Crazy, Stupid, Love Review

Before I get to the review, I just want to remind you that there is still a little bit of time left in the submission period for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon, which is open until February 9th, 2020. If you would like to participate in the blogathon, all the details can be found in this announcement post.

Also, Drew’s Movie Reviews is now on Letterboxd! Click here to visit my profile.

Okay, now on to the review!


Crazy, Stupid, Love movie posterSynopsis
After Cal’s (Steve Carell) wife Emily (Julianne Moore) tells him she wants a divorce, he begins hanging out at bars, where he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling). With Jacob’s help, Cal reinvents himself and learns Jacob’s tricks to picking up women.

Review
Many romantic comedies follow a similar and predicable story. Crazy, Stupid, Love, even with everything it does well, does not escape from this trapping. However, it is able brings a genuineness not often found in similar movies. The first reason for this is the star-studded cast, which consists of Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marissa Tomei, and Kevin Bacon. What makes this film work so well is the chemistry between all the cast members. With pairings like Carell and Gosling, Gosling and Stone, and Carell and Moore, and even Carell and Jonah Bobo, who plays Carell’s son, every scene is funny, sweet, and filled with so much heart that it’s not hard to enjoy it. Marisa Tomei is only in a handful of scenes but she steals every one. With a cast like this, there is no one stand-out performance; they are all wonderful.

With so many characters, there are several story lines happening at once. When they all come together about two-thirds through the movie, hilarity ensues, resulting in one of the best scenes of the film. The script, written by Dan Fogelman, is the second reason this movie shines. It manages to balance every character and memorable moment well. Even though the cast of characters is fairly large, especially for a movie like this, no one ever feels like they are overpowering the others. There is a clear focus on Cal, Jacob, and Emily, but the supporting cast get plenty of their own stand-out moments as well. Also, the script doesn’t sacrificing character development for one-liners. a pitfall common in comedies. Instead, the script accentuates the talents of the cast, letting comedic moments flow naturally, allowing character moments and humorous moments stand side-by-side without feeling jarring or unnatural.

I thought Crazy, Stupid, Love was GOOD 🙂 Like many romantic comedies, it is predicable. But what it lacks in individualism, it makes up for with heart, an enduring cast, and a well-balanced script that expertly manages the film’s many relatable characters and great moments. This film is an example of when all the right pieces come together just right and at the right time, creating something worthwhile in the process.

Favorite Quote
Jacob: Are you Steve Jobs?
Cal: What?
Jacob: Hold on a second. Are you the billionaire owner of Apple Computers?
Cal: No.
Jacob: Oh, okay. Well in that case you got no right to wear New Balance sneakers ever.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Glen Ficarra – Director
John Requa – Director
Dan Fogelman – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer
Nick Urata – Composer

Steve Carell – Cal
Ryan Gosling – Jacob
Julianne Moore – Emily
Emma Stone – Hannah
Analeigh Tipton – Jessica
Jonah Bobo – Robbie
Joey King – Molly
Marisa Tomei – Kate
John Carroll Lynch – Bernie
Beth Littleford – Claire
Kevin Bacon – David
Liza Lapira – Liz
Josh Groban – Richard

Weathering With You Review

Weathering With You movie posterSynopsis
In Tokyo, Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo / Brandon Engman) meets Hina (Nana Mori / Ashley Boettcher), who has the ability to make the constant Tokyo rain stop for a short time. The two soon learn that Hina’s power does not come without a cost.

Review
I, like many people I’m sure, was introduced to Makoto Shinkai with Your Name, his body-swapping romance. Your Name has become one of my favorite animated films so of course I was not going to miss Shinkai’s next film and my expectations were high. Weathering With You has a lot to live up to and will, for better or worse, be compared to Your Name. I tried to stray away from comparing the two too much but I couldn’t break from that myself, so you will find much of it here, for better or worse. With Weathering With You, Shinkai cements that he knows how to create a deep world and compelling characters.

Once again, Weathering With You shows that traditional cel animation is still alive and well. Today, many animated film studios, including Disney, have moved to computer animation. I don’t have an issue with this but there’s something about hand-drawn animations that make them special. A lot of care gets put into every frame; in every detail. There’s something there that you don’t feel with films animated with CGI. 2D animation isn’t common anymore but I’m glad there are still studios that make use of the style because I enjoy seeing the format still flourishing.

With that said, this film has a similar art style to Your Name. One major difference is the presence of rain throughout the majority of the film. This causes the film to have a more muted color palette. However, this movie is still amazingly colorful. Even with the constant gloom of the rain, or maybe because of it, nearly every frame is bursting to life with color, rivaling Your Name‘s vibrant feel. And never have I seen rain feature so prominently in an animated film and Weathering With You‘s rain effects are easily some of the best looking in animation, period. Shinkai and his team have created yet another downright gorgeous animated film.

As of writing this review, I haven’t seen any of Shinkai’s work prior to Your Name. But from what I’ve read about them, star-crossed lovers seems to be his shtick. As a result of his comfort zone, the story of Weathering With You might feel similar to Your Name. And in a way they are similar. Thematically, and even at times structurally, this film borrows from its predecessor. However, they approach the love story from different angles. Your Name tells a story about how love overcomes distance and time. Weathering With You, on the other hand, tells a story about the lengths someone is willing to go for the ones they love, regardless of the consequences. It’s a story that has been told time and time again but the consequences are much more far reaching and permanent than I think I’ve seen before in any film, animated or otherwise. In the end, it maintains a feeling of uniqueness, despite its similarities to Shinkai’s previous works.

I’m sorry but the comparisons to Your Name are not finished yet. Despite my love for Your Name, there is one aspect I think this movie did better than Shinkai’s last: the humor. Your Name used its body-swapping premise for some pretty good laughs. However, the humor in Weathering With You feels more natural. Throughout the film, there are more laugh-out-loud moments. While Your Name tells an overall better story, Weathering With You tells a funnier one.

I thought Weathering With You was GOOD 🙂 Shinkai has yet again created compelling characters within a detailed world, telling a beautiful story about love and the lengths one is willing to go for it. I still lean towards Your Name as my favorite between these two films but as a follow-up to the massive success that was Your Name, Weathering With You is a worthy successor.

Trivia
Be on the look out for Your Name‘s Taki and Mitsuha, who both make appearances in the film. According to director Makoto Shinkai, Weathering With You takes place shortly before Taki and Mitsuha’s reunion at the end of Your Name.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Makoto Shinkai – Director / Writer
Radwimps – Composer

Kotaro Daigo / Brandon Engman – Hodaka Morishima (voice)
Nana Mori / Ashley Boettcher – Hina Amano (voice)
Shun Oguri / Lee Pace – Keisuke Suga (voice)
Tsubasa Honda / Alison Brie – Natsumi Suga (voice)
Sakura Kiryu / Emeka Guindo – Nagisa Amano (voice)
Swi Hiraizumi / Mike Pollock – Yasui (voice)
Yuki Kaji / Riz Ahmed – Takai (voice)


The submission period for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is going on now and is open until February 9th, 2020. If you would like to participate in the blogathon, all the details can be found in this announcement post.

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 🙂 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

Lightning Review: When Harry Met Sally…

When Harry Met Sally... movie posterSynopsis
Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) have known each other for years and are very close friends. They want to move their relationship forward but fear that sex would ruin their friendship.

Review
When Harry Met Sally… is a widely beloved romantic comedy, and it isn’t hard to see why. Being one who doesn’t watch a lot of romance films, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this movie. A big part of that is the chemistry between the two leads, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Their conversations and their back-and-forth feels smooth and natural. It’d be easy to forget you weren’t watching a movie but two actual, long-time friends bantering. Of course, this feeling of comfortability would not be possible without the well-written script by Nora Ephron and crisp directing by Rob Reiner. Together, they have managed to make what is essentially a ninety-minute Seinfeld episode. If you think about it, this movie is about nothing. The simplicity is ingenious, which might be what I like best about it. There is no, conflict. There is no big hurdle Harry and Sally need to overcome. This is a movie about a man and a woman being platonic friends. The whole sex-ruining-the-friendship part is a driving force for the story but it is only brought up sporadically and doesn’t significantly impact it until the end.

I thought When Harry Met Sally… was GREAT 😀 The leads, the directing, and the script dovetail harmoniously to create a simple yet touching story. This truly sets a standard for romantic comedies that many films are still trying to touch today.

Trivia
The stories told by the couples during special segments throughout the film were real stories, collected by Rob Reiner for the film.  Harry and Sally’s segment was completely improvised by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

Favorite Scene

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Rob Reiner – Director
Nora Ephron – Writer

Billy Crystal – Harry Burns
Meg Ryan – Sally Albright
Carrie Fisher – Marie
Bruno Kirby – Jess
Steven Ford – Joe
Lisa Jane Persky – Alice
Michelle Nicastro – Amanda