The Pink Panther Snipes Again

Bad Movie Reviews with a Touch of Snark


6 Comments

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.

1.png

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.

11.png

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.

3.png

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.

9.png

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!


3 Comments

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, or: I Was Promised Melanie Lynskey

This week’s pick is a stretch in terms of our Melanie Lynskey theme, but the only other films of hers coming to my mind were Heavenly Creatures and Ever After.  Since we’re all about broadening our horizons through this blog collab, we opted for this questionable doomsday comedy that, sadly, doesn’t give our star of the month (year, life, etc) a lot of screen time, but does feature more cameos than you can shake a stick at.

The Film:

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

(Fun fact:  the acronym for this film is SAFFTEOTW)

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Uncondensed Version:

After the failure of one final space mission to divert the path of an incoming asteroid, it seems the existence of humanity is rapidly drawing to a close.  With the realization that human existence will end in 3 weeks, Dodge (Steve Carell) tries to carry on as usual, while his wife literally runs off as quickly as she can in the opposite direction.

Dodge visits his friends, who try to set him up with a date during one last party, conveniently creating the opportunity for an absurd number of cameos  This is where our girl Melanie Lynskey enters the fray as a somewhat out of character, over the top flirt wearing a tiara.  I really wish she’d been given more to do here, as she appears for maybe 5 minutes max, though that’s true for most of the cameos in this film.

1.png

Our queen appropriately adorned.

Despite everyone at the party going nuts in the true spirit of carpe diem, Dodge remains aloof and unable to enjoy the atmosphere (and admittedly, some of the shit on these people’s bucket lists is pretty fucked up, including shooting up heroin and letting their young children get wasted).

When he returns to his apartment, Dodge is alarmed to find his upstairs neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) crying on the balcony.  An eternal fuck-up, she has made the most regrettable mistake of her life and missed the last plane home to see her family in England.  When she asks about old pictures Dodge has been going through, he reveals his own regret—losing his first love, Olivia.  Penny also inadvertently reveals details about his wife’s affair, of which Dodge had been blissfully unaware up to this point.  However, she does have good news in the form of a letter mistakenly delivered to her apartment months ago from none other than Olivia.

3.png

Appropriate reaction to the realization that ML’s role in this film is over.

When rioters threaten the apartment building, Dodge and Penny flee the city to find a route to Olivia and track down a plane–with the company a dog named Sorry that has been left in Dodge’s care.  TBH, the dog is probably the only one besides ML (and Gillian Jacobs, who appears later) who’s not phoning it in for this film.  Before they leave, Penny grabs a few favorite records because that’s her one defining personality trait in this film and should appeal to the trendy youths in the audience (none of whom watched this film with me, except maybe Bertha Mason, but she’d be more into destroying vinyl).

Since this is a journey film, our crew hits the road after catching a lift with a seemingly nice man driving along.  If you are like me, you will probably wait for him to be revealed as a secret cannibal or human taxidermist, but really the only thing memorable about his character is his readiness to die (which I think is pretty understandable considering the circumstances).  This sets up a long line of characters and scenarios that would be cleverly and occasionally obnoxiously quirky in any other road trip comedy, but fall flat here.  The overly friendly staff at a restaurant have a really boring secret, the police are needlessly nitpicky, and even the doomsday preppers are staggeringly normal.

4.png

Vinyl…something about drinking port and listening to the Velvet Underground on vinyl…blah blah blah…extended hipster stereotypes, etc, etc.

Initially, there’s a balance between the apocalyptic and romance threads that weave throughout the film, but eventually the romance plot takes over with Penny revealing personal stories about her family and practically writing a love song to vinyl.  At a certain point it feels like the writers took turns drawing random lines of dialogue from a hat of full of romantic comedy clichés.

When the two do finally track down Olivia’s house in Delaware, it’s so, so, so anti-climactic and frustrating.  It’s obvious that Dodge and Olivia aren’t getting back together from the moment the film begins, but it’s really unsatisfying that Dodge seems to abruptly shut off his feelings for her in favor of bonding with Penny.  Narratively, it’s supposed to make viewers believe his feelings for Penny are the most genuine, but it only succeeds in making him looking fickle as fuck.

I think I should stop because I have so, so, so many problems with the ending and don’t even know where to begin.

Let’s just say this one goes out not with a bang, but with a whimper.  Though it would also be accurate to say it literally does go out with a bang.

The Rating:

3/5 PPHs

Eh, it probably deserves fewer PPHs, but I will grant some leniency for the premise (which had potential) and the brief but shining moment in which our girl ML appears.

First, let’s start out with the romance element because it gets so much goddamn screen time.  Keira Knightley and Steve Carell are really difficult for me to buy as a couple, and he seems to be more of a caring father figure than a love interest.  They are both so bland as characters, and Penny’s love for records felt tacked on to give her some semblance of personality.  I honestly felt Audrey Hepburn had more chemistry with William Holden in Sabrina, and that’s a pretty low bar.

The end also pisses me off because Dodge makes a decision for Penny rather than letting her decide, which is not the least bit romantic.  FFS, men.  STOP IT.

The tone is perhaps the biggest problem—for example, a scene where someone is making a piss joke and then gets shot a few seconds later feels out of place.  This film can never quite commit to being a comedy or a drama, failing to merge these elements together well.

I could see SAFFTEOTW more easily becoming a dark comedy or satire and couldn’t help comparing it to other works like Fido, arguably Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or even You, Me and the Apocalypse (that short-lived and rather uneven apocalyptic TV show starring Rob Lowe as the least believable priest in existence.  It was never going to last 7 seasons, but it was funny at least).  All of these successfully gave an apocalyptic event a dark, funny twist, and even worked in a more or less believable romantic subplot.

To be clear, the dog in this film is adorable and should be praised, given treats, and in general be considered a good dog–and I’m not even a dog person.

Would Christa befriend this one or let it all burn?  Find out here!


3 Comments

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.

1.png

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.

4.png

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.

5.png

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!


3 Comments

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.

5.png

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.

1.png

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.

9.png

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!


1 Comment

Little Boxes, or: I Lived Ironically in the Suburbs Before It Was Cool

May has been rechristened Melanie Lynskey Month.  After unintentionally watching I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (IDFAHITWA) during the same weekend, my blog partner-in-crime and I are obsessed.  I dare you not to feel deep love and admiration after witnessing the beauty of Ms. Lynskey having an existential meltdown in front of children, aggressively destroying lawn art, and dreaming of a world where people stop acting like assholes.

Our first feature this month is Christa’s pick in which no wicker lawn animals were harmed.

The Film:

Little Boxes

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Uncondensed Version:

Our girl Melanie plays the role of Gina, hipster Brooklyn photographer who moves to the suburbs of Washington state with her hipster Brooklyn husband and son.  Though she has just accepted a tenure-track position in a college art department and the family is looking forward to more stability, they are nevertheless sad to leave behind their friends and the cool artsy vibe.

To their amazement, the same amount of money that carved out a small Brooklyn apartment gives the family a much bigger 2-story house in the suburbs.  However, they are in for some culture shocks as suburban living means navigating some oddly specific rules like children always calling adults Mr. or Mrs. (which really isn’t that odd to me, and if I ran into any of my primary school teachers, I would cringe if they insisted I call them by their first name).

All 3 members of the family have their own obstacles to tackle.  Gina’s husband Mack is a writer who is procrastinating on his latest book by writing food magazine articles.  He finds himself becoming a something of a local celebrity for being a published author with an agent and, more sinisterly, being commodified as quite possibly the only black person in town.

9.png

Fellow stress baker in action.

Gina is adjusting to typical academic BS, finding the tenured faculty monopolizing her time both on- and off-campus.  Janeane Garofalo is weirdly one of the tenured ladies, and encourages Gina to go out drinking with her tenure committee, then shames her when she gets drunk.  Sounds about right for tenured faculty.

3.png

It’s not a dick pic, promise.

Meanwhile, their son Clark is dealing with sudden attention from 2 girls in town who want to talk about rap and show off their dance moves for him.  One of the girls, Ambrosia, takes an interest in Clark in a really uncomfortable way that fetishizes him.  Shit hits the fan when Ambrosia’s mother catches them in a compromising position, causing Clark to lash out and make a decision he regrets.

10.png

Spoiler:  it does not involve mixing a horizontally striped shirt with vertical stripes.

Dripping with symbolism, all of the family’s personal belongings have been delayed, and Mack has discovered mold in the house that desperately needs to be removed.

With the family in chaos, perhaps the decision to move to the suburbs was a big mistake after all.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m super tired, which is one of several reasons I failed to empathize with most of the characters in this film except for Clark’s cousin, who comes to visit near the end.  He’s the main source of comic relief, offering sage advice beyond his years to the entire family.  However, it’s too little too late, and it doesn’t help that I didn’t particularly care about the family.  We were never off to a good start as it really rubbed me the wrong way when all the members of the family were marveling about how beautiful and spacious their new house was…possibly because I’m eternally bitter about my lack of financial freedom.  IDK, Mack and Gina felt way too bland to be these cool trendy artists.

It would have been cool to see more of the “before” picture of the family’s life in Brooklyn rather than hear Gina wax poetic about what a beautiful haven for amazingly talented artists and intellectuals it is.  FFS, we get it—hipsters fucking love Brooklyn.

Most of the secondary characters didn’t come off much better.  I really hated Ambrosia, and it took Clark a damn long time to realize she may not be an overly nice person.  Christine Taylor and Janeane Garofalo were so underutilized and had maybe 5 minutes tops on screen.

I think my problem here was that I wanted this to be either funnier or more dramatic.  It failed to make me laugh or produce any genuine feeling in me…except, you know, ironically.  Like a Brooklyn hipster.

Did Christa like this one before it was cool?  Find out here!