The Greatest Showman Movie Review

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Hugh Jackman stars in The Greatest Showman as P.T. Barnum, the man who starts the circus now known as the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus.

As Barnum sets up his circus he must contend with bigotry and family drama that threatens to upset his career and his marriage.

The plot of the movie is fairly predictable for a musical and even more so given the source material. It comes as no surprise that Barnum’s circus is successful.

The weak plot leaves the enjoyment of the movie not in the story but in the storytelling. How good are the songs, the dances, the costumes, and the acting?

Simple answer, marvelous! I loved The Greatest Showman! Continue reading

Money Monster Review

Money Monster

I saw Money Monster with my wife the other week and we both enjoyed it quite a bit.

George Clooney plays Lee Gates, the host of a financial show called Mad Money. Julia Roberts plays his director, Patty.

All seems like it’ll be just another normal day for the show until an armed gunman, played by Jack O’Connell, comes onto the show and threatens to shoot Lee if he doesn’t do what he says.

The gunman pulls out a suicide vest and straps Lee into it. The vest is wirelessly connected to a deadman switch that the gunman, named Kyle, holds in his hand. If Kyle lets go of the switch then the bomb goes off.

While arguing and threatening Kyle explains that he invested his entire savings into a stock named IBIS that Lee previously recommended. The stock has now tanked due to some unknown error.

Lee and Patty work to keep everyone in the studio alive until the police can deal with the situation. Eventually they come to
Continue reading

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa

If you’re into comedies where most of the jokes are attacks on Zac Efron’s masculinity then Dirty Grandpa is the movie for you.

Quick plot rundown, Efron plays Jason who has to escort his grandpa Dick, played by Robert De Niro, to a vacation in Florida.

Jason is a lawyer about to be married to his trophy wife fiancee, Meredith. Dick’s wife just died after a decade long fight with cancer.

The one thing on Dick’s mind after being faithful to his wife through ten years of serious illness is, you guessed it, having sex. (Really subtle naming of that character…)

Jason is forced into a wingman position as his grandpa tries to get in bed with a college girl.

Along the way Jason realizes his fiancee is a horrible person and he rediscovers his love of photography.

So the plot is pretty much what you’d expect if you saw the trailer. Shockingly the plot follows Campbell’s Hero’s Journey almost exactly but the doesn’t save the movie from the abyss it falls into.

What about the basic ingredients of comedy? The jokes and the laughs?

There isn’t much.

There are a lot of insults lobbed at Jason as he is the straight man. Most of those fall flat.

Dick’s physical abuse of Jason becomes a running joke. Why the writers thought that was funny enough to make a repeated joke, I don’t know. There’s no slapstick to it. It’s just a grandfather attacking his grandson because he thinks it’s funny.

The funniest moments centered on the unashamed lust shared between Dick and the college girl, Lenore, played by Aubrey Plaza. Everything else was pretty much just vulgarity masquerading as humor.

When I don’t like a movie I try to think who would like it. That’s a hard task with Dirty Grandpa. I’m a fan of South Park which is about as vulgar as it gets and I still hated this movie.

So should you see it? Absolutely not. Too much disgusting nudity, not enough real jokes, and stilted character development makes this one of the worst movies I’ve seen. If you’re going to the theaters see something else instead.

-GoCorral

The Choice Movie Review

The Choice

My wife picked Nicholas Spark’s latest movie adaption, The Choice, for us to see. She’d heard it was like the new Notebook which we both liked.

The Choice can best be described as two movies glued together. Let’s dive into it!

Travis, played by Ted Cruz lookalike Benjamin Walker, is a womanizing veterinarian who has a semi-steady girlfriend.

Gabby, played by Teresa “looks like a heroin addict” Palmer, is training to be a doctor and is dating one of her superiors at the hospital, Ryan.

Gabby moves next to Travis and they soon realize they are a terrible fit for each other and that Gabby will never sleep with Travis.

Of course Travis can’t have that! He slowly seduces her. They break up and get together. Yadah yadah, typical romance movie stuff.

Now normally the movie would end there, with the happy couple’s wedding.

The Choice is no ordinary movie though!

Fast forward seven years and Gabby is in a coma due to a car accident.

The movie does not spring this on you suddenly. The first scene was actually Travis entering the hospital with flowers and everything else was a flashback.

Travis has to make the titular Choice, keep Gabby alive in the hope that she will return to him and their two children or remove life support?

I won’t spoil his choice or the results/consequences. The end had many tear jerking moments and that’s all you need to know.

The second part of the movie is great and I’d definitely recommend it. As for the first part…

The first half of the movie suffered from the disease of “all these characters are jerks.”

Everyone had some sort of adolescent sexist agenda. Travis is a lady killer. Gabby distrusts all men. Travis’s sister thinks that because Travis and Gabby are opposites that they will obviously get together.

The minor characters get included in the sexist mess as well. Travis’s friends wives say, “Men have more fun if they feel like they’re getting away with something.”

Additionally, the characters have zero problems in their lives except what I already outlined.

As another review I read states, “in the Nicholas Sparks universe, everyone is beautiful and successful.”

While this let’s the audience focus on the plot it did seem odd to me. For example, Travis encounters no racism when he hangs out with his black friends in Carolina. The Confederate flag is also mysteriously absent from landscape shots of the harbor.

I think that would’ve made an interesting sideplot but I understand why it wasn’t included. The movie is about Travis and Gabby, not Travis and his friends. There might’ve even been a conscious choice to leave our racism with the notion that if racism is absent in media then it could eventually vanish in real life.

Regardless of intentions, all these elements disrupted my suspension of disbelief during the film. I kept thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, why isn’t that there?” or “Oh God, another sexist/patronizing speech.”

Adding to that, Walker looks 40 years old in The Choice while Palmer looks 20. This isn’t accidental. The characters they play are actually 10-15 years apart in age. It adds this whole other creepy element of cradle robbing to the film.

Despite all that I’d still recommend the film for its stellar second half. My gripes disappear there and I can wholeheartedly recommend the movie for a Valentine’s Day date with your significant other.

-GoCorral

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie Review [SPOILERS]

Star Wars Force Awakens

I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’m not going to shy away from spoilers in my review, so stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie and want to keep it a surprise.

The movie was good and I’m excited for where the new Star Wars movies are going.

The new characters were interesting. Including the old characters meant there were a few too many important people in the movie but I managed to keep up with it.

The new villain, Kylo Ren, was awesome. Just as menacing as Darth Vader while embracing the anger part of the dark side. When Kylo Ren gets angry he ignites his lightsaber and just lays into whatever is around him. Excellent characterization.

The plot was… familiar but there’s nothing wrong with that. Star Wars 1, 4, and 6 all had the same damn plot. Why shouldn’t 7 as well?

And while I enjoyed the movie a lot, it was still a let down.

I’m a big fan of Star Wars, both original, prequel, and expanded universe, so inevitably the movie was going to be a let down in one way or another.

There were two specific things the movie did not do that I wanted it to do.

The first thing is a little complicated. You see, the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, was based off a Japanese movie called The Hidden Fortress.

The Hidden Fortress is a story of two poor soldiers who get caught up in a war when they find a chest of gold belonging to the “rebels.”

They team up with a general to transport the gold and the warrior princess to whom the gold belongs to a faraway castle.

The whole movie is about seeing war through the eyes of the low, the two poor soldiers.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the general in A New Hope, Leia is the princess, the gold is the Death Star plans, and the two poor soldiers? Are they Luke and Han?

NO! The poor soldiers from The Hidden Fortress are R2-D2 and C-3PO in Star Wars!

The whole Star Wars series has been told in some way from the point of view of the two droids. They experience all the action in A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. They start off the action in Return of the Jedi by going into Jabba’s palace alone. We see their origins in A Phantom Menace and how they got to be part of the Rebel Alliance in Attack of the Clones and The Revenge of the Sith.

But is the story of The Force Awakens told from the R2-D2 and C-3PO’s point of view? Nope. They are thankfully still in the movie, but their role of in the movie has been taken over by BB-8.

The idea still plays out the same way with BB-8, but it disappointed me that the original droids will no longer be the focus.

And I get why Disney made that choice. R2-D2 looks clunky and old now and C-3PO was always supposed to be lame. BB-8 has a cool design and his character is active and energetic. There were tons of BB-8 toys sold even before the movie came out, making it a smart financial move on Disney’s part to introduce the new character. More merchandising!

The second thing that upset me about the new movie was that Luke Skywalker wasn’t really in it.

Sure he has a cameo at the end, but he doesn’t have a single line.

Everything I’d heard about the new series of Star Wars movies indicated that they would be about Luke passing the torch to the next generation of Jedi. While the new characters want to find him for that reason, that plotline just didn’t move forward in this movie.

From an impartial perspective the movie didn’t suffer from Luke’s absence. The whole plot was structured around him not being there and thus it worked fine without him, BUT I STILL FELT LIKE HE SHOULD’VE BEEN THERE!

Another minor problem, the whole Force Awakens thing was never explained. The idea was introduced in the first trailer but it only shows up in the movie as a single line from one of the villains. The way the trailer is, I thought the whole movie would be about “The Awakening.”

Regardless of the movie’s faults, I still enjoyed it a lot and am looking forward to the next ones.

If you’re still unsure if you should see the movie, I definitely recommend it for Star Wars fans. The Force Awakens is also a good introduction for those who are new to the series.

-GoCorral

Inside Out Movie Review

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My wife agreed to go to see Inside Out with me after I begged (she usually doesn’t like animated movies).

As far as plot, there isn’t much to tell that isn’t in the trailers. The main character, a preteen girl named Riley, moves to a San Francisco with her parents and misses her old life in Minnesota.

Inside Riley’s head are five emotions that guide her life, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust.

The emotions guide what Riley does using a control panel in the headquarters of her brain. They try to align Riley’s actions with her core memories which define Riley’s interests, Friendship, Family, Hockey, Goofiness, and Honesty.

The move to a new state stresses Riley out which is symbolized by Joy, Sadness, and the five core memories being locked out of headquarters for a few days.

Riley is left without the parts of her personality that define her and she can’t feel happiness or sadness. Sounds an awful lot like how some people describe chronic depression, doesn’t it?

Inside Riley’s head Joy has to deal with how depressing Sadness is while finding their way back to headquarters.

The two of them experience a lot of fun explanations for why the human brain works the way it does.

Why do stupid commercial jingles stay stuck in your head? Because the janitors who manage memories send them to your headquarters as a prank.

Why do you remember some things, but not others? Because your emotions leave the memory.

That last one is actually true. It’s represented in the movie by the memories losing the color of the emotion that defines them.

The movie has a ton of cool visualizations of things. Riley’s mother has a set of five emotions running her head as well, but they clearly have Sadness as their leader. Riley’s dad is run by Anger.

The emotions have a control panel to interact with the world. Riley’s control panel is switched out for a larger one by the end of the movie with new buttons for puberty stuff. Her parents have even larger control panels with seats for the five emotions, emphasizing that the adults are set in the way the react to things.

Abstract thought is represented by a sort of abstract art gallery. Dreams are made by a cast of little creatures in the brain with scripts inspired by events from Riley’s day.

The end of the movie has a good moral, that all emotions are important, not just Joy; and that change isn’t always bad.

I’d recommend the movie to anyone who knows a little bit about how the human brain works. The description of emotions handling memories is visualized and explained in a pretty accurate manner and is enough fun on its own to warrant seeing the movie.

The story itself isn’t half bad either. It’s a kid’s story, but it’s Pixar! The always know how to pull at your emotions, espeically in a movie about emotions.

There’s also a good short before the movie called Lava. You could go for that or you could watch it on YouTube. It’s a nice little Hawaiian folk tale-esque love story.

So check Inside Out out if you like Pixar movies or the human brain (or love stories about volcanoes).

-GoCorral

The Longest Ride Movie Review

Another movie that my wife and I saw together (Oh my God! He never writes movie reviews!).

Unlike Cinderella this movie had the level of passion I’ve come to expect from romance movies.

The Longest Ride is another Nicholas Sparks book turned to a movie. It seems like he and Stephen King get every single one of their books optioned into a movie script.

If you’ve seen The Notebook this is more of what that movie offered. It even has a story within a story like The Notebook.

The Longest Ride starts by establishing a budding relationship between Sophia, aspiring art student, and Luke, professional bull rider.

On the way home from their first date at a secluded lake Luke and Sophia spot a crashed car off the side of the road. They pull an old man from the wreckage. He’s a bit out of it, but he has enough sense to ask them to save a box from the backseat of the car.

They rush him to the hospital. Somewhere in there Sophia tells Luke that she’s moving to New York for an art internship in two months and she’s not sure she wants a serious relationship.

They get the man to the hospital and Luke leaves. Sophia stays and opens the box to find dozens of letters written by the rescued man, Ira, to his wife, Ruth.

When Ira awakes, Sophia tells him she read one of the letters and he asks her to read the rest to him as his eyesight no longer allows him to read them to himself (Ruth is dead and can’t read them to him either).

From there the movie tells two parallel storylines of the romance between Ira and Ruth and the romance between Luke and Sophia.

Luke and Sophia have the drama of Sophia’s plan to move to New York, Luke’s persistence in bull riding even after a serious injury, and the culture clash between their two worlds.

Ira and Ruth are two Jews that escaped Nazi Europe and fall in love in the USA. Ira joins the army to fight the Nazis and sustains an injury that sterilizes him. The main conflict in that story is Ira’s inability to have children and Ruth’s desire to fill that void anyway she can.

Both the stories are fun in their own way and while one segment is going on I started to develop a thirst to find out what was happening in the other segment.

If you’ve seen one Nicholas Sparks movie you’ve seen them all. You probably already know exactly what’s going to happen in this movie. My wife and I happen to like Nicholas Sparks movies, so I’d definitely recommend this to anyone else who enjoyed other adaptions of his work.

-GoCorral

Cinderella Movie Review

I saw Disney’s new live-action Cinderella movie with my wife and we weren’t very impressed.

We went into it with high expectations. Everyone had told us it was good and a nice romance movie that we both would like to see.

First disappointment was that it wasn’t a musical with talking mice like the animated version.

The mice are still there, hungry and oppressed by the cat, but they don’t talk. The notes of the songs are still used in the movie’s score, but the movie is definitely not a musical with talking animals.

Next problem for me specifically was Cinderella’s beauty. I had the same problem in the new Snow White movie with Kristen Stewart. In both cases the story tells of the characters unsurpassing beauty. Its even an important plot point in the Snow White story. And then the movie fails to deliver. In both cases the villainous women are more attractive than the heroine.

This fact is possibly a conscious decision in Cinderella. She is far more kind and generous than her step-relatives and perhaps making the villains more outwardly beautiful than her was done to counterplay Cinderella’s inner beauty.

The story doesn’t stray far from the known narrative. The romance between Cinderella and the Prince seems genuine. They love each other because they both judge each other’s worth based on their personalities instead of their rank in society.

Their romance did seem a little tame compared to other romances though. I’m used to movies where true love is expressed by the characters jumping each others’ bones instead of holding hands and dancing.

Not that Disney did anything wrong by keeping the passion to a low level. The movie is intended for children and the historical setting imposes its own limitations on how far the lovers can go physically without being sinful.

The removal of the songs and the lack of adult romance didn’t ruin the movie, but it certainly doesn’t compare well to other Cinderella movies like Ella Enchanted or A Cinderella Story. If you’re in the mood for a sappy Cinderella romance I would suggest those over Disney’s live action Cinderella.

GoCorral

Home Movie Review

A week after moving into our new home my wife and I had some of our friends over to celebrate my birthday.

We went out to eat and then saw the Dreamworks movie, Home.

The movie is about an alien race that invades Earth and takes over everything.

The trailer didn’t talk about this much, but the invading race, the Boov, are running away from another alien race, the Gorg.

The Boov move all the humans on Earth to Australia and deposit them in a prefabricated idyllic suburban complete with ice cream and amusement park rides for everyone (nevermind that most of the world wouldn’t consider this a paradise but a horrible alien environment).

The Boov overlook one human in the abduction process, Tip.

Tip and her cat, Pig, soon hookup with an outcast Boov, Oh. Oh is as socially awkward as someone can be and also accidentally sent an email to everyone in the galaxy, inviting them to a housewarming party on Earth. Everyone in the galaxy also includes the Gorg who will be coming soon to blow up the Earth.

The rest of the Boov are looking for Oh. Oh is running away from them with Tip, but to get her cooperation he has to help find her mother who was moved to Australia.

The trailer can probably tell you the rest of what you can expect from the movie. Oh doesn’t understand human culture and Tip teaches him about it.

I liked the movie a lot. It is a traditional kid’s movie where everyone gets a happy ending with no consequences, but that’s fine.

The acting is well done by Rihanna and Jim Parsons. They aren’t playing characters that are significantly different from what they’ve done before. A little typecasting never hurt anybody.

The movie has great coloration as well. I don’t often expect movies to be that visually pleasing.

The Boov have all sorts of colors for their technology, going all over Earth presents tons of different landscapes and colors, and most important of all the Boov themselves have tons of colors to represent their different emotions (blue for neutral, red for anger, yellow for scared, green for lying, etc.).

The movie had the ever present issue of “Why does everyone speak English in space?” but that’s something you get over after watching and reading tons of science fiction stuff.

It was the perfect movie for my loosely space themed birthday party! We had a cake with stars and a moon on it after the movie of course.

-GoCorral

Game of Thrones Spoilers

One of my friends hasn’t read the latest Game of Thrones books yet.

So whenever we try and talk about the books he’ll shout out, “No spoilers!” and then cover his ears.

I’ve heard about this sort of thing happening more and more since the TV show became popular.

People watch the show, but don’t read the books.

So you could be talking with someone about Game of Thrones stuff and then casually mention something from Dance with Dragons. The book came out three years ago right? You can’t say spoilers in response to a three year old plot twist can you?

Apparently you can.

I guess I’m a little surprised by that.

When I was reading Harry Potter this sort of thing didn’t happen.

If you were interested in talking about the series it was assumed that you’d read all of the books that were published.

The movies came out afterwards, but from my own experience very few people watched the movies that didn’t also read the books.

Why is Game of Thrones different?

At first I thought maybe book size, but both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones books are massive.

Adult content might be it, but why?

The TV show has more sexual content and violence than the book. That’s also the main reason why I don’t watch the show.

I already know what’s going to happen, so there’s no plot mystery.

But the added sexual content just makes me uncomfortable.

My opinion on sex in TV shows and movies comes from an early filmmaker named Ernst Lubitsch.

Sex couldn’t be shown on screen and you couldn’t show someone in their underwear either.

Lubitsch represented sex by holding the camera on a closed door.

That was all.

And it worked! People knew exactly what was happening on the other side of the door, but you didn’t need to show it.

Game of Thrones goes way too far on this for my taste. Many of the scenes seem like they’d fit in a porn movie better than a high fantasy TV show.

But maybe that’s what’s attracting people to the show, but not the books.

The show has more sex scenes and they’re obviously more visual than those in the book ever will be.

So maybe more people watch the Game of Thrones show than read the books because its a guilt free way to get some softcore porn.

Or maybe its some other reason, but I’ve run out of space.

-Mister Ed