Ocean’s 8 Review


It’s been a while since I saw the original Ocean films so it was time to check out the spinoff. I do enjoy a good heist film like this where it’s not about breaking in with guns and taking everyone out but using a lot of trickery and deception to get to the bottom of things. It’s certainly weaker than the main installments but makes for a good film overall. You shouldn’t have too many issues with the execution.

The movie introduces us to Debbie who has finally gotten out of jail after 10 years. She has promised not to commit any more crimes but can’t help herself. She wants revenge on the guy who got her into jail and wants to make some money on the side. Her objective is to steal a super fancy necklace. To do this she’s going to need to form a whole team. Her main partner Lou is ready for this but they still need 6 more people. It’s time to go recruiting and then the game is on. Can they really outwit the insurance team as well as the people who are in charge of keeping the necklace safe? It’ll take all they got.

As with most ensemble films like this the movie’s first act is mainly about getting the team together. Each character is good at a different task so once they have the team assembled then they’re ready to move out. It’s a tried and true formula which works out pretty well. The characters are decent although there are few standout characters. Then we move to the actual heist which is always a lot of fun because of how much planning goes into that. The real question is always, do you buy into it?

Well, I think most of it works out rather well. Mainly due to the twist of the heroes covering their bases by the end of the film. Without that final twist the whole thing would have blown up and been completely unbelievable. With it, there’s only a few parts that break the case I would say. One is that the necklace was secured so that it could not be removed so easily. Because of this, I don’t see how anyone would believe for a second that it just fell to the floor during the party. It actually would have been easier to just slip the replacement necklace on at that point. Initially I thought the plan was going in a different direction but the whole “I found it in the water” excuse didn’t really fly. I also doubt it would have had the same kind of lock installed so the company would have realized something was wrong from the start.

The other issue here is when the heroes get greedy at the end and start stealing everything. Really guys? That last move would sabotage everything. Put it this way, they now all had to drive off in a big getaway vehicle that was caught on camera. What if the detectives decided to search the vehicle? When you add that onto the fact that Debbie is already a wanted criminal then you’ve definitely got a big issue here. Fortunately they got a certain inspector on the case but things could have easily gotten dicey there.

Those are the two reasons why I don’t think the whole heist would have gone over very smoothly but otherwise I thought the adventure worked out well enough. The film’s pacing is pretty decent. The writing is okay but it does have a tough balance to fill with the humor and heist aspects at times. For example, some of the characters here really aren’t very well prepared to handle a heist so what happens is there will be a lot of gags for the audience like the characters being obvious about what they’re doing but then in universe is raises quite a lot of questions. Again, the film’s final twist does help with this a bit though. The dialogue itself is also decent for the most part but you feel like it could have been a lot better. One thing I would have liked to see was more discussion on planning the heist rather than Debbie setting everything up off screen. The heist itself is a lot of fun though which is always the main goal here.

Debbie is the leader of the crew and the main character so she is the one coming up with all of the plans. She does pretty well at making sure everything is thought through and you do understand why she wants to squeeze the revenge in there as well even if it does ultimately put the whole thing into jeopardy. She could have easily destroyed all of their hopes and dreams with this. After all, the guy could have turned the tables had he not fallen for every trap so obviously. There’s no real excusing the second scene where he receives a call at a very convenient time and still goes to her house to have an affair even though he should know that he’s being framed. He was literally given all kinds of information and Debbie even revealed herself just to rub his nose in the situation. Any halfway decent intelligent character would have figured something was out so Debbie’s risk was pretty huge here. She’s a solid character but not a good leader.

Lou was Debbie’s main ally and certainly the one who got the biggest role here. She was solid and helped to keep the lead grounded most of the time. She’s also got a lot of talents which helps her blend into the role really well. Amita came in handy for the jewel cutting which was one of the most crucial parts. Tammy was fun as one of the more down to earth characters who had a pretty content life before getting mixed up in all of this. If anything she should have said no since the risks heavily outweighed the rewards here.

Constance was one of the standout characters here since her sleight of hand is quite impressive. Without those abilities the plan would have to be dramatically altered. Nine Ball gives the team the tech advantage they would need for this case. She’s not as solid as the other characters but does well when needed. The weakest link is definitely Rose though. She’s the old art dealer who helps out with getting the necklace but she is not good at the criminal game and really puts everyone at risk. Then you have Daphne who is a main focus here since the heroines are trying to manipulate her into being in the right place at the right time. She’s much more self absorbed than most of the other characters but does come off as one of the more likable ones. I was also glad she was shown to be a little more intelligent than she would let on.

Overall, Ocean’s 8 is a good movie. It has more positives than negatives. It may ultimately feel a lot weaker than the main one so if you compare them directly then this will lose out but on its own I would still say it’s worth a watch. I’d certainly be down with a sequel as well. That said, the movie should be a little more careful with its title. If you’re paying attention to that then you’ll know more about the film than you’re supposed to. All while it’s playing you’ll be counting to 8 and so if the numbers don’t match up….well it’s something to think about. I was surprised the ending didn’t have some kind of big reveal or plot twist for the climax but I suppose they didn’t want to tip their hand in case we don’t get another film. Perhaps that is for the best but I have to say it would have been a hype way to end things off and an improvement on the ending. The ending was satisfactory though.

Overall 6/10

Enter Laughing Review


It’s always tough to predict how a film will turn out when the main character isn’t any good but the rest of the film’s elements like plot and writing are solid. Can the film pull through or will it ultimately be doomed? In this one’s case I would say that the overall movie is still solid but that main character is definitely hard to watch. He really takes the lies and deception to a new level. This guy’s got no shame about messing with everyone.

The film starts off by introducing us to David who leads a rather stable but uneventful life. He’s got a good job as assistant working with tools and deliveries but he wants the kind of job that’ll make him famous and this isn’t exactly doing this for him. On a whim David decides he wants to be an actor so he heads to a nearby audition. The show isn’t doing this well and is quite desperate so they invite him to join. Now David is determined to be a great actor but his chronic lying and poor time management creates friction with his boss, parents, and his girlfriend. David’s troubles are only just getting started.

Here’s the issue with David though, all of the problems are of his own creation. He keeps a ton of secrets from everyone and at times this is for no reason. Then you’ve got the fact that he is desperately obsessed with every girl in the movie. Keep in mind that the guy has a girlfriend and yet he constantly flirts with the receptionist as well as his co-star. He was even trying to initiate an affair with the latter after getting drunk but fortunately she threw him out. If anything this was pretty out of character since she was after him in every other scene but perhaps the film makers decided this would have made David too far gone to be redeemed. I’d argue he was already past this point here though.

Part of the problem here is that David never really changes. Look at the end of the film, things are going well for him now but did he actually renounce his ways in the slightest? He still intends to have affairs with everyone possible even if it was a joke, he basically said he’s with Wanda because the other girls don’t show any interest in him. Yeah this is not a lead that you can really get behind in the slightest.

As for the other characters, they tend to be very nice and tolerant the whole time but maybe too much so. For example, Wanda puts up with all of David’s antics and only breaks up with him once in the movie and they have disagreements a lot. Thing is, once she learns that he is basically just cheating on her whenever possible, that’s a good point to break things off. Yes, the instant he kissed Angela I would say he cheated. So that should have been game over for sure.

Next up is Mr. Foreman and that guy’s a very nice boss. Really you couldn’t ask for a nicer guy as he constantly lets David leave early, come in late, and even pretends to buy his convoluted stories. I should mention that David isn’t even good at lying and tends to trip himself up quite a lot. He forgets about what his story was as soon as he leaves the room which is not a good look. You suspect that the Foreman knows about all of this but decides to roll with it anyway. He doesn’t even get on David for allowing his best friend to hang around all the time.

Then you’ve got David’s parents. His father’s a very hands off kind of guy so he doesn’t really mind what David is doing but his mother worries a lot about show biz and wants him to quit. Here’s the thing, you have to agree with her in this instance. David is literally getting scammed into paying the business 3 dollars instead of them paying him 3 bucks. The lead naturally didn’t realize this but it shows how he’s not very smart in these things. The guilt trip may have been a bit much with some heavy handed tactics there but at the end of the day she was doing her best to ensure that things worked out for David in the end.

Following them is Mr. Marlowe who is the owner of the show. He has rather high standards for his play and is continually disappointed that nobody is able to reach these standards. David is the latest in a string of disappointments for him and is so bad at acting that you do wonder how the lead ever thought he would be good. David’s a source of never ending stress for Marlowe. Marlowe’s not exactly the nicest guy to be sure and yet at the same time he has 0 to work with so it’s rough. Mix in the fact that they don’t know how to earn money and in a way David found the perfect place. Then you have Angela who always acts drunk and is an intentionally odd character. She’s one of the weaker characters in the film to be sure and most of her scenes are pretty bad from the start.

There are other supporting characters here like David’s friend and the receptionist who have their own times to shine. The receptionist definitely had a good time trolling David the whole time but was always on his side and helped him out quite a bit at the end of the film. The friend ultimately failed at the end but he had a difficult task so at least he tried. At the end of the day the main reason the film succeeds is that it does have quality writing and a lot of the jokes do land. Particularly the one’s at David’s expense as you already know he’s definitely not a quality character. My main issue here would be that he gets off incredibly easy by the end.

Overall, Enter Laughing is a good film about showing why you can’t just make a career out of anything on a whim. If David really wanted to be an actor he would have put in the time and dedication into doing so without just forgetting about all of his current responsibilities on the job. He seems like a character who wants everything to fall neatly into his lap without effort and that’s just not how these things work. As a result you just can’t root for this guy but if you enjoy a solid comedy film then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 6/10

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause Review


While the first two Santa Clause films were ranging from very good to great, the third installment ends things off on a whimper. It just isn’t able to compete at all. The reason for this is that the human areas have effectively stopped appearing. Almost the whole film takes place in the North Pole this time and let me tell you, that’s not a good idea. That’s where the weakest characters are after all so it’s just not going to work. The best part of the film is sadly a very short set of scenes.

The movie starts with Santa doing his best at Christmas as usual but this year things are extra hectic. There are delays in the present supplies which means that Santa has to inspect these things a lot closer than he usually would. Then his wife Carol is starting to miss being at home. Scott figures if she can’t go home then he’ll just bring her parents to the North Pole. They’ve never liked Scott though so the whole thing is a little tricky. With Christmas getting more and more stressful Scott is reminded that he can use the Escape Clause to make it so that his adventures as Santa never actually happened. Should he really undo everything that has already occurred?

I should mention, this is already part of the plot that seems forced. Why can’t Carol just go and spend some time at home? I feel like that should be an option as a little vacation of sorts. At the very least it’s an alternative to consider as opposed to going through an elaborate set up to bring her folks and then pretend that this is Canada. It’s never even considered though and based on what the parents say, Carol hasn’t been home in years. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.

There’s also another plot in the air. So, I didn’t mention them in the previous review but there is a council of Supernatural creatures such as the Toothfairy, Mother Nature, Easter Bunny, and more. They were fairly pointless in the second movie just as in this one so there’s not a lot to say about them. It’s a fun concept but the film doesn’t actually do anything interesting with them so you can definitely be forgiven for forgetting them entirely.

That being said, this time they play a bigger role because of one member known as Jack Frost. He’s upset because he’s the only member not to have his own holiday so he keeps trying to steal Christmas. Scott is ready to expel Jack but then decides to give him a second chance. He’ll let Jack Frost observe Santa’s workshop during the busiest time of the year with no real supervision. Jack accepts since this is the perfect time for him to sabotage Christmas. Throughout the movie we see him breaking equipment and messing with everyone the whole time. Unfortunately nobody is able to stop him.

It leads to a pretty rough scene where Lucy figures out the gameplan but isn’t able to tell anyone before being defeated along with Neil and Laura. You’d think they would have put up a better fight but they end up getting frozen without even landing a hit. It was definitely a pretty shameful appearance for them. Jack’s an interesting villain but one who gets away with far too much. Pretty much any scene with the guy is one where he is just messing up another piece of equipment with no actual punishment for his actions. You’d think that someone would catch him but that’s not the case. Even by the end he’s barely punished for everything he did.

That’s definitely one of the more annoying parts. That said, it does lead to the best part of the film which is the part where he and Scott have to time travel back to the past where the first film took place. Scott’s definitely been slacking off on his fighting ability though given how he was easily defeated by Jack. From there we get to see an alternate past where he never became Santa and how badly it turned out for everyone. At least this now gives Scott closure that he made the right move all along. My only problem with this is that the plot doesn’t appear until near the very end of the movie so there is almost no time to actually explore this. It’s an incredible premise and not one that could be explored in a few moments like that. I dare say that most of this film should have involved this premise.

After all, Jack learns about this trick from Curtis near the beginning of the film so we know it’s going to happen at some point or another. Instead of buying time with Jack breaking everything just cut to the chase. That way we’d have more time in the human world and that would have been a blast. The movie absolutely would have benefited from going down this route. Of that I definitely have no doubts. Ah well, I guess it wasn’t to be. It’s not that this film did a whole lot wrong but one of its main weaknesses is that it’s not all that funny anymore. I can’t think of any really humorous moments in this film and for a comedy that’s pretty bad. It’s definitely going more for crude humor this time around which doesn’t work well.

Most of the characters aren’t quite as reasonable either. If you thought Curtis was bad in the last film then he’s way worse here. Scott and Carol’s disagreements felt contrived as Scott was completely out of character with how much he was ignoring Carol and Christmas. Meanwhile Carol was fairly quick to escalate things as well especially with her parents antagonizing Scott the whole time. Then you have Neil and Laura who really don’t get to do much of anything here. You could say they are just along for the ride but that’s about it. Lucy gets a bigger role at least as she gets to have a blast at the North Pole. She didn’t do too well in the fight against Jack though.

Bud and Silvia are decent characters but definitely some of the meanest ones here. They’re always taking a lot of shots at Scott. I suppose they should be upset though. I’ll give Bud some props for being quick to help fix things though. He was definitely a solid handyman while Jack was busy messing the place up. I still can’t get over how Scott just let the guy run wild without a care in the world. He wouldn’t have made this mistake back when he was a business exec. Scott would have been on that guy right away and ready for a win.

Overall, Santa Clause 3’s mistake is very simple. It decided to focus on the North Pole which is consistently the weakest part of each film. Now, you can certainly have a good film at the North Pole I’m sure but then the writing has to be quite good and I can’t say that it was here. The writing is decent at best but most of the jokes don’t land and the character cast isn’t great. The difference between this film and the first one is pretty massive. It’s a decent end to the trilogy I guess but there’s very little replay value and you’ll likely be disappointed if you expect it to be on the same level as the first two.

Overall 6/10

The Santa Clause 2 Review


Time for the big Santa sequel! This time we’ve got more of a focus on the North Pole as they get their own subplot but there are still enough human scenes to keep you going. This one goes for more of a 50/50 blend so while it can’t quite touch the original, I’d still call it a pretty good film. The human world stuff is really solid as expected while the North Pole action isn’t as engaging. It is pretty fun to see the fake Santa’s facial expressions though as he reminds me a lot of the Cat in the Hat.

Scott is now an expert Santa who has done well at Christmas over the years. Unfortunately there is now a snag in the operation since a new Clause has been discovered in the contract which states that he has to get married or lose his powers. The whole thing is pretty suspect and forced for drama but I guess we have to roll with it. Santa heads back to the human world to find someone to marry while Bernard and Curtis stay back to look over the Pole. Unfortunately they are unable to do this on their own and create a Santa robot to rule until Scott returns. Unfortunately the robot has other plans.

Right from the jump there is an issue with this premise. Before Scott showed up in the first film, Bernard was perfectly able to look over everything without help. Why do they need a fake Santa at all? Also, keeping the secret of the real one being away doesn’t serve any real purpose if you ask me. I don’t see how the Elves would panic without Santa being around and this led to the circumstances of the fake taking control. So no part of the North Pole subplot was thought over all that carefully. None of it makes all that much sense so that was unfortunate.

This plot just isn’t very interesting in part because I don’t like Curtis as a character. He’s got to be the worst elf as his plans tend to be terrible and he always gets in the way. Bernard would do a lot better without him. At least fake Santa was fun by the end when he really thrived on being the villain. Still, he’s a bright point in what’s otherwise a bit of an uninspiring plot.

Back at home, Scott has to deal with a lot of drama such as Charlie being a rebel at school now. He has started defacing school property and has just become a delinquent. The film tries to show that it’s because he wanted to stand out a lot so Scott would come home but when you remember that he has a globe which summons Scott at will..the whole thing seems odd. It also seems to hint that Scott would just never visit him which doesn’t seem to be in character. I don’t see him suddenly losing track of time and staying at the North Pole. That just wouldn’t make any sense at all.

I’d say what I’m getting at here is that the writing was particularly weak. There are still a lot of fun moments here and I would call the movie a pretty good one, but it’s no longer great. There are enough things holding it back where it just has to settle for being a bunch of fun where you don’t look at the story too hard. It’s the definition of a forced sequel in that regard. The writers clearly needed an excuse to have the characters back again so this is how they went with it.

Fortunately Neal isn’t written out entirely so we get some nice scenes with him and Scott. The dynamic is a little different now since Neal likes Santa a lot and Scott has less disdain for the guy. He still does make sure to interrupt Neal and constantly mock him though so I can definitely appreciate that. Their scenes together are still a lot of fun. Scott is also able to instantly control the room once he arrives at school and defends Charlie well.

Of course there has to be a romance plot here based on the premise of the film. So at the school there is a tough principal by the name of Carol. She runs a tight ship so naturally the rebels at school don’t like her. Well, Scott is on her side with this and eventually the two start to get together but the main issue is that Scott will have to break the news to her about being Santa. As a kid she had a traumatic experience about that so it won’t be easy. Can Scott really convince her of this?

In a way that shouldn’t be hard because Scott performs a bunch of miracles during the film. One of the better moments for him was definitely at the work party where he gets everyone exactly what they wanted for Christmas. Fortunately he did it as a bulk order so it only cost him a magical point. It’s nice because Scott is always a very good natured guy and he just wanted everyone to have fun. He certainly accomplished that very well and I do feel like that’s proof enough for Carol to believe him. I do understand not wanting to believe Santa is real though because it’s hard to wrap your head around that.

Carol’s a solid character throughout and she was definitely in the right with all the school scenes. There’s no way to defend Charlie and that’s why the kid is a terrible character here. Carol isn’t even being mean or doing anything extreme. She’s just laying down the law that you can’t post graffiti everywhere and expect to get away with it. Carol’s stern but a very fair character and never for a moment did I think that she was in the wrong during any of her appearances. If she doesn’t create some law and order now then it’s only going to get worse for the kids later on.

Overall, The Santa Clause 2 is a weaker follow up to the first one but it’s still a good movie in its own right. If the first one didn’t exist then this would still be a fun standalone film to recommend checking out. The continuity boost helps at least boost the fun factor since it’s always nice to see the characters return. If you really liked Charlie in the first movie then the character assassination of him suddenly being a rebel may hurt the film more for you but otherwise you’ll be fine. There’s still a good amount of humor here and solid scenes in the real world. As long as we have that then the film is set. Now if the third film removes that…well we’ve got a problem. You’ll see my review of that one shortly.

Overall 7/10

The Santa Clause Review


The Santa Clause film is certainly a pretty well known one from back in the day. It’s an entire trilogy now and the idea of being forced into the Santa Claus role is pretty intense. There’s a good amount of humor and fun characters here so the film stays operating as a pretty high level. In particular Scott gets a lot of good insults in against Neal which are always fun to see. That guy really didn’t stand a chance here.

This film picks up with Scott running late to get home after a big party but ultimately arriving home. It’s his day of the week to hang out with his son Charlie. Charlie isn’t thrilled about being at Scott’s place during Christmas season and thinks they’re going to have a bad time. It doesn’t go extremely well at first with dinner getting burnt but then Santa Claus falls off of the roof and Scott is forced to take up the mantle. Yes, completely forced here as he didn’t want anything to do with the Santa gig but the sleigh just ended up taking off with him. Now this adventure is poised to ruin his life and possibly get his son taken away. Can Scott prevent this from happening?

A lot of the fun in the movie is all about the snappy dialogue. Scott has a lot of clear disdain for Neal and you can’t be surprised by that. Who ever ends up liking the replacement? Not to mention that Neal’s always pretty full of himself and tends to talk down to everyone else. Scott just ends up flipping this around and makes Neal look silly each time. Neal just can’t even begin to keep up with Scotty’s retorts which is probably part of what makes him get so furious. The banter just can’t be beat and the film keeps the humor operating at a high level throughout.

Another great moment is when Scott’s company starts to prepare their marketing campaign for Santa being in a tank. Scott points out the obvious flaws in such a marketing tactic but does so in a very comical way which I definitely appreciate. The whole gag of him growing to look more and more like Santa is also handled well and you can even see how that would be rather scary since nothing he tries works when preventing this new design. There’s just no way to avoid his fate and the worst part is that people actually think he’s doing this intentionally to delude Charlie into seeing Santa as being real.

Of course the film is a comedy first and foremost so the characters don’t tend to take a very rational look at this kind of thing. They just all pile on Scott and give him a hard time here. Even the court case is pretty rough towards him although I blame Charlie on that one. So Scott’s definitely a very solid main character. He tried really hard to give Charlie a good Christmas. He may have taken a little while to really get in on the action on how being Santa can be fun but at the end of the day he did really well.

What I have to give him extra credit for is ultimately not agreeing with the rest of the characters and trying to convince Charlie that the whole thing was a dream. He came close to doing this a few times but each time he ultimately ended up finishing strong and resisted the temptation. That’s why he’s a quality character here. He didn’t let Charlie down and he also helped make sure everyone got their presents. He adapted pretty well to the evolving technology at the North Pole as well and by the end of the film you could even call him an expert.

As for Charlie, he’s definitely not my favorite character. He really let Scott down at the hearing and gets very emotional throughout the movie. At least he’s a nice kid though. Charlie does his best to do the right thing even if he doesn’t always make the smartest decisions. Then you have Laura who definitely doesn’t get along with Scott super well at times although their various disagreements tend to feel pretty minor. They have some good banter as well and she’s a lot more agreeable to everything going on than Neal. It’s hard to see how she ever got together with that guy in the first place. He’s always getting completely dominated by Scott in all of their meetings. He also has a lot of resistance against Santa Claus to the point where he really tries to get Charlie away from that.

That said, I can’t fault Neal for that. I don’t think it’s necessary to have your kids believe in Santa from the start. He is fake so getting your kid to learn the true meaning of Christmas can be a good starting point instead of all the fables. As long as you break it gently then I’d say that’s fine. While I mostly describe Neal as a punching bag, it’s part of what makes him a quality character here. No matter how many times Scott insults and humiliates the guy, Neal is ready to get right back up again. Now that’s some solid determination if I’ve ever heard of any.

One of the more enjoyable scenes of the film as well is when Neal and Charlie have a discussion about Santa Claus where Neal brings up all the classic counters as to why Santa doesn’t exist with Charlie countering each one. His counters make a lot of sense after all since the whole time manipulation is a crucial part to Santa’s character. It is absolutely essential that he be able to stop time if he is to visit every child on Christmas in one day. So the fact that Charlie already knew about that trick was really good. If I were Neal though I would have quickly brought some receipts for the items Charlie had asked for in the past to prove that I had bought them instead. I think that would have been a winning argument.

I haven’t talked much about Scott’s adventures at the North Pole but there’s less to talk about there. Bernard is one of the chief elves there and he makes sure that all tasks are being performed correctly. He’s good at his job and a stern, but nice guy. Then you’ve got another elf who is really good at making hot chocolate. Both of these characters do well at the North Pole but I have to say that whenever the heroes are there I’m ready for them to just head back to Earth. We even get some scenes where the cops get involved and start causing mayhem against Santa.

Overall, The Santa Clause is a really solid movie. It’s definitely a title that I would highly recommend checking out. This is a Christmas comedy that has aged exceptionally well. The idea of Santa being a binding contract is very interesting. You’ll be having a great time watching the film because it just has a lot of fun moments and quality character interactions. The whole thing goes by in a flash. I’ll have reviews for the sequels up soon but they fail to quite capture the exceptional balance that this film had. In large part this is because this film ironically didn’t focus on him being Santa Claus for too long. If you’ve noticed, all of the positives that I have listed above barely have anything to do with that job. It’s really more about Scott doing his best to make the end of the year fun for Charlie and the hijinks that comes from this is really what makes the film work so well. Watching this for Christmas is ideal but you still have time to check this out for New Year’s if you haven’t yet.

Overall 8/10

Bell, Book and Candle Review


Time for a very entertaining movie involving witches. I haven’t seen a whole lot of movies about witches but the concept is always fun. Who wouldn’t want to have a little magic power or to be friends with someone who did? There’s a lot of fun things you could do with that for sure. The movie has a little fun with that and the classic concept of the love potion. Can Shep stay strong against such temptations or will he ultimately buckle?

The movie starts by introducing us to Gillian and her store of antiques. The whole thing is pretty creepy as all of the artifacts feel like they have some power. Well, they may not but Gillian certainly has power. She is the strongest of the witches. Being a witch has its downfalls though such as not being able to cry or fall in love. Now you may be thinking that these aren’t huge downsides….but hey it’s something. Well, she does seem to like her new neighbor Shep but he’s engaged to be married to the old schoolyard bully Merle. Gillian’s aunt Queenie breaks into Shep’s house to find some information but Gillian is determined to catch Shep fair and square.

She will just snatch him away with her wiles and not a potion…until he moves up the wedding to the same day. Then she just chucks the ole potion at him and lets it be done. Metaphorically by the way as the potion is really just a song she hums to her cat but I like the visual of her just throwing a bottle of love potion at him. Well, this cases Shep to break up with his fiancé and wait on Gillian body and soul. Will he be able to break out of this spell and will Gillian regret her actions?

Now on the site I’m always talking about the importance of will power. Characters who just start cheating lose a lot of points and same for characters who fall under mind control. That’s why I have to say that at the end of the day Shep isn’t a very strong character. He’s a nice guy and so just enjoying a drink with the friendly next door neighbor isn’t bad but as soon as she started randomly humming he probably should have started running out of there. I did like the fact that in the background you hear him rambling on and on about Merle for whole minutes. The guy at least had a lot to say there and would have stayed strong if not for the love spell.

Shep is a good guy at heart as he always tries to do the right thing. In the end he just wasn’t ready for a magical blast which is unfortunate. He was also a little slow to defend Merle when musicians were literally playing in her ear. From his reaction though he really liked the music but even so there’s no way he could have missed her distress right? You’d expect that he wouldn’t at least. Also, the ending of the film may have him be a little too forgiving considering all of the damage that’s been done. At the end of the day no matter what happens keep in mind that just the other day he was 100% ready to be married to Merle. Any other outcome would just be a rebound.

Gillian does an excellent job as the main heroine though. She’s definitely a very tough witch that you don’t want to mess with. The fact that she threatens Nicky and then makes good on her promise was impressive. I actually didn’t think she was going to go in so quickly but sure enough she did. I was also surprised that Nicky didn’t retaliate at all by getting at Shep but it’s clear by the end that Gillian just terrifies the poor guy. Her abilities are quite special as the film reminds us. Gillian works as a scary antagonist and a charismatic lead. In some ways she has more principles than the rest of the characters even if she ultimately ended up mind controlling Shep anyway.

She also mainly ends fights but doesn’t start them like the whole Merle situation. Merle does seem like a nice enough lady in the present though. If anything you’ll feel bad for her since you know immediately that things are going to get tough for her. She was apparently not the nicest kid back in school but that was a long time ago so it’s not like she should keep paying for that mistake in the present. It might not have even been personal and she was just a stickler for the rules back then although I have my doubts.

Nicky is too lacking in courage for me to take him seriously so we don’t need to talk about him much. Queenie is a fun enough supporting character. She does tend to talk an awful lot so she spills the beans on everything but ends up being entertaining at the same time so I can appreciate that. Finally there’s Redlitch who is a solid character as well. He may be all talk and his abilities are actually quite slim but I just like that kind of bluster. Even if he is wrong, it’s the conviction that he’s got which is important. He absolutely knows that what he is saying is true even when he is proven wrong. Now that’s what I call true dedication right? He also did well not to get drunk for his screen time even though he had a reputation of that.

The writing is definitely solid and the film has a very cheerful disposition to it. I think that’s necessary when you’ve got a film with love spells and the like. This could have gotten pretty mean spirited pretty quick if this was a very dark natured movie. Then that could get tricky. At least Shep wasn’t married yet or anything like that either so Gillian stole him away before things got too far. It’s a scary thought to have your mind taken over like this of course. It’s especially deceptive because it’s done in a way where Shep thinks that he is the one in control the whole time so you can see how that would get pretty tricky. No matter what he does, the guy thinks that it is of his own accord.

Overall, The name is going to be pretty hard to remember since it doesn’t have much to do with anything. Still, this is definitely a movie that I can recommend. It’s a fun film of witches and magic and why you should always keep your guard up. If you do not then you can find yourself in all kinds of trouble. At the end of the day Gillian’s cat was definitely not very loyal at all though so you should probably choose the familiars well. I suppose it’s also partially on Gillian though for only using the familiar when she wanted a wish granted so he felt like a genie. At first I figured Shep wasn’t actually allergic to the cat and it was part of the spell but I guess in the end it was real so that was interesting.

Overall 7/10

We’re No Angels Review


The concept of a villain deciding to help some people out tends to be a pretty fun one. A lot of villains will still have some kind of standards so they will be able to protect someone or may just connect with someone. You see this all the time like in One Punch with Garou stepping in to save a kid, Buu deciding to help out Hercule in DBZ, or even in Star Wars with Vader deciding to assist Luke. When you have a villain on your side like that it doesn’t mean that they are suddenly a hero but it does mean that at least you will have some good backup. So when a struggling family meets up with 3 convicts, it helps their odds of victory quite a bit.

The movie opens with Joseph and his two friends Albert and Jules on Devil’s Island. They have decided that they aren’t going back to prison and are going to hitch a ride on a boat back to civilization. They have a little time to waste until this happens though so they wonder into a thrift store and start robbing it blind. In general that’s what they do. They go around robbing places as much as needed and then move on to the next place. Here their scam is to do some window repairs so they trick the owner Felix into letting them do this. They start to learn quite a bit about the family while spying though, such as the fact that Felix’s cousin Andre is arriving soon and plans to ruin the owner. Meanwhile Felix’s daughter Isabelle is in love with Andre’s nephew Paul, but it looks like he is to marry someone else. The three crooks decide to help the family out since they’ve actually been nice to these three guys from the start. Can they really stay on the straight and narrow long enough to help or will their help just make things worse for everyone involved?

There’s a lot of great dialogue in the film. It’s got a great style of humor with a lot of witty comebacks and sarcastic remarks. In particular Joseph is very experienced and great with people. He’s able to manipulate both the heroes and villains quite a bit throughout the movie. He’s also a man of many talents as seen when he is able to forge some documents. There’s not much that he can’t do and that’s what makes him a pretty solid figure. Of the 3 characters he also seems to be the least violent. Both of the other two had pretty intense crimes while Joseph was about cooking the books. That talent would come in handy here as well.

He really elevates any scene he is in. I also liked all the scenes where he would be trying to sell someone a product. No matter how crazy the product or how ineffective it would be, Joseph found a way to make the sale. Now that’s dedication. Then you have Jules who was also a lot of fun. His accent was handled exceptionally well. He seems to be the most distinguished of the 3 and likes to talk in a very proper manner. He keeps Albert in check a lot of the time and is just very handy to have around. I would definitely put him as the best character outside of Joseph.

The only member of the trio who isn’t good would be Albert. He’s also the only character in the film that I would say was a bad one. The movie goes a little too far into the dark humor with his previous crime. The fact that Albert is not exactly repentant of the crime doesn’t help matter either. It’s played for laughs how Jules has to keep an eye on him throughout but that plot I could gave done without. It’s the only thing that keeps the movie from getting to the next level. It would have been nice if he had not been quite so villainous or if there had been some kind of plot twist at the end.

Then we have the family owning the store. First off is Felix who does his best to mind the store but doesn’t seem to have a terrific amount of business sense. He isn’t doing so well in the store and while the situation with the crooks turned out okay it easily might not have and he would never have known. He’s a bit too oblivious although in general I guess that is true for all the members of that family aside from the two evil ones. Now those guys are on the ball but maybe a bit too much.

Amelie is Felix’s wife and in a way she even looks up to the criminals. She admires how bold and resolute they are when making a decision. It’s an interesting character arc for sure. She’s a nice person at the end of the day who did her best through a pretty grueling situation with Andre. Then we have Amelie/Felix’s daughter Isabelle. She’s portrayed as one of the nicest people around to be sure. She’s always very cheerful and keeps an open mind as the main characters teach her some things. She may end up being a bit naive at the start but conducts herself well in how she learns from the opening experiences. I’ll definitely give her a lot of credit for not folding any of those times. She does faint a whole lot but that’s the only point I would take away from Isabelle. Otherwise she was just a lot of fun.

Finally we have the two big villains. Andre and Paul are comically evil with how over the top they are. Andre wants to make life miserable for Felix and he is also shrewd enough where he doesn’t easily fall for Joseph’s tricks. You have to give the guy some credit there. He does get real lucky that the main trio aren’t out for blood though because otherwise threatening them at night probably wouldn’t have been very smart. They get revenge on him in small ways throughout the film which is pretty fun to see. Andre was a great villain though and I would put him as one of the better characters in the film as well for that reason.

Then you have Paul who is another big villain but he’s not quite as solid as Andre. He doesn’t have Andre’s wit or sheer level of intelligence. Paul can only win when there are no obstacles ahead of him. He’s also not very brave either. So there’s no real reason to like the guy especially as he is quick to want to manipulate Isabelle as well. You’ll definitely be waiting for the main characters to take care of him as well and then see how they can cover it up.

Overall, We’re No Angels has a lot of great humor throughout. It can certainly get a bit dark but with the exception of Albert it’s all handled fantastically. The characters are a lot of fun and there’s always so much happening that the film will have a good amount of replay value. It’s also just a fun dynamic to have the villains as main characters since you know that they will not mind taking care of the villains at any time. Anyone messing with the leads may want to think twice about the whole thing. With tension and a nice sense of adventure, this is certainly a film I would recommend checking out when you get the chance.

Overall 7/10

The Grinch Review


The Grinch is a pretty classic story although it’s been a pretty long while since I’ve seen any version of it. It’s a story that holds up though and I would have to say that this is the best adaption of it that I’ve seen. The characters are really solid, the animation is on point, and the story is good. When you mix that all together then you’ve got yourself a really solid combo and the movie just flies by.

The movie starts by introducing us to the Grinch. He lives in a pretty fancy cave with his dog Max. They have a pretty nice set up with everything running automatically and Max oversees the whole thing. In general it’s just hard not to like these guys at least with this first impression. Unfortunately for the Grinch he did not have enough food to survive Christmas without going into town. He heads out and decides to make life miserable for everyone else as well. When the Grinch learns that Christmas is going to be even bigger this year he decides that it’s time to shut it down. If he steals everyone’s presents then that should end things right?

Meanwhile Cindy is the main human here. She’s a little girl who is always spreading cheer around and having a pretty good time. Her Mom has to work really hard in order to support her though. Her only Christmas wish is for Santa to help the Mom out but it’s been tough to get in touch with him. She decides that she will have to lay a trap for Santa so that she can explain the wish. She gets some help from the rest of the kids in her neighborhood but will she really be able to take Santa down for the count? Only time will tell.

One thing that stands out about the film right away is the bright and colorful environment. The whole film just looks amazing. It’s some of the best animation I’ve seen in one of these films in a while. Maybe it comes down to the city’s design and the Christmas decorations but either way it really stood out. The characters are all really solid as well. Let’s start with Bricklebaum since he’s more of a side character.

He’s a nice neighbor who always ignores the Grinch’s slights and keeps minding his business. I can definitely respect this guy and his dedication to his craft. That’s the kind of drive that you really want to see from him. He’s also just fundamentally a good person. Naturally to the Grinch he is seen as quite extreme and over the top but it’s all very genuine. So he just really clicked as a supporting character. Then you’ve got Cindy’s Mom who is also solid and does a good job of managing everything at home. Even the other kids at least help Cindy even if they’re all ingrates for having to be guilt tripped into doing it. You know that Cindy would have helped them out with no questions asked.

Cindy is a pretty reasonable character. I’ll give her credit for being such a pro-active character. She was always right there in the thick of things. Her route from home to the cave or town was also a lot of fun. She’s got serious sledding skills that’s for sure. Then we get to the main two. Max is a really solid dog. He’s smart and very loyal. I was glad that the Grinch and Max had a really good dynamic here. They get along and make each other even better. They do have a disagreement in the film but it’s a pretty small one and they get on the same page again.

As for the Grinch, he is an antagonist at first of course. He’s mean to people for no reason like pushing the food that they want away or popping balloons. Whatever inconvenience the Grinch can cause you, he will do it. It makes him a pretty fun villain though. It’s not like he does anything too crazy either. Most of what he does is pretty mean spirited but amounts to just inconveniences here and there. Fortunately the townsfolk are so nice that they don’t pay him a whole lot of attention. It does mean that his character arc can feel a bit cheesy towards the end though. Anyone who knows about the Grinch story knows exactly how this is going to go of course. I thought the execution was pretty good though.

There are other side characters of course like the lone reindeer who hangs out with Grinch. The Grinch wasn’t thrilled about having him at first but ultimately relented which was the first indicator that maybe he had a heart after all. It’s just a nice story with some good emotional beats and quick pacing. The film never drags on or anything like that and the writing is good. At the end of the day those are the key ingredients to having a good movie. The ending is satisfying so then you’ve got a full product.

If there’s any part of the film that wasn’t needed then I would say that I could have done without the narrator. I know that rhymes are a staple of the Dr Seuss adventures so that’s probably why he is here but you don’t really need him. In my mind the film would have been just as complete without him and you can understand what is going on well enough without the play by play. I wouldn’t call it a negative though. It’s just one thing that I would tweak but it’s not something that holds the film back either.

Overall, The Grinch is a pretty good film. It’s always nice to see a quality Christmas film at the ready. This is definitely the definitive Grinch movie in my mind so if you haven’t seen any version yet then I would recommend starting with this one. It really embraces how Whoville is a lot different from a usual town. They go all in on Christmas and with the solid animation they’re able to show how much fun people have when travelling around town.

Overall 7/10

Detective Conan: Wild Police Story Review


Detective Conan may be one of those never ending stories with tons of volumes but that doesn’t mean that a spinoff can’t eventually conclude. The Wild Police Story is one such spinoff and at only 13 chapters it had a really brief run. I enjoyed it well enough. It’s always nice to see Zero in his various jobs. While this title doesn’t quite have the same charm as Zero’s Tea Time, it’s definitely a solid adventure. The ending is also pretty intense for setting up Zero’s role in the main series. It goes without saying that the final chapter will spoil a ton of his development and plot twists from Detective Conan if you haven’t read that yet so you wouldn’t want to read this one until you’re deep into the Conan series.

The series starts off with Zero and a few new cadets getting to the police academy. They all have their own dreams and aspirations for joining the core and naturally that tends to put them at odds with each other. Jinpei joined in order to punch out the boss while Zero has very secretive reasons for joining. The two of them get into fights quite a bit as Jinpei is more of a rival to him. They’ve got a pretty solid amount of banter going on for them and definitely stand out the most from the crew members. All of them are solid characters though.

Wild Police Story is effectively like having more detail to Zero’s origin story but having it as a separate spinoff rather than throwing it into Detective Conan. It’s a pretty interesting approach and I definitely would say it’s a good one. I always like to see a franchise continue to expand and that’s exactly what this series does for the Conan franchise. There isn’t time for a whole lot to happen of course so we get a few one shot stories a mini arc and then a final arc to end things off on. The final chapter is also a nice epilogue where you see what has happened to each character in the present.

Zero is the best character of course. As always he’s pretty much an expert at everything he does and additionally he’s just a pretty nice guy who always does the proper thing. Zero’s confident but not arrogant. He’s always willing to lend a hand and he’s a bit younger here so he’s not completely all powerful the way he tends to be in the later appearances. So you really couldn’t ask for much more out of the main character if you ask me.

Then we’ve got Jinpei who is also very solid. I like his hot headed approach to things. He’s a nice foil to Zero’s cool and calm persona. This guy doesn’t just wait around to see what happens next. He’s always right there on the front lines dictating how things are going to play out. He’s certainly pretty rash with his decision making but it tends to work out all right and that’s the kind of energy you want to see in your unit. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Wataru has a pretty solid character arc where he learned more about his father. Initially he didn’t quite understand why his father took some of the actions he did so when a bank robbery occurs then he and Zero are able to talk things out while figuring out how to escape the situation. One of the cases had a pretty nice resolution where the cops just walk in low key in civilian gear and quickly subdue the villains. It really pays to have a bunch of close friends who are all expert fighters that’s for sure. Wataru doesn’t stand out as much as Jinpei or Zero but he’s still solid.

Hiromitsu definitely has one of the biggest character arcs here. He doesn’t do a whole lot for a while but he gets the final case which is pretty big. He finally has a lead on the guy who murdered his parents and wants to get revenge after all these years. So it took a long while to find him but that’s why you’ve always got to stay on the case because you never know what can happen. The rest of the gang are quick to pitch in and help him out here which was good. It’s definitely a very intense case next to the other adventures which typically had a happier tone. It’s also interesting because if you re-read the very first chapter of the series there were already a few hints about what would happen with his character so it was nice foreshadowing. Clearly the author already had a vision of how this would play out.

There are 2-3 other characters but that’s about it. The cast is fairly small and that makes sense since their wouldn’t have been much time to really develop everyone else otherwise. This series isn’t really about the depth at the end of the day. It’s just about having a fun story with some quick adventures. It’s all about team bonding and it works out really well. A little Conan cameo would have been fun too but I suppose the series doesn’t want to get too obvious. It would be odd to see him just walking around and also depending on how long ago this was maybe Conan wasn’t born yet. Zero definitely looks a lot younger but it could have just been a few years I suppose.

The artwork is really solid here as you would expect. The panels are all very clean and the character proportions are on point. You really will have an easy time following the action at all times. There’s nothing confusing to be said here and that’s always an important part with the artwork. You shouldn’t have to squint to see what’s happening.

Overall, Wild Police Story is pretty fun. It’s definitely over in the blink of an eye but you’ll have a good time reading it. Seeing the gang slowly bond as they’re all on the same missions is pretty nice. They really become a unit by the end to the point where they’re able to save lives without anybody even noticing. One of the most intense cases was definitely when they took the car on the highway and managed to stop a truck by jumping across. It was a pretty nice maneuver and one that definitely required a whole lot of teamwork on each character’s part. I also really liked the first arc since it literally opens up with a quick fight between Zero and Jinpei. That’s how you get the ball rolling right away! If you’ve ever wanted to see the Conan cast in a different setting then this is a great title to check out. I also highly recommend Zero’s Tea Time but note that it has not finished yet.

Overall 7/10

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father Review


Time for a rom-com film from a while back. So right away I had some concerns here because a kid was going to have a big role in the film. As you may know, kids tend to distract from the film going on with a lot of their crazy antics and holding things back. Unfortunately Eddie is no exception and easily the worst character in the film. Fortunately the rest of the movie is still pretty decent and it’s a film I could recommend. I just think it could have been even better if Eddie himself just wasn’t in the mix the whole time.

The movie starts by introducing us to Tom. He’s a man whose wife recently died so he’s doing his best to go on with life as normal. Unfortunately Eddie isn’t happy about this and wants to have a Mom again. Tom assures him that the two of them will be okay but Eddie throws fits and begins crying all the time. So Tom begins on his journey to find someone and ends up meeting a lady named Rita. Unfortunately Eddie doesn’t like her because he wants Tom to marry their next door neighbor Elizabeth. There are a ton of reasons why this shouldn’t happen, particularly that Elizabeth was Tom’s wife’s best friend. You’re not really going to marry her best friend right? Right?….well we’ll see if Tom can stay strong.

So I’ve already wrote about Eddie but lets wrap up his character now so we can move on to the others. He’s just really not coping well at all and tries to deflect this all the time by saying that Tom isn’t happy. You can see how visibly confused Tom was because they had just finished watching a movie that he enjoyed quite a bit but Eddie quickly threw cold water over the whole thing. Throughout the film Eddie is constantly projecting like this and Tom ends up being under a lot of pressure to find someone and fast. Then you’ve also got the scene where Eddie is rude to the girl at camp. This is already bad but even worse is the fact that everyone in class was always teasing her so Eddie had been the girl’s only friend. This sudden betrayal would be hard for the girl to deal with and this is never brought up again. Eddie’s just really mean throughout the entire film and every scene with him will have you cringing.

As for Tom, he’s okay but I wouldn’t actually call him a good character either. First off, as much as Eddie whines about the whole thing, that shouldn’t be enough to just make him find a new wife so quickly. Then you’ve got the fact that you can’t really take him seriously in these new relationships. He is seemingly interested in 3 women during the course of the film, Dollye, Rita, and Elizabeth. Dollye is taken off the table early on but with Rita and Elizabeth the guy can’t make up his mind. He actively goes on dates with both of them and doesn’t see any problem with this. Inevitably one of them won’t have a happy ending here.

Like Eddie Tom tends to lose his cool pretty quickly though so that also hurts him as a character even aside from not being able to make up his mind. He’s constantly insulting Elizabeth so it’s no wonder that they didn’t hit it off. Additionally when he tries to turn her logic against her when she rightfully points out that he’s always scared and pouting…it doesn’t work. He tries to say that she is also afraid of being in a relationship except that she is still going out on dates and has a solid gig as a nurse so…his argument was terrible from the start. She’s also the one making the effort to go to his place and see Eddie so this is a one way street.

Elizabeth is a decent heroine but I also feel like she was moving in rather quickly with romantic intentions. So, this goes back to the ole rebound that I always speak against in these films. If your wife just died or you split apart, you can’t move on to someone so quickly. How serious were your feelings if you are already prepared to move on? Both parties are suspect there. Even though Tom is meant to be wrong in his speech about how Elizabeth was just there to get married…this did start to go in that direction rather quickly so was he really wrong? Elizabeth said she went there platonically but it sure didn’t stay that way for long. Additionally Tom was the one starting to seem desperate as he kept inviting her for drinks. Yeah, I can’t give that guy a thumbs up.

Rita was a pretty reasonable character as well. She was also interested in Tom from the start and did her best to claim him. Unfortunately Eddie was always trying to ruin things there. She handled things quite rationally and in the end it was Tom who just tossed her aside once he decided to be with Elizabeth. I appreciate the fact that the film didn’t immediately try to make her some kind of villain or anything like that. Rita stayed as a solid character throughout so I appreciate the film’s restraint.

The other two supporting characters were Dollye and Norman. I was fine with both of them being written out rather early though as they got their own subplot because they weren’t quite as interesting. Dollye definitely had a very odd first appearance. Fortunately it went well but if I were Tom I definitely would have had doubts on the request. Her overall quest is good though as she works to get more outgoing. It’s a very noble goal and one worth pursuing. Meeting up with Norman was quite fortunate for her because that guy is quite good at being bold and letting this be known far and wide. Whatever the guy wants he gets. Definitely not the most trustworthy sort but you hope things will work out for them.

The writing is pretty fun though. We do get some nice scenes of humor particularly with the maid who is trying to learn Spanish. She has clearly put in a lot of work to her craft and is just a likable person. She does try to look out for Tom a bit in her own way. In general while I may not be big fans of the main characters or the romance in general which I found to be a bit weak, the film itself is nice and interesting. I wouldn’t really say there is a whole lot against it beyond that. The film is reasonably long and a lot happens. It may drag on a tad at points but not enough to say it’s a bad film. Put it this way, you should have a good time giving it a watch but it probably wouldn’t rank for giving it a re watch after that.

Overall, If you can get past the fact that the characters are going for a rebound romance then this is a decent film. It’s a film that would have benefited from not having Eddie participate at all though. Seriously, the kid really didn’t need to be here. Without him the story would be a lot tighter and you could probably even develop the romance more since it wouldn’t all just be from pressure that the kid provided. If you ask me that’s a winning combination. I somehow don’t think Eddie will be going back to camp after all of this though, he certainly burned all of the bridges he could have there and the little girl isn’t likely to forget his final scene either. Maybe he could be more likable in a sequel if we get a big time jump or something.

Overall 6/10