Dolittle (2020) – The Animals Talk But Have Nothing To Say

Released: 16th January
Seen: 20th January

The Doctor Dolittle character first came to life in 1920 with the release of the book The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting. The book, and subsequent series of companion novels, told the story of Doctor John Dolittle who has learned to talk to animals and uses that knowledge to go on several great adventures. This idea was destined to become a movie so it comes as no surprise that in 1967 a musical was created. That musical cost 17 million and ended up making 9 million, it had the production from hell that included racism, Rex Harrison being a dick and ducks forgetting how to swim. Naturally, the property would end up abandoned until 1998 when a new Doctor Dolittle movie was made that starred Eddie Murphy. This new version was a success financially and got average reviews but it’s still fun… but it’s also, notably, one of the last good films Eddie Murphy made until his recent resurgence with Dolemite Is My Name. Basically what I’m saying is that the Doctor Dolittle franchise is a career killer and I now seriously worry about just what’s going to happen to Robert Downey Jr because the man just appeared in the worst version of the Dolittle story that’s been put on film.

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Jojo Rabbit (2019) – Springtime

Released: 26th December
Seen: 30th December

So… the Nazis are back. Do you remember them? God, you probably shouldn’t because we all agreed back around 1945 that Nazi’s sucked and anyone who does anything even remotely Nazi-like was a worthless piece of excrement that we didn’t have to listen to… then the world went freaking insane and now we have Nazis again and they’re out in the open like that’s in any way acceptable. I mean, it’s good that they’re open about it so we can punch them in the face but yeah, Nazis suck and no one should ever want to be one. There’s a controversial political statement, it’s bad that Nazis are still a thing. Maybe the problem was that we weren’t making enough fun of Nazi’s, there’s only so much Mel Brooks could do after all so it’s about time someone else made a movie that not only made fun of how stupid and ugly every single Nazi actually is… but damn it Taika, did you also have to make me cry like a child while you were doing it?

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Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) – Round Two. FIGHT!

Released: 26th December
Seen: 27th December

Two years ago, the world was surprised when the reboot of Jumanji came out and was actually really good. They had the near-impossible task of making a sequel to a Robin Williams movie just a few short years after he left us. It was the first time any property that Robin had touched would get revisited and somehow not only did they make it work, they even paid homage to the legend himself with some subtle and unsubtle nods. It ended up making almost a billion dollars at the box office and so naturally there was talk of a sequel. A sequel to Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle would have its own problem to deal with. Now that they had proven that they could make a film that honoured the original star… could they do something that didn’t rely on our love of a legend?

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Cats (2019) – Jellicles Can't

Released: 26th December
Seen: 26th December

In 1939, T.S. Eliot wrote a book titled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. In it, he wrote a series of poems about… well, cats. The book was beloved by many and would be the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber to create the musical Cats in 1981. That show would go on to be the fourth longest-running show on Broadway, just behind The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and The Lion King. It would also be the 6th longest running show on the West End, behind The Mousetrap, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Woman in Black and Blood Brothers. It’s made billions around the world on the stage and has delighted audiences for years with its story of cats that compete to kill themselves in a magical ritual… and then Tom Hooper managed to get some blackmail photos of a lot of famous people and forced them to appear in his adaptation of the infamously strange musical. That’s the best explanation that I can come up with for why these people turned up. Blackmail and kidnapping, they certainly weren’t there because they wanted to be.

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6 Underground (2019) – Bury it!

Released: 13th December
Seen: 24th December

During the promotional tour for this movie, the star Ryan Reynolds was happy to describe the film as “The most Michael Bay movie ever”. This kind of warning had me worried because I have a bit of a history with Michael Bay movies and the promise of the most Michael Bay movie ever sounds more like a threat than anything. See, I still contend that the last Transformers movie is so bad that it should basically bar Michael Bay from making a movie with a budget that’s above 5 million until he learns how to make a movie… and then Netflix in their infinite wisdom promised to release his latest film 6 Underground and my life is now actively worse because of it. Seriously Netflix, I understand that you need to have content that you own outright because everyone else is taking their content away to put on their own streaming platforms but how hard would it be for you to have just the tiniest bit of quality control. Not much, just enough to stop encouraging Michael Bay to keep making movies.

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Playmobil: The Movie (2019) – Everything Is Awful

Released: 12th December
Seen: 23rd December

I don’t think we spend enough time really grappling with how surprisingly good Lego Movie and Lego Movie 2 were. Not only were both of them hilarious and wonderfully animated, but they both also had memorable soundtracks and a well thought out and touching tale about family and bringing them together. Sure they were also giant advertisements for the toy that’s caused more foot pain than ingrown toenails, bunions and athletes’ foot combined but it was a sweet and clever advertisement for that toy. Sure, Lego Ninjago wasn’t that great but Lego Batman made up for it. Movies about the tiny plastic figures going on adventures seems to actually work… when you’re a popular brand like Lego. When you’re Playmobil, also known as “What you buy for your kids when they’ve sold out of Lego”, turns out it doesn’t quite work out as well.

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Playing with Fire (2019) – BURN EVERYTHING!

Released: 12th December
Seen: 16th December

When a wrestler decides to transition from the world of wrestling to the world of acting, at some point they will be required to make a very stupid children’s movie in order to prove their marketability to all ages. Hulk Hogan did this throughout the 90s with films like Suburban Commando, Mr. Nanny and Santa with Muscles. Before he was headlining what felt like every single major motion picture released, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was filling the late 2000s with films like The Game Plan or Tooth Fairy. Now it seems the mantle of “Wrestler who appears in bad children’s movies” has fallen upon the obscenely oversized shoulders of John Cena, who I thought had gotten past this period in the Wrestler turned Actor trajectory. I mean, he should be beyond needing to do that, he was in Ferdinand which was genuinely amazing, and Blockers, where he was funny as hell. The dude is meant to be on the Superhero and Action Franchise portion of the trajectory, he’s going to be in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie and the next Fast and the Furious movie so he should be past this point in his career… but no, no he’s regressed. He doubled back to tick “Does a bad children’s film” off the checklist.

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Marriage Story (2019) – Love And Divorce

Released: 6th December
Seen: 7th December

This year I don’t think I’ve been that kind to Netflix original movies. As I look back, most of the year I’ve called them anywhere between average to awful with very few bright spots on the way. It almost feels like I was picking on them but I probably wasn’t any meaner to them than any other production company, they just happen to be the one where I have to visit a site labelled with their name so it’s easier to associate them with the bad product. I can’t forget that I saw Sextuplets on Netflix, it started with their logo and the only way to see it is to go to their site. Meanwhile A Dog’s Purpose, my worst film of 2017, has associations with Universal, Amblin, DreamWorks and Walden Media and I don’t even think of it as being a movie by any of those companies, I just see a bad movie.

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Last Christmas (2019) Give It Away

Released: 7th November
Seen: 2nd December

2016, as a year, is generally remembered as a total dumpster fire where all forms of joy and happiness went to die. Entire nations turned on themselves and decided to do objectively stupid things like leave a certain European union or elect a pumpkin man that was assembled in 2013, had already begun to rot and somehow gained racist sentience (with that one sentence, I do believe I’ve gotten rid of the exact kind of reader one would hope to get rid of) and on top of that it seemed like every other day a celebrity that we loved died, culminating in the shocking death of George Michael on Christmas Day. Yes, there were more shocking deaths after him, but I need to save those for when the time comes to talk about the next Star Wars film. Anyway, naturally with a legend like George Michael there was a whole back catalogue of music that someone was inevitably going to take and turn into a tribute to the late performer. You would hope that they would make a film that was as joyful and cheeky as he was, something to celebrate his life… instead, they made a film that is the definition of saccharine and looted George’s pockets for discarded songs.

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Frozen 2 (2019) – Do You Wanna Make A Sequel?

Released: 28th November
Seen: 29th November

In 2013, Frozen came out and destroyed the lives of parents everywhere. While a charming movie, it had the power to make every child under the age of five unable to listen to anything other than the song Let It Go, an earworm so powerful that even typing that simple phrase has popped that song right back into the heads of anyone who saw the movie. It was also one of Disney’s best films, a simple story about two sisters that won the hearts of everyone who saw it. With charming songs sung by Broadway legends and some of the best animation ever seen it was a smashing success, grossing over 400 million at the box office and becoming the third highest-grossing film of the year. Naturally, they were going to end up making a sequel eventually and here we are, 6 years later finally getting a sequel to one of the greatest films of the 2010s. With such a high bar to reach it shouldn’t be a shock that it doesn’t quite make it, but it’s still pretty great.

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