80 for Brady (2023): If I Wanted To Watch the Comeback of the Century, I Would Just Watch Super Bowl 51

“80 for Brady” is directed by Kyle Marvin (The Climb, All Wrong) and stars Lily Tomlin (Nashville, 9 to 5), Jane Fonda (Barbarella, Monster-in-Law), Rita Moreno (West Side Story, Oz), and Sally Field (The Amazing Spider-Man, Forrest Gump), with Tom Brady. This film is about four New England Patriots-obsessed women who will do anything to go to the Super Bowl and see their hero, Tom Brady.

This movie does not officially have its wide release until February 3rd. That said, a few theaters near me had early screenings of the film, so I decided to partake in one of them. I was not excited for “80 for Brady.” That said, this could have been a surprise. If “M3GAN” has shown anything, it is that not all movies that come out in the middle of winter are dead on arrival. I like the people in the movie such as Rita Moreno and Sally Field. These are all respectable actresses, but I felt like this movie was beneath their caliber. For instance, Moreno was literally in the 2021 remake of “West Side Story,” which was deservedly nominated for several Academy Awards. “80 for Brady” feels like a step down. Great performers, but as I looked ahead at what this movie could be, my nerves set in.

What did I think of “80 for Brady?” It is, in a word, fine. I am not planning on watching it again though.

Before I dive further into my thoughts on the movie, I want to paint a picture. I live in New England, specifically in Massachusetts. I am not into football, but I know people who are. In fact, one of the people I know who is extremely fanatical over football is my grandmother. She loves the Patriots, she loves Tom Brady, she will watch him now even though his playing for Tampa Bay. You know, until he pretends to retire again.

While I was not in love with the trailers for “80 for Brady,” one compliment I can give to this movie is that every time I looked at the four main women, I felt they were representative of my grandmother. In fact as I watched the movie, several moments reinforced this thought. Lily Tomlin’s character’s house is filled with Tom Brady and Patriots merchandise. When I go to my grandparents’ house, there are a couple rooms that have plenty of Pats novelties and such to go around. For several years, Tom Brady was practically my grandmother’s spirit animal. She has a Tom Brady Funko, a Tom Brady bobblehead, she’s got the whole nine yards. All of the main women have some glimmer of my grandmother’s personality wrapped into one quartet. And while I cannot recommend this movie to everyone, I think I would recommend it to my grandmother specifically.

And when it comes to the performances given by Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno, and Field, they do not reinvent the wheel. But they seem to understand the assignment. They have fun with the material given to them, and they bring a lot of energy to their characters. It is almost a bit cartoony, but I also cannot deny that this is the level of energy that a movie like this needed. The actors let themselves loose and that makes their characters rather charming.

“80 for Brady” is first and foremost, a comedy. As a comedy, it has its ups and downs. Most of the jokes are unmemorable, but there are quite a few that had me laughing. Though this movie also had me asking some questions in regard to how it handles logic. This film is based on people, not to mention events, that actually exist. If you watch this movie, you would notice that there are some unrealistic happenings. Some liberties are definitely taken. I will not give any spoilers, but there are multiple scenes where I gathered that what was happening was practically impossible. In fact, if you look up the true story that inspired this movie, you would find out that this is based on the friendship of five women, not four like this narrative presents. Frankly, I am glad it was not five. The movie is only an hour and thirty-eight minutes, but it packs a ton of material in such a short runtime that it felt overstuffed. “80 for Brady” has a semi-interesting journey of four main characters, but it also has a slew of supporting characters that barely added anything anything to the plot other than noise. Their additions to the story mainly came off as wasted time that kept the movie from being more tightly knit. Sure, there are subplots and other characters that help give the main quartet some background. But what does not help is that the background itself, with the exception of one thing that comes up, almost feels like filler.

My biggest problem with “80 for Brady” is that even in more tense moments, it feels like there are very little stakes. It does not help having a main event of the film be a recent Super Bowl that millions of people have already seen. But what I really mean is that even in its more tense moments, the movie does very little to make me think these women are not going to find some convenient way to move on from an obstacle in their path. There is one particular sequence that is so off the rails that I put my hand over my face before it even happened. Rest assured, when it happened, I cringed. Without giving much away, the sequence in particular involved dancing. Although in the case for “80 for Brady,” the crew behind it should sleep easy tonight knowing that the dance sequence in this film at least had more of a purpose than another sports-related movie to come out in recent years, specifically “Uncle Drew.”

When it comes to my overall enjoyment of “80 for Brady,” it is practically all over the map. I cannot say I hated myself after the movie, but even the moments when I thought the movie was hitting some positive marks, they could fired on a few more cylinders to have the entirety of my attention. The four women are great. There are a few celebrity cameos I enjoyed. But this movie is not enough to get me to run down the streets begging everyone I see to check it out. Some people in my circles probably will check it out regardless of what I think because a lot of my friends and family are from New England, but who knows? Maybe this review will be seen as a warning sign of what is to come.

In the end, “80 for Brady” is neither fumble or a touchdown. It is somewhere in between. I could tell that this movie was trying to get me to smile, but in reality, I might have left with what some might call resting Bill Belichick face. Not a smile, not a frown, just indifference. Is the movie better than I thought it would be? Sure, but that does not say much because my expectations were low to begin with. If you are a die hard Pats fan, you might appreciate some of the moments in this movie, but I think going back to watch some of the Super Bowls which they have played over the years might end up being more exciting than seeing this movie. You could make an argument that this is better than Super Bowl 53, which was an utter bore, but nevertheless. I am going to give “80 for Brady” a 5/10.

“80 for Brady” is currently doing early screenings and will be in theaters everywhere February 3rd. Tickets are now on sale.

Thanks for reading this review! If you liked this review, check out some of my other ones! If you want to see more of my comedy reviews, check out my thoughts on “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” If you want more of my thoughts on movies about football, I made a review back in 2020 where I share my thoughts on the 1983 film “All the Right Moves.” Want another vacation adventure movie? Why not check out my review for “Ticket to Paradise?” Something for everyone! Want to hear about a bunch of movies at once? Check out my picks for the top 10 BEST movies of 2022 and the top 10 WORST movies of 2022! If you want to see 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 “80 for Brady?” What did you think about it? Or, do you watch American football? If so, what team do you root for? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hustle (2022): Netflix Inbounds a Comedically Charming Basketball Flick

“Hustle” is directed by Jeremiah Zigar (We the Animals, In a Dream) and stars Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Uncut Gems), Queen Latifah (Ice Age: The Meltdown, The Equalizer), Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Hell or High Water), Juancho Hernangómez, and Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather). This film centers around a down on his luck basketball scout, Stanley Sugerman. When trying to justify having a place in the NBA, Sugerman finds a young, skilled man from Spain and decides to give him a shot at entering the big leagues.

“Hustle” came out of nowhere for me, partially because Netflix, this film’s distributor, is not exactly the most prominent studio when it comes to marketing their new content. Obviously they have been busy promoting the new season of “Stranger Things,” but that’s all the new content I knew they had coming out recently. To be fair though, of all the streaming services out there, I am more likely to log onto Hulu or HBO Max before I open Netflix. However, much like another Netflix film, “The Adam Project,” which released earlier this year and became a delightful couple hours of entertainment, I watched “Hustle” through a free screener. I did not know what to expect with this film, because Adam Sandler is an enigma of an actor. He can crank out a terrible comedy like “Grown Ups” or give a tour de force performance like he did in “Uncut Gems,” which coincidentally, much like “Hustle,” are both movies that at least partially involve basketball. Now that we have completed the unofficial “Adam Sandler Basketball Trilogy,” can we please get a few more Adam Sandler projects involving golf? I would totally buy a Blu-ray boxset of the “Adam Sandler FORE Quadrilogy!”

Now I mentioned two completely different films that range in overall subject matters and quality. “Grown Ups” is a disposable, flat, dumb comedy that feels more like Adam Sandler wanted an excuse to gather with his friends to hang out for a number of weeks. Making the movie however was a pure afterthought. Then there was “Uncut Gems,” which is not a movie for everyone, but it was certainly one for me. It is a film that has a trademark zaniness to it that makes you feel like you are on drugs within the first ten minutes, only to have the high peak by the end of the runtime. It felt like there was a commitment to the craft. Even Kevin Garnett of all people could act! Who ever thought I would be saying that?

If I had to put “Uncut Gems” and “Grown Ups” on a seesaw, the two films feel rather out of balance. If I take one off and let “Hustle” take its place, the balance is somewhat restored, because I think “Hustle” has the pinch of lightheartedness, charm perhaps, of “Grown Ups,” while also feeling like we are seeing the same level of commitment Sandler and crew put into a movie like “Uncut Gems.” “Hustle” is a genuinely good film, and part of me is delightfully surprised because Adam Sandler movies are like a box of chocolates. You never know if you are going to smile, laugh, cringe, or have your heart beat straight out of your chest. I would say “Hustle” brings more smiles and laughs than anything else.

“Hustle” does not have quite the same laughs that you would get in say “Big Daddy” or “Happy Gilmore.” That said, the film occasionally has its moments of levity. And while Adam Sandler is known for being funny, I do not think that is the greatest strength in “Hustle.” The greatest strength in regard to “Hustle” is instead its captivation, its ability to inspire. I can say that after watching “Hustle,” it did not make me want to work out. It did not make me want to join the NBA. I am not much of an athlete and I am literally sitting on a bed right now with a party size pack of Lay’s Wavy chips as I type part of this review. But I think if I were a certain age, or in a certain mood, I would probably be inspired to partake in such activities if I had the proper motivation. Speaking of motivation, this is something that brings me to another strength of the film, how much it reminded me of my own life.

It is odd to think about, but as someone who is not exactly fit and eats fast food all the time, I somehow relate to the main baller of the film, Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez) (left). I will not dive into spoilers, but this film presents an issue on mental health, self esteem if you will. There is a key plot point in the film where we see Bo Cruz playing ball and someone in particular is “getting inside his head.” Obviously, the goto counter here would be to tough it out, not listen to a word this person says, which may say something about how men live with toxic masculinity but the film uses this issue to tell an effective story. It reminds me of why I sometimes fail to complete certain tasks or goals, it is either because I am not good enough at something, or someone on a variant of the receiving end decreases my motivation or makes me feel like I am not as skilled as I actually am. It is possibly why throughout my years in school I failed certain assignments. It is not because I am incapable of getting these things done. Sometimes I might be incapable (I am terrible with foreign languages), although that is not the point. But without dropping names, during my school years, there have been outside forces that brought me particular worries. This is also why I am not athletic material. It is not that I am incapable of handling being called silly names (What do you think I do here on Scene Before?), but this movie presents a case where being an athlete implies that you will only get better with what could perhaps be perceived as “tough love” and embracing each moment as if you were a statue.

One of my favorite movies of all time is the 2014 sensation “Whiplash,” where Miles Teller stars as a jazz student and the one thing standing in his way is an obnoxious teacher played by JK Simmons. Adam Sandler definitely plays a more encouraging coach compared to JK Simmons as the previously established teacher, but there are tiny glimmers of the relationship between Adam Sandler and Juancho Hernangómez’s characters that remind me of Teller and Simmons because Sandler occasionally relies on unusual tactics to teach Hernangómez how to be a better basketball player. Thankfully for Hernangómez’s noggin, Sandler never throws a chair at him. But sticking with the mental health theme, there is a point where Sandler calls the student’s mother a whore to mess with his head.

There are few problems I have with “Hustle,” although I would say that the movie does become a tad predictable at certain points. That is not to suggest I did not enjoy the ride, but as someone who has seen certain movies about athletes, I could tell where certain things may have been going. There are also certain trademarks of Bo Cruz’s character we see during the film that start off as a joke, become an important plot point, but by the end of the film, I am not necessarily thinking about it all that much, it almost feels like filler, but it barely qualifies as something that isn’t. That said, “Hustle” is worth a watch. I am not much of an athlete, but even I would say that this movie is not quite out of bounds.

In the end, “Hustle” is a fun, smile-inducing story about an aspiring athlete. It is a film where an American scout and a Spanish baller develop an unlikely bond filled with charisma, even if it is a business relationship. The film, to my surprise, starred some actual NBA athletes who had some genuine acting talent. I was delighted to know that Bo Cruz was portrayed by a forward with NBA experience. Anthony Edwards also makes an appearance in the film. No, not Goose from “Top Gun.” But I am talking about the Anthony Edwards who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their acting talents are beyond what I would have expected for professional basketball players, especially after seeing two “Space Jam” movies where the lead NBA players give laughable performances. To be fair though, the direction and script may have to do with such performances in those cases. Having said that, check out “Hustle” whenever you can, and I am going to give the movie a 7/10.

“Hustle” is now playing in select theatres and is now available on Netflix.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to read more of my recent content, feel free to check out a post I did on the endless reasons why I cannot stop watching “Belle,” an anime from last year that may have warranted more repeat viewings than a vast majority of the movies I have watched throughout my life. It is that good, and in this 5,000 word post, I will tell you why. Also, speaking of “that good,” my next review is going to be for the all new film from Daniels, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” I finally got a chance to see this film in the cinema, just in the nick of time before it became available for streaming, and without going into detail, I have things to say. Plenty of them in fact. 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 Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Hustle?” What did you think about it? Or, here is a creative question, what is your favorite Adam Sandler movie involving sports? For me, I have to go with “Happy Gilmore.” Any movie where an out of shape dude punches Bob Barker in the face is worth at least one watch. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

King Richard (2021): I See Venus. I See Serena. I See Will Smith in a Finely Crafted Tennis Flick

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

“King Richard” is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men, Top Boy) and stars Will Smith (Suicide Squad, Wild Wild West), Aunjanue Ellis (Girls Town, Lovecraft Country), Saniyya Sidney (The Passage, Hidden Figures), Demi Singleton (Godfather of Harlem, Goldie), Tony Goldwyn (Scandal, Ghost), and Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, Ford v Ferrari) in a film where we see the childhood lives of Venus and Serena Williams, two people who have become tennis professionals, through the eyes of their father, Richard.

Erin Cummings

Before we go any further, I want to give a shoutout to actress Erin Cummings, who has a small role in the film. I watch her almost every other time she appears on the YouTube series “The John Campea Show,” so I want to spread my support. I enjoyed seeing her in this film. I have nothing positive or negative to say about her performance, after all, she’s only around for a minute, but I just wanted to say, “go Erin!” Anyway, on with the review.

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

I saw this film at a press screening back in November and I was not surprised to be able to get a seat looking back, after all, this is a Warner Brothers film, and all of the Warner Brothers films to hit theaters in 2021 also made a simultaneous debut on HBO Max. I guess some people just wanted to skip this film to watch it at home. I’m sitting here as a critic trying to give you a good reason to go see this film immediately. Given how it is now off HBO Max, I might as well suggest why you should watch it in theaters… And compared to some other films out this year, I cannot come up with many. This is not a bad film by any means, but there are certain aspects about it that stand out more than others.

This is a rather oddball way to tell the story of two tennis icons. You might be thinking, oh my god! Serena and Venus Williams! I cannot wait to see how they became who they were! Sure, you get that. But keep in mind, the movie is not called “Serena and Venus.” It’s called “King Richard,” therefore it is about these girls’s father and it in a way tells the story through his eyes.

Now, I like a good father figure. I think we’ve seen a number of them in films from Uncle Ben in “Spider-Man” to Cooper in “Interstellar.” I think if anything, “King Richard” showcases how much its title character loves his children, but as I am watching this film, there are times where I just want to look the other way and I feel like he is doing something that nearly falls out of line. This is based on real people, so for all I know, this film could be referencing a ton of Richard’s mannerisms, but sometimes watching him speak or do something on screen felt nearly headache-inducing. Although I will say one thing about Will Smith, even though there were slight times that maybe I did not always like his character, I think given the material, Smith excels in terms of his performance. I felt every line of dialogue and I think Smith did an okay effort at bringing Richard Williams to life.

One of the things I did like about his character is that said character, not to mention this film in general, sort of represents the struggle that people of his kind, specifically black people trying to make it big in a white-dominated United States face. And the way this story is told sort of encapsulates that. There’s this one scene in a particular neighborhood that solidified that. In fact, if you watch the movie, and this exchange is in the trailer, all he wants for his daughters is to grow up and not be “on these streets.” I get where he’s coming from, and performance-wise, this was properly emoted.

At the same time, even if you took the aspect of underrepresented communities and the dangers of certain areas out of the equation, at the end of the day, one could look at this film as the story of a father who truly loves his daughters. He would do anything for them, but I also look at him and I feel like even though he is their parent, he almost comes off as controlling. I think a second viewing would be much needed at this point because for all I know, maybe I was in a certain mood that day and maybe he actually was justified from start to finish, but I feel like Smith put on an extreme performance for what seemed to be an equally extreme character. I could also kind of look at this film as what happens when you have nepotism come into play. Of course, you’re going to automatically think your kids are the best. My mother thinks I’m the best. But I KNOW I’m not. She’ll say it a thousand times over and over, doesn’t make it true. Those may just be words of encouragement as some sort of dream may be achieved in the process.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because Smith’s character does some occasional oddball things in this film, doesn’t mean I think it’s bad. Conceptually, it sounds fine. Part of me really enjoys tennis, and this film is about two of the most popular players in the sport’s recent history. I knew who they were, but I never knew about their childhood, I never knew about how they became so great at the sport itself. This movie was occasionally a fine history lesson.

When it comes to the two performers playing Venus and Serena, or Aunjanue Ellis and Demi Singleton, I think seeing these two together may have been the best part of the film. The duo felt like real sisters, and when their dad is in the mix, I think the best chops are executed out of all three of these guys. Seeing their relationship to me was one of the film’s major highlights.

Once again, I want to point out that this is based on true events, and as for the true events portion of this film towards the end, with this big tennis match, it’s some mighty intense stuff. If you enjoy tennis, or you don’t really know the stories of the Williams sisters, which I did not, I think you might get a kick out of the final act. Stay tuned.

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

In the end, “King Richard” is a film that I recommend to everyone who likes tennis, likes Will Smith, and wants an empowering story about two young girls. This is the kind of film I think some people will need for the most part. It’s about not giving up, not backing down, and giving it your all to be the very best. I think we all need that in some way. I’m going to give “King Richard” a 7/10.

“King Richard” has released in theaters this November. If it is playing near you, tickets are available.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that the end of the year is coming up so this January I will be sharing my picks for the top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2021. I cannot wait to share those picks. 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 “King Richard?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal favorite Will Smith movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021): The Most 2021 Movie Ever

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is directed by Malcom D. Lee (Girls Trip, Night School) and stars LeBron James (The Wall, Smallfoot), Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2, Crash), Khris Davis (The Blacklist, Judas and the Black Messiah), Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery, The Walking Dead), Jeff Bergman (The Looney Tunes Show, Teen Titans Go!), Eric Bauza (DuckTales, Ben 10: Omniverse), and Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Greatest Showman). This film is the sequel to the 1996… Cult classic? I don’t know what else to call it. I really didn’t like the film. Just gonna say it. Either this film is the sequel to the 1996 film “Space Jam,” a movie where Michael Jordan joins forces with the Looney Tunes to fulfill both their destinies through a game of basketball. In this 2021 sequel, LeBron James’s son is trapped in the Warner 3000 server and to save his son, James must compete in a basketball game with the Looney Tunes against Al-G Rhythm and the Goon Squad. If LeBron and his team win, he gets his son back. If Al-G and his team win, LeBron will lose his son and the Looney Tunes will be erased.

I did not grow up in the 1990s. In fact I was born a few years after “Space Jam” came out. So it was never a part of my childhood in a way that it may have been for some people. I would hear the name come up every now and then and part of me wanted to know what I was missing. The whole idea behind it sounded like something from another universe. I for one do not usually put two and two together, but as peculiar as it sounded, it also came off as intriguing. I for one wanted to keep my eyes peeled as to how such a crazy idea that sounds like it could have been designed by an eight year old would rise to fruition. Well… it definitely sounded like something an eight year old would come up with, that’s for sure. Between Michael Jordan’s below par acting, the usually unfunny and campy writing, and occasionally lackluster camerawork, the film just didn’t click with me. And much like “Uncle Drew” in 2018, which I ended up claiming that it “didn’t do much of anything except chop my head off,” “Space Jam” is not even an original idea! They took the idea from an ad campaign!

As much as I would love to one day see the GEICO cinematic universe, where 90 minutes at the AMC won’t exactly save you 15% or more on concessions, “Space Jam” to me, was not quite a commercial failure, but it had a ton of flaws. Although I will say that it truly is a product of its time and embraces the 1990s cheese.

Now we have this part live-action, part animation, part heavy modern CGI animation “Space Jam” sequel. Is it better than the original?

Kinda? I don’t know. Let’s just put it this way, the original “Space Jam” was a product of its time and does not really hold up as much today as it did when it came out. I feel like “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is going to suffer the same fate overtime. Between the pricy yet somewhat unrealistic visuals, the cinematic universe element, and a heavy reliance on computers and sci-fi, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is probably the most 2021 movie to ever 2021.

Going back to the recently mentioned “Uncle Drew,” one of the things I hated about that movie is how much they seemed to shoehorn Pepsi product placement into every other scene. The plot of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is a bit more in your face with product placement because it relies on LeBron James teaming up with the Looney Tunes to find a bunch of a different characters from the Warner Brothers library. The whole movie is basically a promotion for Warner Brothers. This begs the question… Is “Space Jam: A New Legacy” even a movie in the first place? In fact, one of the big things people have been talking about at the end of the movie is that a majority of the audience in the big game happen to be Warner Bros. characters or characters from a variety of properties. People even brought up characters from “A Clockwork Orange” and asked why they’re in a family-friendly movie. I don’t really have that complaint because “The LEGO Batman Movie” had characters from “The Matrix” which is also rated R. So that’s just me. Either way, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” feels like it is trying harder to get people to attach themselves to other Warner Brothers properties more than they are to Looney Tunes or LeBron James. I understand that the Looney Tunes has had a history of pop culture references. Heck, one of the moments I recall often from the original “Space Jam” is a reference to “Pulp Fiction.” But this movie barely feels like it has a clear identity at times and uses alternate properties in your face to move the story along.

Let’s talk about LeBron James. I know he’s had a few acting credits. Frankly I have not seen any of them. I still have not seen “Trainwreck,” “Smallfoot,” or any other movie or show he’s been in. I’ve seen some of the TV shows he produces including “The Wall,” but I cannot recall ever seeing him act. And I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that “Space Jam: A New Legacy” showcases more of a semblance of acting talent from LeBron James than the original “Space Jam” did from Michael Jordan. The difference at times feels night and day. The bad news is that the good news does not really say much because LeBron is not that great of an actor. In fact, at times he’s very flat, especially at the beginning of the movie. I’ll defend James in one area. I think he could have a reputable career in voiceovers if he chooses to go down that path. But he is nevertheless not the greatest actor. Nor is he the greatest character in this movie. In fact at times, LeBron James is kind of an asshole. Now, I know that movies are supposed to get you to like assholes as they progressively change into better people. But the way that LeBron treats his son in the movie kind of left a bad taste in my mouth as far as my first impression goes and sort of made James himself lack dimension.

Also, I know that this is a kids movie, and I’m trying my best to judge with the notion in mind that someone younger could end up watching this film and calling it the best thing ever. I think that scenario is entirely plausible. If you have kids, I think they will end up really liking the film. It’s got the Looney Tunes in it, it’s got a bunch of other Warner Brothers properties in it. But at the end of the day, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” feels like it could end up brainwashing kids to buy more Warner Brothers stuff just because they saw it in this movie. If anything, this reminded me of “The Emoji Movie” where the characters jump from one world to another and every other plot thread is utilized through existing properties or companies from Candy Crush Saga to YouTube! Thankfully, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is nowhere near as annoying. But if I left the movie saying to myself… Hmm, I wanna go watch “Wonder Woman.” I think it is ultimately a slight detractor on “Space Jam: A New Legacy” because well, unlike “Wonder Woman,” I do not want to go back and watch “Space Jam: A New Legacy” again.

I also want to address the Lola Bunny controversy… I’m not talking about the way she looks. I don’t care if they desexualized her. Although weirdly enough, the Granny character feels borderline sexualized at times. Take that as you want. What I do want to talk about is Zendaya playing the character. I get it, Zendaya is becoming an increasingly iconic actor. In fact, she recently won a Primetime Emmy. So that proves that she has talent. As far as her being in this movie, her voice kinda fits the character, but I want to talk about a trend that is somewhat becoming a growing concern. Taking film actors who are not primarily voiceover artists, and giving them voiceover roles just for the sake of having big names. That would be fine if they could find anyone else, but between Zendaya not feeling like she has the spark I would have expected from a character like this (although I liked her in the beginning) and the fact that this takes a role away from a voiceover professional, it is kind of a turnoff. I’m not against big actors getting voiceover roles. I’ve seen a lot of big actors have voiceover talent and it pays off. But the more I see roles like this given to actors of Zendaya’s caliber with diminishing room for actual VO artists, the more it worries me.

I will also say that Don Cheadle is surprisingly okay in the film. He’s not great. I think part of it is due to the somewhat on the nose writing, but I think Cheadle did an okay job playing a cartoony villain that really is not a cartoon. I didn’t like the voice deepening they gave him, I think that at times was a bit of a turnoff, but he was decently cast and Cheadle brought some swagger to the role.

In the end, as far as Warner Brothers commercials go, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is inferior to any of the “LEGO” films and “Ready Player One.” At least in “Ready Player One,” they utilize all the Warner characters in a way that has them fascinatingly contributing to the story and they have some outside characters from other properties coming together to affect the way things go. In the end, that film felt like a pop culture celebration while also being a ridiculously fun movie, hence why it became one of my favorites of 2018. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” comes off as a bunch of studio executives trying to sound cool and connected with audiences but failing in the process. LeBron James as a character gets better in the movie despite leaving me with a poor taste at first. Although I found it somewhat funny how there’s a scene where he claims he does not have time to work with Warner Brothers because he’s hyper-focused on basketball, but at the same time, he’s had a history of production on the side. “The Wall” would not have had four seasons on NBC if were not for you! You literally were involved in the production and marketing of “Million Dollar Mile!” Heck, you had time to do this movie! Either way, I’m going to give “Space Jam: A New Legacy” a 4/10.

Will kids like this movie? Yes, they would. But as an adult, I can never watch this movie again, and part of me fears that this movie could have the same effect on children that maybe “The Emoji Movie” may or may not have been shooting for.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is now playing in theaters everywhere and now you can stream it exclusively on the ad-free version of HBO Max until 31 days after its theatrical release.

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned for Thursday, July 22nd because I will be spilling my thoughts on Jack Sparrow’s most expensive adventure yet, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in my ongoing “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews” review series! Stay tuned for that and more on Scene Before, and you can do so by following the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” What did you think about it? Or, which movie is better? “Space Jam” or “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” Frankly, I’m torn. But leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Boogie (2021): Keeps on Dribbling, But Misses Some Shots

“Boogie” is written and directed by Eddie Huang (Huang’s World, Fresh Off the Boat) and stars Taylor Takahashi, Taylour Paige (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, White Boy Rick), Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Bumblebee). This film centers around an aspiring basketball player named Albert Chin, also known as “Boogie.” He lives in Queens, New York with his family who are of East Asian descent. In this movie, Chin must balance the pressure from his parents to get into a good college with a decent scholarship, his love life with his new girlfriend Eleanor, and his dreams of making it to the NBA.

When I review a movie, you may notice that I often point out some of the other projects that the crew behind the film has done. For example when I reviewed “News of the World,” I would point out the director, in this case it would be Paul Greengrass, and I would highlight his previous work, which included, as marked in the following parenthesis, (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93). Then I would go on to talk about the actors. For example, you have the star, Tom Hanks, then I followed his name with parenthesis as well, for him it was presented as (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Toy Story), given how those are two of his projects. For this film, “Boogie,” you may notice I included parenthesis for director Eddie Huang, who has produced one of the more talked about network comedies in recent years, “Fresh Off the Boat.” Although for Taylor Takahashi, who plays the film’s lead, he has no parenthesis. That is because, and part of me is somewhat surprised, that this is Takahashi’s acting debut. Not just for features, but for anything. Now to be clear, I got this information from IMDb. For all I know, before this movie Takahashi did something on the side that maybe was either less professional, not as well known, or maybe done in his years of being educated. I do not know the full story.

I should also point out that he is not the only actor with barely any documented experience here, because Pop Smoke is in this movie, and this is likely his first rodeo in feature filmmaking. He’s more known for music, not film.

Also, going back to the director, Eddie Huang, this is, also, his feature-length debut from the director’s chair and in terms of penning the script. Huang also wrote and directed a short titled “Bitch, Please!” alongside two other people, but “Boogie” is a whole different animal for him. He wrote the script himself and he directed the movie himself.

With all that being said, the good news is for the people who will look back at this movie as a debut, chances are they could potentially go up from here.

This is not to say that “Boogie” is a disaster. I will say right off the bat, I would much rather watch “Boogie” than the live-action “Tom & Jerry” movie. But there are other movies from this year I would go back to first including “The Marksman,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Those all happened to be fun or attention-grabbing experiences that may be harder to forget than others. As for “Boogie,” even though there are elements I like, piggybacking off my previous statement, this film belongs with the “others.”

I want to talk about Taylor Takahashi (left) in this film. Now I will start off by once again confirming that this is Taylor Takahashi’s first acting role, or least the first he is credited for. Maybe he has a bright future ahead, but unfortunately he got his career started in a forgettable movie. I think as far as a first performance goes, I was quite impressed. I would not mind seeing more of Takahashi in the future whether that means they make a sequel to this movie, which I doubt would happen, or if he ends up in some other movie or television show. However, his character kind of had this asshole personality at times. I am not saying Boogie was a complete moron, if I were in this movie’s universe and had the opportunity to grab a couple slices of pizza with him, I would not back myself out of the opportunity instantaneously. After all, who can deny pizza? But I felt like he came off as slightly less relatable than he could have from his personality. There are ways that I did relate to his character from having parents pressuring me to stay in school and having aspirations that go beyond Mars, but for some reason, I did not always click with his character. My impressions of him throughout the film were not the greatest. I just found him to be a goofball, and almost in a way that would make him look like a jerk. I wish I could be more descriptive, but I think part of why I am occasionally blanking during this review is because as you may have noticed recently, I have been less active on Scene Before because I’ve had priorities, which makes me determine which movies are easier to forget overtime and which ones are easier to remember as well. This is one is, as you may have observed, easier to forget.

Now I talked about the first timers from Taylor Takahashi to Eddie Huang. They put on a good show whenever possible, but I do not want to forget some of the other cast members like Pamelyn Chee and Perry Yung, who admirably play Boogie’s mother and father, but perhaps the most memorable performance of the film for me came from none other than Taylor Paige, who plays Boogie’s love interest, Eleanor. There is something about this casting choice that feels almost incomparable. Paige checks the marks of her character being fun, outgoing, and relatively casual at times. I really liked her in this movie, and some of my favorite parts are between her and Boogie because it is a fascinating look at how people manage love lives in this particular age and demographic. I was intrigued.

I will also say this… Once again, I have not watched this movie since March, so maybe I have this stored in my short term memory or something, even though this movie pretty much revolves around basketball and someone who really enjoys playing basketball, I barely even remember any of the basketball scenes in this movie. I think I might need a rewatch to actually remember any of those scenes. This is not a bad movie, but to call it an instant classic would be a straight up lie. And I don’t think I have any plans to watch it a second time.

In the end, “Boogie” kind of disappointed me. I saw the trailer for this film when I was at the theater getting ready to watch “Minari,” and “Boogie” looked pretty good, so I had some positive expectations. Unfortunately, those were not met. If you want a good recent basketball movie, although in this case, it would be more about the coach as opposed to an individual trying to become a standout player, I highly recommend “The Way Back.” Between Ben Affleck’s insane performance and the outstanding script, I cannot help but beg you all to watch that movie at least once. “Boogie” on the other hand, maybe don’t watch it. Maybe it could be okay background noise, but for me, I wanted more. I wanted something better. If Eddie Huang makes another feature-length movie, I will root for him, and the same goes for Taylor Takahashi in his acting career, but this was not the best start for either of those two. I’m going to give “Boogie” a 5/10.

“Boogie” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open and you can also buy it at home on VOD services such as Apple TV, Prime Video, and VUDU.

Thanks for reading this review! I’m pretty excited for the next couple of reviews I plan to get out to you guys, and those are a couple recent action type of films. I’m talking about “Nobody” starring Bob Odenkirk, and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I cannot wait to talk about both of those.

Also, I have an announcement to make. For those of you who read this year’s Jackoff Awards, follow Scene Before on Facebook, or subscribe to the Jack Drees YouTube channel know that I announced “7 Days of Star Wars.” That series was scheduled to be released on various days on the week of May 2nd to May 8th, which would coincide with “Star Wars Day.” Unfortunately, due to being busy with school right now, wondering when I’ll get my vaccine, and an internship which is allowing me to do a side project that I will soon present to you all, those dates will not be met.

Here are the new dates for the upcoming “7 Days of Star Wars” reviews.

THE PHANTOM MENACE: May 23rd
ATTACK OF THE CLONES: May 24th
REVENGE OF THE SITH: May 25th
STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: May 26th
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: May 27th
RETURN OF THE JEDI: May 28th
THE FORCE AWAKENS: May 29th

These dates are subject to change, as last year has proven that even the impossible is possible. May the force be with you, emphasis on the May.

If you to see more cool upcoming content on Scene Before, give the blog a follow either with an email or WordPress account, and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Boogie?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever watch “Fresh Off the Boat?” Tell me your thoughts! Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

All the Right Moves (1983): An Infinitely Wrong Movie

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time for the second entry to the official Scene Before event, Tom Cruise Month! It is week 2 in this limited run of reviews, or as I like to call it, a cure to boredom. I love Tom Cruise, I sometimes forget how much I appreciate him as an actor, not just as a performer trying to encapsulate the heart and soul of the individuals he portrays on screen, but also how much he is willing to learn, how much he is willing to risk his own life just to entertain a modern audience. He’s this generation’s Buster Keaton if you ask me.

We are still early into Tom Cruise Month, and speaking of early, we are going to travel back to the 1980s, when the actor was just getting started, taking on films like “Endless Love,” “The Outsiders,” and “Risky Business.” But we are not going to talk about those films. I didn’t watch those a few days ago. Although, the thought of going back to watch “Risky Business” does intrigue me. Instead, we are going to dive into the 1983 flick “All the Right Moves.”

So let’s dive right–Wait… Tom! I didn’t mean that way! Ah, whatever, let’s start the review. This is a series I like to call…

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

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“All the Right Moves” is directed by Michael Chapman (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver) and stars Tom Cruise (The Outsiders, Risky Business), Craig T. Nelson, and Lea Thompson in a film about a teenage boy from a western Pennsylvania town looking for a football scholarship. The town is dominated by a steel manufacturing company, and it is kind of boring, but Cruise does have young Lea Thompson as a girlfriend, so that keeps life interesting. The movie follows Cruise as he has to deal with the pressure of a big football game, and the challenge of trying to get into a good school while living in a town that seems to be stuck in its own traditions that he may consider beneath him. Gotta be honest, and you’ll hear some explanation about this in the review. When it comes to the high school kid wanting a scholarship or a desire to get into a good school, this is a plot I think “Risky Business,” another Tom Cruise movie, did three times better than this piece of crap.

“All the Right Moves” came out in 1983, back when Tom Cruise was getting started, before Oprah Winfrey ever could have been concerned about getting her furniture ruined. I bought this movie in 2017, watched it once a little less than a year later, hated myself afterwards, and moved on with my life. I did not think I would watch it again, but I kept it in my collection because when it comes to what I’ve got in said collection, Tom Cruise is such a crucial part. I believe I have more Tom Cruise movies in my collection than I do for Criterions. That’s how much I am willing to embrace the dude. I don’t agree with his personal views in regards to Scientology. But I don’t let that get in the way from how much I respect him as a performer. Granted, a lot of his roles have gotten more complex and dangerous as time has passed, but even back in the 1980s, I can sense strong acting chops from Cruise himself.

So, I have the Blu-ray, so I took it from the collection, carefully inserted it into the player, it asked me if I wanted to resume from the last place I stopped because my 4K Blu-ray player apparently remembers s*it from 2018 and robots are taking over the world, said no, then I began watching the movie.

It still f*cking sucks. Plain and simple. I have not seen all of Tom Cruise’s work. Heavy hitters like “Vanilla Sky,” “Collateral,” and “Cocktail” are all titles I have not dived into as of yet. I fell asleep during the first few minutes of “Jerry Maguire,” but that was more or less because I was tired and not because the movie sucked. But if you ask me, if I had to pick a least favorite Tom Cruise movie of the ones I have seen, this would be it. Either this or “Mission: Impossible II,” which I have previously labeled in my review as “Impossible to Enjoy.”

I am being harsh on this movie, admittedly, so I will point out that I cannot overlook the things I liked about it. Tom Cruise is pretty good as the starring role, I like Craig T. Nelson as the coach, the performances all around are halfway decent. The cinematography and directing are both competent. But even though Tom Cruise plays the lead character well, I cannot say I related to him. Yes, I don’t play football. I don’t even like football! I think as a sport it is one of the most overrated concepts I have ever seen, even though I have watched the Super Bowl for the ads. Now, I understand that one of the big techniques when writing a likable main character is to have them be broken, they can’t be perfect. But there are certain times where Tom Cruise’s character of Stefen just comes off as a dick. I don’t know why. Just the way he talks, he feels more selfish than anything. And I understand that when it comes to storytelling, everything is typically supposed to come from the lead character’s perspective. But when your lead character is doing things that make them come off as a complete jackass, why should I care? I was able to defend him maybe once or twice, but there are so many other instances where a part of me died inside.

I mean, if you look at a similar movie starring Tom Cruise, specifically “Risky Business,” I felt for his character for just about every second of the movie. And whenever there was a fault that he made, it didn’t make me roll my eyes and wonder why I was rooting for him. His character, Joel, was relatable, and at times I kind of wanted to be him. I don’t think I’d want to be Stefen from “All the Right Moves,” even if I did get to date a young Lea Thompson in high school… If I were Joel I’d get Rebecca De Mornay so that’s a pretty fine alternative. By the way, the high school in this movie, at least from the perspective of young student characters we see inside, is unrealistically steamy. Maybe I’m saying this as someone who went in the 2010s, but still. It felt like something out of a stereotypical cheesy CW teen drama.

I don’t know, but the way this entire movie plays out feels incredibly stupid. Granted, it has some solid buildup and introduces you to the world in a well executed manner, but when it comes to building the characters, I don’t really like any of it. I understand want, but there’s want, then there’s a Veruca Salt impression. Maybe that’s a little too far, but without spoiling anything, some of the actions that Stefen takes in this movie almost feel unacceptable or inexcusable. If you want me to like you, don’t be a dick. Don’t go around doing s*it that makes you the scum of the earth, it’s that simple. I don’t care if you don’t like a person that much. JUST… Be polite. I get that girls… supposedly like bad boys, but holy s*it, if I dated this moron, I’d beat his ass before getting out of his sight.

Not even a gorgeous young Lea Thompson could save this mess! I mean, another compliment I could give is if you really want something sexy, this… is kinda serviceable. There’s one or two parts of the movie that at least could fulfill that. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend it as a date night movie. I think date night movies should have a little more substance, at least if you’re asking me, but ya know. Although I wouldn’t stop you from watching this with your mom, even though there is nudity.

One of the worst things about this movie is the ending. I will not go into it, and even though it is coherent, it is nevertheless cringeworthy to watch as a viewer because I’m looking at the main character. Did he earn his fate? Honestly, he didn’t. It was just given to him. I don’t even know how it adds up.

Honestly guys, if you want a solid story where Tom Cruise plays a teenage boy going about his daily life that feels raw, packs a total punch, and feels fun all around, go watch “Risky Business!” It came out in the same year, has a slightly similar concept, but is just about better in every single way from directing to writing to camerawork to emotion to music, just about everything in that movie is better, and apparently it came out before “All the Right Moves” did. And even though I gave some flack for “Risky Business” not keeping their original ending, which can be seen in the bonus features from their 2008 DVD/Blu-ray release, I consider it a near perfect movie. If I had to choose a favorite Tom Cruise movie, I would have to flip a coin between “Risky Business” and “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” At least this movie’s short, I didn’t suffer for too long.

In the end, “All the Right Moves” is all kinds of wrong. There are a couple things I like about the movie, there were one or two dramatic points that had me looking at the screen. Although when it comes to characters, they start out fine, but become flat or annoying as the movie goes on. I was not bored by this movie, even though it may drag at later points, I just found this movie rather unwatchable. Tom Cruise shows a decent acting ability even for an earlier role. Not enough to make a good movie. One or two scenes are kinda attention-grabbing. Not enough to make a good movie. Lea Thompson looks like a goddess! Not enough to make a good movie. I don’t know if I’ll be watching “All the Right Moves” ever again. That is even if I do keep the Blu-ray for the rest of my life. I’m going to give “All the Right Moves” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Next week I’m going to be reviewing “Days of Thunder.” Another Tom Cruise movie I have not watched in a long time. I’m personally curious to see if any of my opinions change, but that will have to be revealed in the future. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, make the right move, and check out the Scene Before Facebook page! Give it a like too! I want to know, did you see “All the Right Moves?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Lea Thompson movie? SPECIAL RULE: If you say any of the “Back to the Future” movies, I want a second choice if you have seen one. Admittedly, this is probably me just looking for a recommendation or two. Leave those picks down below and I will have a “Days of Thunder” review next week! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!