REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors [1986]

I’m just a mean green mother from outer space and I’m bad. Know which version of Little Shop of Horrors you’re watching before sitting down because you might be in for a surprise if you don’t. Having grown up with the theatrical cut often finding its way onto my television, I have a clear picture of how the story is supposed to end. There’s a visual reprise of the “Somewhere That’s Green” sequence with bright lights, mowed grass, and an outrageously strange bud popping out from the middle of a…

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REVIEW: The French Dispatch [2021]

Just try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose. I’m not sure you can get a more unadulterated shot to the vein of Wes Anderson than his quasi-anthology film The French Dispatch. Born from his own mind (and that of frequent collaborators Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman) with a healthy dose of inspiration taken from his adoration of The New Yorker, this self-proclaimed love letter to journalism set abroad in France proves to be the perfect venue for the auteur to distill his…

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REVIEW: On the Rocks [2020]

It was heartbreaking … for everyone. Before the first image of Sofia Coppola‘s On the Rocks arrives on-screen, we hear Felix’s (Bill Murray) voice to a teenaged Laura: “You’re mine until you get married. Then you’re still mine.” It’s the type of goofy sentiments Dads tell their daughters and we dismiss it as such when she replies with a sarcastic, “Okay.” The choice is a correct one too once we meet them in the present. Felix is an aging art dealer lothario for whom Laura (Rashida Jones) is his sole…

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REVIEW: Isle of Dogs [2018]

You’ve heard the rumor, right? I feel like the twee sensibilities of writer/director Wes Anderson might be catching up to him. Moonrise Kingdom was a sort of rejuvenation proving both exactly like his oeuvre and wholly unique as its child’s perspective lent a fresh voice to his usual brand of artificial melodrama. But rather than propel him forward, it seems it may have pulled him back. The auteur’s follow-up was the hilarious The Grand Budapest—perhaps his funniest tale to-date despite ringing hollow in a way that turned endearing artifice into…

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REVIEW: Ghostbusters [2016]

“Ain’t no bitches gonna bust no ghosts” They lied. I walked out of Paul Feig‘s Ghostbusters reboot to find my childhood intact. Memories didn’t disappear as the run-time progressed with cooties-infested women replacing the nerdy, elitist dickheads in jumpsuits who ran amok in New York City years ago. In fact, these 21st century scientists actually know more science than blind comedic references about proton-packs being compact nuclear reactors strapped to their backs. Who knew women could be nerdy dickheads too? Who knew they weren’t simply vessels to breath heavy and…

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REVIEW: Stripes [1981]

“Excuse me, stewardess. Is there a movie on this flight?” Considering it’s become such a major staple of Bill Murray‘s career, it’s crazy to think Stripes began as a prospective Cheech and Chong vehicle. Written by screenwriters Len Blum and Daniel Goldberg based on an idea from director Ivan Reitman, it may have gone in that direction if the studio was willing to give the pot-smoking duo creative control. Hardly keen on relinquishing so much power, they decided instead to pitch Harold Ramis on tweaking things so he and Murray…

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REVIEW: The Jungle Book [2016]

“You did not respond to reason so now you will know fear” Looking back at Disney’s 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book objectively may surprise you as it’s little more than a sing-a-long loosely tied into a low-stakes adventure of escape from the big bad jungle that’s ultimately portrayed as sympathetic if still dangerous. Anyone over eight will be bored by its lack of substance and tired of its silly humor—Shere Khan’s menace providing the sole bit of resonant impact beyond its frivolity. So it’s not difficult to…

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REVIEW: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou [2004]

“Esteban was eaten!” It’s ambitious, hilarious, visually complex, and kind of … boring. I hoped that last adjective was merely the distant memory of a twenty-two year old expecting more out of Wes Anderson‘s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou when first released in theaters due to his infinite love for The Royal Tenenbaums two years previous. I thought perhaps that its failure—a relative term since it being my least favorite of the auteur’s films doesn’t mean it’s not still a three-star entry within a brilliantly quirky oeuvre—was courtesy of…

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REVIEW: St. Vincent [2014]

“It is what it is” The Toronto International Film Festival appears to be embracing the quasi-family friendly odd couple comedy with R-rated color after last year’s Bad Words and this year’s St. Vincent, written and directed by Theodore Melfi and currently receiving theatrical release a month after its debut. Whereas the former went all-in with f-words and curry-holes, however, the latter is intent on retaining a strong sense of sentimentality. This isn’t necessarily bad—it simply forces the film into a sort of limbo existence. Because despite its PG-13 rating, the…

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REVIEW: The Royal Tenenbaums [2001]

“How interesting. How bizarre!” Nothing Wes Anderson does will ever match the brilliance of his third film, The Royal Tenenbaums. A lot of this has to do with when I first saw it back in the winter of 2002, but I say it objectively too. I was still in college, still in the midst of my cinematic education after an adolescence full of mainstream Hollywood, and just starting to realize the potential of my local independent theaters’ reach. I don’t remember why I even went to see it considering I…

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REVIEW: Rushmore [1998]

“I saved Latin. What did you ever do?” Writer/director Wes Anderson‘s style was officially born on his sophomore effort Rushmore. That’s not to say his debut was devoid of the trademarks we associate him with today, it was simply set in a world possessed by more authentic rules. He’s since made a career out of skewed storybooks of selfish characters wandering a landscape they misguidedly feel power over as they take their missteps in stride with over-the-top reactions steeped in a heightened state of the absurd. His stories take upper…

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