Lightning Review: Home Again

Home Again movie posterSynopsis
Alice (Reese Witherpoon), a recently divorced, single mother, moves into her childhood home in Los Angeles. After meeting Harry (Pico Alexander), Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (Jon Rudnitsky), she lets the three filmmakers live in her home while they try to get their big break, causing her life to take an unexpected turn.

Review
I don’t normally see films like Home Again in the theaters but I found myself in a theater-going dry spell of sorts and my mom was visiting and we hadn’t seen a movie together in a while so I figured why not. For a romantic comedy, this movie didn’t lean too heavily on either. There are the romance parts and there are comedy parts but neither completely overtake the film. First-time writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer has a story about Alice she wants to tell and she uses the romance and the comedy to tell it, however, they never become the central focus. And it never becomes over-the-top or way out-there and never resorts to a cheap laugh. Every comedy moment feels natural and genuinely funny. You might need to suspend some disbelief but this is a movie we’re talking about here! That pretty much comes with the territory, regardless of genre.

I wouldn’t call Reese Witherspoon one of my favorite actresses but I do generally enjoy her movies that I’ve seen. This seems like a very typical fair for her but she is as charming as ever. As for the rest of the cast, I am mostly unfamiliar with them, so I can’t compare their performances to what they’ve done before. Although, I can say that in Home Again, I thought they all did very well. The three filmmakers who move in with Alice, Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, and Jon Rudnitsky, were fun and believable together. They felt like actual friends and seemed like they were having a good time together. Some of my favorite scenes were the ones with Rudnitsky and Lola Flanery, playing Alice’s oldest daughter. Together, they had many playful and heartwarming scenes.

I thought Home Again was GOOD πŸ™‚ Romantic comedies aren’t usually a type of movie I go out of my way to see so I don’t have a ton of experience with the genre. However, I did enjoy the story this film told. Reese Witherspoon and the rest of the cast gave enjoyable performances with some moving and heartfelt moments. I’m sure it’s far from the best rom-com out there but running at about one and a half hours, it never feels tedious and offers a feel-good story.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Hallie Meyers-Shyer – Director / Writer
John Debney – Composer

Reese Witherspoon – Alice Kinney
Pico Alexander – Harry
Nat Wolff – Teddy
Jon Rudnitsky – George
Lola Flanery – Isabel
Eden Grace Redfield – Rosie
Michael Sheen – Austin
Candice Bergen – Lillian Stewart

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Lightning Review: Dumb and Dumber To

Dumb and Dumber To movie posterSynopsis
When Harry (Jeff Daniels) learns that he has a long lost daughter, he and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) head go on a road trip to Oxford, Maryland in search of her.

Review
Dumb and Dumber is one of my favorite road trip movies and normally I would be eager for a (actual) sequel to a film that I consider to be one of my β€œfavorites.” However, going into Dumb and Dumber To, I can’t say that I was exactly excited to see it. As a result, my expectations weren’t very high, which I supposed helped since while it didn’t reach the low of Dumb and Dumberer, it was nowhere near as enjoyable as the first film. Thankfully, this film completely ignores Dumb and Dumberer, actually completely contradicting it at times. But that’s really the most positive thing I can say about this film. Its main problem is that lacks the heart that made the first film so entertaining despite its absurd premise. Dumb and Dumber To just feels absurd for absurdity’s sake. Since it is a sequel, especially a comedy sequel, there are plenty of call backs to the original that fans will recognize. The film wasn’t entire devoid of a few good jokes and I did chuckle several times but I couldn’t tell you any of them since they weren’t that memorable.

I thought Dumb and Dumber To was OK 😐 An improvement over Dumb and Dumberer but not by much. While it has its moments and I did laugh a few times, it doesn’t have the charm or endearing qualities of the first Dumb and Dumber. What we have here is just another case of a studio trying to make a sequel to a beloved film and falling short.

Also read my reviews for Dumb and Dumber and Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.

Favorite Quote
Harry: Wow. That is the single most boring sentence I ever heard.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bobby Farrelly – Director / Writer
Peter Farrelly – Director / Writer
Sean Anders – Writer
John Morris – Writer
Bennett Yellin – Writer
Mike Cerrone – Writer
Empire of the Sun – Composer

Jim Carrey – Lloyd Christmas
Jeff Daniels – Harry Dunne
Rob Riggle – Travis / Captain Lippincott
Laurie Holden – Adele
Rachel Melvin – Penny
Steve Tom – Dr. Pinchelow
Kathleen Turner – Fraida
Bill Murray – Ice Pick
Brady Bluhm – Billy
Michael Yama – Harry’s Dad
Nancy Yee – Harry’s Mom
Grant James – Mr. Stainer
Taylor St. Clair – Mrs. Stainern
Eddie Shin – Gordy
Tommy Snider – Tom
Atkins Estimond – Gus
Don Lake – Dr. Meldmann
Tembi Locke – Dr. Walcott
Patricia French – Ms. Sourpuss
Lindsay Ayliffe – Professor Garabedian
Elizabeth Cooper – Mrs. Julie James
Paul Blackthorne – Emergency Room Doctor

Lightning Review: Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky movie posterSynopsis
When Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) gets let go from his job, he convinces his siblings, Clyde (Adam Driver) and Mellie (Riley Keough), to help him rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Logan and Clyde recruit experienced bank robber Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) to help them get into the vault. But first, they have to figure out a way to get Joe Bang out of jail.

Review
Part way through Logan Lucky, I thought β€œWow, this is a hillbilly Ocean’s Eleven,” which felt much more original until the movie made almost the same joke and I saw that it was directed by Steven Soderbergh (the director of Ocean’s Eleven) in the credits. In any case, it had many of the elements from Ocean’s Eleven that I enjoyed in that film. Like Ocean’s Eleven, it is a fairly slow burn for the first two-thirds of the film. Most of the run time is spent on the Logans concocting the plan / setting up all the pieces. However, also like Ocean’s Eleven, the fun characters, well-written dialogue, and great chemistry between the actors make this time enjoyable and entertaining. Once the heist actually happens, the payoff is well worth it. Keeping the film close to a formula that has worked well before and twisting it slightly was a brilliant move by Soderbergh. It keeps the film familiar yet still manages to keep it feeling new and fresh.

Having a great cast too doesn’t hurt the film either. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as the Logan brothers are absolutely a blast to watch. On the surface, they seem like they might be a pair of dim-witted rednecks but you soon realize that’s not necessarily the case. Add in a Southern-accented Daniel Craig as Joe Bang and you know you’re going to have a good time. To my surprise, Joe Bang’s two brothers, played by Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson, were two of my favorite characters in the film. Several of their lines had me cracking up the most. I would love to see a sequel if only to see those two characters on screen again.

I thought Logan Lucky was GOOD πŸ™‚ There is nothing original story-wise in this film but it uses what has been tried and true before and makes it work again in an unconventional way. The vibrant cast is clearly having fun, giving a fun Ocean’s Eleven vibe and keeping my attention despite not really picking up until the end. There are many better heist films out there but few of them are as whimsical or playful as Logan Lucky.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Steven Soderbergh – Director
Rebecca Blunt – Writer
David Holmes – Composer

Channing Tatum – Jimmy Logan
Adam Driver – Clyde Logan
Riley Keough – Mellie Logan
Daniel Craig – Joe Bang
Jack Quaid – Fish Bang
Brian Gleeson – Sam Bang
Farrah Mackenzie – Sadie Logan
Katie Holmes – Bobbie Jo Chapman
David Denman – Moody Chapman
Seth MacFarlane – Max Chilblain
Sebastian Stan – Dayton White
Jim O’Heir – Cal
Rebecca Koon – Purple Lady
Katherine Waterston – Slyvia Harrison
Hilary Swank – Special Agent Sarah Grayson
Macon Blair – Special Agent Brad Noonan

Lightning Review: The Mummy Returns

Synopsis
Meela (Patricia Velasquez) the reincarnation of Anck-Su-Namun, locates Imhotep’s (Arnold Vosloo) body in the city of Hamunaptra. She hopes to use Imhotep’s powers to defeat the Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson) and take control of the army he commands. Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) calls upon Rick O’Connell (Brendan Frasier) and his wife Evy (Rachel Weisz) to once again defeat Imhotep.

Review
What makes The Mummy so enjoyable is that it never took itself seriously and just had fun with its story. The Mummy Returns is much of the same which, like any sequel, is both a good and bad. The core group of Brendan Frasier, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, and Arnold Vosloo returns and have the same fantastic chemistry from before. Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bay has a much bigger role this time around and syncs with the group very well. The film’s sense of humor is pretty much the same as before, although the comedy is not as prominent this time around. It seems this time, there was more of a skew towards the action-adventure side of things instead of a pretty even balance like before. Not that that’s good or bad, it just gives the film a different feel. Newcomer Shaun Parkes as Rick’s pilot pal Izzy is my favorite of the new members of the cast but he feels underused, especially since he is a funny addition. The Mummy Returns is Dwayne Johnson’s first big movie role. I say big but he only appears in the opening scene and as CGI in the final battle scene, which has not aged well at all.

I thought The Mummy Returns was GOOD πŸ™‚ While not nearly as charming as The Mummy, it is still a decent popcorn flick.

Also read my reviews of The Mummy and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Stephen Sommers – Director / Writer
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Brendan Frasier – Rick O’Connell
Rachel Weisz – Evelyn Carnahan
John Hannah – Jonathan Carnahan
Freddie Boath – Alex O’Connell
Arnold Vosloo – Imhotep
Oded Fehr – Ardeth Bay
Patricia Velasquez – Meela / Anck-Su-Namun
Alun Armstrong – Mr. Hafez
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Lock-Nah
Shaun Parkes – Izzy
Dwayne Johnson – The Scorpion King

Lightning Review: Goal! The Dream Begins

This review was originally posted as part of theΒ Play to the Whistle Blogathon, hosted by Film and TV 101 and Reffing Movies.

Goal! The Dream Begins movie posterSynopsis
Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) is an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles working multiple jobs to support his family. However, his passion is to play football professionally. When Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane), a retired Newcastle United player, notices Munez talents, Foy sets him up with a try out with Newcastle United. In hopes of making his dreams a reality , Munez travels to England.

Review
As a soccer player and cinefile, it can be difficult to find a movie about the sport, let alone a decent one. Thankfully, Danny Cannon realized this and worked with FIFA, the international soccer organization, to create Goal! The Dream Begins. What makes this a good soccer movie is that it gives a down and dirty look into the sport. The camera angles are low and near the ground during the action, not up high like a commentator’s booth like you would see on television. You feel every hit, clearly see every move, and feel like you are on the field with the players. What makes this a good movie is the sincerity and heart it brings. From the beginning, Santiago Munez’s (Kuno Becker) love for his family and humility are felt very clearly. This gives the audience a connection with Munez and a reason to want to see him to succeed. It is nothing new to films, let alone a sports film, but it is used effectively. Becker brings an innocence that makes it that much easier to connect with and relate to.

I thought Goal! The Dream Begins was GOOD πŸ™‚ It is very much like many other underdog, rags-to-riches sports films, such as Rocky, but that isn’t really a bad thing. There is a lot of heart to the story and Santiago Munez is the type of character you can relate with and can’t help but root for. Goal! is a soccer movie that fans and players of the sport alike can enjoy.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Danny Cannon – Director
Mike Jefferies – Story / Screenplay
Adrian Butchart – Screenplay
Dick Clement – Screenplay
Ian La Frenais – Screenplay
Graeme Revell – Composer

Kuno Becker – Santiago Munez
Cassandra Bell – Christina
Alessandro Nivola – Gavin Harris
Stephen Dillane – Glen Foy
Sean Pertwee – Barry Rankin
Marcel Iures – Erik Dornhelm
Tony Plana – Hernan Munez
Miriam Colon – Mercedes
Jorge Ververa – Cesar

Lightning Review: The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy (2017) movie posterSynopsis
Nick Morrison (Tom Cruise) and his friend Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) accidentally uncover the tomb of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient Egyptian princess who had been buried for fear of her supernatural powers. When Ahmanet’s powers begin to return, Nick is chosen to finish the ritual Ahmanet started before she was entombed and he is thrust into an unknown world of monsters and dark creatures.

Review
As a cinefile, it is usually very easy to say whether or not I liked a movie but sometimes it can be hard to determine the why. This is the case for me with The Mummy. On the surface, it has many elements that I like in a film. Tom Cruise brings excitement to the action scenes. Jake Johnson, one of my favorite actors from New Girl, is a good comedic relief character, even if he does seem slightly out of place. The gorgeous Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy has an air of terror around her and gives a horror factor to the movie. So there are all these film elements that I enjoy, so why didn’t I enjoy this one? Maybe the issue is that I didn’t know what kind of movie I was watching. There were action pieces, humorous moments, and horror situations. There were all of these components that I couldn’t figure out what this movie was trying to do. Was it trying to be exciting? Scary? Funny? Individually, these parts are good and enjoyable here but when put together, they lose their strength and make for an inconsistent experience.

I thought The Mummy was OK 😐 When I hear β€œThe Mummy,” I always think of the 1999 Brendan Frasier version. What keeps bringing me back to that version is it is adventurous and fun and cheesy and it knows it and embraces it. This movie tries to incorporate some of that but also tries to go back to its horror roots of the 1930s original. The final product is a movie that doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be and it hurts the overall experience.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Alex Kurtzman – Director / Story
David Koepp – Screenplay
Christopher McQuarrie – Screenplay
Dylan Kussman – Screenplay
Jon Spaihts – Story
Jenny Lumet – Story
Brian Tyler – Composer

Tom Cruise – Nick Morton
Annabelle Wallis – Jenny Halsey
Sofia Boutella – Ahmanet
Jake Johnson – Chris Vail
Russell Crowe – Dr. Henry Jekyll
Courtney B. Vance – Colonel Greenway
Marwan Kenzari – Malik