Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bee Movie, or: Not the Bee Puns

Wrapping up our first free-for-all of 2018 is a first for our Blog Collab:  a dive into the world of animation!  Will we immediately regret stepping outside of our usual sharks, demons, and killer mermaid territory?  I mean, probably.

The Film:

Bee Movie

The Premise:

Jerry Seinfeld made a children’s movie with a vaguely environmental message as an excuse to write a lot of cringeworthy bee puns.

The Ramble:

This should come with a warning label for the number of bee puns that are likely to induce physical pain.  I was ok with the first few, but slight amusement and eyerolls quickly transformed into resentment that made a movie less than 90 minutes long feel endless at times.

If you aren’t dissuaded, let’s continue.

Barry is a young worker bee who has just graduated from the equivalent of bee university and is now facing the prospect of choosing a career.  Or, rather, a mindless repetitive task he’ll complete every day until he dies.  This really begs the question of why bees even need to attend university and what they’ve even been studying if they have no idea what they’ll do for their short lives (AND other bees later reveal there are certain roles bees are bred to perform)…but, if like me, you think about this one too hard, your brain will implode.

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The longer you look at this image, the more convinced you become their eyes are moving.

Because the survival of the hive seems to be rather terribly planned out, the graduates have just one chance to pick the job they’ll do for the rest of their lives.  Unable to decide, Barry jumps at the opportunity to go out gathering nectar with the pollen jocks.  The pollen jocks are an oddly militaristic group of bees with nectar guns and a cartoon stereotype of a general as their leader.  Can I point out that the queen would really be their leader, and I can’t remember anyone mentioning the queen even once?!?!?  Does no one else find that bizarre?

To move on to the actual plot of the film (I’ll do my best not to analyze every single logical misstep in this movie from here on out), Barry manages to survive an unlikely number of obstacles when he is separated from the group.  While dodging rain drops, Barry finds shelter in an apartment belonging to Vanessa, a florist.  After she saves him from meeting the business end of a shoe, Barry decides he must thank her even though talking to a human is strictly against bee law (can I just point out that 1. this film spends more time on that over the fact that bees in the US magically speak English despite never talking to humans and 2. the highly important rule against talking to humans becomes nothing more than a vague recommendation after this moment).

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Love at first questioning one’s own mental well-being?

Upon meeting Vanessa, Barry instantly falls in love with her (what) and she seems to reciprocate?  Or at least their relationship is significant enough that Vanessa eventually breaks off her engagement.  FOR REAL.

Now that Barry gives zero fucks about humans learning bees can talk, he and Vanessa spend their days together out and about in New York City (btw, Vanessa can somehow afford an apartment mere blocks from Central Park).  When the two visit a grocery store and Barry sees the amount of honey harvested from bees, he uncovers the truth that humans have been stealing from bees for centuries.  Determined to right this wrong, Barry decides to sue humanity–representing himself because who the fuck would represent a bee in court.

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WHY IS BARRY WEARING A BLAZER, TIE, AND SHOES, BUT NO PANTS.

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Barry wins the case.  Bees now own all of the honey they produce, begging the question of what bees would even do with money.  And there’s still half an hour left(???).  After the bees no longer have to work hard to make honey, they stop pollinating flowers and everything dies.  How can Barry possibly restore the balance again?  Will it somehow involve an unlikely scenario in which he has to land a fucking plane?

Yes.  Yes, it will.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

I tried so hard to remember this is a children’s movie and is going to rely on imagination over logic in its storytelling, but the logical leaps are really difficult to overcome.  The message about bees contributing to the hive by completing boring, meaningless work until they die seems rather dystopian for a children’s movie.  At one point, a bee even points out how every job matters, no matter how small, which would have been a much better message if this film were going to choose one.  I don’t know what this movie was trying to say.  Yield to the inevitable, perhaps?

It’s also really difficult to believe that an adult human woman would put her entire life on hold to help a bee win a court case–a bee she may or may not be in love with.  And, honestly, what is the lifespan of a bee?  Spoiler:  Vanessa and Barry are in business together by the end of the film.  How long is that going to last and will it really all have been worth it???  Am I giving this film way more credit than it deserves as a philosophical reflection?

All of this I would consider overlooking if it weren’t for the fucking bee puns.  The bee puns, OH GOD, THE BEE PUNS.  I’ll give you just one terrible pun so you can feel my pain:  Sting testifies at the trial.  I could’ve forgiven this film for a lot, but I can’t fucking forgive that.

Overall, the plot is horrifically nonsensical, there’s no identifiable message, and I really don’t understand who the target audience for most of the humor was.  I’m bumping the rating up slightly as I am proud that we’ve gained admission to the exclusive(?) Bee Movie club, but I’m ready to return my membership card.

Would my blog wife defend this one in court or introduce it to the bottom of a large boot?  Find out here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Jane Austen Book Club, or: You Don’t Talk About Book Club

Once again, we’re doing what we want on the blog this month.  This time around, we’re heading to California for a comedy of manners with plenty of relationship drama and connections to 19th-century classics of English literature.

The Film:

The Jane Austen Book Club

The Premise:

I sometimes don’t know if you really want me to state the obvious and/or if you don’t 100% understand how film titles usually work.

The Ramble:

In Sacramento, California, a host of seemingly unconnected characters lead rather unglamorous lives encountering everyday annoyances.  Unknowingly, they will all be drawn together by Jane Austen.  Book Club.

They are:

  • Bernadette, founder of the book club and divorcee who has been married 6 times
  • Sylvie, recently separated from her husband after a shocking revelation
  • Jocelyn, Sylvie’s bestie and perpetually single dog breeder
  • Allegra, Sylvie’s daughter and a born risk-taker
  • Prudie (Emily  Blunt), a French teacher feeling bored and dissatisfied with her marriage
  • Grigg, sci-fi nerd and the only male member of the club
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The Ice Cream and Isak Dinesen Club wasn’t quite as catchy.

After Sylvie’s husband discloses an ongoing affair, her friends attempt desperately to cheer her up.  Her daughter Allegra moves back in with her, having recently split up with her girlfriend anyway.  In a stroke of genius, Bernadette proposes a book club to distract Sylvie after encountering a distraught Prudie.  The book club may also help Jocelyn feel better, who recently held a funeral for one of her dogs (in an unexpected connection to last week’s film, Mr. Roosevelt).

By chance, Jocelyn meets Grigg at a conference center and inducts him into the book club.  Jocelyn recommends Austen to Grigg, while Grigg suggests Ursula K. LeGuin (bittersweet as I learned she passed away earlier today just prior to writing this post).

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BOOK POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORN.

As you have likely guessed, the 6 members of the book club discuss each of Austen’s 6 novels, discovering unexpected parallels between the works of fiction and their own lives.

Jocelyn, who invited Grigg to the book club to set him up with Sylvie, is very clearly the Emma of our film.  She begins to regret pushing Grigg and Sylvie together when she starts to develop feelings for him, but stubbornly carries on.

Sylvie and Allegra end up living their own version of Sense & Sensibility, with Sylvie as the voice of reason and Allegra as the reckless romantic.  Though she tries to move on, Sylvie still loves her husband and finds it difficult to end their marriage.  Meanwhile, Allegra is off skydiving, avoiding commitments, and meeting ladies.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that it’s more fun to watch adaptations loosely based on Austen novels than to actually read the books.

Prudie’s life ends up very similar to Persuasion when she seems ready to give up on her marriage in favor of a fling with a student who does quite a strong smoldering stare.  Like Anne Elliot, Prudie realizes she does love the man she’s rejected…but is the damage too great for her to repair?

As the book club approaches its final novel, tensions rise and personalities clash.  After Allegra falls while climbing a rock wall (a problem I am unlikely to ever relate to), the book club holds a meeting in her hospital room.  When a big fight erupts on several fronts, the book club and the friendships holding it together are in jeopardy.  Has Jane Austen broken up the band?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

The relationships between the characters are great, and the idea of the book club is quite sweet.  Though the film clearly wants a nice happy ending, it does capture the group’s dynamic in a mostly realistic way–though the book club members support each other, there is still gossip behind each other’s backs and some rather petty fights.  At the end of the day, though, the relationships between women are the driving force of this film as they care for and heal each other.

That being said, I found some of the characters insufferable.  Prudie and Allegra both annoyed the bejeezus out of me, mostly because both of their characters make choices that are painfully terrible and may have negative consequences for others.  I absolutely loved Bernadette and would’ve completely supported a movie that was 75% about her.

This is a light-hearted movie akin to a soothing cup of tea–which, coincidentally goes along perfectly with a good book.

Would my blog wife watch this one again or just read the book?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Mr. Roosevelt, or: Lost in Austin

Another week, another pick that we don’t have to explain to you.  Due to the nature of our free spirits (and inability to make decisions), we’re kicking off 2018 with whatever the hell we feel like watching.  This week’s film has significantly fewer sharks.

The Film:

Mr. Roosevelt

The Premise:

Cats.  Brunch.  Hipsters.  Must be Austin, TX.

The Uncondensed Version:

After Emily learns her cat Mr. Roosevelt is in poor health, she jets back to Austin right away.  Having set off for LA several years before, she left Mr. Roosevelt in the care of her now ex-boyfriend, Eric.  In this time of crisis for the cat parents, Emily crashes with Eric and his serious girlfriend Celeste.

By the time Emily makes it to Austin, Mr. Roosevelt has passed on from this life.  A group of Celeste and Eric’s hipster friends have a dinner out and honor Mr. Roosevelt.  At the dinner, Emily learns Eric is focusing on becoming a realtor rather than pursuing his dreams of being a musician.

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Hell is other hipsters.

Emily hoped to have more to show for her time in LA, but so far she’s doing cringey auditions, editing videos with a group of men who may or may not be part of a real company, and coasting by on the popularity of several of her Youtube videos.  When Celeste asks how things are in LA, Emily freaks out and causes a food-related accident.  Jen, a server there, helps Emily and befriends her, leading to several hipster adventures.

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IDK where you go to catch up with your friends if not the women’s restroom…

After aforementioned hipster adventures, Emily gets a call from the vet’s office that Mr. Roosevelt’s ashes are ready to pick up.  Unfortunately, Celeste, who was also a parent to their cat child, arrives first and claims the ashes.  She invites Emily to a brunch she’s planning in Mr. Roosevelt’s honor, which makes Emily lose her shit.

Eric helpfully takes Emily out to get tacos, and they later go to a party where Jen is playing with her band, the Leeks.  What is meant to be a fun night out takes a dive when Eric and Emily have a heart-to-heart about their breakup, shattered dreams, dismal future, etc, etc.

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TACOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS

The next day is the brunch for Mr. Roosevelt, and let’s just say it does not go well.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Reasonably entertaining with some funny moments (the brunch is an exercise in the absurd), this film suffers mostly because Emily is so unlikeable for 95% of it.  She does find some redemption at the end, but it feels like too little too late.  Most of the time, she bicycles around doing self-destructive things that have consequences for other people, then acting surprised when there’s not a lot of sympathy being tossed her way.  I usually relate to the feeling of being an eternal fuck-up, but it takes Emily a reeeeeeeeeeeeeally long time to stop acting like an asshole.

I imagine this is a bit of a Portlandia for Austin, though all of the time Emily spends judging hipsters feels a bit hypocritical because she’s just a scarf and an oversized pair of plastic-rimmed glasses away from being the biggest hipster in Texas.

Jen is fucking cool, and I wish a lot more of the focus had been on her friendship with Emily.  Sadly, it takes Emily a really long time to appreciate when she’s got a good thing going.

Would my blog wife toast this one with mimosas or bicycle far away at top speed?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Open Water 3, or: A Very Long En-cage-ment

We’re starting 2018 off with a bang…or is it a whimper?  Either way, there are sharks.

The Film:

Open Water 3: Cage Dive

The Premise:

A found footage shark movie about 3 annoying fucking assholes friends on a cage diving trip.

The Ramble:

After news that a cage diving trip has ended with a capsized boat and missing tourists, an experienced diver finds an underwater camera tucked away in a reef.  With the SD card intact, he discovers footage of 3 friends who embarked on the cage diving trip.  This is their story.

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I’m glad to see the Australian news circuit has also mastered the art of pointless graphics.

Jeff, Megan, and Josh are a close-knit group of friends with an adventurous spirit.  After deciding to audition for a reality competition that seems to be in the vein of The Amazing Race, the friends plan the perfect trip to demonstrate their willingness to make poor decisions on camera:  cage diving in Australia.

Look, I’ll be honest with you–these 3 characters are the most insufferable assholes I can think of in our recent viewing experiences.  Jeff and Josh are supposedly bros for life, though Megan is in a serious relationship with Jeff but also having a fling with Josh.  The two best bros are so interchangeable that I’m more annoyed Megan didn’t have an affair with someone more interesting than that the affair is breaking up the band.

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Seriously, have you ever seen a set of faces you’ve wanted to punch more?

Megan and Josh are stupid enough to continue their affair even with the knowledge they are being recorded constantly.  To be fair, they’d probably be pretty good contenders for reality television.  This leads to several awkward interactions as the two try to hide the evidence from Jeff, who obliviously plans to propose if the group makes it onto the show.

As planned, the 3 meet up with Jeff’s cousin, then go off to do some cage diving.  If I had trouble relating to these characters before, they lose all semblance of humanity to me by voluntarily cage diving in the open ocean.  Of course, things go horribly wrong when a sudden tidal wave capsizes the boat, leaving several passengers dead and our main 3 stranded.

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Yeah, Cape Catastrophe sounds like a great place for a vacation.

It’s incredibly irritating to watch them squander every opportunity they have to save themselves and eventually turn on each other when Jeff learns the truth about Megan and Josh.  Because, you know, when faced with the prospect of being stranded in shark-infested waters versus relationship drama, which one would be your top priority?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Oh my GOD, I hated our 3 protagonists and felt an amount of joy at their (spoiler/not really a spoiler) deaths that set off distant alarm bells in the back of my brain.  What hath the Open Water franchise wrought???

I will admit the concept of being lost at sea taps into something deeply primal in my lizard brain, so there are legitimately horrifying moments in this film.  Splashes, the shaky camera shots, and the seemingly endless water do make this unsettling to watch.  At the same time, if it had been virtually anyone else in the water, I might have taken less sadistic glee in watching these fucking dickbags finally get torn into little pieces.

Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark this is not.

Would Christa keep this one afloat or leave it to sleep with the fishes?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Christmas Inheritance, or: Snow Falling on CEOs

We couldn’t wrap up the current theme properly without at least one heartwarming film about Christmas, even though we’ve overshot by a week.  If this film teaches us anything, though, it’s that Christmas is every day because it’s always in your heart, family is a blessing, season of giving, etc.

The Film:

Christmas Inheritance

The Premise:

A young woman set to inherit her father’s company must return to his hometown to learn a lesson about family, love, and (surprise, surprise) Christmas.

The Ramble:

Set to inherit her father’s company after his retirement, Ellen seems to have it all.  However, after one party stunt too many, she has earned a reputation as the “party heiress,” embarrassing her father and the company alike.  Finally fed up with Ellen’s behavior, her father devises a plan to remind her of the good timey old-fashioned family values of the company.  (On a side note:  everyone keeps referring to the company as a gift company, whatever the fuck that means.)

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The company board was composed exclusively of invisible people.

Ellen must complete the annual delivery of Christmas letters to her uncle in Snow Falls, the small town where her father grew up.  To make matters more challenging, Ellen is allowed to spend only $100 while there, and no one can know her true identity as heiress to a company worth millions.

For the first time in her life, Ellen must ride the bus and navigate a town with minimal cell phone reception.  Disaster strikes almost immediately when the almost unbelievably clumsy Ellen loses her suitcase to a taxi cab accident.

The taxi driver, Jake, tries to make amends by giving Ellen a lift to the inn, though they’ve really started things off on the wrong foot.  You can have 3 guesses on who Ellen’s main love interest is here.

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Nope, nothing to see here.

Conveniently, Jake also works at the local inn and helps Ellen get a room there.  Less than conveniently, her uncle Zeke is nowhere to be found.  It looks like Ellen will be spending more time than anticipated in the small town of Snow Falls, though she can’t afford to pay for another night at the inn.  Taking pity on her, Jake allows her to stay as long as she fills in for the maid.  Given her previously established clumsiness, this does not end well.

Since Ellen claims to be a baker upon arrival in Snow Falls, she heads next door to the diner instead.  She’ll help Jake’s aunt (Andie MacDowell???) with the holiday baking, but it becomes apparent pretty quickly that she has no idea what she’s doing.  Putting 2 and 2 together, Aunt Debbie recognizes Ellen as Jim Langford’s daughter but agrees to keep her identity secret.  She also reveals Jake’s tragic backstory as a small town boy living in a lonely world.  Oh, wait–that’s almost a Journey song.  Apparently Jake lived in NYC with a stock broker fiancée who left him for a millionaire.  Since then, he’s avoided city slickers and romantic interests of any kind.

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Forget baking–let’s go egg all the houses in this town.

Unless he meets a nice lady who helps the homeless, volunteers to share her room with a family during a power outage, and bakes cookies in exchange for donations to a charity auction?  Mayhap?

Just as Jake gets close to Ellen–even showing her the ice sculptures he designed (not a euphemism)–her fiancé Gray arrives in town.  Will Gray’s arrival erase everything Ellen has learned from the charming small-town folks or will she hold onto the true spirit of Christmas?  Just like Hamlet, we’re asking the important questions here.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Predictable, cheesy, and incredibly dependent on stereotypes, this is still reasonably entertaining.  As far as wholesome, Hallmark-style movies about what Christmas really means, you could do worse.  The characters are fine if rather bland.  Ellen is actually fairly likeable as a protagonist even though I don’t 100% understand how her behavior at parties is considered so scandalous or why her father is so upset.  The first thing we see her do is a series of vaults at a charity fundraiser, which I feel is not enough to merit her picture appearing in tabloids all the damn time.  Part of me is also disappointed that she didn’t have to do vaults at the end of the movie to save Christmas.

On an unrelated note, I tried really hard to get beyond Jake having the hairstyle and wardrobe of Donald Trump Jr.’s “just a regular guy who’s into flannel” photo shoot in the woods, but mostly failed.  (You can Google it–no one in that family is ever having their picture featured here.)  He’s likeable enough as a love interest if annoyingly perfect.  I mean, minus the DJT Jr. vibes.

Was my blog wife feeling the small town charm or would she take the money and run?  Find out here!