Mrs. Doubtfire (2017)

2017’s cinema has felt like a wholesale reboot of the 1990s. In fact, this isn’t even the first 90s reboot starring The Rock I’ve reviewed. Fortunately, I can report The Rock’s reimagining of the classic family comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) really honors the memory of the late Robin Williams. I think it’s safe to say that if Robin were alive today, he would gladly perform a cameo role in Mrs. Doubtfire (2017).

If you’re familiar with the original Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), you’ll recognize the plot of Mrs. Doubtfire but with a few tweaks to suit The Rock’s unique talents. Daniel Hillard (The Rock) is a freelance bodybuilder in Phoenix, Arizona. Though a devoted father to his children Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, his wife considers him unreliable. One day, while having mo-cap sensors attached to his body for use in a video game, Daniel learns that the video game encourages kids to play football for recreation. Realizing that his body is being used to introduce kids to a dangerous sport that causes head trauma, Daniel quits in a fit of rage.

Daniel drives home to throw a lavish birthday party for his large son Chris (Rico Rodriguez) despite his wife’s objections. The neighbors complain about all the noise from the party. Daniel responds by throwing his body through their living room window and tackling the neighbors to the ground, creating a situation with the police. Daniel’s wife files for divorce, and the judge gives sole custody of the children to her due to Daniel’s pending charges for assault, but tells Daniel if he can reform his ways joint custody may be a possibility in the future.

Daniel hires a great lawyer to get his neighbors’ assault charges dismissed, and learns that his ex-wife is seeking a nanny to watch over the children. Daniel gets help from his bodybuilding buddies to create the Mrs. Doubtfire persona, injecting him with hormones to make him more feminine. Daniel also has his brother use his hacker skills to see who else is applying for the job, and then physically intimidates all the other applicants to prevent them from showing up for the interview.

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Mrs. Doubtfire is the only applicant to show up for the nanny interview, and though Daniel’s ex-wife is uncomfortable, she pipes down when Mrs. Doubtfire threatens to sue her for discriminating against intersex people. Once he becomes the nanny for his own kids, all kinds of hijinx ensue, culminating in a crazy scene at a restaurant where his ex-wife is out on a date with Daniel Craig.

I loved Mrs. Doubtfire (2017) for the laughs and the humor and the heart. While the movie isn’t perfect, I admired The Rock for daring to take on a role that’s more complicated than his usual he-man action hero wheelhouse. In a way, it’s a throwback to earlier The Rock classics like Tooth Fairy (2010) but with more complex emotionality. As they inject themselves with more and more hormones, Mrs. Doubtfire’s gender and sexuality becomes increasingly ambiguous and mercurial. For a movie star of The Rock’s stature to tackle such strange and controversial subject matter in 2017 means he deserves an Oscar nomination in my opinion.


TL;DR Mrs. Doubtfire (2017) uses its energetic lead and a bizarre twist to offer an emotionally demanding yet highly entertaining update on its classic source material.

 

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“The Rock is back, baby, and he’s better than ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“The first, but hopefully not the last time The Rock will star in a cinematic grotesque.” – Mother Waddles, Daily Mirror

“Why?” – Muhammad Rizky Chaniago, Film Racket

“Todd Solondz does what he can to turn The Rock’s usual charms into something disturbing and corrupt while transforming an appealing family entertainment into a much darker story.” – Nutdanai Nilchai, ScreenAnarchy

“The Rock’s soft – but not comically squeaky – voice gives Mrs. Doubtfire the soul she lacked in hot girl form, back when all the screenwriters could think of to have her do was take selfies.” – Amy Nicholson, Uproxx

Melonmeter® Score:

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

Star War: The Force Awakens

With the release of Star War: The Last Jedi, I thought it might be fun to revisit my review of the previous film in the series, which also happens to be the last George Lucas helmed Star War film.

George Lucas has done it again. He fooled me once, shame on him. He fooled me twice, shame on him. He fooled me three times, shaaaaame on him. He fooled me a fourth time and now I’m starting to think I’m the one that should be ashamed, like I did something wrong. But really, I did nothing wrong. I just bought a ticket to see the new Star War movie. It’s not my fault the movie was just as bad as if not worse than the prequels. And let me tell you why.

First of all, I don’t know how the idea of doing Star War at Christmastimes got past the drawing board. These movie executives are supposed to be smart guys, so I don’t know what they were thinking. I’ve always felt Star War is supposed to be a summer thing like going to the beach. So having the first scene of the new movie be a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Tatooine where it doesn’t even snow just seemed like the opposite of what you’d want to do to open the first Star War to come out in a decade.

Secondly, I love Han Solo. Han Solo is my favorite character in all of Star War. But making him the lead in this movie was a huge mistake. Because now that Harrison Ford is elderly and confined to a wheelchair, he just isn’t in any condition to anchor an action adventure story in my opinion. Whenever Chewbacca had to push Han Solo really fast to get away from the stormtroopers, it really strained my ability to suspend disbelief and be whisked about in a galaxy far, far away. I also felt that the newer younger characters looked pretty disgusted and sometimes disturbed whenever Han took out his dentures in the middle of a conversation.

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I never wanted to see Han Solo like this.

Speaking of bad casting, George Lucas should definitely not have cast himself in the movie. He has never appeared in front of the camera in Star War before, and I think it was a big mistake to break that convention now. I know he wants to be remembered by future generations, but I didn’t understand why the scenes he appeared in had to be in the movie. They seemed more like home movies, because most of his scenes were just shaky camcorder footage of Lucas wandering around his mansion in the dark mumbling about Ewoks and Gungans and things. Though I did enjoy the scene at the end where George Lucas and a  woman I didn’t recognize waited in line at a theme park to get on a Star War ride. That reminded me that I need to go back to Disneyland soon to check out the new Star War Land they have there now.

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George Lucas in Star War Land

I should also warn you that this new Star War movie included a lot of offensive material, and I’m not easily offended. Giving the villainous Snoke an oversized nose and a yarmulke suggested to me that Lucas wants us to think one thing: Jewish. I think other members of the creative team tried to cover up Lucas’ racist caricature by making Snoke look like Voldemort. Also his name reminded me of Snape, another character from Harry Potter. But these choices just served to muddle things further without really hiding the fact that Snoke is basically an offensive and old fashioned Jewish stereotype. I thought those had been consigned to the dust bin of history, but leave it to that wily bigot GL to bring such trash back into fashion.

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This is apparently not an image of Snoke. Main difference: no yarmluke.

Star War has gotten a lot of flak over the years for lacking diversity. It’s true that the series hasn’t had many very memorable black characters (though when people forget about Captain Panaka I always take them outside and show them what it’s like). But I think this new movie was overcompensating by putting an interracial relationship at the center of the whole story. It’s the 21st Century guys, you’re not getting credit for that anymore. Make it about a human and alien both of the same gender, and then maybe we’re talking.

Okay, this is a minor quibble, but Admiral Ackbar’s role in the movie was not nearly as significant as I was expecting given that he was easily the coolest new character to be introduced in Return of the Jedi, and this Star War movie was supposedly a sequel to Return of the Jedi. But I guess when you introduce a character that cool you always raise expectations for what he (or she!) will do in the next entry of the series. This same thing happened with Boba Fett too. It’s a trap, I guess.

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Aw, yeeeeah.

By far my biggest problem with the movie was the sense that the whole thing was coasting on my nostalgia and deepest affection for the original Star War movies. Every movie nowadays seems to be targeting me on the basis of me remembering something I liked from my childhood. But I never would have liked the original Star War movies if they had starred Harrison Old (sorry, that’s a cheap shot I know) as a character who you know is going to die in the end because he’s geriatic and needs to be put out of his misery. There’s no dramatic tension in Han Solo being cut down by a lightsaber when he’s moaning and grumbling throughout the whole movie about how painful it is to still be alive when you’re 92 years old.

I don’t know, maybe the movie just wasn’t for me. I know a lot of big blockbuster movies these days are intended for the growing Chinese moviegoing audience. Perhaps I missed out on some context for what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish because I’ve never even been to China. I know what you’re thinking, what have you been waiting for? And the answer is that I haven’t been waiting, it’s just very expensive to fly to China. I’ve been meaning to do it ever since I saw Iron Man 3, and I promise to get to it before I write another movie review.

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Iron Man 3 will make you want to travel and see the world.

 

This review was originally posted on Saturday, December 19, 2015 at A Gilded Planet.

Star War: The Last Jedi

Star War: The Last Jedi is bringing home the intergalactic bacon this weekend, with approximately $45 million from Thursday evening previews, amounting to the second largest domestic preview gross of all time behind only Star War: The Force Awakens,  55% ahead of Rogue One‘s $29 million from previews last year. The latest tale from a “galaxy far, far away” also began smashing international records on December 13th in 14 foreign markets. So far, it’s grossed an estimated $60.8 million and Disney’s numbers guru Rasputin Zynsky estimates the opening two days of The Last Jedi in overseas markets are +63% ahead of Rogue One and only -25% behind The Force Awakens if you look at the same suite of markets and adjust for today’s exchange rates.

Star War: The Last Jedi “used the force” to yield an estimated $104.78 million on Friday, it’s official opening day. This is despite the hex placed on the opening days of all future Star War movies earlier this year by known witch Colin Trevorrow who was fired during preproduction for Star War: Episode IXThe Last Jedi is looking at a $215+ million three-day debut. This is the second largest Friday ever behind only The Force Awakens which “made the jump to light speed” with $119.1 million.

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“I can feel the boffo box office flowing through you!”

Star War: The Last Jedi is only the second movie in history to earn over $100 million on its opening day. Based on a combination of Thursday night previews and opening day, the movie is expected to “become more powerful than you could ever imagine” by beating the $215 million prediction of most global box office analysts. The Last Jedi alone is forecast to earn 82% of the total box office for all movies in theaters this weekend. That’s more dominant than the Jedi were at the height of the Old Republic. Wow! To quote Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi, “When was the last time someone stood up to five Jedi & held his own?!”

Globally, The Last Jedi is projected to “fire off its proton torpedoes” to the tune of $425 million in box office through Sunday to “encase in carbonite” one of the five largest worldwide box office openings of all time (not adjusted for inflation). The movie will disintegrate Warner Bros.’ Batman v Superman, which only earned a puny $422.5 million over its comparable opening weekend in 2016. “The force is truly strong with” The Last Jediwhen compared to the rest of the blockbusters released this year.

Additionally, the film now holds the following domestic records:

I’ll tell you one thing: with numbers like these, Disney shareholders are going to be singing and dancing like Ewoks at the end of Star War: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi come Monday morning. At the very least, you’ll see Disney shareholders singing and dancing like Gungans at the end of Star War: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

TL;DR – Disney-Lucasfilm’s sci-fi actioner Star War: The Last Jedi “made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs” at the box office yesterday with the second-biggest single day box office of all time, lagging only The Force Awakens’ $119 million Friday, and its looking to rake in around $215 million from 4,232 North American theaters. If you include $45 million from Thursday previews — the second-largest Thursday night preview total of all time, below Star War: The Force Awakens 2015 total of $57 million — the blockbuster from a “galaxy far, far way” earned an incredible $104 million from Friday, and is looking to earn a bountiful $100 million between Saturday and Sunday. Assuming the built-in dangers of a big drop the second time out (Rogue One was a standalone spin-off and not a direct sequel to The Force Awakens so it doesn’t count in this case), I am positively stunned that Rian Johnson’s boffo sequel is more or less keeping the pace with its predecessor. Credit that to an appealing mix of fresh faces and returning elders.

What the rest of critics are saying:

“For what it’s worth, The Last Jedi is slightly less frontloaded than The Force Awakens. To wit, The Last Jedi earned 43% of its Friday number on Thursday, as opposed to Rogue One which earned 38% of its Friday number on Thursday and The Force Awakens which earned 48%. And, for what it’s worth, that Friday number is down 12.9% from 2015, which is better than the 16% drop for the first Friday of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ($31m) in 2012 versus The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($37m) in 2013. So, yeah, this isn’t an Alice Through the Looking Glass situation.” – Scott Mendelson, Forbes

“The total gross will make “The Last Jedi” the fourth film in domestic box office history to make over $200 million in its first weekend, joining “The Force Awakens” with $248.8 million, “Jurassic World” with $208.8 million, and 2012’s “The Avengers” with $207.4 million. “The Last Jedi” will finish significantly above Star Wars spinoff “Rogue One,” which opened with $155.1 million on the same weekend a year ago.” – Erin Nyren, Variety

“Industry estimates are even higher this morning for Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII, now having earned $104M-$105M on Friday, easily the second-best opening day after Force Awakens‘ $119M, and a three-day that’s between $216M-$220M, the second- best ever behind 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($247.966). PLF is driving just under 15% for Last Jedi, while 3D screens rep close to a third of the weekend. Per-theater average for Last Jedi is a whopping $52K. What’s the end game stateside for Last Jedi? Analysts are predicting $750M, which would rank behind Force Awakens ($936M) and Avatar ($760.5M) on the all-time domestic list.” – Anthony D’Alessandro, Deadline.com

“Star War is back, baby! And it’s more profitable than ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

 

Melonmeter® Score:

94% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY™