Crazy, Stupid, Love: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #49

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

One of the biggest genres in Hollywood is romantic movies. Every year, a fair few romantic movies are huge successes, like A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians and To All The Boys I Loved Before. One film that did quite well in its year of release – and was one I watched recently and enjoyed – was 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day today (or was when I published this), this is my review for Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (who have also co-directed other movies such as Focus and I Love You Phillip Morris) and with a star-studded cast including Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, is Crazy, Stupid, Love. Cal Weaver’s perfect life comes crashing down when his wife, Emily reveals that she wants a divorce and has been unfaithful to him. Naturally, this is a shock to Cal and he begins to drown his sorrows at a bar he’s always passed but never been to. There, he meets Jacob Palmer, a suave playboy who will teach him how to get back in the crazy game that is love.

Steve Carell played Cal Weaver. I’m currently mid-way through The Office US so it’s hard to not picture him as Michael Scott. Nevertheless, Cal was easily the best character in the film for me. Carell is such a talented actor and his ability shone in this film. He brought humour and heart in a good blend. Julianne Moore played Cal’s significant other, Emily Weaver. She was a good character but was a bit bland and flat in some areas. Moore, like Carell, is a brilliant actress but I felt that her true acting potential was not reached in this film. Jacob Palmer, the smooth playboy who helps get Cal back in the game, was played by Ryan Gosling. His character was basically a less-funnier, cinematic version of Barney Stinson. As much as I like Gosling as an actor, I was in two minds about his character. He was a likeable character who was fun to watch Gosling play on screen, but I couldn’t help but feel that Gosling could have maybe put something more into Jacob’s character. Jacob’s love interest was Hannah, played by Emma Stone. She is revealed to be Cal and Emily’s oldest child. Stone evidently enjoyed playing Hannah, but there could have been a bit more of her character and, if there was, the film would have been better. I felt that the chemistry between characters was strongly acted out between all characters, so despite the individual character flaws, the actors all worked harmoniously together which actually helped to make the movie better.

 

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Jacob coaches Cal how to woo a woman.

 

The music was sweet and well suited to the tone of the film at parts, but was also quite irritating and just seemed to consistently play in the background of the film nonstop. It was a nice little instrumental piece but it just seemed to always be there, despite it not always suiting the mood of the film. The worst thing about the music in Crazy, Stupid, Love was that even after something big or dramatic or important to the story had happened, it would just jollily continue in the back without much regard for what had just happened.

The storyline was quite straightforward, but it could have been executed better. The story was definitely there, but it seemed that the run time for it was too short. The film tried to cram a happy ending into the last half hour, and it kind of worked but still was a bit messy in places.

Overall, Crazy, Stupid, Love gets a 7.2/10. It was a good film that I enjoyed watching and, despite its flaws, still made for a sweet and nice story that was entertaining to watch.

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Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. As it’s the Oscars next weekend, join me next week for the review of an Oscar-nominated 2018 musical movie. See you then!

Step Brothers: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #48

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

There’s a definite difference between comedy in British movies and comedy in American movies. In my opinion, most American comedies are lazier and don’t make use of what’s possible with what’s available when you can make a movie. To be fair, some American TV comedies have actually done this, such as The Office and Parks and Recreation. Other than that, the movies rely on jokes to make the movie a comedy. And some are better done than others. One movie that has pretty good humour both audibly and visually is 2008’s Step Brothers.

Directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly is Step Brothers. Dale Doback and Brennan Huff are two jobless losers in their forties who are still living with their respective father and mother. When Robert (Dale’s father) meets Nancy (Brennan’s mother) at a conference, the two hook up and get married. Brennan and Dale are forced to live with each other and get along. Naturally, mischief and craziness ensue, leaving Robert and Nancy no choice but to sell their house and retire so that their sons can get jobs and become adults, something they are far from.

Will Ferrell played Brennan Huff and did a great job in the role. Ferrell was good fun to watch and he was funny, but as much as I liked Brennan, I preferred Dale’s character. Dale Doback was played by John C. Reilly and is arguably one of Reilly’s best roles to date. Reilly was hilarious and made the movie more enjoyable to watch. Together, Ferrell and Reilly were a fantastic comedy duo who made the film hilarious, and their character chemistry was so natural and it was great fun to watch. Mary Steenburgen played Brennan’s mother, Nancy and was a great addition to the cast. The same is true for Robert, played by Richard Jenkins. Honestly, there’s not much else I can really comment on their characters. Adam Scott also featured in the film, playing Brennan’s brother, Derek. He was quite funny and his performance was impeccable. One character who I loved was Randy, played by Rob Riggle, but there should have been more of his character. Randy genuinely had me bursting out in laughter.

The music had some generic songs, such as ‘You Make My Dreams’ by Hall and Oates and ‘A-Punk’ by Vampire Weekend. However other songs that I’d never heard of, such as ‘Breathe and Stop’ by Q-Tip were good additions to the film that added to the mood of the movie. It’s worth mentioning the songs done by the cast too, like Derek and his family acapella-ing to ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ or ‘Boat’s and Hoes’ sung by Brennan and Dale. These moments were funny and made the film more entertaining, but the best musical moment in Step Brothers easily goes to the operatic-drum solo scene with Brennan and Dale performing Por Ti Volare at the Catalina Wine Mixer.

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Brennan and Dale show off their talents at the Catalina Wine Mixer.

It’s a straightforward story but with the right details and actors mixed in, you have a pretty decent movie. I’m not saying that Step Brothers is a bad movie, but it’s not the best. It’s quite dull and flat at times, and the comedy sometimes did not land well and just left for an awkward moment.

There were some laugh-out-loud moments that were great and funny additions to the film. I like the whole scene of Brennan and Dale getting into a fight after Brennan puts his testicles on Dale’s precious drum set was hilarious to see it escalate into a stupidly funny fight. Another scene I liked was when Dale and Brennan then became ‘best friends’ and make bunk beds and did awesome karate kits Dale’s long fart in his job interview with Seth Rogen tasting it was one of the funny awkward moments in the film too. Dale and Brennan’s big release of Boats and Hoes for their business, Prestige Worldwide was also hilarious to watch. The reveal of Derek being an unlikeable character, especially with his introduction was well done and funny. Brennan gets a job working for Derek, and there’s a scene I love that takes place in Randy’s office, with Randy yelling ‘pow!’ every so often which was funny too. The best part for me was at the Catalina Wine Mixer with Brennan and Dale’s epic performance, which had me in stitches.

Step Brothers gets a 6.8/10 from me. It’s possible that a movie that isn’t as high scoring as others that I’ve reviewed can still be loved. It has great comedy and is a film that should be watched by everyone. Step Brothers is currently available to watch on Netflix, and I highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) to stay up to date with the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. As it’s Valentine’s Day next Thursday, I’ll be reviewing a romantic movie. See you then!

 

American Animals: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #44

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One of my favourite types of movies are those based on true stories. These feature Goodfellas, Selma, BlackKklansman, Hidden Figures and, most recently, American Animals. I saw the trailer and it looked somewhat interesting. I was lucky enough to attend a screening in London followed by a Q&A with director Bart Layton. It was a fantastic experience and I had an amazing time. Here is my review of American Animals.

Directed by Bart Layton and starring Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters is a cinematic depiction of a true crime caper. When Spencer Reinhard begins studying at the University of Transylvania, he discovers a book in the library that is worth $12 million. He tells his best friend, Warren Lipka, who decides the pair, accompanied by Lipka’s other friends, will steal the book and make their millions. However, unforeseen circumstances play their part and the heist goes horribly wrong.

Evan Peters took on the role of Warren Lipka, the brains behind the heist. Evan Peters was very well suited to play Warren Lipka and he was great in this film. Peters acting ability is so brilliant and his talent shone throughout this film, particularly when he was expressing his feelings, like the desire to steal the book or the anger when it all falls apart. Warren’s primary partner in crime was Spencer Reinhard, played by Barry Keoghan. I preferred Keoghan in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (review here), but Keoghan doesn’t have much range. His voice is quite monotonous and depressing and, while that suited the latter part of the film, the half of Spencer being happy and actually kind of enjoying life was just mismatched to Keoghan’s acting ability.  Jared Abrahamson played Eric Borsuk, a quiet and reluctant member of the heist. He was well played, especially for being a quiet and shy crew member, but I felt there could have been more of his character. The final heist member was Chas Allen, played brilliantly by Blake Jenner. Allen’s character was reluctant to join and was the most vocal member of the group when it came to not doing the heist. I loved the way that Jenner played Chas as he immersed himself in the role and delivered a good performance.

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Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) plans out the heist and getaway.

The music was brilliant throughout the movie. Though it was a little cliché in places (Using ‘A Little Less Conversation’ for the dream heist scene), it overall used good music that was suited to the movie and made it more enjoyable to watch. The best use was ‘Who By Fire’ by Leonard Cohen, for when the police come to arrest the guys for their crimes. It beautifully juxtaposed what was happening in the movie and made for a great scene.

Since the story is something that happened in real life, you can’t really critique it, but you can discuss how it was portrayed on the screen. Honestly, Bart Layton did such a brilliant job with the direction of the film. The opening was so stylish and created a tone of mystery that had me hooked for what would be shown throughout the film. The use of cutting between the men in real life in the present after the crime (with the real Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen in the film) and them describing what happened with Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan playing the younger versions of the men who carried out the heist. The scene transitions were sleek and carried the film nicely, leaving me more invested into what the film was showing. The film showed how the boy’s memory was unreliable and it had the same scene but with different little details in places that made the film more interesting to watch. One of the best parts of the film was seeing how the heist was planned out and how it took place. It was also great to see a Reservoir Dogs reference by code names like Mr Pink (and Chas getting mad about it like Steve Buscemi did). When asked yesterday, Layton explained that one of his biggest influences for the style of his direction in American Animals came from ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, a 1975 movie starring Al Pacino. In Dog Day Afternoon, a bank robbery goes horribly wrong from the start. You can see how Layton draws inspiration from Dog Day Afternoon to bring the story of American Animals to life.

Overall, American Animals gets an 8.2/10 from me. I actually cannot wait to watch this film again. It may have been a little dull in places and could have had more development but makes for a brilliant movie that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else movie related you could want. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a Black Mirror episode review. See you then!

Game Night: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #39

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

One of my favourite things about flights (if there ever was something you could love about flights) is in-flight movies. As a film fanatic, it’s awesome to see new movies that you have yet to see being shown on board. On the flight to and from Beijing, I was treated to a wealth of brilliant movies that were on my watch list. From American Animals (review coming soon!) to Upgrade, there were so many choices. One of the films that I’ve wanted to see since it’s trailer release way back in January was Game Night. It has a fantastic cast, an interesting plot line and seemed promising.

Directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (who have previously collaborated on films such as Spider-man: Homecoming and Horrible Bosses) and starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams is the comedy Game Night. Max and Annie are a competitive couple who regularly have game nights with their friends. Recently, their neighbour, Gary, divorced his wife, and the pair hasn’t invited him to a game night since. When Max and Annie begin to try for a baby, it is unsuccessful for them as Max is stressed out. This is because his brother Brooks is in town, and Max feels inadequate compared to him. At a game night hosted by Max and Annie, Brooks embarrasses Max in front of all his friends, before inviting them all to a game night at his for the following week. At Brooks’ game night, he reveals to the guests that someone will be kidnapped and they must work in their couples to figure out where they are. As an incentive, Brooks says that the winner will get the keys to his car, a Stingray Corvette, which also is Max’s dream car. The night goes horribly wrong when real kidnappers intervene and take Brooks. It’s now down to Max, Annie and their friends to save Brooks and game night itself.

First off, this was actually a hilariously awesome movie. I rewatched it on the plane as I loved it so much. Jason Bateman played Max, a fun-loving guy with brother issues. Bateman is a great actor and Game Night is no exception from his talents, but there were definitely people who were better than him. The same could be said for Annie, played by Rachel McAdams. She was fantastic in this film and had me in fits of laughter at parts, and this film further proves her brilliant acting ability. For me, the best character has to go to Billy Magnussen’s Ryan. Ryan was one of the funniest characters who never failed to make me laugh. He was an interesting character, and that’s down to Magnussen’s flawless acting in this role. Ryan was such an amazing character that he’s earnt a spot on my favourite characters list (find the list here!). This was my first time watching Billy Magnussen in a film/TV show, and he didn’t disappoint. His date for the majority of this film was Sarah, played by Sharon Horgan. Horgan’s comedy was well suited to the tone of the movie and was so perfectly suited to the comedy from Billy Magnussen’s Ryan. Another hilarious character was Kevin, played by Lamorne Morris. I found his comedy in the film started off really good but gradually fell as the film went on. He was still funny in the film, but half of it came from situational comedy with his on-screen wife, Michelle. Kylie Bunbury played Michelle, and as previously mentioned comedy was mainly from scenes with Lamorne Morris’ Kevin. The main six characters (Max, Annie, Ryan, Sharon, Kevin and Michelle) had one of the best character chemistry dynamics I’ve seen in a film. In their respective couples and as one group, the characters had such a lovable relationship that was so brilliantly portrayed by them. It was evident to see that Brooks, played by Kyle Chandler, disrupted this dynamic. Chandler played Brooks well, especially in terms of making him an unlikable character. His humour had its moments but majority of the time it fell flat and failed to make me laugh. It’s worth mentioning Jesse Plemons’ character, Gary. He provided a (not-so-big) plot twist, and while some may have thought he was a good, funny character, I found myself thinking the opposite. The plot twist was decent, but his character was just awkward and failed to make me laugh.

The music was something to be majorly appreciated. It could have been better, sure, but for what it was, you had to respect it. I like how the movie both started and ended with a Queen song, both related to the film somehow. The movie made good choices in terms of songs used. I liked the use of ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ by Third Eye Blind for Annie’s little karaoke scene and ‘Quando, Quando, Quando’ by Engelbert Humperdinck for the film’s credits (where the credit’s featured a hilarious plan from Gary). The best songs in the movie were ‘We are the Champions’ at the film’s ending and Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ for the reveal of which celebrity Michelle had slept with. I actually loved that scene, but I’ll come on to the best scenes later.

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Ryan successfully steals the Fabergé Egg, which leads to the best scene in the movie.

The storyline was good and I like the idea of taking something that is relatable but taking it to the next level, but it did reach a point of going too far. The film tackled the story well, but it was too rushed in places. All it needed was just a few extra minutes for a few scenes to improve on the movie. The film didn’t fall down the usual hole that most films do, whereby they are too slow moving. However, it’s better to spend more time on something while it may be slow moving (even though I hate this!) than to actually rush through scenes. One of the best things that Game Night had was the camera work. It reminded me of some of the camera work seen in Edgar Wright’s films. It had imaginative scene transitions, my favourite being Max and Annie falling on a train which transitioned to the dice being rolled in Risk. The tilt-shift shots that made the city look like something out of a board game were visually stunning, and I loved the camera work for when the characters were in the car, as it looked like something out of a video game like Grand Theft Auto. The best camera had to go to the one-shot take but played on a different level. This was seen when stealing the Fabergé Egg, in a fantastic chase scene which left me in complete awe over how incredible the camera work and the scene execution was. Click on this link to watch the scene.

There were a few scenes in the movie that I loved so much. The opening with ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ with the montage of Max and Annie dominating in every game was the perfect introduction for the movie. Everyone meeting at Max and Annie’s for game night was great fun to watch and was a smooth and interesting way for us to meet every character. Admittedly, Ryan’s character introduction was the best for me, the highlight being his montage of past dates, as it was side-splittingly hilarious. The next best scene was Ryan and Sharon going to ‘Murder We Wrote’, which saw Chelsea Peretti (Gina from Brooklyn 99) in a hilarious role, where it is revealed that the kidnappers are real. After this scene, we get a juxtaposing scene with Max and Annie who haven’t discovered this yet. Though it was in the trailer, the scene of removing the bullet from Max’s arm was good fun to watch, but ruined by the trailer. From there, the next best scene was going to the mansion and discovering the secret fight clubs (and Ryan’s reaction to this was amazing!). In the mansion, two great scenes took place. The first was the reveal of which celebrity Michelle had slept with. It featured Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ and a fake Denzel Washington in a pay-off to an inside joke and a funny scene. The second was the Fabergé Egg chase scene. It used a one-shot take in a style similar to that of Ryan Coogler’s that was just so awesome to watch. Click on this link to watch the scene, I promise that it is worth it! The ending was a nice end to what was a fantastic film, showing a nice conclusion to the film we’d just seen as well as giving us the possibility for a sequel.

Overall, Game Night gets an 8.6/10 from me. It was a film that I was hyped to watch and it definitely delivered. It had gorgeous camera work, brilliant acting and really good comedy, despite having a few little issues that didn’t ruin what was a super movie experience. Game Night is a film that I can’t wait to rewatch and I highly recommend it to everyone. It has comedy, action and everything else you could want from a movie. Game Night is available on Now TV from Friday 16th November, on HBO (if you have a subscription) and should be added to Amazon Prime over the Christmas period.

On Monday 12th November, the world lost a real-life superhero. Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel Comics, passed away, aged 95. Stan was a living legend, and his work for Marvel Comics has paved the way for the world of cinema for years to come. His creations such as Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will live on, but the universe will never forget Stan Lee. May he rest in peace.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! I’ll be doing more polls soon, so give it a follow to have your say! Also, follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Next week, I review what is considered to be one of the best movies of all time, if not the best. The clue is Morgan Freeman. Can you guess which film it is? See you next week for its review!

BlacKkKlansman: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #31

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! Just as a heads up this review will discuss some dark themes, so you have been warned.

The summer holidays have whizzed past us and another year of school begins. To mark the end of a hectic summer, my friends and I all caught up to watch a movie and a meal. Despite ideas to watch the Incredibles 2 or The Meg, we opted for BlacKkKlansman, the latest hit from Spike Lee. It was a great end to the summer and with it, the final year of our secondary school lives before we all head off on our separate ways begun.

From director Spike Lee and a cast including Adam Driver and John David Washington is the cinematic version of a true story of racism in 1970’s America. Ron Stallworth is the first African-American police officer to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department and sets out on the ambitious task of infiltrating and exposing the Ku Klux Klan. Naturally, he can’t infiltrate them himself and so enlists the help of fellow police officer, Phillip Zimmerman, who will act as the version of a white Ron Stallworth in real life while Ron Stallworth himself keeps in contact with the Klan via telephone. The pair soon learn about a plot that the Ku Klux Klan are organising against a large meeting of African-American students and do everything within their power to stop any destruction and harm being caused.

John David Washington playing Ron Stallworth was a fantastic decision on Lee’s part. I personally had never heard of him before, but he was well suited for the role. His acting was spot on, and his character arc was really interesting to watch unfold. Phillip Zimmerman was played by Adam Driver. I think he was a bit of a dull character, or at least by Driver’s acting. He didn’t really do much for his character and was very rigid in terms of emotional acting. Laura Harrier played Patrice who was basically the love interest in this whole true story. She was a great character who Harrier played wonderfully, but I would have liked to have seen more of her. She was just seen as the protester who was inappropriately touched up by the dirty police officer and the love interest of Ron. Patrice carries more of a symbolic role than that and she deserves to have had a bigger role. Next, I’ll be reviewing what I thought of how people portrayed the members of the Ku Klux Klan. I don’t agree with their views or actions but here I will discuss what I thought of the acting. The Grand Wizard, David Duke, was played by Topher Grace. Personally, Grace is one of my favourite actors and his portrayal of David Duke was a fantastic performance from Grace. He brought his classic charm to a harsh and hated character. Jasper Pääkkönen played a Klan member called Felix. Felix’s character was played by Pääkkönen as a true Klan member as he was fully against anyone who didn’t have pure American blood in them. Pääkkönen’s portrayal was commendable as he brought a roughness to the character that made him more unlikable than the other Klan members and, despite his Finnish heritage, his American accent was good. Ryan Eggold played Walter Breachway, another main Klan member. Eggold showed a nicer and somewhat kinder man who was a Klan member and it was a good performance from him.

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Ron Stallworth tricking Grand Wizard David Duke into thinking he’s a white supremacist.

Though I know beforehand that it was set in the 70’s, Blackkklansman’s music came as a surprise to me. From Prince to Looking Glass, the music was something to enjoy. The best song has to go to ‘Too Late to Turn Back Now’ by The Cornelius Brothers. A week later and that song is still stuck in my head. The soundtrack was composed by Terence Blanchard and was actually pretty good. It had some good pieces of music but was very repetitive and fell into the same trap as Kingsman, where the main theme was replayed and altered to fit the emotion and mood of a scene.

The story and plot were interesting, especially as it was a true story. The real-life Ron Stallworth is a true hero for his work and it’s about time his story was told. The film was slow to start, but as soon as you get yourself in it and the tone has been set, it’s actually a really amazing experience. The whole bomb plot going down was a longer-lasting sequence than what I expected. Having said that, the whole bomb plot sequence was fantastically well done. It kept you on the edge of your seat whilst not being too much or bombarding you with too much. Blackkklansman had a nice balance of everything you’d want from a movie. It had good comedy, some action, an interesting but a little cliché love story. There’s something for everyone with an important lesson in it.

It’s definitely worth talking about the ending of the film. Ron Stallworth is hailed as a hero and has successfully exposed the Ku Klux Klan. We then cut to 38 years later, in Charlottesville, America. As some of you will remember, in August 2017, there was a ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Charlottesville, where the Ku Klux Klan launched an attack promoting their ideology of white supremacy. The ending showed some graphic and horrendous scenes that left the entire cinema in shock and silence. Blackkklansman certainly left a mark on everyone, teaching a valuable lesson with it; everyone is equal, no matter what their race, gender, religion or anything else is.

Blackkklansman gets a 7.6/10 from me. It was an eye-opening look at the history of racism in America and how it still continues today. Despite being slow to start, the film keeps you hooked and interested, as well as teaching us all a lesson. Spike Lee has made something that needs to be seen by everyone to truly appreciate how good this film is.

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Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. Join me next week when I review something. I haven’t decided what it will be yet. But it’ll be good. See you then!