Valentine’s Double Feature: Midnight Sun (2018) & Nappily Ever After (2018)

Next up in the Valentine’s Double Feature is the M & N selection! We’re at the first choice which I’ve actually been interested in seeing for a while and the second which was a last minute change in plans, because I just like to keep things spontaneous. Our M selection is a nice shift into some teen romance which I tend to avoid because it gets very formulaic genre but I’m interested in seeing how Patrick Schwarzenegger fares as a young actor and Bella Thorne has truly grown a lot in her acting in the last few films I’ve watched so interested in seeing how she does in a role different from her usual ones. As for Nappily Ever After, it just seemed like a cool film to mix it up a little. Its supposed to be a romantic comedy but I honestly think its more about a more personal journey.

Let’s check it out!

Midnight Sun (2018)

Midnight Sun

Director: Scott Speer

Cast: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard, Suleka Mathew, Nicholas Coombe

A 17-year-old girl suffers from a condition that prevents her from being out in the sunlight. – IMDB

I’m going to admit right away that Midnight Sun is very similar to a lot of teen romance films out there where one of the two have some sort of disease or whatnot. But due to my lack of knowledge of other movies (and I hear this compared most to Everything Everything which I haven’t seen), the only one that I can say this gave me similar feels to A Walk to Remember. For lots of Nicholas Sparks movie haters, this might not sound like much however if you are like me and do have tolerance for it, I actually thought that Midnight Sun had that genuine feeling to it that A Walk to Remember gave me which is a praise in itself because I honestly love that film. Its a film with a love story where this young couple find courage and encouragement to reach for their own potential and their dreams despite things that happened that make them scared to go for it completely.

With that said, my biggest praise goes to Bella Thorne who has broken out of her typical bitchy high school girl role and taken on this much more docile role as a girl, Katie with a condition that prevents her from going out in the sunlight because it can cause her body to deteriorate. However, she strives to be seen as a normal girl especially in front of a boy that she’s only dreamt of meeting until the day that she does and he is attracted to her. Its a fairly typical course of events and you can call it contrived in its own ways and its not like the plot is going to win any awards for uniqueness, but movies likes these lie in the genuine chemistry and course of events that build up these two characters and Bella Thorne does a fantastic job in her role (even if her singing bits could be better). This is the first film that I’ve seen of Patrick Schwarzenegger and he has great chemistry with Bella Thorne and he is a pretty decent young actor as well. With time and more roles, we will see how his career goes and the potential he has.

Movies like Midnight Sun really appeals to a certain type of audience and for myself, it worked because it wasn’t all about the love story and it had something a little more, especially in the positive bits of a love story even in one doomed to end early as expected here. This one also remembered that Katie’s life didn’t only have love but also highlights her relationship with her friendship and her father, making the movie and Katie a much more real character with so much more to lose.

Nappily Ever After (2018)

Nappily Ever After

Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour

Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Ricky Whittle, Lyriq Bent, Lynn Whitfield, Ernie Hudson, Daria Johns, Camille Guaty, Brittany S. Hall

Violet Jones tired of waiting for her longtime boyfriend to propose, breaks up with him. But old feelings, and heaps of jealousy, no doubt, arise when he promptly begins dating another woman. – IMDB

You know, I have to say that the IMDB synopsis here is really not accurate to what Nappily Ever After is about. Its how it starts but I don’t know if jealousy is what causes things to go in motion, more than our main character figured things out at the end of the film about what matters to her and the things worth holding on and such. Is there a romantic angle to this? For sure! There’s a lot of that going on here especially because she realizes that she doesn’t want to wait for this man who she realizes won’t marry her and breaks up with him. However, she ends up getting drunk and doing something crazy like cutting away her staple of perfection and pride which is her hair which completely changes her course because she loses her physical beauty but owns up to her beauty regardless of her hair length. Its a pretty great story in that sense and inspirational and motivating and has all the positive vibes.

Is it really the standout for its romance? Not really. Its not to say that the scenes with Sanaa Lathan and Lyriq Bent weren’t full of chemistry because they were. They had some great moments which gave a nice contrast between this romance versus the previous one with the guy who wouldn’t marry her played by Ricky Whittle. I’ve always Ricky Whittle as he’s a pretty handsome man in general and has done some great roles, somehow this one isn’t one that I particularly thought was much since he was fairly shown little. Sanaa Lathan played her main lead role beautifully especially in interpreting the story plus I love how the film was split in chapters in the hair length/style that she had  in each stage which is pretty unique. Its supposedly based on a novel which I didn’t know before writing up this review so maybe that is how it was done in the book. Tell me if thats the case if you have read it. I’m interested in knowing.

Another aspect here was Daria Johns as Zoe who plays a daughter of Will (Lyriq Bent) who does such a charming job. Plus it brought in another angle to the story that gave it this very natural feeling and heartwarming moments especially as she found a way to see through Zoe how a childhood should be and what matters.

Thats it for this Valentine’s double feature!
Just saying that this double feature thing will continue through the rest of the alphabet but less frequent during the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon which starts soon!

Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Bug (2006) & You Get Me (2017)

 Another double feature here today! Tax season makes for a lot of background film watching. Gotta get something positive from the boring tax preparation, right? 😉

Two odd and random choices for myself since these two are two films that I wasn’t particularly completely invested in which was great for the criteria of being a background film. The first is 2006’s psychological thriller Bug with one of the debut roles of Michael Shannon played alongside Ashley Judd. Followed up by Netflix Original You Get Me starring Bella Thorne in a role outside of her normal bitchy high school girl, which is replaced by an obsessive character. I guess in some psychological way, these two do have something in common.

Let’s check it out!

Bug (2006)

bug

Director: William Friedkin

Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins, Brian F. O’Byrne

An unhinged war veteran holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room. The line between reality and delusion is blurred as they discover a bug infestation. – IMDB

Where do I even start with Bug? In a completely spontaneous viewing, I checked out Bug on Shudder. What started out with something of generic story of a lady, played by Ashley Judd, hiding away from her ex,, played by Harry Connick Jr.  after he was released from prison and meets a stranger, played by Michael Shannon who she ends up falling in love with. Its easy to chalk this movie away in its opening moments but as the plot thickens once we start see the relationship between Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon gets deeper, it gets so much more thrilling than the threat of Harry Connick Jr’s character showing up. Although, I do have to say that I thought Harry Connick Jr did such a great job at being the ex. I’ve only seen him in some romantic drama with Sandra Bullock. I think it was Hope Floats (review).

The question here really lies in whether you believe Michael Shannon’s character and the conspiracy theory that he believes in…or is it the reality? The movie does a great job as his crazy actions expand to where Ashley Judd’s character believes it also. As they get more unhinged, the blur in reality and delusion (as mentioned in the summary above) is the key element of the psychological thriller and its executed in a pretty competent way. Right up to the end, even when some extra characters come into the scene, it proves the theory and then denies it and its just a crazy trip you take with these characters. Whatever you want to make of the ending will depend on how you would analyze the whole thing and get out of the movies.

Props here goes to both the wonderful cast here. It always baffles me how underrated Michael Shannon is because in every role I’ve seen him in, he just does a great job. Convincing and believeable role. The story is thrilling and full of questions and as these questions bug these characters, we are wondering what is the same thing and the reality and delusion. The more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again and see if I can pick up something else.

You Get Me (2017)

you get me

Director: Brent Bonacorso

Cast: Taylor John Smith, Bella Thorne, Halston Sage, Nash Grier, Anna Akana

Tyler’s crazy in love with his perfect girlfriend Ali, but when a big fight makes him and Ali break up, he lands in the arms of sexy out-of-towner Holly who shows him a night he’s gonna remember. The next morning he finds that not only is Ali taking him back, but Holly is a new student at their school and is dead set on her new man. – IMDB

I’m definitely in a 50/50 feeling for this one. I guess it explains how I’ve never been more certain about giving this one a 2.5/5 on Letterboxd. You  Get Me isn’t particularly innovative. It leans into a lot of predictable territory. However, the execution isn’t all bad. They do some nice shots and a good progression from some sweet moments in the beginning that spirals more and more out of control. I’d have to say that a lot of the greatness in this movie is that to date (from what I’ve seen, haven’t seen The Babysitter yet), I feel like Bella Thorne delivers one of her best performances. She’s always been a fairly one dimensional actress where she is the bitchy self-centred teenage girl role. This time, she dumps the bitchy and brings in the crazy and man, she definitely delivers it.

Sure, You Get Me never really hits the dangerous levels because it doesn’t seem like it would step into something so extreme, even though Netflix Originals usually do get some extreme if they wanted. There are some nice sexy scenes. Other than Bella Thorne standing out and Taylor John Smith being okay as the male lead since he is a decently attractive dude, I wasn’t too on board with the monologues he did. It felt so unnecessary and preachy about life and whatever. It wasn’t his acting that bothered me but just the script for that part. It was trying too hard to be deeper than the movie actually was. There are some thrilling moments but unfortunately, its one that is easy to watch and had a few tense moments but still never reaches the potential it could have reached as it didn’t break out of the predictable territory.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Bug and/or You Get Me?

The Duff (2015)

The Ugly Truth landed on Netflix recently and despite acknowledging that its far from a great romantic comedy, I happened to turn it on while I was cleaning and you know what I realized? One, I miss watching Gerard Butler.  Where did he go? Don’t even tell me about Gods of Egypt trailer.  Second and more importantly, I miss romantic comedies or just comedies, in general.  Its been lately about action and thrillers and horror.  I find myself rewatching old comedies more and more and nothing released catches my eye nowadays.  But then, can you blame me? It’s probably why I sit around and watch things like San Andreas and Sharknado.  Point is, I wanted to watch a comedy and had heard that The Duff was pretty good and had bought it during Boxing Day so I decided to give it a watch 😉

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Duff (2015)

the duff

Director: Ari Sandel

Cast: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Nick Eversman, Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, Romany Malco

A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts. – IMDB

I’m not the hardest crowd to please when it comes to teen comedies.  Okay, well, maybe I am, especially when it includes comedy.  I like smart stuff and things that make me feel like there was some thought in it or just you know, making fun of incidents that you can picture or relate to.  I haven’t been in high school since forever but it has to be believable that they are in high school, right? The DUFF does a really decent job at making an enjoyable and funny comedy.  I never knew what a DUFF was and never heard of the source material its based on.  Regardless, The DUFF was really fun to watch.

The DUFF

The DUFF stands for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”.  Its the easy and approachable one in the group that isn’t as pretty as her group friends is and Bianca Piper learns about it one day.  The DUFF is a little of coming of age and a little about finding yourself and not caring about the labels and just being happy with yourself in its core.  Sure, its still a teen comedy so there’s some friends and fights, mean girls and gossip and rumors and a cute jock that turns into someone who is a little deeper.  However, in its little simple cliche-like exterior, it carries a story that mixes up a little of Easy A and Mean Girls.  It never quite reaches the awesomeness of those two movies but it does really resound and makes you connect with Bianca. It holds a good message and has some silliness that her character carries which can makes us like her and cheer for her. They really add some nice touches of the story like enhancing social media like ending the credits with the social media handles (Twitter/Instagram) for the cast as they are listed out along with blooper reels.

The DUFF

Mae Whitman, who I’ve never seen in anything else, is absolutely great as Bianca.  She makes us love and connect with her character as she tries to find herself and break out of being the DUFF and getting the guy instead of being her friends.  As she works alongside her neighbor, who is that cute jock I mentioned before called Wesley, played by Robbie Amell, they have some really cute and funny moments as they can convince us that the most uncommon and opposite people actually work really well together. I personally think there’s a moment where they grow fond of each other really quickly and some dialogue is kind of like, “Duh? Is that even a question?” when they say it but for the most part, I can forgive it because it is a story about the awkward teenager.  Robbie Amell and Mae Whitman play their characters well off each other and that is what counts.  I had some decent laughs and some pretty endearing and feel-good moments.  On the note of Robbie Amell, aside from the Amells having some pretty great looking genes, they also are rather decent actors.  At least, I’m liking it quite a bit.

The DUFF

The DUFF is full of talent that supports this young cast. For starters, Allison Janney plays the divorced self-help mother of Bianca who is a little odd but does end up being rather funny in her own way.  Her best friends are new to me played by Bianca A. Santos and Skyler Samuels and for the small part they are in, they are rather likable as well. Bella Thorpe, which I recently saw in a cameo in Scream: the TV series as the high school mean girl also plays a full-on mean girl here called Madison.  And she takes it with so much dedication.  The last mention goes out to Ken Jeong who plays a teacher that runs the school newspaper that really supports and guides Bianca through this whole thing even if he is really weird.  I’m always a little iffy about Ken Jeong’s humor but somehow it works well here.

Overall, The DUFF is truly an enjoyable and feel-good teen comedy that holds a good message about being true to ourselves and ignoring the unnecessary labels.  It has good humor and a lot of not so subtle references.  Its been a while that I’ve found a teen comedy that works and has decent rewatchability value and this one definitely has it.  As I’m writing this, its after watching it a second time and fully loving it all over again.

Have you seen The DUFF? Did you like it? What is your favorite teen comedy?