Review: 'Hocus Pocus 2' will cast a spell on those already entranced by the original...but that's about it
I'm not sure exactly what the allure of Disney's "Hocus Pocus" is, other than it is a dearly beloved Halloween event for many. Originally released back in 1993, the film, starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as three enchanting witches, was a box office dud. And yet, it has become an undeniably loved cult-classic, and for its coven of fans, a must-see yearly Halloween-time ritual.
Hilarious. Authentic. Energetic. Outrageous. Revolutionary. These are all words that can be applied to two of the most important rom-coms of our time: 1989's "When Harry Met Sally" and 2022's "Bros."
Comparing it to "When Harry Met Sally" is the highest compliment I can think to give "Bros," a movie with some of the sharpest dialogue, funniest scenes and the most likable characters that I've seen in a romantic comedy in quite some time. Like Nora Ephron's legendary "When Harry Met Sally" script, Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller's words burst off of the screen with an urgency and with incredible insightfulness. This is a movie that has something to say...hell, it has LOTS to say, and there is so much to discover brimming beneath the surface. Even on the surface, it's the funniest movie of the year.
Roger Ebert (my second Roger Ebert quote in as many reviews - see my review of "Hocus Pocus 2" for more) once said that films should be reviewed relative to genre, and if that's so, then "Bros" is definitely deserving of Mount Rushmore rom-com status.
Perhaps you've heard of "Don't Worry Darling"? It's hard to have not heard about it, as it's been dominating headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past month. From "spit-gate" between Harry Styles and Chris Pine, to Florence Pugh not doing press for the film, to friction between director Olivia Wilde and allegedly "fired" actor Shia LaBeouf. It then debuted at the Venice Film Festival to mixed reviews, with many critics applauding the performance of Florence Pugh, but attacking the performance of Harry Styles, and the film as a whole.
Having now seen it, I can accept all sides of the argument. Yes, Florence Pugh is great. Yes, the film itself is a cluttered, unfocused mess at times. Yes, Olivia Wilde's direction seems a bit too artsy for her own good. I will push back though, on the performance of Styles, who I found to be better than just fine, heck, he was effective. Sure, he may not be on the same level as Pugh, but his role didn't demand that he needed to be.
At any rate, "Don't Worry Darling" is a movie that will polarize audiences. But that's also usually a good sign, that a movie was able to ignite some level of passion from its audience, for good or for bad.
But despite its many, many flaws, I found there to be a LOT going on under the hood. Themes of feminism, masculinity and control. Systemic issues that churn out desperate individuals, who will buy into almost anything that promises a better way. The idea of individualism, gender roles and boundaries. Even some deeply buried political messages.
"Don't Worry Darling" isn't a throw-away thriller. It has meaning and purpose, even if its execution is way off, sometimes jarringly so. And it's definitely a movie that should spark conversation on the car ride home, whether you loved it or loathed it.
Ana de Armas is a striking Marilyn Monroe. She nails the mannerisms, the facial expressions and the body language. With an impressive team of makeup, hair and costume artists, she becomes Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jeane.
This is the irony of "Blonde," a muddled, artsy and empty biopic about the iconic actress: For a woman whose talents were always overshadowed by her physical appearance, the movie looks just swell, but it is so caught up in its own glamour that it fails to glance inward.
Marilyn has always captivated the public, but we wish we knew more about her thoughts, her motivations, her mind. "Blonde" does none of this, even while pretending to pull back the curtain on her life. Instead, it perpetuates the same myths, stereotypes and negativity that has always been cast upon Monroe. This movie is not an answer to any questions we had about her. Instead, it represents part of the problem.
If you're not a die-hard fan of the legendary, milestone indie-flick, 1994's "Clerks," then I beg of you: Please, please, PLEASE avoid "Clerks III" at all costs. There is nothing here for anyone who doesn't consider themselves a big fan of filmmaker Kevin Smith's "View Askew-niverse," and in particularly, his first feature-film, "Clerks."
And even for those die-hards, "Clerks III" seems to go to the same well, the same safe places, that many of Smith's recent movies have, in order to suck dry familiar jokes and call-backs. I do think though, that there is enough nostalgia in "Clerks III" to make this a passable, if not an impressive, third and final act for Dante, Randall and the gang at the New Jersey Quick-E Mart.
Somewhere along the way, through a multitude of dick and poop jokes, the clouds of marijuana smoke (mostly provided by proverbial side-kicks, Jay & Silent Bob) and the lengthy discussions about intricate details of the Star Wars saga, we actually find that we care about these characters. "Clerks III" gives them the emotional send-off that they probably didn't deserve, or even needed. But it allows Smith the opportunity to reflect and comment on his original creation, now from the eyes of a middle-aged man with the wisdom of nearly 30 years of separation, instead of as a wide-eyed twenty-something-er looking to take the world by storm while simultaneously trying to figure out exactly who he is.
I rarely will start off a review by telling readers to watch the movie first, but in the instance of "Barbarian," I would hate to even spoil a morsel of the fun. So for real, if you haven't yet seen it, it's OK. You don't have to read on if you don't want to. Go see the movie and then come back here.
This isn't a spoiler-heavy review by any means, but "Barbarian" is best experienced by not knowing where the hell it's going. The headline is that I enjoyed it, despite it all falling apart by the end. It's a fantastic date movie or one to experience with friends, and it excels as a film that plays off of audience expectations...and trust me, no one will see where this one twists and turns to.
It was Cinderella, not Pinocchio, who once told us, "A wish is a dream your heart makes." "Cinderella" - released back in 1950 (!!!) - came to us back in an era of experimentation, unbridled creativity and endless wonder, led by the American pioneer, Walt Disney.
It was a different time, then. 10 years prior to Cinderella giving us that famous line, we had been given "Pinocchio." Released in 1940, it was just the second full-feature animated film from Disney (coming three years after "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"), and it was a Disney-fied version of a classic fairy tale, mixed with important life lessons for the kiddos (a blueprint the studio would use for the next century) and featuring an iconic score and soundtrack that, to this day, can still evoke emotion from anyone who has even accidentally brushed up against anything Disney (and whom among us hasn't?). "When You Wish Upon A Star" is the melody that defines Disney, and has become their unofficial, official company slogan.
With the 2022 live-action re-make of "Pinocchio," I'm not quite sure what was wished upon exactly, and I'm not quite sure that that wish originated in the heart. It seems to me that this was more of a "directive" than a wish, from a corporate entity that holds nothing sacred. I can just picture current Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, humming to that classic Cinderella melody, "A live-action re-make is a dream my bank account makes."
On the heels of live-action versions of "The Jungle Book," "The Lion King," "Aladdin," "Cinderella," "101 Dalmatians" and "Dumbo," we get the wish-fulfillment of a live-action "Pinocchio," a wish that no one ever has made or asked for, but we all knew was inevitable. It's not so much "bad" as it is unnecessary, and it once again has audiences asking: Why?
In the mockumentary style of films like "Best in Show," the new "Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul." is a satire that never seems to cut too deep. If it were a real documentary, it may be criticized for not really revealing the true "underneath" of it all, or what makes these people really tick.
Like its subjects, it is missing a spiritual center and instead gets caught up in the flashiness of all the materialistic riches cluttering up its surroundings.
Looking for a specific movie or review?