REVIEW: Happiest Season [2020]

Maybe another of your exes will bring out dessert. It’s Christmas week and romance is in the air as Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) walk Pittsburgh one last night before going their separate ways for the holiday. The latter is so smitten under the stars and blinking lights that she throws caution to the wind to invite the former to come along and use the festivities as an excuse to finally meet her family. They’ve been living together for six months and Abby has no other relatives with…

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REVIEW: The Rental [2020]

Abs-bro-lutely. There’s something to be said about a lack of sentimentality in a horror film. That doesn’t mean we can’t still have sympathy for the victims’ plight—the fact that they’re human beings provides the space for it regardless of who they are or what we know about them. We care because we see ourselves in their shoes. They embody our fear rather than provide an object for us to fear for. Whether or not they suffer when fate’s hand comes down is therefore quite often a moot point. Our sympathy…

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REVIEW: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part [2019]

Listen to the music. A film like The LEGO Movie is a once-in-a-decade type achievement (so to see its filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also write/produce another once-in-a-decade feat with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse only shows how inventive and original the two are). It daring to use its subject matter’s tactility and utility rather than pretend its nothing more than aesthetic was an ingenious choice, the surprise lifting of the curtain to reveal a human element behind the characters’ machinations the stuff of legend. So the inevitable demand for…

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REVIEW: Sleeping with Other People [2015]

“Mousetrap” It has to overcome a pretty shaky start—mostly due to leads Jason Sudeikis (Jake) and Alison Brie (Lainey) playing Columbia undergrads—but Leslye Headlands‘ comedy Sleeping with Other People does prevail as quite the breath of fresh rom/com air. The plot isn’t groundbreaking, reconnecting two people twelve or so years after losing their virginity together for platonic shenanigans masking an underlying romance, but it does it with as much care for their tumultuous psyches as it does the inherent humor. When these two characters get on a roll their rapport…

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REVIEW: The Kings of Summer [2013]

“That’s something my great grandfather would say. He’s a racist.” We’ve all had that urge to runaway when our parents prove too overbearing or too indifferent, but those thoughts disappear quickly once the allure of freedom evolves into a nightmare of self-sufficiency. So we stay at home; deal with the push and pull of personality responsibility, adolescent rambunctiousness, and the hope for a modicum of space/privacy; and either find ourselves accepting our fate or counting the days until escape is agreed upon mutually with the means to support it. Screenwriter…

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REVIEW: The Five-Year Engagement [2012]

“The Taxman waits for no one” Writer/actor Jason Segel and writer/director Nicholas Stoller have been working with each other for years now, both cementing their membership in Judd Apatow‘s comedic entourage on “Undeclared”. It was their first cinematic collaboration—Forgetting Sarah Marshall—however, that put them on the map as a creative team worth keeping in the recesses of your mind for light bulbs of clarity to illuminate when hearing their names in trailers. The film was a perfect mix of charm, hilarity, and crude behavior that was sadly unmatched with Stoller’s…

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