What We Do in the Shadows


Directed By: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford, Rhys Darby, Benjamin Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Elena Stejko, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B+

A documentary crew follows a group of vampires as they live their daily lives, and attempt to navigate modern life. As they deal with tasks like paying their rent and divvying up chores, they also try to inconspicuous ways to locate victims, and also dispose of them after they’ve been killed, as well as their occasional run-ins with other creatures of the night, like werewolves, witches, and zombies. When one of their victims is accidentally turned into a vampire, they take him in, and are introduced to modern conveniences like wi-fi, dating sites, and Facebook. Their newcomer also brings in new dangers, as he enjoys going around telling people that he’s a vampire.

This movie is honestly more comedy than horror. The documentary/reality-style story telling is a somewhat refreshing take. Each character represents a different iteration of Hollywood vampire, from Nosferatu to Edward Cullen, and you can tell that the various actors are having fun with the material, and they all seem to have decent chemistry with each other. There also seems to be a more realistic take on the way various “mythical” creatures would interact with each other that provides a few of the comedic moments, as does seeing vampires use their “powers” to perform household chores, etc.

The few, if any, special effects used seem to be well done. As the movie takes place almost entirely at night, there is little to no background filler used.

Anyone tired of “serious” creature features and the YA take on them will probably like this movie. There really aren’t any scary moments, and the rating is mostly for blood and language, as well as a couple of scenes with sexual content. It’s an easy enough watch that you don’t necessarily need to pay full attention, though you may miss a visual gag or two. Parents may want to watch this before letting young children see it.

What We Do in the Shadows is currently only available free to stream if you have Hulu+, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Sorry to Bother You


Directed By: Boots Riley
Starring: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steve Yeun, Danny Glover, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Harwick, Terry Crews, Kate Berlant, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Armie Hammer, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B-

Broke and living in his uncle’s garage in Oakland with his artist girlfriend, Cassius Green gets a job at RegalView, a local telemarketing firm. While there, he finds that he’s not having much luck selling the product, until an older coworker suggests Cassius use his “white voice” when speaking with customers. After an employee meeting, Cassius is told by a coworker that one of the firms’s biggest clients is a company called WorryFree, which many people believe exploits slave labor, and in an effort to keep his uncle from signing up with the company, Cassius begins using his white voice when dealing with clients until he is promoted into the higher ranks of the firm, where he learns that WorryFree is the least troubling client the firm handles. After alienating himself from his friends, Cassius attends a party at home of WorryFree’s CEO, where he learns a terrifying truth about the company, and becomes determined to bring both WorryFree and RegalView down.

I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t really get the movie the first time I watched it. That was entirely my fault, though, since I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into when I watched it. I was expecting a strait comedy where a head trauma somehow transports a telemarketer into a strange alternate universe instead of the slightly surreal social commentary where Cassius’s bandaged head isn’t much of a plot point. The story itself is interesting, and makes you wonder about some of the bigger corporations out there. It’s a little off-centering to have the strait man as the main character, but you get used to it. All the actors work well together, and they all seem to be having fun with the material. Stanfield and Thompson have a believable chemistry.

The few special effects there are seem to be okay. There’s some stuff toward the end that’s a little iffy, but I think it’s because they tried to mix practical and CGI. Any background filler isn’t noticeable.

This movie won’t appeal to everyone, but as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into, it probably wouldn’t be a waste of time to watch it at least one. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s not supposed to be entirely laugh-out-loud funny, though there are some parts, mostly the stuff involving Armie Hammer, that reach that mark. If you do decide to watch the movie, you’re going to want to pay pretty close attention. I didn’t the first time I watched it, so I wasn’t really sure what was going on half the time.

Sorry to Bother You is currently available to stream through Hulu, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Not Another Happy Ending


Directed By: John McKay
Starring: Karen Gillan, Stanley Weber, Iain De Caestecker, Gary Lewis, Henry Ian Cusick, Freya Mavor, Kate Dickie, Amy Manson, et.al.
Rating: NR
Grade: B-

After the surprise success of her debut novel, author Jane Lockhart has everything she could ever want: fame, fortune, a great boyfriend, and the return of her estranged father. However, despite this, she finds herself unable to complete the final chapter of her second book. When her delays go on for weeks, her publisher, Tom, decides that the only way she’ll be able to finish the book is to make her as miserable as she was when she wrote her first one. As he executes his plan, Tom finds that his meddling has one unintended consequence: he finds himself falling for Jane.

In the realm of romantic comedies, this appears to be pretty standard fare. There aren’t any twists, though there is a fake-out or two. It follows the boy meets girl, boy and decide they don’t like each other until they realize they do formula that many of its predecessors do. I enjoy Karen Gillan as an actress, and she does a serviceable job as a writer struggling with a block. She and Stanley Weber have a decent chemistry with each other, and Iain De Caestecker’s Roddy works well as the comic foil to Tom’s straight man.

There don’t appear to be any special effects of note, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Those who enjoy Hallmark’s brand of easy, slightly-predictable rom-coms should enjoy this movie. There’s a bit of language, and some non-frontal nudity that might put some people off, but all in all, it’s a cute, harmless movie for anyone looking to turn their mind off for an hour or so.

Not Another Happy Ending is currently available free to stream through Amazon Prime and Tubi TV, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote


Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Olga Kurylenko, Stellan Skarsgård, Joana Ribiero, Óscar Jaenada, Jason Watkins, Paloma Boyd, Jordi Mollà, et.al.
Rating: NR
Grade: A

Cynical filmmaker Toby finds himself directing his latest film near the village where he made a student film, and finds the local shoemaker he had hired living in the delusion of being Don Quixote, the role he had in Toby’s film, and who now believes Toby to be his traveling companion, Sancho Panza. As Toby follows Quixote on his quest to rescue his lady love, he is confronted with the consequences of the film he made in his idealistic youth, and forced to reevaluate the path his life is on.

I was pleasantly surprised with this movie, which is one of only a handful of Terry Gilliam movies I’ve seen. Don Quixote seems to rest in the center of his storytelling style, with tonal shifts between the dramatic and the purposefully ridiculous, and Gilliam seems to be one of the few filmmakers who can make that type of storytelling work. The performances by Pryce and Driver are amazing as you begin to wonder if the movie is actually happening, or if stress and being overworked are causing Toby to have a mental breakdown. I’m almost completely unfamiliar with Don Quixote, so I have no idea if the movie plot parallels the book in any way.

What few special effects used appear to be decent, and the background filler isn’t really noticeable.

Fans of Terry Gilliam or any of the actors involved will likely enjoy this movie. While it may be a bit much to watch regularly, it shouldn’t grate for occasional viewings. Anyone looking for a laugh and a slightly-wacky story should enjoy the movie as well.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is currently available to stream through Sony Crackle, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Unicorn Store


Directed By: Brie Larson
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Mamoudou Athie, Hamish Linklater, Martha McIsaac, Karan Soni, et.al.
Rating: TV-PG
Network: Netflix
Grade: B-

After failing out of art school and moving back in with her parents, 20-something dreamer Kit decides it’s time to grow up. After getting an office job through a temp agency, she receives an invitation to a place known only as The Store. There, she meets the Salesman, who tells her that she has an opportunity to buy the one thing she’s always wanted to have: a real, live unicorn. As Kit makes preparations to house and care for her unicorn, she meets Virgil, a hardware store employee who’s intrigued by her quest, as well as her unwavering belief that she will actually be acquiring the mythical creature. When she’s also presented with an opportunity to advance at her job, Kit is torn between abandoning her childhood dreams and finally becoming a responsible adult.

This movie is very much What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. Aside from an almost painfully obvious lesson that growing up doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of your dreams or losing your sense of whimsy, there isn’t a whole lot of depth and hidden meaning. That said, the acting is fairly decent. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having a ball playing the Salesman, and Brie Larson, who pulls double duty as both the star and the director, seems incredibly comfortable with Kit’s unendingly idealistic nature. Cusack and Whitford, who play Kit’s parents, do a great job of hovering between wanting their child to be happy and just wanting them to finally grow up.

What little special effects are used are pretty good, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone looking to relax their mind with harmless fluff for 90 minutes or so will probably like this. The ending is relatively happy, and, as stated above, you won’t be taxed with hidden meanings. While the movie’s humor and somewhat nonsensical storyline may not appeal to everyone, anyone still in touch with their inner child should like it.

Unicorn Store is currently only available free to stream through Netflix, with no word as to whether they plan to make it available commercially.

Long Shot


Directed By: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis, Randall Park, Alexander Skarsgård, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: C+

After quitting his job as a reporter for The Brooklyn Advocate when he believes that they have sold out, Fred Flarsky, along with his best friend Lance, attends a concert where he runs into Charlotte Field, his former babysitter and childhood crush, who is now the US Secretary of State and a potential presidential candidate in the upcoming election. Charlotte, believing her speeches need to be overhauled, hires Fred on as a staff writer to help voters relate to her more. As they reconnect and get to know each other as adults over the course of her campaign, Fred and Charlotte begin to develop feelings for each other. However, when a scandal surrounding Fred is brought to light, Charlotte must decide whether to dismiss him from the campaign and protect her reputation, or follow her heart and keep him around.

Seth Rogen seems to be one of those who can toe the line between a typical romantic comedy and the frat-style gross out comedy he’s better known for. This movie, while far better than his previous attempt at creating a hybrid gross out/RomCom, still seems to not know whether it wants to fully commit to a comedy style fully. At times it pushes into full-on RomCom territory, then slides back into gross out territory. Though, I will say, for the most part it handles to balance fairly well. Despite the fact that they seem to be an odd pairing, Rogen and Theron have a decent chemistry together, and the way the story unfolds, combined with Rogen’s strangely affable charm, it doesn’t seem entirely outside the realm of possibility that her character would be interested in his.

There aren’t many special effects used, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

It’s hard to pinpoint a demographic for this movie. Parts of it may be too romance-y for fans of frat humor, and likewise, some of it will be too frat-y for fans of RomComs. I would suggest that most fans of either genre give it a watch. At the very least, it’s worth the price of a rental, and you may be surprised by how much you don’t hate it.

Long Shot is currently not available free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack


Directed By: Robert Adetuyi
Starring: Cristine Prosperi, Sophie Vavasseur, Jason Rodrigues, Gia Re, Natalie Walsh, Sven Ruygrok, Vivica A. Fox, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: C

After being publicly humiliated, cheer captain Destiny is issued a challenge by a mysterious group of cheerleaders calling themselves The Truth. In order to prove that her team’s titles are deserved, Destiny and her squad must perform in a global cheer competition against not only The Truth, but also squads from countries across the world. When she is betrayed by someone she thought was a friend, Destiny recruits a group of street dancers to help her and her squad prove once and for all that they’re the best cheerleaders in the world.

The sixth installment of Universal’s Bring It On franchise should probably (hopefully?) be the last. They’re clearly grasping at plots to try and keep the movies from being too repetitive, and while there is an original element to it, it’s sadly not enough to save the movie from feeling like a repeat of the previous five installments. There’s only so many ways to show that growth and seeking out new ideas is a good thing to stay on top of your game, so to speak. Not even Vivica A. Fox’s presence can keep you from feeling like you’ve seen the story before.

There aren’t any obvious special effects, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

If you liked the previous five Bring It On movies, then you’ll probably want to watch this one (like I did). It doesn’t require much attention, so it could probably be used as background noise when working on things around the house.

Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.