To Sir, with Love

Time to continue the films with an education battle this time around. Students definitely love to give teachers a hard time and in this film that’s the entire premise so you can bet that they aren’t going to go easy. It’s always nice to hear the British accents in a film because they’re just fun. It’s part of why Dragon’s Den tends to be pretty fun. This is a solid all around film that has a pretty satisfying ending.

The film starts with Mark getting hired as a teacher. This is a pretty tricky school though that’s not in the best neighborhood so a lot of the students have their own share of personal issues to deal with. As a result school has become more like a game of rebellion where they can cut loose and do whatever they want. The other teachers don’t exactly want to be here either so that leads to a bit of an endless cycle as you might expect. Well, Mark is determined to crush this cycle once and for all before leaving for another job but will he be able to stick around?

Right away the film does a nice job of showing the defeated atmosphere among the teachers. The very first teacher he meets is a very sarcastic guy who doesn’t even bother trying anymore. The children broke him so now he just slacks off and watches the days go by. He made for a pretty fun supporting character though with how consistently negative the guy was. He definitely wasn’t about to change his tune, not anytime soon that’s for sure.

The other teachers are a lot more reasonable of course. From them, the teacher with the biggest role is definitely Gillian. She’s also pretty new at this and does her best to support Mark when he’s trying to surpass the system. She was quick to volunteer to go to the museum so his project would pan out. Definitely a solid ally to have around the whole time. The principal was a lot less helpful since he gave up immediately despite not helping out at all. That’s just how it goes I suppose.

Mark makes for a solid lead because he’s pretty careful and puts up with a whole lot without cracking. He does a good job of engaging the students and always trying to stay a few steps ahead. I also think it made sense that he kept applying to jobs the whole time as well. No sense in boxing yourself in when there are other options at the ready right? In the meantime he didn’t give up though and just kept on going. He’s the kind of teacher you would probably want to have in school since he is sure to make the topics interesting. His down to Earth approach was quite solid.

School tends to have a lot of different kinds of teachers. Fortunately nowadays you’re more likely to find relatively relaxed ones but it’s still anyone’s guess at the end of the day. As for the students, you would hope that they wouldn’t be quite this tough. Most of them become quite receptive to the lessons though aside from Bert. The way his plot ends out was pretty solid though. Sometimes the quickest way to an understanding there is with a quick spar and Mark was able to get his point across without seriously getting involved in the fight. That definitely could have easily gone sideways but he handled it well.

The other student to have a big role here was Pamela. She’s one of the only kids to give the lead a fair shake pretty quickly in part because she hadn’t been around a whole lot of respectable people. Her home situation was rather difficult and most of the kids were being pretty sketchy at ties so he served as a role model. The film does a good job of giving all of the students a presence though. They all get a lot of dialogue and while you may not recall all of their names by the end, it was a memorable class of students.

One of the most important things a film like this has to have is strong writing. You can’t have a solid drama containing a battle of wits without it. Both the teacher and students are given a suitable amount of respect here and the back and forth is handled well. You’ll be kept engaged the whole time. The story moves pretty well and the film never drags on. It’s a very tight story after all without much room for fluff. All of the scenes are pretty important. There was one subplot with Pamela that I’m glad remained just a vague subplot as that could have definitely been some extra drama that we didn’t need. The film remains rather upbeat throughout though and knew how to add in tension without going overboard.

Overall, To Sir, with Love is a good movie. It’s aged pretty well with a solid cast to hold it up. The dialogue is good and it doesn’t drag so there’s nothing really negative to say about it. The film also avoids the typical rushed romance here by hinting at one but not actually doing anything with it. A romance just wouldn’t have made sense with how much was going on and how short the timeframe here was. So it was the correct decision and the movie was better off for it. The ending also leaves room for a sequel and apparently it did get one so it’ll be interesting to see how things go on there. This is the kind of plot that you can do over and over again but I imagine it’ll be tougher and tougher to execute each time. Either you try to make the kids double trouble this time and go too far in making them edgy or you have everything go too well and people wonder what the point is. Well, sequels have a lot of pressure but of course if it works out well then that’ll be good.

Music and Lyrics Review

Music and Lyrics is a title that’s very to the point. Right away you know that this is a drama/romance film involving music. This way you know exactly what you are getting into from the start. It’s a reasonable film although there’s a moment near the end where one of the characters goes a little too far with the insults and the dances here can get pretty sketchy. So the film isn’t able to quite achieve the heights it was gunning for but it’s not bad or anything.

The movie starts by introducing us to Alex who used to be a famous star and now he is known as a has been. A lot of people don’t even know who he is anymore. Fortunately Alex takes this in stride. As long as he makes some money he doesn’t really care that he is not popular. It’s just the way that it goes for him. He finally has a chance at a big break though when he meets Cora who is the #1 star right now. She wants Alex to create a new song for her in 3 days. He’s not very good at writing but as luck would have it, his substitute gardener is a talented song writer named Sophie. Alex must now convince her to help him write this song so he will be set up for the rest of his life…or at least for a while.

Sophie isn’t very receptive to the idea initially though. See, she has a traumatic affair with a teacher a while back where it turns out that he was already in a relationship and just used her as a way to get new material for his book. The book was a best seller with the main character being a not very subtle version of Sophie. Now Sophie is afraid to do anything that will make her stand out. That of course does include writing a song. Alex will have to try and get persuasive fast since the deadline is fast approaching.

Music and Lyrics has a lot of good banter with the main characters. The movie is able to transmit humor effectively in these moments and the pacing is solid. I’d say the writing is on point as well so you’ve already got all the hallmarks of a good film. Sophie has certainly had a rough time of things but ultimately she steps in to help when needed. She can be a bit over dramatic like with the band aid scene which was a little odd but beyond that she’s usually not too crazy. Sophie makes for a good heroine.

Then you have Alex. For the most part he is a good character but towards the end he has a scene that will make you shake your head. Effectively he brings up her past trauma again and says that the guy was right with his insults about her. No matter how you slice it Alex went way too far there. It’s the kind of scene that is hard to overlook since no matter how much he apologizes the guy knew exactly what he did. There’s no coming back from that and I think a part of him knew it. So by the end I couldn’t really root for him again after that.

There are a few side character here and there like Sophie’s sister and Alex’s agent but for the most part the cast is fairly small. I did like the agent a lot though. He seems like a nice guy and someone who does think about his client a lot in trying to make sure he gets a good deal. He’s the kind of guy you absolutely want as your agent because nobody else would quite be able to match that kind of energy. So whenever he would appear you would get a good scene.

Finally you have Cora who is certainly very eccentric. She did rise to be the number 1 star so clearly her skills are the real deal. She may like to dance even if it disrupts the tone of the song but apparently it has worked out for her thus far. Cora’s a nice character who balances out business and pleasure well. She’s friendly with her teammates but she also makes it clear that she won’t support failure and has backup plans at the ready. She always ends up being reasonable in the end.

That said, her dances are part of what holds the film back at times. It can be a bit much when she’s dancing on stage as the whole thing is intentionally meant to be suggestive which is what her fanbase in the movie is looking for. The film uses it for humor at times but also just starts to be a little cheeky with this particularly in the climax. The dances definitely don’t have anything to do with the film so you could easily cut these things out and the film would be just fine.

Additionally, the romance in the film is pretty weak. Alex and Sophie barely know each other when you think about it. A large chunk of the film takes place over 3 days and even after that you can tell that they are rushing things far too quickly. It’s not surprising but it still doesn’t end up turning this into a good romance. The film probably should have just left them as close friends or even just allies and that would have flowed a lot better.

Overall, Music and Lyrics is a good film. It may not be a great one but it’s entertaining which is the important part. It’ll keep your attention and the writing is solid. I still say Alex went way too far with using the book to insult Sophie though. It also would have been more satisfying if Sophie could have had her closure with that guy instead of falling to pieces. Of course it can be tough to go through with something like that even after you have rehearsed but with Alex and the gang right there as support it would have been nice if she could have drummed up some more courage. If you’re up for a solid rom-com then this is a good pick.

Overall 6/10

All That Heaven Allows Review

All That Heaven Allows is a film about how you need to ultimately ignore social commentary on your personal life decisions or you’re probably going to regret it. Put it this way, there will always be those who object to your actions so if you try to please everyone not only is that an impossible goal but you won’t be able to have fun yourself either. Sometimes you really do just need to think of yourself and the lead heroine doesn’t quite understand this for a while.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Cary who is a very recent widow. Well, she is ready to move on and wants to meet someone but isn’t quite hitting it off with anyone. There’s an older man who likes her and initially I thought this might be the age gap romance from the film’s summary but she turns him down. She falls for someone who is over 10 years younger than her but he likes her back and so they figure they can be happy together. Trouble arises when Cary faces pressure from her “friends” as well as her two kids who think she is acting rashly. Should she rethink this romance or plunge forward?

There’s a lot to discuss on the romance angle alone. I guess lets start with the social factor. Cary really shouldn’t care less about what everyone else thinks. The only two she could put some stock in would be her kids, but the neighbors next door? They were insulting her ever since the very first scene before she even met Ron. Why would she want them to cheer her on anyway? This seems to be fortunately more of a relic of the past but for a while it seems like people were expected to fit into the social clubs since they were all “friends” even though nothing could be further from the truth. The problem as Cary soon sees is that at the end of the day they won’t care once she goes to their point of view.

To these people, they’ll be glad that they forced Cary over to their side but won’t do anything beyond that. Cary’s the only one who has to live with her choices. Same with the kids who very quickly move on and have no qualms about leaving the status quo. It was only an issue when Cary was making the decision. Madoka Magica had some good commentary about that back in the day. If you make a wish or decide to live for someone else, you need to make sure you’re doing that for yourself. If you’re doing it for someone else and expect some kind of eternal gratitude then you will always end up being unfulfilled because odds are that it won’t happen. Even if it does, it would be temporary.

Now lets talk about the other factor which is the age gap. In general I’m not a fan of age gap romances at all. You very rarely see them in films though. In general you expect a romance to be within a few years. Now obviously assuming both characters are over 21 I think you can reasonably have an age gap of around 10 years. I’ve always considered 10 to be around the maximum that makes sense. Any further and it just won’t be very balanced. It increases the likelihood that of one member deciding to fool around since the older one can no longer keep up or one member dying way too soon so the other is stuck behind. Of course romances are ultimately up to the individual but it’s just hard to see one working over 10 years. You can certainly have a crush on someone over 10 years older than you but going all the way to marriage does seem hasty.

So in the film I can agree with the logic of the characters saying this was a bad idea. Of course most of them put it in a very insensitive way so the only person rationally trying to explain this was Cary’s best friend Sara who was really solid in this film. She explained her objections but still supported Cary throughout the whole process. She’s a nice friend to have for sure since you need someone who has your back. Regardless I would not say that the romance in this film is very good. It’s all rather rushed so Cary does come across as rather desperate the whole time. Ron doesn’t really show his inner thoughts quite as much so I guess we have to assume that he’s on the level but it would be hard for me to trust him the whole time either.

At the very least the film is certainly going for a unique premise. Cary is a decent main character but I have to deduct a lot of points for allowing everyone else to control her decisions. She makes a significant amount of compromises during the film which really isn’t fair to any of the parties involved. You have to stick to your guns and the fact that Cary could not do that meant that she ended up being a weaker character. As for Ron, well he really tried his best to help Cary out. He fixed the cup, remodeled the house, and I would say he sufficiently showed that he was going to be an agreeable fellow. At the same time he wasn’t willing to bow to the other characters the way Cary was which is what put them at odds. His points were reasonable so I was more on his side in this one.

Then you have the kids who are mostly here to get in the way. The son was an ingrate the whole time and all of his points were nullified by how rude and disrespectful he was the entire time. At least the daughter always tried to talk about things in a rational way while keeping emotion out of the deal. I could certainly respect that. I also liked how she liked to psycho analyze everybody. It may not have worked all that well at the end which was unfortunate but that trait helped her stand out for a while and I dare say gave us some of the funniest scenes in the movie.

Overall, All That Heaven Allows is a reasonable film at best. I feel like the title is fairly misleading and I just can’t get behind the romance which really limits the film’s potential from the start. The gap just seems too extensive. What keeps the film from being bad as it easily could have turned is the fact that the writing is solid. The cast may not be all that likable overall but at least even the insults are all done in a pretty professional manner. I always enjoy these old school burns which are delivered so smoothly. Even the characters have to take a step back most of the time as they wonder what exactly happened. The film probably could have cut out the drunk character constantly trying to get at Cary though. Now there’s a subplot that feels rather unnecessary. (And also makes Cary look even more unreasonable for even wanting to be a part of that crowd) If you want a better romance film then I would suggest checking out a Doris Day film instead.

Overall 5/10

Send Me No Flowers Review

Doris Day seems to have a lot of comedy films where things go completely off the rails for the characters and this one is definitely not an exception. For romance comedies like this the most important thing is for the film to be fun with a solid script. The movie pulls this off and I would be able to recommend it. Now, I do have an issue or two with it like the overly familiar greetings from some of the guys to the main heroine but beyond that this is a solid story that really flows all the way to the end. You definitely don’t want to miss it.

The movie starts off by introducing us to George and Judy who are the two main characters of the film. Judy lives a pretty content life right now. She gets to keep up with all of the latest gossip courtesy of the milkman and she has grown used to George’s eccentric ways. See, George is one of those guys who stresses out about everything and constantly thinks he is sick with one thing or another. Unfortunately due to how the placebo effect works, he actually does get himself sick to a degree. Well, one day when he visits the doctor’s office for a checkup he overhears the Doctor effectively saying that George will be dead in a matter of weeks.

George isn’t ready to die and yet he has to be strong now for Judy. He lets his best friend Arnold know and now George has one last mission. He has to find a replacement husband for Judy since he is confident she will rebound fairly soon after he dies. The trouble is, most of the bachelors in this town are fairly suspect. Either they are players or they cheat at golf. This is going to be harder than George thought but he is determined not to quit.

Now this is a full on comedy film so the choices aren’t supposed to make a lot of sense. George often does the crazy thing over the honorable or even the sensible option. Still, the fact that he is convinced Judy will ultimately remarry is pretty sad to an extent. Knowing you will be replaced is pretty rough and it also feels like your romance isn’t quite as real then. Naturally if he told her about his impending demise then the whole film would be a lot shorter although I think he could have at least done without the whole finding a replacement husband bit though.

He’s a nice guy overall who does try to help others. Midway through the film he takes a bit of a risk to help out a widow who was being played for being too naïve. It’s definitely nice that he told her about this. I don’t see how she fell for such an obvious ruse though. Not saying you should doubt everyone automatically but a guy asking you out on a date the very next day upon your getting divorced? That should strike up every kind of warning bell you’ve got.

George also makes some big mistakes though like listening to Arnold’s advice about telling Judy that he was cheating on her. It’s a plan that has no real logic to it no matter how much Arnold explains it and even entertaining the idea for an instant seems like too much. As for Arnold, he is a good friend though. Aside from that scene where he was still trying to help, that guy is constantly putting himself out there to aid George whenever possible. He doesn’t do anything halfway and the fact of the matter is that he had George’s back when nobody else did. I don’t think a lot of people would put up with half the things that Arnold did. In fact, I was reminded of the film “A delicate balance” as George needed a place to crash last second and Arnold was fine with it. He was definitely a very likable character the whole time.

Then you have Judy. Well, she’s a very reasonable character I would say. She does her best to accept the fact that George is always feeling sick and is good natured about the whole thing. While she doesn’t really give George much of a chance to explain himself over being kissed, it is hard to defend something like that. Clearly George should have been able to dodge someone making a pass at him. The whole “gratitude kiss” is just an excuse and everyone knows it. Thing is, Judy is on shaky ground since she let Winston get all over her when they first meet. These old films always act like it’s impossible to break away from a kiss or react to it in time to stop the advance. It’s sketchy at best and makes the characters look suspect. So with that said, Judy has less reason to be significantly upset about this as George could have easily countered.

The final few scenes really have the characters go in a bunch of different ways as the misunderstandings continue to escalate. It really manages to do a lot in a pretty short amount of time there. As a result this film may be around 2 hours but feels even longer at times. It’s in a good way as it never drags on but you are always surprised by how much they can add in. Fortunately the writing and humor are up to the task. The movie is just a lot of fun as a result and should get a good amount of laughs in. There is always something crazy happening on screen. The humor isn’t exactly subtle. It’s a very bold and confident style that works very well here.

Finally we have Winston and there is nothing to like about him. Again, the guy just strolls over and acts like Judy is his girlfriend the whole time. The fact that she doesn’t do anything to stop him like when the guy keeps using her maiden name is pretty bad. That would really be my only issue with the film. Judy lets Winston get away with way too much. In general the whole trend of characters stealing kisses in this film feels like a stretch for more drama and hurts both George and Judy.

Overall, The cast is good though. The writing is on point and the film will end up being quite memorable. It may not be able to match Doris Day’s top hits but it can hold its own against most movies in a straight fight. The idea of George thinking he will be dying soon also works well for a lot of different joke opportunities and the film really makes sure to capitalize on them. It did everything it could with the genre so if you like a good comedy film and find the plot interesting then you’ll definitely like this movie. The nonstop banter between the characters ensures that the intensity always stays at a high level.

Overall 7/10

A Star is Born (2018) Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

A Star Is Born has certainly had a lot of versions right? So far none of them have managed to grab a positive score. The first two both got a 5 while the third one got a 3. Can this film finally manage to get the movie into the right position for a win? Well, unfortunately that was not possible. It’s better than the third adaption to be sure but this one’s still just such a bad film through and through. I’m convinced that the premise just can’t work. If a film can’t win after 4 tries then I’d say that means it is time to give up.

The film introduces us to a famous singer named Jack. He’s really made a name for himself. The guy may be a huge alcoholic who has serious issues but so far he has not let it crush his career. He is determined to continue to go about things as always. One day Jack decides he really needs a drink and that’s when he bumps into Ally. She is convinced that she doesn’t look good enough to be famous but Jack eventually gets her on stage and she is a hit. The issue now is that she is quickly growing more popular than him and she doesn’t have the various off the field issues that he has like the alcohol and general mishaps. Can Jack manage to keep Ally down so he stays ahead or will he end up derailing both of their careers.

If you’ve seen any of the previous films then you basically know how this one will end. After all it’s really a remake through and through so it’s not trying to trick you or anything like that. It’s going for pure fundamentals here and telling the story with a modern style. It’s not going for quite as edgy a feel as the last one which I appreciate but still has a ton of scenes that drag on. Jack’s also still a completely unlikable character for me. He just ultimately doesn’t turn the corner to make me root for the guy. By the time he starts to clean up his act the film is basically over so that really hurts his chances of finally being good. The story of his life here is really too little too late.

Granted, Jack is not nearly as bad as in some other versions. Cheating with some random lady midway through the film, landing a blow on the heroine (Albeit accidentally) and things like that don’t happen here as it’s toned down. He still has a variation of the famous Oscars scene of course and most of the usual story moments like insulting Ally and constantly trying to undermine her though. So while he isn’t as bad as he could have been, I still didn’t like him in the slightest. It’s hard to sympathize with him because he should have been so proud of Ally when she got big. His ego proved to be bigger than how much he cared for her which is no good. Of course the addictions aren’t easy to get over so I’ll give him points for going to rehab but it still doesn’t excuse how he tries to hurt Ally’s legacy.

Then of course we have the usual ending for him which is no good. No matter how hopeless things get, taking that way out is never the move. It’s more of an escape to the current dilemmas than dealing with it. I don’t care what Ally’s producer was saying, Jack could have absolutely talked things out with Ally and I think they would have come out at a good space. Instead he took the decision out of both their hands and ultimately it’ll now be a life scarring moment for Ally.

As for Ally, she’s not bad. She does her best to be successful and also tries her best to support Jack as well. She doesn’t let the fame go to her head and at least at first wasn’t quick to just drop everything to take a plane with some guy she barely knew. I wouldn’t say she stands out a whole lot but she has a full character arc with a solid amount of depth. Ally also shows a lot of skill in being able to sing different genres of music.

In general I wouldn’t say any of the songs really stood out to me here. They were all fairly solid I suppose so I wouldn’t call it a bad soundtrack. For a concert film like this you absolutely need to have a strong assortment of songs in order to succeed and these were good enough to work out. The final song is suitably emotional to end the film with. The pacing is also fairly good as I wouldn’t say the film dragged on.

I would have to say the romance wasn’t all that good though. It still feels very rushed no matter how you slice it. Ally doesn’t exactly meet Jack under the greatest of circumstances and he asks her out so quickly that there’s no way to really believe this would last. Naturally he ends up not being quite the person she thought he would be for a while. While he does start to shift at the end, it’s one of those romances that just had a lot of red flags from the start. It all moves far too quickly.

There are a few more supporting characters here than in previous versions. First off we have Ally’s best friend. He’s a supportive guy who helps her out a lot throughout the film. I would say his role is ultimately minor but he really does come through for her whenever she is feeling down. Then you have her father who is a lot of fun. He often talks about how much singing talent he had in his prime and you like to see his confidence. He’s also quite proud of Ally and is always talking her up to his friends. He seems like a great guy and it was nice that Ally had some positive influences around her as opposed to having to deal with everything on her own.

Overall, This version of A Star Is Born is better than the last one but I still wouldn’t call it a good film. The ending isn’t all that great and changing the formula a bit there would have been cool. Additionally the romance is weak and I just didn’t like Jack as a main character. Even Ally is only okay (Great compared to Jack) so the character cast doesn’t do wonders for me either. The film doesn’t drag on but the first half does feel like it gives us more of the origin than we need as the main focus of the film is once the music gets going. At this point I don’t think we’ll be getting a definitive version of the story but I suppose the next version can still give it a good ole try. I would recommend watching one of the first two versions instead of this one though.

Overall 4/10

Love in Paradise Review

As with all of the Hallmark films I’ve seen so far you can expect Love in Paradise to give you a nice wholesome adventure. It’s a story about coming to terms with the real world and not hiding behind another persona all the time. Certainly there is a lot to appreciate here. While you can see the story beats coming a mile away the execution is definitely on point. I’d recommend checking this one out.

The premise of the movie is that Avery is in a bit of trouble. He’s an actor who has fallen on tough times because his movies aren’t selling very well anymore. He made the best westerns but after 6 films he was just old news. He is now doing bean commercials which do make some good money but he wants something more. Honestly he should be pretty satisfied with the commercials but then his agent receives a call for Avery to head to a hotel for a weekend to drum up business and get paid. It sounds like a win/win but when he gets there Avery is in for a surprise. This hotel is like a very real Cowboy destination so no Wifi or many electronics. It’s very low key and retro, elements that don’t work well for Avery as he’s more of a city guy.

Meanwhile, from the other perspective we have Heather who has been helping her Dad run the farm/hotel for many years now. Unfortunately business just isn’t very good. If they don’t make enough money this quarter then they will be out of business and corporate will be buying off the land. Heather doesn’t want to sell which is why she thought of inviting Avery. Will it really be enough to save the day though? He’s not exactly the farmer that the group had been expecting. Hopefully things work out for the best.

The main dilemma in the film is that Avery just isn’t used to Cowboy life and doesn’t want to bother changing himself. As far as Avery is concerned this is just a quick weekend check. Come to think of it, he may be getting paid in publicity and not actual cash so forget that last part. The issue is that he isn’t good at acting off script. Take the stage away and he has trouble even handling basic tasks like eating meat or getting on a horse. Considering that he can’t do any of this, he definitely should have let the main characters know right away. Granted, he is literally a famous actor so I was surprised that the characters were acting like it naturally had to be how he was off camera as well. The whole point of acting is that you’re playing a role so the opening questions should have been asking him what he could do, how many tasks he actually performed, etc.

Instead they just led him on the Cowboy path and he continued to bluff along which led to things snowballing for both sides. Avery definitely starts out in a bit of a rocky mood as he makes it clear that he isn’t happy and doesn’t even greet the guy who picked him up. Avery barely even acknowledges the poor guy when he first gets to the island. By the end of the film he’s a whole lot nicer and has even adjusted to the land to an extent which was good. It’s a pretty clear character arc from start to finish. On Heather’s side she didn’t really have a character arc since she was already a nice person doing her best but she definitely helped Avery out a whole lot. Without her backing him up Avery probably would have been doomed here. That being said, she was way too quick to believe Avery’s agent without at least trying to have a conversation with him.

Naturally I would say the romance was a bit weak in this case. Basically in the span of a week the two characters fall for each other and the whole thing is rather fast. You feel like it would take a lot longer as they barely even had a chance to be friends first. I’d change that bit of the story so that they were just friends instead. That would be my only big change though. The rest of the story is pretty strong. Having the main guy be an actor here was also definitely fresh on Hallmark’s side as I don’t think we’ve had another film with that role yet, at least from the ones I’ve seen.

The characters will ultimately need to renovate their resort at some point though since Avery’s presence can only help so much. If they continue to operate at a loss then ultimately it will catch up to them at some point. Ideally not as a thief in the night trying to break in though. It was good that Avery was able to take him down there. If he hadn’t been around it would have been a lot worse. The horse riding scenes were fun. I’m always up for seeing some animals running around and having fun, particularly in a film like this where I don’t have to be worried for their very lives. The adventure works out quite nicely this way.

Overall, Love in Paradise is a solid film. While it doesn’t beat a bunch of the classic Hallmark Christmas titles, it’s a pretty strong movie in its own right. I was also glad we didn’t have to worry about the whole ex plot for a change and instead we just had more of a straight up villain by the end. The guy’s redemption saga didn’t feel earned though as it was way too late in the game and sudden considering what he had just done. I wouldn’t have bought into it if I were the characters at the very least. It would just be too hard to buy into. The writing is strong and the pacing is on point so you can’t go wrong here. The humor is good and while you feel Avery could have done better at bluffing, it makes for a lot of fun scenes.

Overall 7/10

Fruits Basket Season 2 Review

Fruits Basket has returned and really picks up right where it left off. To the point where it can be easy to mix up events from both seasons so won’t have any trouble getting into the action. The first season was definitely pretty solid. It was a good slice of life drama with Tohru helping quite a lot of characters deal with their issues. Ultimately she helped a lot but was not able to actually fix their circumstances quite yet. In this season Tohru works even more to find out about the Zodiac curse. It does feel like we’re approaching the end here as several characters have effectively completed their character arc now. It won’t be much longer until they are all set.

It’s a bit hard to give this show a direct plot synopsis though. There are a ton of little mini arcs here and even stand alone episodes since so many characters have their own subplots at work. I suppose the basic premise is about Tohru finally deciding to end the curse but not being sure exactly how to do that. After all, all of the Sohma family members want to break the curse but it’s still around and they haven’t found out much of anything about it. It’s not the kind of curse you can just snap in an instant after all. So in lieu of a more general plot synopsis I’ll talk about some of the mini arcs in general.

In season 2 the student council gets more of a role which is fun. Their episodes with Yuki are always a lot of fun and make for a pretty solid meanwhile plot. Of the members naturally the leader Manabe is the best one but the group as a whole works well. First you have Sakuragi who gets the smallest role of the group and is probably the least friendly. He gets worked up a lot more than the others and just doesn’t appreciate all of the shenanigans going on. He thinks the student council should be working like a well oiled machine but I can say now I don’t think that was ever part of the plan.

Then you have Kimi who basically just likes flirting with everyone for fun. She’s a pretty cheerful character who gives the council a lot of energy. Kimi is pretty charismatic so whenever she is around the scene tends to be fun. Then there is Machi who is having a tough time with this gig. She’s not exactly one of the more outgoing members of the group. She tends to stay silent and keep to herself at all times. She gets her own plot in this season as we see her backstory and she starts to get past this. Machi is a solid enough character.

Then we have Manabe and that guy’s just a blast. Pretty much every scene is him proving why he should be the Council President. He’s the leader but technically Yuki has that job. Manabe is able to defuse pretty much any situation really quickly. He likes to take life on the fast lane and doesn’t really worry about things the way Yuki does. Manabe just goes with the flow and has a lot of fun in the process. He’s also around to listen whenever Yuki needs to talk about things. It’s clear that Manabe is a lot more intelligent than he allows others to believe and just acts in whatever role will help the other succeed. He has quickly become the best character in the series. The guy’s role may be smaller than most of the Zodiac members but he does well with it.

The Student Council episodes serve as development for the members but also for Yuki. While Machi is slowly going through her character realizations, Yuki is also coming to terms with his life. He finally realizes the truth about how he views Tohru which is nice. Not a lot of series deal with this but just because you think you might be in love with someone doesn’t mean you are. Now, he does mention faking it for some scenes but I’m not sure I quite buy that. I think he just didn’t really realize it until this point. It’s similar to the hero scenario where someone saves your life so you think you are in love with them now. I’d say in a lot of action movies this happens unironically with the character never realizing it. Yuki going in a different direction is likely the biggest event of the season and in a way I would say Yuki’s plot is now 100% closed. He has come to terms with his parents, his brother, Kyo, and Tohru. Even his relationship with Akito is basically finalized now. They’re not exactly friends, nor will they ever be but I’d say they have both said their piece at this point.

Naturally Kyo gets a lot of attention as well. He’s gone to the point where he has completely decided not to let anyone in his life. Kyo’s not quite as battle hungry as he was in season 1 either which also shows how he has been improving. Yuki doesn’t set him off the way he used to and Kyo’s a little more okay with acting nice to Tohru. Of course the two still occasionally fight and Tohru’s always ready to break it up. Kyo’s seeing things from a different lens now and it works well. Of course he still does have his aggressive personality such as giving everyone a tough time at the play but after all of the grumbling he still heads in to do his part. At the end of the day Kyo is someone you can count on and from the main guys I still think he’s a more enjoyable character than Yuki. Both are strong characters with deep character arcs, but I’d just say Kyo’s consistently won out.

Tohru appears constantly so it goes without saying that she gets more screen time and development here. The show is now at the point where it has enough characters that she doesn’t have to appear at all moments but she is still the lead for a reason. We finally found out who actually gave her the cap as a child even if she doesn’t know. Tohru gets to be very proactive in this season as she actively heads to the Sohma estate and does a lot of ground work for the investigation. It’s always nice to see because you shouldn’t wait for the answers to come to you. In a case like this with everyone trying to hide the truth, that means you’re going to need to ask some of the tough questions.

Shigure continues to troll everyone and hide a lot of what he knows. While I always appreciate the fact that he is the only character who ever talks back to Akito and mess with the villain, you can’t call him a good guy by any stretch. By this point Shigura’s inaction is just becoming antagonistic to the point where he doesn’t have anyone’s back. He basically gets in the way of the investigation as well. His poor editor doesn’t show up much this time but he’s not exactly reliable as an author either. At least he gives the main characters a place to stay I suppose.

Arisa and Saki don’t get to do much this time around. As Tohru’s friends they do maintain a presence here of course but that’s about it. Arisa has her whole troubled romance plot still going but it seems like that will be resolved in the third season. We do get some moments on it here though like Arisa finally breaking down and begging Kureno to come back. Kureno has a pretty big role in this season though as we see exactly why he continues to put distance between them. As a Sohma he has his own drama to deal with after all. He is the one always with Akito so as it is the guy doesn’t have a whole lot of freedom. Unfortunately I would have to say that he is one of the worst members of the group. Precisely because of the fact that he could be helping out a ton.

A lot of the Sohma are in pretty tough spaces. There’s not a whole lot they could do to help their situations. Throughout the series they get the strength needed to make their situation better but it was an uphill battle. In Kureno’s case you really can’t compare his trials to the others. He basically makes things tougher on himself but he reasonably could have done a whole lot. I also don’t buy into his reasoning for staying and being shackled. He should have at least told everyone what he knew. Kureno was also in a good position to prevent Akito from going off the deep end by using his avenue to escape as leverage. The guy didn’t do any of that so I definitely did not like him in the slightest.

A pair of characters who got a pretty big role here were Rin and Hatsuharu. Rin basically missed season 1 so this was her chance to make a name for herself. She basically starts off by dumping Hatsu, insulting Tohru, and threatening Shigure so it’s a solid start. She wants to end the curse at any cost but insists on doing it alone. She’s built a wall between herself and the rest of the Sohma. Rin does deserve some credit for getting out from under Akito’s gaze though. The villain basically doesn’t mess with her anymore which has to be great. Unfortunately Akito did catch her back in the day through a flashback which leads to Rin not doing so well. Once again, Akito just looks way too good.

While Rin has a suitably tragic backstory like everyone else, I do think she took things way too far at every opportunity. Hatsu was a great ally so just pushing him and everyone else away like she did felt pretty forced. Rin just made a lot of unnecessary steps the whole time. She would have been a much more likable character if she had pushed everyone else away but stayed with Hatsu. I feel like that would have made more sense. As for Hatsuharu, he’s definitely a very loyal guy. He’s still got Rin’s back even after all of this. He’s also a good friend to Yuki in this season as he offers a lot of advice the whole time. He tends to be more of a low key character but one who gets the job done.

Naturally we can’t forget about Akito. I have to go on a bit of a tangent here as this is the one part of the show I still can’t buy into. Akito is a seriously ill person who is on death’s door all the time. Akito can barely even more or anything for long before going down with coughs. Yet, every character is deathly afraid of Akito. They all freeze up and allow themselves to be physically assaulted without trying to resist. Tohru got her face scratched, Yuki got a glass slammed on his head, Rin was pushed off a building, Hatori got his eye cut out, etc. Even Kyo allows himself to be pushed around. Whenever Akito talks the rest of the cast suddenly act like they’re Shaggy in a Scooby Doo film with how they tremble and whimper. Akito’s just flat out not that tough.

It’s also worth noting that the Sohma family is incredibly strong politically but it’s not like they will use any physical violence against you. So the characters don’t have to worry about that. They just really overexaggerate this part. You can make the case that this is part of the curse which has power over them but I also don’t buy into that being the case. The characters will occasionally act defensive when something hits a nerve but then go back into getting wrecked mode. The worst instance of this with Akito scarring Tohru while Yuki and Kyo just watched. To date that’s the worst scene in the franchise to be honest.

I have to retroactively take credit away from Kyo and Yuki here as in my season 1 review I wrote that I’m sure they would be able to get over their fear of Akito if it was to protect Tohru. Apparently that was not the case. Akito still continues to dominate everyone but this scene was horrible for both of those characters. Just standing by while she was attacked because they were afraid is the kind of move you don’t want to see any quality character have. It’s not like I’ll say they are bad characters as a result of that but I definitely did lose a lot of respect for them there. Tohru was basically left to fend for herself and it would have been even worse if not for Momoji and Kureno. We learn Akito’s backstory here but none of it makes the character any more likable or sympathetic. Ever since Akito was a child, dealing out pain was always priority number 1. So when you consider that, it still makes Kureno look even worse for not doing anything to correct this path. If the show tries going down the road of redeeming Akito that will definitely be a tough task to accomplish.

Hatori doesn’t get much to do in this season. He mainly reminds Shigure not to do anything crazy. Likewise Kagura and Ayame already got a lot of their character development. It was nice to see Ayame help out with the costumes and such for the festival/play. Ayame is a character who always comes through so you can appreciate that. He may not have done great back in Yuki’s origin but the fact that he continues to try and improve on this is the important thing. Momoji has a quick episode where we get to meet his sister but due to Sohma rules she can never know the truth about them. It’s definitely one of those tragic things but at least if they can continue to meet and stay on friendly terms, Momoji should be able to tell her in a few years once the trouble has died down.

Two common themes in most of the character arcs here is forgiveness and redemption. All of these characters either dealt with relatives or friends who were quite cruel to them originally and have to try and let go of their grudges or starting out not being a great person and trying to come to terms with that. The show balances out the emotions quite well. While on the whole I’d always say Fruits Basket is a pretty light hearted series, it knows when to get serious. You can go from episodes of the characters smashing watermelons or visiting the beach to characters contemplating suicide or being stuck in isolation for large periods of time which permanently scarred their psyche. Sometimes you have an episode that combined both such as the beach visit where everything is super happy until Akito makes a surprise visit to attack Tohru and just embarrass Yuki/Kyo. When a character is having an important moment they are able to do so with a somber tune playing in the background and fairly downcast colors. It’s part of why a character like Manabe can really shine here since he’s great at reading emotions and acts accordingly.

The writing is on point here as well so the origin stories don’t get boring or anything like that. Of course I’ll always have my issues with the Akito stuff and a lot of the characters just not doing anything to actively make their situation better. All that considered, it’s worth saying that Fruits Basket never drags on which is really important. A lesser series would have definitely crumbled under this kind of weight. Either focusing too much on the drama or making things overly sad to the point where the characters don’t have a happy ending or it doesn’t outweigh the past. The series always addresses the past but doesn’t dwell on it which is an important distinction I’d say. For example while Yuki shares his past with Manabe, we get to cut to the present time quite a bit where a soccer game is going on and they have some nice banter. It’s a nice contrast there.

Fruits Basket has quality animation as you would expect. All of the scenery is on point and the character designs are good. The whole thing is fairly low key as the show isn’t doing anything crazy to show the animation off but it always looks consistent. You won’t be finding anything off model or low budget here. It’s just all on point as you would expect it to be. For the soundtrack of course you have a lot of emotional themes here. I would say they are pretty good although it would be difficult for me to remember specific ones off the top of my head.

Overall, Fruits Basket Season 2 continues to move the series along at a good pace. There is a ton of ground that gets covered in these 20+ episodes as every character got to have some time to shine. It’s still hard for me to take Akito seriously and everyone constantly bowing to him can really be something else. With Tohru as a quality lead throughout I can only assume that season 3 will continue the solid streak of seasons for Fruits Basket and end things off on a high note. Even though the Student Council plots all seem to be complete, I’m hoping they still get another episode. Manabe just steals the show and their episodes tend to be some of the most entertaining ones in the whole anime. Fruits Basket has definitely been a really solid adaption of the manga, making the story a lot more interesting in this format. It’ll be a shame to see it go but maybe not Fruits Basket Another will finally be able to get an anime adaption of its own like everyone has been waiting for.

Overall 7/10

The Sound of Music

Time to look at one of the big musicals from a while back. It’s intense to think that it’s been more than 50 years since this classic came out. When you’re making a musical the key is to always have good songs but also a strong plot. If you fail at both of those aspects then you become the next Cats film. If you succeed with at least one area then you’ve at least got a good starting point. I would say that the story is solid and the music is good. The style of music isn’t necessarily my thing but it works well enough with the film’s context. In the end the most impressive thing here is that the film is quite long but does not end up feeling dragged out or slow paced.

The movie starts by introducing us to a Nun in training named Maria. She is a free spirit and just doesn’t care to be confined by rules and regulations. If she wants to do something then she’s just going to go ahead and do it. That ultimately ends up leaving the Nuns to send her off to the home of Captain Von Trapp where she will serve as a governess and look after the 7 kids. This will be a difficult task as the kids have already chased off many others before her arrival. Still, Maria isn’t scared and is in fact looking forward to the challenge. These kids won’t get the best of her or at least they won’t have an easy time of doing so. Adding to the drama though is that the Captain has decided to marry someone but now he is being distracted by Maria’s presence. As a Nun in training Maria is to stay away from romance but can she really do this? Additionally, the Nazi’s have begun their takeover of Austria so the main characters are going to have to make some tough decisions here.

As the film is around 3 hours there is a lot of content they are able to sift through. It’s why it makes sense for there to be so many different plots around. There’s even a romance plot with the eldest child who is in love with a delivery boy but gradually he succumbs to the Nazi ideology which transforms him and causes a rift to be formed. The film is definitely showing how quickly a person can change and it’s pretty realistic. In particular politics can cause rifts rather quickly and change people quite thoroughly. It’s a good thing she didn’t enter into that romance more or things could have been tricky.

For the most part the kids aren’t quite as rebellious as you would expect. They play pranks on Maria a little bit during the very first scenes of the film but from there they quickly lay off when they see that she’s actually a decent person. I was glad we pretty much zoomed over that plot because it makes sense that Maria would win them over. She was quite down to earth from the start and as a rebellious person herself, she would be able to deal with them fairly well. The scene of all the kids being scared of the thunderstorm was a bit cheesy though. Maria did a good job of covering for them though.

She’s quite the solid lead. I like Maria’s energy. While she may have surrendered a little too quickly in leaving the estate the first time, that’s the only scene where I’d say she didn’t look great. Beyond that she was on point from start to finish and excelled at being a governess. I also liked that she laid down the law right away that she would not be answering to a whistle. That was definitely a bit much and setting those boundaries from the start rather than trying to accept them is what separates her from what a weaker lead character would have done.

Meanwhile you have the Captain who starts out rather antagonistically but he does change. By the end of the film you could definitely say that he was a quality character. He was at least open to changing his mind even if he came very close to firing Maria. If that scene had played out differently then most likely he would have never quite had the character arc that he ended up getting. He is a bit wishy washy when it comes to romance though, the guy tends to rebound a little too quickly considering how close to marriage he was.

Then you have the Baroness Elsa and you already know that things aren’t going to end well for her the instant she appears. In fairness to her character, the film doesn’t portray her as someone who’s incredibly mean or anything like that. There is the clear contrast that she is not nearly as pleasant as Maria though. When the kids pick on Maria she has fun with them and turns the tables, but does so with no malicious intent. That’s why she becomes friends with them. When the kids start on Elsa she quickly decides to ship them off to school. It’s a very different approach that highlights how different the characters are. Then there’s Max who just wants to make a profit off of everything. He doesn’t like taking risks and will do whatever is the most profitable action. He never becomes a hero or anything like that and while he has a friendly disposition, you can never tell how genuine it is. He’s the kind of guy you can’t really trust.

As for the songs, as mentioned they are pretty decent. The songs all tend to have a lot of story thrown into them so it helps to give them some substance. The weakest song is definitely the romance one in the courtyard where the delivery boy is trying to win points. Even before knowing how that plot ends you just don’t think things will be so easy and the guy is just too nervous in general. The writing is also on point. The film tackles a lot of pretty serious themes and there’s a lot of great back and forth dialogue. One such scene for example is when the Captain’s escape plan is thwarted so he has to have a conversation with the cops. There’s a lot of double meanings throughout the whole conversation with obvious threats being thrown in as polite small talk.

The film has a nice sense of danger there. While it’s a pretty happy slice of life for the majority of the adventure, you can see background elements throughout the movie. If you’re caught up on your history then you’ll realize what is going on pretty early into the film but otherwise things will start clicking into place by the middle act. This makes for a solid climax and also helps develop the Captain’s character as someone who wouldn’t compromise on his ideals even through the very end. Other options would have been easier but he stayed true to his course of defying the Nazi’s and would rather die than serve them.

Overall, The Sound of Music is a solid musical. The film really covers a lot and this is the kind of super long film that feels earned. It’s not just padding for time and every scene feels pretty important. I’m sure there are places you could drill down to make this a shorter experience but since it didn’t drag on and solid throughout there is no need. I don’t know how accurate this would be to the events or if the drama may have been drummed up, but I can definitely say it’s a solid movie. I’d certainly recommend this to anyone who wants to watch a light hearted musical with good character development all throughout.

A Silent Voice Review

I remember reading the manga for this one a long time ago and definitely destroyed it. It was extremely mean spirited the whole time and even by the end a lot of characters got away with a whole bunch. Well, turning an entire series into a single film means there are going to need to be significant cuts around the board so maybe this adaption would be better. It does seem like in particular they cut out a lot of the pre time skip content to get to the modern day quicker. I would say its better than the manga.

The movie starts with a transfer student named Shoko entering Shoya’s class. She has difficulty hearing and as a result isn’t able to speak very well either. Shoya and the boys quickly decide to start bullying her and eventually the whole class gets in on this. They keep on breaking her hearing aids and talking behind her back. Eventually she transfers out of the class and everyone pins the blame on Shoya. He was the ringleader but everyone was in on it. We cut to a few years later where Shoya has decided to destroy himself but ultimately decides not to. He runs into Shoko again and decides that he needs to make things right and become her friend. Can he really do it though or is he too far gone?

Right away you can kind of tell how much you will like the film based on how much you can buy into Shoya’s arc. As mentioned, the film does a pretty good job of really cutting out a lot of the opening moments and kind of breezing through things. It’s appreciated but I definitely still didn’t like Shoya. He started out mild but very quickly began to escalate well past the point of no return. He is effectively a different character pre and post time skip, but even with that it was hard to like him.

He could have defended himself a lot better with the rest of the friends later on. When Miki was spreading rumors once again he should have quickly come clean and told his side of the story. Instead he retreated once more but not before taking shots at every character to make himself appear to be the bad guy again.

All in all, Shoya does his best to atone for his earlier mistakes. So you have to give him some props but it doesn’t mean you have to like the guy either. He would still be one of the weaker characters in the film. Unfortunately the best character from the manga (Satoshi) has a smaller role here. He still looks very good in his appearances though as he pressures Miki to do the right thing and just seems like a stand up guy. He feels like the most heroic member of the group to be sure. He’s just a lot of fun and I’d have liked to see more of him.

From all of the characters Miki is probably low key the most malicious one of the group. At least a character like Naoka is pretty upfront about how much she dislikes Shoko. Miki is always trying to play the victim card while constantly bringing up things from Shoya’s past. It’s impossible to ever sympathize with her and by the end you feel like she gets away with everything. That’s why she’s my least favorite character.

Lets talk about Naoka though. She used to be good friends with Shoya and his posse until Shoko entered the mix. Initially she did act friendly towards the girl but eventually it was just too challenging for her so she gave up and became a bully. A lot of things happened and after the time skip she is no longer friends with Shoya but she blames this on Shoko. It gets to the point where she even beats up on Shoko near the end of the film.

Naoka’s personality makes her a pretty fun character but it can’t disguise the fact that she is easily one of the meanest ones around. Her ability of cutting through all the passive aggressive comments of the others and saying it like it is really helps her character stand out. Definitely no excuse for physically attacking Shoko at the end though. It’s good Shoko’s Mom was there to fight back or things would have really gotten out of hand.

From the main characters Miyoko is easily one of the more minor ones. She was someone who at least tried to be Shoko’s friend but ultimately had to leave schools. I don’t believe it was her choice though so while she blames herself a bit later on, I don’t think she deserves any blame for that. She did the best she could while in school and at least gave Shoko some fond memories.

Then we have Tomohiro who ends up being Shoyo’s first friend after the timeskip. He’s a pretty nice guy and definitely gave a lot of solid emotional support when it was needed most. He’s just a stand up guy and is someone who actively sticks up for himself as well. I was also glad that he didn’t just turn on Shoyo after the main character’s last outburst and knew that he was just not having a good moment.

Yuzuru is Shoko’s younger sister and definitely a fun character as well. She certainly doesn’t mind trolling the other characters and next to Shoko/Shoya she probably has the biggest role here. Yuzuru gets a lot of quality character development throughout but started as a great character from the onset. She wanted to make sure that nobody was going to mess with Shoko again and went to great lengths to ensure that was the case. She made a lot of sacrifices to help out.

Finally we have Shoko as the main heroine. She’s definitely a very nice character but almost nice to a fault in some instances. She really makes sure to turn the other cheek when people are being mean to her and continues to try being friends with everyone to the point where she can be a bit oblivious. It’s the main aspect of her that Naoka has a problem with. Shoko always puts on a brave face even if it’s not 100% genuine.

I don’t think you can fault someone for wanting to look at things through a positive lens though. She could have been more self aware but at the same time she was still just a kid and one with far less social experience than the rest due to her hearing issues. It’s part of why the first act is a tough watch because she is doing her best while the entire classroom is just being tough on her.

You’d think at least the teacher would have stepped in but he didn’t do much here. In the manga he’s a lot more antagonistic though so at least they toned him down to just being someone who never actually acts. So Shoko’s definitely a very good character and one of the best ones. The film does a great job of having you sympathize with her situation. Her mother also looks very good. She may have a much smaller role but she is doing her best to help out like contacting the school and jumping into fights. She also went to great lengths to find Shoko when she went missing and in general just did all of the right things.

The animation is naturally solid here. It’s all pretty smooth. You’re not going to see a lot of striking colors for the most part as this takes place in a town where there aren’t a ton of electronics or things of that nature so it’s more about the character designs and such. The writing is also on point.

Ultimately what holds the film back from being one that I would solidly recommend is just how many aspects of the film are un-relentlessly tragic all the time. Just when you think Shoko is finally safe the bullying starts up again in the second half. As bad as Shoya was in picking on her early on, then you see him getting bullied extensively after that and of course he takes it out on her. We have a grandmother dying later on in the film just to heap onto the plate. There’s also the fact that both Shoya and Shoko are suicidal at different points in the film.

It has its happy moments but most of the film is fairly dreary with this. At least the ending is on a high note since a sad ending would have really been rough. As it stands, at least you do know that things are going to get better for the main characters and they are through the worst of it.

Overall, A Silent Voice makes for a better movie than manga. In this case cutting out some things just helped to at least dial back the mean spirited nature of the story. If you’re up for an emotional story of a bully turning over a new leaf and coming to terms with himself then this is probably about as good a story as you’ll find here. Alternately if you want a redemption story that is a little more upbeat, check out Final Fantasy VII Advent Children.

Overall 5/10

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