Ultimate 2000s Blogathon Finale: The Hangover (2009) by Drew’s Movie Reviews

Time sure flies by! Ultimate 2000s Blogathon is at its final finale post with my awesome co-host Drew sharing his review of 2009 comedy, The Hangover. He takes an in-depth look at the comedies that influenced 2000s and the subgenres that thrived throughout before sharing his thoughts on one that no doubt is a favorite among many people and suitably, one to wrap up this blogathon as it was released in the final year of this decade.


The HangoverMany comedies of the 2000s are based around characters that are crude, clueless, and, put frankly, idiotic. These movies are an evolution of the slap stick films from earlier decades. There are stylistic hints from films like The Naked Gun, The Cannonball Run, Dumb and Dumber, and Happy Gilmore. We began seeing glimpses of this new brand of humor in movies like American Pie and Zoolander. By 2004, this new brand of humor had become the norm. Movies like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Napoleon Dynamite embodied 2000s comedy and characters. These characters were vulgar and naive. The films themselves reveled in their gags and ‘did he really just say/do that’ moments, relying on making the audience laugh from becoming flabbergasted or uncomfortable, rather than genuinely finding the moment or joke funny.

This is especially true in the spoof movies. Movies like Scary Movie, Superhero Movie and Insert-Whatever-Genre-Here Movie looked to cash in on pop culture and parody whatever genre was in the title. Spoofs are nothing new in Hollywood.  Mel Brooks practically made his name making spoofs like Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Spaceballs. And then there is everyone’s favorite spoof: Airplane!. While these movies shared many similarities with with the parody films of the 2000s, their scripts were solid and, you know, actually funny, an element severely lacking from most of the spoofs during this time period.

By the end of the 2000s, comedy filmmakers were learning that this latest iteration of comedy films needed to be refined; that ignorant or appalling actions do not automatically equal funny. And while actors can be funny on their own, or sometimes ad-lib better and funnier lines, the movie can’t solely rely on them and the script needs to support the actors.  While not every comedy fit this decade-defining mold, such as EuroTrip or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, these feel like exceptions, not the norm. Although this type of comedy, what I’ve come to call ‘stupid funny,’ still continued into the 2010s, it wasn’t to the extent that existed in the previous decade.

Moving into the tail-end of the 2000s, comedies began changing how they approached their characters. They were still profane and sometimes oblivious but that wasn’t the focus the film anymore. Crude jokes weren’t often being made for the sake of being crude. Instead, the films were becoming smart, insightful, and sometimes even filled with heart. Movies like Baby Mama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I love You, Man, and Tropic Thunder used their comedy to amplify their story, not be the crux of it. They shared many characteristics with the earlier comedies of the 2000s but writers and directors had learned how to use these characteristics more effectively.

To make a long story short, that is why I have chosen The Hangover as my second and final entry for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon. I could have chosen a film set squarely in the middle of the era of comedies that defined the 2000s. However, these early- and mid-years feel more like stepping stones to get to the comedies in the latter part of the decade that told better stories and were still funny without solely relying on its stars. I believe that The Hangover is one of the best examples of this. So without any further ado, here is my review of The Hangover.

Synopsis
Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married. For his bachelor party, his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), take him to Las Vegas. Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up the morning after arriving in Vegas with no memory of what happened the night before. They attempt to retrace their steps to figure out what happened and to find Doug, who has gone missing.

Review
When a movie comes along that has a phenomenal cast with perfect chemistry, who are backed by a memorable and quotable script, I get excited. It makes it even better when that criteria applies to a comedy because, in my honest opinion, comedy films are one of the hardest genres to make everything click. The Hangover checks all the correct comedy film boxes and more.

The first thing this movie nails is the casting. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis all have very different brands of humor. Their deliveries are different, their body language is different, their mannerisms are different. Nothing about them is the same. And yet, they all mesh together so well. Their different styles complement each other wonderfully. Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are in almost every scene together and every scene is filled to the brim with laughs. Coincidence? I think not.

Everyone in the supporting cast is top notch as well.  Justin Bartha rounds out the group of friends at the center of the film. While not much is seen of him, he does add an extra dynamic to the group when he is there. Smaller roles from Heather Graham, Rob Riggle, Bryan Callen, Jeffrey Tambor, and Mike Tyson all bring the laughs. However, the best member from the supporting cast is Ken Jeong. He had me in stitches every time he was on screen. He deserves as much praise as the headlining three.

Even though Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are funny on their own (and together), the script amplifies their comedic strengths. The script, written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, feels fresh and clever compared to other comedies of the time. It leaves the audience just as in the dark about the previous night’s events as the characters, so as they piece together what happens, the audience is right there with them. It’s crass, it’s vulgar, and at times it’s irreverent, but It doesn’t rely on toilet humor or leaving the viewers dumbfounded to be funny. It uses jokes or visual gags that are funny because they are truly well written or well delivered. As a result, The Hangover is insanely quotable and has very few diminishing returns on its jokes.

This movie reminded me a road trip movie. In road trip movies, the main characters are going from point A to point B, and along the way, they meet people who usually only show up for a scene or two. This format fits this film as well; Phil, Stu, and Alan are going to these different places to try and piece together what happened the night before. It’s fun because it allows the focus to remain on the three main characters while allowing the supporting cast to have their own funny and unique moments.

I thought The Hangover was GREAT 😀 The entire cast had me laughing throughout the film. Every scene was filled with jokes and gags that always landed and are just as humorous after many, many views later. I can think of no better film than to call the best comedy of the decade.

Favorite Quote
Doug: I don’t think you should be doing too much gambling tonight, Alan.
Alan: Gambling? Who said anything about gambling? It’s not gambling when you know you’re gonna
win. Counting cards is a foolproof system.
Stu: It’s also illegal.
Alan: It’s not illegal, it’s frowned upon, like masturbating on an airplane.
Phil: I’m pretty sure that’s illegal too.
Alan: Yeah, maybe after 9/11 where everybody got so sensitive.  Thanks a lot, Bin Laden.

Trivia
No effects or prosthetics were created for Stu’s missing tooth. Ed Helms never had an adult incisor grow, and his fake incisor was taken out for the parts of filming where Stu’s tooth is missing.  (via IMDb)

Trailer  

Cast & Crew  
Tod Phillips – Director
Jon Lucas – Writer
Scott Moore – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer

Bradley Cooper – Phil
Ed Helms – Stu
Zach Galifianakis – Alan
Justin Bartha – Doug
Heather Graham – Jade
Sasha Barrese – Tracy
Jeffrey Tambor – Sid
Ken Jeong – Mr. Chow
Rachael Harris – Melissia
Mike Tyson – Himself
Jernard Burks – Leonard
Mike Epps – Black Dog
Rob Riggle – Officer Franklin
Cleo King – Officer Garden
Bryan Callen – Eddie


Remember to check back at Drew’s Movie Reviews as we conclude the entire blogathon tomorrow.

You can read all the entries that took part in this blogathon HERE.

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Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: Juno (2007) by From the Depths of DVD Hell

The guest to join this Ultimate 2000s Blogathon is Elwood Jones, my co-host of Movies and Tea and Game Warp Podcast as he represents his own movie blog, From the Depths of DVD Hell. For reviews of movies that stray away from the mainstream and dive into the obscure, cult and foreign selections, this is the place to go! For this blogathon, he chooses to take a look at 2007’s indie coming of age teen comedy Juno.


juno

Title: Juno

Director: Jason Reitman

Released: 2007

Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons

Plot: After finding out she is pregnant, high school teen Juno (Page) she soon finds herself face with some tough choices of what to do about her unborn child.

Review: Having been brought to the attention of producer Mason Novick after he discovered her blog about stripping Diablo Cody was almost instantly a hot property first for her memoir Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper and unquestionably when she claimed the Best Screenplay Oscar for her debut script. Of course like anything which is a hot property on it’s release there is always the question as to if they still hold up down the line which in particular was what inspired my own re-watch of this film having watched it when it on its original release but hardly thought about it since while Cody despite being marked as an exciting new voice has struggled to create anything which comes close to her debut script.

Juno is the blueprint of the smart-mouthed hipster teen which Director Jason Reitman wastes little time in establishing as she trades barbs with Rainn Wilson’s sarcastic convenience store clerk, after walking through her town swigging Sunny Delight to Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want is You”. Even her pregnancy announcement to best friend / Crush Paulie (Cera) has her dragging a furniture set to his lawn only to drop it on him with such casualness that she might as well be making diner plans. At the same time she is unquestionably the sort of character who only exists in the fictional realm with his smart mouth and retro obsessions and certainly with the numerous smart mouth teens which followed in the films wake, as well as a string of teen pregnancies labelled “The Juno Effect” by Time magazine after 17 students at a Gloucester, Massachusetts high school became pregnant which many accused this film and Knocked Up released in the same year of glamorizing teenage pregnancy though how the later could be accused of such a thing is unclear, more so because none of the cast are close to high school age. What makes Juno stand out though is unquestionably Ellen Page who’d prior to this film already caused waves for her pedophile punishing antics in Hard Candy and here really made the character her own as she influenced many of the key details for the character such as her hair as well as the soundtrack being heavy on Kimya Dawson as she felt that this is what Juno would choose to listen to.

Soundtrack wise there’s a mixture of hipster folk from the aforementioned Kimya Dawson and her old band the Mouldy Peaches and a couple of Belle and Sebastian tracks mixed in with a some retro tracks from Mott the Hoople and a Sonic Youth cover of the Carpenters “Superstar” which became one of the selling points of the soundtrack. Largely its just background music which never seems to gel with the film as more often battles for your attention with what’s happening on the screen rather than complementing it. Removed from the film its a fun background music for hangouts, hinging largely on how much you like the abstract tones of Kimya Dawson.

One of the most refreshing aspects to the film though is is how it approaches the subject of teenage pregnancy as Juno is clear from the start that she has no plans to keep the baby with a sobering visit to a Women first clinic broaching a taboo subject which most films wouldn’t touch. Sure the film might not be venturing as deep as Tony Kaye’s “Lake of Fire” but it’s acknowledgement of abortion gives the film much more of a grounding that you would have expected from a film so focused on whitty pop culture influence dialogue. This visit in terms of plotting does serve a purpose as ultimately leading her to Mark and Vanessa to arrange a closed adoption which also forms the real meat of the film as starts to learn more about this couple she is going to be giving her child to.

Seeing this couple develop like our opinions of them over the course of the film is one of the strongest aspects of the film with Vanessa initially coming off the cold only to showing deeper levels of warmth to her character especially with her desire to become a mother. Mark on the other hand still clings onto few traces of rock star ambition that Vanessa allows him to keep in “his room” of their pristine house while he now pays the bills writing jingles for commercials which needless to say plays his character perfectly off Vanessa’s who is seen as the dream crusher initially with Juno and Mark soon bonding over a love of music and horror movies. By the time that Juno is due to deliver this relationship soon takes a darker turn reminding us once more just how well Bateman does suburban creepy while Cody pulls a switch-a-roo with our feelings for these characters the final pay off being delivered not in some stirring monologue but instead a simple note.

Perhaps it could be argued that the film does let Juno off attachment free when it comes to her baby as she is merely just the carrier and host to this child and any comment she really makes about the child is in how its effecting her physically than any kind of connection. As a result she give away her child and settles back into her life nine months prior to this incident now only with the knowledge that she has unconventionally helped someone out.

Juno in many ways marked the high watermark for the American Indie genre before the collapse of several of the major studios which soon saw the remaining studios move away from investing in such risky material which is something of a shame when we consider the wealth of material which came out of this period such as Little Miss Sunshine and The Squid and The Whale. At the same time while this film might not feel as hip on the rewatch as it did back on it’s original release a strong likeable performance from Ellen Page carries the film which at the least should be appreciated for it’s fierce originality as it sidesteps genre cliches to deliver it’s story in a voice which is very much its own.


A huge thanks to our final guest Elwood Jones for joining with this blogathon with a great review of Juno.

We head into me and Drew’s conclusion posts after this one. If you missed any entries, you can find the entire list HERE.

Double Feature: The Vow (2012) & Who Gets The Dog (2016)

Moving on to wrap up the Valentine’s Marathon (but not officially listed there) is the next double feature for V & W selection. The first is The Vow, a movie that I’ve had on the Netflix list for a really long time and Who Gets the Dog that I have no idea what its about but then I liked Ryan Kwanten from True Blood.

Let’s check it out!

The Vow (2012)

The Vow

Director: Michael Sucsy

Cast: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Jessica Lange, Sam Neill, Jessica McNamee, Wendy Crewson, Tatiana Maslany, Scott Speedman

A car accident puts Paige in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo works to win her heart again. – IMDB

The Vow probably seems like a movie that is exactly up my alley seeing as I do enjoy Nicholas Spark films and such. However, something about  The Vow didn’t really work and that has to be with a few factors. The first is that the establishment of Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) was a bit rushed in the beginning  and never had the development that made their relationship really worth anything to feel connected to. The second factor is that a lot of the characters were very unpleasant to watch and very cliche characters. Paige’s parents, played by Jessica Lange and Sam Neill were about as predictable as it can get as the parents that had their own plans for their daughter and took advantage of the fact of Paige’s amnesia. At the same time, the biggest issue was that Rachel McAdams’ character was really annoying to watch which is probably the biggest issues if you can’t even cheer for the couple in question.

However, there is one redeeming factor and actually in that time frame of movies, an unexpected factor that worked and that is the fact that Channing Tatum had something of a cookie cutter roles and surprisingly, this one stepped out of it, which is a pleasant surprise. At the same time, Leo’s character was written the best and the character that I remotely cared about and wanted him to succeed and felt bad for him whenever things didn’t go his way.

Overall, The Vow was pretty meh. I didn’t really enjoy it a lot and don’t plan on watching it again. I’m usually pretty lenient on these films but this one felt pretty boring, and things don’t get more formulaic than when I even predicted the exact dialogue a few times.

Who Gets the Dog (2016)

who gets the dog

Director: Huck Botko

Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Alicia Silverstone, Randall Batinkoff, Matt Ryan, Devin Bethea, Rachel Cerda, Amy J. Carle

A couple going through a divorce squabble over custody of their beloved dog. – IMDB

I’m going to be honest that I didn’t have any high hopes for this one. I wanted to watch it for one person, which usually never ends up being a good reason. Who Gets the Dog is fairly predictable in general. Alicia Silverstone and Ryan Kwanten lead this film and its about them fighting over custody over their dogs. Things get pretty over the top and ridiculous. However, its pretty expected how its all going to end because it never feels like these two are separated because they dislike each other. Movies with dogs involved in relationship always tend to have this likeable advantage. There isn’t a lot to criticize here or compliment either. It didn’t feel like a lot happened and then hours after the film, it already feels like its fading. To be fair, the movie has some fun factors even if it takes a bit far sometimes. There are things that don’t exactly work but then its still fairly harmless.

I’m going to just keep this short. Its nothing impressive and yet nothing feels like they did anything particularly bad. Its an average movie: predictable and cliche. The dog played a decent part here. It’s not something that I’d preferably go back to watch but then I don’t feel horrible about seeing it either. Its just forgettable. What else can I say? The movies that are forgettable and indifferent towards are the hardest to write about.

That’s it for this double feature!
Its a very meh romance pairing.
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: This Is Not What I Expected (2017) & Us and Them (2018)

Third before last double feature in this Valentine’s romance double feature theme. I’m starting to think about when to do another themed alphabet month because it was just so much fun. Not sure what to do or what theme would be interesting enough. Maybe an international film theme, which would open up more genres. Any suggestions.

Moving onto the T & U selections. Talk about international films: I ended up choosing a Zhou Dongyu double feature and a Chinese film double feature and coincidentally, because its such a rarity in my movie watching life: a double 5 star rated films as well. All around an awesome time which had one feature that gave me a ton of laughs and fun and the second that gave me all kinds of emotions and some tears. If nothing else, these two films show that China is an upcoming force to put on our radars, especially with Netflix acquiring some as Originals.

Let’s check these out!

This Is Not What I Expected (2017)

this is not what i expected

Director: Derek Hui

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Dongyu Zhou, Yi-zhou Sun, Ming Xi, Kuo-Chu Chang, Tony Yo-ning Yang, Chiling Lin

An obsessive CEO of a company meets a ragged chef by chance. They are drawn closer together because of their love for delicacies, yet their personalities clash big time. – IMDB

Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen. Honestly, the Hong Kong (can’t say for China because I haven’t seen enough films to comment on it) landscape doesn’t really have any ground-breaking films in this regard. No one sits down to enjoy a great romantic comedy because its just generic. This Is Not What I Expected might not be anything ground-breaking in its formula because the course of events are quite predictable and generic, what it does do is for the first time (to my knowledge) dive into a screwball comedy style. Its quirky and hilarious. There are contrived events and things that get way out of proportion where its impossible to imagine any of it actually be accepted normally, but then there is a point in film that we find a line between reality and challenging its limits and something about the charm of This Is Not What I Expected hits it perfectly. Its been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a film and felt so fulfilled and happy about it all the way through. Not to mention, the movie also is right up my alley as it has a lot of artistic shots of food and cooking.

The main reason is its main leads. For one, Takeshi Kaneshiro is a fantastic actor and he has been in many films. However, it may be the first time he’s done a role that feels so serious but at the same time, so hilarious because of his expressions. It definitely isn’t a frequent type of role for him and this feels so refreshing to watch. At the same time, she is opposite the younger Dongyu Zhou who is a rather popular Chinese actress and truly excels in this type of role. She has this out of control nature and yet there is something so genuine about even the most absurd things that she does and yet it makes her quite adorable as well.

Us and Them (2018)

Us and Them

Director: Rene Liu

Cast: Boran Jing, Dongyu Zhou, Zhuangzhuang Tian

During the hectic chunyun (aka Chinese New Year) period, 2 strangers travelling home meet on the train. – IMDB

Us and Them is a Netflix Original and it tells a wonderful love story. Its quite reminiscent both in color palette and plot of a story like Blue Jay and One Day (the book, not sure how the movie is structured), except this story has much more context as we see a colorful past of Xiao Xiao (Dongyu Zhou) and Jian Qing (Boran Jing) from how they met to how they got together and the conflict that drove them apart. Ten years later, as they meet again and each in their different phase in life, how they have changed and how they face each other. Perhaps the story itself isn’t very unique but its honestly in the details as we see why their present is in black and white and their past in color. Especially with the background music as well as the artistic shots and structure of some of the scenes. Its hard to imagine that this is a directorial debut of Rene Liu who is an accomplished singer and actress but the first time taking the helm of the director.

However, true credit goes to how the characters are developed in each phase of their life. There is a deep knowledge of them as they change and grow over the years. It is a genuine relationship and progression that makes them so real. At the same time, the story isn’t just about their romance but also pulls in masterfully a second plot line related to family. The movie extends itself the entire way through the end credits as they pull in some real people who write messages to their past loves and then an ending scene which talks a lot about the message behind this movie being in telling those you love them (whether lover or family) before you lose the chance to and letting the regrets hang in the air. Just like the tagline of this movie which translates to: “After, we had everything except each other.” Its both a heartwarming film for a part of it and yet such a heartbreaking film that ends up being bittersweet as well. Just like Xiao Xiao and Jian Qing reflect on themselves and their relationship, the movie will end and made me reflect on a few things as well. Us and Them is a beautiful movie both in cinematography, soundtrack, character building and story. Its full of style and so very unique because its been pieced together so well.

This double feature is the absolute highlight of not only this marathon but probably the past while of films I’ve seen.
Have you seen This Is Not What I Expected or Us and Them? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Permission (2017) & Remember Me (2010)

Continuing with the marathon, I was going to change it to romance marathon or something but February is going to be Valentine’s month so why not just keep it the same, right? As you will notice, I didn’t really have a Q selection so decided to do a second P selection with 2017’s Permission and paired it with R’s 2010 romance drama Remember Me, a movie that I’ve started once before but didn’t think I was in the mood for a romance drama so stopped after 10 minutes in or something.

Let’s check it out!

Permission (2017)

Permission

Director (and writer): Brian Crano

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Gina Gershon, François Arnaud, Morgan Spector, David Joseph Craig, Jason Sudeikis

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend. – IMDB

Permission is a film that usually is the type of premise that is right up my alley. Its the idea of romance and different types of relationships and whatnot. To be honest, Permission does a lot of good. The best part of it being that it starts off making a relative amount of sense. The key of being okay with this film is is first accepting (or tolerating might be a better word) that its okay to experiment if you have only been in one relationship and using that method to feel like you can spent forever with the person you are currently in a relationship with.  That is the premise of this film so if that starting point doesn’t work for you, this film won’t get any better. My main issue is that the ending had points where it didn’t quite make sense to me but then I’m thinking about how with a premise like this that there is no other way for it to end and which type of ending would have worked better.

One of the main components that work here is that the actors and actresses themselves are really good. They are written each in their own distinct way and their actions and reactions being the center of who they are and how they feel about this whole thing. Dan Stevens plays Will who does a great job as expected. You can somehow feel the resistance towards the experiment but his love and his trust and makes him want to go through with it. On the other hand, Rebecca Hall as Anna, playing Will’s girlfriend is also very good. She does a lot of discovering here especially since she ends up having her own form of evolution and manages to sort out her thoughts at the end. She ends up meeting Dane, played by Francois Arnaud, a Quebec actor that I personally like a lot (especially his performance in French-Canadian film Origami. You can see the review HERE). The best parts of the film goes to the chemistry between Dane and Anna because it feels like there is something real going on between them even though its based on the lie that Anna never revealed that she is in fact in a relationship.

At the same time, you have their best friends, Reece and Hale who are going through their own issues as Hale wants to have a kid and Reece doesn’t and because of that, their own changes draws distance between them as well. There are some parallels here between these two relationships. There are some big messages about needs and wants in relationships as well as finding yourself before being with someone as the undertone of it all.

Remember Me (2010)

Remember Me

Director: Allen Coulter

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Ruby Jerins, Pierce Brosnan

A romantic drama centered on two new lovers: Tyler, whose parents have split in the wake of his brother’s suicide, and Ally, who lives each day to the fullest since witnessing her mother’s murder. – IMDB

I’m noticing just now that this movie’s tagline is “Live in the moments”, which is a pretty good way to talk starting about Remember Me. Remember Me starts in a fairly tragic and dramatic one, both paralleled with funerals: one for Tyler (Robert Pattinson) who loses his brother and one for Ally (Emilie de Ravin) who loses her mother both also being the first witness of their loved ones passing. These things make them view life in a different way perhaps making them treasure the moments a little more in fear of not living the next day with Ally’s character and one that tries to care for their family more with giving them more attention in Tyler’s case. Remember Me takes a lot of routes and in some ways, it takes away from what it was trying to do in the first place making our two main characters quite shallow and their relationship not exactly too deep either. Which is a little awkward to say that I’m watching a romance drama and in many ways, the romance is very unimpressive and not too memorable either. It goes to show that passionate kissing and sex scenes don’t make up for these moments even if they were very well shot and constructed.

The story should be commending to give notice to the drama around the two main characters because life is more than romance. Tyler is face with giving a lot of attention to her younger sister Caroline who believes that her father hates her and ignores her while having a feud and constant disagreement with his father (Pierce Brosnan) who only cares about his work and never prioritizes his family despite the tragedy that they’ve gone through. This family drama plot is one that is frequently used especially when his little sister also has a little side plot on how she doesn’t fit in and is bullied in school to some great heartbreaking extremities. On that note, some scenes and details here feel a bit disjointed because its packed so much that nothing leaves a great impression. To be fair, while the film has a lot of great ideas that doesn’t get used enough to make it more memorable, the roles here are not too bad although its funny that almost the entire cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin and Pierce Brosnan all are putting on their best American English show which I find isn’t too natural. I’m a little torn honestly on how I feel about the acting. Robert Pattinson felt more refined than say, his role in Twilight (I can only compare it since I’ve never seen him in another romance) but still missing something because it still felt like his expressions are very similar. Emilie de Ravin is an actress I love from Once Upon a Time so I think this is a new side of her that I quite enjoy.

The most memorable part of Remember Me is its plot twist finale that kind of punches its audience in the gut. I can only say this because some might view it as a fairly controversial sort of ending. It can be seen as distasteful or it can be seen as being very clever. However, there was no doubt about how it would end in my mind, but rather how they chose for the ending to happen because there was no way the movie wasn’t already hinting at this sort of ending with the tone and message it had set throughout.

That’s it for the next Valentine’s Romance double feature!
Excuse the little break, I needed a few days to just take a break and get things together.
Have you seen the P (replacing Q) selection and the R selection? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) & Prince Charming (1984)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, whether you celebrate or not (which we don’t other than on the blog as an excuse to watch romance films). If you don’t celebrate, then tomorrow is a great day for some discounted chocolate. 😉

We passed the halfway point of the alphabet which was really all I expected myself to get to by February 14th. This time, we’re at the next two letters, O & P. The first is The Other Boleyn Girl which I have put aside too many times so I decided to just go for it and get it off the list. For the P selection, I floated around a few titles but decided to go with something a little more romantic and comedic with Hong Kong’s 1984 romance comedy Prince Charming.

Let’s check it out!

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Director: Justin Chadwick

Cast: Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Morrissey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Oliver Coleman, Ana Torrent

Two sisters contend for the affection of King Henry VIII. – IMDB

I’m a bit torn on how I feel about The Other Boleyn Girl. On one hand, the first part of the movie was pretty entertaining with the obvious chemistry between the characters and the setup of the stage for the parents, their stand and favoritism between children as well as their ambitions and greed for power and fortune despite the consequence of putting their own children into difficult and complicated places. With that said, the start was pretty fun with King Henry (Eric Bana) take a hunting stay at the Boleyns home and having one daughter being set up to seduce the king which somehow defines who Natalie Portman’s Anne’s personality is which as it grows ends up causing herself some pretty irreversible consequences. While I get Natalie Portman’s character, the beginning half with King Henry and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) definitely was the more interesting part even if their focus was really not on them because it involved a lot of music overlaying passionate sex scenes.

To be fair, when the second act started and King Henry got lured into Anne’s traps of playing hard to get. It started getting a bit ridiculous. I’m not a history major and I don’t particularly know a lot about the history of England and the kings but as a historical drama (I know for Chinese history, there are kings defined for their bad judgement because of the women they choose), I can’t say how accurate it is but King Henry is very much getting played and not quite as kingly until he decides to justify his difficult decisions by raping Anne, which seems to defeat the purpose of making these tough choices and throwing it all out the window, hence his descent down the slippery slope, I suppose. It was very soap opera because it was so entangled in romance and the King’s floating attention span of always having women satisfying him and producing an heir when he did already have one that he disregarded, and then the mixed romances and improper decisions and playing games.

The Other Boleyn Girl was good in the sense that I think Eric Bana does a great job and I particularly liked Scarlett Johansson and well, anytime with Kristin Scott Thomas is a good time because she also is a very powerful actress even in the supporting role as the mother of Anne and Mary who ends up losing the most out of Anne’s desperate need for attention (or whatever you call it). Its not a bad film but it is still a bit drawn out unnecessarily.

Prince Charming (1984)

prince charming

Director (& writer): Wong Jing

Cast: Kenny Bee, Cherie Chung, Pak-cheung Chan, Rosamund Kwan, Maggie Cheung

Chen Li is the son of an enormously wealthy Hong Kong businessman and is vacationing in Hawaii, experiencing typical girl problems. – IMDB

There are a lot of films called Prince Charming. To my knowledge, 1999 also had a Hong Kong film called Prince Charming (which I have seen before with Andy Lau and Nick Cheung). However, we are dialling back to 1984 when Maggie Cheung still did comedies and Kenny Bee and Pak Cheung Chan was a huge deal whether for singing or acting or hosting. Directed and written by Wong Jing, this movie is bound for some laughters. As with most of Wong Jing’s film, he also has a cameo appearance as a passerby listening in on a conversation about some sex meter calculation.

Prince Charming is a pretty charming film. I have my issues sometimes with the humor of Pak Cheung Chan because sometimes it leans on the heavily dumb humor but somehow, perhaps its because its Wong Jing and I like his humor and Kenny Bee has this dorky humor to him that makes it all come together. Its a lot of fluff to be fair because the story itself is fairly simple and in the mist of the mistaken identity, its hard to really focus on the background plot of finding out whether embezzlement is happening at the office because it focuses a lot on the romance and Kenny Bee finding his love with Cherie Chung’s character. However, there is this sweet chemistry between them that works most of the time, especially in the awkward moments. Add in some family bits and a few silly moments and this really does have quite a nice vibe to it.

A lot of staple actors and actresses of the 80s (and 90s) are in this film and it shows their youth especially when the films starts off in Hawaii for a little bit and then heads back to Hong Kong. Its a romantic comedy so it definitely gives off this fun and entertaining sort of film packed with the 80s humor of Hong Kong that defined its films and boy, I really did like that comedic style a lot.

Valentine’s Double Feature alphabet for O & P are done!
Have you seen these films? What did you think of them?

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?