Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Disney kills your childhood

When I look back on this year there will be a lot of trends I will think of in regards to film. 2021 was the year of female leads fucking shit up (The Columnist, I Blame Society), weird Nicholas Cage films (Pig, Prisoners Of The Ghostland, Willy’s Wonderland), and terrible sequels/remakes of things from the 80s/90s (Space Jam, Tom And Jerry, Coming 2 America). This belongs in the terrible sequels/remakes, but also fits another trend this year: I’ve watched A LOT more stuff online this year. Some have been brilliant, some have…..really not. I think this is the first year since I started this blog that the number of new releases I’ve watched at home has been bigger than the number I’ve seen at the cinema. That…….that kind of sucks to be honest. The advantage of watching at home though is that I get to make notes while watching it. This means that when I type up these incoherant rants I insist on calling reviews, that I can reference parts I otherwise would have forgotten. My notes while watching this? Well, they’re not really detailed. They’re just two sentences long:

  1. THAT’S NOT HOW PHYSICS WORKS!
  2. Just step to the side.

The thieves in this are idiots. There’s a moment where icicles are dropping from a roof as someone runs underneath them. If he stopped running then by the time he moved forward all the icicles would have already fallen, he’s really just walking into his own torment. I mean, it works cinematically because you might not realise that, but if you do, it ruins it. There’s another one where they walk on lego, instead of just, you know, sweeping it away. The worst “trap” is one that’s SOOOO stupid and unbelievable. He wakes up with VR goggles on which make him think he’s standing on the edge of a canyon in the middle of the day, instead of the reality which is he’s standing in a house in the middle of winter, in clothes that are covered in snow and soaking wet. Somehow this fools him, despite you know, him being able to feel his wet clothes clinging to him, him being cold, and there being no wind. I mean, I don’t want to be brag but I reckon that even if I closed my eyes I could tell if I was outside in summer or inside in winter in wet clothes. But some of us are just built different I guess.

But if you shut your brain off then it’s still funny, right? Well, no. The first two worked because you knew what Kevin was like, the film spent a lot of time with him so he was definitely the main character and you sympathised with him. This goes in the other direction, it gives the thieves a tragic back story. They are not looking for money or jewels, they think the kid stole something from them and they need to get it back because if they don’t then they will lose their house and end up thrown out on the street with their family. So we sympathise with them, a small part of us wants them to succeed because they’re obviously good people, and they’re scared of what will happen if they don’t get the thing back. This makes it less funny when you see them get set on fire or have snooker balls launched at their heads. Coupled with how damn annoying and brattish the kid is and it seems less “Christmas comedy” and more “Spoilt rich kid tortures poor people for his amusement”, it’s comedy, but only if you’re a rich sociopath who takes joy in the suffering of those less fortunate than you (Hi Donald, Boris, merry Christmas).

It’s a shame this is so bad as the cast is incredibly talented. It’s baffling that people as talented as this would be in a film this bad. It’s a massive disappointment, and one that I kind of expected.

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

Quick Synopsis: LeBron James has to win a basketball match in a computer simulation to get his son back, save the looney tunes, and stop countless innocent people being killed by a sentient A.I

Years ago I heard this was being made, and I was excited. I remember enjoying the first one a lot. But since then, something has happened and I’m not entirely sure what. Enthusiasm for the first film has died down. People no longer talk about it as one of the great 90s films. I remember it having a lot of goodwill towards it, but that’s all gone, and I can’t really explain why. I haven’t seen a film go from “nostalgic and beloved” to “oh yeah that existed” so hard since Home Alone, and that had the excuse of multiple terrible sequels. This just sort of faded from collective consciousness.

So has this film done a good job of bringing any of that good feeling back? Nope, if you were one of the few people to have any sense of goodwill towards this franchise, this film will eliminate that. Not to brag, but I knew this movie would be terrible. Okay, that’s really not much of a brag because everybody knew that. They knew that from when they saw the trailer, with Porky Pig rapping (I don’t like pig raps, much prefer them in a sandwich). Then there were all the references to other Warner Bros properties that brought to mind The Emoji Movie or Ralph Breaks The Internet. The actual film is actually far worse than you’d think. The references are both invasive and pointless.

In this universe, all the looney tunes characters have gone to live in other Warner Bros properties. In the quest to find them, LeBron James and Bugs Bunny go into them, so we get scenes which reference the DC animated movies, Casablanca (you know, for the kids), and the Matrix (in a reference which would have seemed dated 10 years ago). That then never really comes up again. They appear in the crowd at the game, that’s where all the references you’ve heard about are. That’s where you get Pennywise, King Kong, and the characters from Clockwork Orange. It’s the Clockwork Orange characters which have caused controversy, with some parents complaining that they’re not appropriate for a kids movie. I don’t get that for two reasons:

  1. The kids won’t see them as “Oh, they’re the violent rapists from that film” unless you’ve shown them the film. They won’t get the reference at all, they’re just see them as weird background characters. They’re only offensive if you know the context.
  2. If you’re going to complain about any characters in this film, complain about the nuns from The Devils in the background, that film still hasn’t been properly released in the US (which begs the question of why they are making a reference to it)

So yeah, they take up a big chunk of the film, and add NOTHING.

This is not a film. This is not something you watch and enjoy or be entertained by, this is just an exercise in brand identity that they want to charge you for. It’s product, not entertainment. I shouldn’t be surprised though. Whenever I saw people exclaim how great this film is, they didn’t talk about how funny it was, or how good it was, the only thing they mentioned was the references. It was basically “hey, this has things I recognise, that means it’s good” attitude which led to things like Epic Movie being watched. .

Fine, I’m done with that now. Now onto the actual film itself. The rest of it is bad too. Nobody seems to be giving a good performance, LeBron just seems confused all the time. He doesn’t have the ability to anchor a film like this. It doesn’t help that he’s not Michael Jordan. Jordan was a once-in-lifetime marketing opportunity. People worldwide knew who he was. Even people who didn’t know anything about basketball recognised him. I imagine that was helped by how much more prevalent basketball was in pop culture in the 90s: the shorts, the attitude, the video games, it all merged together to create a boom period for the sport. LeBron is big in US, and big among a few demographics, but if you went up to random people in UK and asked them to point to a picture of him out of 3 people, they wouldn’t be able to. He hasn’t penetrated popular culture in the same way.

The film? It’s incredibly dull. On the bright side, the way they actually use the cartoon characters is probably better than the first one. It’s certainly more in keeping with their personalities. But the film restricts them for so much of its runtime. It feels like they’re holding them back. If you’re going to play this as a sports movie, at the very least make it a tournament surely? That way you get to see them have fun. I think it’s supposed to be a sports movie anyway, I’m not sure what it’s trying to buy as the film lacks identity.

I can imagine studios wanting this, I can imagine “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we/someone made this movie?”. But what I cannot imagine is “I have a dream, to make a Space Jam sequel, and to make it like this”. There’s no “making this film is my endgoal” to it. I’m willing to bet the people who made it had no ideas before they were approached to make it. It has no love, no passion for the project, it has nothing. It has nothing that the makers can point at and be like “yes, this is the story I’ve been dying to tell people”. The only people who do come out of it with their pride intact are the animators, who do a great job on bringing the 2D characters to life. Other than that? This is a film which is best forgotten, a dodgy knock-off of a film that wasn’t that great to begin with. The kindest thing I can say about it is at least it came out the same year as Tom And Jerry so it isn’t the worst live-action animated hybrid of the year. Going to leave you with a quote from that review that I feel is applicable here:

if you can’t make a good movie, don’t make a movie. This feels like it was made for the sake of being made. Everything about it just screams “contractual/celebratory obligation”. There’s no desire, no passion, there’s no sense that this is what anybody who worked on it has had their entire career building to this moment. Which considering how beloved these characters are, is a real shame. The franchise inspires a lot of love in people, it’s just a shame not a damn ounce of it was in the script

I Scream Monday: Scream 3

  • For a long time, this was the only one I owned on DVD (yeah, I know, I’m odd) so I’ve always had a soft spot for it. A lot of people hate this film for some reason and see it as really weak, so I hope this rewatch doesn’t open my eyes to its suckiness and ruin it forever. That was the downside of the Musings On Marvel series, it really opened my eyes to a lot of issues those films have and made it slightly harder to enjoy them. Doing these is like dissecting a frog, you cut it open and accidentally kill it.
  • A great horror movie should make you feel uncomfortable very quickly. This film starts with the logo for Dimension Films, an offshoot of The Weinstein company. So, erm, job done, I guess?
  • So since the last film Cotton has become a talk show host, apparently the number one rated one in the country, but they all say that.
  • A jump scare utilising the scariest sound in human history; a song by Creed. Terrifying.
  • “okay Cotton, you know I don’t like your Stab games”. Wait, what exactly does Cotton do with his girlfriend at his house? Does their sexual roleplay involve murder? That’s……….not normal is it?
  • Cotton removes his jacket for seemingly no reason, almost just to show that Liev Schrieber had been working out. Actually, if rumours are to be believed that’s the exact reason that happened, he insisted on it.
  • This film came out at a really weird time, Hollywood was terrified of receiving backlash for seemingly causing the Columbine massacres so was keeping a watchful eye on violence in cinema. It got to the point where the producers wanted no blood at all in this film, how exactly would that have worked? I mean, you can do that in a new franchise but to go from 50 gallons in the first film to nothing in the third? You would have noticed the complete tonal 180 and it would have ruined it, which the producers would then blame on everybody except themselves.
  • “If we stop making horror movies, all the psychos would retire?” I doubt it, they don’t have the greatest pension plan.
  • “he was making a movie called Stab, he was stabbed” is used as a reason for police to believe the killing of Cotton was linked to the film. Which kind of makes me want to twat Robert Downey Jr. round the face with an Iron, man.
  • “you think serious black actors can just throw away jobs?” to prove his point he then mentions Usher and LL Cool J, who nobody takes seriously.
  • Jay and Silent Bob make a cameo appearance, that’s….odd to think they exist in this universe.
  • Scream goes for a random ghostly jump scare. It’s weird as this is the catalyst for Sidney returning from her self-imposed exile, which was the killers plan all along, but the killer can’t force this hallucination on her, so what would he have done if this never happened? His entire plan was focused on drawing her out, yet the only thing that does so is something he can’t control and is based entirely on luck.
  • “how are we supposed to learn our lines when there’s a new script every 15 fucking minutes?”, weren’t you just complaining that you’re only in two scenes? So no matter what changes it’s not as though you have a lot to learn.
  • “who gets killed third? You do”, and there we have the worst line reading in the history of the series.
  • So because of all the deaths, the films get cancelled, which is kind of odd as they’re based on real murders that happened about 6 months prior to the films being made. So really they’ll probably just delay it and use it the murders as inspiration for the third film. Speaking of which, why the hell is there a third film? The first Stab film was based on the murders in the first Scream film, which Gale Weathers wrote a book on (which was used as the basis of the script), presumably, the second one is based on the second set of murders, so what’s the third one based on? And as the person who wrote the book which (at least) the first one was based on, wouldn’t Gale know the third one is being made and the details of it?
  • Not-Dewey gets blown up by checking a fax in the dark by using a lighter in a room full of gas. So many ways this is basically just luck, what if he had a torch? What if he left the house then looked? What if nobody cared what the fax said?
  • Sidney finally comes back to meet the other characters. It takes nearly 50 minutes for Scream to Scream.
  • Hey, it’s Heather Matarazzo, a.k.a the girl who’s not Julie Andrews or Anne Hathaway from Princess Diaries.
  • Hey, Jamie Kennedy is back by oddly prescient videotape. I suppose that’s one way to kind of bring the character back without it feeling cheap.
  • And there goes Heather Matarazzo, shame, she should be in it more, just because she’s awesome.
  • Carrie Fisher cameo, playing someone who looks like Carrie Fisher and was nearly in Star Wars but wasn’t in it because she refused to sleep with George Lucas. So a film made by a company that’s an offshoot of Weinstein company has a scene where an actress loses out on a part because she refused to sleep with someone? Well, this just got a lot fucking creepier.
  • Okay, the producer of the Stab films is talking about sexually exploiting/raping women to get them parts in films. Talking about how “you have to play by the rules in this town”, and blacklisting actresses who won’t do it or who try to report it. Again, this is a film distributed by an off-shoot of the Weinstein company. This is…..uncomfortable viewing. Like that kind of creeping sensation you get where you feel your skin tightening, or like a hundred spiders are walking up your back.
  • “looks like Stab 3 is back in production”. That is not how to announce “crazy psycho killer is in the house”, rather flippant.
  • “I did not fuck that pig Milton just to die surrounded by second-rate actors like you”, yet another reference to a producer using his power to sexually exploit young women. This film is making me feel awful.
  • Dewey thinks someone is being killed behind a wall of mirrors, so he slowly shoots every single mirror, as opposed to just shooting one then walking through the gap.
  • So when the killer takes the mask off he needs to hold the voice changer to his mouth to change his voice, yet he wasn’t holding anything to his face during any other point, is there one in the mask?
  • Oddly tweet music accompanying the killer reveal, it sounds like Home Alone music.
  • So the killer’s justification is that Sidney gets all the attention that he craves? He’s a Hollywood director, she lives under a fake name in the middle nowhere, he’s definitely the more famous one of the two. Kind of odd as apart from that his motive is pretty logical, even his methods were logical, very few of the deaths are superfluous, even the ones you think are turn out to be “well otherwise they wouldn’t have told people” later on.
  • Kind of nice moment when the killer dies holding Sidney’s hand, sort of sweet.
  • Random fact, when Sidney stabs the killer with the ice pick, she missed the pad she was supposed to hit, and instead hit flesh, the second time in the series that’s happened.
  • And that’s the end of that, and I feel disgusted with Hollywood.

Why we love…Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

ironman33Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of my favourite films (I know, another one!). It’s also, technically, a Christmas film (like EVERY Shane Black film), so by that logic it must also be my favourite Christmas film….Okay no its not, as it’s not a film I associate strongly with Christmas, like Home Alone or Die Hard. But it is an underrated classic, it is Christmassy enough, and it’s a film I can ramble on about its awesomeness for a post. So here I go.

Kiss-Kiss-Bang-Bang-Movie-Direct-DownloadNow the film itself is a pulpy Neo-noir mystery, which follows a petty crook played by a pre Iron Man Robert Downy Jr, and a badass gay Private-eye played by post Batman and relevance Val Kilmer, who are forced to work together to solve a classic and very compelling murder mystery in LA.

Now based on that description the film could really be anything, from hard edged thriller, to straight to DVD action flick. But like most Shane Black pictures it’s one of my favourite genres, outrageously dark comedy, with some of that best pitch black humor this side of In Bruges (which would actually make a dapmnbk5i5mn fine double feature) and it is also gleefully Meta. It turns the classic hard boiled narration into a rambling fourth wall demolishing spiel delivered by whom else but Downy, who spends much of the film deconstructing film narrative and murder mystery tropes, in an enjoyably if sometimes too smugly, nit-picky and self-referential way.

kiss-kiss-bang-bang-movie-quoteBut the heart of the film, what really makes it tick, is the razor sharp, character driven, machine gun dialogue. In a world, of Tarantino and Brother’s Coen, this is one of the sharpest scripts in cinema. There is not a minute that goes by, where a clever bit of word play or a visual gag or a marriage of both isn’t being pulled off. And it’s not just a series of funny but generic one-liners that could be said by anyone in anything, the comedy is pulled from its characters, from their plight and problems, and walks of life. To laugh with them and at them, is to get to know them.

tumblr_ma0nd0s3bx1ractwko1_r1_500And there are characters beyond Downy and Kilmer…well character. With most of the cast ranging from two note Hench-men and campy as hell villains, the only other big character is Michelle Monaghan (one of the most drop dead gorgeous women ever). The fem fatale of the film, who really isn’t in anyway, but is actually the ditsy heart of the flick, adding the much needed warmth and tonal levity to this dark and funny tale of murder and sexual abuse….yup. Whose dynamite chemistry with Downy not only helps ground both characters and gets the plot moving, but will make you wish she’d pop up in a Marvel film just so you can see them bounce off each other again.

Now this may be hard to hear, but as great as Downtumblr_mw8h9tn6bN1r60h6bo1_250y and Monaghan are…this is Kilmer’s film. He is pitch perfect as the aforementioned badass gay Private-eye, known as, what else, Gay Perry. Now this is a 2005 film, so the handling of his gay character isn’t perfect, my biggest issue being how other characters overreact a bit too much to his gayness (though in funny ways). But his kisskissbangbang3-copycharacter itself is one of the best in fiction; because despite the name, it doesn’t define him. He’s a tough, foul mouthed, no nonsense talking, gun toting, sassily witted, motherfucking pimp, who also happens to be gay. And it’s not just shoved to the side either; it’s just one part of a whole character, who steals scenes like Robert Downy Jr steals hearts.

Oh and the films like set at Christmas and stuff, and there’s like fairy lights everywhere and Christmas parties and tings. It’s a Shane Black film. He even made Iron Man  a Christmas film!

tumblr_mxa8fpMjWd1qcga5ro1_500
Shane Black’s apology for Iron Man 3

 

Picture1But It’s movies like this along with other Downy classics like, Wonder Boys, A Scanner Darkly, Zodiac, and the very good A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, that still have me convinced that Robert Downy Jr did his best work pre Iron Man (not to knock it), when he was exiled from Hollywood (you know because of drugs), and was trying to crawl his way back in. And I wish he would go back to doing smaller more interesting films, than just the Marvel flicks; hell just films more interesting than The Judge. But I doubt he ever will, with everything Marvel still happening, the piles of money just his goatee is worth, and his recent comments about his hatred towards indie films. So I won’t hold my breath.