Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Down to You, or: The Unnecessary Cameo Strikes Back

After much (some) consideration, Christa and I decided to keep rolling along with romance films. I think it would have been a travesty not to review any terrible ‘90s rom-coms, so I picked Down to You, starring ‘90s/early ‘00s royalty, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Julia Stiles.  See what Christa thinks here!

As a word of caution, this review may or may not be colored by my recent interactions with my fucking asshole neighbor and the douchiest trustee ever (see my previous post).

The Film:

Down to You

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Julia Stiles and Freddie Prinze, Jr. engage in a maddeningly on-again/off-again relationship as ‘90s college students.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

So basically the first thing we learn about Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Al in this movie) is that he loves to break the fourth wall. Julia Stiles too. This movie would’ve been at least half an hour shorter if they hadn’t broken the goddamn fourth wall so much.

The entire point of breaking the fourth wall was for the two leads to tell us about their first love, providing ahem, “insight” into their relationship. This is film, people. Show, don’t tell.

So basically Al’s college friend group (at NYU? I honestly don’t remember) is the dude who makes porn films, the really stupid guy whose trademark phrase is “Get OUTTA here,” and the…well, Oscar Wilde, essentially. You know, the typical college friend group.

When Al approaches Imogen, aka Julia Stiles, she is trying to decide which Patsy Cline song to play on the jukebox. There’s a guy at the party named Jim Morrison (as it turns out, played by Ashton Kutcher???), and since no one who watches this film is hipster enough, she says “That guy looks like Jim Morrison from The Doors.” There’s nooooooooooooooooooooooo way anyone watching this film could have made that connection without guidance from the writers.

The guy named Jim Morrison LOOKS like Jim Morrison.  You don't say.
The guy named Jim Morrison LOOKS like Jim Morrison. You don’t say.

Also Selma Blair is a porn star who makes films with Al’s friend.

Later, hanging out in Imogen’s dorm, she asks if she can psychoanalyze him. And, okay, I’m probably making this way filthier than it was intended, but her first question is what his favorite food is…and it’s FISH. And hers is ECLAIRS. Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooa, guys, this is PG-13.

However, this movie earns major points with Julia Stiles lip synching to “Let’s Stay Together” in the common area. This is clearly the “look how much of a free spirit she is in contrast to his uptight white dude schtick” scene.

As it turns out, Al’s father is a celebrity chef (played by Henry Winkler), so Imogen attends a taping of the show. Chef Ray is super fucking creepy in that he refers to eggplants as women and finds one that is perfect with no perfume and no bruises marring her figure. THEN he calls Imogen a tomato in front of his entire fucking studio audience; GROSS.

Women are not produce.  STAHP.
Women are not produce. STAHP.

For some reason, Imogen, a college freshman, can afford to rent out an entire gallery for Al’s birthday. She wears this awful gray…shift(?) and he has to tell her she looks great. All in all, a pretty bizarre birthday.

Then the end of the year approaches, and Imogen will be abroad in France for the summer.

Apparently Selma Blair’s job is to stand around drinking and saying cynical things like “Love is a hoax.” Basically the entire point of Al’s friend group seems to be making him question his decisions and whether or not his relationship will last. I’m sure I’m at least 5x more cynical than all of the characters in this film put together, but even I believe in the little white lie.

Honestly, at this point, the film is more about Al’s terrible friend group and the Oscar Wilde guy taking a method approach to Hamlet and being totally insufferable. Also Jimmy Kimmel makes an appearance for no reason.

Remember that time Hamlet killed a bear and wore it around Central Park?
Remember that time Hamlet killed a bear and wore it around Central Park?

Meanwhile, Imogen is getting nervous about the idea of being married/having children/Al being an asshole, especially when she has a pregnancy scare. In response, the two decide to party to Vitamin C’s “Smile,” a song which virtually always portends bad things to come. After the events of the party, Al and Imogen break up, and she decides to leave for San Francisco. Before leaving, Imogen emotionally tells Al how she feels, but it just doesn’t work b/c it’s not in the form of a poem about all of his flaws.

So Al graduates, but is in general a shit show. He talks to a spider that lives in his apartment, has oral sex with Selma Blair in a Barnes & Noble (though, let’s be real, a library would probably be way more realistic). This all culminates in Al getting really drunk and drinking Imogen’s shampoo in what is either stupidity or a suicide attempt. Seriously, this dude is an alcoholic and needs to get some help.

Because Imogen happens to be in town, she finds him and they go for a walk in Central Park. She also gives him a copy of a book she wrote about them entitled Down to You and painted the cover I think??? I WONDER if it will bring them back together (it totally will).

This would so be featured in a BuzzFeed list of terrible cover art if it were a real book.
LOOK AT THEIR FACES.  MOSTLY HIS, BUT ALSO HERS.  If this were a real book, it would be featured in a Buzzfeed list of terrible cover art.

The Critique:

Eh, I don’t know about this one.

There was nothing overly objectionable to me, but it was just a series of events in their lives rather than a film with any sort of plot. And their lives were really not that interesting. I didn’t really have any reason to root for Imogen/Al as people or as a couple. Inevitably, I was comparing this in my mind to 10 Things, and it did not compare favorably.

The film does get some points for effectively predicting the explosion of reality TV and food trucks by combining the two in Henry Winkler’s bizarre father/son reality program.

Possibly irrelevant point that still bothers me, but where did the title of Imogen’s book come from? Is it just me or does Down to You sound like the name of a porno film? Is it supposed to?

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Mostly because I love Julia Stiles.

And I’m sorry, Christa, but that cover made this entire film worth it for me.  Speak of the devil, check her review out here.

Life Rants

Sorry If That’s Too Complicated for You

If I’ve ever expressed an opinion about ranting on the internet, I’ve most likely advised you against it.  Even if you just had to get something off your chest.  So feel free to say I told you so because I have to.  Have to.   I have at least calmed down so I’m flipping the bird in my neighbor’s general direction approximately every 5-10 minutes (previous rate:  every 30 seconds).  I refuse to comment on the aspersions that I have been marching rather aggressively up and down the stairs every now and then.

Allow me to use a visual aid.  THIS is what I found when I returned home from work today: 2

I was inwardly seething already because a member of our board of trustees and our asshole neighbor had started doing whatever the fuck they’re doing to repair a connection about a week ago, and had dug up some of the garden and just left the wires exposed.  (Idiots.)  No prior warning whatsoever.

Anyway, I kept my shit together enough to ask “Um, what exactly is going on here?” in a tone that was my best attempt at neutral.  If anything I must have sounded extremely uncomfortable because I hate this kind of confrontational shit.  Honestly, guys, this is perhaps the number one reason I stay inside with my books and Netflix when I don’t have to work.

So, this is how it goes:  the trustee continues to work on trashing our yard, not answering any of my questions.  Just totally insane, unreasonable questions like “How long is this going to be here blocking the path?” and “After you’re done, is the yard going to look the way it did before?”  Asshole neighbor, about whom I had previously felt neutral (but just wait), starts to “answer” my questions.  And the trustee, if he answers at all, gives one-word answers, saying all this shit will only be here today, and that he’ll talk to my mom about it, just completely blowing me off.  My mom is out of town for a few weeks, so actually it is important for him to tell me what the actual fuck is going on.  Oh, and maybe for it not to be an obstacle course to get to my fucking front door.

According to my asshole neighbor, his wife told my mom what was going on, and that my mom knew they were going to dig up half of the yard (she didn’t).  And I’m sorry, but it should really have been someone on the board who told us what they planned to do.  Apparently my saying “I think it would have been considerate for us to have gotten some notice about this” just absolutely crossed the fucking line.  What did my neighbor have to say about this?  “What difference would it have made?  We would’ve had to do it anyway.”  And here we go, you guys.  Male chauvinist asshole gold:  “Sorry if that’s too complicated for you.”

At this point, I suppose I have to thank working with the public for my remarkable ability not to scream at people.  I did say “Seriously?  That’s a really condescending thing to say.”  To which he offered an extremely half-assed apology.

Keep in mind that the guy playing in the fucking dirt was a member of the board of trustees in the homeowner’s association which my mom is required to join.  As far as I know he was getting paid to do this really unprofessional repair, which just seems ridiculously unethical to me.  Instead of paying a contractor, he is in on the decision to pocket the money himself for fucking around in the dirt.  Apparently THAT is worth his time, but serving the members of the association is not. And guess how willing he was to talk to my mom when she was on the phone?  Yeah, not at all.

What the entire thing smacked of was asshole dudes getting pissed when I called them out that they didn’t have a plan and couldn’t answer a fucking question.  So instead of admitting they messed up, whose fault is it?  That feeble-minded, irrational female.  She dared question our already tenuous grasp on authority.  Welcome to being a woman in our society.  Fucking asshole pricks think it’s okay to call you stupid to your face when they’re the ones digging around in the dirt pretending to know what the fuck they’re doing.  AND straight-up refusing to answer your questions.

As a librarian, this was especially bitter since answering people’s questions is my fucking job.  Even when I think they’re awful questions, like one lady who calls asking for businesses that are “American” (read:  owned by white people.  Really).  As a member of the board of trustees, I would think answering the questions of the people you serve would be part of your job.

Though I’m still enraged, look at what happened a few hours later:

You’d better believe I’m going to complain about that ugly dirt patch they left where there used to be living plants.
You’d better believe I’m going to complain about that ugly dirt patch they left where there used to be living plants.

All I’m saying is that bitches get shit done.  It’s that simple.

EDIT:  Since tomorrow’s film features Julia Stiles, I have to:


Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

It’s a Hard Knox Life

Another week, another terrible made for TV movie. I’ll be honest, I think Lovestruck: The Musical deserves a boatload of Emmys in comparison to this week’s film (sorry, Christa, but it’s true!). See Christa’s thoughts on this week’s pick here!

The Film:

Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Guys. Read the title. This is a Lifetime original movie about the Amanda Knox trial. For murder. In Italy.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Since it’s a Lifetime movie based on a true story, we’ve got our news clips, we’ve got our gorgeous Italian countryside, and we’ve got our Hayden Panettiere with brownish hair and a super hipster-y Italian boyfriend.

a young woman stands next to a man who is wearing a large yellow scarf as they face a police officer
I’m wearing this scarf ironically.

The police arrive at the house Amanda shares with three other students after finding her roommate Meredith’s cellphone.

When the police open the door to Amanda/Meredith’s room, they find Meredith’s body on the floor covered with a blanket. As you probably know since this trial was everywhere, Amanda and Raffaele are about to spend years in prison after being implicated for Meredith’s murder.

However, just two months earlier in Seattle, Amanda is a too cheerful barista who is excited to study abroad in Italy. Her family is throwing her a nice normal going away party, and her sister visits after a few weeks. Amanda advises her sister that in Italy “Everything’s illegal and nothing’s forbidden.” Whoa, Amanda.

Around this time, Amanda moves in with the three students, including Meredith, who is super serious and British and studying all the time. Amanda, on the other hand, is busy picking up Italian Steve Jobs. Their first date basically consists of Raffaele sitting next to Amanda after they make sexy eyes for an extended period, Amanda feeding him a chocolate strawberry, and riding a carousel. He does make risotto, though, thus earning major points on the potential boyfriend front. They bond over having divorced parents and being former victims of bullying in school.

a woman gestures to another young woman as they stand next to a stone wall
This was just not the world’s most screen cap-able movie.

Later, Meredith and Amanda have a minor fight b/c Amanda is apparently a slob. This is going to come back to haunt Amanda, along with her strange/apparently indecent behavior in the wake of the murder: PDAs with her boyfriend, doing cartwheels while at the police station, and going lingerie shopping. Also it’s not great to have the nickname “Foxy Knoxy” when the police are investigating a possible rape and murder.

people gathered in a courthouse all stand and face the judges underneath a large dome depicting figures that represent justice
This is the most beautiful court house I’ve ever seen, though.

Okay, I’m going to skip to the end because seriously, the rest of the movie just goes through virtually every detail of the trial that you can read about in a Newsweek article or…Wikipedia.

For whatever bullshit reason, Amanda receives a 26-year sentence, while Raffaele gets 25.

And, as we know, the conviction goes through all kinds of legal mumbo jumbo before the two are acquitted.

The Critique:

Honestly, it’s really hard to be sarcastic about this movie. I was expecting it to be way more melodramatic or at least involve a crazy conspiracy theory. But noooooooooooooo, Lifetime decided to stick to the facts for once, which makes it really difficult to snark about without being a total asshole.

I did get a bit emotional at the end, but I attribute that to recently binge-watching season 2 of Broadchurch, which is just a sucker punch for the soul. (Coincidentally, Sucker Punch for the Soul was the less successful follow-up series to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.)

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I expect more of you, Lifetime. Or possibly less?

Either way, check out Christa’s post here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Lovestruck: The Musical, or: Too Many Colons (:) in This Title

To conclude Romance Week(s), Christa and I are reviewing what is destined to be a film classic, ABC Family original movie Lovestruck:  The Musical.  Check out Christa’s thoughts here!

The Film:

Lovestruck: The Musical

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A successful choreographer becomes young again (not just in spirit) and tries to sabotage her daughter’s wedding.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Jane Seymour, how the mighty are fallen, stars in this ABC Family production about a choreographer who can’t accept aging or her daughter Mirabella’s impending nuptials.

Right off the bat this starts to feel like an extended episode of Glee when Jane Seymour (Harper)’s command to “just dance” transforms into an extended song and dance routine. Unfortunately, Harper’s knee starts acting up mid-routine, tragically cutting the number short.

A middle-aged woman leads a workout class with a couple of men standing behind her.
Damn, Jane Seymour. Damn.

It all hits the fan when Mirabella arrives, announcing her intentions to stay in Italy with her husband after the wedding instead of returning home to star in her mother’s show. Harper threatens to sue, Mirabella un-invites her mother from the wedding, and you know the scheming has just begun.

Despite these obstacles, Harper decides to attend the wedding, but her knee is still giving her trouble. She downs a vitality tonic her assistant found in the theater, which should not have made it through airport security in her carry-on. After some minor indigestion, POOF, Harper is young again! Cue another song!

Cut to the horribly named Mirabella, who is sharing with Marco her great ambition of staying in bed with him all day and having 6 kids. Marco has apparently turned over a new leaf and no longer lives as the so-called “Playboy Prince.” Two points here: 1. Terrible, terrible nickname. 2. The actor isn’t the worst looking guy ever, but he’s just not charismatic at all, making it so hard to imagine women falling over themselves for him. In spite of the charm that allegedly oozes out of him, Marco is having trouble expressing his feelings for Mirabella in vow form.

A man and woman's embrace is interrupted as they speak to a person off-camera.
I believe their attraction is based on having approximately equally punchable faces.

Luckily, we don’t have to put with Marco/Mirabella for too long as young Harper, pretending to be a distant cousin of Mirabella’s named Debbie, crashes the party. Her plan is basically to stop the wedding by making out with Marco.

So we get a ton of comedy of errors-type humor with Debbie freaking out when Mirabella tells stories about her past misdeeds and trying to get her to wear more sunscreen. There’s also an incredibly cringe-worthy song and dance to “Like a Virgin.”

Shortly after, Debbie acts really drunk and kisses Marco, prompting him to make a long speech about how Mirabella has made him a better person but he can’t be the man she deserves, etc., etc.

Debbie starts to feel super guilty about this, especially when Mirabella confides that she never wanted to be a dancer. (Ok, but if you don’t want to be a dancer, you don’t want another career??? You just want to marry an Italian dude and have a bunch of babies?)

Meanwhile, Harper’s ex/Mirabella’s father arrives in time to wreak havoc. While Debbie advises Mirabella that she should give Marco a chance to tell the truth, the dad (I totally forget his name) tells Marco to bury the truth and stomp on it and light it on fire.

When Harper’s ex, Ryan (I gave in and Googled it), recognizes her as Debbie, she gives him a dose of the tonic. I know, this plot point was a bit of a stretch for me too, but it set up the opportunity for Harper/Debbie and Ryan to do a routine pretty much out of Dancing with the Stars. And, of course, for Harper/Debbie to overhear Ryan confessing that he still loves her and made a huge mistake when he cheated on her years ago.

A man and woman ballroom dance together, the woman's leg lifted high above the man's shoulder.

After reverting back to her more mature self, Harper finds Marco and tells him to make a gesture that shows how he feels about Mirabella. Just as Mirabella decides to leave for good, Marco tells her he loves her as Harper and Ryan let all of the drafts of his vows shower down on the two. An original song follows that will make you so incredibly glad most of the soundtrack involves covers of songs. Lyric sample: “I just ask you ‘Do you?’ I do. Me too.” It’s not exactly Shakespeare, is it?

A man and woman stand in front of a large building, sheets of paper falling down around them.
Seriously dude: save some trees, use a computer.

You’re probably thinking this movie HAS to be over by now, but NO; this is the Inception of ABC Family movies, and there’s one final twist no one could possibly see coming.

Harper’s assistant arrives and tells her the third dose of the tonic is permanent, which some 1930s vaudeville guy discovered the hard way. Apparently everyone except Harper can see the drawback of eternal youth, and it gets super Tuck Everlasting-y when she has to choose between living out her natural life or living forever young.

Which will she choose???

Yeah, let’s be real, this ends basically the way you would expect an ABC Family movie to end, but let’s maintain the illusion of suspense.

The Critique:

This is a cheesy, sappy, unoriginal, and somewhat disturbing TV movie…so I found it really entertaining.

There are some unintended messages about aging built into this film…basically that you have to accept your life is over once you reach a certain age. Age with grace, essentially, because it’s the done thing. Also accepting the natural life cycle. I really hope we can agree that immortality would not be the greatest, but I think we’re going to have to give serious thought to what we consider the natural life cycle and by what means we are willing to extend our lives (I’m hoping robot bodies). Maybe it’s a bit unrealistic of me to expect an ABC Family movie to talk about particularly complex ideas, but I WANT TO BELIEVE. (I also may need to watch slightly less sci-fi.)

Don’t even get me started on Mirabella and Marco.

If you take this film as a piece of light entertainment, though, it’s really effective. Chelsea Kane as young Harper/Debbie was actually pretty good, in my opinion. And funny.

To be honest, I want a spinoff about the vaudeville guy. Presumably he’s still out there somewhere doing his vaudeville act? Or maybe he’s had to modernize.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Mostly because this film doesn’t deserve 4, and I don’t feel like busting out my 1/2 PPHs.

See Christa’s review here!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Church of Marvels

I don’t usually do book reviews (bad librarian) because if I don’t like a book, I don’t finish it, while if I LOVE a book, I find it difficult to be snarky. Snark-less is not a status I’m particularly comfortable with; however, I’m willing to power through it so I can tell you how much I love love LOVE Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels. (But please note that since this is Leslie Parry’s first novel, I’m basically obligated to despise her at least a little bit.)

cover art for the book Church of Marvels

Just last month you could have quoted me as saying “The novel is dead” (you can seriously start throwing rocks at me any time and I won’t blame you at all; I got a huge eye roll from my mom for those words of wisdom). I need novels to be engaging, the characters believable, and the prose beautiful. I’m not opposed to genre fiction, but soooooooooooo much of it seems to be writers plugging different names into the same plot (this conversation between Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro is the most perfect article about genre I’ve ever read: Anyway, my point is, I’m looking for a long-term commitment with a novel. I want to think about it for a long time after I’ve read it, what it means, which were my favorite parts. This book? Check, check, and check.

I’m going to avoid spoilers as much as possible, so I’ll keep plot details brief. There are three intersecting stories: that of Odile, a former carny trying to find her twin sister after losing almost everything in a fire; Sylvan, a night-soiler searching for the origins of a baby he finds while shoveling shit (really); and Alphie, a woman locked in an asylum because of her overbearing Italian mother-in-law. The only complaint I have with these three characters is that Sylvan is at times way too nice/likeable to be believed, but maybe that’s just my cynicism speaking.

The secondary characters are excellent. I DARE you to tell me you wouldn’t be terrified if you met the Signora in a dark alley. Though she is dead before the book begins, the mother of Odile and her sister Belle, Friendship Willingbird Church, is in the running for biggest badass in literature (also best name). Case in point:

“My mother was fearsome and beautiful, the impresario of the sideshow; she brought me and my sister up on sawdust, greasepaint, and applause. Her name—known throughout the music halls and traveling tent shows of America—was Friendship Willingbird Church. She was born to a clan of miners in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but ran away from home when her older brother was killed at Antietam. She cut off her hair, joined the infantry, and saw her first battle at the age of fourteen. In the tent at night, she buried her face in the gunnysack pillow and wept bitterly thinking of him, hungry for revenge.”

There are more plot twists than you can shake a stick at. This is basically the modern, feminist version of Dickens; I kept thinking of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, though that’s not really a perfect comparison. One of the characters collects teeth. TEETH. That’s straight-up a page out of Miss Havisham’s book. At a certain point, you’ll get to a major plot twist and everything will make so much more sense.   There were several plot twists which made me re-read the paragraph multiple times because I was thinking, “Fuck, does that mean what I think it means? Wait, really? How did I miss that???”

Most of the novel takes place in the seedy underbelly of turn-of-the-century NYC (thank CHRIST b/c I’m really tired of hearing about rich people, Downton Abbey), but all of it is described with completely lovely prose. There is a brothel located at the end of a giant whale skeleton. And consider how beautiful this description of tigers being burned ALIVE is:

“The tigers were the first living things she saw. They were galloping down toward the shore, their great legs springing through the sand, cloaks of flame rising from their backs. She waited for them to howl, but they were silent. She didn’t even hear the sound of waves breaking over their bodies as they thrashed blindly into the sea.”

It’s seriously been AT LEAST a year since I’ve read a book I liked this much, the last one I can recall being Octavia Butler’s Kindred (don’t talk to me about Fledgling, though). There’s some fantastic exploration of identity and disguises and healing. But you don’t have to take my word for it…because this novel speaks for itself:

“His early life, he thought, was like the slow flip of photographs: the images were too sparse and sporadic to make any sense together, but each was so vivid that whenever one flickered to his mind, he was startled by its intensity. How could certain visions like these remain so luminous, and yet he had no recollection at all of what had come before or after?”

Please read this book so I can freak out (further) about it.

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

In a World Where Men Stop Acting Like Self-Important Assholes, or: Not Earth

Romance films, take two: in which there are romantic plots that don’t end (realistically) in heartbreak and tragedy.

This week is Christa’s pick, In a World, which I watched some time ago (seriously the most accurate estimate of time I can give you) and have no problem revisiting.  See her review here.

The Film:

In a World…

Where to Watch:

Netlfix (US)

The Premise:

Carol, the daughter of a successful voiceover actor, struggles to find her voice in an industry dominated by particularly asshole-y men.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

This review is a little bit different b/c: A. I like this film and don’t want to ruin it for you, B. There isn’t really a ton going on in terms of plot, so it makes plot summary challenging, and C.  I would rather express my feminist rage, to be honest.

The basic premise is that Carol (Lake Bell) is trying to break into the voiceover business, which is especially brutal as a woman whose father is a big name in the industry.  Since she’s between gigs at the moment, Carol takes a job as a voice coach for Eva Longoria. As her father’s waaaaaaaay younger girlfriend moves in, Carol moves out and stays with her sister and husband.

Two women in a voice recording studio face each other
Just a typical day of coaching Eva Longoria to sound like the wife of a Cockney mob boss.

This conveniently introduces one of the major subplots, the marriage intrigue of Carol’s sister and husband, as they are both interested in attractive citizens of the UK and seem unable to reconcile their differences even with the healing magic of sandwiches.

Other romantic subplot occurs between Carol and her friend Louis, who is really into her as evidenced by his rambling voicemail messages, help with recording/finding gigs, and general willingness to bring her drinks (of the non-alcoholic variety). He also almost has Justin Bieber hair, right?

A man with boy band hair holds a cell phone to his ear as a man stands next to him, glaring.

The major tension in this movie is between Carol and her father, who is trying to groom his protégé Gustav as the next king of the voiceover industry. Unknowingly, Carol is successfully “stealing” (read: earning) all of the jobs Gustav is up for, thus infuriating her father.  Carol’s father on women: “They’re flying our planes, they’re taking our jobs.” He is the worst. If you can make it through this film without punching any men in the face, I commend you.

A man kisses a woman's nose.
And Gustav kisses on the NOSE…like seriously makes out with women’s noses. WHAT.

So obviously when Carol tells her father the good news about her progress in the industry, he basically says she’s an amateur and shouldn’t have gotten the jobs. He decides to go for the job doing the voiceover for the new Amazon Games series, which would be a huge breakthrough for Carol if she got it.

Everything culminates at the Golden Trailer awards, where Carol’s father will receive a Lifetime Achievement award, and the new voice of The Amazon Games will be revealed. Probably the biggest question on everyone’s mind at this point: Will Carol’s father ever stop being a dick???

The Critique:

What this film lacks in plot, it makes up for in characters, humor, and feminist vision.

Carol is just kind of a shit show, which I do not relate to at all. I have NEVER eaten peanut butter straight out of alternating jars or made terrible fashion decisions or felt incredibly uncomfortable at parties. If you’d like to suggest otherwise, I’d like to see some compelling evidence.

A woman sits at a kitchen table, holding a cell phone to her ear and reaching toward an open jar of peanut butter

Speaking of awkward, though…sometimes it hurts how awkward allllllllllllllll of the characters in this movie are. Carol really takes the cake in terms of obliviousness, but Louis ranks at a close second.

The feminist messages of this movie are NOT subtle, and I appreciate that so very much. Lake Bell takes on the sense of male entitlement when women “steal” jobs from decent, hardworking men (eye roll), the challenges of women finding a voice on- and off-screen, and general asshole-ry.

Also Geena Davis and Nick Offerman are in this movie. I forgot about Nick Offerman b/c he’s not sporting a ‘stache, which is kind of weird.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

The Carol’s sister/husband subplot was veering on unnecessary, but this is still a fun film to watch. For romance theme purposes, it fits the criteria without going over the top, so definite approval from me.

Find out what Christa thinks here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The One I Love, or: Ideal Hair

Second week of romantic films or, rather, almost entirely unromantic films!  Actual romance theme starting next week, probably.  Possibly.

See what Christa thought of this one soon.  Hell has frozen over and I’ve posted my review first (???).

The Film:

The One I Love

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Sophie and Ethan, a young married couple, encounter a very strange phenomenon while on a retreat to save their marriage.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Sophie and Ethan do NOT have a good relationship, as their couples counseling session (with Ted Danson?!) reveals.

Though Ethan tries to recapture the magic of when they first met, Sophie is clearly not feeling it and can’t allow their relationship to start anew.

As a last resort, Ted Danson recommends a retreat where he’s had a great deal of success with other couples.

A man walks along a path in a lush, green garden.
Pretty, but never trust the greenery.

All seems to be going well at the secluded cottage, with Sophie and Ethan reconnecting almost immediately upon arrival. However, all is not as it appears. After Sophie and Ethan have sex for the first time in many moons, Ethan has no recollection of these events. Sophie is understandably upset, and the two fight about it.

At this point I’m really hoping there are clones (spoiler alert: there are no clones).

The next morning, all is forgotten, and Sophie is making Ethan’s favorite forbidden breakfast food, bacon. When he leaves the house, he sees Sophie standing outside. Apparently there is a real Sophie and an ideal Sophie, just as there is a real Ethan and an ideal version.

A man in a polo shirt stands with a living room behind him, eating a piece of bacon.
Bacon? Bacon.

Both Ethan and Sophie are really freaked out and decide to leave immediately; however, upon further consideration, Sophie thinks they should explore the possibilities. They set some ground rules, which you know are going to break into tiny little pieces.

In Sophie’s ideal world, Ethan paints a portrait of her, makes her drinks, gives her massages, and doesn’t wear glasses. He is emotionally available, articulates why he cheated, and has better hair.

A man paints a portrait of a blonde woman with short hair.
Always be the double with better hair, if at all possible.

Ethan’s ideal Sophie is significantly more housewife-y and doesn’t mind Ethan doing whatever the fuck he wants. It becomes clear pretty quickly that Sophie is really into her ideal Ethan, while real Ethan is uncomfortable with the inauthenticity of his relationship with ideal Sophie because she’s not real.

However, the lines of reality are about to blur as ideal Ethan starts texting real Sophie and calling Ethan’s friends and family.

Ethan goes beyond Othello on the jealousy scale and schemes to catch her breaking the rules of their agreement. He tells Sophie he’s going to the store, but actually sneaks into the guest house and impersonates the other Ethan in time to get some action (this is so close to being a soap opera, you guys).

As Sophie tells Ethan she plans to stay, they return to the house and find the ideal versions of themselves sitting inside. They all have a very surreal dinner together involving aardvark metaphors and extreme passive-aggressiveness. This culminates in the revelation of real Ethan’s fake grocery store scheming, and Sophie asks him to leave.

A man and woman sit at a dining room table, smiling blandly at an off-screen character.
No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to DINE.

With a bit of alone time, Ethan discovers some mysterious tapes and realizes Ted Danson trained the Ethan/Sophie counterparts. Surprisingly, ideal Sophie says she will help Ethan escape, though she and the other Ethan will remain trapped at the house. She would rather remain trapped with ideal Ethan than see him leave with real Sophie.

Thus begins the plot to trap the ideal couple at the house, which involves dramatic sweater changes, hidden force fields, and a moment right out of Star Trek featuring a fight between the two Ethans.

The Critique:

Okay, I am admittedly always ready to start a fight with screenwriters, but I still don’t understand why Ted Danson was doing all of this. If you’re going to go out of your way to conspire in a pretty nonsensical sci-fi scheme, you NEED to have a motive or I WILL be annoyed.

The humor was fairly dry and witty, but the pacing of the movie was very slow. Probably because, according to Netflix, this is a “cerebral” movie, but it wasn’t quite as clever as it wanted to be.

Depending on how much sci-fi (or soaps) with clones/doubles/evil twins you watch, you will probably see the ending coming.

Side note: blonde Elisabeth Moss was weird and distracting and quite Gillian Anderson-y looking.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Eh…I sort of liked it, but I probably would’ve stopped watching about halfway through if it weren’t for the blog.

Check out Christa’s review too!