Reviewing: The Last Time You Had Fun

The Last Time You Had Fun

  • Genre — Comedy, Drama
  • Rating — Unrated (the IMDb Parent Guide offers specifics about sensitive content)
  • IMDb Rating — 5.8/10

 

IMDb Description:
When Clark and Will meet Alison and Ida in a wine bar, the foursome struggle to have the most fun that four, bickering, barely married, pre-middle-aged, decidedly dysfunctional adults are capable of having.

 

Trailer:

 

Review:
This week I was looking for a movie to watch that was just the right amount of heartfelt and funny. The Last Time You Had Fun is the ideal choice for somebody craving the bittersweet that comes with a traditional romantic comedy without the generic plotlines and lackluster characters.

The film follows four characters around their late 20’s to early 30’s as they try to recreate the last times they had fun in an effort to forget all their current troubles including controlling spouses, pregnant wives, cheating exes, and spouses who came out. Despite the majority of the film being shot in a limo one of the characters rent to emulate the same feeling as a bachelor party, I think the film has a very powerful dialogue.

Maybe I just have an old soul, but the content in The Last Time You Had Fun was extremely relatable. The movie was enjoyable in a way that movies like Crazy Love and Take This Waltz are enjoyable; the humor is real, the subject matter is real, and you can take comfort from knowing that these problems are common.

Finally, the four main actors and actresses did a phenomenal job carrying the film. They were incredibly believable in their roles, and to my great thanks, they weren’t all stereotypes. Even in the trailer, we see that the wild blonde sister is actually a pediatric surgeon, and the guys who meet these ladies at the wine bar aren’t expecting sex at the end of the night.

I’m not sure why this movie has such a low rating on IMDb other than people watching it expecting a much more action-packed film. A lot of the movie was comprised of these adults dealing with their problems and taking comfort in bonding with two strangers experiencing close to the same ones. The relatable content in this film combined with the dialogue and expert acting makes this movie a pass for me. Comment below, is this movie a pass or a fail for your next movie night?

Reviewing: “The Cider House Rules”

The Cider House Rules

  • Genre — Drama, Romance
  • Rating — PG-13 (mature thematic elements, sexuality, nudity, substance abuse and some violence)
  • IMDb Rating — 7.4/10

IMDb Description:
A compassionate young man, raised in an orphanage and trained to be a doctor there, decides to leave to see the world.

 

Trailer:

 

Review: 
I had chosen this film solely because I recognized the name, but I was pleasantly surprised to see familiar names such as Maguire’s, Paul Rudd, Michael Caine, and Charlize Theron; even Malcolm in the Middle’s Erik Per Sullivan plays an important role in the film as a young boy with bronchitis.

The Cider House Rules follows a teenage Tobey Maguire as he leaves the sheltered orphanage where he grew up and slowly begins to realize all he’s been missing from the real world. In addition to following Maguire’s character, the audience sees Theron’s character struggling with fidelity as her boyfriend volunteers to do the Burma run. Without spoilers, the film also tackles the difficult topics of racism, incest, and drug abuse. We see Michael Caine struggle with ageism as the orphanage’s board requests another doctor to work with him as well as the effects of the stress on Caine from the fear of losing his job and losing Maguire.  We see the mixed joy and grief of either pregnant women delivering and putting up their babies for adoption, receiving an abortion, or prospective parents picking one of the many orphans to take home.  Lastly, we see the results of the lifestyle lived at the orphanage that causes long-lasting feelings of unwanted-ness and inadequacy among the residents who live there.

The movie is worth more than the sum of its parts; it’s a classic in the sense that each theme and event builds off the previous and all end up intertwining to create a masterpiece.  I would strongly recommend this for your next movie night — so what do you think, Scouts? Is The Cider House Rules a pass or a fail for you?

Reviewing: “Shakespeare in Love”

Shakespeare in Love

  • Genre — Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Rating — R
  • IMDb Rating — 7.2/10

IMDb Description:

“A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.”

Trailer:

Review:

Allow me to start off by saying that this movie is not for those who dislike sappy, romantic “chick flicks.” This film is dripping with all elements that make for a grade-A chick flick, from sonnets and forbidden love to men proclaiming their love and adoration for women’s beauty.

I am not a lover of sappy, romantic movies, but I did manage to watch this one through the whole way thanks to much comedic relief and a somewhat interesting plot line. The film follows the famous playwright, William Shakespeare (hence the title), and his struggle to write one of his most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet. We see Shakespeare procrastinate and struggle until he finds his muse in Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, Violet, who is Shakespeare’s “Juliet” in the movie.

For me, the best part of the film is seeing the incredibly famous actors today at the beginning of their careers, from Ben Affleck to Gwyneth Paltrow, this film brags an extraordinary cast in the making. There is also just enough mixture of comedic relief and outright boorishness to contrast nicely with the overwhelmingly heartfelt moments.

In short, this is a perfect film for a compromise on a date night that allows for both crudeness and romance. Will it be a pass or a fail for your next movie night? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to suggest the next film for us to scout!

Reviewing: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • Genre — Animation, Drama, Family
  • Rating — G
  • IMDb Rating — 6.9/10

IMDb Description: 
A deformed bell-ringer must assert his independence from a vicious government minister in order to help his friend, a gypsy dancer.”

Trailer:

 

Review:
This film is truly a “Disney masterpiece” largely due to the subject matter it expertly covers in addition to the music that corresponds so well with the material. The Hunchback of Notre Dame tackles subjects like self-esteem, friendship, religious hypocrisy, racism, abuse, and even how to deal when you realize your crush likes someone else.

The title character, Quasimodo, struggles to stop identifying himself as a monster as his Master, Judge Frollo, has told him over and over again. The Master keeps Quasimodo locked away in the bell tower of Notre Dame due to his ugliness, and Quasimodo’s dedication to his Master paints a sad portrait of Stockholm Syndrome and psychological abuse.

Meanwhile, Judge Frollo’s goal in Paris is to eliminate all of the gypsies, especially one he finds extremely desirable,, Esmerelda, after she dances at the Festival of Fools. He claims that she will burn in hell for her sins, unless of course she is monogamous to him, all in the song “Hellfire.” Judge Frollo had even trained Quasimodo to believe that all gypsies were evil, but by a twist of fate, Esmerelda and Quasimodo speak with each other and teach that the former is not evil and the latter is not a monster.

The movie is highly entertaining, expertly weaving in songs with the previously mentioned themes. There is, however, an alarmingly high amount of violence and innuendos, as well as drug use (tobacco pipes and alcohol) throughout the movie. There is also “witchcraft” performed by Esmerelda, namely her disappearing into a cloud of smoke and reading palms.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is labeled as a children’s movie produced by Disney, and I most certainly remember watching the film as a child, though I wasn’t aware of the many references the movie alluded to until I watched it as an adult. If you do plan on watching this with a younger child, I strongly recommend to watch it before and make sure that all material you deem appropriate for your child, or you can read through the thorough IMDb Parents Guide.

So fellow Scouts, will this movie be a pass or a fail for your next movie night in? Leave a comment below along with a suggestion for the next movie for us to scout out.

 

Reviewing: “October Baby”

October Baby

  • Genre — Drama
  • Rating — PG-13 (for mature thematic material)
  • IMDb rating — 7/10

IMDb Description:

A college freshman’s world is rocked when she learns she is the adopted survivor of a failed abortion. 

Trailer:

Review:

I chose to review October Baby based on a classmate’s suggestion. Thank you, Stefania!

So this movie, like the IMDb description above said, follows a college freshman as she tries to find her mother after she finds out she’s the survivor of a failed abortion. Honestly, the entire movie seems like pro-life propaganda, for lack of a better term. It even begins with the audience being made clearly aware that all of Hannah’s problems, yes all of them, stem from her failed abortion.

There are so many great points to this movie — and many more awful ones. Let’s start with the good. Rachel Hendrix’s acting was phenomenal; Rachel Hendrix (Hannah) almost made me feel sorry for her. Almost. The story line was engaging, and filled with lots of lighthearted comic relief. To make biases perfectly clear, I am adamantly pro-choice, and yet I was not the least bit disinterested in the plot.

On the down side, while the movie seems to have the sole purpose of converting pro-choicers, many other messages remain within the film that I personally think are harmful. Despite its rating of PG-13, this movie has nothing directly bad in it. The “thematic material” they speak of is only abortion-speak, claiming that young children should not be exposed to merely very few details of a medical procedure. I’m sure that other parents have thought this after watching the movie or reading the IMDb Parents’ Guide, and have encouraged their young ones to watch the film.

The reason this upsets me so is because the movie clearly encourages emotional cheating. Without spoiling anything, Hannah’s character very openly crushes on her childhood friend, Jason, who has a girlfriend. The girlfriend is left behind in the dust and all of Jason’s decisions when it comes to Hannah, because Hannah and Jason are emotionally involved. I’ve found this to be a common occurrence in Christian films (which believe me, this is. They tried to hide the fact at the beginning, but slowly you begin to her Casting Crowns songs and suddenly there’s a priest). For some reason, Christian filmmakers will only count it as cheating if it’s physical; maybe someone should make a movie about that to convert these filmmakers to complete fidelity.

More problems I have with this movie: Having a hard life doesn’t mean you are above the law.

SPOILERS

Not once, but twice, does Hannah use her sob story of surviving an abortion to get out of trouble. First of all, they illegally parked on a beach that was saving endangered turtle eggs. But since Hannah is trying to find her birth mother, she’s more important than the poor turtles they destroyed and the $5000 fine. Then, when she breaks and enters into the hospital where she was born, she gets out of that too by just telling the police officer the exact same story. I don’t care if it’s real or not, she broke into a hospital and trespassed, she should have been arrested no matter the reason.

My favorite outrage of the film was when Hannah had already spoke with her birth mother, then left her a note later on in the film that read “I forgive you.” This implies there’s something that the mother did wrong. Cindy (the birth mother) tried to have an abortion so she could be a successful lawyer, and guess what, she became a successful lawyer. The only reason Hannah and Jonathan (her late brother) were even born was because a nurse decided to deliver prematurely at 24 weeks rather than continue the abortion from the previous day. No wonder Hannah has asthmatic problems, some seriously poor judgment calls were made that day.

END OF SPOILERS

My last problem is with diversity. All the characters are white, except for maybe two. And the two seemed to only be included to “add” diversity. Of these two, we see maybe a combined 30 seconds of dialgoue, but the camera will pan over their faces at random times throughout the movie to assure us that the black girl and the mute Asian guy are still there, don’t worry, we’re not racist. And of course, all the authority figures within the story are older white men. Hannah’s adoptive father? White male. The two police officers that help Hannah along her journey? White men. The priest that we knew was going to show up in this movie at some point? White.

To me, the whole film seems like a self-congratulatory movie for those who were already pro-life. Right-wing conservative Christian adults, probably middle-aged men, made this movie. What kind of college doesn’t have their freshmen live on campus? And I really don’t care how religious or conservative you are — if you don’t have a problem breaking and entering, then you definitely won’t have a problem sleeping in a hotel room with a boy when he’s sleeping on the floor. The angry girlfriend (Alanna, Jason’s girlfriend) bit just made the movie a bit less likable as well, since the audience is supposed to hate her for disliking Hannah for having an emotional affair with Jason.

This movie really riled me up, as you can tell. And it also kept me very interested throughout, which I believe is evident through my incredibly long and critical review. Your reaction this will probably be largely dependent on your viewpoints on such things as abortions, college lifestyles, and the like. For me, this movie gave me a righteous anger against adamant pro-lifers, and I did enjoy watching it despite my heightened blood pressure.

Let me know what you think, is this a movie a pass or a fail for your next movie night? And don’t forget to leave a suggestion for the next film in the comments below!

Reviewing “Electrick Children”

Electrick Children

  • Genre — Drama
  • Rating — R (for language including brief sexual references)
  • IMDb rating — 6.8/10

IMDb Description:
“Rachel, a teenager born and raised in her Mormon community, believes that she has been inpregnated by listening to music and must get to Vegas to find the “father” of her miracle baby.”

Trailer:

Review:
This film follows a young woman named Rachel, age 15, from a fundamentalist Mormon sect in Nevada. As revealed in the trailer, Rachel decides to run away from her sheltered and secluded lifestyle in the middle of nowhere to Las Vegas. She and her brother, who accompanies her on her trip, realize they had been lied to about the rest of the world all their lives. The plot unravels as they befriend a group of boys from Vegas who introduce her and her brother to Sin City and the reason behind its name.

Initially, I thought this film would be more of a satirical comedy, but it turned out to be a commentary on religious indoctrination and the detrimental effects of forcing extreme religious beliefs on children. One must pay close attention to the film (or search Google) to figure out who is responsible for the reason the girl leaves her family. Once the culprit is revealed, the severity of the problem of religious indoctrination further dawns on the audience.

More overwhelming than extremist beliefs is the theme of family and the strength of those ties. The main character is torn as she deliberates between returning to the world she’s known her whole life, or staying in the real world that has been nothing but brutally honest to her.

Personally, I think that this is a great depiction of the effects of extreme religious indoctrination. The beliefs the teenager has about life in general are alarming, and not the directly religious ones. From her belief that listening to music is a sin to the belief that polygamy is a common practice — these elements of this extreme branch of Mormonism scream psychological abuse to me. If this is a topic that interests you, or if you’re not sure where you stand on the topic of religious indoctrination, I highly suggest you watch this film. Let me know if this is a “pass” or a “fail” for your next movie night, and don’t forget to leave a suggestion for my next movie to scout in the comments below!

Reviewing: “Hick”

Hick

  • Genre — Comedy, Drama
  • Rating — R (for disturbing content involving a teen, violence, drug use, language, and drinking)
  • IMDb rating — 5.7/`0

IMDb Description:
“A Nebraska teen gets more than she bargained for when she sets out for the bright lights of Las Vegas.”

The IMDb page offers other information including actors/actresses, directors, quotes, the IMDb parent guide, and more.

Disclaimer:
*This film is rated R for a reason, and I strongly advise parental caution before viewing the film with a child.*

Trailer:

 

Review:
(NO spoilers)
Hick is a movie that deserves to be watched in its entirety; reserve all judgment until the end. This film moves at a much slower pace than some of the movies I have previously reviewed, especially compared to the most recent review of Kill Bill: Vol. 1But that’s not to say the filmmakers of Hick didn’t know what they were doing — the way the story is pieced together, in my opinion, allegorically speaks volumes to the main character’s life and coming-of-age story.

Yes, I believe Hick should also be classified in the bildungsroman (coming-of-age) genre, as well as suspense. It primarily focuses on Moretz’s character, Luli, realizing the harsh realities of life and adulthood. The film brags a list of A-list stars, including Chloë Grace Moretz as the main character, Blake Lively, Eddie Redmayne, and Juliette Lewis. Their acting is phenomenal. Some slower scenes that help to build the rapport between the characters might have been insufferable if it weren’t for the talent of these performers; they bring life and multiple dimensions to their roles.

The film follow Moretz’s character as she leaves home, as seen in the trailer, and hitchhikes across the backcountry of Nebraska. Along the way she meets Redmayne’s and Lively’s characters, who both help to further her journey in ways both the viewer and Moretz would never expect. Like a true bildungsroman, Moretz’s character seeks out adulthood, and it finds her—fast. The film has some laughs, but be prepared for a lot of strong emotions throughout.

So, fellow scouts: what are your thoughts? Is Hickpass or a fail for your night? Leave a comment below! And don’t forget — I take suggestions! Just leave your recommended movie in the comments and I’ll get to viewing as soon as humanly possible. Thank you!

 

 

Reviewing: “Kill Bill: Vol. 1”

Kill Bill: Vol. 1

  • Genre — Crime Action and Adventure
  • Rating — R
  • IMDb rating — 8.1/10

IMDb Description:
“The Bride wakens from a four-year coma. The child she carried in her womb is gone. Now she must wreak vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her – a team she was once part of.”
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 IMDb page

Trailer:

Review:

Let me preface this review with the statement that Kill Bill: Vol. 1, as well as its sequel, is one of my favorite movies. That said, I admit my review will be biased. Also, I will include spoilers in this review per the request of some readers.

*There are SPOILERS in this review*

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is the perfect movie for when you want a complicated and intense story line packed with violence and revenge. It is not, however, the perfect movie for children or anyone who grows faint at the sight of blood and extreme carnage.

The film follows Uma Thurman, “The Bride,” as she seeks revenge against her former coworkers. She used to work in an assassination squad, complete with snake nicknames (hers was “Black Mamba”). She decided to leave the squad, for reasons revealed in the sequel, and became engaged to a normal man from Texas. But at the wedding rehearsal, her boss/ex-lover and former coworkers showed up and massacred the lot of them, excluding The Bride. While the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad thought they had finished the job, The Bride was merely in a coma for a few years.

The story then follows Thurman as she proceeds to kill all those who had wronged her. Her main drive behind her revenge was the fact that those so-called friends of hers also killed the baby she was pregnant with at the time. We see her duel with and against swords, guns, knives, flails, and her bare hands, which makes for highly entertaining fight scenes that keep your interest piqued.

The best thing about this movie, in my opinion, is the diversity of scenes and the respect given to the culture within it. Quentin Tarantino, the director, makes great use of both live-action scenes as well as animation to describe a Chinese-Japanese woman’s heritage and upbringing. A considerable amount of time is spent analyzing the traditions of Japan including sword-making and the art of sword-fighting. Tarantino also draws attention to the organized crime in Japan, as well as the discrimination the mob leader, O-Ren Ishii, faces for being Chinese, Japanese, and American.

The action scenes are so intense and brutal that one would think it would be hard to offset the violent nature, but Tarantino and Thurman’s comedic relief is outstanding. As shown above in the trailer, Thurman becomes annoyed with a young man joining a Japanese crime mob and whips him with her sword, telling him to “go back home to your mother!” These moments are skillfully meshed between the violent portions of the movie.

In addition to the captivating story line, the film is also speckled with huge names like Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, David Carradine, and of course, Uma Thurman. If you like Pulp Fiction, Django Unchainged, Reservoir Dogs, or other Tarantino movies, you’ll be sure to love this one. In fact, I strongly believe that if you like being entertained and can handle some cheesy gore, you will enjoy this film and all it has to offer. So Netflix Scouts, do me a favor and take the time to watch this one for me. Then, leave a comment below stating whether it passed or failed and further opinion on the movie if you like! Thanks and see you next week!

 

Reviewing: “Dear White People”

Dear White People

  • Genre — Comedy, Drama
  • Rating — R (language, sexual content, drug use)
  • IMDb rating — 6.4/10

Trailer: 

 

Review: 

Racism — an issue still largely prevalent in our culture today, a much-debated “hot topic.”  The film Dear White People follows four main characters, who are black, at a predominantly “white” Ivy League school. Each of the four students has a uniquely different perspective about what it means to be black in today’s culture, and the audience is gifted with the opportunity to see the world from all their viewpoints. No one perspective is granted more authority than the other.

Of course, issues other than racism are addressed in this film, though many problems are tied to race. Ideas discussed include cultural pride v. segregation/forced integration, self-identity as it pertains to race and upbringing, discrimination on the basis of not only race but also sexual identity, as well as the issue of the implications of black face and the way mass media portrays people of color.

Dear White People is everything a good satire should be, combining a compelling plot line that addresses a relevant and current issue, while also interweaving hilarious moments of comedic relief and other conflicts. The film is not a one-sided or biased discussion on the point of racism, nor does it urge you to take a specific stance. It merely asks its viewers to consider the ideas of race and racism from various points of view, assigning a unique perspective on these issues to the main characters of the film. This movie is a great choice for any night, with the inclusion of intellectually stimulating conversation about deeply philosophical ideas on the matters of race and racism, you will be engaged and thinking about the presented issues long after the credits roll. Comment below, is Dear White People pass or a fail?

“Dear White People” IMDb page

 

Reviewing: “Reviving Ophelia”

Reviving Ophelia

  • Genre — Drama
  • Rating — TV-14
  • IMDb rating — 6.6/10

Trailer:
(contains spoilers)

Review:
If you want to ugly-cry, become enraged, or do both —then look no further.  Reviving Ophelia follows the lives of two female cousins, Lizzie (Elizabeth) and Kelli, as they date boys and attend high school.  The title is a reference to the character Ophelia from Hamlet, as the film mentions that women like Ophelia were merely a product of their culture, believing what they were told and doing what they were told to do.  The film also draws close attention to their mothers, who are sisters, and how these women deal with the challenges that come with raising high school-aged teenage daughters who begin dating.

Without spoiling anything for those of you who chose not to watch the trailer, the main plot line focuses on Lizzie, played by Rebecca Williams, and her seemingly healthy relationship with her boyfriend. The audience is given the opportunity to recognize the signs that all is not as perfect as it seems. The first clue to the unhealthy relationship between Mark, played by Nick Thurston, and Lizzie shows itself when Mark whines that Lizzie made plans without consulting him first. Then, he demands she change her clothes because guys had been looking at her all day. The filmmaker continues to drop increasingly obvious notes of abuse and manipulation throughout the movie, allowing the audience to participate in the shocking chain of events that follows.

While the main theme of this movie is about abuse in relationships, the theme of family helping one another in crises is also prevalent. Even though Lizzie doesn’t initially want to be saved, Kelli continues with her best efforts to protect her cousin Lizzie from her monster of a boyfriend. Kelli, played by Carleigh Beverly, even goes so far as to alarm both her mother, Le Ann, and Aunt Marie (Lizzie’s mom) to Lizzie’s predicament in order to help her cousin.  Meanwhile, the sisters Marie and Le Ann must overcome their past problems so they can work together to save their daughter and niece. Their mission to save Lizzie is harder than expected, as she has succumbed to becoming an “Ophelia” and hangs on Mark’s every word even after physical abuse has taken place.

The acting in this movie is incredible; it enthralls the audience and engages them to interact with the characters. Thurston excels at playing his character that you love to hate, and Williams begs for pity as she convincingly portrays her role as a young girl who believes it is her fault for being abused. The filmmakers juxtaposed those scenes that cause anger and sadness so intricately that this movie is the very definition of an emotional roller coaster, and the ending will not disappoint.

Now it’s your turn to tell me what you think. Scouts, is this movie a pass or a fail for your upcoming movie night? Leave a comment below!

“Reviving Ophelia” IMDb page
Signs of Domestic Violence and Abuse