The Men in Black franchise is running on fumes.
Sadly, the Men in Black franchise has out welcomed its stay and International is the most forgettable film of the series. The original 1997 MIB had charm and flare, but Men in Black II completely squandered that success. Yet in 2012, Men in Black III returned in style and managed to succeed expectations. Unfortunately, that success didn’t last long because International was a crash and burn for the franchise. Actor’s Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson showcase their strong chemistry as they did in Thor: Ragnarok, but the rest of the movie lets them down. The action was lackluster, the plot was forgettable, and the CGI was bloated beyond repair. Director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) fails to deliver and provides no escape route for this summer blockbuster disaster. Hemsworth and Thompson try to carry the film with the best of their abilities, but it’s too late. MIB has hit rock bottom and I can’t even say that this movie was a lazy cash grab since it bombed at the box office. International has only grossed $250 million worldwide since opening on June 14th. The reboot's domestic total is a measly $78 million, well below its $110 million production budget. In the end, one of those memory-erasing flashes (our actors use) would be nice right about now.
Men in Black International is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson, and Liam Neeson.
The Toy Story franchise continues to amaze me, from the gorgeous animation to the deep storytelling. Toy Story 4 is a fitting finale we didn’t know we needed.
This franchise has expanded and captured our hearts for the past 25 years – the ending result, a heartwarming and beautifully animated masterpiece. Yes, TS4 is well worth your time and it receives a five-star review from me. Disney / Pixar didn't botch the story or even make the film feel like a quick cash grab. The storytelling deepens in-depth and emotion from the 3rd film (2010). I know it's hard to believe how Pixar managed to explore new territory, but they do and it's a knockout. In this adventure, Woody and the gang go on a road trip extravaganza with Bonnie and her family. Woody (voiced by the beloved Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world and his main priority as a toy has always been to take care of his kid – whether that's Andy or Bonnie.
So, when Bonnie's beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky (voiced by the hilarious Tony Hale), declares himself as "trash" and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a “toy”. Leave it to Pixar to take a plastic spork and completely take a hold of our heartstrings. Forky's character teaches us about identity and self-worth. It’s a character that so many people in today's technology driven-age can associate with. Forky provides a useful shorthand for expressing that feeling and filling those shoes. Forky’s character is raw, cunning, and comes off organically. Each of us has dealt with the stress and anxiety of this fast-evolving world, and Forky shed’s light onto those issues. He’s a character we can lean on – a safety net when we don’t feel like we are good enough. I connected with this character and I was amazed at Forky's overall growth from his first to final line. Hale, known for his comedic presence in the TV satire Veep, immerses himself into the googly-eyed spork.
Furthermore, when Bonnie takes the whole gang on her family's road trip excursion, Woody ends up on an unexpected detour that includes a reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voiced by the enchanting Annie Potts). After years of being on her own, Bo's adventurous spirit shines brightly through her porcelain exterior. Other old friends enjoy the screen time and that includes Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Wallace Shawn as Rex, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Blake Clark as Slinky Dog, the late Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head (from archival recordings), Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head, Bonnie Hunt as Dolly, Kristen Schaal as Trixie, Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants, and Jeff Garlin as Buttercup. Plus, we are introduced to new characters as well. Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele voice Ducky & Bunny and they're a hilarious duo scene after scene. Keanu Reeves voices Duke Caboom and like in Always Be My Maybe, Reeves steals every scene he’s in.
Gabby Gabby (voiced by a fierce Christina Hendricks) portrays our stories antagonist. Yet, Gabby Gabby’s character has a certain depth and meaning other villains don’t have. She’s a broken toy who just wants to be loved by a child. Her character comes full circle to that conclusion by the end of the film. It’s a fitting character arc for Gabby Gabby and her broken voice box. TS4 is darker but a beautifully told animated gem. As our character’s travel down uncharted territory, Pixar tells the audience how to move on. Prepare to grab those tissues because you are going to need them. “Tim Allen said that the film's story was ‘so emotional’ that he ‘couldn't even get through the last scene’’. “Similarly, Tom Hanks said that the film's ending scene was a ‘moment in history’". Like a shot through the heart, TS4’s emotional toll will strike you to your core. As Forky grapples with self-worth, Woody grapples with letting go of the past and looking toward the future. In the end, TS4 is a fitting finale to a near-perfect animated saga. For now, so long partner.
Glynis and I saw this movie at the Getty Drive-In, Muskegon MI.
Toy Story 4 is rated G (All Ages)
Directed by Josh Cooley
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves.
A Double Feature Review!
Always Be My Maybe
Like a modern take of When Harry Met Sally, Always Be My Maybe is a charming film that will put a smile on your face. Actor’s Ali Wong and Randall Park will cast a spell on you with their irresistible chemistry. Always Be My Maybe drives down familiar rom-com tropes but has enough layers to keep the ball rolling. It’s a lovely movie that blends smart social commentary and inhabits experiences of Asian-American culture. Director Nahnatchka Khan (Producer of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 and Fresh Off the Boat) wonderfully crafts the story through every laugh and groovy beat. Our film follows childhood sweethearts who have had a falling out and don't speak for 15 years.
They reconnect as adults when Sasha (a never better Wong), now a celebrity chef opening a restaurant in San Francisco, runs into Marcus (a funny Park), a happily struggling musician still living at home working for his dad. From there, the film builds upon Sasha and Marcus’ relationship that keeps them together and never losing site. You will laugh all throughout this charming movie, Wong and Park’s comedic chemistry is killer. And just when you thought you’ve seen it all, wait until you see Keanu Reeves! Reeves plays a fictional egotistical version of himself and it’s hilarious. Reeves steals the show with his whimsy and smolder. He’s a knockout for the brief amount of time he’s on the screen. Always Be My Maybe is an infectious movie you don’t want to miss. It’s streaming on Netflix and I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.
Always Be My Maybe is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Advise). For sexual content, drug use/references, and language.
Directed by Nahnatchka Khan
Starring Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Karan Soni, Daniel Dae Kim, and James Saito.
Funny and timely, Late Night is a comedic journey with a lot of heart. Written by Mindy Kaling (The Office and The Mindy Project), Late Night is a hilarious film that tackles a variety of issues, including sexism in the workplace. The film hits hard on its social satire, commentary, and is brought to life by a terrific cast (Kaling, Emma Thompson, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, Max Casella, Denis O'Hare, Ike Barinholtz, and Amy Ryan). Thompson, especially, is a complete knockout. Thompson plays Katherine Newbury, a female late-night host whose ratings have declined. She’s also lost the ability to deliver her punchlines. We all know the long-time lack of a female host on late-night television speaks to the story’s relevance, but Kaling’s woke script goes further by showing how Katherine has spent years in the trenches without helping other working women rise in the ranks. Kaling has experienced this real-life struggle as a working woman of color.
Kaling spent year’s building her own sitcom (The Mindy Project) and knows the system needs to be fixed for people of color. In addition, Katherine’s all-white-male writing staff is in need of a revamp, cue Ms. Kaling. Kaling plays Molly Patel, a chemical-plant efficiency expert from suburban Pennsylvania with no writing experience. Katherine’s hires Molly mainly on the basis that she is an Indian woman and she needs to bring diversity to the workplace. From there, our story deepens, and director Nisha Ganatra follows an anything goes lead for Kaling’s script. Thompson and Kaling’s chemistry is dynamite and will have you laughing until your sides hurt. Thompson fires off one-liners and Kaling spares no prisoner with her crisp script. Thompson and Kaling are female warriors and Late Night puts them right in center screen. In the end, Late Night delivers through charisma, heart, and a dash of comic gold.
Late Night is rated R (Restricted). For language throughout and some sexual references.
Directed by Nisha Ganatra
Starring Mindy Kaling, Emma Thompson, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, Max Casella, Denis O'Hare, Ike Barinholtz, and Amy Ryan
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The Movie Oracle
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