Bros: Insulting Your Audience

1.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The first big studio rom-com to feature same sex leads, if you ignore Love Simon and a few others.

Honestly I just didn’t think this film was very funny. Somewhere in between all the jokes about how straight people are lame and the gross out sex gags I found myself questioning why for such an important film for a number of reasons they didn’t do their best to at least give it a good script and a few passable jokes. The humour of this film is at times aggressively unfunny and by that I mean that the film is actively angry at you for not laughing along with it, thinking that every joke made is the peak of comedy and that you are just a philistine for not laughing.

Another thing going against this film is the star Billy Eichner. Now I have seen Eichner before in a few other things and I stand by the idea that in small doses his particular shtick is funny, however, being exposed to it for over an hour proves to be unbearable. Additionally, Eichner’s character really isn’t particularly likeable and I found it hard to root for his happiness. Adding to that are the comments Eichner has made post release wherein he has said the reason the film has underperformed is not because of a weak script or unfunny jokes but because audiences are homophobic. Though this is true to an extent, it reeks of someone on the defensive lashing out because their ego got hurt, it also does nothing to make an audience want to see the movie because why support a star who is calling them names?

Overall, this film is important there is no doubt about that, but sadly what we got was incredibly mediocre with a leading man who is ill suited to the task.

Pros.

It is an important step forward for diversity within film

It is watchable

Cons.

Eichner is no leading man

It is unfunny

It has terrible pacing

It repeatedly lampoons straight people and then expects that audience to come out and support the film.

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Ticket To Paradise: A Holiday To The Cinema

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two bitterly divorced parents, played by Julia Roberts and George Clooney, must team up to try and prevent their daughter, played by Kaitlyn Dever, from getting married.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this film. It was nothing new or particularly surprising, but it was comforting. It was like a warm mug of soup on a hot day, you have had it before but it provides a nice escape from the winters day outside. In my mind this film did what all good films should do, it provided you with a nice breezy escape from reality. It entertains you for a few hours and ultimately it doesn’t need to do more than that.

I think George Clooney and Julia Roberts have great chemistry together, and the formers case it made me realise just how much I had missed seeing him on-screen. I think if the film had different leads it would have worked a lot less and the cornier elements of the narrative might have stuck out more for the wrong reasons, as it is the two bring a lot to the film. An interesting thing to note in terms of performance is that Dever gets totally out shone by Billie Lourd who plays her best friend. Dever doesn’t bring much to the film and could have easily been replaced by a number of other actors to minimal effect, Lourd though however is a scene stealer across the film.

Overall, this film feels like a warm hug from a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Pros.

Roberts

Clooney

Lourd

It is a lot of escapist fun

Cons.

It is nothing new

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Nice Guys Sleep Alone: You’ll Need A Shower After This One

0.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Films like this are why we have incels.

The idea that ‘nice guys finish last’ is the hallmark of the dirty unwashed guys who show up to dates with BO and stained clothes and then proceed to neg the girl they are trying to court and then get surprised when they don’t want to be with them. In short it is the motto of the loser. This film really does run with that message as the lead, played by Sean O’Bryan, loses girl after girl because he is just too nice and then when he finally decided to be a dick to his next romantic interest she only wants nice guys. Firstly, if a girl doesn’t like you because you are too nice that is on her, no one should ever change you in a relationship, however the idea that being a dick is a way to attract a mate is equally flawed and toxic.

I understand there is a degree of satire going on here, but honestly this whole film reeked of pick up artist slime to me, and as such I could not warm to the lead at all, in fact if anything the fact that he was prepared to turn into a dick to try and get girls shows that he wasn’t a nice guy at all and that he was in fact a slimy loser who deserved to end up alone, but because this is a rom-com we can’t have that. Ah the toxic and widely problematic romantic comedy subgenre everyone. Maybe we weren’t supposed to like him at all.

Overall, though it is trying to satirise dating culture this film feels like a relic better left behind.

Pros.

Occasionally it is unintentionally funny

Cons.

The satire doesn’t really land

It is toxic

It is not fun to watch

Few to none of the characters are at all likeable

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Spin Me Round: Spilling Sauce

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A restaurant manger wins a trip to Italy and a whirlwind romance begins, then quickly ends.

This to me marked me returning to the Baena path, I really enjoyed Life After Beath and The Little Hours, but Horse Girl really turned me off in a big way, however I am pleased to say he is back on form here.

I found this to be both comfort viewing whilst also having Baena signature absurdist uncomfortability. I liked that the romance was atypical and that at the end of the film Alison Brie’s lead did not go back to her sleezy lothario, I think in many ways this film acts as an antidote for the miles upon miles of toxic rom-coms out there that suggest even incredibly problematic behaviour can be made up for just with a grand gesture.

Moreover, the continued electric chemistry between Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie, which can be referenced again in Baena’s The Little Hours, is on strong form here and the scenes that the two actors share steal the film. My one complaint in this regard would be that Plaza’s character disappears midway into the film and you find yourself wishing that she would return. However, that wish is never realised.

The main reason I have given this film a 4 and not a 5 is because though it is good and enjoyable for a number of different reasons, I didn’t find it to have stuck in my mind after watching. This staying power is usually the hallmark of a 5.

Overall, fun but not memorable.

Pros.

The chemistry between Plaza and Brie

It is very watchable

The ending acts as a balm to the many injustices of the rom-com genre

The absurdist elements    

Cons.

It is good not great

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Monte Carlo: An Idealized Version Of France

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

3 all American girls go on holiday to France and naturally one of their group gets mistaken for a celebrity doppelganger and they go on an adventure.

Honestly this is bland nonsense. It is perfectly watchable but is so light and breezy that you can check out for big chunks of the ‘plot’ and still mostly understand what is going on. I am not saying that every film has to have an intricate narrative with lots of moving parts but there is so little going on here that it is barely even a film.

Moreover, this kind of double narrative has been done so many times before that this film feels instantly stale. To make matters worse this film doesn’t even have the charm of a Parent Trap or a Princess Switch instead it feels just barely serviceable.

None of the performances are particularly great either, Gomez is probably the best of a bad bunch but no one is winning an Oscar here.

Overall, boring fluff that is hard to feel one way or the other about.

Pros.

It is mindless

It is watchable if you have nothing else

It is short

Cons.

The performances are fairly weak all round

There is nothing to it

It is bland and insipid  

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27 Dresses: Learning The Art Of Catching The Bouquet

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A habitual bridesmaid, played by Katherine Heigl finally gets her own love story.

In many ways this is an incredibly generic rom-com, all of the toxic and cliched elements are all present and everything happens the way you would expect it to. The surprises are kept to a minimum.

However, despite all of that there is a charm to this film, it is all of the bad things that I labelled it above, but there is also a warmth to it, the idea of junk food springs to mind in that sometimes we consume what we know is bad for us just because we want to satiate a craving, this is very much that we know it is toxic and problematic yet it is also a good rom-com.

Moreover, despite her reputation for being difficult this film made me miss the slightly awkward charm of Heigl especially as she has been absent from our screens for quite a long time now. I thought she had great chemistry with her leading man James Marsden and I believed the two of them as a couple. Really it is hard for Marsden to be bad in anything and that helped this film a lot.

Overall, though it is predictable, clichéd and toxic there is also something warm and familiar to enjoy.

Pros.

It feels like quality junk food

There is a warmth to it that is infectious

Heigl and Marsden both put in good turns

Cons.

It is cliched, toxic and predictable

It is badly paced.  

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Fifty Shades Of Grey: Porn For Old Ladies

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film that made middle aged ladies everywhere quiver.

Let’s get this out of the way straight off the bat, the way this film portrays relationships is deeply unhealthy and the message it prompts that this is a good relationship that the characters actively enjoy speaks to the wider toxicity of the film. No young woman should become essentially a slave to her boyfriend, it is wrong.

When this film came out a lot of people spoke about it as though it was the most titillating thing to ever exist, however, in reality having watched it for the first time recently years after it came out I find the film incredibly tame. Moreover, it goes without saying that if you are going to the cinema to get your giddy thrills whilst watching this film, there is a much easier and more effective way that you can do just from the comfort of your own home for free. This film feels far too clinical and scripted to every approach anything that could even be confused with sexy.

I think the biggest issue here is that the performances from both James Doran and Dakota Johnson are just so wooden and stiff that the film is essentially doomed from the outset. As this is a ‘romance film’, the strength of the feature lives or dies on the chemistry of the leads and in this case it dies, painfully.

Overall, I don’t see why this film was popular nor do I understand why it had sequels

Pros.

It is laughably bad at times

Cons.

The message is toxic

It is not hot in any way

It is deeply cringe

The leads have no chemistry   

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Persuasion: Watching A Book Burning Would Be More Entertaining Than This

0.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Netflix uses a beloved classic novel as toilet paper.

I could have told you the exact second this was announced that it would be awful. Netflix has proven they lack any kind of sensibility that would allow them to properly pull off an Austen adaption, think of Emma from a few years ago now Netflix would never make a film like that. No, rather instead Netflix has to modernise, Netflix has to Americanise and crucially Netflix has to turn any period piece they try and adapt in to Bridgerton. All three of these things combined lead this film to be truly abysmal.

Moreover, wherein Austen’s words are timeless the script presented here not only doesn’t know what it wants to be but does decide on being cringe at every available opportunity. In addition whilst diversity is always a welcome thing, here it is quite clearly cynically forced into proceedings just for the sake of no one trying to cancel them. This again feels like a very American move.

In addition whoever is Dakota Johnson’s agent needs to be fired right sharp, as her being in this just as the memory of those awful Fifty Shades Of Grey movies is starting to fade from people’s minds is entirely not what she needs at all. Worse yet she isn’t even very good in this mess of a film.

The one silver lining of this film is that it features Henry Golding and he is always charming and watchable, sadly he is having his time wasted here.

Overall, Netflix really, really need to revaluate their content output.

Pros.

Golding

Cons.

It doesn’t understand Austen or her sensibilities at all

It bastardises the characters and story as a whole

It is generic

It feels incredibly American

Johnson

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Falling Inn Love: A Good Way To Kill Off Your Remaining Brain Cells

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A symbolic representation of Netflix failing in the most basic concept of quality over quantity.

Honestly, if I were not reviewing this film I would have turned it off at the twenty minute mark. It was more than a slog to get through and at times became actively annoying for me.

This film perfectly encapsulates the idea of the irritating entitled American abroad who thinks that it is okay to talk down to the locals and who is a baffled that they don’t have the latest technology that she is used to. Christina Millan plays the lead character as such a brat that you will find it hard to feel anything towards her other than contempt.

Moreover, the story structure is beyond basic and feels copied and pasted over from countless other Netflix romance films that do the exact same thing: with some slight variation. You know right from the offset where the film is going and it doesn’t surprise you in anyway.

In addition the usual toxic messages and creeping sexist undertones of the romantic comedy genre are here in spades, and again it makes the film even more unwatchable.

Overall, Netflix just makes trash now.

Pros.

You can dare your friends to try and sit through it, that might be some fun as long as you don’t have to watch it back.

Cons.

It is sexist

The lead is awful

It is generic

You can guess all the plot points at the start of the film.

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Bride Wars: This Wouldn’t Get Made Today, Be Thankful For That

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Rather than have a civil conversation about their thoughts, feelings and concerns, two women, played by Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, are forced into a showdown for a frankly out of date and overly thought of practice, marriage. The sexism in Hollywood is fairly rampant in this one.

The whole premise of this film from having both girls spend their whole lives dreaming of getting married to having to tear each other down just to get the better big day is simply toxic. Some may say that I am overly sensitive, but I thought the idea that all women really want to do is get married died years ago and that we have all moved on to a more progressive dawn, was I wrong?

Hudson and Hathaway are fine, but neither of them are giving the performances of their career and both are fairly easily forgotten about. I feel like because the writer of this film knew it was a romantic comedy they thought that they could peddle out any old tripe and people would just gobble it up, as that is the only explanation I can think of for why the two leads are written as deeply out of date cliches.

Moreover, the ending sentiment feels predictable and like a bygone conclusion from the outset. There is nothing that shocks you or presents even the most simplistic of challenges, it is all incredibly generic.

Furthermore, this film features Chris Pratt which for me just adds to its list of issues, but some people like him so I won’t be too critical of that.

Overall, a widely sexist out of time romantic comedy.

Pros.

It is short

Cons.

It is sexist

It is generic

Neither of the leads are particularly good

Chris Pratt is his ever unlikeable self and that become distracting after a while

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