The Addams Family (2019)

The Addams Family (2019)

By: Kevin Jordan

Neat. Petite.

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?

Yeah.

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?

Very best…

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.

Yeah, Lurch.

Who was the Uncle?

Uncle Fester.

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?

Maybe.

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?

Yeah. Sarcastically.

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?

Yeah.

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?

Lurch.

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*

Operation Finale

Operation Finale

By: Kevin Jordan

It is a good thing I like history.

Operation Finale is the story of how a team of Israeli Mossad agents captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the top Nazi SS officers and main organizers of the Holocaust.  Eichmann was discovered living in Argentina under a false identity, captured in 1960 and taken to Israel, where he was tried for war crimes (among other things) and executed by hanging.  Depending on how much of a history buff you are, this may be a spoiler.  Fortunately, the statute of limitations has expired on spoilers for fifty-year old stories.

While I did not know this story going into the film, it was a safe assumption that the film would end with Eichmann’s capture (an assumption I made three seconds after the characters were assigned the mission).  Knowing that, I would still recommend you watch Operation Finale because we currently live in 2018 where there are still large numbers of human garbage that will watch this film rooting for Eichmann.

If we lived in a normal world where all of our politicians and electorate still openly condemned Nazism (rather than the half that continue to sit silently as these fascist shit stains are openly supported by our President), I would tell you to skip this movie unless you are a massive history nerd who cannot get enough Ken Burns.  From the little bit of research I did after viewing Operation Finale, the actual capture of Eichmann is almost comically uninteresting.  The Israelis follow Eichmann for a while to make sure he really is Eichmann, snatch him after he gets off a bus at the end of his work day, then take him to Israel.  It could not be less eventful, and it shows in the way the screenplay tries to insert drama and suspense into the film.  It could very well be that the movie is faithful with the drama and suspense (I have not read Eichmann in My Hands by Peter Malkin), but it feels manufactured for movie reasons.  In fact, the most interesting part of the entire story might be the trial of Eichmann itself, but the film only spends a couple of minutes on it at the end.

Being a big history nerd myself, I was never bored by the movie, but I could not help noticing how inferior it was to a movie like MunichMunich is another film about Mossad agents tracking down enemies of Israel (Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped Israeli Olympians), but Munich does not shy away from the ruthlessness these agents sometimes operate with.  Conversely, Operation Finale depicts its Mossad agents as if all of the agents are rookies who needed multiple tries to pass the test.  They bumble one thing after another, perform surveillance as if they believe they are invisible, and overlook basic operational security principles like not paying their informants or in-country aides.  Perhaps the most unbelievable part is when their arranged airline delays the exfiltration flight because they want a signed letter from Eichmann confirming he is Eichmann.  This, despite the lead agent informing us that nobody knows what Eichmann’s signature looks like so they cannot forge it.  If nobody knows what it looks like, why would the airline demand it and how would they know if it was faked?  This becomes the MacGuffin and drives a relationship that develops between Malkin (Oscar Isaac) and Eichmann (Ben Kingsley).  The movie is hoping this relationship distracts you from the fact that the signature is one of the more absurd MacGuffins you will ever see in film.

However, the relationship exposes a handful of takeaways that relate to current events.  One is how Eichmann is adamant that he was just following orders when he came up with more efficient ways to exterminate the Jews during the Holocaust.  Nevermind the fact that he joined the Nazi party and SS in 1932 voluntarily.  Nevermind that he headed the department responsible for Jewish affairs through the end of World War II.  Nevermind that he could have chosen to defect or leave the country and go into hiding or disobey those orders at any time.  We heard this same bullshit excuse coming from the Department of Homeland Security and ICE when they were indiscriminately deporting immigrants (many of them legal immigrants) and separating children of asylum seekers from their families and locking them up in cages because those were there orders.  It is not hyperbole to point out how the current treatment of immigrants by the White House administration and most Republican congressmen is very similar to the treatment of Jews in Germany in the 1930s.

Another takeaway is how Argentina turned a blind eye to the Nazi war criminals hiding there and the rising number of Nazi sympathizers gathering together.  The film depicts the Argentinian police as working with Nazi groups and being led by Nazis to track down the Jewish agents in broad daylight.  While we are not quite that far here, we have high-ranking White House officials who have made no secret of their anti-Semitism and hatred of non-white people.  I know this is a movie review, but if we do not pay attention to movies like this trying to tell us something, I may not be able to write reviews in the future.

Given that it is the end of August, you probably are not paying attention to new movie releases.  Ordinarily, a movie starring Kingsley and Isaac (with shout-outs to Nick Kroll, Melanie Laurent, and Haley Lu Richardson) is the kind of movie that opens closer to award season and draws critical attention, but it is opening in August for a reason.  It is the kind of movie that history fans will find some interest in, but casual fans will not because the story just is not very compelling.  The best I can tell you is that it kept my interest for reasons that had little to do with movies, a lot to do with history, and a bit to do with the sad state of current affairs.

Rating: Ask for six dollars back and always pay attention to history, or you’ll be doomed to repeat it.

Sausage Party

By: Kevin Jordan

Food for thought.

sausage_party poster

Several years back, I was at my in-laws’ house, it was late at night, and I was watching an episode of South Park.  The boys were trying to avoid getting in trouble for hitting Butters in the eye with a ninja star.  Halfway through, my father-in-law walked in, watched for a minute, looked at me incredulously and asked “what are you watching!?”  I told him there would be a point, he just had to wait for it (and I didn’t know yet what it would be).  He did not wait (and went to bed) and the point of the episode was that if sex is involved, nobody cares about violence.  The point is that South Park may look and sound crass and juvenile, but there is often brilliant commentary embedded within.  In other words, when you watch Sausage Party, don’t be the person who can’t see the forest for the trees.

That forest idiom is important here because some people get stubbornly stuck on things like cussing or nudity or dick jokes when reviewing movies and call them terrible movies for those things.  These people should not watch Sausage Party because they won’t make it five minutes into the movie before running out of ink tallying up the number of times ‘fuck’ is uttered.  These same people will ignore the fact that animated, talking food stuffs are doing the cussing.  Meanwhile, those of us who don’t have constipation over naughty words will stare in wonder at a movie that looks like Pixar but sounds like Cinemax.  Then, we will grin like maniacs when the movie becomes more than food wanting to fuck each other in the great beyond.

Horn dog - meet hot bun.

Horn dog – meet hot bun.

The premise of the film is that all of the food and products in a grocery store believe that when they are chosen by the gods (humans), they are going to heaven (outside the store).  A sausage, Frank (Seth Rogen), and hot dog bun, Brenda (Kristen Wiig), want to get chosen so they can have sex.  When a returned jar of mustard (Danny McBride) rants about how the great beyond is all a big lie and that the gods are actually monsters, he inadvertently prevents Frank and Brenda from leaving the store and getting busy.  At that point, the movie becomes a quest – Frank and Brenda want to get back to their shelves for another chance to be chosen.  Along the way, they are joined by a bagel (Ed Norton) and a lavash (David Krumholtz) and pursued by an evil douche (Nick Kroll) – yes, an actual douche – who blames them all for him being denied his destiny (it’s exactly the destiny you think).  At this point in time, if you aren’t completely sold on the insanity of this movie, here’s where it gets good and where Trey Parker and Matt Stone would be proud.

You mean heaven is a lie?

You mean heaven is a lie?

On the surface, the film is a crass, profanity-laced comedy about horny food.  Every food-sex pun you’ve ever thought of is probably in this film.  Just like the forest and the trees, beneath the surface are hilarious commentaries on religious belief vs. science and the absurdity of the ongoing Israel vs. everyone else in the Middle East battle.  The bagel – Jewish.  The lavash – Muslim.  Yes, every complaint these two sides have made will be addressed in this film.  But for my money, the religion/science battle elevates this movie to greatness.  It bites on the idea that there are people who refuse to bend even in the face of overwhelming factual evidence (currently, we call these people Trump supporters and climate change deniers), then bites back by pointing out that calling those people idiots is the absolute wrong way to try to change their minds.  You may be right that they are idiots, but nobody ever changed an idiot’s mind by calling them an idiot, and not for lack of trying.

As you may have guessed already, I loved this movie.  If nothing else, it’s an original movie, the kind that people keep yammering at Hollywood to make.  But it’s so much better than that.  Hopefully, all the people whose assholes pucker at the very mention of sex or potty words can get over themselves long enough to appreciate that Rogen and fellow writers Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill (who also voices a sausage) have created a brilliant and funny movie that asks us all to step back and see the damned forest.  And, like in sex (usually), there’s a massive payoff in the end – a giant food orgy.  If you thought they hit every food-sex pun before this scene, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Rating: Don’t ask for any money back as it should leave a great taste in your mouth (what?  I can’t do one pun?).