Lowercase Larry

Luckless loser ‘Lowercase’ Larry Lexington learns to love and loot one last lonely time in this loony laughfest from acclaimed independent filmmakers Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum. I loved looking at this movie’s lavish likenesses, listening to its lyrical soundtrack, learning life lessons from ‘Lowercase’ Larry, and lying down in bed afterwards to literally lull myself to sleep while lusting after Channing Tatum’s luscious larynx.

Wait, hold on, sorry…

Okay, I was feeling kind of dizzy there so I went to go splash some water on my face. Now I am feeling much better and will proceed to finish reviewing Lowercase Larry, the innovative new film from acclaimed independent filmmakers Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum.

Lowercase Larry is not just a roller coaster ride that combines action, romance, comedy, and dance. It’s also the first time in movie history that anyone has shot entire movie from first person perspective.

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Channing Tatum’s hands are badass.

This gives the movie an intensity not seen since video games. It really puts you in the middle of the action, and this movie has a ton of it – hand-to-hand combat, shooting guns, and even a cooking scene that made me feel like I was truly making tacos along with Lowercase Larry himself.

On the other hand, you don’t get to see Lowercase Larry’s face except when he looks in a mirror or a reflective pool (which happens more times you’d think during the movie’s 79 minute runtime). You also occasionally get to see his arms reaching out, or his legs or body when he looks down.

Now you may be thinking, wait a minute, aren’t those things Channing Tatum’s best assets as a movie star actor man? Turns out, he don’t need ‘em as much as you think. Turns out Channing Tatum’s husky voice is a movie star in its own right. And that’s when we need a genius like Steven Soderbergh to discover that knowledge and share it with the world by making the movie Lowercase Larry.

TL;DR – High-octane fun that’s smartly assembled without putting on airs, Lowercase Larry reminds us of the devastation wrought by Steven Soderbergh’s recently announced retirement — who will continue to innovate, educate, and entertain now that’s he’s quitting movies for good?

What the rest of critics are saying:

Lowercase Larry doesn’t just get under your skin, it gets behind your eyeballs and uses your head as its own cockpit.” – Clark Peeper, Inverse

Lowercase Larry is sensational, and the fact that it stole my heart away with seemingly so little effort whatsoever is the greatest heist of them all.” – Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com

“A clever, goofy and a thoroughly entertaining ride.” – Marija Djurovic, Cairo360

“Such is the merriment of the movie, and so spirited is its pace, that you barely notice it is all presented from a first person perspective.” – Bastien Sauvage, Premiere

“Soderbergh raises clumsy and absurd moments to keep the mood wrapped in country-style musical atmospheres.” – Zark Henckel, The Culture Trip

“Channing Tatum is back, baby! And you can’t see his face or body throughout most of the movie!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“For lowercase lessons, Larry is your guy.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Lowercase Larry is like watching the world’s best FPS video game directed by Steven Soderbergh while on acid in the midst of an earthquake.” – Jacqueline Coley, Black Girl Nerds

“Tatum’s husky voice is so alluring that you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.” – Belkina Mazona, IndieWire

“Lowercase Larry is both the past and future of filmmaking, but it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea.” – Brad Miska, Bloody Disgusting

Melonmeter® Score:

89% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY™

 

 

Home Again

The new romantic comedy Home Again features Reese Witherspoon returning to her most iconic role as saucy southern belle Melanie Smooter in this sequel to 2002 smash hit Sweet Home Alabama. But Home Again isn’t just a retread – the movie has a streak of darkness and maturity just beneath its familiarly perky surface.

For those who’ve forgotten the plot of the original Sweet Home Alabama (all two of you!), it was the tale of a hotshot New York fashion designer’s (Witherspoon) journey home to obtain a long delayed divorce from her ne’er do well childhood sweetheart of a husband (Josh Lucas) so that she can marry the next president of the United States (Patrick Dempsey aka network television’s Dr. McDreamy). But Melanie discovers she still loves her husband (Josh Lucas), who is actually an accomplished glass sculptor with ambitions of making it in New York just like Melanie.

Home Again flashes forward fifteen years later to see Melanie and her husband (Josh Lucas) happily married, financially successful, but losing a long battle against the fickle goddess of fertility. Though they desperately want children, every method they’ve attempted to initiate a successful pregnancy has failed.

But Melanie is a go-getter and won’t give up. Though her womb cannot support life, she is determined to find a surrogate to carry her pregnancy to term. But not just any surrogate – Melanie believes the woman who gives birth to her child must be a southern belle just like herself.

The desire to maintain a sense of heritage takes Melanie and her husband (Josh Lucas) back to Alabama once again in search of a host body for their unborn baby. They soon find more than they bargained for when they meet Charlotte Beauchamp (Elle Fanning) in a chance encounter at the local bowling alley slash gun club.

Melanie and Charlotte initially butt heads over everything. Charlotte’s saucy attitude drives Melanie up the wall. And she can’t stand Charlotte’s vivacious flirting with her man (Josh Lucas). But after a night of drinking and singing country songs at the local honky tonky bar, Melanie and Charlotte strike up an unlikely friendship.

Melanie sees more of herself in Charlotte than she was willing to admit at first, and decides Charlotte could be the perfect surrogate. And Charlotte enthusiastically agrees to bear Melanie’s child after hearing she’ll be paid enough money to get the hell out of small town Alabama for good.

The scenes dealing with the process of artificial insemination are funny, poignant and educational. I personally knew nothing about the procedure and now after seeing the film I know more than I ever could have imagined about the science of creating life.

Once the the baby’s in the oven (as the old Alabama expression goes), Melanie and her husband (Josh Lucas) try a million madcap tricks to get Charlotte to quit drinking and smoking. (Charlotte protests: “What else is there to do in Alabama? Tell me that Mr. and Mrs. New York Big Shot!”)

It’s all fun and games until Melanie receives an ominous letter. The letter is from an old doctor Melanie once knew growing up who has since retired to a ranch outside of town. The reclusive Dr. Rountree (Sam Elliott) requests Melanie pay him a visit. Melanie goes to meet the quirky hermit, who prefers riding horses on his ranch to any human interaction.

Along with a generous helping of homespun wisdom, Dr. Rountree reveals a dark secret that rocks Melanie’s world. Back when he was still a practicing obstetrician, Rountree delivered the baby Melanie had when she was fifteen years old. Then he performed hypnosis on her to rid her of trauma of giving the baby up for adoption.

Dr. Rountree felt he had done the right thing up until he heard about the artificial insemination of Charlotte. But now, reluctantly, he feels compelled to tell Melanie that Charlotte is her long lost daughter that she put up for adoption all those years ago.

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Melanie Smooter (Reese Witherspoon) realized that her unborn granddaughter is growing inside of the womb of her long lost daughter.

This is undeniably the most dramatic and emotional moment in the movie, and Reese Witherspoon and Sam Elliott leave it all on the mat. They are both heavy hitter actors and you can tell by how much laughter and tears they are able to generate when put to the test.

Melanie and her husband (Josh Lucas) have to come to terms with their parenthood, but they can’t fathom having to raise a child who is both their daughter and granddaughter at the same time. The movie deftly switches back into comedy mode as they realize the fetus inside of their daughter has to be aborted.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to get an abortion in Alabama, as the soon-to-be-grandparents quickly realize. But in one dazzling scene, Melanie’s husband (Josh Lucas) is struck by lightning as he plants metal rods in the beach to create more of his famous glass sculptures. That’s when it hits him: they should bring their daughter back to New York City to get the abortion.

The movie concludes with a scene that’s heartfelt and funny in equal measure. At a fancy clinic in Brooklyn, Melanie and her husband (Josh Lucas) hold Charlotte’s hand and crack jokes as the procedure is performed just in the nick of time. And though we see her phone vibrating, Melanie never lets on that the zealously pro-life Dr. Rountree is calling over and over again to try to stop them from going through with the abortion.

As the credits roll, we hear Dr. Rountree’s angry lunatic ravings left on Melanie’s voicemail over the familiar riffs of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” I say they are familiar because the song is played at least seventeen times throughout the movie. I lost count at a certain point, and honestly that’s one of my biggest complaints about the movie.

TL;DR – Home Again gathers a talented crowd of rom-com veterans on both sides of the camera for a charming yet surprisingly weighty follow up to one of the most beloved rom-coms of all time.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“Watch this film for some turn-off-your-brain prettiness. Be prepared, however, to rethink all your reproductive choices afterward.” – Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

“A bubbly brunch mimosa you drink up before the fizz is gone, then chase it with a Bloody Mary, followed by a few Moscow Mules and Long Island Iced Tea and by that point you should be ready to pass out.” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

“Reese Witherspoon is back, baby! And she’s better than ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“The story is told cleanly, the characters are engaging and a few sequences (the meeting with Dr. Rountree, the pregnancy termination scene) are cut together brightly. However, I didn’t care for the glib way in which the filmmakers chose to depict abortion. ” – “Deaf” Smith Zuzax, Amarillo Globe News

“Home Again is a film with its heart in the right place. It also has the guts to take a unabashedly pro-abortion stance, which is refreshing in otherwise lighthearted rom-com.” – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

“It’s a flighty screwball scenario told with thrift-shop economy. But the abortion twist threw me for a loop.” – Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Toronto

“A situational comedy that is transgressive yet sweetly predictable.” – Vang Anh Trung Nguyên, New York Daily News

“Shame on Abortion-loving murderers in Hollywood for producing this insipid trash.” – Adam Yoshida, Unqualified Reservations

Melonmeter® Score:

80% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY™

 

Space Explorer Man

Seth MacFarlane IS Space Explorer Man in the risky new space adventure from 20th Century Fox out now in theaters everywhere. Having already conquered genres as diverse and varied as raunchy cartoons, naughty bromances, and dirty westerns, it was only natural for MacFarlane to test his effervescent wit and visionary talent on a space movie next.

In addition to writing and directing, MacFarlane also stars as Captain Orville Galois. But everyone just calls him ‘Space’ for short (short for Space Explorer Man, that is). As his name implies, Space is an intrepid explorer man of deep space.

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MacFarlane uses his very white face and body to develop a complex characterization of Captain Space. This characterization draws on many traits of famous explorers of the past: Neil Armstrong’s pioneer spirit, James Cameron’s keen intelligence, and Buzz Lightyear’s bravura, take-no-prisoners attitude.

Space also has a passion for late twentieth century pop culture that all of the other characters find deeply perplexing, as the movie is set four centuries in the future. “Is Milli Vanilli the name of the next alien species we are to encounter?” they wonder before realizing Space is once again referencing something none of them have heard of for no reason at all. This quirk is later revealed to be the result of serious brain injury Space suffered as a child on the planet Dorgon.

In addition to obsessing over forgotten ephemera from centuries past, the childhood brain injury occasionally causes Space’s mental faculties to fail him altogether, such as in the scene he is assigned a new ship by his commanding officer. The alarmed commanding officer watches as Space begins to shove marbles in his mouth, thinking they are candies. When informed of their true nature by his superior (since in his submental state his mouth is unable to discern the flavor and texture of marble), he spits them out like an untamed beast.

The brain injury is also blamed when Space commits hideous acts of savagery against alien species, or whenever he reveals his shockingly retrograde attitude towards women.

Of course, MacFarlane knows a lot about marriage and long term commitment and is eager to explore that subject as he is deep space. To accomplish this, Space’s ex-wife and his current girlfriend are both members of his crew. As you can imagine, this drives a lot of the movie’s conflict, at least when the character’s aren’t busy discovering new planets and stars.

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Space Explorer Man on a space exploration adventure.

I’m grateful to report, Space Explorer Man boldly goes where no space movie (or television series for that matter) has gone before. Unfortunately MacFarlane’s comic sensibility doesn’t mesh all that well with the optimistic, pioneering sci-fi adventure with cerebral themes that he tries to create. If only someone was to make the same movie but without all the pop culture references and bizarre attempts at postmodern humor. Or maybe a TV show, who knows?

TL;DR – Enormously imaginative and original, Space Explorer Man is an exciting and wondrous space movie only marred by an awkward yet piquant sense of humor MacFarlane seems unable or unwilling to shed.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“I was especially taken with the costumes: how did MacFarlane imagine such a stylish yet plausible outfits for his space ship crew to wear.” – Brayton Exira, Collider

“The social commentary struck me as a little tone deaf, especially the debate between Captain Space and his ex-wife over whether an alien baby should have received gender reassignment surgery.” – F. Debnie Amberson, NPR

“Sort of like if A Million Ways to Die in the West was set in space.” – Trim Richulds, Entertainment Weekly

Space Explorer Man finally transcends Family Guy and MacFarlane’s other work by being something more than a copy of an iconic television series or movie filtered through his irreverent sensibility.” – Gulluzar Baboudjian, Boston Herald

“I couldn’t help but stare deeply into Captain Space’s beady black eyes.” – Mother Waddles, Daily Mirror

“I felt like I was hallucinating as I watched this garbage fire of a movie. I just couldn’t believe it was authorized, funded, or (God help us) released.” – Nikita Urevich, Film Freak Central

“A deeply offensive waste of everyone’s time.” – Mameh Immanuel Sisma, The Guardian

“Seth MacFarlane is back, baby! And he’s better than ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

Melonmeter® Score:

50% liquid & seed retention – galia melonA SORT OF GALIA MELON, OR THE EAST ASIAN SARDA, CLAIMED TO CAUSE ANXIETY AND EVEN BIOLOGICAL REVULSION IN SOME PEOPLE

 

It (2017)

If you’ve been missing the Addams Family, you will absolutely love It (2017), the new franchise spin-off that also doubles as the kick-off entry to the rebooted Addams Cinematic Universe (ACU). It (2017) is an entertaining melange of macabre comedy and gothic horror that depicts the origin story of Cousin It.

For newcomers to the Addams Family franchise, Cousin It is a short being whose entire body is surrounded by a thick draping of beautiful golden hair. Over the front of this draping, It wears a pair of dark sunglasses. On top of the draping, It often dons a brown bowler derby hat or a dark velvet beret.

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Cousin It has long been considered the most enigmatic member of the Addams Family, so it’s no surprise that Guillermo del Toro chose to tackle the character first as part of his long term commitment to shepherd the ACU from now until his death several decades in the future.

Del Toro’s obsession with the eery and unfamiliar has been well-documented, and Cousin It is a perfect vehicle for his Lovecraftian impulses as a storyteller. The movie opens in a world of subterranean tunnels where Cousin It was born to the branch of the Addams Family that is entirely felted with hair.

The hairy burrowing vole beings have strange customs and beliefs, but before long they notice young It’s distinguishing sense of fashion and unusual taste for sunlight. It’s unclear whether they want to banish or reward It for being so different, but in any case the vole beings send It off to live with Professor Doctor Fester.

Professor Doctor Fester is of course Uncle Fester before an unfortunate lawn bowling accident left him bereft of his wits and ambition. (I’m sure we’ll find out more about what happened in Fester’s Follies, due out this Christmas.) Fester takes Cousin It under his wing, and they set off on all kinds of wacky adventures together.

I would describe the rest of the movie as just a straight up buddy comedy, except Fester and It encounter such creepy and unsettling creatures along their merry way. That’s unlike any other buddy comedy I’ve ever seen. Except for Men in Black. So it’s sort of like Men in Black, I guess.

TL;DR – Another Guillermo del Toro classic featuring more creepies and crawlies than you can shake a stick at, It (2017) is also a promising restart to the venerable Addams Family franchise.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“Once the creepy hairy vole beings make their exit, it’s bedtime for bonzo!” – Bethpage Ballpark, Salon.com

“It (2017) is like the Iron Man (2008) of gothic comedies.” – Benedict Seal, Bloody Disgusting

“Guillermo del Toro’s unerring sense of the macabre serves the material well.” – Troni Uwchlan, New Orleans Times-Picayune

“It’s awful nice that they gave MC Hammer a cameo.” – Epock Tines, The Baffler

“Cousin It is back, baby! And he’s better than ever. Or she’s better than ever? They’re better than ever? I’m really not sure about the gender of this one.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“Here’s hoping Fester’s Follies will offer us something a little more substantial.” – Legs Lavish, New York Observer

Melonmeter® Score:

84% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY™