As much as we love our family, it’s not always lovey-dovey. There are times when arguments arise, creating (hopefully temporary) emotional chasms.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) is the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). As our heroes are dealing with internal conflicts, Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is thrilled to meet his father, the celestial being Ego (Kurt Russell). Though it initially seems that Peter has the relationship with Ego that he has always wanted, there are dark rumblings that threaten to reveal the truth.
I loved this film. Like its predecessor, it is action-packed but also has humor and heart. What makes this a sequel to admire is the human experience and human emotions that build up the narrative and create the perfect amount of drama.
Mel Brooks is one of those comedians who both raises ire and makes the audience double over in laughter.
History of the World: Part I, is one of the many classics that exist within Brooks’s decades-long resume. Earlier this week, the long-awaited sequel, History of the World: Part II was released on Hulu. Narrated by Brooks, the cast includes a long list of performers. Among them are Ike Barinholtz, Nick Kroll, and Wanda Sykes (who also had a hand in writing and producing the series). As with its predecessor, certain historical events are lovingly mocked as only Brooks can.
What blows my mind is that Brooks is 96 and still sharp as a tack. He also brings with him the Jewish humor that has become part and parcel of his shtick. Adding to the allure of this program is the perspective of the other members of the creative team who added additional layers to the comedy.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
History of the World: Part II is available for streaming on Hulu.
Elvis: Austin Butler transforms himself into Elvis Presley, adding new layers to the music icon.
Call Jane: Elizabeth Banks plays a housewife whose pregnancy is not going well in the days before Roe v. Wade. Denied an abortion by the local hospital, she finds an underground group and soon joins them in their mission to help women.
Hocus Pocus 2: After 29 years, the Sanderson sisters are back. It has enough of its predecessor while holding its own in the best way possible.
Mr. Malcolm’s List: Based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm is the most coveted bachelor in this Jane Austen-inspired narrative. In order to fend off marriageable young ladies and their match-making mamas, he creates a list of qualities that his wife should have. Little does he know that it will soon be moot.
Downton Abbey: A New Era: This second film in the franchise opens the door to new stories while closing old ones in perfect fashion.
When a film is successful, the obvious next step is a sequel. The question is, does it hold up or is it nothing more than an easy cash grab for the studio?
The 2004 straight-to-video movie Bring It on: Again is the follow-up to Bring It On (2000). Whittier (Anne Judson-Yager) and Monica (Faune Chambers Watkins) are college freshmen who want to join the cheerleading squad. When they are rebuffed by the team captain and queen bee Tina (Bree Turner), Whittier and Monica decide to form their own team.
The challenge is the following: only one squad can go to nationals. Will Bree and her establishment team win or will misfits and outsiders have their chance to shine?
There is a reason it skipped theaters and went straight to video. The generic “David vs. Goliath” narrative is predictable almost to the point of becoming boring. While its predecessor had at least some tension, there is none to speak of in this movie.
Do I recommend it? Only if there is nothing else to watch.
Most fairy tales end with the words “happily ever after”. While this is certainly a satisfying conclusion, there is always room for more.
The new DisneyPlus movie, Disenchanted, was released last weekend. The sequel to Enchanted, it has been fifteen years since the first film ended. Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and Giselle (Amy Adams) are happily married and have a baby girl of their own. Robert’s daughter Morgan (played by Gabriella Baldacchino) from his previous marriage is now a teenager and dealing with what we all went through at that age.
The gift they bestow leads Giselle to make a wish for her previous fairy tale life. As usually happens when this kind of yearning, it all goes to h*ll in a handbasket. It is up to Giselle and Morgan to save the day and return their world to what it was before.
I loved the movie. It was entertaining, funny, and the perfect follow-up to its predecessor. The easter eggs are fast and furious in the best way possible. As with Enchanted, Disney is lovingly mocking itself while recreating a narrative that fans know and love. My favorite character is Malvina. Rudolph is clearly having fun with the role, hamming it up to the nth degree.
All in all, it was a blast to watch and well worth the fifteen-year wait.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would also not be surprised if it was on any top ten lists at the end of next month.
Disenchanted is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.
Every birthday is special. But there are some that hold more significance than others.
The 2012 film, This Is 40, is a sort of sequel to Knocked Up (2007). Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) have a plate that is more than full. On the verge of turning 40, their collective lives are best described as a shit show.
Their daughters are at war with one another, their careers and financial future is on the line, and their marriage looks like it is on the way to falling apart. It is obviously going to take work to fix all of these problems. Will they be able to make it work or will everything they have worked for go down in flames?
This is a classic Apatow movie. As both writer and director, he speaks to the hard truths about life while putting a comedic spin on everyday troubles.
My only issue is in regard to a scene towards the end of the film. Pete and his father, Larry (Albert Brooks) are talking about who is a good Jew and who is a bad Jew. I don’t know what Apatow (who is also a member of the tribe) was thinking when he wrote that scene. But I got the feeling that depending on one’s perspective, it could be seen as borderline offensive.
The idea of not just one, but two movies coming out of a Saturday Night Live skit may seem like an impossible task. How does a writer take characters who are only seen for a few minutes on television and create a full-length film narrative?
It was done successfully in Wayne’s World (1992) and its sequel, Wayne’s World 2 (1993). Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) are dealing with two major issues at the same time. They are trying to put on a rock concert. While the concert is in limbo, Wayne’s rockstar girlfriend, Cassandra Wong (Tia Carrere) has caught the eye of a record executive, Bobby Cahn (Christopher Walken). Bobby wants more than a professional relationship with Cassandra.
Like its predecessor, it is incredibly funny and remains true to its small screen roots. The references may be over the head of someone who was either too young or not yet born, but that can be overcome. I just get a kick out of watching a movie that is almost 30 years old and still makes me laugh.
My favorite part is the end scene which is essentially a throwback to The Graduate. It’s both true to its source while still being in the world of this narrative.
My only complaint (which is with many movies, both then and now) is that the women are confined to either romantic or sexual roles. While Wayne and Cassandra are dealing with their issues, Garth meets an older woman, Honey Hornee (Kim Basinger). Her name invokes everything the audience needs to know about her.
For many women, their wedding day is supposed to be one of the most important days of their lives. The expectations are that it is supposed to be the gateway to the next chapter of their life story. But what happens when it does not happen as planned?
When he develops cold feet just minutes before the ceremony is about to begin, she is naturally angry and heartbroken. Turning to her friends, Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Samantha (Kim Cattrall), they will be the support that she needs to deal with this heartbreaking loss. Meanwhile, each of them are having their own problems. Charlotte has been trying to get pregnant after adopting her oldest daughter. Miranda is dealing with trouble in paradise. Samantha is finding that being in a committed relationship is harder than it initially appeared to be.
I know enough about SATC to get by, but I am far from a superfan. The movie is entertaining, enjoyable, and an appropriate sequel to its television predecessor. The narrative followthrough is organic and natural. It’s the kind of film I would watch if it is on, but it is far from required viewing.
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