Top 10 WORST Movies of 2021

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Some of you may have finished reading my top 10 BEST movies of 2021, feel free to check that out if you have not already, but I am now here to present the exact opposite! The top 10 WORST movies of 2021! 2021 was admittedly a better year for movies than 2020 was. I mean, more movies actually came out, so… But it doesn’t mean there wasn’t crap! Now, I will say I have not seen all the crap that has come out this year. If you have seen a certain movie this year that is not on the list, who knows? Maybe it’s so bad I forgot about it. Or maybe I just didn’t see it. I didn’t see either of the sequels that came out this year to “The Boss Baby” or “Peter Rabbit,” so I sat pretty when it came to those. Granted I have not seen the originals either. With that being said, these are my ten picks, they’re all subjective. There is not really much of a grand scale as to how these movies made the list. They’re just on the list because I did not like them. Well, mostly… Maybe you did like these movies. More power to you if that’s the case. Also, I should state this, the films have to be theatrically released and this does include any day and date film like those released simultaneously on HBO Max for instance. Those do count. If they’re exclusively on streaming, I’m not including it. That’s technically television. Before I dive into my top 10, I am going to list three dishonorable mentions.

Dishonorable mention: The King’s Man

Kicking off the dishonorable mentions we have “The King’s Man!” This is a really disappointing movie to see on this list because I love the “Kingsman” franchise. I enjoyed both “The Secret Service” and “The Golden Circle,” so to see this prequel here kind of hurts. I mean, there are a couple fun action sequences, but it isn’t enough to make a good movie. I’ve only seen this a couple weeks ago and I have already forgotten a good number of the characters. Not the best of signs. Rhys Ifans was GREAT as Rasputin though, I’ll give the movie that.

Dishonorable mention: Reminiscence

The next dishonorable mention is “Reminiscence.” I feel like part of the reason why this movie saw an actual release date, aside from the cast involved, is because the director, Lisa Joy is married to Jonathan Nolan, who probably has, or perhaps at this point, had, alongside his brother Christopher Nolan, a great relationship with Warner Brothers. The concept of this film is intriguing, but this ended up being an amazing original concept that became one of my most easily forgotten films of the year.

Dishonorable mention: Space Jam: A New Legacy

Last, and certainly least for the dishonorable mentions, is “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Why did we need this movie? The first one completely and totally sucked on every level! The one pro I will give this film is that some of the visual effects do look dazzling and Don Cheadle’s portrayal of Al-G Rhythm was honestly quite entertaining, but that’s were the positives end. As for the rest of the film, it’s basically a combination of cheap jokes, forced nostalgia, while also being a giant commercial for the Warner Brothers brand. If you want a Warner Brothers commercial that’s ten times better than this, go watch “The LEGO Movie,” skip “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”

Now let’s start off the list! Things could be a lot worse for these films, they could have come out in 2020. These are my top 10 WORST movies of 2021.

#10. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

#10 is “Snake Eyes!” I have admittedly never watched anything related to the “G.I. Joe” franchise, but I thought I’d give this film a shot. Turns out, this film gave me a shot. …In between the eyes. You know people go to film school to learn how to make movies? Well, if it were opposite day and they had a class that taught people how not to make an action movie, this would be a proper example. Shaky cam came, shaky cam saw, but I thought filmmakers came to realize that it wouldn’t conquer. Apparently shaky cam is still a thing in the realm of “Snake Eyes.” Not only is there a ton of it during the action sequences, but even when someone is just walking in a room! There’s a scene where Samara Weaving’s character is just walking, she’s all business, and the camera’s basically simulating an earthquake! I wasn’t looking for anything on the level of “The Shawshank Redemption,” I just wanted to have fun seeing people kick ass. When I couldn’t even get that, that’s a problem.

#9. Malignant

Coming in at #9 is “Malignant.” As I’ve said on this blog before, horror movies are not my goto genre. But I did have some desire to check out “Malignant.” It looked rather compelling through whatever marketing I saw. Turns out it was the exact opposite! If anything it looks like a modern horror film that tries to take itself a bit seriously, but it ends up going full camp at certain points with dialogue that you could have gotten away with only if it were uttered in the 1980s. If I knew that’s what they were going for, okay. But it just didn’t work. The film is directed by James Wan, who has been known amongst modern horror fans for films like “The Conjuring.” That’s a film I’d rather watch on a Friday night over this piece of crap! At times, the film feels like it takes itself seriously, then the next moment it feels like I’m watching a Lifetime original with a monster in it. I’m excited to see what James Wan does with the next “Aquaman” movie, but this original was a bit of a misstep for him.

#8. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Ryan Reynolds is just the best! “Free Guy” is one of my favorite movies of the year! I’ve seen it twice! Wait, this is the worst list? Sorry, wrong script. Ryan Reynolds? What are you doing, man? “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” was a complete waste of time! I remember watching the original film, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a few months after it came out and I had fun with it. It was not my favorite action film of the year, I thought “John Wick: Chapter 2” was better for instance, but I enjoyed myself. And that film made a lot of money, and like all pleasantly fine things that make money, of course they make a sequel. Just wish they made one that felt like it had more time and passion into it. This film has an ADHD-esque story and nearly unmemorable action. The only action scene I clearly recall is one towards the beginning when Ryan Reynolds is trying to relax and next thing we know he ends up on a bike with Salma Hayek. I’ll give credit to the performers. Despite the lazy writing, they played their characters to perfection, even if they felt like they were somewhat playing themselves. But seriously, if you want a good Ryan Reynolds flick to watch, check out “Free Guy.” Skip “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” if you can. 

#7. Dear Evan Hansen

I’ve never been a Broadway guy, but I had some interest in “Dear Evan Hansen” before it came out because the trailers looked good. Then I saw the movie and realized, what a waste of time. I don’t care that they got a guy in his 20s to play the lead role of a teenager, that’s been done before, but what I do care about is that they get a guy, regardless of age, who looks LIKE a teenager. I went through this entire film looking at the lead actor, Ben Platt, and thinking I was looking at Jerry Seinfeld. All he needed was a puffy shirt and he’d be a perfect ripoff. “But I don’t wanna read the emails!” With that aside, unlike some other musicals that came out this year, like “In the Heights,” which I wasn’t a HUGE fan of, and “West Side Story,” which I was a huge fan of, the numbers in this film were mostly unmemorable and for what I noticed, they did not even have that grand scale that I’m used to seeing in musicals. It felt very small, and it was not presented in a positive way. Now the message of the film could be interesting, but I spent much of the film rooting against the main hero because of how said message is utilized. I don’t know, I just did not always relate to him. And I will admit that like him, I’m somewhat awkward in social situations, but the execution here left me uneasy. If you want a decent musical to watch this year, go watch “West Side Story.”

#6. F9: The Fast Saga

Do me a favor, please. Starting from one, count to nine. I’m sure in that one attempt of summing up numbers, it will contain more logic and sanity than even a fraction of a second in “F9: The Fast Saga!” “F9: The Fast Saga” was a humungous disappointment. Not only is it another letdown in this ongoing franchise, which for me personally has only happened with “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Tokyo Drift,” but this letdown hurts because of how much anticipation I had behind it. Have any of you ever seen that Lifetime original film “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever?” Yeah, I wish I could forget it too. Much like that straight of TV piece of crap, “F9” spends more time than it needs to making fun of itself and trying to make the collective Internet roll on the floor! Hey, look! We’re invincible! Just another Tuesday for Dom Toretto and the family! LET’S GO TO SPACE BITCHES! Oh my god! Watching the space scene was honestly embarrassing. Space is special. You guys just ruined it for me. I no longer want to be an astronaut because of this movie. Well, that, and maybe rich people. 2021 is such a weird year. The first half is spent seeing the Fast family go to space and now all these rich people get to send their buddies up to space. I like the “Fast & Furious” franchise. In fact, I wanted to see this movie to a certain degree that I bought tickets for it in advance IN 2020! Of course, when the film rescheduled about a year later, I had to refund those tickets, but goddamnit, if I did not get to see this film opening night, I would have felt like an idiot. Well, this idiot suffered through an IMAX experience through Hell.

#5. Tom & Jerry

Some people hate cats. Some people hate mice. Some people hate… People. If you hate all these concepts, then I should warn you that “Tom & Jerry” will make you hate them even more! “Tom & Jerry” was never something I watched as a kid. The only reason why I went to see this movie is because I had a friend, who told me I’d “like” the movie, and he wanted me to go. Boy was he wrong. And I expected that going in, because the trailer did not look promising. This looked like a lot of those other cartoons that kind of got that live-actionish treatment like “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “The Smurfs.” And just like the latter, this whole thing’s set in New York where the focus is not on Tom & Jerry, the two characters whose names are in the freaking title. No! It’s instead about some scumbag named Kayla who thinks it’s okay to lie her way to getting a job at a hotel! What a great lesson for children! I did not know what to expect going into this film. I just wanted some okay action sequences. There may have been one or two moments that stood out, but it is surrounded by a lifeless plot, overacted performances, and some of the most cringeworthy scenes I have ever watched in a movie. Some people may defend this film saying it could entertain children. But I look at this film and I would not want my kid watching it. Kayla is a fraud who cheats her way to the top. “Die Hard” is a better movie for children to watch because that film at least enforces the notion that terrorists are bad! “Tom & Jerry” is the perfect family film if you really, truly, hate your family.

#4. Zola

We live in an era where they’ll truly make a movie about anything. They’ve done LEGO, Emojis, Trolls. It feels like they’ve done it all. But wait! There’s tweetstorms! Not many people have done that! And after seeing “Zola,” I really hope that this is a trend that is either improved or kept to a minimum. I’ll give this film credit. The reason why it is not in a more negative spot is because there are a number of scenes that do look dazzling. There’s one moment in the first two minutes that really stands out. But it is also surrounded by all this footage that looks like it is something out of a poorly done YouTube vlog. A24 is one of my favorite studios, but evidence suggests that they have also done some of my least favorite films of the last decade like “Midsommar” and “The Witch.” “Zola” has officially joined those ranks. In my life, I often keep my ringer off on my cell phone because I’m often busy and I don’t want to get distracted. Depending on the situation, I’m one of those people who gets easily distracted. I think after hearing the Twitter notification sound every minute in this film, I think I want to keep that ringer off for the rest of my life. And I don’t know about you, Riley Keough’s performance in this film was occasionally nauseating to watch. She could be a decent actress, but the way she handled her character here, whether it was through her or the director’s eyes, felt almost offensive and obnoxious. To top it off, the movie seemed to have a number of attempts at humor, but I didn’t really find the film all that funny. Simply put, if there were a way to block movies in the same manner you can block accounts on social media, I would do it with this one.

#3. Red Notice

Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot. Put these three good-looking actors together, and it sounds like a recipe for pure entertainment. Right? WRONG! If you said, yes, I’m willing to bet you have never watched “Red Notice,” and frankly I think you shouldn’t. I mean, come on! This movie has three of the biggest movie stars working today and it wastes all of them! I mean, they do their best with the material that’s given to them, but “Red Notice” is one of the most disposable and forgettable action films of all time. The only real compliment I can give to the movie is that some of the locations are kinda pretty and Gal Gadot has some really sexy outfits. This film is the definition of style over substance. Overall the story is predictable, the script is all over the place, the attempts at humor did not land no matter how many times the writers tried, and at the end of the day, the people behind this film basically relied on name recognition to get people to watch it. That’s really disappointing. I can name a few movies I’ve seen with a phenomenal cast, but they barely do anything to make that cast pop! Movies like “The Circle,” “Aloha,” and “Lucy.” Yeah! Tom Hanks, Bradley Cooper, and Scarlett Johansson respectively can sell me at the door, but once I’m locked behind that door, all I see are empty promises. And may I add, this is the second film on this list starring Ryan Reynolds. What’s happening with you?! I liked you in “Free Guy!” Why are you resorting to this crap?!

#2. Cinderella

My next film on this list is “Cinderella.” My god, “Cinderella” was just awful. I knew it was gonna be bad from the beginning with the opening number. I think first impressions matter in film, and when the first number of a musical fails to impress me, that’s not really the sign of a memorable musical. “Cinderella” is directed by Kay Cannon, who wrote the “Pitch Perfect” films. I have not seen the sequels, but I cannot say the first is among my favorite comedies, although she has been attached to a few things I enjoy. Including the entertaining Fox show, “New Girl.” This film is a modern take on “Cinderella,” it kind of reminded me of the 1990s “Romeo + Juliet” film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which, you may punch me in the face for this, I wasn’t a huge fan of that film either. I say that because while these films are not the same, “Cinderella” takes a lot of elements that make the character iconic and remembered through the years and sprinkles them into a story with modernizations. Apparently there’s a drag feel to this film, there’s all these inside jokes to modern society, and it could add up to something unique, but it didn’t stick the landing. I like the idea of Cinderella having to live in a modern society where women are perhaps more independent, they can do more for themselves. And there’s even a whole thing about Cinderella being a dressmaker and if she marries someone in particular, that technically means she can forget about becoming a businesswoman, someone who can take her dressmaking and turn it into an opportunity to make some money. I like these ideas, they sound good in a pitch meeting. But they just didn’t translate well with what we got. Also, James Corden… My lord. Who’s your agent? You’re in this too?! I mean… This is a step up from “Superintelligence.” 

I just want to note something about “Cinderella.” I did not review this film. In fact, this is one of the few films that I saw in 2021 that I had no intention of reviewing because it was so late in the year when I watched it and it’s been out for months, but I did tweet my thoughts on the film because it stood out to me in such a negative way that I had to express my opinion. I could not let it sit in my head. After a few tweets, where I even mention the director Kay Cannon’s name, I did not tag her by the way, I just mentioned her, including her past film, not to mention her directorial debut, “Blockers,” which I ADORED. So much so it was one of my favorite comedies of the past few years. She responded with the following: 

“Sorry you didn’t like it. It’s a PG fairytale jukebox musical made for kids/families to enjoy. And millions upon millions of them did along with a bestselling soundtrack. Maybe rewatch Blockers to ease you from the torture you endured?” 

I mean, I’m a bit shocked she even chimed in because I figured she could look at these tweets, notice some idiot on the Internet, and move on. But I’m not here to judge anyone. In addition, I responded back saying… 

“I have respect for you, Kay. Glad to hear the movie’s successful. Glad other people can enjoy something. That’s the subjectivity of film. Looking forward to whatever you’re doing next.” 

First off, she’s right. “Cinderella” is not for me. I cannot think of myself belonging in a single demographic that I could fall under for the movie. Musicals are not always my thing. I was never attached to any of the other “Cinderella” stories like the ones that Disney did over the years, and of all the late-night hosts currently on network TV, I think James Corden is the one I’m least likely to watch. I was admittedly rather excited for “Cinderella” purely because of the filmmaker behind it. I mean, for me she’s had ups and downs, but she was hot off of “Blockers” and it made me more excited for her next project, whatever it was. I mean, it’s like getting excited for the next Quentin Tarantino film or the next Christopher Nolan film or the next Ari Aster film or the next Wes Anderson film. Sometimes I have to separate the content from the creator. The creator, I love her. I think Kay Cannon is talented and someone I want to keep an eye on in regard to upcoming projects. But I’ll also remember her as the woman who directed “Cinderella.” I did not choose this life. It chose me. Actually… I did choose to watch the movie, so maybe I did choose this life. Whatever.

#1. Music

The last couple years of doing these countdowns were interesting, yet sad, because the same director made the #1 film two years in a row. This year, that is thankfully not the case, but apparently this film is a feature-length debut. In a lot of cases, I could be disappointed in a feature-length debut, but nevertheless hopeful that the director behind that feature will go on to do great things. As for this feature, I think the director needs to keep her dayjob. My god, this movie was off the charts horrible! My #1 worst movie of 2021 is… “Music.” I mean, come on! What else could it be? I almost skipped this film this year because it barely had a theatrical release, but the film was nominated at 78th Golden Globes and had people talking, so by the end of the year, I had to dive into some untreaded waters. Having watched it, I can assume that I could write an entire double-spaced, Times Roman Numeral 12 point font essay on why this movie is not only bad enough as a project to begin with, but why it simply should have never been made. I watched this film for free on Prime Video, and even then, I felt robbed. “Music” is directed by Sia, an artist I have never really cared to follow, but after seeing this film, I don’t really care if she’s good at her dayjob, I don’t know if I want to support her. Some people in the film industry often object to the idea of doing a worst movies of the year list, and I can see why they would do that. Not everyone wants their movie bashed, or to see other movies get bashed. I get that. I can see why people advise others not to yuck on something people spent hours making. “Music,” however, is a movie I cannot use as a defense in this case. Not just because it is a bad movie that failed to entertain me. You want a bad movie that failed to entertain me? Look at “Life of the Party!” That film came out in 2018 and was my #1 worst movie then! I could at least see why people would enjoy that. It was never cruel or offensive, it was just a poorly made film that failed to appeal to me on any level. “Music” on the other hand is a completely DANGEROUS and ALARMING project.

The film centers around a girl who has to take care of her sister, who is on the autism spectrum, and given this sister’s abnormal behavior, it makes this situation all the more challenging. Maddie Ziegler plays the title character and yes, I have been around autistic people. I’m autistic myself, and yes, there are a few of us that do not often communicate with easy to understand words or sentences. That is a fact, I’m putting it out there. But the point is that when it comes to Maddie Ziegler as this character, she almost feels like she’s going over the top at certain points. She’s almost like a cartoon character. At times, her performance either felt cringe-inducing or even downright uncomfortable. And I don’t mean that last part in a compelling way. Apparently Sia and Maddie Ziegler have been good pals for years, so Sia felt it was natural to include Ziegler as the title character in this film. For the record, Ziegler does not have autism herself. And I think this movie would heavily enhanced if they stuck to getting someone on the spectrum to play the lead role. After all, they have experience, and it can help the film in terms of its overall credibility, which it evidently lacks. Apparently Sia TRIED doing this movie with someone on the spectrum, if that actually happened because it was also stated she wrote the character of Music with Maddie Ziegler in mind, but said actor was uncomfortable. So, instead of accommodating her, which some decent people would try to do, in fact they’ve done it with me throughout my life in school to a degree, they let her go. For all I know, maybe she or someone she knew genuinely had resistance to doing the role, but it does not change the fact that a good director would take into account someone’s disabilities and work around them. Or, if you let this person on the spectrum go, at least try finding another one! You know, there’s more than one autistic actor out there! And to be honest… I don’t think “Music” is a film where you get your best friend to tag along, just because… It’s weird. And it almost lacks decency. And apparently Ziegler herself had second thoughts about this role while filming as well! They should have just thrown in the towel to be honest! And also, this film is supposedly meant to show off that people on the autism spectrum are “different” but worthy of existing in this world just like everyone else. Honestly it didn’t feel that way. The only people I could see this movie relating to are the caregivers of those on the spectrum, but even then it’s dangerous, because said caregivers will get the wrong idea based on some of the things that happen in this film. I’m not saying make the character speak in complete sentences or anything, but the way they handled the character of Music as is felt nothing short of infuriating and borderline ableist. Although speaking of caregivers, Kate Hudson, who plays Music’s caregiver, did give an okay performance, but it’s not enough to make a good movie. There’s also flashy sequences in this film that I would imagine a good number of people on the autism spectrum would not be able to watch in the first place. Great job connecting with your subject matter! Apparently Sia did three years of research on autism while making this film… She honestly needs at least three more. There’s a scene in this film where one of the major characters restrains “Music” suggesting that he is “crushing her with his love.” You realize that this is an action, depending on how you go about it, that kills or traumatizes a lot of people? Yes, this is something that has been done to those on the autism spectrum, but this is being PROMOTED in the film despite a history of this very action endangering those on the receiving end, sometimes KILLING them. This is the kind of thing that is saved for last resort situations, and they treat it like it’s something done on every other Tuesday. There is an argument to make that no film in history NEEDS to be made. Well, I think I found one that really shouldn’t have. Someone in the future could watch this film, see that scene, and think it is a fine way to calm someone down on the spectrum, when in reality, it is likely only hurting them. Now can it be used to keep someone from harming another person? Perhaps. But the scenes in which the restraining happens do not occur as a result from that. They occur because Music is freaked out over multiple scenarios! I mean, yes, Music is flailing her arms, but she’s not doing anything to potentially warrant any real medical treatment for someone else or herself. I mean if she hits herself enough times, maybe, but she did not! She isn’t holding a gun, she isn’t carrying a knife, she isn’t raising her fists, she’s just going through a situation that is beyond her control. And apparently that warrants a restraint…

And going back to what I said about “Cinderella” and Kay Cannon responding to me on Twitter defending her film. She at least did so with some decency. She could have thought I was a freak. After all, it’s the Internet. It’s her right. But she AND I calmly handled this matter. There was no Twitter feud between us. Just a couple people with differing perspectives. Sia on the other hand got into Twitter feuds with people regarding this film before it came out, including autistic people, because THAT’S a GREAT way to promote your film. After all of this, she sent out tweets with promises that scenes with restraints would be removed and there would be a warning at the beginning of the film that restraining people with autism is something that won’t be encouraged. Granted, this info was sent about a week before the film came out and kind of felt half-baked, but nevertheless… A promise is a promise. BUT WHO AM I KIDDING?! The restraint scenes are still there and having watched the movie on Prime Video, and double checking before we move any further, THERE IS NO WARNING.

YOU. GODDAMN. CHEAP. MORONIC LIAR!

Sia, I have never meant these two words more, f*ck you. Now you can make an argument that removing those scenes would lessen the story of the movie and diminish an arc Kate Hudson’s character has, but this goes to show that what they really should have done with the movie, is cancelled it. Because yes, I watched the film. But now I never have any intentions of buying Sia’s albums, buying separate songs on iTunes, or buying any of her merch. Short term, maybe the movie makes money. Long term, I cannot support Sia on any of her future projects.

If you look at other movies on this list like “Red Notice” or “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” those movies are on this list almost solely because they failed to entertain me or provide me with a good time, which at the end of the day, a movie is supposed to do. Not only did “Music” provide me with a terrible time, it felt near, if not offensive, and gave me the idea that a movie could potentially harm someone or give someone the wrong idea about a serious subject matter. The only reason why I would support a future product from Sia is if I were tied to a chair and about to die, or I were forced to review it. I salute the hard work people put into movies, even if they’re bad. Sia may have spent years making the movie, in fact this was shot in 2017, but she spent years making a potentially harmful story that could send the wrong message. For all those reasons, “Music” is easily my #1 worst film of 2021.

Thanks for reading this countdown! I also want to thank everyone for making the trek with me through 2021 in film and here’s to 2022! Let’s hope we have a year of great movies, fun experiences, and hopefully less delays. Come on, “Top Gun: Maverick,” I’ve been waiting forever to see you! I’m looking forward to a lot of movies coming out this year including “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” “The Batman,” Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” and Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon.” A lot of potential movie magic is going to be cast over audiences this year, let’s hope it’s all properly executed! Until then, thanks for going through another year of movies with me! Also, if you want some positivity instead of this, be sure to check out my picks for the Top 10 BEST Movies of 2021. I do these two lists every year, and I am looking forward to doing them again for 2022. If you want to go through this year of movies and want to make a commitment to take that journey along with me on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, what are your least favorite movies of 2021? Leave your picks down below! Let out the stress, let out the anger. I hope you’ll find it therapeutic. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Red Notice (2021): The Three Biggest Movie Stars Join Forces to Torture Movie Watchers Everywhere

“Red Notice” is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence) and stars Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, ), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Free Guy), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Criminal), Ritu Arya (Doctors, The Umbrella Academy), Chris Diamantopoulos (Up All Night, The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse), and this film centers around two agents who are assigned to track down the world’s most wanted art thief.

Netflix is the epitome of watching a movie or TV show from home today. You can go to your microwave, whip up some popcorn, turn on your smart television, open the app, and let those images fly. Granted there are other options like Hulu or Prime or HBO, but only one has earned the identity of being the place where can watch your stuff and “chill.” Although in recent years, Netflix has taken the movie theater business rather seriously. They’ve released great, emotional titles like “Roma” and “Marriage Story,” and they’ve racked up some Oscars here and there. They even released my favorite film of 2020, “Over the Moon,” which I’m sure is an opinion that others don’t typically share, but knowing myself, I really could have used that film at a certain time in my life, hence why I loved it so much. Netflix’s bread and butter is obviously streaming, but they’ll occasionally try their hardest on a movie when the moment allows. Extreme emphasis on when the moment allows. Because not all of their stuff is theatrical, and a straight to streaming movie is today’s equivalent of a straight to cable movie. Everything looks a bit less polished and they don’t always showcase high quality. But for “Red Notice,” this is an interesting case. This was released theatrically, so it has that going for it. But also, the film had not just one, but three of the highest paid actors working today.

You have Deadpool and Blue Shirt Guy himself, Ryan Reynolds. One of the sexy Canadian Ryans out there. Yes we Canada! I know, he’s not in “Toy Story,” just go with it!

You also have Dwayne Johnson, who if you ask me, is probably today’s biggest stereotype when it comes to being a movie star. He’s not the ultimate chameleon, but he has his fans and knows his audience.

Lastly, there’s Gal Gadot, who I have fallen in love with for awhile given her portrayal as Wonder Woman. I think when she first started in that role, granted that was not her first gig, I think her line delivery could have been improved, but I saw potential in her, and she has been growing since then. And one of the first positives I can give to this film in terms of Gal Gadot being in it is that this is one of the better performances I’ve seen from her. The reason is because the way her character is written and directed unleashes the thought I have held for her for a long time. Gadot is probably one of the most beautiful women acting right now. Whether it is of highest intentions or not, which it probably is, she spends much of the movie coming off as almost semi-seductive in every scene. She has a couple lines in this film that feel like they come out of an action-packed porno.

I will also give the movie another thing. When it comes to the costumes, again as an example, I’ll mention Gal Gadot’s red outfit that is almost intentionally meant to put her perverted enemies at bay, they’re very well done. Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson look like they’re going to be the highlights of spy prom. I think many of the costumes in “Red Notice” are dazzling to say the least. I will also say that some of the sets are well put together and they occasionally make me want to travel the world. But I also want to note that nearly every positive I have given so far is either something based on looks, or how attractive the cast is. As the old saying goes, looks aren’t everything. How is the actual movie in terms of substance?

It’s pure crap. Honestly, this looks like a cheap “Fast & Furious” ripoff that is not quite bad enough to be in the Walmart $5 bin, but that kind of makes it worse because looks can be incredibly deceiving. It has the looks of a modern blockbuster, but it has a script that was created by a 12 year old! This film cost $200 million to make. I bet the three leads received an enormous portion of that pile of cash. I mean, what does Ryan Reynolds need all that money for? Is he gonna try to buy Canada or something?!

This is one of those scripts that if you are specifically writing it with the actors who ended up in this movie in mind, it would sound great in a pitch, but from my perspective, it’s also kind of a long shot considering some of these actors having busy schedules. Given the final results, I think these actors should have stayed busy.

Look, I love Ryan Reynolds as much as the next guy. I think he is one of the most hilarious dudes, and possibly my favorite movie star on the market today, but I have to admit, I don’t think I laughed once when this character was on screen. Part of his role in this film is the typical Ryan Reynolds schtick where he’s almost got traits of a lovable idiot but in actuality he’s not that much of a dumbass, but every line out of his mouth is ridiculously flat and I don’t even know if he was just off while filming or if Rawson Marshall Thurber is not as good at directing as I would like him to be. I liked “Central Intelligence.” I just wish “Red Notice” was as entertaining as that. This film is edited and written as an action-packed thrill ride. Why doesn’t the acting match the feel of a thrill instead of coming off as slightly robotic?

In fact when I watch this movie and I look at Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, the first thing I’m reminded of is “Hobbs & Shaw.” Only it’s ten times worse… Because between the characters of Hobbs and Shaw, you had chemistry. One of the best things about the film “Hobbs & Shaw” for me was the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. They hated each other, and they took every other moment to acknowledge their displeasure. Sometimes it was really funny. Whenever I look at, again, Dwayne Johnson, shows you the kinds of roles he’s taken in recent years, alongside Ryan Reynolds, I feel like I’m watching a watered down version of that pair. Even though the “Fast & Furious” franchise has never made a single masterpiece, the one thing it often gets right is the chemistry between certain characters, Hobbs and Shaw being one notable example.

Also, this film has one of the lamest and most forced examples of Coca-Cola product placement in recent memory. It felt like something out of an “SNL” sketch that made fun of an action movie as opposed to an actual action movie.

In the end, when it comes to “Red Notice,” there is not much to say except that it is one of the most forgettable landfills of a film I have watched in some time. Again, the stars look cool, the sets look cool, but I feel like more time was spent on developing the style of the movie to the point where Rawson Marshall Thurber and others involved literally forgot substance. I thought it would be tough for Dwayne Johnson to release a film that is worse than “Jungle Cruise” this year. Well, here we are. I also thought it was gonna be tough for Ryan Reynolds to crap out something worse than “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” this year. Mission accomplished, I guess! Gal Gadot looks stunning in a red dress. Okay. Let’s make a good script with that concept in it! How bout that? I’m going to give “Red Notice” a 2/10.

“Red Notice” is now available on Netflix for all subscribers. The film also released in theaters, but it has been a month since it came out, so I would not count on going to the theater to see this film at this point.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I just want to let you know that I have more coming. I have reviews coming for “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Tick, Tick…BOOM!,” “Encanto,” “Sing 2,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and “West Side Story.” I’m also going to be seeing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” soon, so I will have a review for that as well.

Also, tomorrow, I will be sharing my thoughts on “The Matrix Reloaded” as part of the ongoing review series “The Matrix Reviewed!” Stay tuned!

If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Red Notice?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the most disappointing movie you’ve seen with a great cast? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Jungle Cruise (2021): Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt Sail Through a Mediocre Run Through the Amazon

“Jungle Cruise” is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, The Shallows) and stars Dwayne Johnson (The Fate of the Furious, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place), Jack Whitehall (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Mother’s Day), Edgar Ramírez (Gold, Point Break), with Jesse Plemons (Game Night, Judas and the Black Messiah), and Paul Giamatti (12 Years a Slave, Sideways). This film is based on the Disney theme park ride of the same name and is set during World War I. Throughout the film we see the mysterious ship captain Frank Wolff, who gives cheap tours through the Amazon River, join forces with Lily Houghton as they search for a tree that contains magical healing powers. While their intentions are to use it for good, Germany has other plans to utilize the power of the tree in order to win the war.

I saw “Jungle Cruise” on opening Thursday in the theater and safe to say, I had moderate expectations going in. I was not expecting Shakespeare, in fact most movies starring The Rock, regardless of his acting talent, are not usually taken as seriously as others. The trailers looked okay, they seemed to have promised a generic adventure that is somewhat family friendly despite being PG-13. In fact, the more I think about it, it kind of looked like a better version of “Dolittle,” as the plot of that film also involved finding a specific tree for healing purposes. There were plenty of people at my screening. It was not a sold out show, but it was good to see families returning to the theater. I went by myself, because I’m awesome, I’m important, and goddamnit, I’m the absolute best! But is “Jungle Cruise” worth the trip? In addition, is it worth $30 on Disney+?

“Jungle Cruise” certainly ain’t no “Indiana Jones.” Or “Pirates of the Caribbean” if you want to get into other theme park ride-based films. Well, the first one to be specific. If anything, “Jungle Cruise” is more in line with the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It’s a fun film to watch once and then forget about. I will admit, I had quite a few problems with this film as I sat down trying to take it all in. This is one of those rare times where I watch a film and think that Dwayne Johnson is not exactly likable. I mean, sure, I can probably find one or two other films where that is the case. “Tooth Fairy” is another one that comes to mind. But if I have learned one thing in recent years, it’s that regardless of his acting ability, Dwayne Johnson is one of the most charismatic movie stars out there today. He’s up there with Tom Hanks and Ryan Reynolds. Two actors who I think are more talented than The Rock, but there is no denying that they have delivered dumptrucks of likability over the years just from their personalities and how they present themselves on screen.

I’m not saying The Rock is a dick in this film or anything. I just find the way they wrote his character to be somewhat of a letdown. You know, one of the best things about movies like “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Memento,” and “Parasite,” without getting into detail, are the twists and turns these movies take along the way. “Jungle Cruise” is no stranger to this idea, but there was one subversion of my expectations that happened in the first twenty minutes of the film regarding The Rock’s character that made him go from a badass hunk of a man to… Somebody. I dunno. The point is, right off the bat, the character did not leave me with the best first impression. In fact, one of first scenes in the movie with this character, Frank Wolff, is him giving a tour through the Amazon River. The tour itself is notably cheap and lacks an oomph factor. That was the intention on the script’s part, therefore I am not calling this a critique. But the thing is, the whole scene is just The Rock trying to give a boring tour while delivering so many dad jokes. And that’s a thing throughout the movie. Dad jokes! Dad jokes everywhere! Who wrote this movie? 7 year olds? I have never ridden the ride this movie bases itself upon, but apparently, according to what I’ve heard about the Jungle Cruise ride itself, there’s a tour guide on the ride, and that tour guide will spew out dad jokes here and there. While I appreciate the nods to the source material, I’ll be blunt and say this doesn’t rock.

Goddamnit.

I will say that one of my regrets, despite seeing this in the theater, part of me wishes I saw it in 3D or some large premium format. I ended up seeing the film in regular 2D as that was the most convenient timeslot. But if you want a visual feast, this may be worth the trip. The same cannot be said for the story though, at least from my perspective. Because while it is unpredictable at times, it is surface level and the unpredictability is not precisely impressive.

Although I will say that one of my highlights of the film would be some of the supporting cast. Jesse Plemons has been great in everything I’ve seen him in so far, so naturally he is also great in “Jungle Cruise.” Here he plays Prince Joachim, an over the top German aristocrat who stands in the way of the heroes. Plemons does not even feel like himself in this movie. He feels like he’s playing someone from another world at times. Granted, it is a Disney film, where a little over the top sprinkles are encouraged. I will also note Jack Whitehall as Lily’s brother, MacGregor, who comes along for the cruise. Whitehall comes off as a likable coward who almost tries to be the voice of reason but does so almost poorly. I think he is easily one of the better parts of the film the more I think about it.

Disney has tried time and time again to recreate the success of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Whether “Jungle Cruise” gets a sequel or not is still somewhat questionable on the surface because of the pandemic. The movie did not do too great thus far theatrically or on Disney+. But when it comes to movies based on Disney’s theme park rides, this feels more focused on gimmicks and immersion compared to story. The story is okay, but it is most certainly not great. If you have a family and are looking for an excuse to leave the house, I’d say see this in the most immersive format you can afford. It may be fun for a couple of hours, but I cannot guarantee you will remember it much after.

In the end, “Jungle Cruise” is mediocrely paced, more focused on style over substance, and MY GOD the dad jokes never end! That’s a weird complaint coming from me, because if you know my family, specifically my father’s side, we get together a lot and we are no strangers to puns. In fact, for those of you who do not know, my last name is Drees, and on my father’s side of the family, we call puns and other related jokes “Drees humor” just because of how commonplace it has become when we are around each other. Either way, they did not work in “Jungle Cruise.” I think Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt are a fair pair. Although I wish the script served the actors better, especially Johnson. The film does look nice, but looks are not everything. I want a good story too, but “Jungle Cruise” failed in that regard. I’m going to give “Jungle Cruise” a 5/10.

“Jungle Cruise” is now playing in theaters and it is also available through Disney+ with Premier Access for $29.99 on top of a subscription.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review for a film based on a Disney theme park ride, why not read five more?! Be sure to check out my reviews for all five “Pirates of the Caribbean” films including “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Dead Man’s Chest,” “At World’s End,” “On Stranger Tides,” and “Dead Men Tell No Tales.” I reviewed all of these films as part of recognizing Scene Before’s 5th anniversary in an exclusive series titled “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews!”

Continuing down the road of Scene Before’s 5th anniversary, this Monday I will be unveiling my thoughts on the 1984 sex comedy “Revenge of the Nerds” as a starting point of the upcoming review series, “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” As I’ve said previously, my in-depth thoughts on this film, not to mention franchise, feels like it is long overdue.

Speaking of things we’ve all been waiting for, this weekend we are finally getting to watch “The Suicide Squad!” I have IMAX tickets for Saturday, I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you. James Gunn, I have faith in you, do not let me down. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Jungle Cruise?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever go on the Jungle Cruise ride? What was that like? Leave your thoughts and opinions down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006): Jack Sparrow Goes Bigger, and the Rules Get Dumber

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the second entry of the Scene Before exclusive review series, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews!” Today, we will be diving into the second film in the franchise, “Dead Man’s Chest.” If you read my review for “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” you’d know that I had a lot of fun with that film. It’s a solid mix of old fashioned Disney vibes mixed in with some darker and more mature elements to create something special. Can this sequel capture the same feeling that I got from the original? Here’s my review!

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is directed by Gore Verbinski, who also directed the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” film. This sequel once again stars Johnny Depp (Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood) as Jack Sparrow alongside Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Ned Kelly), Keira Knightley (Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Bend it Like Beckham), Stellan Skarsgård (Good Will Hunting, King Arthur), Bill Nighy (Shaun of the Dead, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Jack Davenport (This Life, Coupling), Kevin McNally (Doctor Who, Conspiracy), and Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, Glengarry Glen Ross). This film once again follows Jack Sparrow as he embarks on a quest to find the heart of Davy Jones to avoid enslaving himself to his service. Meanwhile, others are after the heart as well, but for their own reasons.

I really enjoyed the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” film. It’s pretty to look at, it’s fun to watch, it is overall simply crafted with a sense of sheer magnificence. Gore Verbinski did a good job at not just making a great film that I will likely watch again in the future, but also finding a fine line between genius and stupid. In my review for “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” I pointed out that if anything, the film is essentially a modern day version of “The Princess Bride” because it is a great watch for both kids and adults, it’s got terrific sword fights, and both films seem to place themselves in a position where they can be goofy while also realizing it can be smart. When it comes to Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, I will stand by him being perfectly cast, and his presence in this sequel certainly proves my point. Jack Sparrow feels like a role that only someone like Johnny Depp can play. I cannot imagine anyone else taking on this role after watching these two films.

Unfortunately, this sequel is not as good as the original, as the old saying goes. However, it is not a bad movie. The second half is what kept my attention. This is not to say that the first half was bad, but compared to the second, it is kind of forgettable. On top of that, the one specific part that I remember most from the first half is perhaps the film’s biggest deterrent. In the current post-modern era, there is a tendency from studios, distributors, and producers to constantly create content that lacks originality. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing. In case of these first two “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, I’d say it’s a good thing, but it does not mean it is perfect.

As you may or may not know, this property started out as a theme park ride. A lot of movies these days tend to have a theme park-like experience. The Marvel movies are varying visual feasts for the eyes and ears. The “Fast & Furious” movies are ridiculous in concept and crazy in execution because of their messing with physics and what could be done with supercharged cars. In fact, “F9” honestly took that theme park-esque experience a little too far for me to continually suspend my disbelief. Honestly, I do not know where the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies are going to go, but part of me worries that they’re going to go down the same path that “Fast & Furious” followed since the fourth movie. Now to be clear, I am not saying that every “Fast & Furious” has sucked since the fourth one. The only installment I hated since the fourth one is “F9.” But the reason why I hated “F9” is because each film manages to surpass the last in some degree of absurdity that it is too much for my brain to handle. There’s one or two scenes in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” where Jack Sparrow arguably should have been seriously injured or dead, but he isn’t! He walks off every other incident as if nothing happened! I am keeping an open mind at this point given how this is a fantasy film, but this is nevertheless something that does irk me internally. The first “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, even though it was a bit ridiculous, it still felt like there were rules. In “Dead Man’s Chest,” there is less verisimilitude and a greater sense of absurdity.

This complaint does not take anything away from the fun that I had.

Throughout, the film has a lot of the strengths that the first one has. Some great lead characters. No seriously, I love Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom when they’re put together. I think they would make a great pair for a buddy cop movie one day. The visuals are breathtaking and hold up fifteen years later. In fact, I am not totally surprised considering how this film happened to win the Best Visual Effects Oscar for the year it came out. The entire encounter with the kraken is worth the watch alone. Keira Knightley is back as Elizabeth Swann and I really liked seeing her here too. There’s this funny scene towards the end of the film where Sparrow is supposedly flirting with her and her reactions to this are one of the better parts of the movie.

As for new characters, this movie adds Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma, and I think she was a perfect addition to this movie. She has this fantastical presence to her that could only work in a movie like this. I’m not gonna lie, by the end of the movie, I almost had a crush on the character. Naomie Harris shines as this mysterious being who used to be a sea goddess, Calypso specifically, and her voice is perfect for someone who helps someone else who happens to be trying to fulfill their destiny. I like this character and of the many supporting characters this franchise has introduced so far, this one was perfectly cast.

Without spoiling anything, I also really like the way they end the film. It is exciting, thrilling, and gets me stoked to see the third movie the more I think about it. I feel like Gore Verbinski is really passionate about everything that he has put to screen in these first two films and he has a serious idea on the direction to take the third film. They got a couple of the writers who worked on the first film to come back as well. Something tells me they all work very well together and love what they do. I am very excited to see where they go from here.

In the end, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is worth a watch, but compared to “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” it is not exactly as Shakespearean. “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” despite being in the fantasy genre like “Dead Man’s Chest,” seemed to acknowledge that there were some rules that had to be followed. Maybe if I were a young kid watching this I’d let the absurdity of the film fly over my head, but at this point, it didn’t, and it is a reason why the movie lost some points. Nevertheless this is a serviceable sequel with a kick-ass second half. I cannot wait for the third movie, part of me thinks that it will be better than this one. I’m going to give “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” a 6/10.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is available wherever you buy movies including DVD and Blu-ray, and you can also watch the film on Disney+.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week we dive into the deep waters of world’s end! My review for “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” will be available on Thursday, July 15th! Stay tuned!

This weekend I have a couple new posts coming your way including a brand new installment to the CINEOLOGY podcast, where I am once again joined by my good friend Millie as we talk movies. Also, I will have a review up for one of the biggest movies of the summer, “Black Widow!” The film drops in theaters and on Disney+ this weekend, I’ve already got my tickets, and I cannot wait to share my thoughts on this movie that we REALLY should have gotten three or four years ago! I cannot wait to see this! I love Marvel! I love Scarlett Johansson! I love the fact that we are getting big movies again! The experience will hopefully be worth the wait! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow either with an email or WordPress account or check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Johnny Depp film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021): I Want a Bodyguard Divorce

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is directed by Patrick Hughes, who also directed this film’s predecessor, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” This film once again stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Green Lantern), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction), Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Sausage Party), and alongside them are actors including Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Purge: Anarchy), Richard E. Grant (Logan, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), Antonio Banderas (Shrek 2, The Laundromat), and Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, The Dark Knight). This film follows Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), the bodyguard who helped protect Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) as he is told to take a break from bodyguarding. That break will have to wait however because Bryce and Kincaid are on another mission together where this time they have save Sonia (Salma Hayek), Darius’s wife, from danger.

I liked “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” when I first saw it. I missed it in the theaters, but I did get it on 4K Blu-ray for Christmas in 2017 and I did watch it a day or two afterwards. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is nothing too special, it’s really kind of disposable, but if you want a fun action flick that can entertain you for a couple of hours, you cannot go wrong. I also really like the film’s use of the song “Black Betty.” I think that was a really fun scene. The film also had an extended shot that kind of reminded me of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” a little bit. Remember the scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service” where Colin Firth basically annihilates an entire crowd of hate supporters in a church? Between story, music, and action, that scene was outright perfection. Now I am not saying the “one-shot” take in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is as good as the one in “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” but it is still fun. But the biggest standout from “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Their characters clearly hate each other, but it never feels off-putting. It adds to the fun of the movie. It was a fun little action film that apparently did well enough at the box office. And of course as pointed out with “Star Wars,” “Fast & Furious,” “The Simpsons,” and “The Bachelor,” you gotta make more of it! No matter how good it is! This is where “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” comes in.

When I think of the “big” studios that stand out the most today, I usually think of Disney (Star Wars, Marvel), Warner Bros. (DC, Harry Potter), and Universal (Despicable Me, Jurassic Park). These studios have staying power and tons of properties they continue to utilize until the end of time. Lionsgate almost had that chance with “Knives Out,” but they sold it to Netflix. They used to be a force in the market with “The Hunger Games” and since the studio was affiliated with Summit, they also did “Divergent.” So they were big for awhile in the young adult adaptation game. They had “Now You See Me,” which paused. “Gods of Egypt” never did too well. “Twilight” is over. Just wait until they remake that eventually. I feel like the one big franchise that Lionsgate has that is the perfect mix of financial success, critical acclaim, and staying power, is “John Wick.” In fact they are coming out with a fourth movie pretty soon. I feel like “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” even though it is directed by Patrick Hughes once again, is Lionsgate making it known that they want this to be a serious franchise. And honestly, if it does become as big as say “Fast & Furious,” they need to do much better. This film was NOT good.

The sad thing is, this film starts off fine. It’s a little absurd, but it’s fine. “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” starts off with of all things, an awards show for bodyguarding. The film continues as Michael Bryce goes to therapy as he is told to stop bodyguarding, and I’ll admit the scene ends with a couple lines that did get a laugh out of me. But as soon as the real action starts, where we see Ryan Reynolds and Salma Hayek in the middle of a fast-paced bike chase, the movie switches its goofiness into high gear. One of the first lines from Samuel L. Jackson’s character and how it is handled is something that I think could be taken in a couple manners. It’s either so goofy that it’s funny. Or, it is incredibly idiotic that the line was executed the way it was.

Apparently, Michael and Darius still hate each other, …I guess? So apparently they have not developed at all since the last movie. Just a reminder, Michael took a bullet for Darius in the last movie. And now apparently they still don’t like each other or barely show respect for each other. I don’t know! It feels forced! It feels like they’re just trying to copy the success of the first movie while lazily inserting something new. In fact there is a new subplot where apparently Darius and his wife, Sonia are trying to have a kid. Let’s just say that it barely adds anything to the movie until say the second half. There’s a point that feels as if Michael says something negative regarding this new reality almost forcibly just to keep said plot going along. It just feels so out of the blue. There are a lot of things that feel offish or out of the blue in this movie. I barely cared about the nearly one-dimensional characters who almost face no noticeable changes by the end. I barely cared about Antonio Banderas on the antagonistic side. I barely cared about anything! The action is not even as good as the original. The bike chase scene was good, there was one moment where Reynolds wielded a pool cue that was pretty funny, but that’s about it. The action overall just did not have the same flair that the original movie gave. This is not to say “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” was a masterpiece, but compared to the sequel, it was a good time.

This movie honestly feels like it is on ADHD. One moment it is here, one moment it is there, the next moment it is everywhere! I am not fully against unpredictable movies that go in weird directions, that is what makes stories interesting, the fact that you don’t know where they’re going. This movie was fairly predictable, but the moments that occurred almost every other minute regardless of predictability just came flying in my face and it is was just too much to take in, especially the bad moments. At times, this movie feels like it could work better as an action-based Fox Animation Domination cartoon. It is so hyperactive and non-stop that it barely gives me a needed moment to breathe, even in parts that are supposedly meant to be slower.

I also really hate the ending, because they supposedly “resolve” an extended plot line in the film in the most off-putting way possible. It’s honestly just weird to think about. I almost want to say what exactly happens in this moment, but I can’t because it is literally the last moment of the movie and if I spoiled it, I might be a jerk. Unfortunately, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” was a jerk to me in the process. You how I mentioned this movie can be predictable? Well, this was an out of left field, outlandish, unpredictable moment, but it is so unpredictable and batcrap crazy that thinking about it makes me want to throw up.

I’ll also add a positive before we go any further. The actors do a fine job with their performances. They are fine, but the sad thing is that the writing is just plain bad. It feels like they just whipped up this sequel in an hour! Apparently, this film was written by three people, including the sole writer of the original film, Tom O’Connor. I was not behind the scenes and I do not know any of these people personally, but if they do a third movie, I wonder if they should just let Tom O’Connor do the work himself because he could arguably be the butter that is woven so perfectly onto the bread that is the “Hitman’s Bodyguard” franchise. But seriously, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are good actors, they play their parts well here. Although I will give extra praise to Salma Hayek, because judging by the title, she has a greater presence in this movie compared to the original, and she solidifies her presence from start to finish. I’ll also add, she seems to swear as much as, if not more than Samuel L. Jackson which says a lot as he is supposedly the guy who “single-handly ruined the word motherf*cker.”

In the end, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” almost feels like it purely exists to make money. Now, just about every movie ever made exists for that reason, but I think that some do a better job at hiding that reason than others. This honestly just feels like a cash grab that exists to capitalize on something that quite honestly, even though the original movie was good, I did not think would become a franchise. Could “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” become say the next “Fast & Furious” or something close to it? Maybe. “Fast & Furious” had some off days too. I think “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” is one of my least favorite movies to this day. That franchise is still kickin’! “F9” literally comes out this week! I honestly at this point do not want to see a third movie in this franchise. Maybe I’ll warm up to it over time, but this kind of left a toxic taste in my mouth that is hard to eliminate. You know that phrase “sequels are not as good as the original”? Well, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is exhibit A. I’m going to give “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” a 3/10.

This movie kind of reminded me of “Venom” because this was a movie that the audience I was with seemed to be fairly invested in for the most part, I felt like a good number of the people in the room enjoyed the movie more than me. I just couldn’t connect with them. More power to them, but for me, I think “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” feels better at this point as a one-off. This sequel should not have happened. I like the actors, I wish them well in their future roles, but this was a bad day at the office.

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Later this week I will be sharing a brand new review for the Pixar animated movie “Luca.” Also, tomorrow I will be going to see “F9: The Fast Saga,” so look forward to my review for that as well. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and be sure to like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard?” What did you think about it? Or, what movie is better? Do you prefer “The Hitman’s Bodyguard?” Or do you prefer “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Last Shift (2020): Green Book, But Better

“The Last Shift” is directed by Andrew Cohn, who has directed a bunch of documentaries, but this is his feature-length debut for a narrative film. This movie stars Richard Jenkins (Kajillionaire, The Shape of Water), Shane Paul McGhie (Unbelievable, What Men Want), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (People of Earth, Selfie), Birgundi Baker (Empire, Black Lightning), Allison Tolman (Fargo, Good Girls), and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Finding Dory). This film follows a fast food restaurant worker who has done the graveyard shift for 38 years. His last shift is coming up, he’s training his replacement, the two have nothing in common, but they’re brought together by circumstance. The film dives into a developing relationship between the two as they spend night hours together at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish.

Over recent years, I have learned how much humanity truly has evolved as a culture of eating. With the invention of GrubHub, it has occasionally allowed me to order a large ice cream sundae from a place 3 towns over and have it be delivered to my place at 9:45 at night if I want it. Even though there are many complaints I have about society in 2020, the vast number of eating options is not one of them. Well, unless you count the fact that Massachusetts hasn’t allowed people to eat in a movie theater even though it is literally how they make their money! Stupid.

This movie, in one way or another, reminds me of how much our country “relies” on restaurants, specifically fast food, to get us through an assortment of times. It’s usually inexpensive, and gets the job done. Keep in mind, this movie mainly involves the behind the scenes aspect of people working at a restaurant, but this movie, from the very beginning let me know about how relevant we have made this industry today. Big chains like McDonald’s, KFC, and Wendy’s dominate, but it doesn’t mean regional chains can’t compete. Kind of like the chain represented in this film, Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. The vibe of this movie was partially infused from this reminder that sticks throughout the runtime. But that’s not all this film is.

You know what this film also is? FREAKING GREAT! That’s what it is! Honestly, this is one of my favorite films of 2020 so far! Granted, the only competitors for the #1 spot this year it really has in my opinion are “Summerland” and “Tenet.” Is this film better than those? I’ll address that notion later, until then, keep this in mind. The film is one of the closest things we as an audience will receive as a work of art this entire year.

In case you guys acknowledged the subtitle for this review, I should let you know that I saw the movie “Green Book” and enjoyed it. Keep in mind, this was during a time before any controversy related to said movie surfaced. If you ask me what I think about it today, I think as a film it is well done, charming, and delightful. It wouldn’t be my pick for best picture, I personally would have selected “Roma,” but still.

For those who live under a rock, the problem many have with “Green Book” is despite the film’s charm, or at least that’s what I got from it during my initial viewing. It revolves around people who actually exist, but tells a story that supposedly bends reality too much. Thankfully, “The Last Shift” is not based on anything. It’s an original script, no relation to true events, even though it takes place in present day. More specifically, present day where nobody wears masks. That way, there’s more that this movie can get away with in regard to how it tells it story.

I will say, the story in this movie is fascinating because it takes two people who are completely different, in fact they only have one, two, three things in common, and yet they play off each other perfectly. Their chemistry is spot on and they feel like real people living in a real world. In fact, I’ll say Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie give two of my favorite performances this year. If anything, I’d say they also have what technically qualifies as my favorite bromance of sorts this year. There are a couple scenes with these two together, the only way I can describe their interactions are by using words like “fun,” “joy,” and “charm.” But with it being a movie, of course there are bumps in the road. Because an unproblematic movie is futuristically speaking, problematic for how people view it.

This movie deals with a lot of issues from both characters. Marriage. Job stability. Getting by. This movie deals with issues that struggling men of different ages have to go through. Regardless of the specific issue, I ended up feeling for both of them.

I have never worked in the fast food industry. I haven’t worked with food period. But one of the things I love this movie for is that it addresses the entitlement of fast food customers. Guys, I get it. You want food the way you ask for it. BE NICE. RESPECT YOUR RESTAURANT. Look, I know the whole saying that “the customer’s always right,” therefore suggesting that they are the most important person in the room. I’m not denying that, but if you are that pissed over cheap food, just calm down a little bit. Mistakes happen. This is why every time I go to the movies, I try to put myself in the workers’ shoes. Are they having a good day? If not, what can I do to make it better? Maybe strike up an interesting conversation? I try to lighten the mood of everyone that I come across. If I go to a fast food restaurant, I expect good service. I expect good service everywhere I go! But fast food workers, like myself, are human! We all have feelings! I don’t want to call somebody a jerk without knowing their backstory! Now if there are times where somebody can cross a line like call me a nasty name or swear in my face, I will speak up and let them know that customer service should be taken as a priority. But still, what I’m saying is that fast food workers are people. Just like us. So let’s not try to tear them down.There’s a scene in this movie where a woman comes in suggesting her order was messed up, and she rages out against the two people working at the restaurant! I… Get that. I will be completely honest, I don’t work in customer service, in fact there has not been a point to this day where I have worked in customer service, but I understood the workers’ perspective here.

Although this movie excels in not just displaying the reality of having a low-paying job and trying to get by from not just one, but two individual perspectives, but it excels as a movie where an unlikely friendship develops. It’s about the bumps of life, all the hurdles that comes with it, and the desire to aim higher. You know that saying that no job is beneath you? I am not saying that statement is false, but this movie dives into the want for more. More money, a better job, a better life. At the same time it deals with the cons, and the sprinkled-in pros of the lives of our two main characters.

It’s still September as I write this, so for all I know things can change when movies like “Soul” and “Nomadland” come out, but “The Last Shift” is arguably the finest encapsulation of the human condition we have seen this year. Two Americans of different ages, of different backgrounds, of different identities, come together for a reason. Honestly, if you have ever worked part-time, you may relate to this movie. If you are of old age, you may relate to this movie. This movie dives into some serious issues, but at its heart, it’s just charming. It’s a good time, and that’s what movies are meant to be! Will it be my favorite of the year? Hard to tell at this point. We shall see.

In the end, “The Last Shift” is incredible. It’s an intimate tale of two vastly different people dealing with their own problems who despite some complications, still manage to get along. It’s a movie about a friendship that seems fine and charming, but the two have their separate views that collide. It’s sort of a broken friendship, which is cool. It goes to show that nobody is perfect! It’s about living in a suburban town where nothing goes on, the only thing that it has going for it is some local fast food restaurant that makes certain people happy. I get that. I come from the suburbs. I feel like one of those people who despite living there for 20 years, just wants to move away from it all and start a new life somewhere else, most likely Los Angeles. “The Last Shift” is one of the best movies of the year and I’m going to give it a 9/10! Do I like this movie better than “Tenet” and “Summerland?” I think as a story, it’s a little more compelling than “Tenet,” but “Summerland” has more of a surprise factor for me. I am not saying I was not looking forward to that movie, but I did not expect it to be as good as it turned out to be. Plus, “Tenet” has the benefit of practically being designed for the theatrical experience. This movie, even though it was great in the theater (and every movie is better in a theater), probably could have gotten away with a direct to On Demand release or something given what’s been going on with the pandemic. Even so, I’d put “The Last Shift” in my top 3 movies of 2020 at the very least because it is a really well done film. Check it out!

Remember how I said this is a better version of “Green Book?” Yeah, I’m not lying! I gave that movie an 8/10 during my original review. So regardless of controversy that has developed surrounding the movie, I am likely not lying about my statement. I have no idea how the rest of 2020 is going to play out. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, but this is certainly a contender for my favorite film of the year! This is a great narrative directorial debut and as for everyone else who collaborated on the movie, I’d say they did an outstanding job.

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to check out my next post which will probably involve… Something. I don’t know. I really wish I could tell you. “Wonder Woman 1984” would have come out this weekend if it for weren’t a mix of disappointing box office results for “Tenet,” other movies, or people being stupid. Also, New York and Los Angeles are two key markets that still need to open if the movie is going to succeed. I’m hoping they open by sometime next month, because I REALLY don’t want “Soul” and “No Time to Die” to get bumped. This year has been a screwball! You don’t know where it’s going! You’re spinning along with it! And in the end, it tires you out! Let’s just get through these trying times together, and if you are going to see a movie at a theater this weekend, remember to be safe, wash your hands, and take care of those around you. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Speaking of great content, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Last Shift?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite place to get fast food? Chain-wise, I’m a Burger King guy. I always have been. But if you’re ever in my area, be sure to check out Billy’s Famous Roast Beef in Wakefield, Mass. They make a mean chicken finger plate. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Words on Bathroom Walls (2020): Inside Adam’s Head

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“Words on Bathroom Walls” is directed by Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) and stars Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete, Looking for Alaska), Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III, Ocean’s Eleven), Taylor Russell (Lost in Space, Escape Room), AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Because of Winn-Dixie), Beth Grant (The Mindy Project, The Artist), Molly Parker (Deadwood, House of Cards), and Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, The Shield). This film revolves a boy named Adam. He’s in his teens and he has schizophrenia. Throughout the movie we see him adapt to a new drug, a new “father figure,” and a new school. Quite a few major aspects of his life change here. We get to experience what Adam’s life is like as he deals with voices inside his head, and potential effects of everything surrounding him internally and externally.

This is one of the films playing on a major weekend for cinema. Theaters in many territories, including my own, around the United States are reopening for business. Keep in mind, this pertains to a lot of theaters, but most notably to chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark. On this special weekend, this is one of the films available for customers in addition to other new releases like “Unhinged” and a selection of throwback titles including “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Inception,” “Black Panther,” and more.

I’ll be honest with you, when it comes to “Words on Bathroom Walls,” it never really struck me fancy. I never had any real attachment to it prior to giving it a watch. The main reason why I watched this movie, is because an outlet gave me RSVP access to watch the film online before it came out. When it comes these teen movies, they’re usually not my thing. Romance is not my thing either. But I’ve enjoyed certain movies with one aspect, another, maybe both, plus it is nice to talk about new content. So here we are.

This film is based on a book written by Julia Walton. I’ve never read the book, and after seeing this movie. I can’t say I’m gonna read it. Again, this is not my genre. Also, movies are more fun! Sorry, books! Nevertheless, I enjoyed this film for what it was. A solid story about somebody dealing with many forced adaptations, both internal and external. I think the screenplay, when translated into a visual medium, was incredibly well-realized. There was a scene that made me feel like I was watching some superhero movie like “X-Men” or something as opposed to some typical teen drama. This was well-written, and when it comes to the directing done by Thor Freudenthal, I approve. At times it gets a little dark, but the snappy vibe never escapes. In fact, this guy, unknowingly, was a part of my childhood for a few years.

For those who don’t know, Thor Freudenthal directed the 2010 movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” I was ten years old when I saw that movie, and I will point out, unlike “Words on Bathroom Walls,” that film got me to read the books which it happened to be based upon, so I’ll give it credit where it’s due. I have not watched that movie in some time, I think my most recent viewing was in 2012. However, looking back, one of the standout aspects of that film, is how much it maintained a quick pace, while occasionally relying on aspects of imagination or narration. Some of that translates well to this movie while being a completely separate thing. But also keep in mind, the movies are made for completely different audiences, so it really is a good thing that one movie is not like the other.

Those positive thoughts I gave on the screenplay? Yeeeah… It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Keep in mind, this review is being written by a straight white male whose favorite movies are in the action genre or similar fields. Some of the dialogue is a cringefest. There are a couple cheesy lines that I thankfully don’t have implanted in my head at the moment, but they were nevertheless cheesy. I wonder if the teen girl crowd will not care as I think they may be one of the core demographics for this film. Who knows? I never read the book, and I may be unwarranted to ask such a question… But, maybe it worked in the book? I don’t know.

But most of the screenplay does make up for its faults. There are some really exciting, gripping moments that grabbed my attention. There feels like there is conflict in just about every single scene. Something could end up going wrong, changing the main character’s life, or maybe make my head spin upside down.

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I will say though, I have mixed thoughts on the main character of Adam. On one hand, I did feel bad for him. This movie does a good job at highlighting the misfortune of schizophrenia, in which case I was able to attach myself to him. But there are like one or two moments where this guy sort of gave a creeper or stalker vibe. I won’t go into detail, I will let you as viewers see this for yourselves. Although I will give props to Charlie Plummer, who plays this lead role admirably. There’s not much I have against Plummer as a performer and I would like to see more from him. This is sort of based on looks, but I would be interested to see him in maybe a Seth Rogen comedy of some sort, he looks like he could fit right in if given the proper script and role. Maybe “Neighbors 3: The Next Generation” if they ever decide to make that? Just an idea. I’m not claiming it, I don’t have an outline for it, I’m just spitting it out there.

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I also really dug Taylor Russell’s character. Not only was I able to buy the relationship between her alongside Charlie Plummer’s character. But as an actress, I think Taylor Russell has a solid future ahead of her. She did a really good job at portraying this brainiac student who cares a lot about which direction she’s headed in life. This becomes more likable later in the movie when we meet her family, which I won’t talk about because I would rather have you see the movie for yourself.

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Although I have to say, there’s one character who could arguably be my favorite in the movie, and that is a priest played by Andy Garcia. This character goes by the name Father Patrick and he’s just incredible in this movie. Garcia brings his A game here! Every other line out of his mouth is so dry yet charismatic! I could listen to this guy narrate an audiobook version of The Cheesecake Factory menu! He’s that likable!

In the end, I enjoyed “Words on Bathroom Walls.” I think it’ll get some attention at the theaters once they reopen. For all I know, maybe fans of the book will enjoy this film. But I don’t think I’ll ever watch this movie again. Once again, I’m not in the core demographic, so I may not be the best guy to trust when it comes to reviewing this movie. However, I did enjoy it. It was never boring, never completely insulting to my intelligence, and I did have fun, which most of the time, is something I think many of us want to experience after watching a movie. If you have fun, then bada bing bada boom. I’m going to give “Words on Bathroom Walls” a 7/10.

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Thanks for reading this review! Just want to want to announce that depending on where you live, tickets for “Tenet” are already on sale, or they are just about to go on sale. Over the past couple months, I’ve been holding onto a post that I think could help certain moviegoers when it comes to deciding where to go see “Tenet.” Given how tickets are about to go on sale here in the United States pretty soon, my post related to this will be up around the same time tickets drop. Stay tuned for that post and if you want to see more great content from Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Words on Bathroom Walls?” What did you think about it? Or, are you going back to the movies this weekend? Do you plan on going back soon? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Summerland (2020): My Faith in 2020 Is Officially Restored

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“Summerland” is directed by Jessica Swale and this is her feature-length directorial debut. Swale’s other credits include shorts and a TV movie. This film stars Gemma Arterton (The Girl with All the Gifts, Clash of the Titans), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, The Morning Show), Lucas Bond (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Slumber), Dixie Egerickx (The Secret Garden, The Little Stranger), Siân Phillips (I, Claudius, Dune), Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Downton Abbey), and Tom Courtenay (The Aeronauts, The Dresser). This film follows a woman named Alice, she’s a writer, she’s a hermit, she’s bullied by local children, and she’s sometimes called a witch. Keep in mind, the movie is set during World War II, so when an evacuee is sent to her doorstep, her world turns upside down. However, their relationship develops as we get to know more about the backstory of both characters while also seeing how they engage with one another in the present.

I’m gonna be straight up with ya. 2020 is s*it. It’s f*cking stupid. So far, this entire year has been a waste. My spring break trip was ruined by the beginning of a pandemic. Movie theaters shut down for some time. Every comic con beyond March got cancelled. The only positive is that I don’t need to wear pants right now. As far as movies go… Screw that noise! Nothing is memorable! This year, like many, started off with some duds, but that’s expected. What I didn’t expect is for this entire first half of a year to just amount to absolutely nothing!

I got to see Joe Gatto in person… There’s something.

I saw “Emma” in February, the star and director happened to be there to promote the film. There’s something else.

I got to go to Universal Hollywood before they closed down… That’s pretty much it.

Things have been turning around however. Cases and hospitalizations have been going down in my area, I finally shaved my facial hair for the first time in months, and movies have been getting SLIGHTLY more watchable.

Note: I said slightly. “Vivarium,” “An American Pickle,” “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” they’ve all been fun to watch. But it’s hard to tell if I will remember them by the end of the year.

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“Summerland,” before I saw it, was an interesting little movie. One of the positives of the second half of 2020 for me was the reopening of some movie theaters. Granted, not all of them have reopened, but some of them, including a local spot known by the name of Lexington Venue have welcomed back patrons. “Summerland” was one of the movies initially playing on their second reopening, but I decided to wait and see it on the second weekend I returned. It was my third time at that theater in a span of a little over a week.

When I started watching this movie, a lot a havoc began. The projector was having problems. We had to stop the movie more than once. The movie itself was not much better. Ten minutes in, I already hated the main character. She came off as an insufferable jerkface that I would never want to meet in person if she actually existed. There was perhaps no redeeming quality to this character other than the fact she was a writer.

Then… Something happened. The movie went along, the main relationship builds, characters develop, and I will tell you something, I almost shed a tear. This is my favorite film of the year. Period. Granted, given how “Tenet” comes out soon, I would bet that such a notion could change, but it’s true. “Summerland” is one of the most emotionally investing movies I have seen in recent memory. It sort of reminded me of “Jojo Rabbit,” minus all the satire. After all, both films take place during World War II, and in some way, involve a young boy at the center of everything. Granted, his name is not the biggest on the poster and he does not have top billing, but he seemingly has much of a prominence in this movie as Gemma Arterton’s character does, who I really need to talk about by the way.

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Gemma Arterton plays a character named Alice, and when I saw her in this movie for the first ten to thirty minutes, I thought to myself, “OK, time to watch the latest pile of crap I’ve seen this year. 2020’s full of them.” I say that because her character comes off as a bitch in the beginning. Then she kind of grows a heart, where she is a bit nicer. I understood what the movie was going for in the long run. But at the same time, it’s like they were writing lines for Sheldon Cooper, but they turned him into a woman. And I say that as someone who loves Sheldon Cooper, but at times, this seemed like a draft version of Sheldon Cooper where the whole time he’s just a complete ass to those around him. At the same time however, I’ve grown to realize something. This character is completely relatable. Before staying home and being alone was cool, I was always focused on a number of things: Avoiding people, writing, and perfection. This lady, seems to be all about that! Alice is practically an older, 1940s version of me! I may be a little more welcoming to visitors, but I was floored on how much she reminded me of myself.

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As for Frank, the young kid in the movie, seeing how he develops in this film is quite intriguing. Seeing him adapt to his new environment was worth my time. I also think Lucas Bond does a pretty good job playing this character, providing one of the more admirable child performances I’ve seen in recent memory. The same can be said for a friend he meets in the movie, Edie. She’s played by Dixie Egerickx, and their relationship not only feels natural, there was a point where it sort of felt like Simba and Nala in “The Lion King.” Granted, it’s not exactly the same, but there is one scene where they are hanging out together and I sort of made that connection for some reason.

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What I really enjoyed about the relationship between Frank and Alice is not only seeing how both characters developed as individuals, but how their differences are obviously present, even though they don’t get in the way of the two being together. The relationship doesn’t entirely feel 100% in wonderland while not being entirely toxic either. I wouldn’t call it a Goldilocks relationship if you will, but if you see the movie, you might get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Admittedly, this movie did start a little slow. Considering that, in addition to perhaps a nearly painful introduction to Gemma Arterton’s character, make up the most notable turnoffs of the film. There are also one or two directorial choices that I wouldn’t have made. Although I won’t knock this film’s director, Jessica Swale, too hard given how this is the first feature she’s handled. But there is so much to love about “Summerland” that I almost don’t care. I will not dive into spoiler territory, but I went into this movie, wondering what the heck the title of this film even means. Is it a place? A thing? An idea? The way the movie handles the subject matter presented in the title is incredibly enchanting and satisfying. The way this movie sort of goes kind of reminded me of “Onward,” the recent Pixar film that came out. It’s not exactly the same though for several reasons if you watch both movies, but I nevertheless made such a connection. Now, I like “Onward.” I had a really good time watching that movie and it continues to prove that Pixar can do no wrong. But I expected to go into “Onward” and leave a certain way. “Summerland” gave me the feelings and emotions that I couldn’t quite get from “Onward,” even though I expected that they were almost a guarantee. I don’t want to dive too much into either film, because I want to avoid spoilers, but holy smokes!

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I walked out of “Summerland” similar to the way I walked out of “Marriage Story.” When I left my screening for “Marriage Story,” I was so moved… and floored, that I stayed for the credits. I then walked out of the theater and I needed to sit down somewhere. During my “Marriage Story” experience I sat on a bench inside the cinema, but after seeing “Summerland,” I sat in my car, partially because I wanted to look at some local restaurants on Google Maps in private. But also because I needed a place to process what it was I just saw. When your movie has me feeling nearly motionless for around five minutes. You’ve made something special. Period.

In the end, “Summerland” is my favorite movie of 2020. During a year where a pandemic has gotten me down, this movie happens to have lifted my spirits up just a little bit. This film is playing in a few theaters, but I am not going to force everyone to attend a theater right now, given how some of my viewers might be a little nervous. Plus states including New York and California, which any other day of the year, would be part of the biggest markets for moviegoing, are not open at the moment. But fear not! This movie is available on VOD if you want to watch it at home! I think the casting for all the actors was well done, I like some of the scenery and locations in the film, the backstories for certain characters were incredible and added a bit to the movie in terms of overall likability. “Summerland” is one of the better written movies of 2020 in terms of its screenplay. As far as directing goes, that is an area that “works,” but there are a few things I would have done different if I were at the helm. Nevertheless, I am excited to see what Jessica Swale has next. Keep in mind, this movie is not perfect… But it is the first time I’m saying this all year for a new release, unless you count “1917” even though it technically came out last year. I’m going to give “Summerland” a 9/10.

Wow that feels good. I have still not given a 10 this year unfortunately. This film came close, there are a couple changes I’d make before calling it perfect. But that leaves a question for the rest of 2020. What will get a 10? “Unhinged?” “The New Mutants?” “Tenet?” “Wonder Woman 1984?” “Dune?” “Black Widow?” “Soul?” “No Time to Die?” Who knows at this point? For all I know, there might not end up being any 10/10s this year. Even so, I’m glad to actually have a reason to say 2020 has a glimmer of hope in it at this point. Because I have waited SO LONG to finally see something memorable. I was wondering at this point, is “The Vast of Night” the best thing this year’s got? Because I’d be quite unsatisfied if that’s the case. Nope! Thank you, “Summerland!” And also, thank you Britain! Hundreds of years ago, my country separated from you over our differences regarding things like tea, but I’m glad to unite on something as simple as the movie “Summerland!” Go watch this movie! I recommend this movie to just about anyone, and who knows? Maybe it’ll put a smile on your face!

Thanks for reading this review! Just want to let everyone know that I got an early access invitation to watch the new movie “Words on Bathroom Walls.” I’ll be blunt, this does not look like my type of movie. But, as a reviewer, I am glad to talk about new content, so I am likely going to watch the film and discuss it here on Scene Before. If you want to see more content like this, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Summerland?” What did you think about it? Or, how is your cinematic year for 2020 going? Are the movies good? Bad? Anything you want to see? Have the delays got you down? Personally, I have not seen a cinematic calendar more disappointing and underwhelming in quite some time. I am holding out hope for films like “Tenet” and “Dune” this point. And “Tenet” tickets go on sale soon! Let’s hope it actually opens! PLEASE. If it pushes back once more I’m running over my TV with an Amtrak train! Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

An American Pickle (2020): More Seths, More Fun!

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“An American Pickle” is directed by Brandon Trost (The Disaster Artist, This Is the End) and stars Seth Rogen (Neighbors, Sausage Party) and Sarah Snook (Predestination, Steve Jobs) in a film that takes place over a span of a century. We start off by seeing a character by the name of Herschel Greenbaum. He’s immigrating to the United States, he’s got a wife, but when a factory gets condemned, Greenbaum falls into a vat of pickles and stays there for a hundred years. After escaping, he meets up with his only remaining descendant, Ben Greenbaum, also played by Seth Rogen. From here on out, the two get to know each other and slowly reveal their notable differences of how they go about daily life.

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This movie was originally supposed to come out in theaters. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sony, who produced the movie, gave the distribution rights to Warner Bros., which lead to the film going straight to HBO Max, the new streaming service that has been around since May. “An American Pickle” is the first original movie to hit the service, although the film has been theatrically released in countries outside the United States.

The concept of “An American Pickle” honestly intrigues me, partially because I admire Seth Rogen as an entertainer. Whether he’s doing voices, maybe working behind the camera or in front of it, Seth Rogen can do no wrong. So getting to see two characters played by Seth Rogen was an oddly charming idea to say the least. Granted, the world has seen two Adam Sandlers on screen before in 2011’s “Jack and Jill,” which ended up being one of the most critically panned films of the past decade. Let me just say, I have not seen “Jack and Jill,” although I’ve heard enough about it to know that I should never witness it. But I am glad I saw “An American Pickle.” From the very first scene, this movie has this weird charm to it. It’s almost as if Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, and the directors behind “The Wizard of Oz” had a lovechild of some sorts. Of course you get some of the modern comedy flair in “An American Pickle” as well, but as I watched the movie, I felt like I was watching something that I couldn’t really get anywhere else. There seems to be an odd, but interesting blend of satire, heart, and informative messages about the importance of family and modern culture.

I got to admit, for a film that has Seth Rogen involved in one way or another, this is surprisingly light and sweet. It has its moments of commentary and controversial humor here and there, but nevertheless. Having seen some of Seth Rogen’s other work (for the most part), there doesn’t really seem to be much that warms the heart if you will. Not really much that feels calming. “Long Shot” comes close to being in that category though. In fact, a lot of Seth’s films seem to have a quick and snappy pace to them. And this one is no exception. Maybe that’s a Seth Rogen trademark, and I kinda like it. Although when it comes to “An American Pickle” I should not have been too surprised given how the film clocks in at around 89 minutes.

They say that if you talk to yourself, that is perhaps a sign that you’re crazy, right? Well, if Seth Rogen happens to fall into a pit of craziness, I’d say it’s worth it because he gives not one, but two likable performances. The two characters he plays can easily be differentiated even though they come from the same bloodline. They also feel like they have easily detectable individual personalities. I will say, Seth Rogen’s voice that he does for Herschel, the older character he plays, is almost on the goofy side, but it works for what it is. It’s like the rest of the movie, simply charming. It’s not supposed to be real, it embraces the fantasy factor, even though it does involve some things that are happening in our world right now. Such as our attachment to technology, vlogging, political controversy, and so on.

This movie is directed by Brandon Trost, who is a name that I am sort of surprised I have not heard so much about. Trost has worked with Seth Rogen for some time because he is a cinematographer on a lot of his movies including “Neighbors,” “The Interview,” and one of my all time favorite comedies, “The Disaster Artist.” However, “An American Pickle” is Trost’s feature-length solo debut. For the record, he has a brother by the name of Jason Trost who co-directed 2011’s “The FP” alongside him. “An American Pickle” on the other hand is a solo project. I really like Trost’s vision of this film. It’s incredibly wacky, super fast-paced, and it almost feels like a live-action cartoon, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I say that because if turn on something like “Bob’s Burgers” or “Family Guy,” there’s a good chance that they don’t waste a second using dead air. This may be a huge exaggeration, but “An American Pickle” almost feels like it belongs in that category when it comes to how it is paced. Granted, given how this is live-action, there’s a lot of time spent where dead air or beats are perhaps used, but once the movie starts, it feels like it refuses to stop. In fact, there are various portions of the score, composed by the legendary Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) that accompany this movie’s quick pace.

Looking back on this movie though, I will admit, I don’t know if all the commentary portions of the film will sit in my memory forever. I’m probably going to remember “An American Pickle” more for how good of a production it was despite being done by a first time director doing a movie without somebody else, and Seth Rogen doing two likable performances. Even though this movie does touch upon a lot of commentary that I liked in the moment, I don’t know if it will be something to be permanently implanted in my memory. I will also say though, even though the movie itself is fast-paced, and I kind of like that, there’s a lot that happens in a certain twenty minute period that feels like we’re getting to the end of the film’s second act lickety split. It’s almost as if the movie wants to end without diving into what could possibly be a moment to breathe. Although in all seriousness, I definitely recommend an “An American Pickle” and if you like Seth Rogen, you’ll like this movie. If you have a Roku or Amazon Fire player, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get HBO Max, but it is available on other platforms including cable, Android TV, Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TV, and game consoles. There are ways to watch this movie, but because society is insane, we can’t have all of them.

In the end, “An American Pickle” is ridiculous fun, but it’s hard to tell at this point if I will remember it by the end of the year. Granted, it has the benefit of being the only original film on HBO Max right now, but still. I really liked Brandon Trost’s vision, and if he has any more solo projects he wants to tackle as a director, sign me up! Seth Rogen, per usual, is really good here. He’s a delight on screen as not just one, but two characters. Bravo! I’m going to give “An American Pickle” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I will be reviewing the movie “Summerland,” which I just saw in the theater. It is playing in some places, but it is also available on VOD if you want to give it a rent. I can’t say much about this movie, but something interesting might happen in my review. Just letting ya know… Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, if you are interested, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “An American Pickle?” What did you think about it? Or, did you get HBO Max? What are your thoughts on the service so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Made in Italy (2020): Taken to the Gallery

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“Made in Italy” is directed by James D’Arcy (Dunkirk, Cloud Atlas) and stars Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Cold Pursuit), Micheál Richardson (Cold Pursuit, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), Valeria Bilello (Sense8, Curon), and Lindsay Duncan (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Birdman). This film mainly revolves around a father and son duo. They travel to Tuscany to sell a house inherited from the late wife of Neeson’s character. Only thing is, the house is run-down and pretty much a mess, so the two have to fix the place up before it can be given to a new owner for the sake of profit. Meanwhile, the son character played by Richardson wants to buy a gallery.

Well, this is my second week in a row where I review a movie, specifically one I saw in the theater, that pretty much centralizes Italy or some sort of Italian vibe. Last week, I reviewed “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” which during my review, I had positive thoughts to spew all around. Admittedly, I’ll probably forget some things about that movie by the end of the year. However, I still need to process “Made in Italy” before such a notion can probably be finalized. Like “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” I really have not heard squat about “Made in Italy.” I read the description regarding the movie and what it’s about. I also saw the trailer for the film hours or so before I left the house to see this movie. That’s really just about all I was able to gather about the film before actually seeing it.

Now that I’ve seen the film, if I had to compare the two Italy-centric flicks of importance of the bat, I will say a positive here… I liked “Made in Italy” more than “The Burnt Orange Heresy.” I also think “Made in Italy” will end up being more memorable and reflected upon as a greater story when it comes to entertainment. At its heart, “Made in Italy” is really just a ride between a father and son who reveal their sense of unease towards each other when they’re together. They have their differences, but we see them together and despite those differences, it all adds up for some great chemistry.

One thing I will say though, this movie, even from a marketing perspective, was sort of a surprise for me because it stars Liam Neeson and the vibe doesn’t feel goofy in the slightest. Sure, you can get a sense of seriousness from movies like “Taken” if you think hard enough or put yourself in the right mood, but in recent years, it almost feels as if Liam Neeson, who I respect as an actor, just signs on to “latest formulaic action movie 101.” The most recent examples for this are “The Commuter” and “Cold Pursuit.” Granted, he’s done other things too including a small voice-role in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” and an uncredited role in Seth MacFarlane’s “The Orville.” But when my mind diverts to thoughts of Liam Neeson, I might as well make a connection of sorts to some goofy, generic action movie that may not be remembered by the average viewer overtime. Heck, there was a scene from “Daddy’s Home 2” that basically parodies a stereotype regarding Liam Neeson’s career choices.

When it comes to “Made in Italy,” I think this is one of Liam Neeson’s standout performances, at least regarding the ones I’ve seen. I still have yet to see “Schindler’s List,” which he received an Oscar nomination for.

I am a bad movie fan. A bad bad movie fan. Apologies to Steven Spielberg.

Now, IMDb lists this movie as a “comedy,” with no other genres attached. But when I saw the trailer, I figured this would be on the drama side of things. Now that I used digital technology to get a little blip of info in my brain, I know better. Nevertheless, when I watched this movie, I was a bit surprised on how much I genuinely enjoyed the comedic moments. Maybe it’s because it’s 2020 and I almost feel like there is nothing to laugh about anymore, but still. Besides, laughter is the best medicine. It’s the perfect cure to realizing your brain has set itself on fire.

LAUGHTER: Try it today! 11 out of 10 doctors and one Movie Reviewing Moron approve!

Believe it or not, this is the third time I have seen Micheál Richardson in something on screen. I’ve already seen him in his earliest acting credit, specifically in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” but he also had a role in “Cold Pursuit.” To be completely honest, I don’t even remember this dude. Although to be fair, he’s mainly done small roles. For research purposes, I have been looking at the “Made in Italy” Wikipedia page, and even though Micheál Richardson’s name is listed on the page, he does not have a personally dedicated Wikipedia page of his own. Seeing him in a heavier role like the one he has in this movie is sort of fulfilling because he got to show off his true abilities as an actor. He and Liam Neeson make a great pair and I bought into both characters personalities and motivations. I should really not be that surprised, but I failed to realize until sometime during the writing of this review, that Richardson is actually Liam Neeson’s son! So their fine chemistry actually makes sense! It’s like they’ve ACTUALLY known each other for awhile, because guess what? They do!

This movie is directed by James D’Arcy, who to this day has 77 acting credits dating back to 1996. As for directing, the only thing he did before “Made in Italy” was a short by the name of “Chicken/Egg.” That movie is also the first screenplay he did. Coincidentally, “Made in Italy” happens to be his second writing credit. I think for a first time feature director, James D’Arcy shines. Granted, I’ve seen better, even from first time directorial efforts from people who have previously established themselves as actors including  Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” as the most prominent example I can think of. I think D’Arcy’s screenplay is coherent, it makes sense. All the points that need to be there have a reason for being there, but there are likely going to be some characters or moments that will leave my memory based on how forgettable they might end up being. There are also a couple shot choices, maybe just one or two, that come across as a little awkward and feel like they defy reality a little too far up the ladder, and this partially has to do with how one of the executions of Liam Neeson’s lines happens to be handled. Again, Liam Neeson gives a great performance in “Made in Italy,” but it doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t have its flaws. It’s a bit cliche, yet enjoyable, but also packed with a suitable amount of fun here and there.

One of the phrases that I’ve learned in middle school that has stuck with me to this point is “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and sure, maybe my first impression of this movie being somewhere in dramaville was debunked. But I’m focusing on the opposite of that phrase here. Because this movie’s title gave me one hope… To feel like I’m in Italy for one to two hours. This movie fulfilled my wish in several scenes. The cover gave me something to look forward to, and I can’t say I was disappointed. After all, this is probably the closest I’m going to get to an Italian trip pretty soon because Italy, along with a majority of the world’s countries, pretty much hates the United States right now. What a time to be alive!

In the end, “Made in Italy” is a surprisingly fun and attention-grabbing movie in several parts. I think if you want some good performances and stunning scenery, you’ll get those two things here. When it comes to James D’Arcy’s directing career, not to mention his screenwriting career, I am curious to see what he plans to whip up next. Is it a drama? Action? Fantasy? Horror? I think as far as first time directing features go, this is a solid jump in the water. Maybe the next movie will bigger splash. Who knows? Anything can happen. I’m going to give “Made in Italy” a 7/10.

I’ll also point out, I did see this movie in theaters, and it is playing in quite a few places right now. However, the film is also available on VOD through various services including iTunes, Google Play, and cable On Demand providers like Xfinity and Verizon Fios. So if you are still uncomfortable of going to a theater right now for whatever reason, you can watch this movie at home if necessary.

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Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone, movie theater chains like AMC and Regal reopen in many markets next week. I know AMC is opening a bunch of theaters near me, as for Regal, I’m not so sure that they’re ready just yet, but I will hopefully be going to see “Unhinged” sometime soon, which is one of the first new releases that is going to be getting people back to the movies. And if the theaters are open long enough, who knows? Maybe I’ll get to see “The New Mutants,” maybe I’ll get to see “Tenet.” I am BEGGING for somebody, ANYBODY, near me to show the film in full frame IMAX. I’ll get a COVID test and hop on a plane somewhere if I have to at this point. I’ll do anything! Throw my phone out the window! Shine a flashlight in my eyes! Drink from a toilet bowl! Save Princess Peach! Build a Death Star by myself! Eat doorknobs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! ANYTHING! But hey, guess what? I’m already going to AMC twice next week, so this should be the start of something satisfying. What am I seeing? Thursday I’m seeing “The Empire Strikes Back” and Saturday I’m going to the “Inception” 10th Anniversary Event. I can’t wait, I’m excited to go back to AMC, even if I will admit they have been involved in some stupid remarks and decisions in recent months, and I do mean it when I say stupid. Granted, I also blame Universal Pictures, but still.

Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Made in Italy?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Liam Neeson performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!