Friday, March 8, 2024

Kung Fu Panda 4

Familyfaire: Kung Fu Panda 4 (2024)  PG  Po (voiced by Jack Black) has been picked to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, meaning he must find a new Dragon Warrior. Meanwhile, a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains Po had vanquished and get her revenge. I’m not a huge fan of the Kung Fu Panda films and this is probably the weakest of the bunch. Po is on his own this time with the exception of a new sidekick, a fox named Zhen (voiced by Awkwafina), who is a thief who tags along with Po on his latest adventure. The kids will enjoy all the colorful action sequences but the adults are going to be very bored by the constant attempt to make a joke or two or three. The pacing seems off and I think the film misses all the Kung Fu masters that Po is used to dealing with. So fans of the big Panda will probably enjoy the film but the rest of us, it’s a miss with that round house kick, even with the ‘skadoosh’ finish. My Rating: Cable   Kung Fu Panda 4 Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide. 

My View: Ricky Stanicky (2024) R   Ricky Stanicky is about three best friends who, when they were kids, invented the imaginary Ricky Stanicky as a handy alibi to get them out of trouble. Now, as adults, the three (Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler) continue using the nonexistent Ricky anytime they need to get out of immature behavior. Unfortunately, their friends and spouses have grown suspicious of Ricky and demand to meet him. So, the three hire a washed-up actor (John Cena) to play the part of Ricky. What could go wrong? Well, a lot, and I’m not talking about the plot but the overall mess of this film. If you think John Cena dressed as Boy George and singing a song about masturbation is funny, then you will enjoy this film. I don’t, hating this film almost from the first appearance of Cena. John Cena has a talent for comedy, but this film always goes for the low bar, with the easy, crass joke. I also have a problem with three guys always lying to their significant others so they can have a good time without their ‘loved ones.’ I think I laughed once, and it may have been laughing at how many weird little cut-downs on pop culture the film enjoys doing for no reason at all. As expected, the film’s plot goes from stupid to incredibly stupid, where we are asked to believe way too much that would never happen, even in a bad movie. And yes, this is one.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again.   Rickey Stanicky Website Now playing on Prime Video. 

My View: Damsel (2024) PG-13   Elodie (Millie Bobby Brown), a young noblewoman, has agreed to marry a handsome prince. Elodie discovers that the marriage has only happened so that she can be sacrificed to repay an ancient debt. Elodie is now trapped in a deep cave with a dragon bent on killing her. She will need all her strength and wits to survive and get out to get her revenge. I have become a fan of Millie Bobby Brown, enjoying her work on Stranger Things and the Enola Holmes films, so I was looking forward to this film of Brown’s character taking on a dragon. After a lengthy setup of how bad Elodie’s kingdom is doing and how the new kingdom she is marrying into is right out of a fairy-tale, the film takes a turn where it's a cat-and-mouse game of Elodie evading the dragon. And keeps evading the dragon. I am guessing half the film is about the trials that Elodie goes through in the caves with the dragon (who talks, by the way). From her work in Enola Holmes and Stranger Things, we know that Brown can hold her own in action sequences, but all she does is a lot of falling, running, and crying out. It’s not until the last 15 minutes of the film that we get Elodie actually taking on the dragon, with an ending that is too quick and too much of a letdown. That revenge I mentioned earlier in the review is over in the blink of an eye. Even if it is still a large dragon eye, it’s still a blink.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Damsel Website   Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

My View: Imaginary (2024) PG-13  Jessica (DeWanda Wise) has returned to her childhood home with her daughters. Jessica is shocked when she discovers that the imaginary friend she left behind is very real and is targeting Jessica’s youngest daughter because he is unhappy that she abandoned him so long ago. Imaginary is a fun, but not any sense, great or even really good horror film. There are too many ‘jump out of the dark’ scares in the film's first half, but the second half makes up for that a bit with some nice twists and turns and a few horrifying moments. Still, it's a fun premise to have an imaginary friend who isn't so friendly when you get to know them better. I am a fan of Betty Buckley, but she is wasted in a role that brings some of the film down with a couple of downright silly plot twists. Imaginary is one of those movies you see just because you're in the mood for a horror film, not because you think it will be great, but because you can have fun with it. I mean, a stuffed bear with a really creepy song that plays when you pull his string has to be a little evil, right?   My Rating: Cable   Imaginary Website  Now playing in theaters. 

Forgotten Film: House of Games (1997) R  A psychologist, Margaret (Lindsay Crouse), wants to help a patient escape a gambling debt. She visits a bar where Mike (Joe Mantegna) runs a poker game. Mike convinces her he will forgive the debt if she helps him look for ‘tells’ in the gamblers to get an edge in the game. What seems to be an easy way out becomes much more complex. House of Games is a film by David Mamet (The Verdict (1983), Glengarry Glen Ross (1993), and Wag the Dog (1998)) about con artists and gamblers. It’s how there is always one more con in the game, and nothing is as it seems. I love the dialogue in this film, and the appearance of one of the greatest magicians/con men of all time in real life, Ricky Jay, as the Vegas man. Jay was also a consultant on the film and helped with staging all the con jobs in the movie. It’s a fascinating film with plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested till the end. My Rating: Full Price  House of Games Info  The film is available on multiple streaming services. 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ricky Stanicky: Dog/Duck Trainer

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Immaculate (2024) R   Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney) is a woman who believes that God has a plan for her. Cecilia is warmly welcomed to her new convent with open arms. But it becomes clear to Cecilia that the convent is not what it appears to be, harboring dark and horrifying secrets. Sydney Sweeney is having a good run in her career, with her breakout role on The Handmaid’s Tale, getting Emmy nominations for her roles in the TV series The White Lotus and Euphoria, and a hit in the rom-com Anyone But You. Now, let's see what she can do, headlining a horror film.  Immaculate Website  In theaters March 22nd. 

Until Next Time!

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