Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 2

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 2 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the United States, which is where my main demographic happens to be, we unfortunately have more cases of COVID-19 than anybody else. Records are meant to be broken, but if only they were not broken like this. Although at the same time, there has been a significant increase in testing here in the United States, so while it does not make the record necessarily less disheartening, it still adds in a piece of needed information.

Now I do not typically talk about politics that much on Scene Before, but this is one of the rare instances where I have no choice. President Donald Trump has said that he wants the United States back in operation by Easter. The reason for this mostly has to do with Trump’s personal admiration towards the holiday, suggesting that it would be wonderful if the United States had “packed churches.” However, experts are saying that this would not be the best idea and Trump should wait longer.

Personally, I am still optimistic that we can get through this pandemic in a matter of a couple of a months, maybe a few even. But Easter Sunday is a bit too quick based on how many people are seemingly continuing to avoid the act of social distancing. I can possibly see certain portions of the economy putting lights back on in a matter of weeks, but it would not equate to a full-fledged, well-oiled machine. Maybe restaurants will be open again to an extent where people can sit down, but with a limited capacity, and takeout will continue to be highly encouraged. I do not know for sure, but anything’s possible. I said it part 1, I’ll say it again in part 2, I am not a doctor.

These are some general goings on during the COVID-19 situation, but for movies, things have been interesting. In fact, if you look at Box Office Mojo right now and notice the weekend totals, it’s kind of creepy. There’s not even a section for the previous weekend in regards to how much money each movie made. Should this go on for a long time, I wonder if the box office is going to partially change its ways and measure intake by monitoring how much is made by tracking how many rentals are purchased on cinema-specific sections on streaming services. I doubt that’ll be the case since there currently seems to be eager anticipation for the opening of movie theaters by sometime in the summer, but who knows? For all I know, this summer in movies for the most part will be cancelled. I am about to present some evidence as to why.

MAJOR MOVIES DELAYED: WONDER WOMAN 1984, GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, MORBIUS, PETER RABBIT 2, ETC.

One of the biggest pieces of news in terms of movies getting delayed comes from Sony. The reason being is that when everybody found out about this, it didn’t involve just one movie. It involved Sony’s entire summer lineup. For those who don’t know, movies like “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Morbius” put out trailers in anticipation of a summer release date this year. Guess what? Both have been moved to March 2021! And if that’s not enough, forget about “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” because you won’t be seeing that movie either! For the record, that movie was supposed to come out this upcoming weekend as of writing this post. That was until it was delayed to August, but now it is going to be a January 2021 movie! You honestly can’t write this! I was looking forward to these films (minus “Peter Rabbit”) but now I have to wait even longer! In fact, Sony’s delays doesn’t just affect current films set to come out that are either finished or nearly finished, but it also affects a heavily cursed movie, specifically “Uncharted!” Can that movie catch a break? What’s it on, like it’s SEVENTH director right now?! The film that has practically been in development hell for a long time and was set to come out on March 5th, 2021, which is now where “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” will be releasing. Instead, it will be coming out on October 8th, 2021.

In addition to Sony, Warner Bros. has been in a bit of trouble too, but at least their situation feels more of a semblance of optimism. For those who don’t know by now, “Wonder Woman 1984” is getting delayed, which is one of the movies I really didn’t want to see get pushed back, because part of me predicted that theaters would be open by the time this film is supposed to come out. Turns out that’s not the case, because the film’s previous release date of June 4th is no more. “Wonder Woman 1984” is now coming out on August 14th, which does disappoint me, but it does me hope that we will still be seeing a summer movie season in 2020. This also reinforces the crew’s commitment to theatrical experience, which may bring a sigh of a relief to major chains, smaller theaters, and an organization like NATO (National Association of Theater Owners), especially after Universal abruptly announced “Trolls: World Tour” was going to go to streaming as soon as it hit the minimal amount of theaters that would be open this April. Speaking of theatrical commitments, Warner Bros. is also optimistic in regards to releasing Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which is scheduled to come out July 17th. First off, it’s a Christopher Nolan movie. If Warner Bros. announced that “Tenet” was going to go straight to streaming and skip theaters, there’s a good chance that Nolan would end his work relationship with Warner Bros. altogether. Second, if you want my personal thoughts on this matter, “Tenet” is my second most anticipated film of the year, right below “Dune” which is set to come out in December. If “Tenet” is not seen this summer, I am considering quitting movie watching altogether. Whether or not this situation goes away by July is still a mystery, but I would not be surprised if we reach the very beginning of July and hear that “Tenet” gets bumped to another release date. I think there’s an itty-bitty chance of that happening, but I am not too sure. Plus, the film cost $205 million to make. I do not think “Tenet” will join the billion dollar club, but if this is still around in July, part of me wonders if the film will break even.

Much like Sony, Warner Bros. is having notable production troubles regarding the ongoing crisis as well. “The Matrix 4” has officially shut down. Looks like that “Keanu Reeves Day” coming up in 2021 where “John Wick 4” and “The Matrix 4” release simultaneously will not be a thing anymore should these troubles keep up. Speaking of Warner Bros. productions, “The Batman” has shut down indefinitely. The film was scheduled to come in June 2021 and star Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, Good Time) as the Caped Crusader.

Sticking with the recently mentioned productions of “The Matrix 4” and “Uncharted,” both were in production in Germany, specifically in Studio Babelsberg. Termination of production of many on such property left them without pay and there is a current threat of legal action. But speaking of “The Matrix,” if this news has you down and you need your fix of the franchise, the original trilogy will be on Netflix starting this April.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is still coming out in June. Let’s just hope that stays put.

ESPN GETS CREATIVE WITH THEIR LINEUP

I don’t usually talk about sports on this blog, but this is a rare case where it is necessary. For those of you who don’t know, Disney owns you. It’s a fact. Also, for those of you who don’t know, Disney-owned ESPN is going to doing movie nights on Fridays for now on, specifically on movies revolving around sports. Not surprisingly, the movies that will be aired will all be Disney productions. Part of this goes into how the network recently aired “The Rookie,” a baseball film from 2002. For those of you who want to know, this upcoming Friday’s lineup will feature “Glory Road,” the 2006 title revolving around the 1966 NCAA basketball National Championship and the story of the first all-black starting lineup in this situation. Other films in the lineup include “Miracle,” “Secretariat,” and “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” Given how major sports like the regular seasons of NHL, NBA, and MLB have been affected by the outbreak, sports-related outlets have to get creative. 24 hours of SportsCenter on ESPN featuring the top 10 social distancing moments of the day is not going to cut it. I have no idea how long ESPN will be doing this, but just a reminder that Disney now owns Fox, and while I am not seeing any reports of them airing any Fox films, it doesn’t mean that there is no chance that Disney could allow ESPN to take Fox films and present them over the airwaves. This could allow the airing of films like “Rookie of the Year,” “Bend It Like Beckham,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “Battle of the Sexes,” or even my personal favorite sports film of all time, “The Sandlot.” Such a good movie.

Also, if you don’t want to wait to watch these films on ESPN, or if you don’t want as many ad interruptions, they are currently available on Disney+, but if you are bored on a Friday night and the Internet is down, you may want to take advantage of watching your favorite sports movies on ESPN.

COVID-19 GETS A MOVIE

One of the things both my mother and I have been saying recently is that this virus is kind of like a movie. In fact, if you talked to me at in the past couple weeks and asked me what I could possibly be thinking about, my answer would be the “five years later” transition in “Avengers: Endgame.” I would not want to be in New York right now, because I can only imagine what it would be like to look at Lady Liberty! Although according to The Hollywood Reporter, it seems we are living in a movie world right now. Kind of. The Hollywood Reporter is suggesting that we are getting the first COVID-19 movie of this specific era. And it is a Canadian thriller shot on a soundstage in Vancouver, where a bunch of people are in an elevator and they quickly suspect that one Chinese individual who joins the ride happens to have the virus. “Corona” is shot handheld in order to be realistic, it’s an interesting move, and it could provide some tension, maybe in a way that could make the viewer a part of the story. The movie does not necessarily revolve around the virus as much it focuses on fear and racism. Plus, those two things will be taken into consideration and apply to how a group of people, varying in terms of walks of life and personality, could potentially react to a virus like this. By the way, if there is a company or organization out there that wants this movie, it is looking for a buyer. I am not surprised that we are getting a movie on COVID-19, but I am surprised that we are getting one this early.

If you want to view the trailer, click the video below.

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

Last week, I discussed one of the big stories going on in the movie world is that the current theatrical releases, or in some cases, movies that haven’t even hit the big screen yet, have gone straight to VOD, or on digital services. These mainly include various cable-based On Demand channels, or streaming services like Prime Video, Google Play, and FandangoNOW. But over the past week, more things have happened in relation to this, and some new movies that barely seen the light of day are now being inserted to these On Demand services. By the time you’re reading this, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” which released in select theaters on February 21st, then eventually expanding on February 28th, will be available for digital viewing. It’s supposed to release April Fools Day, which makes sense since the movie heavily involves pranking. As for DVD and Blu-ray, that is not known at this point, especially considering how it has not been close to the ninety-day mark of the film’s official release. For all I know, it might not get a DVD, which I hope does not happen. But keep in mind the possibility is there considering how the last DVD for the show itself was for season 5, which aired in 2016. From season 6 and on, there are no plans to put out DVDs. As of March 31st, “Bad Boys For Life” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” are both available for digital purchase with a pop of $20. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” which released in four theaters to make $16,825, will be hitting On Demand services starting April 3rd.

Thanks for reading the second part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” I can guarantee you that more is likely to come, especially when considering that the Massachusetts stay at home advisory has been extended to May 4th. I don’t know if this will be a weekly thing though, considering how I still have reviews to do, and I just started online classes for my university. Again, I am still committing to putting out a post a week, and it might be easy to do so given how much time this crisis is likely going to give me. And if you’re wondering about me personally, I am okay. I currently contain no symptoms or evidence of having COVID-19, and given how it has been fourteen days since I got back from the fantastically run state of Florida, I am most likely in the clear. I have not personally invited anyone into my home, and I rarely have gone outside for anything. In a way, my practice from when I was twelve years old and playing video games all day has paid off for this very moment. Outside is so overrated!

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But man, I do miss the movie theater.

If you have time, which you do, let’s admit it, go ahead and follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! And since you’re wasting time staying six feet away from others while only being trapped in your personal space, go ahead and follow the Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, what is your biggest piece of recently seen news regarding films and COVID-19? I covered a number of topics today, but for all I know, maybe I missed something important. It happens. Let me know down below, and let’s get through this together! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Uncut Gems (2019): Anything’s Possible -Kevin Garnett

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“Uncut Gems” is directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and stars Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore), Kevin Garnett (Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault, NBA 2K19), Idina Menzel (Frozen, Glee), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Knives Out), Julia Fox, Eric Bogosian (Billions, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), and this film tends to revolve around a jeweler from New York, who is always looking for big bets. He’s a bit of a gambler, and if you watch this movie, there are times in which it resembles a tad of an obsession. The film follows one big bet story and dives into the actions of the jeweler as a character as he tries to balance work, family, and adversaries.

If you told me back in September that Adam Sandler was coming out with a new film, there is a good chance that I would have just responded to you saying “That’s cute,” and move on. However, to my surprise, “Uncut Gems” seems to have been met with high praise and many positive reviews. To me, this is an utter surprise, because as much as I like Adam Sandler, as funny as I think he is, his work in the realm of feature film is not always the best. “Grown Ups” is honestly one of the decade’s worst comedies. I haven’t even seen “Jack and Jill” so I think I am in a safe place at the moment. I liked “Pixels,” kind of… However, it does not take much away from what Adam Sandler did back in the day. I really liked “Happy Gilmore,” “Click,” and “Big Daddy.” In fact, “Big Daddy,” at least to me, is probably one of the most overlooked comedies that I have seen in my life. It’s a film that manages to balance being sweet, while also being incredibly immature, and somehow working. For that, everyone behind the movie has my respect.

I also had the privilege of seeing this movie early on December 8th, at the Boston premiere. The city just opened the new Arclight by TD Garden, which I may do a post on eventually if I feel like it. Me, alongside the rest of the audience, happened to be introduced to the movie by the Safdie brothers, the directors of the film, Kevin Garnett, who plays a supporting role, and Adam Sandler himself. They said hi, Sandler supported a nine or ten year old kid (and their parents) up front for coming to an R rated movie. The experience of seeing this movie was a fairly unique one, some might even call it awesome. Was the movie as awesome as the experience of going to see it? Yeah, I’d say so.

This is an interesting project given what’s entailed. It’s a rarity to see an actor like Adam Sandler taking on a serious role and project like he did here. He has my respect. The Safdie brothers do a really good job at directing this film. And one of the best parts of the film overall, and I really hope this does not get overlooked during awards season, is the musical score by Daniel Lopatin, who also did the music for “The Bling Ring” and “Good Time,” another film directed by the Safdie brothers. Just from early on in the film, it got in my head. It has this very mystical vibe that is kind of hard to describe. If they had to make an original song to describe part of the “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinte” sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” part of this score would be a good way to do so. If I had to compare this to other films, maybe I’d compare it to maybe “Blade Runner,” perhaps “The Neon Demon.”

But let’s be real, this is Adam Sandler’s movie. And I mean that 100%. I have not seen all of Adam Sandler’s work. Heck, to this day I haven’t even seen “The Wedding Singer” or “Billy Madison.” However, if I had to compare this movie, in terms of Sandler’s performance, to anything else that he’s done, this is EASILY my favorite performance that he has given. And I think a lot of it has to do with the writing, because this character is taken a lot more seriously than Adam’s previous roles, and the directing, because Adam feels like he is a little more subtle than usual. Granted, there are moments that resemble a typical Adam Sandler performance like over the top yelling and moving around like crazy. But the thing is, when it comes to these tendencies from Adam Sandler, it feels a lot more grounded and much less goofy. I know Sandler took on a role in “The Meyerowitz Stories” which earned him a Critics Choice nomination, but I have a feeling that this role is going to be remembered for a longer period of time. For the record, I have not seen “The Meyerowitz Stories,” but I am aware of its existence. When it comes to Adam Sandler in “Uncut Gems,” I felt moved, I felt like I was there for the ride, and ultimately, Sandler manages to deliver an unbelievable amount of charisma to the table.

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And speaking of solid performances, I will also give kudos to one of the bigger surprises for me in the film and that is Kevin Garnett. Granted, his role is not all that complicated, because he does play himself. But based on his delivery in this film, I would not mind seeing more of him in other movies. Maybe he’ll be the next Dwayne Johnson or John Cena, one of those big sports stars who ends up going into the entertainment realm. In fact, much of the movie revolves around him and is based on events that took place during a big NBA playoff session. Speaking of celebrity appearances in this film, the Weeknd makes an appearance, and sort of dives into a fraction his life prior to today.

As for negatives, even though “Uncut Gems” is a really solid movie, a gritty, punch-packing, exciting thrill of a flick, I don’t see myself going back to theater to watch it again. If I ever find it on Blu-ray, I’ll definitely pick it up if I am ever in the mood. I think this movie contains bar none, the best performance ever given by Adam Sandler, but it’s not like one of those movies that I feel would require a second or third viewing because it is THAT good. Then again, there is another part of me, that thinks would need a second or third viewing to see if I missed anything subtle. This movie made me curious. It allowed me to wonder what was going to happen next. This feels like one of those movies that could end up being better on a second viewing, because this first viewing, while entertaining, feels like something I should process for a long period of time, but I am ultimately forced to in just a matter of a couple of hours. Technically, across the board, this film rocks. The music, the cinematography, the makeup, all of it works. I just don’t know if I’ll flock to it again. I love the screenplay, very much so in fact, but if it weren’t for very minor issues, it would almost be near perfect. “Uncut Gems” is a good movie, one of Adam Sandler’s finest in fact, so if that does not resemble a fine time at the cinema, I don’t know what does.

In the end, I think “Uncut Gems” is a damn fine film. It’s a GOOD TIME. Pun intended for those of you familiar with the Safdie brothers. I wouldn’t mind listening to the soundtrack at 2 in the morning while everyone else in my neighborhood is asleep as I write my screenplays like a madman. And even though Adam Sandler is often defined as a joke when it comes to actors today, I think this is a career-defining performance as far as he’s concerned. It’s honestly unlike anything I have seen from him. Now will he win an Oscar for it? It’s still hard to tell. I would not be surprised if he gets nominated. After all, despite not being nominated for the Golden Globes, he did win the Best Actor award from the National Board of Review, and he was just recently nominated for a Critics Choice Award. It’s still possible. Would Sandler be snubbed if he’s not nominated? From my perspective, I still need to think about that. We’ll just have to see. I’m going to give “Uncut Gems” an 8/10.

Thanks for reading this review! And if you are reading this review the week it has been released, you are in luck because I am about to remind you it is officially “STAR WARS” WEEK! This week is the official release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” I am going opening night, and I will have my review up (hopefully) on Friday morning. If not, it’ll be up by the end of the day, or sometime later during the weekend. Speaking of reviews, I will be seeing another movie this week, “Bombshell.” This film is based on the scandal revolving around Fox News’ Roger Ailes. I will have my thoughts on that film up as soon as possible, hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday. Only time will tell. If you want to see more content like this, be sure to follow Scene Before, like this post, and if you want to help me out a little more, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Uncut Gems?” What did you think about it? Or, who is an actor you thought couldn’t be taken seriously, but eventually turned themselves around for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

NFL at AMC Theatres: Is It a Touchdown?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! As an American, there is no denying that during this time of year, football is one of the priorities of most people around me. Personally speaking, I think it is a complete waste of time and nothing more than grown men hitting each other over a brown object. It does have its moments, but football is obnoxious to the point of insanity at times, and sports are not my thing in general. Granted, I live in New England, which would mean I would be somewhat pressured to celebrate my “culture of victory” from time to time, but it doesn’t mean I enjoy football as a sport. That being said, I come from a country that seems to put football over literally anything else, so I find it to be no surprise that AMC Theatres is planning to capitalize on the sport.

While we aren’t getting a thousand football-oriented movies right now, we are in the middle of the current NFL season. And during this season, AMC is planning on showing football games at select theaters on Sundays. Keep in mind, I said select theaters, there’s a chance that the closest AMC to your house might not be taking part in this.

What are the requirements?

First, you must be an AMC Stubs member. It doesn’t matter what level you’re subscribed to. If you don’t want to waste any money on a membership, you can snatch a Stubs Insider ID for free. The other membership levels, Premiere and A-List, come with more perks, but also with higher prices.

Second, you don’t have to buy a ticket to watch a football game in the theater, BUT if you want to sit down in the theater and watch the game, you need to spend at least $10 on food. I think this manages to make a lick of sense, because let’s say you are watching a game at your house. You might intend on ordering food sometimes like wings or pizza. Or you go outside of the house to a bar and buy food. This is AMC’s equivalent to that, because let’s face it, food and sports have gone together since the dawn of time. That, and food is how AMC usually makes its money as opposed to tickets.

Also, keep in mind that these are for SUNDAY GAMES ONLY. Typically, NFL games are played on Sunday, so this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue, but if you were say looking forward to this Monday’s game between the Bears and the Redskins and planned on catching it at an AMC, don’t get your hopes up.

One interesting thing about this concept is that on AMC’s website, users can vote for which teams or games they would like to see. This is sort of surprising, because I figured AMC would already have these games preplanned. Because when you go to a local bar, you’d most likely expect them to have at least one TV playing the “local” game. If you go to a bar in Boston, you’d expect to see a Patriots game. If you go to a bar in Philadelphia, you’d expect to see an Eagles game. If you go to a bar in Miami, you’d expect to see a Dolphins game. Keep these thoughts in mind by the way…

On the list of theaters testing this out, there are three in my area, specifically the Boston/Massachusetts markets, showing NFL programming: AMC DINE-IN Framingham 14, AMC Liberty Tree Mall 20, and AMC Methuen 20. One surprise about this to me however regards the state of New York. If you look on the website showing all of the participating theaters, not one happens to be in New York, which surprises me since it is such a highly populated state. Not one theater in even New York City, of all places, happens to be doing this? If you want, you can drive down to Edison, NJ which has the AMC DINE-IN Menlo Park 12 but I am not here to control your life.

Another thing I noticed that may get some people excited is that the games seem to all be in reclined theaters. Of the three recently mentioned theaters, they all have the leather reclining seats that go back to make you feel like you are in your living room. I feel like that was intended because one of the disadvantages of a bar for some viewers, from what I would imagine is that the environment could be lively, but they have no choice except to sit in a a less than comfortable chair (depending on the occasion) or to stand. This does suggest that the games will be shown in theaters that do not have the largest capacities in the AMC chain, but there is no doubt that the environment will be comfortable.

One slight inconvenience about this idea however is that if you want to get tickets, you can’t do it a week in advance or even a few days in advance if you really wanted to. Why? Because times for NFL games at AMC locations are listed every Friday evening. And since AMC only airs Sunday games, this gives you a maximum of perhaps two full days to snag tickets.

To be honest though, if you are a football fan and are picky about your teams or will only choose to support whatever team is close to you, you won’t always get what you want. Because let’s take the three theaters I brought up in the Boston area, they are airing multiple games at different times, and their schedules are not exactly the same. That’s fine, I actually like the variety factor, but not a single one of those theaters is airing a Patriots game! And you may be wondering, “Hey, Jackass! New England is a combination of several states, what about those other states? Do they get Patriots games?” From what I’m seeing on AMC’s website, it doesn’t look like they will be showing any NFL games in states like Connecticut or New Hampshire to begin with. In fact, as I scroll through the markets, it seems that just about nobody is going to get their local time. Want to go to an AMC in Dallas? Boom! No Cowboys games! Want to go check out a game at an AMC in Miami? Sorry, no Dolphins games! Oh, how about San Francisco? There’s a 49ers game this Sunday! AMC Manteca and AMC Metreon are airing some games! One of them has to be with the 49ers! NOPETY-NOPETY-NOOOOOO.

Now let me just point out one thing, there is a disclaimer on AMC’s website that says the following:

“Game selection varies by participating theatre location, local teams will not be shown.”

Before these games were even announced, I did manage to see said disclaimer. I thought that suggested maybe “local town teams” such as those commonly represented in local high-school football leagues or something. Turns out, they meant local NFL teams. According to NFL local TV station blackout rules, airing local games at certain theaters would interfere with the exclusivity of the local stations. I personally think this is going to hurt AMC a little. I say that because why wouldn’t a fan obsessed with their local sports team take a 10 to 30 minute drive to see them play on the big screen? Although at the same time, I wonder if this will provide an opportunity to several people who live far from where their local team play. If you live in the Atlanta area but happen to be a fan of say the Houston Texans, than you have the opportunity to check them out in a stadium-like vibe at the AMC Colonial 18 located in Lawrenceville. It would either take an extended road trip or a flight to Houston to go see them play in person, specifically with a seemingly common audience, which makes something like what AMC is doing a good deal for certain fans, especially for $10.

I gotta ask. What do you think about this? Even though there are no local teams playing at certain theaters. Is this enough to get you off the couch and see a game on the big screen? Are you in the middle with all of this? Or is this all a big fumble to you? Let me know your thoughts! Thanks for reading this post! This weekend is the release of “Ad Astra,” and to be honest, I’m not quite sure if I’m gonna be able to catch it by the end of Sunday. So if that’s the case, I do have a small amount of time I could waste before going into school for an evening class on Tuesday, so I’ll probably end up seeing it then. Also, “Joker” tickets just went on sale, so I officially have priorities regarding that movie as well. Be sure to follow Scene Before, and check out the Scene Before Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Fighting with My Family (2019): 2019’s First Truly Lovable Movie Experience

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“Fighting with My Family” is directed by Stephen Merchant (Hello Ladies, Logan) and stars Florence Pugh (Lady MacBeth, The Commuter), Leda Headey (Game of Thrones, 300), Nick Frost (Paul, Into the Badlands), Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk), Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, The Internship), and Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Rampage). This film is based on the true story of a family who live and breathe wrestling like it is an alternative to oxygen. Two kids who are very passionate about the sport get a chance to try out for the WWE, and this is based on truth so I wouldn’t call this a spoiler, but it is also essentially the origin story of Paige, who becomes the famous wrestler fans have come to know in recent years.

Right off the bat, I will just tell you all something. Wrestling is not my jam. If you know me in real life, this wouldn’t surprise you, sports in general are not usually my goto activity. I say that regardless of whether I am watching a sport or playing a sport. In fact, the reason why I went to see this movie has nothing to do with wrestling. Aside from getting passes to a free screening, I was excited for this movie because it was being helmed by the likable and talented Stephen Merchant. He has this flow when it comes to comedy that ultimately just works. I have seen a lot of his interviews on talk shows or other scenarios over the years and the guy is just freaking funny! Maybe his British accent has something to do with it, but still. Plus, he was the voice of Wheatley in “Portal 2,” which might just be my favorite video game of all time. Granted he was in “Tooth Fairy,” which if you think about it, it’s sad that I still remember that movie, but the guy is talented. And let me just say, he does a hell of a job with this movie! Merchant actually wrote and directed the film, but to add onto what I just said, he actually has a role in it too. Granted, the role isn’t enormous, he plays some random dude named Hugh, but it works. In fact, that is an understatement, because Hugh might just be the best part of the movie!

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Part of me is wondering if Merchant (left) wanted to do this role simply because out of everything he’s written, he thought it was the most humorous part, but nevertheless. Hugh is comedy gold. And when it comes to a lot of comedy that I am exposed to, most of what I consider to be “good” comedy is actually through written lines. Physical comedy usually takes a backseat for me nowadays. Not everyone can be “The Three Stooges.” When it comes to Hugh, it’s all non-verbal comedy. And f*cking brilliant non-verbal comedy when all is said and done! Also, one of the standout traits that I personally gathered from Hugh is not only that he acts funny, but he also looks funny. I’ve seen images of Stephen Merchant (in fact I just provided one), and the way he transforms himself into this character just takes him from a lanky British dude to a guy whose house your kid might not bother visiting on Halloween night. And this was actually a surprise to me because I saw marketing for the film and I see Stephen Merchant in it for a brief second, but it almost looks like he’s doing OK comedy. This was better than I anticipated!

One of the best parts of “Fighting with My Family” is that you don’t have to like wrestling to watch it. Because ultimately it is not about wrestling, it’s about family, it’s about striving to accomplish your goals, and the complication of social interaction. There was a part of the film where I compared it to a reality competition, especially when you consider there’s a scene where chicks hate each other over word choice. In fact, this comes partially as a surprise considering how the opening titles state that this is from WWE Studios. When was the last time I saw that for a motion picture release like this? Admittedly, there are times when this kind of feels as if it commercializes WWE, especially considering the cameos from professional wrestlers that are present in this film including John Cena, the Big Show, and Sheamus. Plus there is one scene where the brother is saying that he is imagining 20,000 people cheering him on as he stands in an empty stadium that has graphics moving around. It’s almost like “The LEGO Movie,” which may technically be commercial but it tries to sneak things in along the way.

Now as far as Paige goes, I do like her portrayal in this film. I like how they made Paige out to be a shy, timid, and goth looking girl in front of these stereotypical chicks who show off their bodies the whole time. It sort of reminds me of that Planet Fitness commercial where the girls keep talking about how “hot” everything is and there’s also another girl who finds the whole situation awkward. Another thing I like about her character, without diving too deep into spoilers, is the message that people can sometimes pressure you into being somebody just for shiggles or for the sake of fitting in. Maybe you ultimately don’t want to be that person, but the way things go in life, you are automatically triggered into thinking you need to change your ways. I thought that was very well done.

Also, I will say, I saw this going in, but I went to see this film with my mother, and she was somewhat looking forward to seeing Dwayne Johnson appear on screen. Without spoiling anything, he’s only in a couple of scenes. He’s not the star of this film. But for the scenes he’s in, it makes me wonder how he is in real life. I’ve always pictured The Rock to be a nice guy, and this movie makes a convincing case that maybe he is supportive of his fans. This is a guy who gets in a car accident with someone who happens to be a fan, keeps his cool, and shakes it all off like it is no big deal. By the way, that’s a true story, there is a link below the paragraph for further proof.

ARTICLE

Before I give the final verdict, I’ll talk for a sec about Paige’s brother, Zak. One of the complaints that my mother gave toward the film is Zak’s appearance, saying he didn’t look like a wrestler. Having seen him in the movie, I would agree. If this were fiction, there’s a high chance that I’d automatically be on her side, but this is based on true events, so I decided to close my mouth on that subject for a period of time. With that in mind, I decided to do some brief research on Zak, and I found a couple of images where his body looks similar to his actor counterpart. The body thing is something I can actually avoid calling a mistake, but what is a mistake is Zak’s characterization. While his motivations seemed to be clear, I kind of pictured a guy who would get mad for no reason. Granted, the reasoning for his anger seemed understandable, but there are not many characters I would prefer to remember just for mainly being angry.

In the end, “Fighting with My Family” was actually pretty fun. It’s intense, humorous, and kind of heartwarming. Again, I am not a fan of wrestling, and I don’t follow organizations like the WWE, but I enjoyed this movie. “Fighting with My Family” shows what happens when you pit people against each other in a heated, dramatic competition, and also what happens when you aspire to be the very best you can be. I’m going to give “Fighting with My Family” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I’ve got some more content coming soon, including another review which will be in the works soon, specifically for the new DreamWorks animation, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Also, I just watched the Academy Awards this previous Sunday, so stay tuned for future content related to that. Some of you might wonder why I didn’t do a prediction post this year like I’ve done in the past couple of years, and the reason is simple. Life is short, and college cares more about me killing my brain cells with endless work as opposed to balancing my life with brief periods of relaxation. I would have loved to have done a prediction post, in fact, I would have loved to have posted this review earlier, but the fact is, my brain was fried. There were points where I almost couldn’t help but crawl into the fetal position. So that’s the story of my life for the last few days, how about you tell me yours? Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Fighting with My Family?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie where a celebrity plays him or herself? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Uncle Drew (2018): Worst Pepsi Commercial Ever

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“Uncle Drew,” otherwise known as my latest near death experience is “directed” by Charles Stone III (Mr. 3000, Drumline) and stars Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howrey, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, Erica Ash, JB Smoove, Mike Epps, with Tiffany Haddish and Nick Kroll. This “film” is about a character named Dax who doesn’t play basketball anymore due to a personally embarrassing moment that happened to him as a youngster. However, he’s not done with the sport in its entirety, because he still finds fun in coaching. One day, he convinces the legendary Uncle Drew to play basketball one more time, thus helping him win a tournament along with Drew’s squad. I’ll be completely honest with you, I’m actually getting a headache as I write this description. That’s what this movie did to me! YOU DID THIS, MOVIE!

Upon research, I managed to find out that the character of Uncle Drew is actually not an original character made for this very film. Turns out this is based on an episodic web-series which also stars Kyrie Irving. As I found out on IMDb, this web series was originally conceived by Pepsi. That’s right. Pepsi. You know, that thing that Cindy Crawford hypnotized people to drink? Yeah, that one! When I watched this movie and I saw that Pepsi was actually a producer of the film in the opening credits, I thought the sky was falling. NO! THIS IS REAL! AND NOW I KNOW THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR YEARS! And this is probably the biggest negative I have with this movie, it’s not a movie, it’s a commercial. There are a few movies that work as commercials I’ve seen. Movies like “The Internship,” “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” and I may be cheating since I haven’t seen this but I know a good number of people like “The Wizard,” which if you break it down is essentially a commercial for Nintendo. The sad thing is, when it comes to all of the product placement, and trust me, there is A LOT, of Pepsi in this movie or any product made by Pepsico, none of it stands out as funny, entertaining, anything like that. People give a lot of flak towards movies like “Transformers: Age of Extinction” for having lots of product placement and coming off more like a commercial than anything else. At least in that, you get a rather badass scene with Bud Light. It’s forced, in some cases it may be considered cringeworthy, but it just makes you want to crack a drink open with force. So, I’m gonna be doing something special for this review…

This review is unofficially sponsored by Pepsi!

Drink it!

Share it!

Love it!

And most importantly… shake it to play a prank on your friend who will eventually open it and get delightful taste of Pepsi all over their precious pants!

Now back to the review, had I known that this movie is not completely original and partially responsible because of Pepsi, I may have possibly enjoyed it just a bit more. Not to mention, maybe if I were a different person with a different mindset, that could contribute as well. This movie is being advertised towards maybe a couple audiences. These audiences are probably really into basketball, maybe know what the character of Uncle Drew is, and maybe they’re black. As I bought my ticket for this movie at the box office, I recall being the first person to possess a ticket based on the seating options. That didn’t last, you know, like the good old-fashioned Pepsi everybody seems to be drinkin’ because it just tastes so freakin’ good. When I entered the theater however, I was the first one in, and I thought to myself I was gonna get to watch the movie alone, in silence. Oh how awesome that would have been. Instead, I get a lot of people laughing. And you know what? It’s fine. It’s a comedy, it’s expected, not to mention encouraged. Although there were some people, this includes someone a couple seats away from me, who seemed to laugh at just about everything that was on screen. Now I am not revoking their right to laugh, but they are either easily impressed or have a completely different sense of humor than I. Either that or they drank enough Pepsi to enjoy the movie! Out of everyone in the auditorium, I probably was the most out of place person there. I was the only one of a few people who actually happened to be white in the theater. Oh, there were like, three people around me who I can see using their phones during points of the film. If this was out of absolute boredom, than something like this is understandable, but for the sake of a theater environment that doesn’t associate with chaos, would putting the phone away really be that hard?

Let’s talk about some of the characters in “Uncle Drew.” They all suck. They don’t drink enough Pepsi in the movie!

In all seriousness, let’s talk about Dax, played by Lil Del Howery. If this movie as a whole were a tad more competent, I would honestly like Dax better. Because the movie does try at making him looking like a lot is being taken away from him. And you know what? I almost feel bad for him. Although at the same time, I feel like the main thing that I’m supposed to feel bad about concerning him is just one enormous overreaction. Dax gets a shot blocked and loses a game. That was one time. Apparently the fact that the blocker was a white guy makes it extra embarrassing. Maybe in some ways, this kinda makes sense, but wow. I feel bad for him, and makes me hate the crowd of people against them, because they’re a mob against him for a reason having to with something so minor. Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I have to pump the hate brakes, but I feel like some people in this movie are just mean-spirited to the point of annoyance. You know they need? Pepsi!

PEPSI IS THE CURE TO F*CKING EVERYTHING!

Kyrie Irving is one of the many basketball stars in this film, and it is clear that maybe he wanted to do this film more than anybody else. I do buy him as this elderly, wise man. I will admit, as much as I didn’t enjoy this movie as a whole, I thought Irving’s character was definitely one of the stronger highlights. I didn’t expect grade A range acting from him, nor should I. He did a fine job given his stance in the realm of acting. In this movie, I’ll give some credit and say that Irving at times is kind of funny, but the problem with his character, much like some others in the film, is that it’s not funny enough for me to exactly recall what was funny about them. It’s not like it’s “Anchorman” where you recall Ron Burgundy is funny because he said things such as “Go f*ck yourself, San Diego.” Then again, it’s comedy, it’s art, it’s subjective. And my subjective thoughts towards this movie is that it just didn’t do much of anything except chop my head off.

Let’s talk about Shaq in this movie. This guy has had quite a lifetime. He’s been in the NBA for a very long time, won a few championships, made albums, movies, appeared on TV in several shows and commercials, and even has the pleasure of making a fighting game that even he realizes was terrible. Yeah, he made a game called “Shaq Fu” which released in 1994 for multiple platforms. This is highly regarded as one of the worst video games ever made. And somehow it recently got a sequel which is currently pumping out downloadable content, including a piece containing former president Barack Obama! Not to mention, I’m not alone on this sort of thing, but I consider him to be one of the funniest basketball players on the planet. And since this is a comedy with Shaq in it, you expect him to deliver the goods. And it’s just a f*cking shame that the movie wastes this guy! I could tell Shaq was trying, but it didn’t feel like the aspect of trying lifted through all the way. This could have been a result due to bad direction, lackluster writing, maybe a combination of those two things. Either way, Shaq is not funny here. The first scene of Shaq is him teaching martial arts, which funny enough, is kind of what he does in “Shaq Fu.” That was one of the only memorable parts of not just Shaq in the movie, but the movie itself. And that’s most likely because a part of me was going “Oh, it’s Shaq! Can’t wait to see what he does!”

*hands planted on cheeks* My gosh, I need a Pepsi.

Oh, and you know what? I have not even gotten to the absolute biggest piece of s*it this movie has! This movie takes a second to turn into every single animated movie that is trying to sell an album! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… THE MOST. POINTLESS. DANCE SEQUENCE. IN HISTORY!

You know how a lot of people don’t like “Spider-Man 3?” For those of you who don’t know, part of the endless reasons some people dislike that movie has to do with a song and dance sequence in a jazz club. I gotta say, at least that sequence helped a bit in telling us the current state of Peter Parker’s character, at least that sort of helped with the movie’s overall story. This sequence, it feels like it was just done for s*its and giggles. I never thought I’d say this, but this scene makes “The Emoji Movie” look like “Back to the Future!” Who ever thought I’d need to use “The Emoji Movie” as the positive in a comparison JUST UNDER A YEAR AFTER IT RELEASED?! Seriously! This is an actual quote from my “Emoji Movie” review!

“The Emoji Movie” is nothing but a rip off of better animations, a s*itty idea which became a s*itty movie, and a poorly written, anger-inducing f*ckpile of a film created by a bunch of c*cksucking jackasses that just want to capitialize on a trend!”

To have a comparison like this is a true feat! Because around the halfway point in “The Emoji Movie,” there’s this sequence that’s basically trying to promote “Just Dance.” And it’s just abysmal! But, at the same time, for the very few people who would be invested in the story, our “heroes” have to run away from particular enemies who are also in the area. To get to their destination, part of it involves dancing. It’s full of cringe, but at least if you actually have the urge to care, you can root for the heroes to make it to where they need to go! The dance sequence here isn’t really trying to promote a song (at least I hope that’s the case), but it just doesn’t feel like it has a place in this movie! You could literally remove this entire sequence and it would make NO DIFFERENCE on the overall product! This movie is an hour and forty-three minutes long. This dance sequence can be removed and still provide a decent runtime! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?! Listen to me movie! You’re “Uncle Drew,” not “Family Guy,” you’re not getting a giant chicken to fight some dumbass on the streets! That doesn’t work for you! Just focus! And you know what? I guess if you’re going to this movie just to laugh, maybe this sequence might ultimately work for you. That is, if you’re not me. I was watching this scene, imagining how much better it would be to put a gun on my head, while everybody else was just dying laughing. I probably died too. Maybe after imagining what it would be like to take that gun on my head and kill myself. But if I just drank more Pepsi I think I would have been just fine!

In the end, “Uncle Drew” is worse than Coca-Cola on its best day! Pepsi rules! “Uncle Drew” is a very unfunny comedy which ultimately says something about this year’s movies, because there’s one comedy that I saw this year, that was actually worse than this. This is almost my worst movie of the year so far. If it hadn’t been for a few laughs then I really would have pulled out all the stops, push people out of the way at the theater, demand a refund on my food, drink, and ticket, and call the news about the plague this movie is bound to spread. Let me just tell you something. One of my favorite drinks is Diet Pepsi. Having seen this movie, it almost made me never want to buy another Pepsi product again. While this personally isn’t my worst movie of the year overall, it is certainly the worst I’ve seen in terms of product placement. Also, I would like to congratulate this movie for something.

This possibly made the extended video with Kendall Jenner promoting world peace the 2ND worst Pepsi ad of all time! Congrats, “Uncle Drew!” I’m gonna give “Uncle Drew” a Pepsi/10, whoops! I mean, I’m gonna give it a 2/10! There, that’s better! Thanks for reading this commercialized review! Be sure to go out to your local grocer and buy yourself some Pepsi! The Movie Reviewing Moron’s personal choice of beverage to drink to make him forget about “Uncle Drew.” You know, because bleach is a bit extreme. I do have another review coming up, and it is for a movie that I’m honestly surprised at the amount of people who went out to watch it when it was in theaters (or lack thereof). That movie is “A Wrinkle In Time,” so be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on that! I want to know, did you see “Uncle Drew?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Pepsi product? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and have a Pepsi day!