MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)

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Ralph Bellamy, Cary Grant, and Rosalind Russell in HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940).

In the day and age where classic black and white movies are getting more and more difficult to view, and if you don’t believe me, check out your favorite streaming services and see how many classic movies made before 1960 they offer, it’s becoming more and more important to celebrate these gems of yesteryear.

With that in mind, on today’s MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES column, we look at the hilarious dialogue in Howard Hawks’ classic comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940), starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. For my money, HIS GIRL FRIDAY has the funniest rapid-fire script this side of the Marx Brothers!

HIS GIRL FRIDAY is the remake of THE FRONT PAGE (1931), but in this Howard Hawks version the character of Hildy Johnson was changed from a male reporter to a female one, which changed the whole dynamic of the story for the better. THE FRONT PAGE was remade again in 1974 by Billy Wilder with Hildy once again cast as a man in a vehicle for Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. It’s been remade other times as well. HIS GIRL FRIDAY is my favorite version.

In HIS GIRL FRIDAY, which pokes fun at the ruthless newspaper business and the even more ruthless but completely incompetent political leaders of the day, newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is about to get married to the easy going and honest Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), but her wise-cracking and impossibly dedicated editor and former husband Walter Burns (Cary Grant) will have none of it and will stop at nothing to keep Hildy at the paper while they work on the explosive happening-in-real-time story of a massive manhunt for a fugitive wanted for murder.

The script by Charles Lederer, based on the play by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht is nonstop hilarious, with the key word being nonstop. The dialogue is fast and relentless, the actors speak at a rapid-fire pace and if you’re not ready, you’ll be caught off guard. But the pace is ripe for humor, and without further hesitation, let’s have a listen:

A lot of the humor comes from the banter between Cary Grant’s Walter Burns and Rosalind Russell’s Hildy Johnson.

For example:

WALTER: Look, Hildy, I only acted like any husband that didn’t want to see his home broken up.

HILDY: What home?

WALTER: “What home”? Don’t you remember the home I promised you?

And:

WALTER: What were you when you came here five years ago – a little college girl from a school of journalism. I took a doll-faced hick…

HILDY: Well, you wouldn’t take me if I hadn’t been doll-faced.

WALTER: Well, why should I? I thought it would be a novelty to have a face around here a man could look at without shuddering.

It’s also a very playful script with in-jokes and moments that break the fourth wall, like this one where Walter is trying to describe what Bruce, who’s played by Ralph Bellamy, looks like:

WALTER: He looks like that fellow in the movies – Ralph Bellamy.

There are parts which play on misunderstandings, like the exchange between Hildy and newspaper heavy Louis:

LOUIS: What’s the matter, Hildy?

HILDY: Don’t give me that innocent stuff! What did you pull on Mr. Baldwin this time?

LOUIS: Who, me?

HILDY: Yes, you and that albino of yours!

LOUIS: You talkin’ about Evangeline?

HILDY: None other!

LOUIS: She ain’t no albino.

HILDY: She’ll do till one comes along!

LOUIS; She was born right here in this country!

Then there are moments which highlight Walters’ ruthlessness to get the job done, like in this moment where he’s talking to his copy editor:

WALTER: Hey, Duffy, listen. Is there any way we can stop the 4:00 train to Albany from leaving town?

DUFFY: We might dynamite it.

WALTER: Could we?

The dialogue between Walter and Bruce, where Walter consistently leaves the slow-witted and well-meaning Bruce in the dust is energetic and funny:

WALTER: Well, Bruce, you see, I thought… You don’t mind if I call you Bruce, do you? After all, we’re practically related.

BRUCE: Oh, not at all.

WALTER; You see, my wife, that is, your wife, I mean, Hildy, oh Hildy, you led me to expect you were marrying a much older man.

BRUCE: Oh, really? What did I say that led you to expect that…

WALTER: Oh, don’t worry about it. I realize that you didn’t mean old in years.

The local politcians are corrupt and inept. In this scene, the mayor tries to convince a messenger, Joe Pettibone, that he didn’t deliver the message, but Pettibone is a wide-eyed innocent and quite clueless citizen who won’t hear of it:

MAYOR: Now, remember, you never delivered this.

JOE: Yes, I did.

MAYOR: No, you didn’t. You got caught in the traffic or something.

JOE: No, I came around the…

MAYOR: Well, pretend you did. Now, get out of here and don’t let anybody see you.

And we finish with one of my favorite lines of the movie, and it comes near the film’s climax, where Walter finds himself surrounded by the authorities, and the fugitive they’re all looking for who Walter desperately wants to interview, is hiding inside the oversized desk. As the authorities enter the office and Walter struggles to come up with a plan of escape, the sheriff announces that if Walter doesn’t cooperate, they’ll start impounding his belongings, and he starts pointing to some of them, like the desk.

A light bulb goes off inside Walter’s head:

WALTER: This desk? I dare you to move this desk out of here!

To which the sheriff responds, “Come on, boys!”

Hilarious moment in a hilarious movie.

Check out HIS GIRL FRIDAY. It’s directed by one of my favorite movie directors, Howard Hawks, and stars Cary Grant at the top of his game, and Rosalind Russell who is equally as good, with a screenplay that is one of classic comedy’s best.’

Hope you enjoyed today’s MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES column and that you will join me again next time when we’ll look at more quotes from other classic movies!

As always, thanks for reading!

—Michael

LUCY AND DESI (2022) – Documentary by Amy Poehler Chronicles Moving Love Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

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LUCY AND DESI (2022), a new Amazon Prime original documentary directed by Amy Poehler, is filled with poignant moments as it chronicles the love story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, showing how they struggled to balance the demands of show business with their family life, a struggle that ultimately led to their divorce, but one that never stopped them from loving each other.

LUCY AND DESI makes for a nice companion piece to BEING THE RICARDOS (2021), Aaron Sorkin’s movie chronicling one of the most stressful weeks in the lives of the famous TV couple, starring Nicole Kidman as Lucy and Javier Bardem as Desi. I actually enjoyed LUCY AND DESI more than I did BEING THE RICARDOS, but this might be an unfair comparison, because LUCY AND DESI features the real Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in tons of archive footage both in character and behind the scenes, and that’s something that is simply hard to beat. As such, LUCY AND DESI is a heck of a documentary.

The film basically is the love story between Lucy and Desi. We see how they first meet, how well they worked together on I LOVE LUCY (1951-1957), how things eventually fell apart, and how they continued to be in each other’s lives long after their marriage had ended. In fact, the point is made that after they divorced, they actually got along better.

There are many fascinating tidbits and revelations made in this film, from the pushback they received from producers who did not want to cast Desi in I LOVE LUCY because they didn’t want a Cuban lead, but a generic white American, to the genesis for the plot line of the series which featured Desi’s Ricky Ricardo who was in show business but really wanted out, and his wife Lucy, who was not in show business, but really wanted in.

In real life, it was Lucy who loved to perform, and Desi who had a knack for the business side of things. It was Desi who built DesiLu Productions and turned it into one of television’s largest production companies. But it was also incredibly grueling work and wore him down to the point where he eventually because of failing health and drinking, just had to quit. Lucy would buy out the company from him, but since her interests were never in business, she eventually sold the company to Paramount.

Lucy and Desi’s daughter Lucie Arnaz, who is interviewed throughout the documentary, makes the poignant point that what Lucy and Desi really wanted in their lives was the perfect combination of show business and family life. They gave the world I LOVE LUCY, and so as Lucie Arnaz explains, the world got this perfect combination in the form of an everlasting TV show, but Lucy and Desi never got to enjoy it in real life, as their marriage ended in divorce. Whereas they succeeded creatively, giving the world the gift of I LOVE LUCY, they failed personally. They couldn’t live out what they had created in the fictional world of television.

Other notable points include Desi’s early life in Cuba, and how in the U.S., after fleeing the Cuban revolution and arriving here penniless as a refuge, he was always looking to recapture what he lost in his home country, that feeling of home, but sadly was never able to. And how Lucy and Ethel, as played by Vivian Vance, were shown as active women who were constantly plotting together and taking the lead in the storylines over their husbands, which was something unheard of in 1950s TV shows. Furthermore, Lucy’s second show, THE LUCY SHOW (1962-1968), broke new ground by having Lucy and Vivian Vance play two single moms raising children on their own.

We also see how Lucy helped many performers get their starts, including Carol Burnett, who appears in interviews and speaks of how generous Lucy was to her, and how she still thinks of Lucy nearly every day.

LUCY AND DESI is also filled with tons of archival footage of both Lucy and Desi, including famous clips from I LOVE LUCY. And one of the most memorable moments comes right near the end, after the film takes us through Desi’s final days, as he is sick with lung cancer, and we hear as told by Lucie Arnaz, how Lucy and Desi spoke on the phone, and how they told each other they loved each other, and how Lucy was the last person other than Lucie Arnaz who was with Desi when he died, to speak to him. Desi Arnaz died in 1986 from lung cancer. He was only 69 years old.

But the moment comes from footage from the Kennedy Center Awards in 1986, where Robert Stack reads a posthumous statement from Desi Arnaz in which he gives all the credit for the success of I LOVE LUCY to Lucy, and says I LOVE LUCY was never just a title. The audience then turns and gives an emotional Lucille Ball a standing ovation.

Lucy would pass three years later in 1989 at the age of 77.

LUCY AND DESI was written by Mark Monroe who provides a solid framework for the telling of the story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Amy Poehler, known of course for her comic performances on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and on PARKS AND RECREATION (2009-2015), also directed and starred in one of my favorite movies from last year, MOXIE (2021). Poehler succeeds once again behind the camera and does exceptional work here directing LUCY AND DESI.

And it’s an important story to tell because I LOVE LUCY is not only one of the all-time best, if not the best television comedy series ever, but also one of the biggest influencers. It was the first show to use a live studio audience, the first to use film, and utilized a three-camera system developed by Desi Arnaz. It was also successful because Desi hired the best people and was comfortable delegating work out to these people, like acclaimed cinematographer Karl Freund. It featured a Latin male in the lead, two strong female characters, allowed Lucy to be pregnant in a storyline which was unheard of in the 1950s, and featured the amazing physical comedic talents of Lucille Ball, who unlike most beautiful actresses, was unafraid to make herself look ugly or foolish to get a laugh.

I still remember when Lucille Ball passed away in 1989, it was a big deal, both in my family and in the national media. Lucille Ball is easily one of the biggest stars of her generation, and she did it mostly in the smaller medium of television rather than film, which is also a testament to her talent, and she has lived on, cementing her place with the other entertainment greats in film and television history. And one of the reasons she achieved this success, was the tireless efforts of her husband Desi Arnaz, whose business sense provided I LOVE LUCY with the best people to create the show, giving Lucy her vehicle to finally display her talents to the world.

The story of Lucy and Desi is one that needs to be told, of how two people very much in love created a cultural and entertainment phenomenon with the TV show I LOVE LUCY, but sadly, they were unable to survive the pressures of doing so and eventually divorced. They both remarried and stayed married longer to their second spouses than they were with each other, but they never stopped loving each other and were there for each other until the end.

LUCY AND DESI is a tale of dreams, of hard work, of love, and the costs of trying to balance them, and how unlike in television, where happy endings abound, in reality, people are human, and stress often takes its toll, as it did with Lucy and Desi, but people are also resilient, and Lucy and Desi carried on, and they loved each to the last.

Indeed, I LOVE LUCY was never just a title. It’s also an everlasting love letter from Desi to Lucy, one that we are all invited to read.

—END—

THE ADAM PROJECT (2022) – Ryan Reynolds Time Travel Tale Will Make You Laugh and Cry

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THE ADAM PROJECT (2022), a new Netflix time travel movie starring Ryan Reynolds, is marketed as witty, feel good, and exciting. It scores high on the first two categories, as it will make you laugh, and better yet, will tug at your heartstrings and you may even shed a few tears, but in terms of excitement, it’s rather lame.

That’s because the villains in this sci fi adventure are the least developed and the least interesting parts of this movie, and whenever our heroes break out into battle against the stormtrooper-like fighter drones from the future, the film plummets several notches, as we’re forced to watch dull video game style fight scenes that while they look fine are inferior to the quality of the rest of the movie.

The gimmick in THE ADAM PROJECT is that time travelling pilot from the future Adam (Ryan Reynolds) travels back in time where he meets his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell), and the two team up to save the future. Specifically, older Adam is trying to both save his wife Laura (Zoe Saldana) who has also travelled back in time on a mission of her own, and to prevent some bad people from manipulating the timeline. Along the way, older Adam helps younger Adam deal with his emotional issues stemming from the recent death of their father, including helping him treat their mom (Jennifer Garner) better, and also helping him deal with bullies. On the flip side, younger Adam can’t help but be impressed by his older self and can’t stop interrogating him with nonstop questions about both time travel in general and his future experiences.

But the man who holds the key to solving the time travel conundrum, is the man who invented it, which happens to be their deceased dad (Mark Ruffalo), and so the two Adams travel back in time again, this time together, to meet their dad before he dies and seek his help in putting the fractured timeline back together.

I like time travel stories just as much as the next person… heck, I even wrote a novel, Time Frame.… time for a shameless plug!… which if I must say so is much more ambitious in scope than the events described in this movie. The time travel story told here in THE ADAM PROJECT is a decent one. I’ve seen better, and I’ve seen worse.

But the best part of THE ADAM PROJECT is the story of the relationship between the two Adams and their dad, and to a lesser extent, their mom. The film soars when at long last the two Adams meet their dad and discuss not only the time travel concerns, the ones involving the less interesting plot of villains manipulating the future, but their own complicated family relationship. The scene where the three play catch is one of the best sequences in the movie, an emotional tender scene that packs a wallop. There are other scenes like this as well, like when young Adam remembers his older self’s advice and hugs his mom, and it’s here where the film is at its best.

The movie is equally as effective with its humor, as Ryan Reynolds and young Walker Scobell share great chemistry and timing, playing off each other effortlessly. The script is full of very funny dialogue.

Sure, we’ve seen Ryan Reynolds do this a gazillion times, but he does it well, and once more he’s funny, entertaining, and a lot of fun to watch here as older Adam. No, it’s not Deadpool caliber humor, but it’s a heck of a lot better than last year’s RED NOTICE (2021), a Netflix film in which Reynolds was paired with Dwayne Johnson where the humor did not work.

Walker Scobell is excellent as young Adam. He captures a lot of Ryan Reynolds’ mannerisms and delivery, and the two actors really play well off each other.

And then you have Mark Ruffalo as their father Louis Reed, Jennifer Garner as their mom Ellie, and Zoe Saldana as older Adam’s wife Laura, who are all superb in their roles, especially Ruffalo, who gets to enjoy some of the best scenes in the movie.

Catherine Keener plays the villain, Maya Sorian, and unfortunately, she is stuck in the least interesting part of the film.

The screenplay by Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, and Jennifer Flackett works best when operating outside the action realm of good guys saving the world from bad guys. That part of the story is meh and definitely in the “been there, seen that” category. It handles the time travel elements well enough, and then really shines with its family storyline dealing with the relationships between both Adams and their mom and dad, especially their dad. This part of the film is the best part by far. And the banter between young Adam and old Adam is very funny throughout, which is also a nice plus.

Veteran director Shawn Levy helmed THE ADAM PROJECT. Levy has directed such films as REAL STEEL (2011), DATE NIGHT (2010), NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM (2006), and the Steve Martin remake of THE PINK PANTHER (2006), to name just a few. I did not like most of these movies, and THE ADAM PROJECT is better than any of these films. In fact, of all the movies I’ve seen that Levy has directed, THE ADAM PROJECT just might be my favorite.

In terms of time travel, while it’s not a classic like George Pal’s version of H.G. Wells’ THE TIME MACHINE (1960) or Nicholas Meyer’s TIME AFTER TIME (1979), or even the various episodes of the many STAR TREK series and movies, which all had more to say on the subject than THE ADAM PROJECT, it still does a decent job with the topic. It’s not too out there, most of it makes sense, and the film doesn’t take itself too seriously and definitely has fun with it.

I liked THE ADAM PROJECT well enough. It has a moving story and sharp humor, and it’s also a showcase for Ryan Reynolds, so if you’re a fan, you’ll love this one.

Even if you’re not a fan, chances are you’ll have a good… time.

—END—

Worst Movies of 2021

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Welcome back! As promised, here is my list of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2021.

As I did with my Best Movies List, I’m placing an asterisk next to this one, as once again, the pandemic has prevented trips to the movie theaters from being a safe activity, and so with this in mind, I know we haven’t all seen the same movies since we are not all heading out to the movie theaters to see the same national releases. I know there are plenty of movies I missed this year.

Okay, let’s get on with it. Without further hesitation, here is my list of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2021:

10. CRY MACHO – probably the dullest movie I watched all year. Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this tale of a former rodeo star (Eastwood) who goes to Mexico to bring back his boss’s teenage son to the States, and along the way, the two form a bond in this underwhelming buddy movie. While I am in awe of Clint Eastwood, who at 91 years old, is still making quality movies, the story here in CRY MACHO doesn’t do him any favors. The storytelling is muddled, and Eastwood seems to be playing a character who is much younger than 91, although the script never makes this clear. Not much to like about this one, even for Eastwood fans.

9. FEAR STREET: PART TWO – 1978 – Yeah, I know. For a lot of folks, this second installment in the Netflix FEAR STREET horror movie trilogy was the best of the lot, but for me, it was the worst. Each part served as an homage to a particular horror movie genre, and here in FEAR STREET: PART TWO – 1978 that genre is the FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH movies. I’m going to ruffle more feathers here as well when I say honestly that I’ve never liked the FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH movies and have found them all to be particularly bad. FEAR STREET: PART TWO does a nice job capturing the feel of these movies, but at the end of the day, it’s yet another variation of teenagers at a summer camp being slaughtered in the most unrealistically gruesome of ways. If that’s your cup of tea, you probably love this movie. But it’s not mine. I prefer intelligence in my horror.

8. GODZILLA VS. KONG – Again, this is one that a lot of people really liked, but for me, even as a fan of giant monster movies, especially King Kong movies, and Godzilla movies as well, this one was simply bad. I find it difficult to understand why this movie has so many fans when its script is so weak. The human characters are all forgettable, the situations unrealistic and uninspiring, and the dialogue is pretty poor. So, all you have left are the giant monsters in combat. And even those scenes didn’t do much for me. I know the argument is out there that that’s how the old Toho Godzilla movies all were. That’s a fair argument, up to a point. What always saved the Toho films was that Godzilla and his friends all had personality. The monsters in these modern-day versions do not. Plus, movies like KING KONG (1933) and THEM! (1954) did have superior scripts. These new giant monster movies do not. Instead, the modern-day giant monster movie (mostly Godzilla and Kong these days) has been reduced to special effects only, without any interest in creating any kind of a story worth telling.

7. COMING 2 AMERICA – the original COMING TO AMERICA (1988) starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall was very funny. This sequel, in spite of the return of Murphy and Hall, is not. Next movie…

6. TYGER TYGER – this was a movie that I fully expected to like, because it was so different and quirky, with a sense of style that I thought would make it a winner. But this tale of a pair of selfless robbers who kidnap a drug addict before they all find themselves hiding out in a bizarre psychedelic city is probably better enjoyed when you’re high! Seriously! The longer this one went on, the less sense it made, and by the time it was all over, it largely had become a wasted opportunity. No pun intended!

5. THE LITTLE THINGS – in spite of the presence of Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto this one just doesn’t work. Washington plays a former detective who’s called in to help with a serial killer case, and the character he plays is known for spotting the little things others miss in these cases. Trouble is, the script barely shows him doing this. Malek plays the hotshot detective who calls in Washington for help, but the choices he makes throughout the movie make him seen anything but a hotshot detective. And Leto plays the man they suspect is the serial killer. This one should have been awesome. Instead, it’s a muddled meandering tale that gets worse as it goes along with a particularly weak ending.

4. WITHOUT REMORSE- With a script by one of my favorite screenwriters, Taylor Sheridan, I fully expected to like this adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel, but instead it proved to be Sheridan’s first real misfire. Michael B. Jordan plays an elite Navy Seal who’s gone rogue to solve the murder of his wife, only to find— of course— that it’s all part of a larger conspiracy. What. A. Surprise. Yawn.

And now, the drum roll please. Here are my Top 3 Worst Movies from 2021:

3. SWEET GIRL -Hands down, the worst action movie of the year. Jason Momoa plays a man who vows revenge against a pharmaceutical company after its “business decision” pulled a drug from the market which could have saved his terminally ill wife. So, hubby goes insane and plots to kill the heads of this company, who, while they are undesirable, probably don’t deserve to be killed. So, there’s that initial problem. But wait, there’s more! There’s a larger conspiracy! Of course, there always is. Plus, Momoa’s character against his better judgement is constantly bringing his teenage daughter with him and training her to protect herself and be an assassin vigilante like him… and then, thanks to a bizarre plot twist, his character disappears from the second half of the movie. So, yes, you have an action film headlined by Jason Momoa, that halfway through ditches its star. Ugh.

2. MADRES – the worst horror movie of the year. This tale of a Mexican American couple who move to a new community in 1970s California that seems to have a weird sinister secret involving pregnant women, doesn’t know how to get out of its own way. The film aims for a ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) and THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975) vibe but fails on both counts. This one is based on true events, and its reveal at the end is actually very good, but the problem is the film tries so hard to hide this reveal with a supernatural tale that is so lame it makes the movie completely ineffective. Had the filmmakers chosen to focus on what this film is ultimately about, it would have been a far darker, more memorable movie.

And now, drum roll please, the Worst Movie of 2021:

1. THUNDER FORCE – by far, the worst comedy of the year. Melissa McCarthy plays a woman who inherits superpowers thanks to her scientist friend played by Octavia Spencer. They then take on the world’s supervillains. Should have been funny. But it’s not. Jason Bateman fares the best as a supervillain known as The Crab. Written and directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone.

And there you have it. My picks for the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2021. Now, let’s move on to 2022.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Michael

THUNDER FORCE (2021) – Latest In Long Line of Unfunny Movie Comedies

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I was really in the mood for a comedy this weekend. I needed to unwind and laugh and was looking for a movie to help me do just that.

Sadly, I chose THUNDER FORCE (2021), the new Netflix superhero comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer.

THUNDER FORCE is the latest in a long line of movie comedies that simply aren’t funny. I’ve said this many times, but it bears repeating: the movie comedy right now is the one movie genre that is in the most trouble. You just don’t see many good ones any more. Where have all the great comic geniuses of the world gone? They’re not out there making movies, that I can tell you!

THUNDER FORCE also isn’t helped by its plot, the idea that every day people suddenly inherit superpowers and become superheroes. This theme has been overdone in such recent films like UNKNOWN ORIGINS (2020) and PROJECT: POWER (2020), two serious superhero movies that also weren’t all that good.

But the biggest problem with THUNDER FORCE is it is simply not that funny. Director/writer and Melissa McCarthy hubby Ben Falcone has written a script that includes potentially humorous scenarios but without clever crisp jokes to pull these scenes off, leaving the audience with nary a chuckle. I barely laughed. In fact, within the first few minutes of this one, I was seriously bored, and the film runs a very long one hour and forty six minutes. That’s an excruciatingly long time to not be funny.

And to be bored by a movie which stars Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, two actors I really enjoy, says a lot!

McCarthy and Spencer play best friends Lydia and Emily, and they’ve been friends since high school, and the movie actually spends a good chunk of its opening minutes playing out their entire back story, which is as dull a way to open a superhero comedy as one can imagine! You have to wait 10-15 minutes before McCarthy and Spencer even show up. They live in Chicago during a time when evil super powered Miscreants terrorize the world. Spencer’s Emily lost her parents to Miscreants, and she has vowed to defeat them in her parents’ name. Hmm. Where have I heard that before? I’m surprised she doesn’t live in a cave and have a butler named Alfred. Anyway, Emily has worked her entire life on finding a way to give ordinary people superpowers, and one day while hanging around inside her best friend’s lab, Lydia accidentally receives those powers, and the next thing you know, she and Emily are a pair of unlikely superheroes who go by the name of Thunder Force taking on the city’s villainous Miscreants, led by the corrupt politician The King (Bobby Cannavale) and his henchmen The Crab (Jason Bateman) and Laser (Pom Klementieff).

Yawn.

Actually this plot would have been fine had the jokes been funny. But they’re not. This is as unfunny a comedy as I’ve seen in a while. If you want to understand the level of humor here, it reminded me of another awful Netflix comedy which also used Force in its title, the excruciatingly mundane TV series SPACE FORCE which starred Steve Carell and John Malkovich. Both of these projects are prime examples of forced humor!

This is also about as unfunny as I’ve seen Melissa McCarthy, and I’m a fan. She has a few minor moments here and there, but that’s about it. Octavia Spencer pretty much plays it straight, which means she fits in with the overall tone of the movie, which in spite of supposedly being a comedy, can’t seem to garner a laugh.

The villains fare the best, which isn’t saying much. Bobby Cannavale as The King is at least interesting to watch, even if the running gag of him not knowing his henchmen’s names is never all that comical. Jason Bateman enjoys the best moments in the movie as The Crab, a human Miscreant hybrid with crab claws for hands. He gets some of the better lines in the movie, and he pulls them off with ease, and his scenes with Melissa McCarthy were about the only times in the movie where I felt compelled to pay attention. The rest was a snore fest.

If Pom Klementieff as Laser looks like she walked off the set of a Marvel superhero movie, that’s because she plays Mantis in that Cinematic Universe, and the two characters resemble each other. She’s actually funnier as Mantis.

Melissa Leo is completely lost in a nothing role as Allie, the third member and behind the scenes operative of Thunder Force.

Ben Falcone has written and directed other Melissa McCarthy movies. I didn’t see their most recent collaboration, SUPERINTELLIGENCE (2020), but their film before that, LIFE OF THE PARTY (2018), which also opened to negative reviews, I actually liked and laughed quite a bit. Not so here with THUNDER FORCE. Too much time is spent on the super hero plot, which is lame and forgettable, and not enough time is spent on honing the humor.

If you are looking for laughs, you’ll need to keep on looking because you won’t find them in THUNDER FORCE. It’s one of the dullest comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

—END–

COMING 2 AMERICA (2021) – Eddie Murphy Sequel Amiable But Not All That Funny

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COMING 2 AMERICA (2021) has “2” things working against it.

It’s a sequel, and it’s a comedy.

I’m telling you, the hardest movies to make these days are comedies. Good ones are really hard to find.

That being said, this sequel to COMING TO AMERICA (1988), a John Landis comedy which starred Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, while it struggles to be both funny and tell a worthwhile story, it at least remains playful throughout. I had fun watching COMING 2 AMERICA. I just didn’t laugh all that much.

COMING 2 AMERICA, available now on Prime Video, reunites Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in a movie for the first time in thirty years, as they last starred together in HARLEM NIGHTS (1989). As a big fan of Eddie Murphy, he’s the main reason I wanted to check out COMING 2 AMERICA. I remember liking COMING TO AMERICA back in 1988, although I wouldn’t list it as one of my favorite Murphy movies. And Murphy was outstanding in the recent DOLEMITE IS MY NAME (2019), a Netflix original which I thought was Murphy’s best work in years. While I didn’t expect the same quality here in this sequel, I was excited to see Murphy in a movie again all the same.

And that’s pretty much how COMING 2 AMERICA played out. As a movie, it’s okay. The fun was watching Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, as well as Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan, John Amos, and James Earl Jones on screen. All of these folks have their moments, although none of these moments are all that uproarious.

The story told in COMING 2 AMERICA is rather simple and not terribly important, other than a nod to equality for women here in 2021 which was nice to see but predictable.

Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) becomes King Akeem of the African kingdom of Zamunda when his father King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) passes away. And he rules this kingdom with his wife Lisa (Shari Headley) and their three daughters, which poses a problem for Akeem. He needs a male heir to take over the throne after him. When he learns he has a bastard son living in America, he decides to return there to find him. So, Akeem and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) return to New York and there find Akeem’s son Lavelle (Jermain Fowler) who agrees to return with them to Zamunda, where he learns the ways of becoming a prince. Meanwhile, in the film’s only relevant moments, Lisa attempts to point out to Akeem that he was the one who was supposed to make sweeping changes in the kingdom but instead has become like his father and changed nothing, and she points out that their oldest daughter has been training her whole life to succeed her father in leading the kingdom, but he has bypassed her because she’s a woman. As one would expect in a comedy sequel, these words do make their mark on Akeem and he eventually comes around to 2021 thinking.

Again, COMING 2 AMERICA is likable enough, but it just isn’t all that funny. By far, the funniest parts are the barbershop scenes, where both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio hall reprise their old barbershop characters from the first movie. These scenes are funny, very funny, but there’s only a couple.

Eddie Murphy is enjoyable to watch, but the role hardly gives him anything to do. In fact, he’s almost the straight man throughout to other characters’ antics, and Eddie Murphy as the straight man to others’ comedy is never a good thing. If you want to see Murphy really strutting his stuff, you want to check out DOLEMITE IS MY NAME.

Likewise, Arsenio Hall’s moments are also few and far between. The same can be said for Wesley Snipes as General Izzi, who had never made a movie with Eddie Murphy before DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, and now he’s appeared in two movies with Murphy in two years.

Tracy Morgan probably fares the best as Lavelle’s uncle Reem. Then again, Morgan can just stand there and by his presence alone crack me up. Morgan made me laugh quite a few times in this movie, even though he’s been far funnier in other roles.

Jermaine Fowler gets lots of screen time as Lavelle, and most of the movie involves his character as he struggles to become prince. Fowler is very good, and Lavelle is a likable character, but like the rest of the movie, not all that humorous.

Leslie Jones does enjoy some fine funny moments as Lavelle’s mother Mary, and Shari Headley adds class to the story as Akeem’s wife and queen Lisa. Nomzamo Mbatha, Bella Murphy (Eddie Murphy’s real life daughter), and Akiley Love all do well as Akeem’s daughters.

Kiki Layne delivers one of the best performances in the film as Meeka, the woman who is tasked with helping Lavelle learn how to become a prince, and of course the two characters fall in love.

Screen veterans James Earl Jones and John Amos also each have their moments. You can’t go wrong with the cast in this one. Heck, even Morgan Freeman shows up!

COMING 2 AMERICA was directed by Craig Brewer, who also directed DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, which is a far superior film to this one. Not that it matters much, since this is a comedy, but the CGI effects here aren’t very good, both on the African animals which clearly look fake, and on scenes where Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are made to look younger.

Kenya Barris, Barry W. Blaustein, and David Sheffield wrote the screenplay, and all I can say is if I wanted to make a funny comedy, I wouldn’t be hiring these guys. Not based on this screenplay, anyway.

COMING 2 AMERICA is an amiable comedy sequel that simply isn’t funny enough to justify a glowing recommendation, even with the likes of Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in the cast. At the end of the day, it’s just all rather subpar.

Which, unfortunately, is just….

…2 bad.

—END—

10 Worst Movies of 2020

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And now for the 10 Worst Movies of 2020.

Just like with by Top 10 Best Movies List, this year’s list comes with a giant asterisk, thanks to COVID-19 closing movie theaters across the country. While I have continued to review movies throughout the year, they have been on streaming and OnDemand services, and so without national theater chains to provide the same movies for all of us, a lot of movies I saw this year, you may not have, and vice versa.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the list:

10. EMMA

This one doesn’t really belong on a Worst Movies List, but as I rank all the movies I see throughout the year, it did happen to fall 10th from the worst. This elegant version of Jane Austen’s novel is simply a colossal bore, pure and simple. Looked great, but the script and characterizations put me to sleep. Stars Anya Taylor-Joy in the lead role as Emma, and she’s much better in the current and superior Netflix TV show THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (2020). The film also wastes the usually reliable Bill Nighy. One of the few movies this year I saw on the big screen. Still didn’t help.

9. COFFEE & KAREEM

Forgettable Netflix buddy comedy starring Ed Helms. So forgettable not even worth mentioning!

8. THE RHYTHM SECTION

I love Blake Lively, but this was a really stupid action movie that not even Lively could save. She plays a woman who learns that the plane crash that killed her family wasn’t an accident, and so she…with no prior experience… decides to learn how to become an international assassin to make the terrorists responsible for her family’s death pay. Yup. That’s believable. Her trainer, played by Jude Law, is so good at what he does that she becomes the female equivalent of Jason Bourne and wipes the floor with these terrorists all rather easily. The film tries for an ATOMIC BLONDE (2017) vibe, but the plot is too dumb for it to pull it off.

7. WONDER WOMAN 1984

Where to start with this one? There are so many ways that this sequel is awful. For starters, it’s everything the original WONDER WOMAN is not. I didn’t even enjoy Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman. But the biggest culprit is the script, and a plot built around a relic that… wait for it…. grants wishes! That’s right, Aladdin, you wish it, and it can happen! Heck, that’s how this story brings back a deceased character from the first movie, played by Chris Pine. No basis in reality. Instantly one of the worst DC superhero movies of all time.

6. SPENSER: CONFIDENTIAL

Another Netflix clunker. This time it’s Mark Wahlberg playing Boston private detective Spenser from the Robert B. Parker novels, only the film changes everything about the characters, and tries to turn this into a comedy. So, not only will Spenser purists be disappointed, but so will those of us who like a good comedy, since it’s not funny at all. You know things are bad when not even Alan Arkin can make you laugh!

5. THE TURNING

Forgettable horror movie starring Mackenzie Davis and Finn Wolfhard, loosely based on Henry James’ novel The Turn of the Screw. Turn this one off.

Betty Gilpin as Crystal in “The Hunt,” directed by Craig Zobel.

4. THE HUNT

A lot of folks liked this one, a dark action thriller about a group of liberals who are hunting human prey, folks they view as right wing low lifes. Stars Betty Gilpin as the one victim who won’t quit, and yes, she is very good and the best part of this movie. But for me, the rest of this film was a misfire from start to finish.

3. LIKE A BOSS

Another unfunny comedy, this one starring Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne as friends sparring with villainess Salma Hayek over a beauty company. Very few laughs here, making it a chore to sit through.

2. WASP NETWORK

Netflix film about Cuban spies in the United States completely wastes the talents of Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz, Wagner Moura, and Ana de Armas. Features the most uneven script of the year, with characters appearing and then disappearing for long chunks of time. Fails to build any kind of momentum. Probably the dullest movie I watched all year.

THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN
  1. THE BABYSITER: KILLER QUEEN

My pick for the worst movie of 2020 is THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN, a testament as to why you shouldn’t make a sequel just for the same of making one. A sequel to the clever and lively horror/comedy THE BABYSTTER, this flick isn’t funny, isn’t scary, and isn’t enjoyable in the least. Terrible script. By far, the movie I enjoyed the least this year.

And there you have it, my list of the 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2020.

Okay, on to 2021!

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

FATMAN (2020) – Dark, Violent Tale About Santa Claus Unusually Enjoyable

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If the Coen brothers made a movie about Santa Claus, the result might resemble today’s movie FATMAN (2020), a dark comedy/thriller about a downtrodden reality-bitten Santa forced to outsource his elves and workshop to the U.S. military to make ends meet, while becoming the target of a relentless hitman hired to kill him by a disgruntled child.

Yup, FATMAN is one weird movie. But you know what? I liked it all the same!

While not a Coen brothers movie, FATMAN was actually written and directed by another pair of brothers, Eshom and Ian Nelms.

Times are tough for Santa (Mel Gibson), mostly because the world’s children are becoming more naughty than nice, which is slimming down his business, and as such, he’s having trouble paying his bills. As a result, when the U. S. military comes knocking on his door with a lucrative contract to build control consoles for their fighter jets, he is unable to say no.

Meanwhile, a spoiled rich child Billy (Chance Hurstfield) is outraged that once again Santa has given him a lump of coal for Christmas. Of course, in Billy’s case it’s well deserved, as he recently had threatened a classmate and forced her into saying she cheated on her science fair project, so she would be disqualified and he would instead be declared the winner.

Billy hires a hitman known only as the Skinny Man (Walton Goggins) to kill Santa, a job the assassin is only too happy to accept, as he has his own Santa issues, having felt abandoned by the gift-giver as a child. As a result, the Skinny Man collects toys which were given to other children by Santa.

The Skinny Man makes his way to northern Canada— the true secret hiding spot for Santa and his elves—to kill Santa once and for all, and he’s such a cool customer that he’s not even deterred by the presence of the U.S. military at the compound, which sets up a violent and bloody conclusion that is the last thing you would expect in a movie about Santa Claus.

The best part about FATMAN is that its tone is consistent, and that tone is dark. There is a sense of gloom throughout this one. Santa is basically depressed and disillusioned by the behavior of people, and he sees himself as a failure. The Skinny Man is one deadly dude, and he remains that way throughout. By far, he’s my favorite character in the movie, mostly because of the performance by Walton Goggins, who is a terrific actor.

There’s also a lot of humor here, most of it towards the beginning of the movie. There’s a chuckle-filled scene when the soldiers share lunch with the elves, and Captain Jacobs (Robert Bockstael) gets into a debate with the elf foreman Elf 7 (Eric Woolfe) about the need for a healthy diet. Jacobs admonishes the elf for feasting on sweets and carbs when he should be eating protein and fruits and vegetables. The elf disagrees and cites their longetivity for knowing more about health than the captain!

The scenes with spoiled Billy are pretty much all played for laughs, although these scenes are probably the least comical in the movie.

The film sheds its humor in its third act and goes all in with violence and bloodshed, and I actually enjoyed this less, as I was having fun with the film’s earlier quirky moments. But overall I enjoyed the script by the Nelms brothers. The story is as fresh as it is weird, and I liked this. They score just as highly behind the camera. The film carries a dreary look throughout, and the icy cold snowy Canadian countryside looked absolutely desolate. The setting proved a nice metaphor for the way Santa viewed people of late.

Mel Gibson makes for a down to earth and depressed Santa. He’s trying his best not to lose faith in humanity, but it’s a losing battle. And when he has to resort to his inner strength to defend himself against the Skinny Man, Gibson is even better. When he bellows out in his throaty voice in answer to the Skinny Man’s declarations of harm, with “You think you’re the first?” you know the Skinny Man has his hands full. It’s a really good performance by Gibson, certainly one of the more unusual and earthy takes on Santa I’ve ever seen.

But the best performance in my book here is Walton Goggins as the Skinny Man. He makes for a determined assassin who while he is at times unhinged never loses control. It’s the type of role that Bruce Dern would have played years ago. Goggins himself is no stranger to this type of role, having played unhinged types in such films as DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012) and THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015). He also played the villain in the Marvel superhero film ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018).

The confrontation between Santa and the Skinny Man is well worth the wait.

There are also some fine supporting acting performances here as well. Marianne Jean-Baptiste makes for a relaxed and supportive Mrs. Claus, again playing as unconventional a take on the role as you will ever see. Yet, her performance works.

Robert Bockstael plays Captain Jacobs with a sense of sincerity not often seen in a portrayal of a military officer. And Eric Woolfe is memorable as Elf 7, Santa’s top elf and one of his most loyal supporters.

FATMAN isn’t for everyone, and it is certainly not a “family” Christmas movie, but it is a well-written and well-directed tale that takes the most unconventional path regarding Santa Claus as you will ever see, and for that reason alone, it’s pretty impressive! I mean, a violent movie featuring Santa Claus as a main character that’s not entirely played for laughs? Can that even be pulled off? Well, these guys just did it!

And it helps to have veteran actors Mel Gibson and Walton Goggins in the two main roles, Santa and the hit man.

No coal for this one. FATMAN makes for quite the stocking stuffer! Unusually enjoyable, it’s that surprise gift you didn’t see coming but enjoyed all the same!

—END—

Books by Michael Arruda:

DARK CORNERS, Michael Arruda’s second short story collection, contains ten tales of horror, six reprints and four stories original to this collection.

Dark Corners cover (1)

Waiting for you in Dark Corners are tales of vampires, monsters, werewolves, demonic circus animals, and eternal darkness. Be prepared to be both frightened and entertained. You never know what you will find lurking in dark corners.

Ebook: $3.99. Available at http://www.crossroadspress.com and at Amazon.com.  Print on demand version available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1949914437.

TIME FRAME,  science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.  

How far would you go to save your family? Would you change the course of time? That’s the decision facing Adam Cabral in this mind-bending science fiction adventure by Michael Arruda.

Ebook version:  $2.99. Available at http://www.crossroadpress.com. Print version:  $18.00. Includes postage! Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.

InTheSpooklight_NewText

Michael Arruda reviews horror movies throughout history, from the silent classics of the 1920s, Universal horror from the 1930s-40s, Hammer Films of the 1950s-70s, all the way through the instant classics of today. If you like to read about horror movies, this is the book for you!

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.crossroadpress.com.  Print version:  $18.00.  Includes postage. Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, first short story collection by Michael Arruda.  

For_the_love_of_Horror- original cover
Print cover
For the Love of Horror cover (3)
Ebook cover

Michael Arruda’s first short story collection, featuring a wraparound story which links all the tales together, asks the question: can you have a relationship when your partner is surrounded by the supernatural? If you thought normal relationships were difficult, wait to you read about what the folks in these stories have to deal with. For the love of horror!

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.crossroadpress.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Includes postage. Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.  

SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL (2020) – Comedic Misfire From Start To Finish

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Sometimes I find myself asking why I watched a certain movie in the first place.

In the case of SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL (2020), a Netflix original movie which premiered earlier this year, it’s based on the series of Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker, or at least the characters are anyway, and it also stars Mark Wahlberg in the lead as Spenser. Now, Wahblerg has his detractors, mostly based on things he’s done in his personal life, but as an actor, he’s kinda been a guilty pleasure for me. The main reason, besides the fact that he can be a very good actor at times, is he simply reminds me of Boston, and having lived there for a large chunk of my life, that’s a good thing. He kind of embodies that whole Boston feel. I watch Wahlberg on screen and I picture myself sitting in the Fenway Park bleachers eating a Fenway Frank and drinking watery beer.

There was also a very good TV show featuring the character back in the 80s, SPENSER: FOR HIRE (1985-1988) which starred Robert Urich and Avery Brooks.

SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL was released back in March, but I kept away from it as word of mouth on it was not very kind. But anyway, for the reasons listed above, I couldn’t keep away forever and finally decided to check it out.

I should have listened to all the naysayers.

When SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL opens, Spenser (Mark Wahlberg), a Boston cop, is going to prison for assaulting his dirty cop police captain. After several years in prison, Spenser is released and moves in with his former boxing coach Henry (Alan Arkin) where he meets his new roommate Hawk (Winston Duke) who is a promising young fighter. On the day Spenser is released, the police captain he assaulted is murdered, and another officer, one who Spenser also knows and believes to be an honest man, is found dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound, with evidence surrounding him implicating him of the police captain’s murder.

Spenser believes this good cop has been framed, and he sets out to solve the case, with his new roommate Hawk helping out when he can.

As plots go, the one for SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL is pretty bad. It’s another of those “all the cops are dirty” storylines, and Spenser sets out to expose them all. Nothing that happens in story is fresh or unexpected.

But the worst part of this one is that SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL tries to be a comedy, and unfortunately, the comedy here just doesn’t work. I found myself hardly laughing at all. The humor is a misfire from start to finish. Early on, for example, in prison, Spenser is surrounded by group of hulking inmates intent on teaching him a lesson. Instead, Spenser turns the tables on them as he goes all Jason Bourne and wipes them all out. It’s a fight scene played for laughs, but it doesn’t really work.

The whole mix of brutal acts by the bad guys and goofy shenanigans of Spenser and company never gels. It’s like watching a dark Martin Scorsese crime film only to have the Three Stooges show up. Actually, this sounds better than anything seen in SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL.

The biggest culprit is the humor just isn’t sharp. It is basically comprised of fight scenes that only go one way, in favor of Spenser and four letter expletives by Spenser as he calls out whatever thing he doesn’t like. The situations really aren’t humorous, and the script isn’t funny either. The screenplay was written by Sean O’Keefe and Brian Helgeland, and Helgeland has a ton of credits, including 42 (2013), MYSTIC RIVER (2003), and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997), all fine films, but not comedic ones.

At times, Mark Wahlberg is a really good actor. I’ve enjoyed his performances in such movies as PATRIOTS DAY (2016), THE FIGHTER (2010), and THE DEPARTED (2006). But he’s made a lot of films that I haven’t liked either, films like the TED movies, CONTRABAND (2012), and THE HAPPENING (2008). I can’t say I enjoyed his performance here as Spenser. He’s just sort of playing a variation of his screen persona, and it’s nothing we haven’t seen him do before.

Alan Arkin plays his usual persona as well, and you can see much finer and more comedic Arkin moments on the TV show THE KOMINSKY METHOD (2018-present), in which he co-stars with Michael Douglas.

Winston Duke, who has starred BLACK PANTHER (2018) and US (2019) is amiable as Hawk, but the Hawk in the novels was quite the different character,

Fans of the Robert B. Parker novels will no doubt be disappointed with this movie, since the characters here are quite different and don’t really resemble the ones from the novels.

Even Iliza Shlesinger’s over the top performance as Spenser’s in-your-face Southie girlfriend Cissy doesn’t really work here.

Everything about the humor in this movie is a misfire.

It also suffers from what I call the “Bugs Bunny syndrome.” Everything Spenser does works, and everything the bad guys do fails. Spenser solves the case and saves the day without breaking a sweat. There’s barely any conflict.

Director Peter Berg, who has directed Wahberg in five movies now, doesn’t really capture the Boston flavor with this one. He did a better job capturing the feel of the city in PATRIOTS DAY. I felt like this story could have happened anywhere.

Ultimately, SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL plays like a weak comedy action buddy movie, tailored for the onscreen persona of Mark Wahlberg, and it is simply nowhere near as good as some of Wahlberg’s better movies. It’s also a horrible introduction to the Spenser character. If you want that, read the novels or watch the 1980s TV show.

I won’t be keeping this one in my Netflix queue.

—END—

THE WRONG MISSY (2020) – Netflix Movie Showcases Comedic Talent of Lauren Lapkus

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wrong missy

Sometimes movie trailers do work.

The trailer for THE WRONG MISSY (2020), a new Netflix comedy starring David Spade and Lauren Lapkus, was pretty darn funny, and so even though this film opened to mediocre reviews, I decided to check it out.

I’m glad I did. While no classic, THE WRONG MISSY made me laugh.

Its plot is fairly simple. Tim Morris (David Spade) is back on the dating scene after his fiance Julia (Sarah Chalke) broke off their engagement and instead hooked up with one of Tim’s co-workers. Ouch! 

After having one of the worst blind dates ever, with an absolutely nutty and rather frightening woman named Missy (Lauren Lapkus), a night that ends with Tim falling out a bathroom window, dislocating his foot, only to have Missy aggressively snap it back into place, Tim decides to call it quits on the dating scene. But then he literally bumps into a woman named Melissa (Molly Sims) at the airport, they eventually have a conversation and learn that they have nearly everything in common. It’s a match made in heaven.

Afterwards, they keep in touch by text, and when it’s time for the big firm retreat in Hawaii, one in which Tim hopes to impress his boss so he can earn a big promotion, he decides to text Melissa to invite her along, and when she agrees, he is overjoyed. But as he waits for her on the plane, he is horrified to see Missy show up instead, and he realizes at that moment that he sent the text to Missy not Melissa.

Oops!

Hence, the wrong Missy! What follows is nonstop madcap shenanigans by Missy during the retreat, which at first threaten to derail Tim’s promotion, but later, as Tim warms up to her, he sees that there is more to Missy than he first thought.

As I said, THE WRONG MISSY isn’t destined to become a comedy classic. Its story is fairly predictable, but it does provide a lot of good laughs.

I’ve never been much of a David Spade fan. I really enjoyed him way back in the day on the TV series JUST SHOOT ME (1997-2003), but his various film performances over the years have been largely hit or miss, and he’s a performer who I can enjoy when I watch him, but I’ve yet to really be interested in seeking out his projects. Here, in THE WRONG MISSY, he largely plays things straight, and that works well. His sarcastic wit is rather subdued in this movie. As a straight man to Lauren Lapkus, he’s very good.

And it’s Lauren Lapkus who carries this movie and is the reason to see this one. Her off the charts energy and humor is infectious. She has no boundaries, and in the hands of another performer, this may have become obnoxious, but she manages to somehow keep Missy very human and flawed, in spite of her zany behavior. In fact, even though she is hilariously funny throughout, some of her best scenes are her more serious ones, like when she tells Tim that he literally saved her life with his text, that she was on the verge of committing suicide, thinking her life had no meaning.

Lapkus has appeared in a lot of TV shows and movies, including her role as Susan in ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (2013-2019).

It was also nice to see Sarah Chalke in a supporting role as Julia. I remember Chalke fondly from another classic TV series back in the day, SCRUBS (2001-2010).

Writers Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett keep the jokes fast and furious. Some of the humor that works really well include Tim’s texting woes, in scenes where he struggles over sending a text, and then anxiously awaits a response.

Most of the humor comes from Lauren Lapkus’ insane performance, and she doesn’t disappoint. Some of the more memorable scenes include her engaging in a shouting match with some children, to which she responds immediately aftewards, “I love kids! I really want to have kids!”  and her fall from a cliff is laugh out loud slapstick at its best.

Director Tyler Spindel keeps this one moving. Its quick pace is a plus, as the film never drags.

Good movie comedies are hard to come by these days. THE WRONG MISSY is decent enough and it made me laugh, which is a good thing. It’s on par with a few other competent comedies I’ve reviewed this year, films like DESPERADOS (2020) , THE HALF OF IT (2020) , and THE LOVEBIRDS (2020).

While I continue to be nonplussed about David Spade…. if he’s in a movie, I’ll see it but I won’t rush out to see it yesterday…. I will rush out to see the next movie featuring Lauren Lapkus. She’s a talent to watch, and she is absolutely hilarious here in THE WRONG MISSY, a movie she pretty much carries on her own.

For Lapkus fans, THE WRONG MISSY is the right call.

I look forward to seeing her next project.

—END—