My View: Shotgun Wedding (2022) R Darcy (Jennifer Lopez) and Tom (Josh Duhamel) have invited their friends and family to the Philippines for their extravagant destination wedding. Unfortunately, someone else has invited themselves to the wedding, a group of pirates intent on a big payday. Darcy and Tom must save their friends and families. Maybe, also save their relationship. I admit I was intrigued when I saw the trailer for Shotgun Wedding, featuring Jennifer Lopez appearing up from a trapdoor with a shotgun blazing like Rambo. Unfortunately, the film is a poorly done romcom where we don’t like anyone, the couple we are supposed to root for fights constantly over stupid things, and the comedy bits hit you over the head with the subtly of a sledgehammer. Shotgun Wedding is a film that probably looked good on paper but when put on the screen, fails as badly as some of the jokes it tries to tell. Even comedy talent like Cheech Marin, Jennifer Coolidge, and D’Arcy Carden can’t save this unfunny and painful-to-watch attempt to combine a shoot-’em up action film (with a surprisingly high kill count) with a romcom that, as one character says, ‘hasn’t exactly gone to plan.’ My Rating: Cable Shotgun Wedding Website Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.
My View: You People (2023) R Ezra (Jonah Hill) is a podcaster who thinks he has a knack for understanding the culture in America. He meets and falls in love with Amira (Lauren London). That was the easy part. Now they must meet each other parents, and it will not be pretty because both sets of parents feel the couple are wrong for each other. I liked this film from the moment that Eddie Murphy, who plays Akbar, the father of Amira, walks into the coffeehouse with a hoodie that says, ‘Fred Hampton Was Murdered.’ The film is from Blackish creator Kenya Barris, who has created a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner for this century. Ezra is Akbar’s nightmare of a potential son-in-law. A white Jewish man who thinks he knows black culture. Ezra even moonlights from his cushy financial job by co-hosting a podcast with his best friend Mo (Sam Jay), where they talk about everything that Ezra thinks is ‘Black culture.’ On the other side, Amira has to deal with Ezra’s parents; Arnold (David Duchovny), a man who keeps quoting Xzibit, and Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who almost from the first thing meeting Amira tells her how badly the police treat Blacks and that we all should kneel during the national anthem. The question is can Ezra and Amira overcome their parents and end up together? You People is an amusing and witty film with some hilarious scenes, though it does drag in the middle when the couple go off on separate pre-wedding trips. It rights itself near the end of the film, when there are a couple of needed confrontations, and has a delightful ending that I thought rounded out the film. At times You People is a little over the top (we have to believe Jonah Hill has the chops to play street basketball), but still a sweet romcom with Eddie Murphy along to be the grump of the bunch. My Rating: Bargain Matinee You People Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
Indiefest: Infinity Pool (2023) R James (Alexander Skarsgård) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are a married couple enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation on an island when they are involved in a fatal accident. Now they are about to learn that any crime committed on the island has serious consequences, consequences that could be horrific. If you are a fan of David Lynch (Lost Highway, Twin Peaks) or David Cronenberg (The Fly, Crimes of the Future), then this film is for you. David Cronenberg's son, Brandon, gives us a strange voyage in a world where the rules keep changing. You never quite know if what you are seeing is happening or part of a drug-induced fog of weird and strange events. The movie reminded me quite a bit of the legendary 60s TV show The Prisoner, where the main character is a secret agent marooned on an island that is a bizarre type of prison. In this film, James gets caught up in an ever-changing world where he can’t figure out what is real and what is imaginary. Probably the film’s highlight is Mia Goth, who plays a fellow inhabitant of the island who guides and seduces James on his journey. Goth is fun to watch on the screen as a wild character that we can never figure out, stealing the film from the rest of the cast in every scene she is in. I will warn you there is a ton of bloodlust and sex that goes on the island, some of which I found very uncomfortable to watch. Infinity Pool is one of those films that you will either be really into or not get into at all. I was on the latter side and had a hard time wanting to keep going on this strange adventure with James. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Infinity Pool Website Now playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: Maybe I Do (2023) PG-13 Michelle (Emma Roberts) and Allen (Luke Bracey) have been dating for a while, and they decide it’s time to determine if they should get married or break up. They invite their parents to meet and help them figure out their relationship. It turns out the parents know each other well, in fact, too well. This film reminds me of the type of movies we used to get regularly in the 60s and 70s, where the young couple looks to the parents for marriage/relationship advice because they believe their parent’s marriages are wonderful, but we find out they aren’t. Unfortunately, even with an all-star cast of Richard Gere, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and William H. Macy, the film feels like a combination of a stage play and a bad sitcom. Maybe I Do struggles to find laughs, takes forever to get going, and the dinner that gets everyone together? It doesn’t happen until an hour into the movie. By then, I didn’t care if any of these couples stayed together. My Rating: Cable Maybe I Do Info Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Indiefest: Close (2022) PG-13 Two thirteen-year-old boys, Leo and Remi, are best of friends, spending all their time together, but then the friendship suddenly gets disrupted, and Leo searches for answers. Hot off its Oscar nomination for Best International Feature Film, Close is a beautiful and moving tale of young friendship and how that fragile connection can be changed when confronted with peer pressure and the attempt by young people to find their place in the world. The film works because of the performances of Gustav De Waele, who plays Remi, and Eden Dambrine, who plays Leo. The two are perfect together, interacting as two best friends do, whether playing soldiers or hanging out in a bedroom taking a nap. Close is a film that lets us slowly understand the two boys’ relationship with each other and their families so that when things go wrong between the two, we see how it affects everyone, not just the boys. The film looks at how kids this age feel and how they see themselves in an ever-changing world. Close is a superb and dazzling look at friendship and how the dynamics of that friendship can have consequences. I will warn you; a tissue or two will be needed. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Close Website Now playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: Life Upside-Down (2023) Jonathan (Bob Odenkirk), Clarissa (Radha Mitchell), and Paul (Danny Huston) are stuck at home during the start of the pandemic. They will see their lives turned upside down, forced to reevaluate their lives, relationships, and what they want from life. The film centers on three people, Jonathan, who is a married artist, Clarissa, a teacher who is having a long-term affair with Jonathan, and Paul, a mutual friend who is a writer and is married to a much younger woman (Rosie Feliner). As the pandemic rages on in L.A. and everyone is isolated, alone or with their mates, they realize their lives aren’t what they thought they were. The problem with Life Upside-Down is the film’s pace; we spend a lot of time on conversations over the Internet that don’t seem to go anywhere and feels, at times, very stagey. The characters are one-dimensional, with no depth to them and have a tendency to repeat themselves. A lot. The ending gives us very little other than all three have changed their outlook on their lives and relationships. My Rating: Cable Life Upside-Down Website Now playing in select theatres.
Forgotten Film: Everybody’s All-American (1988) R The story of a football hero, Gavin (Dennis Quaid), who married the homecoming queen, Babs (Jessica Lange), and for a while had it all. However, life has been hard for Gavin, and his troubles begin as his past heroics fade. This is a film where the performances outshine the script. Quaid and Lange are brilliant in the roles, but the film goes on way too long and never captures the magic that should have been there with the cast it has. A huge bright spot is John Goodman, who plays a fellow football player who is everyone’s best friend but has troubles of his own. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Everybody's All-American Info The film is available to rent/buy on most streaming services.
Weird Credits: From the credits of Life Upside-Down: Pasta Machine Voice
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Marlowe (2022) R Set in the 1930s, private detective Philip Marlowe (Liam Neeson) is hired by a glamorous heiress (Diane Kruger) to find her ex-lover. It’s a job that is guaranteed to get messy. Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Greta) and written by William Monahan (The Departed), this should be a fun ride down the film noir genre. The cast includes Jessica Lange, Alan Cummings, Danny Huston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Daniela Melchior. Marlowe Website The film will be released in theatres in mid-february.