The Royal Treatment: This Is Why Your Subscriber Numbers Are Stagnating Netflix

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A prince, played by Mena Massoud, from yet another made up fictional place comes to America to meet his future bride, played by Chelsie Preston-Crayford, however, once there he meets sassy and street smart hairdresser Isabelle, played by Laura Marano, and he just can’t get enough of her entitled, obnoxious personality.

My, my how did Massoud go from Aladdin and the hights of super stardom to this? This film really isn’t worthy of him at all, and though he is the best thing in it and the only reason it has received half marks it makes me sad that this is the sort of role he is being offered.

Marano’s character fails so much as a romantic lead that she dooms the film. Now, this isn’t necessarily Marano’s fault, the writing certainly doesn’t do her any favours by giving her one of the worst personalities to come out of a Netflix film recently. She embodies American Exceptionalism and thinks that she can decide how to help the people of a foreign country better than their government, because she’s American and knows better?

Moreover, her relationship with Massoud’s prince character isn’t very healthy, she controls him and bends him to her will from the start of the film. In one of the first scenes the two share together on screen she tells him off for not sticking up for one of his servants after she gets told off by other staff for doing something wrong. Maybe he doesn’t like conflict, maybe he is worried him intervening will make things worse, no he’s bad because he isn’t constantly looking for opportunities to fight societal injustice and he needs a controlling woman to push him to do it. The more you think about it the worse it becomes.

Overall, yet another bad Netflix film.

Pros.

Massoud

A few good jokes

Cons.

Marano

The romance is troubled

The message of American Exceptionalism

The ending  

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The Karen Abroad: Flawed American Exceptionalism And The Use Of Regressive Stereotypes As Shown In Emily In Paris

Written by Luke Barnes

This will be a slightly different post to the ones I normally write. I want to write this as more of an in-depth look at what I think is a major issue within entertainment. American Exceptionalism abroad. Of course I am using the lens of Netflix’s Emily In Paris, a show about an American woman, played by Lilly Collins, who goes to France for a fashion job and the series charts her life there. I am not the first to make these points or come to these conclusions, but Emily In Paris is the embodiment of the faux idea of American Exceptionalism, the examples I give can also be referenced in hundreds of other shows and movies as well.

Upon the end of the show’s first season Emily In Paris got a lot of criticism for some of the issues I am going to bring up, the show then tried to address and change this in the second season which has just aired, but rather than actually fix things it seems like the show has just doubled down on all the things people hate and has flipped the audience off in the process.

To get to my first example from the show, when Emily first arrives in Paris she decides that everything her French co-workers have done is wrong and that only her American way can save the company. One can draw some comparisons to a white saviour narrative arc here however here it is not about race but nationality, this is the American saviour. Of course the natives, The French, are resistance to Emily’s American brilliance but of course she is shown to be right and they are all shown to be incompetent. This backs up the outdated world view that nowhere is as successful or as creative as America and that no company can achieve true success without an American’s help, which is widely insulting, but also embodies American Exceptionalism.

Secondly, Emily makes no effort to learn French or to respect local traditions or customs, this is somewhat remedied  in season two as they make a big point out of showing her trying to learn French. However, even in this capitulation the show is two faced. In the beginning the narrative suggests that Emily doesn’t need to learn French as those around her need to come to her and need to speak English, as by not they are being rude even though it is not an English speaking country. This furthers the entitled air of the show. With the second season having her learning French it is the bare minimum yet the show wants us to worship Emily and revere her for doing it, this shouldn’t be encouraged this should just be a standard, but no, in the world of Emily In Paris if a character doesn’t capitulate to Emily, thereby to America, they are in the wrong.

My final example and perhaps what some might call my smoking gun is the show’s use of stereotypes for the French and later Ukrainian characters. Many America shows carry with them somewhat of a xenophobia perspective, this idea of the American characters being normal and everyone outside of their country being off, bad, or somehow lesser to them. Nowhere is this better shown then in the use of stereotyping, you might see this when American shows portray the Irish as alcoholics, the English as having bad teeth or in the case of Emily In Paris the French as being rude, philanders who can’t keep to Emily’s own moral values. Many French critics have called out this show for its depiction of French people and French culture, as it has been highlighted as damaging and unenlightened. The way the show portrays French people is done as a means to lessen them in the eyes of an American audience, here we have Emily just trying to be nice and the mean foreigner is ignoring her.

Moreover, don’t even get me started on how the show tries to sexually shame the French people by showing them as constantly sleeping around, which of course karen Emily judges, only to later show highly questionable sexual behaviour herself. She sleeps with a minor and the show brushes it off as a joke and even has it be recurring. The hypocrisy is not lost.

In the second season the show changes it target after being called out too much for its depiction of the French and goes after Ukrainian’s, creating a new character who is a walking cliché shown as being a thief and terrified of being deported; if I were Ukrainian I would find that highly insulting. However, you see dear reader that it doesn’t matter where the foreign character is from they have to be brought low so that Emily and by default America can feel good about itself, because at the end of the day that is what American Exceptionalism, as flawed as it is, is all about. A vain effort to ignore all of the systematic issues of their own country by projecting themselves as the best people on the planet, with everyone else left as a stereotype.

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How I Met Your Father: Pilot

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A gender swapped version of How I Met Your Mother.

This was rancid, so much so that I won’t be reviewing any of the other episodes. One was enough for me to check out. Maybe the show will pick up, or maybe it will continue in this vein and if so I am glad I have already given up.

Right from the new cover version of the original How I Met Your Mother theme song red flags are going off, firstly because this theme is not good and secondly because it feels a bit too nostalgia baity. Little did I know that nostalgia bait is the key driving force of this show, as it references and outrightly shows various things from HIMYM in an effort to trigger the member berries in what may be the most desperate way I have seen yet.

Moreover, this film was written by a group of ageing, almost certainly white men, who don’t understand anything about how young people now interact beyond what they see trending on twitter as such this episode is constantly cringe, and not a one of the jokes work. Somewhere after our first tinder mention I started to realise this show wasn’t for me.

Finally, and perhaps most obnoxious of all is the flashforward. Yes, very much like HIMYM this show has a future sequence, where they make terrible jokes about how Alexa’s get things wrong and that older women can be sexual too? Is this funny? This section was so painful it made me want to turn the episode off and honestly I wish I did.

Overall, absolutely terrible.

Pros.

Hillary Duff is trying her best

Cons.

It isn’t funny

It is cringe

It relies too heavily on nostalgia

The new cover song theme song

There is no need for this to exist  

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He’s All That: Influencers Aren’t Actors

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A gender swapped version of She’s All That, the forgotten nineties film, this time with a random TikTok influencer because Netflix are cringe and seemingly more and more incapable of making good original content.

Whoever is in charge of original content development, or if one can call them that the film head, needs to be fired. The recent baffling stream of terrible content being churned out by Netflix would be enough to make anyone else in the space blush, but Netflix doesn’t seem to care because they don’t try and make good films they try and make ones that everyone will watch at least the first few minutes of.

The fact that this film stars and is about a TikTok star just speak to how desperate this film is to appeal to Gen Z, but guess what even Gen Z can see what a turd this film is. This film reads to me as though it was made by a group of out of touch old white guys who realised the kids liked TikTok so decided to base a film around it, whilst not really understanding what it is.

Moreover, Addison Rae has no business being in this film. She can’t act, isn’t funny and barely seems to have any on screen training at all. Whenever she said a line it was so painfully delivered that it took me straight out of the film and reminded me that the price of Netflix keeps going up and made me ask why am I still paying it?

Overall, if the quality of Netflix’s originals don’t start improving I will most likely cancel my subscription.

Pros.

It is unintentionally funny

Cons.

Rae

The TikTok focus

It has no reason to exist

When it is trying to be funny it is painfully unfunny    

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There Is Something About Mary: Gross Out Comedy At Its Lowest

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of creepy guys obsess over a girl, played by Cameron Diaz, and she is unfortunate enough to pair off with one of them at the end.

This review is mainly going to come down to sense of humour, which like many things in the world is subjective, so just know that though I found it to be repugnant in many ways, and possibly the produce of teens trying to out gross there friends and then writing the whole thing down on paper, doesn’t mean you will feel the same way. Comedy can be hard to judge.

There is nothing wrong with physical comedy, gross out comedy or even edgy comedy when done right but here it is done wrong, just plain wrong. There is nothing funny, at least not to me, of having a long drawn out sequence of a chap, played by Ben Stiller, getting his nethers caught in his zip, yet the film focuses on it for a really long time. I honestly struggle to see how anyone other than a young teen could find this film funny.

On top of this you have the uncomfortable level of sexism that permeates the film coupled with the message of having Mary end up with a guy who is only slightly less creepy than the other men pursuing her, the normalisation of that whole concept is troubling and should be viewed as a black mark next to the film.

Overall, icky, sexist and better left in the past.

Pros.

Diaz is trying her best and does have a few well delivered comedic lines

Cons.

It is creepy

It isn’t funny

It is gross out for the sake of it

The ending sends a very troubling message to the audience  

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The Breaker Upperers: Taking The Awkwardness Out Of Ending Your Relationship

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Jen, played by Jackie Van Beek, and Mel, played by Madeleine Sami, run a business where they break up couples.

I enjoy quirky comedies and this was just the ticket for me. I thought it was frequently funny as well as quite heart-warming. The film has a nice message of remaining optimistic in life and staying open to love. It managed to balance heart and comedy well giving each both room to excel whilst also knowing how far to go with the sentimentality before it would be overly so.

I thought both of the leads were good though I would probably say Sami stole the show for me and just pipped it to be the breakout here. Sami’s Mel is easy to root for and her enthusiasm is heart not to be infected by.

Though it was only a small cameo I loved that Jemaine Clements was in this film, though it was only one scene Clements was terrific and his whole scene had me laughing continuously, my one regret for this film is that they didn’t use him more.

Overall, a comedy film that makes you laugh and feel, very sweet.

Pros.

Clements

Sami

The humour

The heart

Cons.

A slight case of pacing issues

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The Holiday: A Christmas Classic?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two women, played by Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, swap houses and in the process find love.

It goes without saying that this film is incredibly predictable in nearly everyway and is so chocked full of cliches that it is rare to see something other than them in the film, however that is not to say the film is bad. Certainly not. There is more than enough charm here to make up for the film’s misgiving.

I would say Diaz, Winslet and Jude Law, who plays Diaz’s characters love interest, are all well cast and fill out the rom-com architypes fairly well. Each is charming and Diaz and Law have good chemistry together, however Winslet and her pairing with Jack Black fairs worse. I really like Black and have since a young age I think the man can do no wrong a lot of the time, although here proves an exception to that. Firstly, the man has no business being a romantic male lead, he doesn’t fit the sensibility for it and as such his performance is far too big, and secondly though Winslet is really trying there is no chemistry between the two and that seems to be mainly Black’s fault as his performance is fairly wooden and could be played by anyone.

Overall, this rom-com is predictable but charming and could have scored higher if it was not for an incredibly miscast Jack Black.

Pros

Law, Diaz and Winslet

The charm

The ending

Cons.

It is predictable and cliched

Black

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Boxing Day: Maybe Skip A Family Christmas

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Melvin, played by Aml Ameen, brings his girlfriend, played by Aja Naomi King, home to face the family. A whirlwind ensues.

This film really wasn’t for me. It was unfunny to the point of annoyance and seemed to stretch on and on without any sign of it ending. I don’t think this film had me laugh once throughout.

Moreover, the wider cast were also poorly served, as the film reaches to give them depth but fails and instead just leaves us with a group of characters who are shallow, forgettable and ultimately unlikeable. Worse than all of that a lot of these characters are just written as cliches and tropes that we have all seen hundreds of times before.

Therein lies the big problem with this film for me, it is incredibly been there and done that. From the  off you can see where everything is going and rather than try and surprise you the film instead just plays out in an incredibly predictable way with all the generic holiday rom-com plot beats being hit as if the screen writers are trying to tick boxes on a list.

Overall, this film did little for me besides waste my time

Pros.

The ending dance number

I liked the mother stepfather romance

Cons.

It isn’t funny

It has pacing issues

A lot of the side characters are annoying

It relies heavily on cliches and stereotypes

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A Castle For Christmas: Escaping To Scotland

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Famous author Sophie Brown, played by Brooke Shields, heads to Scotland to avoid an angry fan backlash. Whilst there she buys a castle and falls in love with its Duke.

I found this film to actually be quite enjoyable in a goofy Netflix Christmas movie sort of way. Yes, if I were Scottish I would be offended by this film, it really does not understand Scottish culture at all and sometimes feels like it is making it up as it goes along, however there is enough charm to get you to enjoy it anyway.

I found the characters of Sophie and The Duke, played by Cary Elwes, to both be fun and likeable. Yes, they both had the usual cliché misunderstandings and stereotypical moments but I still found myself caring about both of the characters and their relationship as a whole. I thought the ending was sweet and it made me smile, there are enough sweet moments here to make this film a fun Christmas watch.

Overall, a lot of sweet moments and a fun Netflix Christmas film.

Pros.

It is sweet

It is funny

Shields and Elwes are both good.

Cons.

The way it portrays Scottish culture

It uses a lot of cliches

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The Spirit Of Christmas: Ghost Sex For Twelve Nights A Year

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Kate, played by Jen Lilley, is a workaholic who is tasked with prepping an inn for sale during the holidays, little does she know it is haunted.

There is some charm here let it not be said there isn’t, however, the cliches and the laughably dumb plot really hold it back.

So yes the lead falls in love with the ghost, played by Thomas Beaudoin,  that is the plot of the film, but wait is he even a ghost? The film says yes but then he becomes human for twelve days a year or something because he is cursed… None of it makes sense.

Moreover, though the film wants us to celebrate the love between the lead and the ghost we really shouldn’t be, the ghost has or rather had a wife which the film is totally fine with him abandoning for his new girlfriend. The morals are all over the place and it gives the film and iffy taste to it that takes away from some of the charm.

Despite all of this this film is charming and the romance does feel genuine and warm which allows the film to have something good to cling to.

Overall, a subpar Christmas rom-com with a plot that makes no sense and a charming romance that is overshadowed by troublesome morals.

Pros.

The leads are both serviceable

The romance feels genuine

Cons

Troublesome morals

A silly plot

Pacing issues

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