Movie Review: The Kid Detective (2020)

I’ve always found the idea of private investigators a fascinating one. Whether they’re investigating missing cats, potentially cheating spouses, or other things that are too petty for the police, these detectives are interesting to me, and often help make for some great fiction. So let’s talk about a detective story.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Kid Detective”.

When he was a kid, Abe Appelbaum (Adam Brody) was a famous detective, solving cases left and right, being celebrated by everyone around him. Now in his thirties, he’s grown cynical, jaded, and often hungover, still scraping by on petty cases. But one day a high schooler (Sophie Nélisse) walks into his office, with the offer of his first “proper” case: Solving the murder of her boyfriend. Detective fiction is tricky to pull off in a way that feels fresh, often stumbling into very familiar tropes and clichés. But “The Kid Detective” is that rare gem that manages to stick out a bit. While it does allow itself to indulge in some of the tropes of detective fiction, it also does a lot to play around with and subvert most of them, delivering a take on the genre that feels very refreshing and unique. Meanwhile it also acts as an interesting and darkly comedic character study about someone with a bright future who ultimately stumbled. And when you mix these two elements you get a very compelling whole that went to places I never expected from it.

The characters in this are all very colorful, entertaining, and interesting. First up we have Abe, the titular dick. Once a bright young mind beloved by all, now cynical and not taken seriously by anyone. Seeing how far he’s stooped from that original splendor is really interesting, and is further complemented by a small glint in his eye that shows the old Abe might still be in there. He’s a really compelling protagonist, and I think Adam Brody is terrific in the role. Next is Caroline, the girl who seeks Abe’s assistance with investigating her boyfriend’s murder. She could best be described as wide-eyed and naive, being an innocent observer to Abe’s antics. But I also think she makes for a nice counterbalance to Abe, creating an interesting dynamic there. And I think Sophie Nélisse does a good job in the role. We also get supporting work from Jonathan Whittaker, Wendy Crewson, Peter MacNeill, Tzi Ma, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jay McCarrol, and I think he did a really good job with it. One thing I really appreciate about it is how it actually incorporates instrumentation and some thematic elements from all kinds of detective fiction. You get some more noir inspired stuff, like out of the 40s and 50s. You get some stuff that sounds like it’s out of the 80s. And even some more modern flourishes appear too. And it all makes for a really nice whole that works really well for the movie. There’s also one or two licensed songs used throughout, and those work pretty well too. The music’s just good, yo.

“The Kid Detective” was written and directed by Evan Morgan, and I think he did a really good job with it. He shows that he has a knack for keeping a scene flowing nicely at a good pace, without making anything feel rushed. He lets moments breathe, allowing scenes to simmer a bit in the viewer’s mind, giving us the intimacy and breathing room necessary for the story to work as well as it does.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

“The Kid Detective” is a subversive and refreshing take on the detective formula that I loved. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Kid Detective” is a 9.89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Kid Detective” is now completed.

Between this and “Ready or Not”, Adam Brody is proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 11)

Only one more of these left after today. THANK GOD. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing for you guys. But writing for 12 days straight is a bit draining. So when this is over I’m gonna take a few days off. But until then, let’s talk about the penultimate movie for this series.

So for today we’re talking about a brand new movie (oh my god). That movie is “Happiest Season”, a christmas dramedy about Harper (Mackenzie Davis), a young woman who is bringing her girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) along for christmas with the family… except they don’t know that Harper isn’t gay, so the pair have to keep it a bit of a secret until Harper feels ready to come out of the proverbial closest. Cue the sneaking around, misunderstandings, emotional baggage, and personal demons. While I wouldn’t say that “Happiest Season” is the best movie I’ve seen this year, I still think it’s really solid. It handles its subject matter with a fair bit of tact, giving us a pretty nuanced take on this premise. While the movie primarily acts as a comedy, it isn’t afraid to get a bit more serious, really letting us sit with the characters and their emotions for a bit. And while I do think it gets the balance of comedy and drama down quite well, it doesn’t always hold up perfectly in that regard. When you have serious contemplations about the nature of your relationship one minute and awkward slapstick the next, it can get slightly jarring. It’s not enough to ruin the movie, but it did take me out for a sec.
Also, I just have to go off on one thing for a second. Dan Levy. Dan god damn Levy. This guy is gutbustingly funny. Any time (bar one more serious part) he was on screen he made me absolutely lose it. The rest of the cast is great too, there’s not a weak link in that department… but Levy is definitely the MVP here.
So in conclusion, “Happiest Season” may not be perfect, but it’s still a really solid holiday dramedy that both made me laugh, and made me care about these characters. I’d happily watch it again next year.

On the eleventh day of christmas, I watched something gay
And hey guess what, it was truly quite good, yay

Movie Review: Let Them All Talk (2020)

A new movie, from one of my favorite directors, from the safety of my own couch. Ain’t that nice? So let’s talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Let Them All Talk”.

Alice (Meryl Streep) is a famous author who is sent on a cruise ship towards the UK so she can accept an award. On this trip she has brought two of her oldest friends (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest) and her nephew (Lucas Hedges), so they too can have some fun and maybe even reconnect a bit. The narrative here is partly about confronting your past, while also looking ahead towards the future. And this sounds like it could be really fascinating and compelling. But I do think it falls flat, and the reason for that is that there’s no script. That’s not me being dismissive of any existing one, by the way, the filmmakers have confirmed that there are only guidelines and bullet points, but no proper script. This makes the narrative feel really directionless and lifeless. Characters walk around and talk, but never does it feel particularly engaging. I don’t necessarily hate what’s going on here, but I also don’t really like it that much. It’s pretty mediocre.

The characters, much like the story, fall a little flat in this. I don’t mind a bit of improvisation, but when the movie is 99% that, proper characterization is hard to find, which makes me care less about what’s going on. I’ll at least give it that Meryl Streep, Lucas Hedges, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, and Gemma Chan are all pretty good in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It mostly consists of fun little jazz tunes, giving the movie a bit more of a breezy vibe, which helps a lot in making it all a bit more watchable. It gives it all more energy.

“Let Them All Talk” was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and I think he did an okay job. His fast-paced directing style and tight editing is generally here, but is brought down by a thing that’s been plaguing his movies the last few years… it’s shot on his iphone. Now, I get why you’d use it. We all have phones with at least decent cameras these days, so it’s convenient and not very cumbersome. But this also makes images look a lot more flat and lifeless than if shot on an actual camera. He does his damndest to make this movie look good, and at times it kinda works. But for the most part the movie looks quite flat.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.8/10.

“Let Them All Talk” has good ideas and a good cast, but overall isn’t able to rise beyond mediocrity. It has a mediocre story, uninteresting characters, pretty good performances, pretty good music, pretty good directing, and mediocre cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Let Them All Talk” is a 6.01/10. So it can be worth checking out.

My review of “Let Them All Talk” is now completed.

Damn it…

Series Review: Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun – Season 1 (2020)

It’s quite inspiring to see internet people gain some level of mainstream attention. Not like through some kind of controversy or douchebaggery that we’ve seen from some over the past few years. No, we’re talking about those who just worked hard at their craft and then found themselves getting bigger projects. This is such an occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all… to “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun”!

While I usually explain some sort of overarching narrative in this section of my reviews, this one is going to be a little different. Because this show isn’t some typical story-driven thing. It’s a sketch series with each episode having some weird theme (or “Word of the Day” as they call it) that each sketch is mildly connected to. But with this being Aunty Donna, you can never really expect where they’ll go with it. It’s basically just the boys doing their usual shit, on a slightly bigger budget. And since they have a brand of humor that is very much their own, then this isn’t really for everyone. They’re weird, unpredictable, goofy, absurd, and even slightly surreal. And being an Aunty Donna fan, I am so glad that they’re unique style is retained here. I’m not gonna say that all the sketches here caused huge laughter, but I can happily say that I was always smiling at least. Then there of course were huge laughs throughout. Basically if you’re already a fan of the Aunty Donna crew and their weird style of humor, then you’re definitely gonna enjoy this, as it’s 100% that. As for any other people who aren’t familiar with them… then I don’t know if you’ll enjoy it. Give it a try, I guess? Maybe you’ll enjoy some of the wordplay? Or one of the song numbers? Or a performance? Who knows. Either way, I enjoyed it all a lot.

There’s a lot of different characters in this, all very colorful, most a ton of fun. And since I don’t wanna spoil those, I’ll just move on. But I will however say that the cast is on top as per usual, with our main trio of Broden Kelly, Mark Bonanno, and Zachary Ruane are as great and energetic as ever. We even see a few of their regular collaborators throughout, such as Michelle Brasier and Ben Russell. There’s even a few surprising guest appearances at a few points…
But yeah, this cast is great.

This show is well shot and edited. Yeah, not much else I can say there. It’s familiar territory for the boys in terms of overall craft, just slightly better looking thanks to that Netflix money. So you know, that’s pretty cool. Kudos to the production crew.

At the time of writing, it doesn’t have many scores on my usual sites. But here’s the Rotten Tomatoes link for future reference. And here’s the Metacritic one. And then we have imdb.com, where it (AT TIME OF WRITING) has a score of 9.1/10.

So yeah, season 1 of “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” is indeed a big ol’ house of fun. I found it to be hilarious, charming, and very well performed. So time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” season 1 is a 9.76/10. So while it ain’t for everyone, I still give it a “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” season 1 is now completed.

I watch Aunty Donna and it makes me chuffed…

My Most Anticipated Movies of 2020

Well hello there, friends! Hope you’ve all had a great christmas or hanukkah or whatever the fuck you’ve been celebrating. And if you haven’t been celebrating anything, I hope you’ve at least had a good few days. After the nearly non-stop blogging I did with my 12 Films of Christmas series, I decided to take a few days off, rest up my old joints. But you’re only 22. Yes, but I have the ligaments of a geriatric refrigerator. Anyway, so now that we’ve got the holidays over with, let’s look to the future. Specifically, I want to look forward to 2020, and have a look at what movies will be coming out at the start of the new decade. And despite the title, this list isn’t strictly about movies I’m super hyped for. Some are, but for the most part it’s more just “Movies I’m kind of interested in”. But that wouldn’t be as catchy, you know.

But before we get into the meat of the post, let’s set up a few ground rules.

Rule 1: You know those movies that get a somewhat limited release first, and then get more international coverage after the new year? Yeah, we’re not including those. So stuff like “Jojo Rabbit”, “The Farewell”, “Little Women”, etc. won’t be featured on this list. Only movies whose official first release happen in 2020.

Rule 2: Please don’t be an asshole in the comments. This is my list, with my opinions. If you don’t agree with any of my choices, and look forward to other movies, then that’s great… but don’t call me names or be a cunt about it. Be cool, yeah? Feel free to make your own list, let’s have a friendly discussion.

Rule 3: Don’t feed the animals.

So, with that stuff said… here’s a list of 2020 movies I’m looking forward to.

The Gentlemen

First up is “The Gentlemen”, an upcoming crime-comedy-action-thriller from Guy Ritchie. And that’s seriously all you’d need to tell me to get me excited. Ritchie has been in a weird spot for the past decade, doing various weird movies. But now it seems like he’s going back to his crime movie roots, which has me quite excited. Combine that with a stacked cast featuring people like Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell, Charlie Hunnam, and so many more… and you have my money like *that*.

Wonder Woman 1984

Next up, a superhero movie. Yeah yeah, some of you are probably tired of superhero stuff and people talking about them, but cut me some slack, I like fun adventure movies, and this’ll probably be such a thing. I was a big fan of the 2017 “Wonder Woman” movie, and since this has the same creative team behind it, I am sure it’ll be at least a good time.

The Invisible Man

A reboot of a classic franchise… and also a horror movie? Two things that usually don’t grab my interest that much. But in recent years I have become more of a horror fan, and I was a fan of the director’s previous movie, “Upgrade”, so I’m interested to see where this goes.

Black Widow

Yes, more superhero stuff. I like superhero stuff. And with Marvel Studios’ track record, I’m expecting this to be a competently made action movie. And this looks like it’ll be a pretty badass spy-thriller/action movie. Plus, it’s nice to finally see this character getting her own movie after being a supporting player in others for so many years.

Last Night in Soho

Two words: Edgar Wright. Seriously, that is all it took to sell me on this movie. I’m a big fan of that director, so I’m gonna be excited for whatever he does. And with this being described as a psychological thriller, I’m extra intrigued to see what the final product could end up being.

Dune

This is one of those I am interested in, while also having my reservations. Yes, the cast is amazing. Yes, the director is amazing. Yes, the source material is really good. But it’s that last part that is what has me a bit careful. “Dune” is such a dense and unique book, which makes me worried how the hell someone go about adapting it. But I guess we’ll see late 2020. Again, still interested thanks to the cast and director.

The King’s Man

I am a big fan of “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, and I don’t mind “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’d be excited for the next entry, which apparently is set in World War 1. A fun action movie set during the most depressing war in recent history? Matthew Vaughn, you’re mad, and I love you for it.

Godzilla vs. Kong

Look, I get that the critical reception for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” wasn’t great. But I also don’t care, because I like seeing giant monsters kicking the shit out of each other. And with two of history’s most popular movie monsters going at it for the first time since 1962, it’s quite an exciting time to be a kaiju fan.

Top Gun: Maverick

I’m gonna say it, I’m not a huge fan of the original “Top Gun”. It’s… fine. So why am I excited for its sequel, which inexplicably is coming out 34 years later? Honestly, ’cause it looks kinda badass, and because I want to see Tom “Batshit Crazy” Cruise fly a jet. Yes, he really did that. Fucking madman.

Tenet

And the last one we’re gonna mention in this post is “Tenet”, the new movie from Christopher Nolan. And it seems like it’s gonna be a bit of a mindbending spy-thriller. I will be excited for whatever Nolan does, but the fact that the sentence I just said before got said has me even more hyped. This is my most anticipated movie of 2020.

So that’s a few movies I’m excited for in 2020. Feel free to mention some of yours, I’d love to hear from you.
Have a good one.