ENDLESS. OH MY FREAKING LORD! A good portion of the numbers are… borderline OK? I guess? But I don’t feel like I will end up remembering them. The only numbers that truly stood out to me was the one where Taylor Swift’s character was introduced, most likely because there were a few people in the crowd who were ecstatic over seeing her on screen and one heavily revolving around Laurie Davidson’s character of Mr. Mistoffelees, which I won’t go into. Again, I went into the movie not knowing much about “Cats,” so I’m gonna be somewhat vague with the material.

I am not even in the mood to go into the characters, because for one thing, there are a lot of them. It’s overwhelming. I am willing to bet that if there were fewer characters, this movie could be a tad more interesting. I will say though, even though “Cats” itself is somewhat visually attrractive, it is simultaneously off-putting. I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t ask for a movie where Ian McKellan plays a live-action, human-like cat that is licking a plate. It’s something so unimportant, yet so horrifying. Much like the numbers, there is perhaps not even a single character that ended up standing out. Many of the characters feel like they have little to no layers, and the only thing that could end up being memorable is all of the “digital fur technology” that went into this pile of crap they call a movie.

I do not seek out musicals that often. I don’t usually watch all that many films that are heavy on musical numbers, but if I had to compare “Cats” to any other film, I’d say one of the closest examples I can give is Michael Bay’s “Transformers.” For the record, they are COMPLETELY different on almost every single level in terms of plot, genre, and character motivations. But one of the biggest compliments I can give to “Transformers” is the visuals. The effects are nothing short of amazing. I think even people who don’t like the newer “Transformers” movies can probably agree that the visual effects are nice to look at. Now, I personally enjoyed the first “Transformers.” It’s a fine action movie if you ask me, but I know the franchise is not always the most pleasing to everyone. The story is basic, repetitive from one film to the next, and some would say it almost doesn’t even matter when there are tons of explosions and American flags everywhere.

This movie doesn’t really shy away from comedy. I mean, what do you expect when there’s a seemingly sarcastic laugh during my screening? Only thing is, the comedy just doesn’t work. In fact, the jokes I remember are random cat puns. They might have been the only jokes in the movie, and they sully the experience entirely.

Why did I go see “Cats?” Well, I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” for one thing, but I thought this would be a fun film to review. It’s one of those one of a kind, crazy experiences that I will end up remembering, but not for the right reasons. Personally, I don’t ever see myself watching “Cats” again, and I had no plans to get a cat in the near future, but this movie has officially eliminated any possibility of me wanting a cat, because if I am ever presented with an opportunity to get a cat, part of me would not stop thinking of this piece of trash. And in other news, Taylor Swift is in this movie, that picture above is of her. And SPOILER, the movie DOES NOT go into how many cats she broke up with.

In fact, let me specify about my experience of watching this film. This was a film that felt embarrassing to say the least. It’s well-crafted, but embarrassing nonetheless. Whenever I go see a film, I usually order myself a popcorn and soda to keep myself up. I didn’t do that this time. I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe it’s because I was busy talking to a friend I ran into, but that’s not the point. The overall experience of seeing “Cats” feels like a dream. Because I became increasingly sleepy, increasingly bored, and the movie itself became more irrelevant than the door close button on modern elevators! There is a part of me that wanted to laugh, but it felt really hard, because at the same time, what I really wanted to do was leave. This movie overstays its welcome, even giving itself an opportunity to hammer in one final number that is so bad that it’s good. And when those stinking credits FINALLY came on screen, I let out a bellowing “THANK GAAAWWSH!” Because again, the movie broke me to shreds. You know how I said I didn’t get any popcorn or soda for this movie? Upon the leaving the film I had one thought in mind. I need popcorn, because I felt like I dredged through this movie in the same way that Bart Simpson would dredge through homework. I felt like part of my well-being has been erased. This was a well-earned treat for myself. By the way, the popcorn was f*cking satisfying. It made my cat nips go hard.

In the end, “Cats” is perhaps the most competent borefest of the year, and that really says something because… “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was a thing. And that’s the absolute worst thing about “Cats.” It looks charming, it looks presentable, it looks nifty. Some of the camerawork is nice. But between some of the questionable editing, lame-ass script, and nearly nonexistent plot, this movie made me angrier than that kid from “Looper” whenever something goes wrong for him. I would rather poke my own eyes out with my own two hands than go see this movie again. The ensemble has a lot of big names including Idris Elba, Ian McKellan, and James Corden, but not even that could save the movie. In a way, the more I think about it, it almost makes the movie worse. Remember that movie, “The Circle” that came out a couple years ago? It’s like that. It had a list of respectable actors including Emma Watson, John Boyega, Bill Paxton, TOM FREAKING HANKS! To know that these people took on this film specifically, makes my brain leak a little bit. Again, visually appealing, but it’s not enough. I’m going to give “Cats” a 2/10. Part of me wants to give this movie a 3/10, I really do. But now that I’ve had a little bit of time to marinate, this is up there with some of the most frustrating, not to mention forgettable, movies I have EVER seen during my time on this blog. Did the crowd reactions add something? Kind of. But not entirely. To me this was just a waste of time. The only ways that this movie could end up as a 1 is if it didn’t look pretty, if the acting was the worst I’ve ever seen, or it weren’t for a couple of halfway decent moments. Nevertheless, this was an insufferable experience, and I know “Star Wars” is not getting the best reviews right now, but this is actually making me excited for “Star Wars.” I think the only way I could have ended up enjoying “Cats” is if I was perhaps very young and this was one of the first movies I have watched. Maybe one of the first in the theater. Because as long as there are cats doing things on screen, why should I care about anything else? How am I still alive? I don’t know! It’s amazing! Even so, I’m done talking about this garbage, let’s move on!

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned guys, because I am going to have my review up for the next film that will inevitably make a billion dollars, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I’m going to my local IMAX theater on opening Thursday, I cannot wait! How will the film turn out? I do not know for sure, but I am endlessly curious, so let’s do this! May the force be with us! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you want greater access to the blog, and be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cats?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that is cat-related? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019): Dumb Dora Is So Dumb…

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“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is directed by James Bobin (The Muppets, Alice Through the Looking Glass) and stars Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight, Instant Family), Eugenio Derbez (How to Be a Latin Lover, Overboard), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, End of Watch), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives, The Sentinel), and Danny Trejo (Machete, Spy Kids). This film is based on the Nickelodeon cartoon “Dora the Explorer,” where a young girl and her monkey companion, Boots, go on adventures together, sing, encounter obstacles, including a fox named Swiper (played here by Benicio Del Toro). All the while, there are fourth wall breaks that involve encouraging children to talk to the screen, occasionally in Spanish. In this film, we get to know Dora as a teenager who lives in the jungle, but she recently learns she has to adapt to a more urbanized lifestyle and go to high school. This eventually leads to an adventure with her newfound friends and her cousin, Diego.

I was born at the tail end of the 1990s, I was raised through the 2000s. It was perhaps inevitable that “Dora the Explorer” would be a part of my childhood in some way, shape, or form. Granted, it was not my goto program at the time. That was more of my sister’s thing, but I did have some interest here and there at the very least. Therefore, I would say, while not calling it the epitome of my nostalgic roots, it did sort of fit somewhere into some of my more prominent childhood memories and experiences. So when I saw the trailers for this film, and granted, even before that, when I was hearing news about this film’s production, part of me was even wondering how it was getting made. Yes, “Dora” is an iconic IP and it does well with children, but I honestly wondered how this could even work as a film. Granted, upon seeing updates, I would say the crew got some things right. They did cast an OK Dora and she looked pretty similar to her cartoon counterpart. But I gotta be honest, the trailers did nothing for me. It all felt like a warning sign for the death of my childhood. And ultimately, that’s what this movie kind of is. It took something I knew from my childhood and split its head open.

Remember “Transformers?” Remember “The Smurfs?” Remember “Alvin and the Chipmunks?” None of those IPs were ever a part of my life before I watched their live-action film adaptations. Therefore when I first checked them out, I never had a part of my life affected. I never felt offended through a link to nostalgia by these types of films. I did however feel offended as to how bad “The Smurfs” turned out, but still. “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” was a movie where I knew the source material behind it, so basically I was taking a trip back in time. And this is sort of what the movie felt like at times. There are tons of homages to the original material, there are a couple fourth wall breaks, and some of the songs that they use in the movie are from the TV show. But let me just say this, there are certain parts of the show, core elements in fact, where I look back on them, I somehow cringe. The theme song is fitting, but catchy to the point that I would rather listen to “Baby Shark” or some other crap. As an adult, it is somewhat weird to go back to such a phase of my childhood where I was learning Spanish from a girl who doesn’t even use a map by herself. This is why when Dora would break the fourth wall, I would cringe and put my head in my large popcorn bucket! Granted, this is somewhat more adult-friendly than the cartoon, but nevertheless, the movie’s pretty stinkin’ cringeworthy!

It’s almost like “Batman & Robin” merged together with a Michael Bay movie. Between the stale humor and one-dimensional characters, that sort of statement makes sense. In fact, what adds even more sense into the mix is that when this movie was in development, news sites have reported about Michael Bay’s involvement.

None of this is true, by the way.

However, this film was directed by James Bobin, who has some other family-oriented entertainment on his resume including 2011’s “The Muppets,” its 2014 sequel, “Muppets: Most Wanted,” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” Now collective reactions would suggest that Bobin didn’t stick the landing 100% of the time, but nevertheless, he’s at least had experience. And to be fair, I saw “Muppets: Most Wanted” back in 2014, directed by Bobin, and I was impressed with what I saw. It was wacky, hilarious, and fun. I’ll give credit to Bobin because I think he did the best he could with the directing job. The movie is upbeat, has a quick pace, and it never feels like anyone has an off performance. Sadly, when you put the script into play, that’s a different story. While the film is a homage to the source material, it doesn’t mean it comes off as compelling or interesting. I will say, the script does have some excellent lines from Dora’s character that make her look like an absolute savage. Dora in this movie at times is almost like a female Sheldon Cooper, it’s bonkers! But aside from a few funny lines here and there, the script does nothing to justify its existence. I buy into the plot for the most part, I think as far as the story itself goes, there are barely any problematic complaints I could make. But various characters we get to know throughout the film feel like they have no chemistry. I’ll also mention that some characters have unearned moments I won’t get into.

Sure, I just mentioned the movie can be funny. But it doesn’t mean it’s always funny, in some cases, it’s really freaking annoying! There’s this one joke where Michael Peña talks to Dora about city life, which leads him to bringing up the concept of dancing. This leads to an explanation of the music they play during community dances where a DJ tends to get involved, and the joke becomes as old as dirt because Peña’s character won’t stop rambling about the subject matter! We get it! Move on! Stop torturing me!

By the way, this movie establishes that Dora likes to sing. Ultimately, this isn’t surprising. After all, there’s a ton of singing in the cartoon. In this movie, Dora sings… A LOT, and it gets annoying. Not only does she take part in singing songs from the cartoon that certain frequent viewers have come to recognize over the years, but there is also this one song that is shown in the movie. Guess what it’s about? Well, what do kids think is the ultimate joke in comedy? Poop jokes of course! There is a song in this movie about taking dumps! Holy s*it! No pun intended! This… I want to–My brain–…Just freaking kill me! This movie sucks! OK? This takes a lack of intelligence to a whole new level! GAH!

And this brings me to something that this movie has in common with a movie like “The Smurfs.” “Dora the Explorer” has always taken place in a somewhat fantastical setting, but we never really see her in a world that comes off as realistic. The original source material for “The Smurfs” has been the same way, but in the live-action movie Sony made in 2011, it was decided that they would come to our world, making New York City the epicenter of the entire film. Seeing “The Smurfs” interact with normal people in New York, including Neil Patrick Harris, was off-putting to say the least. In this movie, I kind of got a similar vibe. Dora states she’s from “the jungle,” a jungle which according to this movie, is still on Earth. But her interactions with fellow high schoolers and others are kind of weird and full of cringe at times. But hey! If the kids like it, why change it?

Because then the movie will be smart? Bah! Screw that!

Although I will say, there was one interesting moment of the movie that was sort of a homage to the original material that I dug. It was kind of weird, but also intriguing. I won’t go into it, but if you have seen the movie “Booksmart” and know about the scene where the two main girls have to climb a bureau, this reminded me a little bit of that. It’s wacky, but it’s also a tribute to what “Dora” followers have come to recognize over the years. It doesn’t make up for the rest of crap this movie makes me go through, but it’s there.

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There’s a scene where Swiper’s pretty badass. The movie’s got that going for it. But what else? What have we done to deserve this filth?!

In the end, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” put me in what I like to call a “torture chamber of my childhood.” “Dora the Explorer” was not my goto show as a child, but this movie did take me back to my childhood. Doesn’t mean it didn’t sully my childhood at times! I think the cast did the best they could, I think the direction was somewhat tolerable, but the screenplay is less than satisfactory, the singing got on my nerves at times, and there are a couple of moments where I almost dozed off due to near boredom. I may not be in the right demographic for a film like this, but it doesn’t mean I cannot judge the film the way I see it. And the way I see it, would not happen to be through the best lens. I’m going to give “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of “It: Chapter Two,” I’m hoping to see it before the end of Sunday, but only time will tell as to whether or not I get around to such a thing. If you want to see more of my content, consider following Scene Before through an email or WordPress account, or even checking out the Scene Before Facebook page! Or, just browse for free! I don’t care, it’s your life. You do you. I want to know, did you see “Dora and the Lost City of Gold?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever watch “Dora the Explorer?” Were you a young child? A parent? A critic? Whoever you may be, tell me your thoughts on the series! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Missing Link (2019): Good Animation Is Not Endangered

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“Missing Link” is directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) and stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Greatest Showman), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually), Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), David Walliams (Britain’s Got Talent, Pudsey: The Movie), Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet, Live Free or Die Hard), Matt Lucas (Doctor Who, Alice in Wonderland), Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones, The Good Karma Hospital), and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) in a film about an explorer who comes across a rare creature who we as an audience come to know as Mr. Link. It is eventually revealed that this creature has others of his kind and he calls upon the explorer who found him to help bring him to said others.

“Missing Link” comes from the brilliant folks at Laika, known for films like “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls,” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Granted, of the four films I just mentioned, I personally have witnessed two of them. But it does not change the fact that my experiences of watching those films were exhilarating and worth just about every second of my time. “Coraline” is just a blast! It’s a creative, slightly disturbing, and compelling animation from 2009 that I honestly question myself as to why I haven’t gone back to watch it just a few more times. And I’ll even say that “Kubo and the Two Strings” is even better! That film for now stands as a 10/10 in my book, and it’s up there with films like “Arrival” and “Captain America: Civil War” as one of my favorite films from 2016. As an aspiring screenwriter, it spoke to me. And wow! What Laika can do with stop motion animation is purely groundbreaking! As for “Missing Link,” it is not as good as those two films, but it’s still good enough to say it is worth a watch.

This film shines mostly for its upbeat and quick pace, and the film’s dialogue seems to fit the pace and vibe with ease. I really like the chemistry between all of the characters and there is a lot of humor in the film that didn’t feel immature. I look at particular animated films every now and then and see where they are going in terms of humor, they are CLEARLY trying to just get the attention of young children. Granted, that’s the typical stereotype when it comes to animated movies. Dancing! Fart jokes! Just write the script for the kids whose brains haven’t fully developed yet! Who cares if it’s s*it? Does Laika do that! Hell no! Instead, they are keeping all ages in mind while also trying to be smart, which is something I enjoy seeing from animated films or other movies that could probably cater towards families.

Although speaking of these films, “Missing Link” reminded me of a DreamWorks animated film that came out in 2009, specifically “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Granted, the storyline, not to mention animation style, is completely different, the ideas behind both films don’t really connect with each other. But I have a question.

Chris Butler, is “Monsters vs. Aliens” your favorite movie?

I mean, seriously! This film is called “Missing Link,” which is a decent title for a number of conceptual projects, but that’s not the point. If you have seen “Monsters vs. Aliens,” you may be aware that one of the monsters is a long-living fishman by the name of THE MISSING LINK! In fact, in the image above, he can be seen on the left! Now some of you may be thinking, “This is only a coincidence, how could this apply to what this jackass is saying?” Well, Mr. Link in this film also goes by the name “Susan.” If you are not familiar with “Monsters vs. Aliens,” Susan is the name of the main character of the film, who also goes by Ginormica, played by Reese Witherspoon. Is this film a secret tribute to a 2009 DreamWorks movie that played a part in my childhood? I ask because if that’s the case, holy s*it!

I also really like one thing the movie did towards the end, because it almost felt like a little trip into reality. It kind of reminded me of certain human issues that trace back to years before this film came out, and issues we continue to have today. It’s one reason why I really liked the character of Mr. Link so much, since I had the ability to sympathize with him. But it wasn’t like his character was a downer throughout the film. Much like some other characters, he was charismatic and had fitting dialogue to make me give him two thumbs up. In fact, compared to other animations I’ve seen, and this may be a bit of a stretch, the characters and vibe add up to be completely quirky. Granted, it makes sense as this is not entirely done on computers, unlike most modern day animated films and instead done through stop motion work. But the film felt like it could only come from one particular place. I will say, in terms of quirky animations, it’s got nothing on Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” but this is still worth pointing out.

I will say though, adding onto something I mentioned earlier, the one major disappointment I have regarding “Missing Link” is that other than the appreciation for its likable characters, quirky vibe, and compelling screenplay, it didn’t have the oomph factor that I would want out of a lot of movies. I may sound like a spoiled brat, but it felt like something was left out. There was a part of the movie during one of the first scenes that I thought was incredibly symbolic, but I won’t go into because it’s in none of the movie’s trailers. Simply put, despite my positive thoughts on the film, there was nothing to make me want to play the Blu-ray again right after watching it. Comparing the film to “Coraline” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” I feel like those two films left a bigger impact on me. “Coraline” was probably an easy oomph for me because I was 9 and I wasn’t really familiar with too many films with this sort of style. But when I saw “Kubo and the Two Strings,” it felt like it was everything an animated adventure film should have been. Good balance between humor and seriousness, fantastic cast of characters, and a neat concept. Maybe I’m biased there too because that film sort of pays tribute to storytellers, which is a way I sort of see myself.

Although, if you do want to be wowed in some way by this film, I will say, stick around for the credits, because it actually shows part of the process that goes into filming a stop motion scene. It’s really a sight for the eyes.

In the end, I really do recommend “Missing Link,” but it is also the weakest of the Laika films I have witnessed thus far. It’s kind of like Christopher Nolan. My least favorite film of his is “Insomnia,” but it doesn’t mean I am going to avoid recommending it, because there are qualities that make it watchable. Plus, I like it better than some of the other animated films we have gotten so far this year, specifically “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” and the abomination against humanity known as “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” Laika is continuing to deliver original and exciting content, and while this film did not make much through its box office totals, I really hope it picks up on home video, especially in the family demographic. I’m going to give “Missing Link” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I have couple more movies to review, I’m not sure I will be getting both out by the end of the week. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I’ll even be getting the first one out until next week because this weekend…

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I’m going to Terrificon! Terrificon is a three day event held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT! It’s a convention that caters to fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and gaming! If you are at Terrificon this weekend, know who I am, or even if you don’t know who I am, feel free to shout my name from the rooftops! I will be walking around the convention center and various areas of the casino (although I am not gambling), so feel free to give me a hello at any time! If you want to keep yourself updated with everything I do here, I have a Facebook page that gives automated posts every time I upload something new on here, and speaking of things that are on here, give this post a like! Give this blog a follow either with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Missing Link?” What did you think about it? And this question is for everybody, but if someone named Susan replies to this, I will give it a like. What are y’all’s thoughts on DreamWorks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens?” Personally, it’s not their best animation but it’s better than some of the “Shrek” sequels and it’s nice to see Stephen Colbert playing the President of the United States, especially since every other day he makes fun of the President of the United States. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019): Knights of the Kiddie Table

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“The Kid Who Would Be King” is directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block, The Adam & Joe Show) and stars… some kids you may have never heard of. Patrick Stewart’s here though. Anyway, in all seriousness, this movie stars Louis Ashborne Serkis (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Girl on the Train), Tom Taylor (The Dark Tower, Legends), and as mentioned, Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, American Dad!). This film revolves around a young boy named Alex, who eventually finds Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur. Alex eventually comes to a realization that he must use this sword to stop the enchantress Morgana from destroying the world.

I didn’t see “The Kid Who Would Be King” when it came out in theaters. Partially because on its opening weekend, I wanted to go see “Serenity” instead, which was kind of a mistake. I remember seeing the trailer not too long before the film came out and it looked like a fun adventure film for a family demographic. I can dig a solid adventure flick. But unfortunately, due to life, college, and other movies getting in the way, I missed out on this film during it’s theatrical run. And apparently a lot of other people did too. This movie is a box office bomb and made over $30 million, which is fine for an R-rated, small-budget horror film. But having seen “The Kid Who Would Be King,” there are a few effects-heavy sequences that give that traditional fantasy film vibe. According to IMDb, the film’s production budget is estimated to be $60 million. I just bought this movie on 4K recently and I decided to watch it on Thursday night. As I was watching the movie, I didn’t know how to feel. In fact, now that the movie is no longer playing on my screen, there is a massive part of me that still doesn’t know how to feel. But for the sake of not spoiling anything, I cannot go into everything that happened.

This movie is not exactly what I would call a guilty pleasure. Who knows? Maybe it will become one overtime depending on how much attention it picks up in terms of our cultural trends. Maybe the “The Simpsons” could make an episode based on it that would make people go back and watch the movie. I don’t know, I can’t tell the future. But this movie has a collection of decent sequences and scenes, some interesting characters, and cool ideas (some of which MIGHT be better remaining on paper), but it occasionally gets bogged down by one or two heavy plot points. In fact, without spoiling anything, there’s something that really ticked me off about the mother, and it honestly made her one of my most hated characters, probably in movie history. Don’t get me wrong, she’s cast pretty well, and she definitely fits the role’s requirements, but the way she’s written was pretty anger-inducing. Part of me wonders if that’s the intention, but regardless of whether this intentional or not, I still got a bit irritated, which is not good. Without giving away my final verdict just yet, but there were a couple of fluctuations of said verdict. It’s kind of like ordering the same meal at a fast food restaurant repeatedly. Chances are you are not going to be completely satisfied as you may have been at a certain time because it doesn’t always come out the same way.

But one of the biggest perks I can give towards this film may as well go towards the acting, because if one were to pitch to me an idea of a movie with a ton of kids in the cast, I’d probably hesitate on getting it greenlit because there’s that stereotype of child actors being difficult to work with. So I not only have to give props to the kid cast but also the work that director Joe Cornish had to take on. There were barely any moments that any of these child actors felt out of characters except for one. There is one kid who goes by the name of Lance (Tom Taylor) who starts out the movie as a bully, then he befriends the main character, which felt a tad rushed for him, but that’s not why he felt out of character for me. That befriending moment was sort of convenient but it was not my main problem. My main problem kind of occurs during the midway point of the movie.

One of my minor problems in this movie as well has to do with chemistry. The chemistry manages to improve by a tad as soon as the movie comes to a close. But the main problem with the chemistry between our four leads manages to carry through from the first act and extends for a good portion of the movie. The characters almost feel like they’re randomly placed together. Granted, one advantage is that the four leads originally were in duos, and these duos cross over. So these characters, as duos, have chemistry, which to me, works. And this was all previously established before the movie’s main course began.

Another minor problem of mine is that this reminded me a lot of another movie that was trying to go for a similar demographic last year, specifically “A Wrinkle In Time.” I say so because you see the main character at his school, trying to prevent something happening because to him, it’s what he thinks is right. And much like that movie, we eventually meet a weird being that can’t fit into normal, 21st century society. I will say however, unlike the mediocre combination of the odd trio in “A Wrinkle In Time,” this film did a better job with its solo being.

That weird being by the way is Merlin himself, who goes by two identities. Although, without diving into much detail, Merlin may have disguised himself well from the outside, but his fake name, which is exposed during the movie was ridiculous. Why? Because it sounds almost exactly the same as his original name. It would be like if I were trying make a fake ID or something and change my name to have my last name come before my first name! I might as well settle for some fake mustache I can buy at Walmart or something. I mean, I don’t know about Medieval Times as much as other people. However, I would probably assume that Merlin wasn’t the first definition people thought of that would relate to the word “idiot.” Then again, that is his only trace of idiocy throughout the entire film, so he could definitely be worse as a character. Plus another odd thing about this Merlin is that while he is often stereotyped as an old man (which is where Patrick Stewart comes in), he is represented as a young man who looks like he often jams out to rock music (which is where Angus Imrie comes in). The reason? He mentions he can age backwards. I have a question. Can he turn into a baby? I honestly don’t want to see him turn into a baby, but that is a question I continue to have.

As for how this movie concludes, I will admit that this film feels like it goes on for a bit too long. It could have ended at a certain point, but it almost feels like because this movie “needed some big climax,” it just had to continue. Granted, the climax was pretty cool at times, but it almost feels forced or tacked on. And it does partially involve a couple major plot points exposed throughout the film, but I didn’t care about some of those plot points so why should I fully care that we’re getting a flashy climax? In fact, without it, the movie probably could have made its budget back. They would have spent less on it and theaters could have added more showtimes. Although at the same time the movie could end up feeling rushed, so who knows?

In the end, I almost feel confused on my ultimate thoughts towards “The Kid Who Would Be King.” It’s not horrible, yet I am pointing out a lot of flaws. It’s not great, but I am willing to say there are many positives brought to the table. There were even a couple of shots I really liked in this movie. There’s a landscape shot that shows our main characters walking through a field, it’s eye candy on my 4K TV if you ask me. There are a few creative ideas brought to the table, especially with a movie like this that kind of has a predictable formula. But there are some parts of the movie that truly got me angry. Even with that, it’s met with fun action, a likable duo between the main character of Alex and Bedders. Although if I were to have kids one day and sit them down for a family movie night, this would not be my first choice. I’m going to give “The Kid Who Would Be King” a 6/10. Honestly, this movie could also be a 5/10, but I’m not going to give it that. Because this film still manages to be fun while making me slightly irritated. That’s just me. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have my thoughts on “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Be sure to look forward to that review very soon. But I will point out something to you all. You may or may not know this, this is my 299th standing post. My next entry to Scene Before is going to be a special 300th post giving you guys an update on my Blu-ray collection! I’ll posting that as soon as possible so look forward to it! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Kid Who Would Be King?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie involving Medieval Times? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018): The Emoji Movie For Intellectuals

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“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is directed by Phil Johnston (Zootopia, The Brothers Grimsby) and Rich Moore (The Simpsons, Futurama) and stars John C. Reilly (Guardians of the Galaxy, Kong: Skull Island), Sarah Silverman (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Bob’s Burgers), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Keeping Up with the Joneses), Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night, Glee), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark), and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Finding Dory). This movie is the sequel to Disney’s 2012 animated hit “Wreck-It Ralph.” On this second go around, in a situation which involves saving Vanellope’s game, “Sugar Rush,” Ralph and Vanellope decide to go on an adventure to the Internet. Throughout the journey we experience some mishaps, attempts at humor, and unfortunately, product placement. But you know, it could be worse, it could be “The Emoji Movie.” We’ll get to that eventually.

Going into “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” I didn’t have truly high expectations from the marketing. As a matter of fact, part of me thought the marketing just plain sucked. The first teaser trailer left me feeling icky. Then again it might really be due to how much I can’t stand the Flo Rida song “Good Feeling.” But who knows? Maybe the next trailer could have kicked total ass, but let me just say that it really did the opposite. Instead, the trailer made me hand my own ass right over to it. To me, once I saw the “Oh My Disney” portion of the trailer, it just really felt like a massive commercial for all the Disney properties. Disney! Disney propaganda! Bring the kids! Go to Disney World! Buy all of our stuff at the Disney store! Pretty soon, after we finish dismantling Fox, we’re gonna buy Lionsgate so that way we can own “The Hunger Games” and have Jennifer Lawrence be stuck as Katniss Everdeen til the day she dies! Oh yeah, we’re gonna reboot “Twilight” too even though everyone knows it’s a complete and total waste of time. But hey! Teen girls! Get em’ in the theater! Money! Money! Money! Money! Money! The last trailer however ended up giving me what I wanted. While the trailer is not like anything I’ve seen for say, “Ready Player One,” it definitely provided what could have been some solid ingredients for a proper “Wreck-It Ralph” installment.

Walking out of the movie, I gotta say, I’m shocked. This movie’s actually pretty great! There’s only one other movie this year that I’ve reacted similarly to, and that’s “Blockers.” It’s a movie with a less than stellar marketing campaign, a movie that a part of me thought was going to suck, and just something had I not been reviewing movies, I’d be more hesitant towards when it comes to spending my money at the cinema. It just so turns out that “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a solid sequel, continuing the journeys of the characters many viewers knew and loved since the first installment, delivering a story that is just about as enjoyable as its predecessor. And in reality, it is a better version of “The Emoji Movie.”

For those of you who have watched “The Emoji Movie” or know what it is, you’d be aware that it takes place inside a cell phone, where all of the Emojis live. They live in a town called Textopolis and their life is basically being processed and sent through texts. Here in “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” we start off in the same little arcade people know from the first movie, where all of the video game characters live in harmony. As viewers probably know, their daily lives involve being the very characters they were designed to be. Ralph is the continuous building wrecker, Felix is the neverending building fixer, Vanellope is the nonstop racer, and Pac-Man… eats dots. Because that’s what yellow circles do apparently. Then boom! A little bit of chaos goes down, Vanellope’s game, “Sugar Rush,” has to be unplugged because the wheel breaks down. However, Ralph is Vanellope’s best friend, and we all know, best friends are supposed to be there for each other. So Ralph decides it would be a good idea to take a journey alongside Vanellope into the Internet to save her game. The world of the Internet in this movie almost reminds me of the space resort in Wall-E, everything just feels so sleek and it’s all very populated. It’s like a city that receives no pollution. You know, unless you look hard enough. The chemistry between Ralph and Vanellope truly shines in “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and you can definitely tell they are best friends. This movie even tries to show the power of friendship and how unbreakable of a bond one can have with another person and I’d say the execution of that message is incredibly well done.

Moving away from our leads, let’s talk about one standout new character named Shank. She’s voiced by Gal Gadot and happens to be a street racer in a popular computer game. There’s this one game Ralph and Vanellope come across by the name of “Slaughter Race,” that’s where they meet this character. Seeing her and the gang who she happens to know turned out to be a bigger highlight in this film. Also, when they first meet her, there’s actually a very entertaining chase scene. Look out for it.

Speaking of new, let’s talk about something very old. Disney. I mentioned earlier that one of the trailers to “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was off-putting to me because it has an overload of Disney references. It just felt like a cheap way of pointing out how amazing Disney is. In reality, I think Disney’s kind of overrated. Sure, they own a lot of things I like, but there’s going to be a point where they ruin everything I love. They already partially ruined “Star Wars” for me so there is that. This all starts out somewhat commercialized, but some of it is well executed, and partially realisitc. There is a point where we cut to someone in a comic con panel-like setting. And they ask this question that is the stereotypical version of a deep question that a comic book nerd would ask. That’s all the detail I’ll give related to that, because there’s something else that’s pretty cool in relation to what I just said, but that was a definite highlight.

Another highlight when it comes to this is the scene where we see all the Disney princesses together. I thought at first that this was going to be completely cringeworthy. It was actually brilliant. You know how certain shows on Fox actually make fun of their own network and others associated with it?

THE SIMPSONS
FOX NEWS HOST: “Welcome to Fox News– your voice for evil.” (The Simpsons)

AMERICAN DAD!
ROGER: “Sure, we don’t report the news, we make it. Accuracy is so time-consuming. Fiction is the new fact.”

FAMILY GUY
LOIS: Where’d you hear that?
CHRIS: Fox News.
LOIS: Then it’s a lie. Everything Fox News says is a lie.
CHRIS: But this one’s true mom, you saw it with your own eyes and then you reported it.
LOIS: Even true things, once said on Fox News, become lies.

FUTURAMA
TOUR GUIDE LADY: “To your right, you’ll see 30th Century Fox studios. Fox uses those search lights to blind pilots, then film the resulting plane crashes.”
*SEARCHLIGHT SPOTS PLANE, EVENTUALLY ALLOWING IT TO CRASH
BENDER: *snaps photo* Neat!

Yeah, this is basically the Disney princess scene in a nutshell. Or should I say part of it, because that’s the part that’s going for humor. The other part is a bit more serious and plays a part in Vanellope’s overall arch in the movie. I don’t want to get too much into it, but this movie manages to poke fun at the princesses for their constant need to sing, their desire for men as if the concept of lusting after a guy is their only path in life, and they even throw a little jab at Pixar. If you have ever seen the movie “Brave” you’d know that the main character is Merida (Kelly MacDonald). All of the other princesses have a voice that pretty much anyone (at least any English-speaking individual in the US) can understand. But “Brave” takes place in Scotland and I remember awhile back I was talking to my grandmother or someone else and they said that Scottish people are difficult to understand. This is what I imagine would be a perfect stereotype from perhaps my grandmother’s vision towards the Scottish. OK, whatever, maybe Merida actually said something in Gaelic (according to IMDb), but still, it’s hard to comprehend regardless of whatever standard we are talking about. As a joke, one of the princesses reminds us as an audience, “she’s from the other studio.”

I said we’ll get to the product placement, so you know what? Let’s go nuts. It’s not as blatant or annoying as “The Emoji Movie,” but it’s still a thing. There’s a whole segment that takes place in eBay which is actually very entertaining. In fact, I won’t go into complete detail, but if there is one company, aside from Disney, that this movie is a feature-length commercial for, it’s eBay. There’s a whole segment where we see Ralph and Vanellope bidding against a user in the real world, but they don’t know how eBay works. They think the objective is to bid high numbers and leave it at that. They don’t understand that in reality, you have to bid high, but you also have to be cautious of how high you go and occasionally ask yourself, “how high is too high?”. There’s also this one character called The Eboy, who to mt surprise was played by Sean Giambrone. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s the lead kid in ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” one of my favorite sitcoms on TV right now. Essentially, without spoiling the movie, it is a big fat commercial for eBay. Thankfully, it’s done brilliantly, and not many other brands are coming in to make me have a headache. There are some notable instances here and there from companies such as Amazon, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

One surprise, considering YouTube, is the fact that it is not even in this movie. Think about it, Google, which owns YouTube, is getting a slice of the promotional cake, but YouTube is getting nothing but an attempt at humor. There is however a part of the movie that involves a fake video sharing site called Buzzztube. It is run by a girl named Yesss, played by Taraji P. Henson. The segment where we go through this happens to parody YouTube by saying things like “trends don’t last,” and “if you want to be popular, repeat whatever is popular.” Hey, Disney, that sounds familiar! To me, that’s one of those things that’s simply funny because it is true.

I don’t want to talk about too much more, because if I do, I’ll spoil some stuff that should be kept as secret. But there’s one thing about this movie that kind of surprised me. There are TWO end credit scenes. I guess having a random appearance from Marvel’s characters can technically make you qualify as a “Marvel movie.” Coincidentally, Stan Lee has a cameo in this film. RIP by the way.

In the end, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was a pretty fun time. It has its flaws, but they are extremely minor and don’t leave the positives in the dust. And, by the way, I’m a guy, I like adrenaline rush type of movies like “Point Break” or “Baby Driver,” but I will admit, there was a point or two in this film, where I almost felt like tearing up. I won’t get specific, but it’s true. Is this film BETTER than the original? I honestly don’t know. I said in the beginning that this is a solid sequel to a lovely original film, but to be honest, I have not watched the original “Wreck-It Ralph” from start to finish since 2013 so I don’t even know if I can give a completely valid opinion at this point. However, much like the first movie at this point, I’m going to give “Ralph Breaks the Internet” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that it is December, and my head is spinning. I have tons of plans for the month after this and 2019 as a whole. But before we get to that, since I have my countdowns for my best and worst films of the year coming up, there will be some movies I will be watching which have been released this year that might not end up being reviewed. Who knows? Maybe that’s a lie. But I’ve done this for the past couple of years so it is kind of my tradition now. Plus, December’s a big month for me in terms of reviewing blockbusters and Oscar-bait titles. I need to focus on those, because, ya know, priorities. Be sure to follow Scene Before using your email or WordPress account that way you can stay tuned for more great content that unfortunately, breaks the internet less than an irrelevant woman’s sex tape. I want to know, did you see “Ralph Breaks the Internet?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your preferred choice between the “Wreck-It Ralph” movies? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Grinch (2018): Two Sizes Too Small In Quality

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“The Grinch” is directed by Yarrow Cheney (The Secret Life of Pets) and Scott Mosier (Clerks). This movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock) as the title character who hates Christmas and everything associated with the holiday. There have been multiple on-screen adaptations of Dr. Seuss’ children’s book, and now Illumination (Despicable Me, Sing) has attempted to create their own version of the famous story.

One strange thing about my life is how I have no memory of seeing the Jim Carrey adaptation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”, despite how it released a year after I was born. However, I do recall watching the rather well known animated edition which took the drawing style of Seuss himself. That version was short, sweet, and very much got the point across. The Grinch is a dick and shall never be tolerated. In this new, slightly more lighthearted adaptation of the popular children’s story, The Grinch is a bit more relatable than his 1966 on-screen counterpart voiced by Boris Karloff. And to be honest, when it comes to tone, that’s where this movie sometimes fails. I know it’s a kids movie and kids movies are supposed to be less frightening than some made for adults, but I really wanted a darker tone here. I will say though, some of the music in this film, created by Danny Elfman (Spider-Man, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) actually matches that dark tone I want from a movie like this.

However, with 2018’s “The Grinch,” we get less of an emphasis of The Grinch as a monster and make him more like Squidward Tentacles from “Spongebob Squarepants.” He despises life, he lives without wanting company, and much like Squidward, hates Christmas. There’s some parts of this new Grinch that totally work. For example, Benedict Cumberbatch seems to make the Grinch his own character. If anybody can pull off The Grinch from a voice perspective, it might as well be Cumberbatch. After all, he did give one of my all time favorite voiceover performances as Smaug in “The Hobbit.” Cumberbatch comes off as depressed yet sinister, which I can tell is what the crew behind “The Grinch” was going for. Although despite mastering this Grinch, I gotta say that it didn’t equate to a quality movie. I know the formula for family movies nowadays is to inject as many silly gags as possible while still maintaining a lesson for children, and the movie does succeed at both things. However when it comes to the silly gags, some of these just felt off-putting, awkward, or just forgettable. I remember explicitly putting my hand on my head in disdain during certain parts of the film. I don’t recall which parts, but that brings two negatives to the table. Maybe a positive because now I don’t have to recall what moments made me dissatisfied. There’s this one moment during the first half of the film where The Grinch is in preparation mode, his dog notices him, and we get a shot with The Grinch’s butt going directly in our face. Keep in mind, I saw “The Grinch” in IMAX. The screen was eight stories high. So I got to see eight stories of The Grinch’s ass right in my face (including black bars, which reduces the size a ton in all technicality)! At least it wasn’t in 3D, that would be worse!

One side of the story that I honestly cannot stand involves a family in Whoville. This family has a heavy involvement with the film’s plot and even triggers in a couple of other Whos. The main thing I want to bring up is the relationship between a mother (Donna Who) and a daughter (Cindy-Loo Who). Both actresses behind these roles (Rashida Jones and Cameron Seely) did a fine job with their performances. My problem doesn’t involve their acting abilities. The big problem however is their chemistry. I know this is a kids movie. I know kids are a target audience. But keep in mind, adults are watching these films too. Who do you think happens to be taking the kids to these movies? As a technical adult at 19 years of age, I honestly felt like some of my intelligence was insulted. I can suspend my disbelief during movies. I enjoy the “Fast & Furious” franchise, and there’s a lot of other animations that wouldn’t work in the real world which I happen to admire. There are some things however, regardless of whether they are written to be animated or put into live-action, in this very movie, that I thought were an insult as soon as I saw them. The chemistry between the mother and daughter is one of those things. The mother came off as this individual who seems to know she has a daughter, but it’s like she’s viewing her as someone she doesn’t even need to protect. Keep in mind, based on her IMDb profile, I can definitely tell Cameron Seely, the voice of Cindy-Loo, is younger than me. Wouldn’t the mother be a little more worried about some of the things she does? That’s not the only suspension of disbelief I couldn’t achieve, I also couldn’t buy into the fact that one character in particular, without giving a name away, was able to find The Grinch’s house without really knowing a thing about him or where he lives. And if you think about it, it’s somewhat easy to find, but still, my complaint stands. Maybe I missed something earlier on in the movie, but when you’re in an auditorium with somebody who literally had their tablet on for pretty much the entire first half of the film, you can get distracted at times. And yes, I said TABLET. NOT A PHONE! A TABLET! And even worse, there was lots of time wasted when the kid using the device and not even doing a thing on it! It was just on the home screen! If it were being used as a closed captioning device then that’s a different story (not sure how the technology works entirely).

Let’s also talk about Kenan Thompson (Snakes On a Plane, Saturday Night Live) in this film.

What the f*ck?

His character might be the biggest stereotype for a black person I’ve seen in a film since Patty from the “Ghostbusters” remake. My f*cking gosh, I HATED this guy! One of the worst casting decisions I’ve seen in my entire life. Kenan Thompson is not a bad actor, I’ve seen him do some fine roles on “SNL.” He’s especially fantastic as Steve Harvey on all of the show’s “Family Feud” parodies. But I feel like the biggest problem with this role is that I could especially tell that Kenan Thompson’s voice is involved. Thompson has such a recognizable voice in my mind that out of every voice given in the movie, his was the most obvious. I knew Benedict Cumberbatch was playing The Grinch before going to see the movie, but had I not seen any stories or marketing related to this film, I could potentially think to myself, “Wait, that was Benedict Cumberbatch?” Kenan Thompson to my knowledge cannot alter his voice enough to make me think he’s playing someone other than himself. Part of me is willing to bet the people casting everyone into the movie wanted to cast Kenan Thompson just to say they’ve put a black guy in the film. And that is sad, because while it does bring diversity to the table, his performance just blows! The narrator for this film is black as well (Pharrell Williams). As a narrator, I felt like his voice didn’t work entirely, but it could have been worse. You know, it could have been Kenan Thompson. I’m guessing Morgan Freeman wasn’t available to narrate this bitch?

I’ll give some credit to the movie though on a few positives before I give my final verdict. This film is very well animated. It comes off as polished and some of the images from the film are some of the better ones I’ve witnessed from Illumination. Some of the voice acting worked, except for of course, Kenan Thompson. And this movie is short enough to avoid inducing a feeling of a snail’s pace. After all, it is only an hour and a half, which can be a good thing because of what I just mentioned, but to me it also makes this movie feel like even more of a cash grab than it already is. I don’t feel like I’m going to remember this “Grinch” adaptation all that much, and maybe it will be played a lot around Christmastime in years to come. Heck, “Christmas with the Kranks” is going to be on FX during the 24th of this month and the reviews of that movie certainly weren’t praising it. Anything’s possible.

In the end, “The Grinch” is certainly a mean one, and it made me feel like a Scrooge. If this movie does one thing well, it’s making The Grinch’s character relatable. Sure, he hates his life sometimes even though life for him is the complete opposite of pain and suffering. Yes, he might be out of shape. But thanks to this movie, it made me hate Christmas a little bit more than I once did! Because now we have another bad Christmas movie! Kids who watch “The Grinch” might enjoy it, but the film might end up making them dumber without said kids even realizing such a thing. Aside from some neat animation and decent voicework, there’s nothing that stands out or appears to be excellent regarding “The Grinch.” Parents, if your kids drag you this movie, do them a favor and put coal in their stocking on Christmas morning. Please? Also, tell them Santa isn’t real. I’m going to give “The Grinch” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Tomorrow night I’m going to see “Second Act,” which comes out on December 21st, a little over a month from the time I’m finishing this post. I got passes for an early screening of the film, so therefore I’m gonna see “Second Act” a month early. My review will most likely be up sometime around December. Also, while I don’t really know my plans for the rest of the week or this upcoming weekend, I do have aspirations to see the new Julius Avery film “Overlord.” I heard “Overlord” flopped this weekend, so this might affect me even being able seeing it in the theater, but if it’s still there this next weekend, I should hopefully have an opportunity to check it out. Plus, I’m too behind on “Harry Potter” to see the new “Fantastic Beasts” movie. Be sure to follow me on Scene Before either with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Grinch?” What did you think about it? Or, which on-screen adaptation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is your personal favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018): I Believe in Magic 8-Balls

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“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is directed Eli Roth (Death Wish, Cabin Fever) and stars Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda, Goosebumps), Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok, How to Train Your Dragon 2), and Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home, Mother’s Day) as a young orphan named Lewis meets up with his charismatic uncle Jonathan. This uncle happens to be a warlock who lives with an elderly witch by the name of Florence Zimmerman. Together, they are all living in the same house that is said to be haunted. Throughout the movie, Jonathan is trying to get rid of a clock through magic in order to preserve the world.

“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is one of those films I just didn’t know much about before going to see it. I remember seeing one trailer for it in the movie theater. And in all honesty, the first time I even heard about this was when the film was doing advance screenings. Then again, I live 30 minutes from Boston and Eli Roth, the director behind this film, actually was born around the area. So I don’t know what other areas happened to be doing regarding this film, but I remember getting some alerts for screenings going back as far late August. Although I must say, the screenings were far ahead of when I was alerted of them. The screenings actually happened to be on the week when the movie actually released. Guess Universal didn’t have too much faith in this film. Most of the marketing I saw came towards the time before the movie went into theaters.

I have to say though, despite some apprehension with the marketing, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fun time! I’d say it’s a decent flick for kids and adults alike. It doesn’t treat people like idiots (for the most part, because it is apparent these days that you can’t have a kids movie without poop jokes). The biggest praises I can give to this movie is the lovable chemistry between the characters. Some highlights include Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, who play off each other calling each other rude names. The gag increasingly dies down as the movie goes on, which is kind of unfortunate considering once I first witnessed this, it was one of the best parts of the movie.

As far as the kid goes in this movie, his name is Owen Vaccaro. I wouldn’t go ahead and call Vaccaro the next great child actor, who is gonna go onto win Oscars one day. I mean, he could, but his name probably wouldn’t be as prominent. It’s not like I’m witnessing another Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) or Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone, My Girl). However, Vaccaro’s performance serves both the character and the movie very well. His character, known by the name of Lewis Barnavalt, is pretty much a wiz. He reminds me of a more humanized version of Mindy Kaling’s character from “A Wrinkle in Time.” I’m not saying he often quotes other people, particularly those who happen to be famous and have perhaps above average intelligence, but he does seem to have some abnormalities to him. He often looks in a dictionary, and I mean that in a way that technically qualifies as a hobby. In fact, what makes this kid weird, is kind of what this movie tries to teach people. It’s similar to other lessons that may have been provided in children’s films before, but it doesn’t mean the film fails on trying to emphasize such a lesson.

While the kid may be weird, the character played by Jack Black is just plain crazy. He almost reminds me of a mad scientist in some ways because he doesn’t seem to believe in the concept of sleep. So in a way, I guess you can say I can relate to this character. The character’s name is Jonathan Barnavalt and he is a warlock. Jack Black is probably my favorite character in the movie, and perhaps the one that kids might want to emulate the most. For one thing, his house has one rule (don’t open a particular cabinet), but other than that, there are literally no rules. He’s enthusiastic, hyperactive, and it adds up to make him rather charming.

As for Cate Blanchett, her character goes by the name of Florence Zimmerman. Out of everyone in the movie, she wasn’t my favorite character. She was pretty close, but Jack Black takes the cake. But the thing is, I literally had no idea I was even witnessing Cate Blanchett in this movie. So out of everyone in the movie, I’d say this character was the most well performed. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really know Cate Blanchett was going to be in this film and I knew Jack Black was. Plus the film reminded me of “Goosebumps,” which also had Jack Black as a character with some similarities to his character in this movie. I’ve seen Cate Blanchett in some films before like “Lord of the Rings,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” I’m somewhat surprised that I wasn’t really able to discern Cate Blanchett because to me she seems to have one of those voices you can easily pick out. But you also have to consider how Cate Blanchett looks in this movie compared to how she does off screen. Even so, I feel like Cate Blanchett embodied this character well and it just goes to show one actor can truly slip over your head sometimes. I am not saying Cate Blanchett’s performance is gonna get her an Oscar nomination, maybe at best she’ll be recognized for a Saturn Award, but I’m not sure.

But in all reality, what makes this film so interesting to me is the vibe and the spirit of the film itself. This film is in the fantasy genre, and it’s particularly aimed at families. I will have you know that when I was actually at the theater to watch this movie, I was the only customer in attendance. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” manages to balance humor, story, and character development very effectively. In fact, in some ways, I guess you can also say this is a horror movie as well. One reviewer on YouTube by the name of Chris Stuckmann actually went to see this movie, and somebody told him that children walked out of the theater early because they were scared. When I saw his review, it reminded me of how I studied something scary from a childhood show I watched. I’m not sure what it was, but it was probably from a show on PBS or something. I could understand why some children would walk out. Comparing this film to “Goosebumps” once more, there are some light scares that almost seem like scares that fall into the “playing safe” category, but then there’s one scene that stood out to me as I watched it and almost reminded me of what I “must” have witnessed as a kid. If you like horror, I wouldn’t say to go out of your way and watch this movie. This isn’t like you’re watching “A Quiet Place” or something. But if you want to have fun and escape reality, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is for you.

In the end, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fine fantasy film that probably won’t be remembered throughout time, but it is certainly good for a watch. It’s intriguing, occasionally suspenseful, funny, and perhaps the most effective commercial for the Magic 8-Ball that I’ve seen since maybe “Angels in the Outfield.” Would I buy the movie on Blu-ray? Probably not. If it were used and available for a decent price maybe I’d put my hands on it. However I am proud to say that my recent viewing of this film was not a waste of time. I’m gonna give “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review. Be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Apollo 13,” which will be up on October 11th (hopefully). This will be my last space movie review before I make the trek to see “First Man,” so be sure to check that out. Also, be sure to check out my eventual reviews for “Venom” and “A Star Is Born.” One more thing, I just got back from New York Comic Con, and I’ve got a bit to talk about regarding that, so look forward to my review on that sometime soon! Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The House with a Clock in Its Walls?” What did you think about it? Or, given how this film is directed by Eli Roth, what is your favorite film Eli Roth was involved in? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!