Ticket to Paradise (2022): An Un-Bali-vably Okay Time

“Ticket to Paradise” is directed by Ol Parker (Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again, Now Is Good) and stars George Clooney (Money Monster, Gravity), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Wonder), Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart, Dear Evan Hansen), Billie Lourd (Booksmart, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), Maxime Bouttier, and Lucas Bravo (Emily in Paris, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris). This film follows a divorced couple who fly together to Bali to stop their daughter from marrying someone she just met.

I went to go see this movie last Friday with mom and grandma. If I had the chance to go see this movie alone, I probably would have passed on it. While I like comedies, “Ticket to Paradise” is not my type of movie. I like the people in it. George Clooney is a great actor, and in recent years he has developed a knack for directing through films like “The Midnight Sky” and “The Tender Bar.” I enjoyed both of those films. Clooney is a multitalented personality. Even the younger actors in this film are likable. Kaitlyn Dever has proven to be a force in the acting industry in recent years. I enjoyed her in “Booksmart” and she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her role in “Unbelievable.” Long story short, this film has talent of all ages. Although as I have shown in my recent review for “Amsterdam,” you can have all the talent in your movie that you could beg for and still fail to make something entertaining. So, how was “Ticket to Paradise?”

Well, for starters, staying slightly on topic, it is better than “Amsterdam.” I was not remotely bored. There were select moments where I was more entertained than others, but nevertheless.

“Ticket to Paradise” is a movie I am probably not going to watch a second time. In fact, there are moments during the movie, where I found my hand touching my face. Not because I was scared or shocked, but because I found various segments or lines in the film cringeworthy. Then again, given the type of film that this is, I should not be surprised. It is helmed by the “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” director after all.

When you go to watch a comedy, which “Ticket to Paradise” is to some degree, you would expect it to be funny. Nothing is worse than a comedy that does not make you laugh. I would rather die than watch “Jack and Jill” and the 2016 “Ghostbusters” a second time. As far as “Ticket to Paradise” goes, it is down the middle in terms of humor. It has its ups and downs. Some of it is ridiculously far-fetched and plays out like an episode of a network sitcom that is probably going to be canceled in three months. I remember laughing at select moments of this movie, but I think my experience overall highlights how disposable this movie will end up being. Despite my occasional laughter, I cannot exactly paint a picture of everything that made me laugh.

George Clooney and Julia Roberts, who have previously worked together on the “Ocean’s” franchise, make for a fine pair here. I bought into these two being married and having it not work out in the end. The two have decent chemistry. Unfortunately, some of the writing does not serve their characters justice. I get that this movie involves the obstacle of a divorced couple having to come back together to save their daughter from possibly living a life they previously had. However, I think the amount of “I hate you” or “I wish we were never together” or “marriage sucks” jokes this movie had were enough to fill the Chrysler Building. You can only do so many variations of the same joke and have a select few stick to the wall. Honestly, if I wanted to see a comedy where two people who are no longer married have to stick together to overcome an obstacle, I would rather watch the pilot episode of “The Orville.”

Now there are select comedy gags that are genuinely funny. There is a great hotel room layout bit that had me chuckling. Even though the “I hated our marriage” jokes are a dime a dozen, there is an occasional diamond in the rough. That said, there are funnier movies that you could watch that came out this year. If you want a better comedy with big stars, check out “The Lost City” with Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock. I watched that on a plane this year and had a great time. If you have the chance to check it out, do it. I recommend it over “Ticket to Paradise.”

Although going back to good chemistry, I thought the connection between Kaitlyn Dever and Maxime Bouttier was charming. While the connection between Clooney and Roberts may have overdone it on the comedy at times, I think the cuteness between these two was right in the goldilocks zone. Given the context of the story, I bought into Lily and Gede as a couple from the moment they were together.

Romcoms are not my genre. Although I have seen ones I liked. In fact, I recently watched the 2013 film “Enough Said” and I would recommend it. However, there is a problem I have with this romcom in particular. Based on the way everything is laid out, the movie is somewhat predictable. There is nothing wrong with a predictable storyline if you can make me like the characters or the way said storyline is done. I have said this with “Wonder Woman,” and I have recently said this with “CODA.” I do not think the writing or the characters in “Ticket to Paradise” are admirable enough to justify said predictability.

For certain audiences, I could see this maintaining a status as a comfort movie. I could see this being a movie certain individuals will find on television or a streaming service and watch on a rainy day when there is nothing else to do. As for me, I do not think it will be something I would end up watching again. Although if you want me to be real, when I left the movie, I said parts of it were good. Despite the talent in this film, “Ticket to Paradise” is not going to be nominated for any Oscars. However, I think everyone did their best with the material given to them and managed to make something that I found at the very least… Fine.

In the end, “Ticket to Paradise” is not quite the best comedy of the year, but the best way to describe this movie is to say that it is a halfway decent one time watch for me. If I bought this film on Blu-ray, I might watch it once, say it was okay, but I might end up trading it at whatever store still takes Blu-rays. Much like “Amsterdam,” the big stars like George Clooney and Julia Roberts may have been a selling point for “Ticket to Paradise.” They are likable together despite the occasionally bad line here and there. Although if you ask me, “Ticket to Paradise” perhaps accomplished its goals to a greater degree than “Amsterdam” despite the latter being a movie I would watch if I knew nothing about either title. I did not think I would love this movie. And honestly, I do not love it. But I have to be real. There is some fun to be had, so I would have to give “Ticket to Paradise” a 6/10.

“Ticket to Paradise” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I will have a review for the all new DC film “Black Adam!” It has been years since this film has been announced. Is it worth the wait? We’ll see when the review drops.

Also, this Friday, October 28th, I will be concluding my official Steven Spielberg Month with my thoughts on his 2021 adaptation of “West Side Story.” I had the opportunity to rewatch the film last week so it is fresh in my memory, so I will be sharing my two cents soon! If you want to see this and more from 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 “Ticket to Paradise?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite comedy of 2022 so far? For me, when it comes to pure comedy, it feels weird to say, but “Clerks III” might be my pick. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Christmas (2019): I Gave You My Wasted Time

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“Last Christmas” is directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy) and stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh (Mechanic: Resurrection, Star Trek: Discovery), and Emma Thompson (Saviing Mr. Banks, Sense and Sensibility). This film is about a girl named Kate who is not the most responsible person alive. Despite that, we see her working at a Christmas store under a rather quirky boss. Meanwhile, she encounters a fella named Tom, who she gets to know throughout the movie. As Kate keeps running into Tom, they develop a close relationship that defines a majority of the film.

Just… Out of every movie… I saw this one. THIS IS THE CRAP I PUT WITH FOR YOU GUYS! I saw “Last Christmas” a week and a half before it came out. I would have put this review out earlier, but due to going on a brief getaway to Rhode Island Comic Con, a couple of other reviews being more important, life, and maybe a slight lack of motivation, I delayed this review until after the movie came out. Having said that, I can simply say that this is one of the most forgettable movies I have seen all year. And the little that I do remember, is honestly not favorable.

Let me just remind you all that this movie is directed by Paul Feig. I have not seen all of his work, but what I have seen (aside from “Freaks and Geeks”) is not that great. In fact, he directed the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, which quite honestly destroyed my brain. The impact I have then faced from that movie is one that I will probably never want to achieve ever again. For the record, I don’t hate women, I just want good movies. And having said that, I would have rather seen these women under a completely different brand name. Originality would have probably helped these ladies just a little bit. Compared to most bad movies that I have seen, this is probably one I can think of where I felt at least slightly offended watching it.

With that in mind, “Last Christmas” is a slightly better movie. It’s not good, but for starters, I wasn’t offended. It was a tad more charming overall. But much like 2016’s “Ghostbusters,” “Last Christmas” just ain’t that funny. A lot of the attempts at humor just didn’t land. Granted, I still remember my theatrical experience from seeing “Ghostbusters” and slightly chuckling at ONE joke. Now for the good news and bad news regarding “Last Christmas.” The good news is, I laughed more during “Last Christmas” than I did during “Ghostbusters.” The bad news, in two parts, is that the humor was barely even in place, and I don’t quite remember what exactly was funny. In fact, remember how I said I wasn’t offended by “Last Christmas?” That is completely true. BUT, I was in fact, annoyed.

I saw this coming, as if the title of the film didn’t already give enough away. But the song “Last Christmas” plays in this movie. For those of you who know me in real life, I do celebrate Christmas. I think it is a fun time of the year, even if it is ultimately an excuse to shove materialism up our butts. But the one thing I am a total Scrooge about when it comes to Christmas, is the overplay of various songs that associate with the particular time of the year. I hear enough of the same regular crap on the radio everyday! The solution IS NOT to play Christmas crap instead! This may sound like nothing, but hearing “Last Christmas” play twice in a few minutes is just as annoying as it is to find out that your friend runs an annual awards ceremony dedicated to showcasing the best pieces of gum that are stuck on surfaces.

Anyways, let’s focus on the not at all offensive, but also unfunny characters. I will say that despite how this movie is ultimately rather unmemorable and completely lacking in a full sense of joy, I can say that Emilia Clarke managed to make the character of Kate rather charming. Clarke has a likable presence in this film. She takes a character that could have lacked dimension, someone who could have been the most lifeless individual in film history, and it makes her stand out. I guess it helps that Clarke kind of has that “cute as button” quality attached to her when it comes to appearance. For the little that I can pinpoint to and remember regarding this movie, I recall Clarke being all cutesy, which worked for the final product.

As for Clarke’s love interest, he’s kind of resemblant of someone who is dorky, but also rather charismatic in life. There was a point in the film where I was able to buy the chemistry between him and Clarke. At the same time though, the chemistry did not help the movie from being as sigh-worthy as it is. I think I just invented a new worthy term! Cringeworthy can suck it! Overall, their romance feels cliche, but it when it works, it stands out. Despite the little charm that exists when they are together on one occasion or two, it doesn’t entirely make for a masterpiece. Let’s put the characters in a box like this: If I met one of these two in real life, I wouldn’t instantly want to have lunch with them.

Speaking of less than pleasant characters, this movie also has an obnoxious boss. I have to go back and probably watch about thirty or so other movies this year to come up with a conclusion like this and confirm it, but I’ll say… The chemistry between actresses Clarke and Yeoh in this film is probably the least realistic chemistry I have witnessed all year! WHAT?! DID?! I?! WATCH?! When it comes to the scenes between the duo, I originally got a sense that while Clarke was kind of a slacker, I thought Yeoh was just being a bitch to her at times. As the movie goes on… I dunno, I feel as if these first moments between them never happened.

There’s also this subplot involving the boss that involves her and a separate love interest played by Peter Mygind. This has the potential to be funny and charming, but it really just feels like wasted time. And that’s what this movie is… Wasted time. If you are with friends and family this year during the holidays and if this movie’s still out in theaters, just go see “Star Wars.” Granted, that’s kind of irrelevant because I don’t even know how the new “Star Wars” is going to be, but still… just go see “Star Wars.” I command you! Either that, or go to Best Buy and purchase a copy of one of the “Star Wars” films, present it as a gift, and use that as an excuse to those around you to pop it in the DVD player.

In the end, as much as I would love to congratulate Paul Feig for directing a better comedy than “Ghostbusters,” it’s not enough for me. “Last Christmas” honestly feels like a film that could arguably go straight to Lifetime or Hallmark for the holiday season, but since it has a slightly higher production value and big names attached, it got a theatrical release. Emilia Clarke has some slight charm attached to her and there are a couple of chuckleworthy moments. But there’s nothing of real value that I feel I have received from this movie. “Last Christmas” is not something I’d watch when I’m home alone, and I would prefer that it dies hard. I’m going to give “Last Christmas” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have a couple more reviews for you all including my thoughts on “Jojo Rabbit!” I was very excited to check this out last weekend and I will have my review up by sometime next week! I also have passes for tonight to go to a screening of “Honey Boy” starring Shia Labeouf (Transformers, Fury). If I get around to seeing that, I’ll have my review up as soon as possible. If you want to see this, and other great content, follow Scene Before with email or WordPress account! If you want full access to comments and likes, I personally recommend using a WordPress account. And if you are on Facebook and need a movie reviewing moron in your life, check out my Facebook page for more moronic shenanigans! I want to know, did you see “Last Christmas?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie directed by Paul Feig? I gotta ask because I need a good one. I have “Spy” and “The Heat” on Blu-ray but I haven’t watched either of them yet. Asking for a friend, or even an enemy in this case! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long Shot (2019): The Hillary Clinton Story

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“Long Shot” is directed by Jonathan Levine (Snatched, Warm Bodies) and stars Seth Rogen (Sausage Party, The Disaster Artist) and Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious, Atomic Blonde) as the two work together while one of them, specifically Charlize Theron, tries to become President of the United States, although in reality this would actually never happen because Theron was born in South Africa, but still. While Theron is busy with her work in trying to promote herself as a likable candidate, Rogen joins alongside her as her speechwriter. Unfortunately for Rogen however, his journalistic background does not mix with serious politics.

I saw some bits of marketing for this movie before checking it out and honestly, it looked charming. The two leads are extremely likable so if you put them together, OF COURSE I would be there to see them on screen. If anything has been proven in recent years, if your name is “Seth,” you have a knack for comedy. Seth MacFarlane, Seth Green, Seth Meyers, and the main guy here, Seth Rogen, just because of your name, you are all SETH for life!

Aaaand, since my name is Jack, it appears that I’m not.

In fact, part of me actually forgets sometimes how much I really appreciate Seth Rogen. To me, it’s hard to point out a bad project from him. I even liked “The Guilt Trip!” I’m sorry, but it’s true! Even a formulaic and repetitive sequel such as “Neighbors 2: Sorority Uprising” worked for me. I love his tendency to push the barrier when it comes to comedy, as seen in movies like “Sausage Party.” I liked that movie so much that I saw it twice in theaters! I kind of regret not buying the Blu-ray when it came out, especially considering how I still don’t own the darn thing. In fact, his name helps me for his projects now, because Amazon has a show coming out called “The Boys.” I’ve seen and heard what it is about, but since I have a high dedication to movies, I don’t have much time for TV. Then I saw Seth Rogen’s name attached just recently, and now I want more of this project. It’s similar to another Seth, specifically MacFarlane. I am not much of a Trekkie. I like “Star Trek,” but I am not that religious to the franchise. Once I saw Seth MacFarlane attached to “The Orville,” the series had me hooked.

But we’re not here to talk about TV, we’re here to talk about film. So how was “Long Shot?” It certainly lived up to my expectations. I have to say that it certainly has a vibe of a Seth Rogen film while also being its own thing. Going into “Long Shot,” I have heard somewhere, I can’t remember the exact source, that this is a good date movie. I didn’t go to this movie with my girlfriend, in fact, to this day I can never say I’ve had one. Not that it matters, but having seen “Long Shot,” this is certainly a perfect way to describe it. “Long Shot” is a hip, cool, funny romantic comedy that really puts a lot of emphasis on the comedy. And by romantic comedy I don’t mean chick flick, it has a flair that feels very unisex going on masculine. Sex jokes galore, but luckily just about none of them feel cringeworthy or forced, which as a movie critic, is something that I tend to appreciate nowadays, especially when it feels like you have seen everything when it comes to comedy. Because comedy in movies, at least to me, has either become all sex jokes all the time, or physical mishaps that no pun intended, fall flat, or just plain cringe. “Long Shot,” much like some comedies from last year such as “Game Night” and “Tag,” sort of quenches my thirst like Gatorade.

I already dived into Seth Rogen as a person, but let’s dive into his character. I really like the direction which they took him, he’s a barrier-crossing journalist that leaves his job, which eventually leads to his working relationship with Charlize Theron. He’s not really that formal, which is something that he has to get used to overtime, which leads to a hilarious outfit change when his character, specifically named Fred Flarsky, travels to a foreign country and has to look presentable to a foreign audience.

As for Charlize Theron, I have to give a lot of credit, not necessarily to her performance, but everyone behind the makeup and costume departments of production. It seems like they had a lot of fun trying to come up with how Charlize Theron would present herself if she ever got into politics. It kind of feels like a stereotype, which really works for her character.

Speaking of politics, the president we see in the start of this movie (Bob Odenkirk) is actually kind of hilarious. Granted, there is not much to say about him, and he is sort of one-dimensional, but when he is shown early on in the film, his character reveals what he wants to do with his life. He wants to become a TV star, which makes sense as he was watching himself on TV early on. The more I think about it, the more I enjoy this idea for a singular motivation because you see all of these people acting in one thing or another and they play a president. You never think they are going to become the President of the United States, and now you have a president who wants to go in the realm of television. The more I think about it the more I go, “Yeah, that thing from the movie. Dope.”

And to be honest, I did not have many theories about “Long Shot” going into it. You know, aside from it pleasing me. Why’s that? Well, the movie’s title does not rhyme with “Avengers: Endgame.” But let’s say I had to go back and analyze any previous thoughts I had going into “Long Shot.” I didn’t think that this movie would become as serious as it did. I won’t say when, and I won’t say how, but this movie does become a fantastic parody of how politics works. In some ways, it really is all down to the marketing, and you can’t please everyone, sometimes including yourself. Charlize Theron has this plan to save the planet and not everyone in the world is onboard with it. As a viewer, I was onboard with the idea, but that has probably nothing to do with the movie and maybe more to do with my worldview. And speaking of worldviews…

This movie manages to parody on our media. It doesn’t dive too deep into MSNBC and CNN, but as for Fox News, it hits the organization hard. Granted, I don’t like Fox News, and I think what they did to Fox News in this movie is hilarious, but it also makes me think that this movie is going to piss some people off. I know some Republicans and they are nice people, but I wouldn’t take them to see this movie. Not that this movie is propaganda, but I would rather take someone who doesn’t watch Fox News everyday and bashes on the “fake news media.” And as for my thoughts on that, let’s just admit it, everyone has an agenda and no matter what organization you belong to, there are always guidelines and you are not always going to knock each report out of the park, let’s just be honest about that. Yes, there is a lady that is trying to run for president. And you know what? That’s not even the real propaganda of the movie, which I actually really appreciate. Although it does occasionally attack the Republican Party, the political system as a whole, and even Donald Trump. Because there is a line in the beginning of the film that I actually found rather funny when it came to Charlize Theron’s character wanting to run for president and guy pointed out that nobody wants to know what the president does to their hair, shortly after, he takes that statement back. I kinda like that joke.

In the end, “Long Shot” is a fun movie. In a time where President Orange is in office and he’s trying to get people to see less work from Hollywood, he ain’t stoppin’ me from prompting you guys to check this out. Well, then there’s “Endgame,” in which case, I truly wish this movie luck. The movie brought in a billion bucks for Disney, so yeah. I seriously wonder how much money it’ll lose, if anything. In all seriousness though, if all of your theater’s showtimes for “Endgame” are sold out and you don’t have any kids in your party, consider giving “Long Shot” a chance. I’m going to give “Long Shot” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I am going to have my review up for “Shazam” and for those of you who don’t know, I got the opportunity to watch “Long Shot” for free, and the same goes with another film that is set to come out next week called “The Hustle.” For those of you who have seen the film “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” this is a remake of that film and I have passes on me for that film. I might go see it next week depending on whether someone decides to come along with me. Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Long Shot?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Seth Rogen or Charlize Theron movie? For Rogen, it would probably be “Kung Fu Panda,” which until recently, I might have never known he had a voice in, and for Theron it might be “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Love, Simon (2018): A Movie About Emails, Love, and the Weirdest Principal Ever

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“Love, Simon” is directed by Greg Berlanti, who you may know as a producer for a lot of content that’s coming out in relation to DC Comics and this movie stars Nick Robinson (The Fifth Wave, Jurassic World), Jennifer Garner (Juno, Daredevil), and Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Safe Haven). This movie is about a teenage boy who is nearly done with high school and all of his life he’s been hiding the fact that he’s gay. His parents don’t know, his friends don’t know, his family doesn’t know, nobody knows. One day, Simon comes across something online about someone who has never come out, seeing this, he begins communicating with the individual who happens to be just like him. This leads STRAIGHT into this coming of GAYGE story.

I bought this movie on Blu-ray for 25% less than the sticker price (originally $34.99), and I will bring up the fact that despite its recent release date, I missed “Love, Simon” in the theater. My sister saw it, but on the same day, she was with her own demographic and I was off with someone else seeing another movie at a different theater, specifically “Tomb Raider.” However, when I saw a couple of Blu-ray copies available at a store I went to multiple times while on vacation, I asked my sister if she thought I should pick up this movie, mainly considering how she’s one of the few people I know who saw it. Once I got her seal of approval, I thought I should take a gander at what this was. Having seen this movie now, it’s fine. Just fine. Did I expect it to be great? Not really. I thought it was gonna be really good, and while it didn’t quite MEET my expectations, I can’t say my disappointment levels are enormous, because “Love, Simon” is an entertaining, somewhat fast-moving, enjoyable experience I guess.

Let me just get something straight. I’m straight. I can’t say I completely relate to Simon entirely because I’m not gay, but with ways not having to do with sexual orientation, the writers did a really fine job at making the character of Simon feel like a normal everyday person just like he himself says he is at the start of the flick in narration form. And that is one of the biggest compliments I can give to “Love, Simon,” as a coming of age story, the script does its job (FOR THE MOST PART, THE FLAT-OUT ODD AND OVERUSED SEX JOKES, NOT TO MENTION OTHER CRINGE GOT IN THE WAY). Not only that, but all of the characters around Simon’s age seem to come off as authentic high-schoolers. And I will say, that if I were talking about the first half of this movie, I probably would have a gun to my head while threatened to say what somebody else wanted. I’m not saying the first half was terrible, but certain parts of the first half were not really as lovable the other half. There is some cringe to be had throughout the movie that was rather unexpected.

One such moment comes into play during a scene in a Waffle House. While everyone is reading a play script, A character by the name of Martin, who might as well be young Lex Luthor in “Batman v. Superman,” has a crush on Abby, and it just leads to one of the weirdest exchanges of dialogue I’ve seen in a movie this entire year.

Speaking of cringe, let’s talk about the principal. Ooooh the principal. You know how sometimes maybe you’d think of a school principal as a big, tough, menacing figure? I wouldn’t say that’s who this guy is, I’d say he’s a combination of a clown without makeup, and a f*cking whackjob! Listen, I would sometimes consider myself a horrible person who doesn’t mind talking about sex, I’ll admit it. But in what universe does a principal go up to students and talk about their Tinder date in detail? And this movie also goes to show how ridiculous it’s gotten in terms of people not being able to have control of their own phones in school in perhaps the creepiest way possible! It’s like watching a really bad episode of a cheesy sitcom on ABC. If you remember the movie “Fist Fight,” which I’d honestly be surprised if you do at this point, at least they made the phone controversy that’s going on in schools all over today rather funny!

I already talked about Simon, but when it comes to the way Nick Robinson portrayed this character, I’d say he did a fine job at being authentic, not putting himself over the top, and just acting like a typical teenager. I’ve seen a few other flicks where Nick Robinson happened to be present, but “Love, Simon” is the first one where I happen to see him stand out. I remember bits and pieces of him in “Jurassic World,” I’ll admit it’s been awhile since I’ve watched that movie. I also watched him in “The Fifth Wave,” which was just AWFUL, but his few seconds in that movie worked for me. “Love, Simon” took me from being intrigued into looking for more of Robinson’s work to keeping a good eye on him now.

One thing I’m kind of surprised by when it comes to this movie, and I wouldn’t consider this a huge negative is how tolerant this movie’s list of characters appear to be about alternate orientations. I say this because in real life there’s probably gonna be that one person who either thinks differently than everyone else, or just two sides clashing with each other. While I’m not complaining, this does come off as a shock to me. Although at the same time, considering how much more open-minded we get as a society each and every day, that sort of idea becomes a tad less surprising. When I was in high school, I never really ran into anyone who was flat-out AGAINST homosexuality or the LGBT community, and if there were anyone that falls into that class, no names related to that come to mind. My parents seem to have nothing against said community, some people related to me I can probably tell have nothing against them. I can’t speak for everyone in my family, I don’t discuss this sort of thing with them. Even so, I didn’t expect the world of “Love, Simon” to be so one-sided. Granted, it could be to establish that there are more people that are accepting of the LGBT community than one would think, but still. And also, I will say, despite how many people appear to be on one specific side altogether during this movie, one character, specifically the character Simon is emailing all the time happens to have people who would disapprove of his ways in his family, but other than them, nobody else stands out in that side of the spectrum.

In the end, I gotta say “Love, Simon,” while it did make a neat turnaround in quality as the movie progressed still didn’t have enough in order to make me go “wow.” In fact, while I’ll mention again, the screenplay is one of the better parts of what make up “Love, Simon,” it had too many moments of cringe mixed into all of the decent parts. I didn’t even get into the football field scene which I’m avoiding for the sake of possible spoilers. As a coming of age story, it does its job, but I wouldn’t go all out in saying it does its job well. Plus considering what might be a small potential replay value, an ending that could have worked but had some dissatisfying elements mixed in, and some moments of the movie that might feel forgettable, I wouldn’t say I loved, “Love, Simon.” I’m gonna give “Love, Simon” a 7/10. I have a feeling however based on some thoughts spinning around in my head that I am gonna eventually change “Love, Simon” to a 6. I dunno, only time will tell. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to post my review for “Game Night,” which I do intend on watching sometime this week. Be sure to look out for that, make sure you follow me here on Scene Before that way you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Love, Simon?” What did you think about it? Or, what is one of the most cringeworthy movies you’ve watched in recent memory? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Risky Business (1983): There Is No Substitute

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today I’m continuing my series of Tom Cruise movie reviews. Tom Cruise is one of the most revered actors working today. Over his lifetime, he’s had a lot of movies under his belt, no Oscars, but he was nominated for three of those bad boys. His film acting career began in 1981 with the romantic comedy “Endless Love,” and on September 29, 2017, as far as the United States goes, a new film starring Cruise will be released, which is called “American Made.” Leading up to that film, we’re gonna dive into some of Cruise’s earlier work. To start off the series, I did my review for “The Last Samurai,” which came out in 2003. Today, we’re going back to 1983, to review “Risky Business.” So without further ado, let’s start the review!

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“Risky Business” is directed Paul Brickman, stars Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay (Flipped, Wedding Crashers), and is about a teenage boy whose parents go away and leave him alone at his house. While this happens, the boy is looking for chances to have fun, but this situation gets out of hand soon.

I own the DVD for “Risky Business” and when I actually first got the DVD, my mother said I’d love this movie, and love it I did. This movie seems to be one of those films a lot of people like for one reason or another. It features iconic scenes such as when Tom Cruise is sliding on the floor and dancing in his house to “Old School Rock and Roll.” It has a stellar cast, they all seem to ace their role and pull you into the movie. It feels realistic, it doesn’t feel like a cartoon like “Blues Brothers,” which works as a cartoon-like film, but if you put “Risky Business” side-by-side with “Blues Brothers” right in front of me, chances are I’m gonna say “Blues Brothers” is a fun ride with interesting characters and great humor, but I’m also gonna say “Risky Business” is an art film. It’s not complete goofiness, it’s not absolute absurdity, it’s unquestionable authenticity. Granted there are moments in the film that feel like they can’t be done in real life, but the whole vibe of the movie and the scenes it has can be convincing enough to let you know that this can happen. In some ways this almost feels like a John Hughes film, which is kind of interesting to me because this came out around a time before a lot of his famous movies which he wrote were released. Movies like “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Weird Science,” and “Home Alone,” that is if any of those films were rated R, so this is more like “The Edge of Seventeen,” in some ways when it comes to the mood, which came out in 2016.

Let’s talk about the main character of Joel Goodsen, played by Tom Cruise. Joel is the character that is staying home while his parents are away. While this happens, we see him taking on various responsibilities, hanging with his friends, dancing in his underwear, trying to increase his chances of getting into a high-achieving college, shaping his future, and screwing around with a chick, we’ll get to her in a second. If you ever saw the movie “Home Alone” and ever felt that Kevin in that movie was having the time of his life because his family was away, that is something these two had in common at a point in this movie. The two characters also find themselves in troublesome situations. If you put these two movies alongside each other and tweak them a little bit, you get almost the exact same movie. Joel is simply just a kid trying his best to succeed and at the same time he’s just trying to have some fun, I can relate to that. I might not call a sex worker, I’m 17 after all so I can’t really do that. I live in an area where the age of consent is 16 years old, but still I can’t really do that.

Rebecca De Mornay plays Lana, when we first witness her in the film, she’s actually a call girl who Joel calls one night, and their one night interaction eventually turns into something more. When it comes to casting, there COULD NOT have been a better pick when this movie was in production back in 1982. If you look at De Mornay, she’s basically a dream girl. I’ve gathered this based on her seductive attitude that is executed throughout the film, in terms of overall acting ability, I never really discovered a moment when she was out of character, and JUST LOOK AT HER! She’s also rather funny at times, there’s one line in particular given by her that I find laughable, not sure how many of you agree, but if you watch the movie and hear the tone which it’s delivered and have a realization of the situation at hand, it’s probably gonna make some people laugh. I personally think it’s humorous, so I don’t see why someone else wouldn’t.

JOEL: Don’t steal anything. If I come back here and anything’s missing, I’m going straight to the police. I mean it.

LANA: Joel, go to school. Go learn something.

As far as their relationship goes, this is a relationship that almost seems like it can’t happen in real life, but when watching this movie, you can totally buy into it. This is one of multiple reasons why I’d say this is one of my favorite relationships in all of cinema. Not to mention, how the relationship itself begins is interesting. You see, Lana is a call girl, and she’s someone who Joel calls one night when he has nothing better to do while his parents are gone. When Joel calls Lana, Joel doesn’t even say his actual name to her. Instead of referring to himself as Joel, he says his name is Ralph. Unfortunately for Joel, he failed to realize the cost of what was originally meant to be a one-night stand, which happened to be $300. The acting was perfect during the scene, Joel was questioning Lana, getting a little nervous, and tries to find a way to pay her.

There are a number of supporting characters in “Risky Business,” however my personal favorite would have to be the one in the red shirt you can see in the image above on the left. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, that’s Miles, played by Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds, Better Off Dead). And speaking of favoritism, I’m actually going to be talking about something in association with the topic in just a moment, but for now, let’s focus on Miles. Miles is basically a bad influence to Joel, and out of all the supporting characters shown throughout the movie, Miles definitely moved the story along more than any other. One of the redeeming qualities of “Risky Business,” at least to me, is the screenplay. In fact, if you have seen my recent countdown, “Top 10 BEST Movie Quotes,” one of the quotes from this movie, given specifically by Miles himself, is on that list, in fact, let’s reveal that quote once more.

MILES: “Every now and then, say, “What the f*ck.” “What the f*ck” gives you freedom, freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.”

In my countdown I described the quote as something that can apply a lot to reality. Think about it. In life, people have ideas, doesn’t matter how brilliant or dumb said ideas are, they’re just around. When it comes to certain ideas, one may be uncertain of how it’ll turn out, it could work out, it might not. But some people might say “What the f*ck,” or “What the hell,” or “What the heck,” because while they have no idea where this idea will lead to or how it will turn out, they feel the show must go on. This is not the only great line Miles gives in this movie, there’s more, including this one early on in the film.

MILES: “I don’t believe this! I’ve got a trig midterm tomorrow, and I’m being chased by Guido the killer pimp.”

That line actually took place during a chase scene, and this took place in a Porsche, speaking of which, let’s talk about this exchange between Miles and Joel once the chase ends.

JOEL: Porsche. There is no substitute.
MILES: (Face peeps from back seat of the car) F*ck you.

Curtis Armstrong literally nailed his performance, and keep in mind, this was his first movie. Then again he has done stage work prior to the making of this film. Much like Tom Cruise, if Curtis wasn’t in this movie, he probably wouldn’t have a film career the size he does today. If Tom weren’t in this movie and showed himself off in a breakout role, it’s possible the chance of Cruise starring in the “Mission: Impossible” movies would be impossible, we would have never seen him ask Goose to talk to him in “Top Gun,” we would have never witnessed him live the same day over and over again in “Groundhog Da–err I mean “Edge of Tomorrow.” Regardless of how much you might end up enjoying this film, this film set the stage for both of these careers to take off. The film was a big hit when it came out, film enthusiasts admired it, both actors played likable characters while giving off good performances. Armstrong may have played the character he was most well known for in the next movie he did, “Revenge of the Nerds,” but if it weren’t for “Risky Business,” it’s quite possible that Armstrong would have never had roles in various pieces of work including “Better Off Dead” and “Moonlighting.” Now let’s bring the subject of favoritism back into play here.

I mentioned this before, and I’ll mention this again. From a fanatical standpoint, I admire Curtis Armstrong. You guys may be thinking that I’m just talking about all of this because of my admiration for the man himself, and while my admiration has encouraged me to discover more about him, he has proven from a critical standpoint, not just in my mind, but in other people’s minds, to be a respectable actor. If you watch some of his work you’d understand. Just watch this movie, “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Ray,” or even some of his voiceover work in shows like “American Dad!.”

Anyway, back to the review. One thing I don’t want to forget is the perhaps slightly overlooked performances given by Joel’s parents. Part of this may have to do with some of the movie’s writing, but as I watched this movie more and more, I’ve grown in terms of admiration towards these two characters. The mother is played by Janet Carroll and the father is played by Nicolas Pryor. While these two barely have any screentime, they certainly serve their purpose. The father comes off as stern, although he never really goes over the top with it with obnoxious yelling and the mother seems to be rather worried. She doesn’t really show it emotionally, but it’s something I picked up on while Joel was with her and the father in the airport as she handed money to Joel. If you watch “Risky Business,” listen very carefully to the dialogue in that scene to see what I mean. A line that’s somehow funny to me that comes out of the father’s mouth is “Do I hear others there?” If this line were given in some other way as opposed to how it sounds in this movie than it wouldn’t be funny, but the delivery here is what makes it humorous to me.

There are a lot of things that I like about this movie, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have flaws. One of the most interesting things I discovered concerning the movie’s production is how the ending turned out. The ending that everyone who has watched the film from beginning to end witnessed was not the ending that director Paul Brickman had in mind. His original ending was mostly similar to the one you see in the movie. However when we get to a conversation which takes place in a restaurant Joel and Lana are eating in, we don’t cut away from it. We do get the same cutaways to a couple of young folks giving speeches about their products and the profits they made. Although in the theatrical ending, we cut away from the restaurant and the two are in a park, they’re talking to each other. The talking consists of lines reminiscent of a conversation the two had earlier in the film. Soon we hear this line:

JOEL: “My name is Joel Goodsen. I deal in human fulfillment. I grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night. Time of your life, huh kid?”

The alternate ending is basically the same thing without the cutaway, we see a continuation given to Joel and Lana’s conversation, then Lana sits on Joel’s lap as the two begin to show affection for each other. Then we hear this line:

JOEL: “My name is Joel Goodsen. I deal in human fulfillment. I grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night. Isn’t life grand?”

I personally prefer the alternate ending, and so does Brickman. I prefer it because the original ending feels very tacked on. It doesn’t entirely fit with the movie itself. That’s not to say the ending’s an abomination, it’s not as bad as say, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but it just feels like something that would belong in a different movie. The original ending has a rather comedic vibe, and yes, the movie is funny, but the dramatic tone of the alternate ending seems to fit the movie better and highlight how life isn’t always going to be pretty. Not only that, but it also makes Joel and Lana’s relationship more believable. Now, I mentioned before, there are parts that feel fantastical, but this ending makes this relationship feel more like a relationship. It’s not often that you are in a boyfriend/girlfriend status and talk about bonds in the bank twice in a short period of time. I mean, heck, I can’t recall many times in my life where I hear people talk about bonds in any sort of perspective! Unless we’re talking about possibly Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, David Niven, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Barry Nelson, or George Lazenby.

If there’s one common genre of movies to come out during the eighties whose movies still hold up today according to many people, that is in fact, the coming of age genre. One guy who has mastered this is John Hughes. Now “Risky Business” came out in 1983, John Hughes has done some work before it came out, including “National Lampoon’s Vacation” which actually came out the week prior to “Risky Business.” Although a lot of John Hughes’s movies came out after “Risky Business” and when I watch this movie, I can’t help but connect them together sometimes with comparisons. Between this movie and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” both have an incident involving a valuable car. Based on my memory, the movie also has a similar vibe to “Sixteen Candles” at various times. Another John Hughes film I like is “Weird Science,” and much like this movie, that one has a fast-paced scene in a car, a rather seductive woman, and younger people doing things that their parents would find troublesome. So in a way, it’s possible that John Hughes’s writing may have been inspired by this movie.

Speaking of kids getting into trouble, part of this movie’s conclusion involves Joel having to own up to actions which occurred earlier in the movie. I love this because it shows the imperfections of Joel, he doesn’t exactly earn complete victory. There are lots of movies where we see someone go down, then go completely up. In this movie, we see someone fluctuating up and down as time goes on.

Another part of the movie I’ve found out others admire is the music. The music in this movie is done by Tangerine Dream, who you may also know as the composer of the music heard in 1984’s “Flashpoint,” the 2013 video game “Grand Theft Auto V,” and the 1987 movie “Three O’Clock High.” The score in this movie overall flows naturally and at times it really takes the movie from being a movie and turns it into art. This is shown during the train scene when Joel and Lana are removing each other’s clothes and are about to make love to each other. Not to mention, when it comes to the movie’s music from a general perspective, it’s kinda catchy. Also the inclusion of outside songs worked too for the scenes they were in. A lot of people say that the “Old School Rock and Roll” scene is iconic, but one scene that I personally feel is overlooked is the scene featuring the song “In the Air Tonight.” This is in the same scene towards the end of the movie that Joel and Lana are about to make love to each other on a train. I love how this music blends into this scene. This just screams sensual. The song is not only groovy, but it does a good job at providing the perfect vibe to the scene that’s at hand, and when it comes to Tangerine Dream’s score, that’s something I can say for that too.

In the end, “Risky Business” is a movie that gets better the more I think about it. There are multiple great characters in the movie. Joel, Lana, Joel’s parents, Miles, Guido, a lot of people shine here. From an editing perspective, this film is amazing. The music blends perfectly with every scene it’s featured in, and the screenplay has numerous quotable lines. On IMDb, this film has less than a 7/10. I think this is a little bit underappreciated as far as entertainment value goes, and as far as moviemaking goes. I’m kind of disappointed that Paul Brickman didn’t do much other work after this movie because this is something I’d watch over and over again. I’m gonna give “Risky Business” a 10/10. But wait! Some of you might be thinking, “Jack! You imbecile! You said this movie had flaws!” A movie can still be a 10/10 and contain flaws. YouTube user Chris Stuckmann reviewed “Batman Begins” and said it had an editing problem but ended up giving it an A+, another YouTuber named Jeremy Jahns reviewed “Baby Driver” and said it was ten minutes too long and ended giving it an “awesometacular,” which is his highest grade. I love “Star Wars Episode VII,” I currently have that as a 10/10 movie, but that movie borrows a lot from the original “Star Wars” trilogy. I loved that movie so much in fact that it was my favorite movie of 2015! So yeah, for now I stand by my 10, it could change, who knows? I originally had this movie at a 9/10. This doesn’t mean the movie’s perfect, it just needs a little extra pieces to complete the puzzle and than I’d say bingo. But seriously, this movie’s underrated and depending on what happens, might be my favorite movie I review in this series of Tom Cruise reviews. Thanks for reading this review, I would like to let you know that next week we will be looking at the final entry in the Tom Cruise series, I’m still deciding on what that movie should be, but if you have any suggestions, leave a comment as to what that movie should be down below and who knows, I might review it. If you want to check out my previous entry to the Tom Cruise series, be sure to check out my review for “The Last Samurai.” If you want to read that review, you’ll either find a red box down below that will take you to it or if you’re on my page where all my posts are in order, it’s the post right below this one. Stay tuned for more reviews! Also, I want to know, what are some interesting stories you have about being home alone without your parents? Or if you are someone who is still living with their parents, perhaps a teenager, what are some interesting things you would do if your parents are gone? Let me know all that down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!