The Parent Trap: Almost Killing Your Step-Mother To Get Your Parents Back Together Again

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two twins, both played by Lindsey Lohan, switch places in order to try and get their parents back together.

I understand that for many this film is a classic, and whilst I thought it was good and had a number of nice moments I wouldn’t go that far. If I were to pick my favourite Disney era Lohan performance it would undoubtably be Freaky Friday, but that’s just me.

I thought the narrative was a little simplistic, though I suppose it would have been fresher upon release when movies like The Princess Switch hadn’t taken the same concept and run away with it. I also thought the film struggled with its characters with the evil step mother, played by Elaine Hendrix, being the most egregious.

I thought Lohan was good in both her roles if a little samey between the two, as far as child actors go she was on the better side of average as her performance didn’t become irritating to me.

Overall, a warm watchable film that isn’t going to set the world on fire but will nicely give you an escape from reality.

Pros.

Lohan

It is very watchable

A few funny scenes

A nice ending

Cons.

Overly simplistic

A little too reliant on tropes

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Storks: Time To Tell Your Kids The Truth

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Some American children still believe that storks bring babies to parents, this film imagines a world where once that was true but now they are basically Amazon delivery drivers.

This film is made watchable by the charm of Andy Samberg, a film would have to be deeply terrible for the charm of Samberg to not  be able to salvage it, he truly is the only thing that makes this film good. That is not to say that the film is bad however, I would say it doesn’t do anything bold enough to be bad, rather it is happy to sit in the generic.

The human plot line of the young boy, voiced by Anton Starkman, who writes to the Storks to get a baby brother despite this not being his parents wishes, not only doesn’t land in terms of emotional impact but instead seems to be going out of its way to make the boy seem unlikeable and brattish. I think the whole human plotline should have been cut out.

The story is fairly boring and uninspired you know everything that is going to happen as it has happened time and again in other better films before this one. On the whole the film seems scared to try and do anything new.

Overall, a very generic animated film.

Pros.

Samberg

It is watchable

A few unintentionally funny scenes

Cons.

The human plot line

Pacing issues

It is deeply generic   

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The Mighty Ducks: Fighting For The Underdog

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Bigtime lawyer Gordon Bombay, played by Emilio Esteves, becomes the coach of a local hockey team as part of his community service.

Honestly this is another ‘classic’ film that didn’t do much of anything for me. I don’t know if it is because I am not really into the sport or what, but this film left me cold.

To me the biggest issue with this film was that Bombay doesn’t really change he starts off the film as a cold, arrogant, meanie and he ends it the same way. Yes, now he has started caring about the kids to a degree but in terms of his personality he remains much the same, this then means that the happy ending comes off hollow.

Moreover, the drama of the film felt all too predictable. That is not to say you don’t end up rooting for the kids and become attached to them as you do, however you know everything that is going to happen and when it is going to happen so there aren’t really any stakes. To me, this just felt like a very generic sports film, the kind we have all seen too many times before.

Overall, a classic to some but decidedly average to me.

Pros.

You do end up caring about the kids

The ending is sweet even if the character work makes it feel hollow

Cons.

Bombay does not change

It is generic

It is predictable

It has pacing issues   

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Ghostbusters Afterlife: The Freakiest Third Act Surprise You Will Ever See

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family move into an old farm house left behind by their deceased grandfather, shown to be Harold Ramis’ character from the previous films, there they learn a little bit about themselves and their family history and of course save the world from a ghostly invasion.

This film did everything correctly that the previous film, the reboot, botched. It merges the older films and a soft reboot perfectly; it is a legacy sequel done right. There is enough call backs and involvement of surviving cast members to touch on the nostalgia factor of fans of the original whilst also giving us a new generation of Ghostbusters to care about.

In many ways this is Mckenna Grace’s film, she is the central character and carries the film for a lot of the run time. However, Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd are also scene stealers and make the most out of the scenes they are given, hopefully a sequel will do more with them and give them more on screen time together.

I found this film to be quite funny at times, again particularly Grace’s lead. The older Ghostbusters have some good lines but I would say on the whole they are used sparingly as to not upstage the new characters. I am split on the CGI Harold Ramis, I do like that they give him a proper emotional send off and have each of the characters have a moment with him, however I don’t like the use of CGI to bring back dead actors as a concept, it is troubling.

Overall, a strong revival for the franchise.

Pros.

Grace

Coon

Rudd

Giving the older characters one last hurrah

Cons.

Pacing issues

Finn Wolfhard’s role could be played by anyone

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Encanto: Does Every Animated Film Need To Be A Musical?

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family is each gifted with superpowers by a miracle however when one of the members of the unit does not receive her powers then things start to fall apart and the family has to work through there issues to restore the magic.

I am very mixed on this film. On the one hand, the message is very good and important and one that is worth remembering by everyone in the audience. Furthermore, the film does manage to connect emotionally and pulls on all the right heartstrings to make you feel something and care about the characters.

However, on the other hand, this film has no stakes and there is no real journey to it. The issues come about because of miscommunication and then the family communicates and everything is fixed, there is no real peril and it all feels very simplistic.

Moreover, the musical numbers start to get in the way of the plot. By that I mean they are unnecessary, overused and not particularly good. As I have said before there is something about the Lin Manuel Miranda style of musical that doesn’t jive with me and that I find irritating, having what could easily be dialogue sung for the sake of it is not clever or inventive- it feels lazy.

Overall, though some parts of the film connected with me for the most part it either left me cold or slight underwhelmed. Certainly not worth seeing at the cinema, wait until you can watch it for free.

Pros.

The message

Stephanie Beatriz in the lead role

The emotional resonance

Cons.

The songs

The lack of real character journey or stakes

It has pacing issues  

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Home Sweet Home Alone: Better Than You Are Expecting

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A child, played by Archie Yates, is left home alone and must fend off against perceived burglars, played by Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney.

I went into this one expecting the worst and was more than a little bit pleasantly surprised by what I got out of it.

I enjoyed Archie Yates, I though he played the role well and was funny. Likewise I enjoyed that this film gave the burglars a backstory, made them human, and made us like them. I thought this film was far more feel good than the original and I liked the ending where everyone just talked it out.

However, due to the fact that we like the burglars and we know that the whole thing this time around is just a big misunderstanding makes it hard to enjoy the traps. A big part of what makes a Home Alone film is watching the baddies get torn apart by the leads traps, however, here because we like them this is less pleasurable viewing and instead just makes the lead look like a brat. There really are no villains here and the conflict itself is entirely avoidable, a conversation would have defused it.

That said I won’t go so far as to say this film is better than the original but it certainly is as good. I really enjoyed this film’s sense of humour and it made me laugh a number of times throughout. Moreover, I like that it referenced the original films and teased us with the return of Kevin, McCauley Culkin.

Overall, a strong hit for Disney + that might be a bit too sweet for some.

Pros.

The humour

The baddies

Archie Yates

The ending

Cons.

The traps are less enjoyable because we like the characters they are hurting    

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Clifford The Big Red Dog: The Worst American Accent You Are Ever Likely To Hear

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An unpopular girl, played by Darby Camp, becomes friends with a gigantic dog.

This was one of those times when you go into a film with low expectation and they are met. There are so many baffling issues with this film and in reality it was doomed from the beginning. Chief amongst these is why does Clifford, the gigantic dog, look like that?

Indeed, I don’t know if it is become of covid limitations or budgetary ones but Clifford looks bad, there is something about the CGI render of him that looks at best uncanny at worst like something out of the early nineties. As a result of this Clifford is always shot in a very specific way, which if you know what to look for with good CGI just shows how poor it is, and suggests that maybe the filmmakers were aware of it.

I think the greatest crime that this film commits is that it wastes your time. Basically there was no reason for this film to be made, the story wasn’t there and neither was the audience, it was a cynical effort to cash in on decades old IP and one that looks set to backfire badly.

What upsets me the most about this film is what it does to Jack Whitehall. Whitehall can be very funny and can be a good actor, look at Good Omens for proof of that but here…….. Firstly they give him a god awful American accent that really doesn’t work and that there is no reason for this as his character’s  sister, played by Sienna Guillory, is English and has an accent reflecting that so why can’t he?

Overall, your kids deserve better than this so don’t take them to see it.

Pros.

It is short

Whitehall has one or two good jokes

Cons.

Whitehall’s horrid accent

There is nothing new about it and it has no reason to exist

The Clifford CGI

It is a slog to get through

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Ron’s Gone Wrong: The Most Toxic Message Of The Year

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In a dystopia where children need a personal robot to be their friend and post everything they do online one boy, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, complains to his family about not having one and then is unhappy when he gets a discounted one. An unhealthy friendship ensues.

Don’t take your kids to see this. Don’t waste your money. There are so, so many better animated films out there that actually have a positive message and enrich those who view them, this only serves to cause harm. This is one of the worst animated films I have seen in a long time.

Firstly, the main boy inspires no sympathy because whilst yes he is a social outcast once he gets a friend in his damaged robot Ron, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, he immediately puts him down and treats him like dirt. Insisting that he gets to pick his friends and because Ron is not perfect out of the box he doesn’t want to know him, what sort of message is this sending to kids? Yes, as the film goes on her learns the error of his ways, but by that point he is already a loathsome lead.

Secondly, this film seems to view the younger generation as being unable to function without constantly being online, which I don’t believe is true. Rather it is more likely to be a cynical Gen X or older view of ‘these young people today always on their phones’, which honestly was never more than a gross generalisation. The world that this film is set in is honestly a hellscape, with big tech companies being basically all powerful, and viewed in this context the whole film becomes incredibly depressing, was that the point?

Thirdly, and in my opinion the most grievous of all, this film treats online issues as throwaway lines and worse yet jokes. Within the film one of the characters Savannah, voiced by Kylie Cantrall, becomes the victim of online bullying as she is labelled ‘poop girl’. This presents the film with the opportunity to tackle an issue that is effecting a lot of young people around the globe, however, rather than do this it trivialises the issue, overlooks it in favour of continuing the main plot and then uses it as a joke as the film almost wants you to laugh at her for being called ‘poop girl’. In my mind not only is this a wasted opportunity but also it is incredibly dangerous.

Overall, this film highlights everything wrong with modern animation, and children should not be allowed to see it.

Pros

Ron is a nice character who made me laugh

Cons.

It is harmful

Using online bullying as a joke

The main kid is a brat and the film says his friend with Ron is good when in fact it is deeply unhealthy

Kids today, and how again Hollywood executives don’t know the first thing

It’s message is rotten

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The Addams Family 2: Still Trying To Live Up To The Live Action Version

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Addams Family are back once again, and this time they are going on a road trip.

Whilst this is not a great film, it still pales deeply when compared to the live action version, it is better than the first animated film which did not seem to understand the IP. This film at least seems to understand the characters better and uses them in a way that feels truer than what we got the last time around.

There are a number of wonderfully weird moments sprinkled in throughout this film that I feel enhance it, they help to tap into the odd sensibilities of the franchise and play on its macabre sense of humour to a great degree. Some of these moments are better than others of course, but most are at least somewhat entertaining.

My issue with this film is that the central story of Wednesday, voiced by Chloe Grace Mortez, not fitting in with her family and then believing herself to be adopted, being kidnapped, only to then be rescued and reassured by her actual family, the Addams, is contrived. How many times will we have to repeat the same stories over and over again in Hollywood before writers come up with something new? Honesty it is getting to a point where I can accurately predict the endings of films within the first few minutes, please freshen up your story telling.

Overall, a slightly better version of the previous film though the story focus does hold it back.

Pros.

It understands the characters more

There are some deeply strange moments

The sensibilities are there

Cons.

The whole Wednesday story

Fester’s side arc

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Nightbooks: We Need More Of Krysten Ritter In This Role

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young boy, Winslow Fegley, obsessed with all things horror is kidnapped by an evil witch, Krysten Ritter, and forced to write her scary stories.

I enjoyed this film quite a lot, it turned out to be much more narly and hardcore than I was expecting it to be, and it managed to create some great horror visuals over the course of its runtime. In some ways this was more scary than a lot of the adult horrors out there.

The best thing about this film is easily the performance given by Ritter. By now you should all know that Ritter is an incredible talent, but if you didn’t know it for some reason this film proves it to you. She manages to pull off so many different emotions with just her face alone without even the need for words. She captures comedy, sadness and intense anger and rage completely, and manages to make her character both sympathetic and loathsome.

Even the child actors were fairly good, that in and off itself is a big deal as child actors are never good.

Overall, a lot of fun.

Pros.

Ritter

The scares

The ending

The characters

Cons.

The Hansel and Gretel twist was a bit too obvious

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