Familyfaire: Family Switch (2023) PG Family Switch takes place when, after a chance meeting with an astrological reader, the whole family wakes up to discover that they have switched bodies: the kids are now in their parents’ bodies and vice versa. Can they survive school, work, and the baby having switched with the family dog? I hate to say it, but this isn’t even close to being in the same league as Jennifer Garner’s other body switch movie, 13 Going on 30. How a film wasted the talents of Garner, as the overly protective mom, and Ed Helms as the father who wants his kids to have as much fun as he did in high school, is a travesty. The two try hard, but when given the material of having Garner, as now the teen in her mom’s body, belching and farting for jokes and Helms, as the teen in the dad’s body, almost throwing up in his sister’s mouth, they are set to fail. Kids may enjoy the film primarily because the dog and the baby have switched bodies; the baby acts like a dog, and the dog walks like the baby. The ending is just as bad and predictable as the rest of the film, even with the always enjoyable Rita Moreno showing up for a short appearance as the person who causes the switch. So, adults put the movie on and let the kids enjoy the baby barking like a dog while you go into the other room and wrap presents. My Rating: Cable Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: Godzilla Minus One (2023) PG-13 It’s after World War II, and a monster has been created from the nuclear radiation fallout of the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan will never be the same. The review of the film will be up Friday night. Finally, we have the Godzilla movie that we have been waiting for. Godzilla Minus One is a reboot of the classic tale of the giant lizard that comes up from the ocean to terrorize Japan. Unlike many Godzilla films that focus on the monster and how much destruction he can deliver, this film concentrates on the people he is attacking and how they respond to the attacks both in the past and in the present. I don’t want to go into too much detail as the storyline is incredibly well done, but I will let you know that WWII and its after-effects play a huge part in the film. And while the film features the people, you still get the mighty Godzilla destroying cities, blasting his heat ray and chomping on both trains and people. Godzilla Minus One is a film meant to be seen in the theatre so that you can experience Godzilla in all his glory, and the ending is pretty cool too. Excuse me now while I put on some Blue Oyster Cult and revel in what I just saw. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again
Godzilla Minus One Website Now playing in theatres.
My View: Silent Night (2023) R Silent Night is about a father who is wounded, and his young son is killed when they are caught in a gang’s crossfire on Christmas Eve. The father, Brian (Joel Kinnaman), has lost his voice due to the shooting, and he makes it his life’s mission to avenge his son’s death a year later. At one time in the 90s, John Woo was considered one of the great action directors working with high violence but well-made films like A Better Tomorrow (1986), Hard Boiled (1992), Broken Arrow (1996), and Face/Off (1997). So I was excited to hear that he was directing an action film that would have no dialogue. Unfortunately, he takes a film that uses a gimmick of no dialogue to stand out but becomes dull and, at times, annoying. The film would have worked better if the wife had also been lost in the drive-by because the scenes between Brian and Saya, played by Catalina Sandino Moreno, are just uncomfortable, straining at the seams to keep the ‘no talking’ gimmick going. The scenes feel forced and contribute almost nothing to the storyline. It takes too long to get to what we want, the action sequences, where Brian has trained and retrofitted a car to become a killing machine. I kept wondering how he was paying for all the guns and the car when he was no longer working during his year of recovery and training. The film also suffers from a character who is a one-track train wreck who has trouble showing emotion and seems stuck being a sad sack of a man. Woo depends on us wanting Brian to get his revenge, but that revenge, like the movie itself, seems ill-planned and too quick to take such a long build-up, using another gimmick to get his revenge exactly one year later. Silent Night uses a gimmick that hurts rather than stands out a film from other run-of-the-mill action films. My Rating: Cable Silent Night Website Now playing in theaters.
My View: American Symphony (2023) PG-13 American Symphony is a documentary that explores a year in the life of musician Jon Batiste. Jon is on top of the world with eleven Grammy nominations, working as the bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and a beautiful life partner in Suleika. Things turn when the couple finds out that her cancer has returned after a decade-long remission. This film has a good shot at making the Academy Award documentary nominations next year because it hits all the right notes (no pun intended). The movie started as a straightforward doc about Jon Batiste and his writing of a symphony that was to debut at Carnegie Hall. Then Batiste set the world on fire with eleven Grammy nominations. Then, on the same day the nominations are announced, it is discovered that his soon-to-be wife, Suleika, cancer has returned, and she will have to go through a harrowing treatment that will put her in a hospital for over a month. The film works best when the couple is in both good and bad private moments. There are some truly moving moments in the movie, and we want Suleika to survive the cancer because they work so well together. The film feels a bit out of place when it goes back to Jon creating the symphony or when he is touring with his band. However, the cancer fight and the relationship between the two bring us some powerful and moving moments that won’t be soon forgotten. American Symphony is about the healing power of love and music, two things we need in our lives. My Rating: Full Price American Symphony Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: Eileen (2023) R Eileen is about a twenty-four-year-old woman named Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie) who works at a juvenile detention center while trying to take care of her alcoholic dad (Shea Whigham) at night. Her world improves when a new doctor named Rebecca (Anne Hathaway) starts working at the prison and befriends her. Rebecca is everything Eileen aspires to be: brilliant, beautiful, and sure of who she is. You know what they say: Not everything is what it seems on the surface. Eileen is not your run-of-the-mill feel-good Christmas movie (it's set during Christmas week. In fact, it's more of a cold, dark film noir of a movie that takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns, some more shocking than others. Anne Hathaway is stunning as the new doctor who looks like a movie star but acts like a woman set in a 50s black and white gangster film. Thomasin McKenzie holds her own as a young woman who has gotten stuck in a dead-end job with a father who is drinking his way to his death, and there isn’t anything Eileen can do to stop it. Eileen’s life is summed up by the car she drives, which puts out so much toxic smoke she has to drive with the windows down even though it’s snowing. Eileen is looking for a way out and finds it in Rebecca, who takes an interest in the shy Eileen. We don’t know what will happen, but we know it will probably not be good. Eileen is a dark tale of seduction and lives that are just about lost, grasping at tiny bits of hope in a world that doesn’t provide much and cares even less. While I loved the performances, the film ends with us wanting more, just like Eileen. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Eileen Website Now playing in theaters.
Familyfaire: Robot Dreams (2023) Dog is living alone in an apartment in 1980s New York City when he sees what could be the solution to not having any friends, an ad for a home robot. He orders Robot, and they have a great time together until one fateful day at the beach when a horrible mistake causes them to separate. Will they find each other again? I loved this fun and quirky film about a dog who finds a pal in a robot and then keeps trying to rescue his buddy Robot when an afternoon at the beach goes horribly wrong. What more could you want from an animated film than a robot and a dog roller skating a dance to Earth, Wind and Fire’s September? Robot Dreams is a fun and sometimes touching film about finding someone to connect with, and it can bring happiness and completeness to your life. The animation is bold and colorful, set in NYC in the 80s (the Twin Towers keep showing up), and I loved all the brand name products that are part of the story, especially Cheetos, which Dog has a fondness for and always has trouble opening the bag (don’t we all). The story is a simple one that hits the heartstrings and makes you laugh and cry a bit too. Kids will love the Robot and Dog’s constantly wagging tale, and adults will love the story of friendship and love. Note: While the film is from Spain, there isn't any dialogue spoken throughout the film. My Rating: Full Price Robot Dreams Website Now playing in theaters.
Forgotten Film: Brother Bear (2003) G When a bear kills a young Inuit hunter’s (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix) brother, Kenai seeks revenge and hunts down the bear. Instead of killing the bear, Kenai is turned into one. Visited by the spirit of his late brother (voiced by D.B. Sweeney), Kenai is told he must go on a journey to the Northern Lights if he wants to return to human form. Added by a fun-loving cub named Koda (voiced by Jeremy Suarez), the two set off on a journey that will change Kenai’s outlook on life, love, and family. Brother Bear is a little-seen Disney film that got lost when Pixar released movies like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Brother Bear is a beautiful film with glorious animation and a soundtrack featuring some Phil Collins songs. The message is inspiring, the action will keep young kids interested, and the storyline will delight their parents. My Rating: Full Price Brother Bear Info Available to rent or buy on Amazon and AppleTV.
Weird Credits: From the credits of Family Switch: Soccer Coordinator
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Wonka (2023) PG The story of how the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka (Timothee Chalamet). The cast includes Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, Keegan-Michael Key and Rowan Atkinson. Based on the character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory films, let's see what magic Mr. Wonka has in store for us. Wonka Website In theatres nationwide on Friday, December 15th.