The Pink Panther Snipes Again

Bad Movie Reviews with a Touch of Snark


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Hello I Must Be Going, or: Lynskey on the Rocks

Though I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Melanie Lynskey May, I’m not sad that our desperate search for readily available ML films (with a heavy dose of artistic license) is over temporarily.  Here’s hoping we see her in I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore 2 or at least a few more original films acquired by Netflix.

The Film:

Hello I Must Be Going

Where to Watch:

Amazon Prime + Sundance

The Uncondensed Version:

This time around, ML is a majorly depressed young woman who hasn’t quite hit rock bottom but is just about there (seems a bit familiar for her, eh, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore?).  Her marriage over, her career non-existent, and having given up on everything else, Amy moves back in with parents in her mid-thirties.  It’s not a bad setup, except she can’t bring herself to change out of an old, dirty t-shirt or even leave the house, much to the dismay of her parents.  She spends a lot of her time looking at pictures sadly and crying to Marx Brothers movies, though her mother is constantly making well-meaning suggestions to improve herself and life.

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Current mood.

When Amy’s father has clients to impress, she’s forced to get her act together (at least a little bit).  Her parents’ whirlwind tour across the globe depends on these clients, as well as her father’s retirement.  No pressure, though.

For the fancy dinner party to impress fancy lawyer types, Amy manages to scrounge up a nice dress and sit through several courses without sobbing openly.  After revealing she was a literature and photography student who never finished her Master’s thesis, she gets shit from some of the dinner guests.  The only person more uncomfortable through these proceedings is Jeremy, stepson of the man everyone is out to impress.  Jeremy lets his mother believe he’s gay and loves acting because it makes her feel better and in control.

After Amy has had enough of this bullshit dinner party, she shares a romantic moment with Jeremy even though he’s a tender 19 years old.  He’s very perceptive and emotionally mature for a 19-year-old to an almost unbelievable degree, but IDGAF.  I WANT TO BELIEVE.

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Their relationship moves quickly both physically and emotionally, with Amy sharing painful details about her husband’s affair and the divorce (which blindsided her), and Jeremy revealing his fears about being honest about what he wants with his parents.

Even though they are both adults, Amy is embarrassed about their age difference and fears an open relationship could cost her father his clients and retirement.  They keep the relationship secret…until Jeremy’s mother walks in on them planning a fantasy trip to Canada and skinny dipping.  Fortunately, delusions are a powerful thing and, convinced her son is gay, Jeremy’s mother completely denies the possibility of any romantic involvement between the two.

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It was all fun and games until…GHOST SHARK.

The encounter is enough to leave Amy rattled, though, and she decides to end her non-relationship with Jeremy.  She agrees to go on a date her sister-in-law has set up, but quickly realizes she isn’t remotely interested in pursuing things further.  Though Amy misses Jeremy, she tries to find him and once again remembers their age difference.  After a ladies’ night out drinking, she literally does hit rock bottom and gets into a screaming fight with her mother.

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Did I mention Blythe Danner plays ML’s mother in this?  Because she does and she’s fantastic.

Realizing her mother is in many ways just as lost and disappointed as Amy, there seems to be a breakthrough.  But will it make a difference in her relationship with her family, her non-boyfriend, and most importantly, herself?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

It starts out as a bit of a slow burner, but becomes a thoughtful reflection on family relationships, perception of others, and self-love.  Though Amy feels like a fuck-up who has quit everything she’s ever tried, she begins to put things in perspective by listening to the fears and disappointments of others.  She learns to accept responsibility for her life while moving on from blaming herself for all of her mistakes.  It’s great to see her grow as a character, know herself better, and love who she is.  Amy and Jeremy begin to grow up together and have a very sweet, believable connection.

ML is great in this, as is Blythe Danner, and pretty much everyone else.  I think ML has the most to work with, as she’s a multi-dimensional, relateable, and flawed character.  Her struggle to rise above all the bullshit, feel normal, and rediscover purpose in her life is so real.

Would Christa dive in the pool with this one or hit rock bottom (literally and figuratively)?  Find out here!


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Rainbow Time, or: Pervs of All Abilities

Melanie Lynskey Month continues—long may she reign!

The Film:

Rainbow Time

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Uncondensed Version:

Shonzi is a young man who loves making films, staging doll and puppet shows, adopting a Fonzie persona, and annoying his brother.  He also happens to be developmentally disabled, living with his father, and spending too much time thinking about his brother Todd’s girlfriend (played by Queen Melanie).

 

With ML all set to meet the family, Todd is a nervous wreck who feels she is not adequately prepared to deal with some of Shonzi’s lewd tendencies.  Having little interaction with women, Shonzi frequently objectifies them and fails to recognize when he says something inappropriate.

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Yeah, this is 1 of about 3 seconds of this scene that could be considered G-rated.

 

ML and Todd initially have fun working on Shonzi’s movie, but he takes things too far when he films the two in a private moment.  While ML is upset, Todd is actually kind of into it–at least the idea of making a sex tape.  ML is pretty quick to shut this down.

 

As it turns out, the relationship between ML and Todd has its share of problems.  ML is still in the process of going through a divorce, and started dating Todd before her marriage was over.  She is still keeping their relationship a secret to a large degree, causing tension between them.

 

Things get even more complicated when Todd’s dad has a heart attack, prompting Shonzi to move in with the couple.  As ML gets a better picture of Shonzi’s attitudes towards women, she decides to spend time with him making a film so he can get to know at least one woman better.

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Join us–we have t-shirts.

 

Inspired by a viral clip, ML and Shonzi approach the subject of cat calling, interviewing several women about their experiences and reactions in a segment they call Rainbow Time.  Just when ML seems to be making a breakthrough, the two interview Justine, a developmentally disabled woman whom Shonzi dismisses and calls ugly.

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You know it’s serious when a woman stops in the middle of eating Chinese food.

 

Shonzi continues to spy on ML and Todd until finally ML has had enough.  She decides to take a break from Todd as she’s never really had time to herself.  Frustrated with his brother, Todd pawns Shonzi off on another family member.  When a confrontation goes horribly awry, the police are involved, and no one believes Shonzi’s side of the story.  Will the family be able to bounce back after this episode?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Is it horrible that I felt the message of this film was that disabled people are just like everyone else—they can be huge pervs too.  I appreciate that the intention was to humanize Shonzi rather than make him a simple, naïve child-like figure who occasionally spouts out sage advice, as Hollywood is wont to do.  But the film took things a bit too far in the other direction IMHO, and he just ended up seeming creepy, gross, and not particularly likeable.

More than this, though, the film isn’t particularly memorable, and it gets boring in places because there’s no real opportunity to emotionally connect to the characters.

The highlights are the films Todd and Shonzi make together, and it seems like the actors are genuinely having fun at those times.  The segment ML and Shonzi do together as Rainbow Time is nice too, and I expected it to recur in the film (and was somewhat disappointed when it didn’t).  Maybe that’s just the influence of Welcome to Me?

Our girl ML shines as usual, and Timm Sharp has a nice grungy Jason Schwartzmann vibe going on.

Would Christa spend quality time with this one or run in the opposite direction?  Find out here!


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Putzel, or: Poseidon, God of the Sea

The reign of Melanie Lynskey continues as we come full circle back to NYC after leaving it behind in last week’s film.  Once again, we’re in for a comedy/drama about family because that’s how ML rolls—though this week we get considerably more lox and unexpected guitar serenades.

The Film:

Putzel

Where to Watch:

Hoopla

The Uncondensed Version:

Welcome to Himmelstein’s House of Lox, a family business in the Upper West Side passed down from father to son…to nephew?  Walter, whom everyone in the neighborhood affectionately(?) calls Putzel, fully expects his uncle Sid to pass the business on to him any day now.  He’s built his 40 year plan around owning and operating the store for 40 years and determines to carry on his grandfather’s legacy…which is especially convenient considering Walter fears leaving the boundaries of the UWS.

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Walter was also waiting for the family’s telepathic abilities to kick in…

Everything seems to be lining up nicely with Sid and his wife Gilda retiring to Arizona…until our girl ML cruises into the fish store, dishing out impressive knowledge about lox and charming everyone in general with her Melanie Lynskey-ness.  She even scores free fish from Sid, almost unheard of from Walter’s grumpy uncle.

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Lox be a lady tonight? (Done, I promise.)

Suddenly everything is falling apart.  Not only does Sid plan to sell the store when he receives an outside offer, but Walter’s marriage also seems to be completely off the rails.  After sleeping with Hector, a neighborhood tough guy(/it was never entirely clear to me what he does), Willa seems determined to end the marriage–just as determined as Walter is to fix it.  Walter now has much scheming to do to keep his marriage problems a secret, stop Sid and ML (Sally) from getting closer, and guarantee the store’s succession.

Predictably, none of Walter’s plans work out the way he expects.  Even though Sid seems inclined to give Walter the store, he’s also more inclined to leave Gilda.  Complicating matters further, Walter is finding himself attracted to Sally because ML is a beautiful goddess.  When their relationship gets serious, Sally tries to distance herself from Walter as she’s always on the road as a dancer.

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I’ve always found a staring contest is the best way to establish your authority during a date.

It seems ML has swept out of the neighborhood as quickly as she swept in, but not before both Gilda and Sid figure out what’s been going on.

After a heart-to-heart with Sid about broken dreams and a few fish being thrown in Walter’s general direction, Walter seems to be getting everything he’s ever wanted.  …Right?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

My review has left out a lot of the awkward humor, genuinely funny dialogue, and sweetness of the Himmelstein family dysfunction.  Walter’s struggle to stay close to his family while no longer allowing their expectations to hold him back feels so relateable, and though the characters are exaggerated, they seem real.  I loved some of Walter’s self-deprecating lines, such as “I don’t want to know myself better, I want to know myself less” at the suggestion of seeing a therapist.

This became a 4 PPH film for me because of a few scenes–a sex scene involving shouts of “Poseidon,” a fight between Walter and a man dressed as a trout, and the scenes Walter shares with his aunt and uncle towards the end of the film.  ML is great in this, of course, and pulls off a compelling but vulnerable character.  The humor is done more convincingly than the moments of emotional depth, and (spoiler) the ending wraps things up a bit too neatly, but it’s still a fun watch that is well-written and features some memorable characters.

Biggest complaint is the missed opportunity for a pretzel shop in consideration of the nickname Putzel.  Perhaps in the sequel?

 

Does my blog wife find this lox-worthy or would she toss it back in the ocean?  Find out here!


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Tallulah: A Case Study

Hooray for fuck-ups!  At least that’s our theme this month (and let’s be honest—every month.  Every DAY).  This week’s pick is brought to you by Allison Janney and Ellen Page, but mostly Allison Janney.

The Film:

Tallulah

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Ellen Page steals a baby!  Also Allison Janney is in this.

The Uncondensed Version:

Tallulah (Lu) and her boyfriend Nico have been on the road, living out of a van for the last couple of years.  Things begin to fall apart when Nico suggests they settle down a bit, maybe even marry and have children.  Lu, much more of a free spirit, freaks out a bit, leading to a big fight and Nico’s departure.  With nothing to go on beyond Nico’s brief mention of going home, Lu heads to NYC to find his mom.

Nico’s mom, Margo, is played by Allison Janney (who in fact makes this movie).  In the midst of a divorce, fearing she will be kicked out of university-sponsored housing, and alienated from her son, Margo is not in a good place and not particularly welcoming.

After Margo sends her away, Lu goes to a hotel to scavenge and is mistaken for housekeeping.  An unhappy trophy wife asks Lu to watch the baby, Madison, while she goes on a date.  This woman, Carolyn, doesn’t seem to know the first thing about babies, letting her daughter toddle around naked, claiming she is already potty trained and doesn’t need diapers.

Carolyn is a pretty insufferable character and is accustomed to paying people to do anything she can’t or doesn’t want to do herself, including applying her makeup and putting her shoes on her feet.  She has a bit of a breakdown about how incompetent she is as a mother, but it was really difficult to sympathize.  Possibly because I find it difficult to sympathize, period.

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Is it wrong that I’m also annoyed by how perfect her hair is?

By the time Carolyn returns home, she is drunk and passes out almost immediately.  When Madison reaches her arms out to Lu, she takes it as a sign and leaves the hotel with Madison.

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The thing that scares me about babies is you never know if they just like shiny things or if they actually intend to choke you.

With nowhere else to go, Lu returns to Margo’s apartment and claims Madison is Nico’s daughter.  Margo agrees to let them stay for a night, which of course becomes longer.

Margo, Lu, and Madison bond a bit though mostly Margo yells at Lu for her complete incompetence as a mother.  We learn a bit more about Margo’s divorce, including the tidbit that she has yet to sign the divorce papers.  After many years of marriage, Margo’s husband came out as gay and left her for a man (Zachary Quinto).  Margo refuses to sign the papers in part because she’s angry that her husband is considered brave after so many years of lying and ultimately breaking up their family.

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Why go to a paint ‘n wine class when you can get drunk and make bad paintings for free?

Lu, on the other hand, remains pretty mysterious.  The only thing she reveals is that she was named after a bar in the town where she grew up, and possibly hints that one or both of her parents were alcoholics.  When asked if she was raised by wolves, she responds “I wish.”

Meanwhile, Carolyn is frantic about her missing daughter, partially because her husband has no idea she is in NYC and will never forgive her for losing their daughter.

You know this isn’t going to end well.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I don’t know if I like this one or not.  Allison Janney is amazing in this (duh).  There are moments that are very successful, and I like that it’s very focused on exploring themes rather than plot.

On the other hand, the tone strikes me as very uneven.  It’s a drama, but it has some lighter moments and (almost) a comedy ending.  I also didn’t really buy Margo and Lu’s bond—by the end, it was meant to be very strong, but I didn’t think enough time was spent establishing that.

My mom watched quite a chunk of this with me, and she thought the subtitle should be “A Psychologist’s Case Notes” or something along those lines.  It did seem to be a very clinical study of the characters’ personalities and motivations.

Even though she’s the titular character, I think Lu’s motivations remain the most obscure.  It’s odd that she takes the baby so soon after having a discussion with Nico insisting she doesn’t want to settle down and have a conventional life.  But the movie is all about deception and self-deception, so perhaps these are things Lu does want to some degree.  All of the characters seem to lack clarity regarding what how they’d like the future to look and instead try to replay old scenarios with a happier ending.  Lu may want to create the happy childhood she presumably never had without having to really commit to being a parent or leaning on others for help.

I like the exploration here, but not necessarily the execution.

Would Christa take the money and run or take the baby and…stun (rhyming is hard)?  Find out here!