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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Spontaneous, or: Let’s Blow This Popsicle Stand

*Spoilers follow*

Another week, another group of teens facing nightmarish pseudo-apocalyptic scenarios. Mob rule? Trolls referred to only as goblins? This week, the worst horror anyone will encounter is the inner self. More specifically, the inner self very literally and suddenly becoming external.

The Film:

Spontaneous

The Ramble:

Drifting off during an especially dull class lecture, senior Mara Carlyle is in for a rude awakening when a classmate explodes before her very eyes. Not in the metaphorical sense; the girl sitting before her is human-shaped in one moment, a mere spatter of blood and guts the next.

Mara, a teen with wavy blonde hair, looks stunned as she sits in class. Behind her, students sit at desks looking horrified as they and the walls behind them are covered in blood.

After the incident, all of the students are rounded up for questioning and observation. Unbeknownst to Mara, her dry remark that the authorities are waiting for a similar accident to happen again is extremely prescient. Not only that, but her words act as a spark for her classmates to live life to the fullest as they face the dread of wondering who may be next.

Following the explosion, Mara navigates her feelings (badly) with bff Tess–making sarcastic cracks at various tributes to their classmate, lacing her coffee with a nausea-inducing amount of shrooms. While Mara decides seizing the day means making self-destructive decisions, classmate Dylan determines now could be the only opportunity to reveal his long-term crush on her. Holding back Mara’s hair while she throws up, their romance is off to a…dreamy(?) start.

In a diner booth, teenager Mara sits across from her friend Tess, a Black teen with natural hair. Both have coffee cups in front of them.

As Mara gets to know Dylan better, the unexpected explosions of their classmates seem to happen everywhere they go, from football games to parties. While school is cancelled, Dylan buys a vintage milk truck with his college savings and he officially becomes Mara’s boyfriend.

However, the explosions escalate, prompting the government to intervene by developing a new drug to cure the so-called Covington Curse. After weeks in a pop-up biomedical research facility, the cure seems to be available at last: a pill that all of the teens seem to be destined to take for the rest of their lives.

At the end of a driveway at night, Mara sits next to Dylan, a teen with shoulder-length hair. Dylan smiles at Mara, who is starting to smile.

It might be a nice conclusion for our main characters if things ended here, no? Sadly, the new pill isn’t quite as effective as promised, and it’s not long before another series of explosions rock the community.

How many more teens will blow up before they even make it to graduation?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’ve kept things vague as there are a number of important plot twists/tonal shifts (which you could easily look up) that I’m reluctant to dish on here. I can’t say they’re entirely unexpected, but they may not be where you imagine the film to go when you first dive in.

I like the premise here a lot, and the approach the film takes to examining the impact of the explosions rather than trying to unpack a reason why lends it some realism. I appreciate that we don’t get a satisfactory explanation for the explosions, though they could stand in for any number of existential issues teens struggle with as they try to imagine a future that’s not utterly terrifying. It’s powerful as well that so many of the teens blame themselves for these events that are beyond their control.

Mara’s sarcastic eye-rolling is immediately relatable, and she is very darkly funny. Her observations about the choice of “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” to memorialize a classmate, as well as the dramatic peeling away of part of a stick figure family member car decal stand out most to me. However, after a while, Mara seems to be written as a character who is not especially feminist; she’s meant to be a cool girl who’s so chill that she would never stoop to calling you out for a “your mom” joke. There are a number of attitudes/lines of dialogue that seem written for a teen boy, or at the very least someone who claims to be a humanist rather than a feminist.

Overall, the characterization isn’t a strength of this film. The supporting characters are completely flat; it drives me nuts that Tess isn’t given anything to do except be the best friend who is immediately sidelined for a romantic plot (and the romance is a major focus of the film). There are some additional layers to unpack there considering Tess is the only person of color who gets a significant amount of screen time. And Dylan is a total sweetheart, but it’s irritating that he’s written to be a character who has absolutely no flaws. I’m automatically suspicious of a dude who seems perfect from the beginning.

There are some issues with tone here too, as the story struggles to blend Mara’s cynical sarcasm, the romance of first love, and the existential horror of living through disaster. It’s surprisingly poignant as things wrap up, but it doesn’t quite bring the different elements together smoothly.

That being said, I did enjoy this one quite a lot…and I’m never going to be mad about watching a film that on multiple occasions tells our most recent former US president to fuck off.

Would my blog wife peel off a stick figure family decal in this one’s honor or vindictively hope she’s around so see it spontaneously explode? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Assassination Nation, or: Witches Get Shit Done

CW: violence, assault, homophobia, transphobia

Ah, youth. Dishing on the latest gossip, lounging by the pool, receiving menacing texts threatening to doxx you. There’s a good reason social media has become an increasingly popular subject for horror films: it’s fucking terrifying. And in this week’s film, it has the power to send a homicidal mob after you IRL.

The Film:

Assassination Nation

The Premise:

Following a hacker’s leak of personal messages and information, the residents of an entire town turn against 4 teen girls who seem to be at the center of it all.

The Ramble:

Let’s revisit a familiar chapter in US history: the time the town of Salem lost its fucking mind. No, not that time. This time, it’s all a case of leaked personal messages and the good old-fashioned scramble to cover one’s own ass.

To rewind a tiny bit to the before times, teen Lily is part of a close-knit group of friends: Bex, Sarah, and Em. Catching up with her girl gang, Lily learns that Bex has been sexting with Diamond, a gorgeous jock who dares not acknowledge his affection in public. Meanwhile, Lily continues to date her first “serious” boyfriend, Mark, while secretly sexting a man only known as Daddy. Sounds like a keeper.

A group of 5 teen girls lay in a circle on the floor, heads together at the center.

At the same time, an unknown hacker begins targeting the locals. The hacker begins by targeting the mayor, a man whose homophobic policies belie his hidden life hiring male escorts and wearing women’s lingerie.

During a high school party, Bex finally hooks up with Diamond, who insists they keep it a secret. At the same party, Lily continues to send revealing pictures of herself to Daddy. Blissfully unaware of the hacker’s intentions, things take a dark turn when the mayor, in lieu of making a verbal statement, opts to shoot himself publicly. Bex, a trans teen girl, has very little sympathy for a man who seemed to make it his life’s work to see LGBTQ people suffer. Unsurprisingly, the internet community has even less compassion, actively ridiculing videos of the public suicide.

Targeted next is the high school principal, whom Lily actually quite likes and respects. Because he has pictures of his 6-year-old daughter in the nude, the town as a whole concludes that Principal Turrell must be a pedophile. As Lily herself points out, there’s nothing overtly sexual about the pictures; nevertheless, Mr. Turrell is booed publicly and encouraged to resign.

4 teen girls lay upside down on a bed, shoulder to shoulder. They are all looking up towards the ceiling and wearing red PVC coats over their clothes.

It’s not long before Lily, Bex, and Nance, the mother of Sarah and Em, are targeted. Police ineffectively search for the hacker but come up with very few leads beyond Marty, a local teen and Anonymous supporter. Diamond hides in shame when the truth about his hook up with Bex is revealed. And it’s not long before Mark realizes that the pictures from Nick, aka Daddy’s, phone are of Lily. Nick is Lily’s 30-something neighbor and man whose kids she used to babysit.

Shortly thereafter, the victims of the hacker turn their ire towards the women and girls who are labelled whores and homewreckers. Of course, it’s their fault that these men engaged in behavior of which they are now ashamed. With no intervention from the FBI or any other authorities, the town begins to implode as isolated incidents of public shame and violence morph into organized militias committing acts of terror.

Dressed in red PVC trench coats, a group of 4 teen girls stand in a row, aiming firearms at an unseen group of boys.

When the police finally have more information, it’s revealed that the hacks seem to have come from Lily’s IP address. With the town turned firmly against her, a militia fueled almost entirely by toxic masculinity arrives at Nance’s house, where all 4 girls are currently staying.

Now that the battle has become girl gang vs. the entire town, who will survive the night?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

There are quite a few things about this film that work, and quite a few that…don’t. Things I enjoy include the commentary on accountability vs. victimization when it comes to the court of public opinion. I think the message here is surprisingly nuanced, highlighting that so-called cancel culture is a tool that can hold people in power to account but can serve to reinforce misogyny and other toxic systems when used against those without. Even I have heard about Chrissy Teigen’s half-hearted apology for her bullying of Courtney Stodden, and the parallels are spot-on, especially considering how Courtney was treated by the press and the public 10 years ago.

Things I didn’t enjoy so much: the cutesy “trigger warning” at the beginning of the film, which seems to merely mock the entire concept. Additionally, despite enjoying our female focus, I couldn’t tell you a single personality trait of any of our main 4, except that Lily was our lead and Bex was cool AF and featured in my favorite scene of the film (a tense underwater nail gun fight). Besides that, the characters are fairly bland and generic.

What’s more is the male gaze at work throughout the film. It’s satisfying to see our girl gang take charge, but there are really only about 10 minutes of their badassery for us to enjoy. For the vast majority of the film, there are a lot of scenes shaming, harassing, torturing, and otherwise attacking women. I would have liked to see less of that and quite a bit more empowerment for the film to better reflect its themes.

That being said, there are many truly terrifying scenes and scenarios here. It’s a little frustrating to have some of these moments undercut with the film’s insistence on making an ironic quip. Perhaps in light of the January Capitol insurrection that feels like 10,000 years ago, the idea of an organized militia targeting anyone who doesn’t have a MAGA hat in their wardrobe doesn’t feel so far-fetched. I would have liked for this one to be a bit more fun, though who knows if I even remember what that word means at this point.

Would my blog wife take this one’s secrets to the grave or leak them all for the lolz? Read her review to find out!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Troll 2, or: The Family That Summons Together

I’m quite happy to skip most media that reliably generates memes, especially since becoming a meme or a gif seems to be an end unto itself. As loyal readers of this blog know (all…3.5 of you?), your Blog Collab writers are deeply resentful of films like Sharknado that exist exclusively for the social media buzz. So even though I’ve seen Troll 2 appear on its share of top 10 B-movie lists, I’ve largely ignored it since I’ve seen a boatload of memes from the film. I’ve gotten all of the highlights, right?

How wrong I have been.

The Film:

Troll 2

The Premise:

While vacationing in a small, rural town with his family, a boy sees visions of his grandfather warning him of the imminent threat of goblins.

The Ramble:

As far as bedtime stories go, Grandpa Seth spins a yarn that ranges from disturbingly dark to…even darker. Cautioning young Joshua Waits about the very real dangers of goblins, he warns that goblins may disguise themselves and will encourage humans to eat foods that will turn them into edible plant people. The moral of the story is that goblins will fuck you up for no reason–a refreshingly post-modern theme for a children’s tale. Making matters worse, Grandpa Seth has been dead for months, properly freaking out Joshua’s mother as her child continues to have conversations with the man.

A close-up on grandpa Seth shows an elderly man with a beard looking intensely into the distance, a child in pajamas reclined on a bed in the background.

Hoping to enjoy time away together in the countryside, the family is swapping houses for a month to stay in the idyllic small town of Nilbog. (And just in case you didn’t catch it, don’t worry–our film will dramatically reveal the shocking surprise that “Nilbog” is goblin spelled backwards.) Added bonus here? The trip should distract troubled Joshua and remove older sister Holly from the influence of “bad boy” Elliott. As far as a I can tell, Elliott’s reputation comes from the fact that he does nothing but hang around with his friend gang all day. This is a point of contention between Holly and Elliott, and apparently a good reason to throw around some casual homophobia. Our film is from 1990, but it’s still pretty jarring.

Though Holly invites Elliott to vacation with her family, she makes it clear that his friends are not welcome to come along. As it turns out, Elliott and his friends have rented an RV and plan to surprise the Waits family by meeting them in Nilbog.

A group of goblinshuddle over their victim. The goblins are short human-like creatures with white hair covering their faces, large noses, and oversized pointy ears.

When the Waits crew arrive at their vacation home, the family who live there eerily leave without saying a word. However, it’s not long before the Waitses feel at home, especially since there is a delicious (albeit oddly green) meal ready for them to enjoy. Grandpa Seth warns Joshua that the family must not eat the meal, so Joshua devises a disgusting plan to intervene, though points for creativity. Joshua’s father pulls the ultimate “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed” power move with a lecture about how he grew up in poverty legitimately going hungry many nights.

Meanwhile, Elliott’s buddy Arnold, the face that launched 1,000 memes, notices a young woman running through the woods in terror. When goblins catch up to the two, Arnold confidently tells them to get lost, presuming they are a group of costumed weirdos. This seems to pay off initially…until a goblin lobs a spear his way. Fleeing the goblins again, the pair winds up in a creepy church that is now the home of iconic druid queen Creedence. Though it seems Creedence will be an unlikely savior, she in fact has a sinister hidden agenda…oh my GODDDDDDDDDDDD.

Arnold, a teen with blond hair and large glasses, screams with a sweat-soaked face. There is a housefly on his forehead.

The next day, the group of guys and the Waits family are in need of provisions. On the way to the town store, the sheriff offers one of Elliott’s friends a GREEN SANDWICH, which he eats without hesitation. It feels like a major sign of privilege that this dude automatically thinks any food proffered by law enforcement will definitely be safe to consume, even if it’s fucking GREEN. At the shop, the only thing available is special fortified Nilbog milk, which is suspiciously free of cost. The extremely helpful and friendly locals relay a message from Arnold that essentially boils down to “Meet me in the creepy house in the woods.” Sure sounds like Arnold!

Creedence, a woman with dark eye makeup and oversized glasses, gestures dramatically over her shoulder as two worried teens look on.

While in town with his father, Joshua stumbles across a goblin church service, which is sort of a Southern Baptist-inspired gathering with the congregation’s ire focused on eating flesh. Unwittingly drawing attention to himself while snooping, Joshua narrowly misses being force-fed Nilbog ice cream.

That evening, as the goblins tire of biding their time, they hold an impromptu gathering at the vacation home under the guise of folksy smalltown generosity. As Joshua learns, it’s always a good thing to have the spirit of your deceased grandfather around to supply you with Molotov cocktails in case a group of goblins pressures you to choose between a quick death and a slow, violent one.

Will the Waits family manage to defeat the goblin army or will they be reminded that you don’t piss on hospitality?

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

A purely subjective rating based on my own personal enjoyment of this film. Is this the well-crafted, moving work of art that is Portrait of a Lady on Fire? God no. Is it going to occupy a similar amount of space in my brain? Probably.

Of course, it’s extremely irritating to have homophobia join the party here. And I don’t completely understand the hostility towards vegetarians that seems to be on display throughout the film. It’s also reasonably distracting that a film with trolls in the title is about…goblins. But overall, I did enjoy this one so much more than anticipated. There’s a good reason this is considered a cult classic.

Once I started watching, I couldn’t look away. Things are obviously extremely low budget, and the acting is as stilted as expected. But it’s actually quite funny (more or less intentionally), and some of the effects are surprisingly gross. It doesn’t hurt that the unsettlingly friendly group of strangers becoming increasingly sinister is one of my favorite horror setups.

I haven’t even really given Creedence her due in this review, as she is truly a legend amongst cult classic villains. She is living my dream life, minus the oddly sexy popcorn scene with an actual teenager. But her unhinged maniacal energy along with her preference for plants over people make me absolutely root for her.

Special mentions to Holly’s extremely ’90s Garfield astrology sleepwear, as well as Grandpa Seth’s odd Orson Welles vibe.

TL;DR: if you don’t like Troll 2, you’re wrong.

Would my goblin queen toast this one with a glass of Nilbog milk or conspire to defeat it with a surprisingly violent spirit guide? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Knife + Heart, or: Crow Me a River

*Spoilers below*

CW: sexual assault

We have good intentions with our themes, we really do. But sometimes, even when you think the innocuous film that’s not too taxing on the brain is what you need, you just have to go with the lesbian director of gay porn struggling to find a masked killer murdering her actors in 1970s Paris. Duh.

The Film:

Knife + Heart

The Premise:

As a masked killer picks off the actors in her gay porn film, director Anne attempts to solve the murders, wrap filming, and impress ex-girlfriend Loïs with her brilliance.

The Ramble:

A director of gay porn in ’70s Paris, Anne is…quite troubled and troubling, frankly. At times a very high-functioning alcoholic, Anne’s reliance on the bottle has finally destroyed her long-term relationship with girlfriend and editor Loïs for good. Certainly not too proud to beg, Anne calls from a pay phone after a night of drinking, but Loïs insists they remain work colleagues only.

A blonde woman in a black leather trench coat stands in a phone booth at night, looking down dejectedly.

Meanwhile, at one of the top surreal gay nightclubs of Paris, one of Anne’s young stars catches the eye of a man in a dark mask that covers his face completely. Though things start on a kinky note, they take a turn for the ominous when the masked figure brings out a dildo that’s also a switchblade.

In a dark night club illuminated in blue, a young man looks off into the distance while dancing with a group of men.

Anne is rather unfazed, prowling a local quarry for another young gay star–or at least a man who has no qualms about performing gay sex on camera for the right price. So unmoved by actor Karl’s death is Anne that she even finds inspiration in his death for her next film, Anal Fury V…a reference to Karl being stabbed in the rear. The crew finds this all to be in rather poor taste.

After the murder of another of Anne’s regular actors (featuring a white-eyed grackle or possibly crow depending on the translation), the cast and crew is properly freaked the fuck out. However, Anne merely retitles the film Homocidal, determined to finish her greatest work yet and impress the hell out of Loïs. Unfortunately, it seems that Loïs has moved on with another woman, leaving Anne to drink alone at an incredibly surreal lesbian club.

Loïs, a white woman wearing a sheer dark dress, dances in a nightclub with a Black woman wearing a metallic dress.

When the filming is complete, Anne hosts a wrap party, aka an opportunity to wait around for Loïs to arrive. Soon after Loïs arrives, a white-eyed grackle lands on her shoulder, and a dramatic wind storm cuts the party short. As the party attendees flee, an actor left behind becomes another victim of the masked killer.

Following Loïs home, Anne confronts her ex, demanding that she continue to love her. Anne sexually assaults Loïs and, the next day, her former lover disappears and asks to be left alone.

When Anne learns of the latest death of one of her actors, she confronts the police about the absence of any leads whatsoever. Taking pity, a young police officer gives Anne a feather that has been found at each crime scene. As it turns out, the feathers come from…a white-eyed grackle, hailing from a forest in rural France, and supposedly victims of extinction hundreds of years ago.

To uncover the truth, cityslicker Anne packs her bags and heads to smalltown France. Will she discover the identity of the killer or just find a forest full of creepy birds?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

In the earlier segments of the film, I was confused and frustrated enough that I probably would have multi-tasked for the remainder of the film if it hadn’t been subtitled. There are a lot of artistic decisions here that come across as the work of auteur who thinks it’s your problem if you don’t understand their vision. Oh, you didn’t understand the oranges as a representation of the loss of childhood innocence and their evocation of early Russian silent films? That’s on you.

That being said, even if enjoyment doesn’t quite describe my feelings about this one, I admire the ambition. I don’t particularly like our lead, especially since she sexually assaults someone and claims it was love, but I’m ok with not liking Anne a whole lot. From a thematic perspective, the concept of becoming monstrous in the name of love draws a parallel between Anne’s actions, those of masked killer Guy, and even the actions of his father.

Appropriately, the cinematography is gorgeous and chaotic, playing with film noir blues and violent reds, as well as soft daylight glow.

I did find the look into some considerations of the porn industry at the time pretty fascinating. Interestingly, Anne takes pride in the artistic element of her work, and wants to create gay porn with a unique spin. Not to give the porn industry a free pass on a lot of its exploitative/problematic practices, but it’s nice that there’s no shame here for the cast and crew, and there’s even a sense of professional pride. That’s not the perspective we get about porn crews in a lot of other works.

In the end, I didn’t expect to find the unraveling of Guy’s story to be quite so moving. I wouldn’t call Guy a sympathetic figure, but the past does color his actions with tragedy and create a surprisingly emotional conclusion to our film. It has to be intentional that the setting is 1979, setting the stage for the AIDS crisis just a few years later.

Btw, if you’re just here for an extended and quite artistically shot orgy scene, skip to the last 5 minutes of the film.

Would my blog wife cast this one in a porn film immediately or leave it to a forest of white-eyed grackles? Read her review to find out!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Spinster, or: A Yarn about Knitting

It’s a good feeling to cross things off the watchlist, particularly in advance of the Oscars. Even though the only things I have to do are pay for streaming subscriptions and sit down to watch films, there’s still a nice feeling of setting a goal and meeting it. That being said, April was an intense viewing month on the Blog Collab, and we are now very much looking forward to a more low-key May. Unless we change our minds.

The Film:

Spinster

The Premise:

Dumped on her 39th birthday, a single woman considers what it means to be a spinster…and whether such an existence is really so tragic.

The Ramble:

As a bride-to-be recounts the impossibly romantic, life-changing moment she met her future husband, caterer Gaby has already decided the hassle isn’t worth it to serve at this wedding. A champion of dead-pan sarcasm, Gaby’s cynical take on marriage is infuriating enough for the bride to storm off in a huff, leaving us to wonder how our protagonist ever manages to paste on a smile long enough to book events.

Gaby, a woman with brown hair in braids, sits in a commercial kitchen, 3 plates of food she has made in front of her.

Gaby’s lack of empathy on this particular day is in large part due to her 39th birthday, a reminder that she is rapidly approaching 40 with no partner, children, or direction in her life. When she returns home, Gaby finds her boyfriend packing up all of his things and moving out. This sends Gaby into a panic–though she insists she doesn’t need marriage to be happy, she spends a worrying amount of time on dating apps.

Meanwhile, Gabby struggles to connect with the people in her life. She spends time with her bff Amanda, but only when running errands with the kids or attending horrible couples dinner parties. Neighbor Callie seems helpful and friendly, but Gaby is too wrapped up in her own troubles to notice an extended olive branch. And when it comes to Gaby’s family…let’s just say those relationships are fraught. Since her mother’s death several years ago, Gaby retains a lot of anger towards her father, who spent a lot of the marriage having various affairs. What’s more, Gaby’s brother Alex is a narcissist convinced he’s a comic genius as he navigates a messy divorce and custody battle.

Gaby sits on the couch across from her friend, who is folding laundry as they talk.

In short, Gaby is exactly the kind of character whose life is never going to change unless something shakes it up. The catalyst in this instance is a change in the custody agreement for Alex’s daughter Adele. Now, Gaby will need to take care of Adele while Alex pursues his stand-up comedy dreams on Thursday evenings (barf).

Around the same time, Gaby gets fed up with dating apps. At Amanda’s suggestions, she unsuccessfully pursues a (married, oops) chiropractor and joins a casual softball team to meet dudes. She even checks out dudes as Adele rock climbs, all to no avail. After yet another date that goes well initially but ends in disappointment, Gaby shifts gears and begins searching for the dog she’s always wanted but never adopted.

Gaby rests on a couch, reading, as a dog snuggles next to her.

In a fortuitous turn of events, Gaby’s father finally acknowledges that it’s very possible that she will never marry. Since he spent $40,000 on her sister’s wedding, he decides to give Gaby a comparable sum in the name of fairness. Gaby has always wanted to open a restaurant, and having a sizeable amount of money to get started gives her the opportunity to realize this dream.

While Gaby works to establish a restaurant, she builds a life that looks very different from the vision of her spinster aunt smoking 2 packs a day and dying alone in a bathtub. Getting to know her neighbor, joining a knitting group, spending one-on-one time with her bff, bonding with her niece–Gaby seems to have it all figured out. When she meets a lost hiker while out for a walk, will Gaby reconsider?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I like this one a lot. It’s a bit mild and inoffensive at times, and I wish it had pushed some of its ideas a little bit further. However, it really fit the bill in terms of giving our brains a break, and no arguments here at all on the message and themes. It’s refreshing to see a single woman navigating her place in the world without a rom-com message along the lines of “when you are a single woman who learns to love yourself, a moderately attractive man will love you too, and at last your life will no longer be the empty shell devoid of meaning that it was merely days ago.” I love how at peace Gaby becomes with the idea of living the single life and creating her own sense of meaning and purpose. Chelsea Peretti’s dead-pan performance is perfect here, and watching her character grow is sweet without being overly sappy. The film is spot-on about getting older being a triumph as well.

Major criticism that prevented this from being a 4-star review: the huge amount of privilege Gaby has that the film never really acknowledges. The way it’s presented when her dad gifts Gaby with a $40,000 check, it’s a fucking normal thing for families to do. It’s not an expectation I have that any member of my family will ever give me $40,000 for any reason–and even if it were, it’s never going to happen. If you’re reading this and anyone in your family has ever given you $40,000 or more, please tell me if you’re currently accepting new family members into the fold. That plot element took me out of the story, as well as the overall lack of conflict in the film. The film could have done a better job of being inclusive, as the characters of color are in minor roles and we get a mere glimpse of LGBTQ representation. Some of Gaby’s arguments in favor of singlehood for women come from a place of privilege too, though it’s still satisfying to see her shut down some extremely dated/patriarchal talking points.

Despite some criticism, this film really fit the bill in terms of what I wanted to see onscreen at the moment, and helped fill the void of female-driven films that aren’t focused entirely on romantic storylines. Gaby’s relationship with Adele is handled really well too; I don’t always love a film that hinges on a character playing surrogate parent to a child as a transformative experience. In this situation, I enjoyed the aunt/niece dynamic, and that Gaby felt it was important for Adele to learn to communicate her interests and be able to say no.

Would my blog wife cater a lovely wedding or funeral for this one or send it off without even an hors d’oeuvre sample? Find out in her review!