House With A Clock In Its Walls, The

So I’m sitting in this theater and I’m waiting for the trailers to begin and I look around and I see families sitting around, ordering food (this was a Fork and Screen theater) and being generally noisy. No biggie… the movie hasn’t started yet.  But then I notice the age of the children that are there. True, this was rated PG and not PG-13, but I still thought some of the kids in there were just too young.  I mean around 5-7 years old kind of young.  Oh well, their parents will have to deal with it if the kiddos wake up from bad dreams.

So as I’m watching this movie (which, by the way, I give 3 Icees to) and I hear one little girl saying she doesn’t like it because its too scary.  I hear another little child (a boy I believe) crying and having to be taken out by his mom.  Now, I don’t think the movie was all that scary, but I’m not 5 years old either. Yes, the movie has some scary scenes in it, after all this is supposed to be a pre-teen “horror/comedy” movie after all. I guess I would say if your kid is a real pre-teen (maybe 9-12 years old) then they can do just fine with this movie.  Too much younger than that, you’re on your own!

So on to the review.  The movie is actually decent for its target audience. It’s not as good as Goosebumps was (also with Jack Black in it) but it is ok.  The acting is a bit hokey at times, but again… this is a pre-teen’s movie and not one really designed for adults.  The story starts off a bit slow but then picks up the pace well.  Jack Black carries his role off well, as does Cate Blanchett. Owen Vaccaro is ok as a nerdy kid, but sometimes he is too stiff with his acting.  Something that will hopefully pass with time.  The worse performance for me was that of Sunny Suljic as Tarby.  First of all… Tarby??  Really??  Well, anyway I didn’t care for his performance at all and hopefully he uses the money from this movie for some acting lessons.

Ok, I just realized that I started the first 3 paragraphs with “so”, and therefore I will try to avoid that word for the rest of this review.  There is enough scariness to make the movie worthwhile if you want to try your pre-teen out on “horror” to see how they will do before they try something more terrifying, but not enough to send them into therapy (unless they’re 5 years old… I mean.. c’mon.. who takes a 5 year old to see a horror movie, even if it is PG?).

There is a “scene” during the credits and after the movie, but nothing worth sticking around for.

Enjoy…

A Simple Favor

This unique movie get a resounding 4 Icees out of 5.  When I watched the trailer for this movie, I immediately thought of Gone Girl (which is an excellent movie, I might add).  Throw in Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively and I was all in.  What I ended up with however was something different. Something unlike anything I had seen before, and I always enjoy when I find movies like that.

For one, the movie is much more fun/funnier than the trailers let on, but it’s not a comedy.  I would classify it as a comedy-thriller.  As the trailers indicate, you take a shy, naive single mom (Anna) and mix her in with a lovely woman-about-town (Blake) and throw in that woman going missing and you end up with a mystery that only gets more twisted and interesting as it unfolds.  There is a little predictability, but just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, there is a twist that shakes things up.

This movie is R-rated and it would be rated as such just for the language alone (many, many f-bombs), but you throw in a dash of violence (but not the graphic violence that you might think of with a movie like this), a single drug use scene, and an “unusual” graphic nude image and you get a solid R.  With Paul Feig directing (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) I would expect nothing less than quirkly, profane and unusual.  This delivers on what I think is his best movie to date.

I have to confess I’ve never watched a Blake Lively movie (other than Green Lantern) and never watched Gossip Girl so for me, this was her first movie in a starring role and she rocked and shocked it. Some of the things she says are just… wow…  I’ve seen Anna in many things (isn’t she in every movie nowadays?) and she when stereotypical here with the naive single mom role, but pulled it off amazingly well.  Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) did a stellar job as the husband, but this was all about the ladies, and that’s a good thing.  I like a movie with strong female characters where the guy plays second (or third) fiddle.

This is a good movie; one worth seeing.  If you like a movie that tells a story without having to get all up in your face about it, this is that type of film.

There are no scenes during the credits.

Enjoy…

Peppermint

Sometimes a movie comes out and loudly demonstrates why I started this site.  This is one of those movies.  This movie currently has a 14% rating on rottentomatoes but I give it a solid 4 Icees out of 5!  Judging by the current 85% audience rate on that same site, most of the 587 people who have rated it so far agree with me.

So why does it get this rating?  Simple, it’s got great action!  Is the violence gratuitous? Yes! Is the gunfire excessive? Yes! Does that bother me?  No!!  If you like John Wick or The Expendables, you will like this movie just fine. Now the writing isn’t the best as there is little true character development (we get a backstory as to why she’s doing what she’s doing) but again… who cares?  You don’t go to this type of movie for academy award screenwriting.  You go for the action and you get that in droves.  Is this predictable at times? Sure, but there is a twist that happens that might catch you off guard (or not).

Speaking of action and violence, this movie certainly deserves its R-rating for all the gunshots, stabbings and language.  Just sayin’

This movie makes me sad for all the years since Alias went off the air when Jennifer Garner has been wasting her talents on romantic/drama movies instead of doing more action.  She’s great at it! Her performance alone makes this movie worth seeing.

So if I like it so much, how come only 4 Icees?  To get higher than that, you really have to impress me, and although this movie comes close, the pedestrian writing does bother me enough that I can’t give this a higher score.  Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this movie and will own it when it comes out on VUDU!

There are no scenes after the credits.

Enjoy…

 

Operation Finale

This movie, based on a true story, gets 3 Icees (out of 5).  I wish I could give it more… I really do.  It’s an important story and has a couple of very good performances (by Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac), but as far as a story goes, it just seems to fall flat in too many places for my liking.

The interaction between Ben and Isaac is the best part of the story, and they just don’t show enough of it.  I get that this is the a movie about the capture of Adolf Eichman, but would it hurt to tell a little more about his role as opposed to eluding to it during conversations? I think my wonderful wife said it best when she said it just seemed like we were going to get more.

Also, the film attempts to develop tension where none exists.  A great example of this is that at some point toward the end of the movie, it makes it appear as something very dire will happen if a people is unsuccessful at something (hard to do this without spoilers).  Well, some people are unsuccessful and it appears that nothing really negative happened at all because in the next scene all is well.  I don’t know if the editor took something out to make the movie shorter or what, but it just created a huge hole in the film.

So how did this get 3 Icees?  Again, it was primarily because of the two leads.  Indepentantly they were ok, but when together they were able to play off each other very well and it greatly improved the movie. Also, the fact that this is based on a true and heroic story also gives it some cred.

Right before the credits, there are some clips of the trial but otherwise no scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Crazy Rich Asians

Even though the misleading marketing campaign caused me to see this a week after its debut, I’m glad I did.  I give this a strong 3.5 Icees!

The marketing campaign made it seem like the title should be interpreted as Crazy…. Rich Asians.  To me, this equals a stupid-funny comedy that I would have no interest in seeing.  After reading some reviews from last weekend’s showing I realize that it is actually Crazy Rich…. Asians, and that’s all the difference in the world.  This movie is based on a book, which of course I never read… because I don’t read books.  I just can’t get into them.  Oh well, on with the review.

This just tells a story, and there have been movies like this in the past that I have enjoyed… Movies that don’t really fall into a single category.  Movies like Up In The Air, or The Intern.  Movies that have some comedy, some drama, and seems pretty close to real life.  This is one of those movies.

There is enough romance in it for it to be the perfect date movie (guys, that’s what I call, “a hint”).  There’s just enough comedy that it’s not dull in any way, but it’s really not a romantic comedy.  This movie has a tale as old as time, but also has some disappointment, hurt, and meanness in it.  In other words… life.

The fact that it stars an all-Asian cast is great, but it’s not anything like you might expect.  No sterotypes, which is fantastic!!  Knowing how Hollywood is, I really expected the movie to be dominated by that and I was so pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t.

If you want to go see a really nice movie that just happens to have an all-Asian cast, this is a nice one to see.  Oh, one other thing… I’ve read that they are already working on a sequel!

There is a short scene during the credits, but nothing following.

Enjoy…

Happytime Murders, The

In The Happytime Murders, the only thing that was really killed was one and a half hours of my time. The red-band trailer for this movie (1 Icee out of 5) had almost everything right.  There is a lot of foul language, sexual explicity and muppet violence.  The one thing missing… humor.  This was one of the most unfunny “comedy” movies I have ever seen.  Only once in a while did I mutter a chuckle (which is the only reason it didn’t get zero Icees).

This movie had promise, but it just didn’t deliver.  Mixing puppets in with humans and the interaction between them could bring some really funny moments, but in their attempt to make it crude (and that is one area in which they succeeded), they forgot it was also supposed to be funny.

It seems that Melissa McCarthy seems to think that the more times she says the f-word, the funnier a movie is.  That is a shame because I think she can be an incredibly funny actress (I loved her in Mike and Molly).  The jokes are unfunny, the racism overly done, and overall it’s just not a good movie.  It’s not often I totally trash a movie, but this one deserves it.  It deserves the 22% rating from critics and 48% from audiences on rottentomatoes.com.  It’s that bad.

There are bloopers during the credits, which in reality are funnier than the movie itself (sad, isn’t it?).  No scenes after the credits.

Save your money and go see something else… anything else.

Enjoy…

Mile 22

It’s a movie that is disliked by both the critics and the audience on Rottentomatoes.com.  I have to say, I may not dislike it as much as they do, but I’m not really what you would call “a fan” either.  I give it 2.5 Icees (out of 5).

The problems in this movie are many, but let me just discuss a few.  First, much of the dialog in the first part of the film is difficult to follow. Whether it be background noise, heavy accents (yes, even that famous Boston accent), or just difficult narrative, it just made trying to understand what they were saying a chore, and I don’t go to the movies to work!  Second, they don’t spend enough time with the other characters as everything is focused on Mark Wahlberg.  I get it… he’s the star… but there are others in the movie too that would have been good to hear about, and his character really isn’t that likeable… that doesn’t help.  I would have liked to have known more about Rhonda Rousey’s character. I thought she did a good job with the limited amount of airtime that she had. Laura Cohen’s character was the only other character that any type of development was done and it just wasn’t enough.

Why did this get 2.5 Icees then?  The action is really good, the fight scenes well choreographed, and just enough plot changes to make it so that you can’t predict what’s going on.  These things made the movie tolerable and sometimes even enjoyable.  These scenes aren’t just good, they’re intense, which is a sign of good directing.. sadly, the writing just didn’t keep up.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Spy Who Dumped Me, The

This movie is a great example of the reason that Reviews By The Don was created.  Currently this movie has a critics rating of 38% on rottentomatoes.com, with an audience rating of 77%.  So who do you turn to?  Simple… ME!  Below I will explain why this movie gets 3.5 Icees out of 5.  This isn’t the “deep” movie that will thrill the critics, but it is one that most audiences will enjoy.

First, you know going in that this is a comedy with some action in it, so that’s what you should expect.  You shouldn’t go in expecting Mission: Impossible or The Hangover, but something somewhere in-between, and that’s what you get with this movie.  It has more action than I anticipated.  I think the action, shootings and stabbings alone would get it an R-rating. Throw in the language and a brief nudity scene and you get a movie that more than deserves the R-rating it has received.

The action is pretty well choreographed.  Now, it’s not Bourne or anything, but it is a decent movie from an action standpoint.

That takes us to the comedy.  You won’t fall out of your chair laughing, but you will laugh.  Kate McKinnon has moments where her comedy shines, and when you combine that with Mila Kunis playing the innocent, well… it just works.  In case this wasn’t enough for the ladies, you throw in a couple of studly guys with Justin Therox and Sam Heughan and now you have a movie that ladies should enjoy.  Well, that’s if they enjoy some action and killin’ as well.

During a slow weekend like this, you can either go back and watch MI6 or you can watch this.  Either way, you will have a good time at the movies.

There are two short scenes during the credits, but nothing afterwards.

Enjoy…

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

This exciting addition to the franchise gets a solid 4.5 Icees out of 5.  It has action, twists, great fight scenes… everything you’d expect from a Mission Impossible movie.  The only thing that knocks it back is that some parts of it are just a little too predictable.

Newcomers Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill, along with Vanessa Kirby add some good depth to the file, but the cool thing about this movie is that it brings back (as shown in the trailers) Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa and Michelle Monaghan as Julia (I think Mr. Hunt has a type… just sayin’).  Throw in an ample amount of Ving and Simon, mixing in just a touch of Alec and you have the whole gang.  Well, except for Jeremy Renner, which I missed not being a part of this one.  I liked his character.  Oh well.  Interesting side note about Jeremy.  He wasn’t in Avenger’s; Infinity War (Hawkeye) and he wasn’t in this.  I sure hope he didn’t pass up roles in those two movies to be in Tag.  That would just be sad.

Anyways, back to MI6…  The stunts in this movie were incredible, and even if some were done in front of a green screen… they were still pretty darn good!  There are some obvious “twists” that you see a mile away but some that come as a surprise.  Either way, there are twists a-plenty.

If you are a fan of the Mission: Impossible franchise, you will thoroughly love this movie.  If not, well I still think you’ll like it.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

The Equalizer 2

This pretty decent sequel gets 3.5 Icees out of 5.  This is one of those movies that is the type that caused Reviews By The Don to be created.  It’s a movie the critics hate (currently 49%) but the audiences (me included) like.  Now I’m not saying this is the best movie of the summer, but it’s an enjoyable distraction, especially if you were a fan of the last one, or the TV series from the 80s.  In fact, one of the things I liked about this movie is that it shows him helping average people, which is a throwback to the TV series.

Denzel is his usual excellent self.  His range of emotions that he can show is amazing, from calm, to angry to content.  Now you don’t get to see much joy, but those other emotions are displayed quite well.  Another thing that is done very well are the action scenes.  His utter brutality, done in such a smooth fashion, is pretty awesome.

The reasons that this movie couldn’t get more than 3.5 Icees are many, sadly.  First is that the plot is too predictable, with a villain that you can see a mile away.  There are also spots in the movie where it seems to plod along.  Combine that with a scene in the trailers that is not in the movie (a pet peeve of mine) and you end up with a lower rating.  Now that doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t enjoyable, because it is… just not higher than the 3.5 Icees that it got.

No scene after the credits

Enjoy

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