When I was a kid, I loved watching reruns of the old Addams Family TV show. They made me laugh and I liked the spooky factor. As an adult, I cannot watch reruns of that show. They are terrible. And not terrible in the way of watching them through a 2021 prism, but objectively bad. And that’s not just my own opinion. The show was cancelled after just two seasons (though they still managed an astounding 64 episodes) because pretty much everyone thought it was bad. Unfortunately, the schlock that people quickly grew tired of was carried into the film remakes in the 1990s, then again in the animated remakes of the last couple years. Watching this latest entry in the franchise with my wife and son reminded me that the jokes just are not funny and that even kids tire quickly of the nonsense. But don’t take my word for it, take my son’s word for it.
How much of the first Addams Family do you remember?
Uhhhhh…..naaaaaah….well, some? I remember that Wednesday started school. In junior high.
Is there anything from the first movie that you think you need to know for the sequel?
[Stares straight ahead] Naaaaaah.
What were you hoping to see in the sequel?
Creepier stuff. Like mystery. Like [sing the X-files theme]
After watching Addams Family 2, did it meet your expectations for creepy?
[Giggles. Shakes head]
How would you describe Addams Family 2, if not creepy and mysterious?
Well, it wasn’t like people screamed when they saw them. It seems like they screamed a lot when they saw the family…but only a few people actually screamed.
What was the main plot?
They go on a road trip and they’re trying to avoid having this lawyer trying to get Wednesday back to her original family.
Do you know what a subplot is?
Like a minor plot or other stories. Are there any other plots going on?
I don’t think so.
Are there any other Addams family members on the road trip with them?
I don’t know the name….like, the gramma. And she hosts parties for….two weeks? No, three weeks.
Okay so Gramma is not on the road trip, who IS on the road trip?
Who is everyone else?
Pugsley, Wednesday, Gomez Addams, Tish Addams, lurch, Wednesday…oh, I already said that. Wasn’t there one more?
[holds up 3 fingers]
There’s 3 more?! [facepalm] Oh! It was Uncle Fester! And then I don’t remember his name, the hairy guy.
One more?! Oh! Thing!
So where did the family go on the road trip?
Did they visit anywhere spooky?
Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Sleepy Hollow.
What was your favorite part of the road trip?
Well, they went to that guy’s house in California. The guy that tried to steal Wednesday.
But what was your favorite part of the road trip?
When Pugsley blew up the Grand Canyon.
Why was that your favorite part?
Because I like explosions.
Would you say the movie was more funny than anything else?
What part of the road trip do you think was the most boring part?
Let me put it this way, which part did you like the least?
When they went to Sleepy Hollow.
Because they just talked about….oh! the lion is also there!….They just sat around, telling stories.
If you could take a part out of the movie, what part or thing would it be? That you didn’t think needed to be there?
I feel like they didn’t need to do the Texas – oh! They went to Texas! And saw those motorcycle guys and they were at a bar, and Lurch was there too with Wednesday.
If you could add something to the movie, what would you add?
A few more places that they went.
Name one. Like, where would you make them go?
They could see the Great Lakes.
How would that fit in with the Addams Family?
[snarky and sassy] They went to NIAGARA FALLS, dad.
Is there anything spooky about the Great Lakes?
They’re huge…and with fresh water.
Would you make something be IN the lakes, like something spooky?
[whispers] Uncle Fester.
Why would he be in the lakes?
Because he’s a weird uncle and tries to be funny and….[trails off]
Who is your favorite character?
Pugsley. …NO! No no non onononono LURCH! [sighs]
I can’t think of any more questions.
[Mom from the other side of the room] Because it was a boring-ass movie.
Would you watch it again?
Rating: If people go to the theater to see it, how much money should they ask for back?
I think they want back 2 dollars. I think the movie could have been a little better. Because there were no mysteries, no really spooky things. No [sings X-Files theme song]
F9 is one the dumbest movies I have ever seen. It was so dumb, rather than waste brain cells and precious time thinking about this travesty, I considered just writing the word “dumb” one thousand times and calling it a review. That is what this movie deserves. But, the entire franchise is that stupid and I have somehow never managed to screen one of these movies in the past. Considering people still plunk down billions of dollars of their hard-earned money for every subsequent movie in the franchise, it felt like a cop out to write dumb, dumb, dumb, etc. So, here goes.
(SPOILER ALERT – This movie will kill some of your brain cells and it will hurt.)
Full disclosure: Of this entire insipid franchise, I have seen the first and eighth films, as well as the spinoff Hobbs and Shaw. I tried to watch the fifth one on a flight once and I lasted about five minutes before I prayed for the oxygen masks to deploy. I have missed them for a variety of reasons, one of which was probably because I was washing my hair. And don’t think it’s for film snob reasons. The entire franchise is the equivalent of Days of Our Lives slipping a roofie to Grand Theft Auto. No amount of car stunts can make up for the terrible acting, beyond-cartoonish plots, atrocious music, and cringeworthy dialogue.
I knew going in that F9 was going to be hot garbage; I was just hoping it would be entertaining from an action movie standpoint. And it was very much not entertaining. There were parts where I laughed out loud, not because something intentionally funny happened, but because something so mind-numbingly stupid was said or done that my brain had to make my body do something. As an example, in the climax, they turn a Pontiac Fiero into a space ship by doing nothing more than attaching a rocket engine to it. My friend, who has seen every movie in the franchise, kept turning to me and saying, “Okay, this one really is pretty bad.” There were even kids talking during the film and I did not care at all, whereas usually I’m plotting their murders.
Again, I went into the film just wanting to shut off my brain for two hours to watch action-packed nonsense, but F9 just wasn’t having it. I’ve seen lazy movies, but this movie took laziness to whole new levels. For much of the run time, it kept reminding the audience how dumb this movie was. Early on, Tyrese Gibson’s character (Roman) is surrounded by fourteen bad guys with machine guns, including some in an elevated position. All of them empty their magazines at him and he not only kills them all, but exits completely unscathed. He then proceeds to spend the rest of the movie trying to convince two of his friends that they might be invincible by pointing out how they should all be dead. I half expected the cast of Lost to wander on screen to point out that the Torettos and friends actually are all dead, which is why they continue to have elaborate spy missions despite starting out as DVD/VCR thieves (incidentally, the first film in the franchise has aged exceptionally badly).
Since the movie decided to indulge in discount Deadpool theater, nothing prohibited it from reining in completely ridiculous and wholly unbelievable action sequences, papered over by a plot not even Dom’s mother could love. Not only were Dom (Vin Diesel) and friends surviving things that should have turned them to jelly or human popsicles or swiss cheese, but they weren’t even getting scratched in the process. Not only were they doing things with vehicles that would make Bugs Bunny blush, the vehicles were usually still functioning despite surviving stunts so absurd they could only be accomplished with CGI. Not only were Dom and team not dying on multiple occasions, but they were even bringing dead characters back to life by talking it away by saying Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) is “really good at making people look dead.”
By now, I would normally have spent some time on the plot, but it really was just dumb on top of stupid on top of much more dumb. Something about magnets and a MacGuffin and a human MacGuffin and a green ball thing with a computer virus that is going to destroy the world unless two dipshits in a space-Fiero drive into an orbiting satellite. It’s the kind of dumb that puts Harry and Lloyd to shame. Suffice it to say, I was not entertained. F9 is the kind of movie that makes you think that maybe Covid lockdowns aren’t so bad. Just so dumb.
Rating: Seriously – just so, so dumb. Yeah, I’m talking to you if you paid to see this film.
As usual, my son is providing the meat of the review of new, animated, The Addams Family movie. But this one has a slight twist – his grandma and grandpa are asking the questions. Buckle up folks. Also, he gives lots of SPOILERS, but I doubt any kids are reading this.
Have you ever seen the old TV show The Addams Family?
Yes, I’ve seen it.
In this Addams Family, is there a hand called Thing?
Yes, there’s a thing.
Is it a smart thing?
Yeaahhhahah – it’s a really smart thing.
Is there a normal person who isn’t scary?
Who is that person?
Like a camera girl that’s on TV. For like furniture advertisements.
Does she have a name?
I forgot her name. Even if she did have a name.
What did you like the best about this movie?
Something that made you laugh or you could relate to?
I think the best part – actually, I don’t know.
The best part for you.
Ohhhh. For me. When Wednesday made the frogs come back alive.
Who is Wednesday?
You don’t know who Wednesday is?! She’s the same girl from the old tv show.
Best line of the movie happens here. For me at least.
If I remember, there was a father and a mother and a brother and sister and an uncle and another big guy.
Who was the Uncle?
What did you enjoy about Uncle Fester?
That he threw bats everywhere and that he told the furniture lady “I just tooted.” And there was a toilet lady, that she sat on the toilet backwards, but the furniture girl secretly put video cameras on everyone’s house to secretly watch them.
What is the movie about? What was the big problem in the movie?
The problem is the opposite of the Addams family had a catapult and launched big giant boulders at the Addams family mansion at the top of the hill.
Oh. So they were trying to get rid of the Addams family?
They helped them rebuild the house and lightning struck the house and turned it back to the old way the house was. First, the house was abandoned and then they moved in. And there was a big sound in the house like ERRERRRREERRRRR.
Who was the bad person in the movie?
The furniture lady was the bad person and she wanted to destroy the mansion. That way, there wouldn’t be a foggy area and it wouldn’t be near the nice neighborhood anymore.
Did you say frogs?
Yeah, Wednesday made the frogs come alive in junior high.
Were they her friends?
Did the furniture lady have other people who were bad?
There were other people that wanted to make the Addams family go away.
What changed the town’s opinion about the Addams family? They thought what they did was pretty rude, but the furniture lady didn’t think it was rude. But the other people did and helped them rebuild the house.
And the Addams family lived there happily ever after?
Which Addams family character did you not like the most?
Well, I liked Lurch. My least favorite character was…the old grandma – the really tall-slash-short grandma. She was wearing a dress that made her look really tall, but she came out of the dress and was really tiny.
Was the hand, Thing, really funny?
Was there anything the hand did that you remember was funny?
When Lurch was trying to play on the piano, bud-du-du-duh, but the hand kept going *fart noise, thumb’s down*
So Thing knew how to tell Lurch how to play music?
Yeah, like sign language?
Do you think the Thing could help you with your music practice?
What if the Thing was our music teacher?
What if indeed.
What was your favorite part of the movie?
My other favorite part, besides the frogs, was, after the wedding, the mom and the dad were at a wedding, and when they were driving up to the mansion and they hit something. And the dad was like “we hit something!”
What was it?
What was the most amazing, magical thing that happened?
When the lightning struck, it turned the mansion back to its old version.
Was the movie scary at all?
Not really. But it was good for kids. Kids liked it.
Was it scary, kid fun?
Fun for kids, but not for dads and parents. They were kind of bored. They took their kids to the movie.
Did the mom and dad make the kids in the movie behave?
Oh yeah, I remember part of it. The boy, Pugsley, was on a like a rocket thing and the dad was like “you need to do your sword practice. Last warning!” And the kid went up in the rocket and blew up. Then he was in a parachute and he landed on the ground and did his sword practice.
How did he do his sword practice?
He just swung his blow up sword.
Did Morticia look like a vampire?
Yeah, but there was technically a vampire, like Uncle Fester was kind of a vampire. Who is Morticia?
She was the mom.
So just call her the mom please.
And she wore black dresses?
Yeah. She wore a dress that had squid tentacles that helped her move.
Well, we don’t have any more questions.
We have to do the rating.
Rating: The movie is better than ten dollars because it’s at least twenty-five dollars. If it was longer it would be more. One last thing – bud-du-du-dun *snap, snap*
It’s not often that I’m completely confused by my feelings for a movie, but Atomic Blonde is one of those instances. My immediate reaction at the end of the movie was “I think I liked it? Maybe?” It definitely had elements I liked and there weren’t any obvious (at least to me) plot holes, but I wasn’t satisfied by what I had seen. Very recently, I watched Get Out and my reaction to every reveal in the film was “Oooooohhhh…Whoa!…Oh man!” Etcetera. My reactions to the reveals in Atomic Blonde were much more “uuuhhhh…Wait, huh?..But then why…?” Etcetera. Of course, Atomic Blonde is a spy thriller, so maybe the confusion was intentional. Or, my brain is still on strike after being forced to sit through Valerian and the Way Too Long Title last week.
(SPOILER ALERT and do heed this warning. REVIEW SPOILER ALERT – I think this movie is worth a watch, so look away while you still can.)
I think my first problem with Atomic Blonde is completely subjective. Like with Baby Driver, it is impossible not to notice the music, but unlike with Baby Driver, the music is not woven into the story or relevant to the scenes. Atomic Blonde takes place in Berlin in 1989 (a few days before the fall of the Berlin Wall), so most of the music is garbage 80’s pop music (sometimes with German lyrics) that everyone waxes nostalgic about, but secretly hates. I on the other hand, openly hate that music and it’s basically what I grew up with in my early childhood (I’m currently 38 years old – you do the math). I did not care for the color palette of the film – which leaned heavily on neons and washed-out blues – nor the spray-painted stencil fonts of the title cards. If that’s your thing, great, but more importantly, what’s wrong with you?
There is literally no reason for her to pull her collar over her face.
My second problem is I think I need to see this movie again. The movie takes the saying “oh what a tangled web we weave…” to the extreme. Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is an MI6 agent tasked with recovering a list of all agents before the Russians get their hands on it. Plus, there’s a mole/double-agent in the agency. It’s literally the plot of Mission: Impossible, but with boobs and a much shittier theme song. You read that right and there’s a scene I won’t spoil for you featuring Charlize Theron doing things you would never think an A-List actress would need to do at this point in her career. But I will tell you that scene is one of the scenes that never makes sense by the end of the film.
Broughton is supposed to meet up with Berlin Station Chief David Percival (James McAvoy), who was supposed to get the list from his inside man, Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), but which was stolen from the spy Spyglass gave it to who was supposed to give it to Percival. Got that? See, I told you. And that’s the easy part. Broughton and Percival sorta-kinda work together, but it’s obvious from the start that Percival has his own agenda. In addition to them, a Russian KGB agent named Aleksander Bremovych (Roland Miller) is also trying to get the list and a French spy named Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) is there because, well, I’ll have to get back to you on that one. It’s not clear if Delphine is working on her own or with Percival, but we’re told multiple times that she is a rookie and in over her head so she shows us her boobs to distract us (and presumably Broughton, but also, maybe not). The film is basically the spy version of Duck, Duck, Goose where everyone is both a duck and a goose and Broughton gets the shit kicked out her. Except when she’s the goose, that is, and kills every duck that tapped her head. Still with me after that terrible analogy?
Dude, what happened to your face?
What’s confusing by the end of the film is that many of the character interactions don’t make much sense after all is revealed. Adding to the confusion (or subterfuge, if you buy what this film is selling), is that nearly everything we see happened in the past. Broughton is telling the entire story to her boss, Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman) while Gray’s boss, C (James Faulkner), looks on. Director David Leitch pulled this same technique in his only other directing stint (the terribly written, but decently choreographed John Wick), but this time you at least don’t know if Broughton completed her mission (whereas John Wick is a revenge story, so his being alive takes every ounce of suspense out of the film). So, you are left to wonder who the mole of Atomic Blonde is, if it’s someone in the debriefing room or someone in the story. But if there’s one thing Leitch is good at, it’s distracting the audience with very good action/fight scenes and naked people.
I’m tempted to lump this film in with Baby Driver as a movie that fails the substance-to-style ratio. The cynical side of me points to John Wick and wants to dump all over Atomic Blonde, but the optimistic side of me has tied that cynic to a chair and gagged him. Atomic Blonde’s characters have depth and intrigue and the movie sucks you into their world, even as the music threatens to wrench you right back out of it. Theron and McAvoy nail their roles and are very convincing in their fight scenes. I especially like how real the fights seem and how damaged the people are at the end of them. The makeup people deserve an award for making the beautiful Theron look like an extra from The Walking Dead by the time she ends her story. The moral of this story is that I’m willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt; that there might be things I missed that explain character connections that don’t appear to add up. I just don’t know if I can take the music again.
Rating: Ask for half your money back since you’ll have to see it twice.
Following the screening of The Hunstman: Winter’s War was a Q&A session that I already wrote about. In honor of that event, let’s do Q&A for this review.
Q: I heard a rumor that you and a couple friends are starting a podcast where you fix movies. Is that true?
A: Indeed. The idea sprung up prior to a screening of Batman v Superman, where my friend and I discussed how easy it would be to fix Man of Steel to make it, at the very least, not so dumb.
Q: So your first episode will be Man of Steel?
A: Nope. We’re going with Snow White and the Huntsman, but we’ll be doing Man of Steel soon enough.
Q: I see what you did there. You created an excuse to rewatch Snow White and the Huntsman so nobody would think you were weird for rewatching Snow White and the Huntsman. There isn’t really a podcast, is there?
A: Yes, seriously, there is.
Q: Well…how about that? So, what did you learn?
A: I learned that writers not writing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t bother to read screenplays of predecessors to sequels or even watch the movies.
Q: Do tell.
A: Are you okay with SPOILERS?
Q: Absolutely. Continue.
A: Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is trapped in the mirror and her sister inadvertently lets her out.
Q: Do you mean the same Ravenna that dies at the end of the first film? The same woman who shrivels up into a desiccated corpse on the floor? That Ravenna?
A: The very same.
A: I know. There is no explanation whatsoever as to how she ended up in the mirror. The fun part of that is during the Q&A, Theron said she didn’t think it was contrived how they brought Ravenna back to life.
Q: Isn’t that kind of the definition of contrived?
A: Yes, but if you read my full Q&A write-up, Theron more than made up for it.
Q: Fair enough. What else didn’t they bother learning from the first film?
A: Remember the scene in the first film where Ravenna’s brother tells the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) how he killed the Huntsman’s wife?
Q: Not really.
A: Well, he did. Anyway, not only is that retconned in the sequel, but she’s not even dead. The queen’s sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), tricks him into thinking she’s dead. Sure, he believes the lie for seven years, which covers the events of the first film, but doesn’t explain Ravenna’s brother reminiscing her death.
Q: Fair enough. So, what’s this movie about, anyway?
A: It starts off pre-Snow White events, showing Ravenna killing one of her previous husbands/kings via chess board. Freya…
Q: Wait – death by chess board? Like, she murders him by hitting him with a chess board? That’s oddly specific.
A: Actually, no. She’s placed a spell on the game they are playing that literally kills him when she puts him in checkmate. Stop interrupting.
A: Anyway, Freya is there later and they discuss how Freya’s powers haven’t surfaced yet and how love sucks. This was the strange way they segued into Freya’s lover allegedly burning their child to death, which causes Freya’s powers – control of all things ice and cold – to explode out of her.
Q: So she’s Elsa? HAHAHAHA.
A: I didn’t even think of that. Nice work.
Q: And was anyone in the theater surprised by the obvious – that it will be revealed Ravenna actually killed the baby?
A: Of course not. She might as well have worn a sign admitting as much.
Q: You still haven’t told me what this movie’s about.
A: Good point. Freya becomes the ice queen of the north and takes over kingdom after kingdom. After each conquest, she takes all the captured children, raises them to be soldiers (referring to them as her huntsman) and tells them that her only rule is that love is forbidden. Of course, her two best warriors – Sara (Jessica Chastain) and Eric (Hemsworth) – fall in love. Freya finds out about it and tricks Eric into thinking Sara is dead and tricks Sara into thinking Eric abandons her after making the two of them fight other huntsman. Seven years later, King William (Sam Claflin) asks Eric to recover the magic mirror before Freya gets it and take it to a special place where its power cannot be used.
Q: There seems to be a lot going on in that paragraph and none of it is the plot. Why don’t you try again?
A: Brighton must stop Freya from invading Snow White’s kingdom.
Q: Better. So, why does she need the mirror? She’s a super powerful ice wizard and the only power the mirror has (that we know of) is the ability to pick People Magazine’s most beautiful woman.
A: I have no idea why she wants it. It’s one of the most blatant MacGuffin’s in the history of cinema, but without it, they can’t shoehorn Ravenna back into the movie, which in turn allows them to redeem Freya at the end.
Q: Couldn’t they have just made Freya evil from start to finish?
A: This movie is from the same people who brought us Maleficent.
Q: Got it. How about you wrap this up in the way I know you’re dying to use – how would you fix this movie?
A: It’s about time. Here goes – I would remove the mirror altogether and go all in on an evil ice queen; no more of this garbage where the bad guy has to start off good or be misunderstood. She’s an ICE QUEEN. I’d have Eric and Sara learn about the fake-out at the end of the film. That way, we can still have the betrayal moment in the woods, but it makes more sense. And, instead of everyone chasing the Magic MacGuffin, let’s just have them defend the kingdom from the ICE QUEEN. We conclude with the climactic fight scene where Sara learns of the fake-out and turns on Freya. Maybe the two lovers die, maybe one of them dies, maybe neither of them dies, but they take down Freya and save the realm.
Q: Nice. So, you must have hated this movie.
A: Actually, no.
Q: Wait – what?
A: If you can ignore all the side stories of this film and incongruity with the first film, it’s actually a decent fantasy quest movie, despite the MacGuffin. The actors and characters are all good, comic relief was added to lighten the tone (and it worked very well), the visuals were splendid, and, overall, it was more entertaining than the first movie.
Q: It was Emily Blunt, wasn’t it?
A: I’ve got a podcast to go prep for.
Rating: Ask for half your money back. At the very least, you’ll be glad Kristen Stewart doesn’t make an appearance.