REVIEW: The Addams Family 2 [2021]

Up and Addams. When Grandma Addams (Bette Midler) says, “Time to make some money” upon waving goodbye to the family as they embark on a cross-country bonding vacation (despite the song lyric proclaiming they are “going global,” that doesn’t happen until the end credits), I laughed because it seemed like a thinly veiled joke on sequels to already rebooted IP generally being made to do exactly that. What I didn’t expect, however, was for there to be an actual advertisement about halfway through courtesy of a Progressive billboard. It’s not…

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REVIEW: The Addams Family [2019]

The day is becoming most wonderfully disruptive. What exactly the “old country” is in context with the latest iteration of Charles Addams‘ beloved The Addams Family is unknown. Are we to infer Transylvania? Maybe. Does the film itself pretty much just show Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) driving until they hit a straight-jacketed inmate (Lurch) escaped from an abandoned asylum up on a hill? Yes. Does a patient escaping a building with no occupants seem strange? Sure, but that’s kind of par for the course. Asking questions about…

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REVIEW: The Boss Baby: Family Business [2021]

Apparently, there’s no “a” in “teamwork” either. Anyone who’s seen The Boss Baby knows a sequel was set-up via the revelation that a now grown-up Tim’s (Tobey Maguire) second daughter was sent by Baby Corp. for a yet unknown mission. The previous Templeton plant (Alec Baldwin‘s Theodore) had chosen to stay and grow up to fulfill the promise of his toddler-sized suit so that the clan could have their deserved happy ending. What then would Baby Corp.’s reason be for taking this family hostage again just one generation later? How…

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REVIEW: The Boss Baby [2017]

I’m enough. It’s tough to call my complete disinterest in The Boss Baby as a “judging a book by its cover” scenario when that cover is what the studio sold, but I won’t lie and say babies doing Glengarry Glen Ross wasn’t what turned me off from it. Watching every new marketing piece play into that juxtaposition as though it wasn’t a creatively bankrupt idea was simply too much to bear. So I avoided Tom McGrath‘s latest—despite believing his Madagascar series had finally come into its own by part three—and…

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REVIEW: Luca [2021]

The curious fish gets caught! It’s been ten years since one of Pixar’s best shorts was released alongside Brave. Storyboard artist Enrico Casarosa‘s La Luna was a heart-warming tale merging our reality with a fantastical premise in a way that proved perfectly suited for the animation medium’s infinite storytelling possibilities. The resonate familial relationship at its center led into that recognizable emotional journey every child and parent must take in order to allow the former the freedom to choose his/her own identity away from the latter’s shadow … but not…

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REVIEW: Cruella [2021]

There’s lots more bad things coming. I promise. First thing’s first when making a prequel to Dodie Smith‘s One Hundred and One Dalmatians that focuses villain Cruella de Vil as its antihero: ensure that audiences know she doesn’t hate dogs. Better yet, screenwriters Dana Fox and Tony McNamara go one further by making Estella (Emma Stone‘s proto-Cruella’s schizophrenic “good” persona) a lover of dogs. She saves one from the streets (Buddy) and adopts it as her best friend. She subsequently enlists another dog’s services (Wink) upon teaming up with the…

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REVIEW: Raya and the Last Dragon [2021]

Who’s hungry? As Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) states during her expository prologue to Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada‘s Raya and the Last Dragon (written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim), events that should unite us often end up doing the opposite. For the Asiatic world of Kumandra, this phenomenon occurs in the aftermath of their most dire moment once the plague known as druun (a virus-like creature that multiplies with every attack, turning living creatures into stone) is finally annihilated thanks to the bravery of a dragon named Sisu…

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REVIEW: Us Again [2021]

The jazzy notes of Pinar Toprak‘s score act as a living soundtrack to the world of Zach Parrish‘s short film Us Again with everyone inside it dancing as though they are characters in a musical. The unbridled energy and excitement are infectious with smiles from ear to ear on everyone’s faces until the camera moves into an apartment housing a grumpy old man in a recliner who can’t even be bothered to stand-up when slamming his window shut to prevent the notes outside from reaching his ears. We see from…

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REVIEW: Flora & Ulysses [2021]

Maybe it’s okay to hope. The magic Kate DiCamillo imbues within the pages of Flora & Ulysses is infectious. Not only is her book a smart and witty adventure that refuses to shy from the struggles with loneliness everyone faces (young and old), but it also seeks to use wordplay and vocabulary in a fun Phantom Tollbooth kind of way that entertains and educates in equal measure. My worry with Disney’s live-action adaptation was therefore whether or not it could do the material justice since the absurdly hyperbolic nature of…

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REVIEW: アーヤと魔女 [Âya to majo] [Earwig and the Witch] [2020]

I shall give you the worms. Those familiar with Diana Wynne Jones‘ children’s book Âya to majo [Earwig and the Witch] will be surprised to find Gorô Miyazaki‘s cinematic adaptation beginning with a chase scene pitting a red-headed woman on a motorcycle against a yellow Citroën on her tail. They weave in and out of traffic with impossible speed and maneuvering before we see the first bit of magic used to create some extra distance. That’s when a cut occurs for us to watch the unknown redhead walk through a…

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REVIEW: 魔女の宅急便 [Majo no takkyûbin] [Kiki’s Delivery Service] [1989]

Just follow your heart and keep smiling. Every witch upon her thirteenth birthday must leave home for a year abroad to hone her witchcraft skills. She must find a community without witches and establish herself within it via a career based in the magic she provides—through whatever form is unique to her. It’s a time for excitement and trepidation as she’s forced to advance towards adulthood extremely early with no support system but the one she hopes to uncover wherever she lands. While some surely feel a bit of both…

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