Scoob! Review

Scoob got a lot of hype when it was first coming out as that big theatrical level Scooby Doo animated film. With the live action films not doing very well, this was the next chance to do something big. Well, it’s a pretty fun film I’d say. Ironically I would say the animated dvd films look significantly better visually but this movie is better than some of the more recent films. So all in all I was satisfied with this one. It’s not one of the best Scooby Doo films but it is easily not one of the weakest ones either.

The movie starts off with a new origin story for Scooby Doo and the gang as we see how they meet up and stop their first criminal. From there we get to the present where the heroes want to go professional. Unfortunately their potential investor says that Scooby Doo and Shaggy are liabilities. The two of them storm off without actually getting to hear what the gang really thinks and then they get kidnapped outside of the bowling alley by the Blue Falcon and his crew. They explain that these two are crucial in the fight against against Dastardly as he tries to get some relics together for his plan of unspeakable evil. Shaggy and Scooby want to prove that they aren’t the weak links of the team and agree to help.

So we’ve got our adventure here but of course that does mean Fred, Velma, and Daphne are stuck in the subplot for most of the film. It’s an enjoyable one though and at least they were ready to help their pals from the start. They even confront the Blue Falcon’s squad without fear when they see how the team is belittling Shaggy. They were loyal friends despite the guilt trip from the bowling alley employee. Honestly that’s really on Shaggy and Scooby for just running out of there before the rest of the gang had a chance to do anything.

Still the portrayals for the 3 characters are on point. I’d have liked Fred to have gotten one really solid scene where he gets a good trap ready or something though as it felt like he got the biggest shaft from the crew. Velma is a lot better than usual here as they balanced her skepticism well with actually helping the crew out. She does a lot of detective work the whole time and contributes quite a lot. Hacking Dynomutt so easily may be a bit cheesy but that was a big contribution. Then Daphne does well in building up everyone’s morale and establishing a friendship with one of the enemy robots. That would end up being absolutely massive in the film.

For Shaggy and Scooby…well I’m still not big fans of them. I think Shaggy is definitely the weaker character here though. As a kid we see how he was really lonely and meeting Scooby really helped him get his life back on track. They have a great friendship but Shaggy gets jealous way too easily later on. I’m confident that if he told Scooby to keep the collar he would have done so. Scooby was just focused on saving the world while Shaggy wasn’t focused at all. He would just make passive aggressive comments at Scooby throughout the movie and it didn’t feel justified. Mix that in with Shaggy dashing out early and he was too emotional here.

He also needs to face the facts that he and Scooby are the weak links since they’re scared of everything and always running away. It’s why I like the idea of them trying to prove themselves here but you just know that it won’t stick and they’ll be back to running away. Unfortunately that’s just completely part of their characters now. At least Scooby tries to step up when he gets the super hero costume which is why I give him more points here. You can see some improvement.

As for the villains, well Dastardly is fun. He’s a classic kind of villain who is super confident and always has a trick ready to take the heroes out. He come sup with a lot of clever plans and outsmarts the Mystery gang on more than one occasion. His classic partner Muttley doesn’t get to appear much but he was a fun character. They definitely make for a good duo. The robotic minions were also fun and had a nice design and transformation feature going.

Then we have Blue Falcon who is definitely one of the highlights here. That guy’s a blast. He may not be a good hero yet but he doesn’t let that get him down. He has a lot of confidence in himself. The film goes out of its way to remind you that he’s not very strong or smart as it goes on but I like how genuine he is. The Blue Falcon is at least trying his best and that’s the important thing.

Then you have the two allies who are always taking shots at the Blue Falcon but I think deep down they look up to him. Dee Dee is the genius of the group so she finds out the villain plans and gets the tech ready. She can also fight with her equipment which is always very helpful. Then you have Dynomutt with all his features and the guy is constantly daring Blue Falcon to do better with how often he is breaking him down.

It’s fun to have all of these characters running around. It does mean that this is a very different kind of Scooby Doo film as there isn’t a true mystery this time around. I mean you have the whole Scooby Doo ties to the plan and what Dastardly is trying to do but it’s less of a mystery and more about just following him along. The Blue Falcon’s group also makes this feel more like a superhero film but that’s always fun. This works as a good change of pace for the series. It’s risky as the first title in this franchise to not be a traditional Mystery Inc adventure but I had a good time with it.

I think a very important thing here is that the writing is considerably better than some of the recent ones. The characters aren’t super exaggerated and the story is fun to follow. Those are exactly the kinds of story elements you need in order to make for a good movie. I wouldn’t say any of the jokes are laugh out loud funny but the movie has some funny scenes and lines. So all in all you’ve got a very strong all around film here. It’s nothing great that will change your life or anything but I wouldn’t say it has any true weaknesses either. The pacing is right, you’ve got a good cast and the film really goes by quickly. I’d be glad to see more adventures here.

Overall, Scoob! does a good job of setting up the future of the franchise for a new audience. I do think you could and should switch the animation style as it isn’t great but it works well enough. If you aren’t comparing it to the main series then it really works well enough to do the job. It’s just hard to beat classic hand drawn animation of course. If you’re looking for a fun film to watch and spend some time with, then this is definitely a solid option for you to check out. I’m looking forward to the sequel and seeing where they go with it. You can never have too much Scooby Doo! Hopefully Scrappy gets to show up next time though, now that would be fun.

Overall 7/10

Scooby-Doo! The Sword and the Scoob Review

The Scooby gang has returned for another mystery to solve. This time we get to see King Arthur and the knights which always makes for some good stories. I’m not sure about this rather sketchy portrayal of King Arthur but the film is trying something different so that’s always worth the attempt. Unfortunately I would consider this to be one of the weaker Scooby Doo films. The writing just isn’t as good as some of the others and the “twists” really don’t work….at all. A mystery is only as good as the execution after all.

The movie starts with Scooby Doo and the gang taking down another criminal as par for the course. The only question is….now what? Well, the gang heads over to England and visit a village where the town is talking about the good ole legends of King Arthur. Velma thinks this is all a bunch of hooey and the townfolk aren’t thrilled when they hear that Shaggy may be related to the royalty of a time long gone. Before the heroes can look into this, they are attacked by a witch and are teleported back in time to the days of King Arthur. Is it possible that time travel and witches are real?? Velma is convinced that this is all smoke and mirrors but even she may have to doubt this when magic starts to appear. Either way the main trial now is that they have to get Shaggy to become king like in the legends or their future will be wiped out forever! The stakes have never been higher.

Of course whether you even believe any of this will be a big factor here since Scooby Doo has really been avoiding the supernatural elements for a while now. It does seem like it would be hard to fake time travel though. That should be very hard in fact since there are so many old townsfolk and the whole kingdom looks different. Then for the magic, someone hits Fred with a spell that causes him to be unable to move. What science could explain that? Well, the film explains everything by the end. I won’t say whether this is real or not but I will say that the explanations are absolutely awful. Especially the Fred one which I don’t buy for a second. Come on, that’s just unbelievable. Same with the time travel explanation.

Merlin is the film’s little wink to the audience at the end but it’s not very satisfying. So…why is the film not too much fun compared to the others? For starters, most of the film doesn’t even have a mystery to be solved. It’s not like there are many suspects. The only two three real characters we saw were the mayor, his assistant, and the librarian. So one of them has to be the Witch if we assume that she has a true identity but this isn’t the focus of the film. Most of the film is instead about Shaggy trying to become king and a lot of shenanigans happening in the meantime. We get some comic relief events and some reasonably serious action scenes.

Daphne beating up on the king’s men is fun. You sort of see this coming as soon as she enters the arena because fighting is her thing, but it’s all handled well. I was glad to have some action here because the animation is sharp. So when the film brings its A game then you know to expect some good things. You could even mistake this for a DC film before the characters appear because it’s really got that look to it. If there’s one thing the films never disappoint with, it’s certainly the animation. You can’t do much better than this.

The soundtrack is mainly forgettable though so don’t expect anything much there. For the writing, well it’s classic Scooby Doo. They use the same gags in every film for the last 30+ years. Scooby and Shaggy are still scared of absolutely everything. Fred’s still not nearly as tough as he acts and his traps always fail. Velma is always super smug about not believing in the supernatural and is right in the end. Lately Daphne has a different gimmick in each film. For this one it is that she believes the world is a simulation and that nothing is real. Definitely random but we’ll see how she is in the next film.

The movie does have a little tribute to one of those old He Man type shows which is cool. The graphics have aged rather well and it looks like it would be a fun show now. The show itself ties in to the ending which is nice to see. It wasn’t just a random moment but ended up being important. We also do get a bit of an action packed climax. Low stakes but it was a good way to end things off with a lot of energy.

If The Sword and the Scoob was lacking something, it’s really that the explanations all could and should have been better. The explanations are really what will knock you out of the film right away. If they had just been better then I think you would enjoy the movie a lot more. King Arthur also should have looked way better than he actually did. We don’t need another coward in the film, we’ve already got two. King Arthur being a dignified king would have worked a lot better within the actual story as well and would have made the competition more fun. The humor doesn’t work as well when it’s all the same thing.

But I would say the film is still positive. While it’s one of the weakest Scooby Doo films, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. For starters, the film still flows by really quickly. I would say that the pacing is on point here. You won’t be bored even if you don’t find it all that funny. It’s always nice to see the old characters around and I wouldn’t say the film makes any big mistakes. The animation is solid as mentioned and while there isn’t really a big mystery this time around, we do get the quick fight scene with Daphne. So when you mix in the solid visuals with some action, you’ll at least be having a good time here.

Overall, The Sword and the Scoob should have been a lot better. I definitely won’t deny that, but if you’re looking for a fun Scooby Doo adventure to jump into then you can’t really go wrong here. I’m confident that you will have a good time and that’s the important part in the end. I do have higher hopes for the next one though. It all comes down to the explanations. As long as they line up and make sense then we should be in good hands here. In the meantime, I wouldn’t mind if they ever decide to make Shaggy and Scooby brave. You don’t have to go too far but just toning them down a little bit would go a long way. It may go against tradition, but trust me it would be a great move.

Overall 6/10

Cactus Flower Review

Cactus Flower is one of those movies where the main character really creates all of the trouble for himself. He’s not in the wrong place at the wrong time or anything like that. It’s his lies that turn a molehill into a mountain so it’s hard to feel bad for him at any point in the film. I don’t think the romance works very well and while some scenes are funny, others are not. There are more misses than things that work well in this film so ultimately I have to give it the thumbs down.

The movie starts with a girl named Toni deciding to commit suicide but she is rescued by Igor who decides to have a little fling with her in the process. Toni doesn’t seem to mind all that much and explains that she has decided to remove herself from the picture in the cheating affair she had with Julian. Julian receives her suicide note though and dashes over to see her. He convinces her that his wife doesn’t mind the affair and has even given her consent for a divorce. Toni finds this hard to believe and wants to meet this wife. Here’s the issue…Julian doesn’t have a wife. He decides he will have to get his dental assistant Stephanie to play the part but she isn’t thrilled about doing so. Is all of this really worth it to keep the relationship with Toni? Toni’s neighbor Igor is also suspicious of what’s going on and decides to step in.

This film starts to play out like a soap opera after a while with how complicated the circles are. Julian’s reason for lying to Toni about having a wife in the first place makes him look pretty bad too. Basically he told her that so that he wouldn’t have to marry her and they could just have the friends with benefits routine. Toni didn’t mind at first but clearly this got to her later on as you can tell from the opening scene. At this point Julian should have confessed but a big part of Toni’s character is that she doesn’t like liars so Julian chickens out yet again. The guy never really gets good at the whole honesty thing even through to the end. So you definitely don’t want to wind up with that guy.

So Toni likes Julian, Igor likes Toni, Stephanie likes Julian, and Julian likes Toni. Throw in a few supporting characters who will go out with any girl and you’ve got a regular circus going on here. Everyone’s certainly desperate for romance here except for Stephanie who tries to stay strong but 5 seconds into the movie and you probably know how this will play out. The romance angle is just very weak here and there is no relationship that you are rooting for.

Lets turn our attention to Stephanie for a second here who probably has the toughest ordeals in the movie. She has performed really well as an assistant for many years and has never failed in any tasks. It’s really a credit to her skills and she has a good home life. Well, one day Julian makes this crazy request for her to pretend to be his wife and she should have stuck to her guns and said no. By joining in she is basically lying herself and these things tend to come back to haunt her. Having to go on a fake date with Julian’s awful friend was another shot to her reputation and dignity. By the end of the film Stephanie basically cracks as she decides to have a wild night hanging out with a dicey crowd. Julian drove her to this so you don’t want to see them together in the end.

While Julian isn’t honest, you don’t like Toni either because she is having a relationship with the guy while she thinks he is married. No way you can get behind that. Even if Toni starts to feel guilty later on, it’s just too late. Her demands get more and more unreasonable though like after she meets Stephanie then she wants to meet the new boyfriend and things like that. All the while she seems like someone who will cheat on Julian without a second thought. Julian is correct to be suspicious of the next door neighbor Igor, that’s for sure. Toni is just way too annoying to be likable.

Then you have Igor who isn’t great either. I give him some more points than the others since he did save Toni’s life and tries to be a decent guy but his romance plot isn’t great either. He tries to look out for Toni but doesn’t exactly confess at any point and if anything makes her jealous by hanging out with Stephanie. He does get some of the best lines in the film though so by default I would consider him to be the best character here. It’s really not saying much but I like the confidence he has in his writing. He wants to write plays that are dignified and don’t rely on fanservice. It’s a good goal and hopefully he can achieve it.

There are some side characters but they’re all pretty bad like Julian’s friend who wants to have an affair with everyone and the one guy who’s always going after Stephanie even though he is married. I suppose you see some real characters while working at the Dentist. I’ve just seen way better romantic comedies in my day. You can survive while having a bad romance if the comedy is really good, but I wouldn’t say it is exceptional or anything like that. It has some fun moments but what comedy doesn’t? Most of the jokes don’t land very well and that hurts. Any scene of Stephanie having to survive her dates and try not to run out is more tragic than funny. She went too far in trying to help Julian and just should have let him sink instead.

Julian just kept getting worse and worse as the film went on. There’s one point where he starts to lecture Stephanie on how she isn’t feminine and how she is limiting her world view while they are driving back. This is after she has put her reputation on the line to help him out and she has been a great worker for many years. The entire speech just made absolutely no sense. Not only was Julian incorrect in each of his assumptions but it just made him look like a grade 1 jerk. Talk about having no gratitude for what she had done for him. Julian forgot it all in an instant.

Overall, Cactus Flower is a weak comedy. It’s hard to find any character to root for here and the style of comedy just ended up missing a lot. The romance is rather poor and while the dialogue can be good, it wasn’t enough to save the movie in this case. It does go by fast though, I can tell you that. The movie doesn’t drag on and a whole lot happens before the movie ends. So I can at least say that the pacing is good which is a small silver lining at least. Perhaps a remake could handle the film better as the plot of a close friend pretending to be the wife or girlfriend can work at times. You just have to have a really good setup and likable characters. This one forgot those key steps.

Overall 4/10

The Shop Around the Corner Review

The Shop Around the Corner is a pretty fun title for a movie. It does give you a classic rom-com feeling although you could also see this working for a horror title. It’s a fun little story although it is one of those times where the romance seems is hard to buy into because of how mean the main heroine is though. If she’s this mean to just anyone…well the main guy better watch out.

The film starts off by introducing us to Alfred who is the best salesman in the store. This store sells just about everything from music boxes to suitcases. Alfred has been exchanging letters with a lady and is starting to get serious about her but they are anonymous pen pals so they don’t even know what each other looks like. In comes the main heroine Klara who really wants a job. She and Alfred do not get along right from the start but she ends up getting the job. Fast forward many months and things have not improved between them. Each of them are getting ready to meet their pen pal but Alfred is distracted by the fact that the boss: Hugo has been turning on him as of late. Is Alfred’s job security in trouble?

Alfred seems like a nice guy right from the start. While the 6 month feud between him and Klara is mainly off screen, it seems like she’s always the one who starts it. A lot of her remarks towards him seemed rather uncalled for the whole time. She insults his intelligence, his character, and is always just taking any shot she can get. Even when he is being nice or at least trying to be, she just tears him down more and more. So it was hard to find her likable throughout the movie. Klara is someone who is only nice to some people and that’s not a good thing. When you’re conditionally nice, that just means you’re probably someone to be avoided.

As for Alfred, well he is a good main character. He’s put up with a whole lot on the job but kept on going. He’s the most dependable employee in the whole place. Alfred also does really enjoy the letters he gets and responding to them. In a way his life was going perfectly well until Klara stops by and the boss starts acting rather aggressively towards him. Alfred’s life is thrown upside down but at no point does he take it out on any of the other characters. He just does his best to stay professional and really does all the right things. By the end you’ll certainly be rooting for him.

I did not like the boss Hugo. So, Hugo finds out that someone is having an affair with his wife and so he jumps to conclusions on who it is before waiting for his private investigator to let him know who it was. Not like the PI was a lot of help though as the guy just narrowed the options down to an employee which was most likely anyway. Hugo goes in hard on burning the bridge with Alfred. Alfred’s a nice guy and still stays courteous but I don’t think many would overlook how Hugo treated them.

Pirovitch is Alfred’s best friend and he’s a loyal sidekick to have at the ready. Whenever Alfred needed help with anything, Pirovitch would help out. The guy also took things in stride and had a very laidback approach to everything. Whatever you needed to be done, Pirovitch would do it. Then you have Vadas, one of the more dicey characters. He is quick to agree with the boss on anything to curry favor. He’s not trustworthy or honest in the slightest as he can only think about moving up. There’s always someone like that and so you need to keep on high alert around him.

Finally you have Pepi and this guy was really entertaining. Pepi started out as an errand boy and gradually moves up the chain. The voice he uses for the phone calls is great as he trolls Hugo’s wife and he also really knows how to command the troops once he moves up. Pepi has a lot of confidence in himself and this really ends up paying off for him. I like his confidence and his will to win. Through rain or sun, you could always count on Pepi to get the job done. You can also tell that he is going to be a very strict boss. There’s no doubt about that.

The writing is solid here with a lot of good banter between the characters. You’re always glad when Alfred defends himself so that it isn’t just a one way smackdown as Klara destroys him. Fortunately Alfred rarely takes the comments to heart and just lets them bounce away. I’m rarely surprised to see good writing in these old films because if anything I’ve come to expect it. This one doesn’t disappoint in that area and the whole film flies by pretty fast. Really the only weakness as I’ve mentioned is the romance which doesn’t really work.

The concept itself is sound. The idea of two characters liking each other as pen pals but not liking each other in the real world is a fun dynamic. It’s almost like a Clark Kent and Lois angle where she likes Superman but in most continuities doesn’t like Clark like that and will even insult him at times. I think the problem here is that they just made Klara too extreme. To balance this out, they should have also had Alfred taking more shots. Maybe tone down the actual shots so it’s more like fun colleague banter as opposed to extreme dislike. that’s really the only aspect where touching it up a bit would have been really good.

Overall, it’s not enough to really hurt the movie or anything like that though. Either way I had a good time with this one. When you have good writing and a very strong main character, you’re likely going to succeed either way. I like the story’s premise and the execution was on point. The movie never drags on at any point and the side characters are also very memorable. I wouldn’t have minded Pepi getting to appear more but ultimately he served his role well. It’s a very charismatic store and you can see why they have so many sales each year with such a talented team. I’ll even give Hugo some credit there since he tries to lure in customers as well. His main issue is that he’s already too well known so his tricks don’t seem to work very often at this point.

Overall 7/10

The Man Who Came Over For Dinner Review

Time for a crazy comedy film where you get to see what it would be like to have someone living at your place and creating a lot of chaos. You’ll probably have some issues with the main characters getting pushed around so much but it is fun to see Sheridan constantly bash everyone over and over again. The guy is quite committed to taking everyone down verbally to the point where you have to give him some credit. He is quite consistent with how he acts towards them.

The movie starts by introducing us to Sheridan who is a very important man. For publicity he will be having dinner with Ernest and his family although he is not happy about this. Sheridan doesn’t really like people and he doesn’t like anything that messes with his routine. Well, this dinner falls into both of those categories as reasons why he isn’t happy about it. Things get worse for him when he slips on their steps and breaks his hip. Now he must stay in their house for days as he tries to complete his business duties. Will the family continue to be overwhelmed in their own home or will they fight back?

Sheridan is a very entertaining antagonist and he really makes the movie. He never lets a minute slide where he isn’t insulting the cast with his actions or even just verbally. He has utter contempt for all of these guys since he believes he is above them. The only character he seems to care about at all is Maggie and that’s mainly just because he wants a consistent secretary so he doesn’t have to train a new one. Sheridan is a very selfish guy but it’s all so over the top that you can’t help but have fun with him. I’m telling you, the movie would not be the same without him at the helm. This guy’s great and he also has complete confidence in himself.

Whenever he’s concocting a plan, Sheridan knows that it will succeed. He also has quite a lot of allies to help him out in case things don’t go very well. One such character is a guy named Banjo who may be the craziest member of the whole cast. He isn’t crazy in a cool way though and I would consider him one of the weakest characters here. He certainly does have a lot of energy and adds to the insanity of it all but he’s one character that could have been toned down. Traumatizing the maid like that was mean spirited.

As for Maggie, she’s a solid main heroine. She is the only character who can keep up with Sheridan in terms of banter and even takes the edge sometimes. We see just how crucial she is to his success and has really done well for herself. Now that she is entering into the romance game that ultimately pits her against Sheridan. While the film shows that Sheridan will still win any match against an opponent, she puts up a really good fight here. Her cleverness and talent with making plans gets her far.

Bert is someone I didn’t like quite as much. See, my issue with him is how oblivious he is. An actress invites him to spend some time alone with her in a cabin to go over the script? He should have declined right away considering that he was seeing Maggie. Yes, he could have gone and made sure that everything was above board but the optics of that are awful. Especially with Maggie being so distressed and he acts like he has no idea why that could be. The whole thing hurt his character a whole lot.

As for Lorraine, well she is shown to be a character who will do whatever it takes in order to get her roles. She certainly isn’t afraid to admit this and has a lot of drive. The end to her character is rather intense here. You know she’ll be okay but I’d say a few bridges have certainly been burned by the end of this film. Out of all the characters though, Ernest and his family have to be the worst ones. They are actively bullied in their own home and don’t do anything about it.

Ernest’s two kids are quickly tricked by Sheridan and get themselves into trouble. Ernest’s wife ends up just trying to stay polite the whole time even as she is insulted and makes no move to defend herself. Then you have Ernest himself who just rolls over each time even when he is initially talking tough. That’s no way for the head of the household to be acting. Then when he finally makes a move he starts to get blackmailed? The guy should be ashamed of himself for ever letting it get this far. He should have made a stand right away. When Sheridan told everyone to vacate the first floor and use the back door exit he should have just said no and started reading the paper. Realistically there isn’t a whole lot that Sheridan could do about this.

That would have been amazing to have seen Ernest fight back like this. It would have changed the whole feel of the movie of course but I think this would have been the right direction. If you want to keep the events similar, just have Sheridan bribe a cop to arrest Sheridan or something and then you’ve still got the same scenario but now Ernest did fight back. It’s just almost hard to feel bad for Ernest with how he let everything go up in smokes like this.

The writing is good though and there is a lot of witty banter throughout. That’s where a good deal of the humor comes from and it’s all rather effective. The pacing is good too with a whole lot happening during the movie. You get to feel like it really has been a long time since Sheridan ended up staying at the house. The film also has a pretty solid ending which ends the movie off on the right tone. We’ll see if the characters handle things a bit differently next time.

Overall, The Man Who Came to Dinner is a very interesting comedy film. It’s all rather crazy like with how Sheridan invites murderers over for dinner and is obsessed with criminals in general. A murderer ends up being a part of a plot twist and there’s just always something happening. Whether you enjoy the film or not will completely depend on how much you enjoy Sheridan and how he pushes everyone around. I quite enjoyed that and also seeing how he’s built up quite a few friendships despite his gruff exterior. I doubt any of them would admit to being friends but it shows that even this cold lead needs someone to talk to.

Overall 7/10

Christmas in Connecticut Review

You can’t really go wrong with a Christmas in Connecticut although of course I would recommend New York first and foremost. This is a very classic comedy/romance title that really goes all out in how crazy it can be. The romance is particularly weak which holds the film down a bit but ultimately I would say it’s still decent. It should keep you entertained all the way through which is always good.

The movie starts by introducing us to Jefferson and his friend from the army as they are stranded at sea. They’re slowly floating along after having been at a warzone but so far nobody has spotted them. A few weeks later they are finally found but it was a tough voyage and Jefferson longs for a home cooked meal. His nurse Mary figures that she will send him to Elizabeth, known as the best cook around. Elizabeth’s employer Alexander thinks this is a tremendously good idea and also invites himself to her home in Connecticut. There is just one problem, Elizabeth does not have a home in Connecticut and she doesn’t know how to cook. It’s all just been a bunch of lies that she has been pedaling with the help of her legendary cooking friend Felix. If she comes clean now then she will be fired along with her editor so she has decided to play the ultimate gamble and pretend that the life is real. To do this, she even goes as far as to finally agree to marry John since she is supposed to have a husband and kid. He’s thrilled about this since he’s always wanted to be with her so he aims to make this official with a ceremony before she can back out. Then you have Jefferson who likes her as well but is worried about making a play on a married woman. What will happen next?

So there’s quite a lot going on here and the movie always has a frantic feeling about it. The characters are always running this way and that way to keep the deceptions up and monitor many situations at once. It’s rather impressive just how much they are balancing at the same time although the heroes often make everything harder on themselves. Just think, they could have had the marriage wrapped up if they just left the people by the door a few minutes longer instead of dashing off to open it.

Of course, Elizabeth was glad to do so since she really didn’t want the wedding. It shows just why this was not a great decision on her part. Effectively she was going to get married to someone that she didn’t like in order to keep her job. Marriages for business and such happen of course but it’s certainly not something I would root for. By the end you almost start to feel bad for John since he is the one who will certainly lose out in the end. Elizabeth likes to quite openly flirt with Jefferson in front of John. If anything John should have enough self respect to start shutting this plan down earlier. I suppose he was that desperate to be with her.

This is why the romance is weak though. You don’t care for either character by the end. John is overly desperate to be with Elizabeth even though he knows that she doesn’t like him. Then you have Elizabeth who has been lying for her entire career and seems to enjoy tempting Jefferson into having an affair with her. Even though she knows that he is trying to resist since she is “married”, Elizabeth keeps trying to ensnare him. It’s definitely a very shady thing she’s doing here.

I did like her boss Alexander though. He’s one of those guys who has really climbed his way to the top and is used to getting what he wants now. He is quite outspoken and decisive whenever he is making a move. Just the kind of guy you want as a boss and while that means he may be slow to see deception, he gives his team a fair shake. He’s a guy you feel bad for by the end since he really did his best at every corner. When a baby is seemingly kidnapped Alexander wastes absolutely no time in calling up the cops, the army, and everyone he can think of. He’s just a good man who is put into a rough spot here.

I also enjoyed the cook, Felix. Felix really knows how to cook and isn’t really a fan of what’s going on here. He wants to make sure that Elizabeth and John don’t get together and does what he can to push them apart. He tends to panic quite a bit but the reactions are always funny. Side characters exist to support the main ones and make the film even better so Felix really succeeds in that role.

As for Jefferson, well I don’t like him either. For starters, while he does resist in getting together with Elizabeth, he certainly cuts it very close. The guy still goes with her on a ride and they have a lot of adventures together. All the while he was already engaged to Mary, the nurse from the hospital. The ending gets very convenient for Jefferson but otherwise he just proved himself to be a very unreliable guy. Someone who quickly jumps from one girl to the next. That’s not what you want to see from the main guy here and he was trying to manipulate Mary at first so he could get some food.

While the characters are able to keep up the charade for a while, I have to say that they didn’t plan any of it very well. Not only did Elizabeth not tell almost anyone which leads to people spilling the beans but then she didn’t even know what gender her baby was, or have any setup for that. She really boxed herself in by saying that the kid was sick as otherwise she could have said he was with the grandparents or something. She did at least attempt to learn cooking from Felix so I’ll give her that. She just gets lucky for most of the film and a lot of the time you figure that everyone would have already figured things out if this wasn’t a comedy.

Overall, Christmas in Connecticut may be lacking a bit compared to other rom-coms because of how the romance angle is fairly weak. That said, it does still have enough good points to keep it in the green. For starters, the writing is still solid. The pacing is good and you will be entertained the whole time. With the characters not being very likable for the most part you may have a tough time actually rooting for the leads (I was rooting for them to get exposed by the boss) but the film is still able to hold itself up. This wouldn’t be my first recommendation but it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.

Overall 6/10

Fitzwilly Review

Fitzwilly is a very odd name for a film and the poster is rather crazy. At least you really would have no idea what you were getting yourself into here. It’s really a fun heist film all in all. The writing is on point and the cast of characters is fun. There’s just a lot going on here and the story keeps on changing and adapting as you go through it. I would have been on board with a sequel for this one to be honest.

The movie starts with introducing us to Fitzwilliam and his team. He works for Victoria, an old lady who is super rich or at least that is what everyone believes. It turns out that Victoria is not rich as her father didn’t leave her much of anything when he died. Fitzwilliam and the rest of the hired help don’t want her to feel bad though so they go around stealing to make sure that she is able to live the wealthy lifestyle that she is used to. Is this dubious? Well yes of course but at least they are stealing for a noble cause. You may not be rooting for them but it makes for an interesting dynamic. Well, one day Victoria hires a new secretary only she went out of the usual families and picked someone up from the outside. Her name is Juliet and she could potentially ruin the entire scheme. Fitz needs to find a way to get her out of here and quick but can he do it before she figures out that something is not right here?

Right away you feel like this will be a good movie because it just has a very calm vibe to it. The writing is fun and the pacing is on point. You immediately understand how all of the characters operate. Yes they’re crooks and I have doubts on whether they are really as generous as they appear to be at times. I’m sure they pocket some of the money for their own ends as well. Still, they don’t actually go around hurting anybody and steal from people so rich that they won’t miss the money much. It doesn’t mean you’ll be rooting for them because you shouldn’t be, but as they are not hurting anyone, it’s still entertaining to follow them on their quest.

Fitz is really a pro at this and it must have taken a long time to balance out his daily life along with his criminal empire. The guy even has time to always create an alibi for himself. The only time he seriously messes up is in letting Juliet stay. It’s a case of outsmarting himself where he was thinking of how this could really improve his position even more but erasing her doubts but the risks really outweighed the benefits this time around. She could have messed things up for them in dozens of different ways.

I do like Juliet quite a bit as the main heroine though. Initially she appears to have a strong sense of justice but then we learn her sense of romance is stronger. Yes, it’s a questionable moment for her but at the same time it was such a different reaction. I was expecting drama, running to the cops, and things like that but her actual response to his criminal empire is different than I had expected. She ends up having a really solid role here and the film just wouldn’t have the same level of danger without her.

Victoria is rather oblivious to everything but she means well. It would be a little hard to guess that she isn’t rich after a while though with the staff taking such great methods to keep her in the dark. I still feel like she should have known at some point though like checking her bank account. It’s the one….okay one of the many downsides of letting someone manage every part of your estate like that. She trusts Fitz a whole lot but as a result doesn’t even check over his work. I should think you would want to do an audit at some point. She keeps herself busy all the time though and that’s good since it means she won’t be bored.

Fitz has a lot of helpers but the only one that stands out in a bad way is Albert. This guy’s the easiest to crack when the going gets tough and he makes a really poor decision in the climax. There are just so many ways he could have handled that a lot better and it would have enhanced his character. Instead I would call his final move selfish rather than heroic and it simply isn’t a good look. In a way I had more respect for the rest of the staff who were on the take but weren’t dancing across the line so much. They knew where they stood and wouldn’t budge.

As I kind of hinted earlier, the romance is a bit on the weak side here though. It happens awfully fast all things considered and you feel like it shouldn’t work. Fitz started this whole thing as an act to push her away and so he’s not acting great throughout their dinner but Juliet doesn’t notice and the whole thing goes smoothly. Ultimately she falls for him anyway. The only part of the romance I do like is how she has his back right away after that since it’s fair to say that she knew the stakes once they were together but keeping the cat and mouse game a little longer would have been fun.

Where the film really shines is with the big mall scene at the end. The rest of the film was really fun and engaging too but this is the exciting climax that lives up to the build up. There’s a whole lot going on here and you have security getting involved as well. You couldn’t ask for a whole lot more than that here and Fitz’s plan was rock solid. It was really quite clever and while the film is part comedy so things are exaggerated, you can see this working to an extent. It’s really not a bad idea and when you have as many contacts as Fitz has, well that ends up helping out even more.

Overall, Fitzwilly is a really fun film. It’s one of those old time classics that will always age well because the writing/dialogue is strong and the movie has a good sense of humor. The characters are all written well and the movie doesn’t drag on for a minute. You’ll even get worried for the poor guy in Florida who is being pulled around by Fitz the whole time. Most of the movie wouldn’t have happened if Fitz didn’t make the big mistake of hiring Juliet in the beginning, but it shows that even someone as prepared as Fitz can make a mistake sometimes. It adds to the challenge and you’ll have a satisfying time watching this movie all the way to the end.

Overall 7/10

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle

This manga certainly has a very unique premise as the main heroine just wants to sleep. I have to give the series credit for sticking to this premise the whole time but I have to wonder if it can really keep this up for the entire run. It is a slice of life with each adventure being mostly stand alone, but I’d like a big plot soon. Still, it’s not bad and I’ll have a review for it up when I’ve finished it.

Overall 5/10

Moriking Review

It’s time for the next big Jump manga…or at least it could have been in a different timeline. Alas, I can see why this one didn’t last very long. It’s a comedic manga that tries to have some action elements but ends up succeeding at neither. I’ve certainly read way funnier titles in Jump like Reborn! and have read numerous better action ones. The issue with trying to be two things is that you will often fail at both and so Moriking didn’t stand much of a chance from the start.

The story starts with a kid named Shota getting all excited because he’s finally getting a bug of his own. Shota is obsessed with insects of any kind. His sister Shoko is not very excited about this but she does her best to be as supportive as possible. Well, the insect hatches…into a grown up dude named Moriking. He explains that he is one of the King candidates to rule the insect kingdom. Others will appear to fight him for the throne. He still has the same life expectancy as a normal beetle though and will die when Autumn ends. Shota is psyched to have such a cool beetle while Shoko has a hard time believing this. None of this seems natural. Cue the comedy shenanigans!

This is a comedy first and foremost. We do get some action scenes as the series goes on but you still won’t be mixing up the genres. Trust me on this, it’s still clear what the focus here is throughout. The series is 35 chapters long and I would say around 30 of those are comedy chapters. So having 5 action ones wouldn’t change the main genre for me. Unfortunately the series just isn’t that funny which is a really big issue for a comedy manga. In fact, you could say that it’s an absolutely massive issue.

The issue here is that the comedy is very limited. The main gag is the fact that Moriking is a bug and yet nobody seems to care. He goes to school, helps the police, etc. All the while he still keeps some beetle characteristics. The only one who seems to care is Shoko who constantly yells about this. She’s always asking everyone why they’re just playing along. She is the straight man to every joke and this same template of “Moriking does something crazy. Nobody reacts. Shoko yells about nobody reacting” over and over and over again. This is really the extent of the series humor for 90% of its runtime.

Unfortunately that has always been one of my least favorite styles of humor. A reaction to a non reaction just isn’t very funny to me. I like quick dialogue, meta humor, cool homages, etc. This humor just doesn’t do much for me. Ah well, a series can still be good without being funny right? Well…yes but this one doesn’t quite make it. The other humor it uses is that Moriking is always stripping. As a bug he doesn’t want to be stifled by clothes after all and the main villain feels the same way.

Every page censors them by having a leaf block them or steam and things like that but it gets old quickly. In Fairy Tail the gag with Gray works rather well in part because he doesn’t know why it happens and Fairy Tail’s dialogue and writing is just leagues beyond Moriking. In Moriking it feels like they’re just trying to get a cheap laugh and it is not working. The cast isn’t quite strong enough in this short series to get by it either.

Now there is something good I can say about the series. The art is very good. Each page is very clear and the characters have dynamic designs that really stand out. I can give a lot of praise in this arena and the action scenes are also on point. This is important because towards the end of the series we get a lot of homages to famous jump moments like Ichigo using Bankai and Goku’s Spirit Bomb against Kid Buu. The artist here is able to recreate the scenes really well so you immediately know what the reference is. That is something Moriking does well.

Likewise, I can also say that the action scenes are handled well when they happen. The first “arc” of Moriking is really about day to day adventures as each King appears one by one. Only the final king gets a serious fight where we have Morking give it his all. In that battle the stakes are very real and so is the battle. You’ll be very satisfied with how it all plays out. Then in the final arc as we take this global, we see some more battles which are also drawn really well. I’m fully convinced that the series would have been immensely better had it gone for an action angle from the start.

As for the cast, well two of the main characters are kids who can’t fight and that doesn’t bode well. That’s a bit more natural for a comedy manga but even then they feel too you. You have Shota as the lead and he’s just a little kid who always wanted a bug. He cries when he doesn’t get his way and is easily impressed by everything. There just isn’t anything to really like about him. He gets in the way more than he actually helps. If he could assist Moriking in any way that would be different, but he can’t.

Shoko is an improvement but not a big one. She is obsessed with getting a boyfriend but despite being the most popular and beautiful girl in school (Or so she says) Shoko has not had any luck yet. Worse is the fact that everyone thinks she is dating Moriking now. Shoko’s whole role in the series is to panic during every chapter which means you won’t be getting a lot of great scenes out of her. She holds herself back more times than not. By the end of the series she is a bit more accepting of Moriking but even then you can bet that she will be panicking a lot.

How about Moriking himself? Well, he’s certainly better than the kids but I still wouldn’t say he is great. He has good ambitions on being the king and helping the Earth stay peaceful but he doesn’t know his own limits. He faints from having a single glass of water and fails his only case as a detective. Of course this is all for gags and all that but it still doesn’t help his character. He has some good serious moments but I wouldn’t say he is a very memorable main character or one that I would like all that much as long as the series went down this route. He’s super oblivious and doesn’t realize why clothes are important, etc. These are a combination of character traits that don’t work very well for him.

At the very least, he is strong though. Moriking is able to defeat just about anyone who gets in his way. Then we have the first King, Oka who is a praying mantis. The character names get a bit confusing as we have an Oka, Oki, Oga, etc. Why do the names have to be so similar? Well, Oka is the nicest member of the Kings so as you can guess she is the weakest. She can barely fight and turns good almost immediately since she realizes that she has no shot at becoming the king. I guess she’s not bad, but there isn’t a whole lot to her personality. Being nice is really the only character that she has.

We then meet a weak bug named Ko who worked for the mysterious final king but got booted out of there. He can’t fight and he’s always really nervous but Moriking allows this guy to serve as his retainer. It was a nice gesture by Moriking but don’t expect this guy to be very helpful at all. He monitors the Moricave and helps out around the house but that’s pretty much the extent of what he does. It’s handy that he has super speed but he never really uses it. The guy is just way too nervous for me to find him likable.

Next up is Sakura, the next door neighbor. She’s a human like Shota but her thing is that she has a king for a pet as well in Oki. She’s nice enough and wants to be a good friend to Shota. There is some mild hintings at a future romance here but both of these kids are way too young for that so it’s not a real concern. She’s okay I guess but again, no real reason to remember or like her much. She’s less annoying than Shota but that’s about it.

As for her bug Oki, well that guy’s fun. He’s the first serious rival that Moriking gets and they appear evenly matched initially. Once Oki turns good right away the power dynamic changes though and Moriking is shown to be far stronger. You kind of knew this would happen eventually though so it’s not a huge surprise. It’s just sad that Oki starts to be more of a comic relief character who is kicked around by everybody. He’s afraid of ghosts and gets slapped around in his final arc fight. Too bad since I thought he had a lot of potential. By default he’s one of the better characters in the series but it isn’t saying a whole lot.

Then you have Mio the hornet who is the next member of the King candidates. She is ultra popular and part of her ability is that everyone pretty much wants to serve her. It’s like she was born to be a queen and in fact she was. I like her enthusiasm and everything but while she was serious for a few pages, she is immediately crushed by Moriking over and over again to the point where her attempts at victory as reduced to one panel gags. She is just completely out of her league which is just too bad. Still, I would say she is easily better than some of the other characters.

Then we have the best character in the series: Oga. So he’s the main villain of the first arc. He’s a villain who is very confident in both his abilities and his dream to make the world a better place. In that respect he’s given far more credit and props than any of the other villains in the series. He’s not some random gag character and his entire climax fight against Moriking is played very seriously. His abilities are the real deal and he still appears as a strong fighter when he returns later on in the series. He may have been humbled but he put up a good fight first. The battle with their various Zoro references was fun.

Finally, there’s the final boss of the final arc. Hercules is a villain who is extremely powerful to the point where Moriking was even getting wrecked. While most of the final arc ended up being a joke, at least this guy was given a proper send off. It’s also telling that he could have beaten Moriking almost immediately but ended up holding back long enough for the speech to buy Moriking some time to turn the tables. He had a good design and while he didn’t have enough time to develop much of a personality, at least he was someone you wouldn’t soon forget.

That covers the cast here and as you can see, it was one of the weaker ones. I’ve really talked about why the series was probably cancelled in my eyes, so what would I have done differently to stop it? Well, I think you have to go with the action a bit sooner. The comedy was not working so once the first king appeared as a joke, I would have made the others more serious. Lean into the part where each King gets 2 minions a little more and have them fight. I feel like this aspect was dropped immediately.

The series was at its best when Moriking and the others had to storm the villain’s base. Now that was a fun part and we got a lot of action scenes which is always good. If the whole series was like that then it would have hit the ground running. I would age up the kids a bit so they could potentially fight down the road. They could gain insect abilities or something like that. If the ratings were better then the final arc involving the world tournament could have been stretched out so instead of it just being around 7 chapters, it could have been a full arc. A big tournament like this should not be rushed so much.

With those changes/improvements I think Moriking would have been in a really good spot. I would have found it to be a lot more interesting at least. Slice of life gag manga just aren’t as fun as full adventures with a concrete storyline behind them. At the most I’ll say that the ending was okay in some ways. It involves memory aspects that I don’t like and one part makes no sense, but I can give it props in one way. Lets just say it involves the whole lifespan of how these characters will all die in about a month or so. That seemed a bit drastic especially if you want this to be a long running manga so it’s good to remove that as soon as possible.

Manga like this can be the saddest to read though because it had potential. At least with titles like Go Go Monster, Black Bird, or Black Butler, they never had a chance from early on. With Moriking, you can see flashes of excellence now and again. When the series is taking itself serious it is quite good. Moriking shows that it can unironically be a solid battle manga. Having excellent artwork is the first step to this and then battles are next. As you can see in the next screenshot, you can have serious moments of planning and things like that. It’s just that every time we get close to a moment like this, it turns into a gag and ruins everything. I may be singing a different tune if the series was good at writing gags, but it just wasn’t.

Overall, Moriking may have had some potential, but it didn’t live up to it. It just wasn’t funny and as a comedy manga that’s a huge strike against the series. The action scenes were good but they were few and far between. You can find romance manga with better developed characters and funnier humor. All of these strikes against the series proved to be fatal. I wouldn’t call this a good manga and while it does enough to not be negative, it ends up staying right in the middle. The crazy thing is if the manga had ended with the first king arc, you’d never have known it was cancelled. It would have had a normal ending. I knew something was up when a whole new villain group and tournament was announced with 7 chapters left though. That was a huge red flag and I feel like by that point the author must have had some idea that things weren’t going well. Starting a new arc like that was bold. I would advise skipping this manga in the end. It’s a fairly painless read, it’s not like it will stick out in a bad way or anything. If you have a few hours you can just go for it, but there are so many better manga to read. I’d advise you to find one of those titles and check that out instead.

Overall 5/10

The Family Man Review

Time for a classic Christmas switcheroo film. Whenever a character is given a glimpse of a What If scenario you have to wonder if this other life is better or not. I’m sure everyone’s thought of What Ifs at some point or another. I still remember how if I had rolled another way I would have likely won the Super Smash Bros national. Now that would have been absolutely insane. Back to the movie though, it’s a fun enough adventure even if it feels like the lead can’t catch a break.

The movie opens with Jack and Kate having a tearful goodbye as Jack has to go abroad to accept his promotion. Kate warns him not to go since she thinks Jack won’t return. He promises that he will be back though and we jump ahead a few years. Jack is now one of the richest people on the planet and is about to engineer the biggest merger in history. Unfortunately he did not go back to Kate so he is now single. Jack’s living it up though and seems to be as happy as can be. His life is borderline perfect or at least it feels that way. He has everything that he could ever want and is happily single. He doesn’t even think about the road not travelled. Well, one day he stops a hold up that was in progress with some quick thinking. The potential shooter, a guy named Cash tells Jack that he went too far when Jack casually tries to get Cash some help and talks about how his current life is perfect.

Cash curses Jack into another dimension, the dimension of what if. In this world, Jack ended up going back to Kate. They’re now fairly poor as they live in a house where they still have over 100 payments to make. Jack works at a tire shop now and is very unhappy. He wants to go back to his real life but there seems to be no way to do so. With no prior memories of this current life, Jack keeps getting himself into trouble. Can he make it back to his standard timeline or is this game over for him as a rich CEO?

In a lot of these What Ifs, the character goes to the other world because they wanted to. They made a wish on a crystal ball or talked about their issues with Santa. This film is an interesting reverse of the usual scenario as Jack absolutely did not want to leave his current status. He was quite happy with how things had gone and it’s really Cash who claims that Jack would be happier this way. Of course you figure Jack will give in by the end but it almost feels like he was being punished for helping Cash out and doing the right thing. Not exactly the big reward you would have expected for nearly saving the day.

There are a lot of fun moments here and the Family Man makes for a fun comedy. The writing is strong and while not every joke will land, there’s a lot to enjoy here. The script is definitely on point and the opening 10 minutes with Jack in the original timeline may be the highlight here. It’s just nice to see him really going over the top with how much or a “Profits first” guy he is. Thing is, he’s not even a super unreasonable boss. He’s paying everyone for their time and securing a big deal. He even says they can have a party, just once the merger is in effect.

Jack seems like the kind of boss you would like to have. He may not give you all the vacation time you would want but he does the toughest jobs himself. He’s the one who actually goes out to meet up with the execs and secure the deals. Jack really put in a lot of effort so I can see why he would be upset at having to lose all of that. He definitely made a mistake in ditching Kate like that, he probably should have called her over. That could have been the ideal timeline.

That said, I just don’t think Cash was correct about Jack not being happy with his life deep down or anything like that. Jack was clearly having a blast, there’s no way you can tell me he was sad or anything like that. He just got the biggest deal in history and enjoyed where he was. He even has a good working relationship with his subordinates and peers. Usually in these films one of the messages is that you can’t be happy if you’re single but that was a big myth and Jack really busted it here.

So in this other world, you can understand why he is upset because it does feel like a downgrade. He has a family now but has lost years of work and effort. Put it this way, it’s easier to find someone and start a family than it is to become rich again. If Jack really wanted someone, I’m sure he could probably have done that. Where the film goes a bit far in stopping him is when Jack ends up finding a path that will let him be rich again while also keeping his family. It’s sounding good until Kate tells him this is a bad idea and he has to decline that deal. It’s a shame because that would have been the best of both worlds. I’m sure Cash would have stopped him either way but it was a good effort.

Jack isn’t the nicest guy though and so a lot of the time you will feel worse for Kate and the kids. Jack could have done better to take this all in stride. Even if the situation wasn’t fair for him, it’s not like they had anything to do with it. Kate’s a nice heroine who does her best to support Jack at all times. I think she could have handled the end better with him trying to get rich again but he didn’t really think it through very well either. The whole sending the kids off to private school was definitely not the way you open that conversation.

The movie’s romance would be the weakest part which is what keeps the film from being a little higher. I was glad Jack at least turned down the side affair, that would have been too much to come back from. When he was single he had a lot of affairs which are definitely the weaker moments for his character. I still wouldn’t use that to show that he’s unhappy though, that’s just something you see all the rich characters do to flaunt their power. So long as they aren’t cheating on someone, it’s not nearly as big a deal.

I could also do without the kids to be honest as they usually seem to be here to guilt trip Jack. Also, the kid let him down with not telling him about the anniversary gift in time. That’s a really big thing not to mention and it nearly put Jack in the dog house. If you’re going to remember one thing, that would be the event to remember since the others just don’t matter in comparison.

Overall, you’ll have a good time with The Family Man. It’s a fun film that manages to cover quite a lot by the time that it’s over. The long length is good here because you get to really see both of his lives. The supporting cast is good too like Jack’s best friend in the new world. He really did his best to try and help Jack out through the tough patches. You always want to have a friend like that because he was both loyal and dependable. Without him Jack would have certainly gone down the wrong road. It’s not perfect but it’s a fun adventure. I definitely had fun with it and it’s certainly the kind of feel good film that succeeds in its efforts. You’ll leave with a positive spirit even if you may feel like his old life was still the best one. It’s hard to turn down being a CEO after all and I still stand by the fact that he seemed to be a rather good/fair boss.

Overall 6/10