When Riley North’s family is murdered, she finds revenge.
Riley North (Jennifer Gardner) is a middle-class mom. One daughter, Carly and her mechanic husband. When her husband considers a job as a get-away driver, he is targeted by the Mexican drug dealers and made an example of on his daughter’s birthday at the Christmas carnival.
Riley awakens from a coma to find she’s the only one who survived the drive-by but in a system where the judge, lawyers and even police are corrupt, she doesn’t get justice for her family, until she takes matters into her own hands.
After going off the grid for five years, stealing cash and guns, Riley re-emerges to kill everyone who was involved in her family’s death. The FBI and local police are out to stop her and the Drug Cartel puts a target on her back. The battle is on.
Jennifer Gardner returns to her action roots and shows off her physicality in this role, as Riley isn’t above using her fists to get her point across. She knows she’s going to die when this is all said and done but she’ll do anything to end the bad guys first. Directed by the man who did Taken with Liam Neeson, Peppermint feels much like that movie but with a female in the lead.
The storyline will have to you surprised at times with twists you don’t see coming, especially among the police, and while the movie is predominately about revenge, there are a couple of fun scenes where Jennifer reminds viewers being a mom is at her core.
The theater was packed for a Friday morning. The most I've seen at the theater in a while. Occasional cheers were heard as Jennifer got the bad guys. This movie appeals to women who like a strong female lead who isn’t afraid to hurt the people who hurt her family. A couple of ladies at the theater were wondering after the movie if any of their friends could take out a drug cartel. However, the movie takes a lot of hits for its racial tone of bad Mexicans. Yet, there is a diverse cast especially on the law enforcement side.
With the level of violence and death, this isn’t a movie for younger audiences. Fans of Jennifer will enjoy seeing her back in action but the overall storyline is a typical revenge movie. From the first scene, you know who the killer is. But if you are looking for a movie which will remind you not to mess with an angry mom—this is it!
No Sesame, All street…The Happytime Murders isn’t your children’s movie.
Directed and produced by Jim Henson’s son, Brian, The Happytime Murders is about a former policeman turned detective who sets out to solve the murders of a 1980’s popular puppet TV show. As one by one the former cast members are murdered, Phil Phillips (a puppet) must work with his former partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and his former flame, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks) while the FBI sets out to prove he’s the puppet who murdered them all.
The puppets are second-class citizens in this movie’s world. They are beaten up, ignored and are forced to sing and dance on the street corners for cash. Phil lost his badge when he missed a shot on another puppet who held a gun to his partner and was drummed out of the force. His guilt over the incident has left a scar and made him weary of people.
The Happytime Murders is anything but happy. These puppets are raunchy, not even PG-13 but totally R-rated. It’s over the top how they have portrayed them with sugar addictions, strange porn habits and anger management issues. The storyline and world creation has a touch of Who Framed Rodger Rabbit but without any of the good lines or artistry. Happytime launches from one sexual innuendo to the next, rather than creating any depth to the characters. Melissa McCarthy comes off as a sad and angry woman. She spends most of the movie yelling and swearing at someone or snorting candy sprinkles.
Since this movie was produced as well by Melissa McCarthy and her husband, you know it will feature her as the lead, and will have Maya Rudolph as a character in addition to a sneak peek at Melissa’s husband, Ben Falcone in a scene. It was the only joke I laughed at. Melissa is leaving the station after being suspended and tells off each of the officers in the office. She tells Ben’s character that she wished she’d have slept with him, and he says, “There’s still time.”
Happytime will appeal to a certain demographic who like movies with a lot of sexual jokes and raunchy comedy but for most, they will be put off by the lack of a storyline and one-dimensional characters. Watch this one on DVD.
Wealth, Romance and Family clashes in this Rom-Com, perfect for a date night!
Based on the first book in the best-selling trilogy by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians is the first Western Production with an only Asian cast. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is an American-born Chinese NYU economics professor who travels with boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to his family home in Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. Along the way, she runs aground of his domineering mother and social climbing friends.
Along with Rachel’s and Nick’s story, the movie also showcases Nick’s sister, Astrid (Gemma Chan) and her husband as they struggle to keep their marriage afloat. He’s from a working class family and never felt like he was good enough for the wealthy Young family. Be sure to wait for the mid-credits’ scene for a sneak peek at what might be coming for Astrid’s future.
Rachel's college friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) and her father, Goh Wye Mun (Ken Jeong- from the Hangover movies) steal the movie. They are the comedy to the romance and provide Rachel support she needs when Nick’s mom (Michelle Yeoh) hits Rachel with a big surprise.
Would Crazy Rich Asians be as successful if it was about wealthy Americans? Or another ethnic group? Probably not. The over the top wealth and lifestyle of these Singapore families goes as far as having a bachelorette party on a private island with free shopping. The way that social media spreads like wildfire and how mean girls can be to each other is shocking but so true. It will be interesting to see if they make a second movie, after all, the books are at the top of the New York Times lists.
Crazy Rich Asians is fairly clean. There are a few moments of underwear shots and making out. However, this movie is not for the younger audience and it probably won’t appeal to the guys. But if you are looking for a movie to see with your girlfriends, this is it. As well, it’s perfect for a date night. Guys- your girls will love the romance and she’ll leave with a glow!
Jaws on steroids, The Meg was a fun adventure movie with plenty of action and some interesting surprises.
When Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) was forced to leave men behind when his underwater rescue mission goes sideways, his career, marriage and sanity are damaged because of his claims that an extra-large shark attacked the Navy’s nuclear submarine. When a new underwater research team funded by an American billionaire (Rainn Wilson) becomes stranded at the bottom of the ocean floor, Jonas is asked to save the team which includes his ex-wife (Jessica McNamee).
The research team inadvertently lets the 75-foot prehistoric shark out of the ocean floor where it was trapped by a super freezing layer of gas which mimicked the bottom and had kept the Megalodon from being discovered. There are certainly flaws in the science of this movie since it’s not really possible that the large shark could survive in such a small area without the larger predators he needs for survival.
A Chinese and American production, it was interesting to see how the billionaire was portrayed as an over the top, goofy person more interested in money and lawsuits than people. Was this how the Chinese filmmakers see Americans? Or one in particular? One moment which was over the top silly and parents of teenage boys will “get” was when the two geeky scientists snickered over the word “inserted” each time it was used. It reminded me of the one year my boys kept saying “Poop” at Thanksgiving dinner.
Jason Statham played his typical sexy and thrilling super military guy. The character was much like many of the other characters he’d played, sexy but also a total bossy, super military man who could handle everything thrown at him including the sass of a 8-year-old (Sophia Cai) and her sexy mother (Bingbing Li). The budding romance between Jonas and the daughter of the chief scientist shows up with her being sarcastic to him and him saving her life more than once.
A great supporting cast with recently named as Catwoman actress-Ruby Rose and Masi Oka from Hawaii 5-O, keeps the storyline flowing. But Meiling (Sophia Cai)- the young daughter steals the movie with her honest insights into life because in her words, no one realizes she listens to all they say in front of her. Her screen time with Statham is sweet and I believe his character fell in love with the little girl before noticing her mother!
With many nods to Jaws and even a throwaway line about Shark Week, the Meg is sure to delight fans of big action movies, much like the Rock’s San Andreas or Rampage. With the fear factor and a quite a few deaths (after all, this is a shark movie), The Meg is not for younger audiences, although for me the moment I almost cried at involved the death of a whale and not a human. Just don’t expect a great plot- go for the action.
Disney knows how to do a family movie.
Christopher Robin is the tale of a grown up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) who has left his childhood and friends (Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger) behind. He’s faced boarding school, a world war, marriage and parenthood. As an adult he’s being asked to put his job before his family- grow up and be a man. He’s been taught to put fun and laughter in the past. His marriage and his relationship with his daughter are in jeopardy. But when Christopher is at his lowest, his friend, Pooh, returns with his own crisis, forcing Christopher to return to the Hundred Acre Wood to find the rest of the gang.
Not to be confused with the 2017 movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin, this one is a funny and heartwarming tale of what’s really important--family and fun. Christopher must learn the hard way that fun is important in life and that childhood friends can last forever. The many nods to the original Winnie the Pooh cartoons will entertain those who fell in love with the bear with a small brain and a big heart. From Tigger’s song to the happiness from a red balloon, Christopher Robin will have viewers nodding. Disney even ties in the traditional opening of flipping through the pages of a book.
With voices from Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Jim Cummings (Every Cartoon in the last 20 years), and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), Christopher Robin has modern artists voicing characters who have been around for almost 50 years and, you believe they are really the original people. Even with the heavy message, there are plenty of humorous moments as Pooh is able to speak to anyone, sending a few people to crash.
Unlike Mission Impossible, the biggest chase scene features a girl riding a bike to get to her father before his big presentation. And unlike the upcoming movie The Meg, the only body part lost is Eeyore’s tail and only temporarily. The slow pace is great for children but might put some viewers to sleep. Another problem for children is the scrolling of sentences explaining things passing in Christopher’s life. Children who can’t read won’t know when his father dies nor understand. They will only be interested in having their own Tigger to bounce around, anyway.
As this summer ends, Christopher Robin is a movie for the whole family and one which will be enjoyed by everyone. A perfect “going back to school film” for families.
Ethan’s back and must save the world once again.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team must face the heat from the CIA when a mission goes wrong and they let some plutonium get away. Now they must work with the CIA and their operative, August Walker (Henry Cavill) in order to recover the plutonium before the Apostles and John Lark, an arms dealer. The bad guys have plans to set off simultaneous nuclear bombs in order to bring suffering to the world in order to bring about peace.
The sixth movie in the Mission Impossible franchise brings back previous characters (both bad and good) setting up for the big ending. The last 45 minutes of the movie will have you on the edge of your seat and holding your breath to see if Cruise can save the day. Twists about who are really the bad guys will have you wondering why you didn’t see that coming!
The question of whether it’s better to sacrifice one person to save millions comes up as Ethan must decide to save his men over grabbing the plutonium which sets the events in motion. As well, Ethan must face his biggest former enemy and past love. Both very emotional moments for a character who doesn’t let his feelings get in the way.
Cruise does many of his own stunts in the movie and actually broke his foot during one of the chase scenes. Surprisingly, movies where Cruise runs more, do better at the box office and this one has a great deal of running. While I’m not a Cruise fan, he brings just the right amount of bravado and swagger to the character of Ethan Hunt. Although there are many instances of “the right circumstances” happening in order to keep the action going. In addition, this was the movie where Henry Cavill grew the mustache which had to be CGI’d out for Justice League re-shoots. The late 70’s lip fur is a nice change of pace for Superman.
If you are looking for a fun escape from the summer heat, Mission Impossible will entertain. But it’s not necessary to watch on the big screen. Certainly you don’t have to keep up with the previous movies, although you will want to. Otherwise, you are sure to not understand all the key points.
Return to 1979 as Donna sets out to find herself in the sequel to Mamma Mia.
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is determined to re-open her mother’s hotel and make it a success after her mother’s death. In the days leading up to the opening, things go wrong—weather, travel and missing loved ones—turn the event into a disaster. Feeling like she’s let her mother down, Sophie wallows in despair.
Through flashbacks to 1979, we see Donna (Lily James) set out after her college graduation. She meets up with Harry (Hugh Skinner) in Paris but she’s called by fate to Greece. Along the way, she meets Bill (Josh Dylan) who gives her a lift to the island, Kalokairi, where she ends up staying in a run-down home and meets Sam (Jeremy Irvine), who is escaping his responsibilities back in the US.
Each man is one of Sophie’s potential fathers who are determined to get to the grand re-opening. Sam (Pierce Brosnan), who married Donna (Meryl Streep) at the end of Mamma Mia, lives on the island in a home overlooking the hotel. His wife’s death has weighed on him but he’s determined to do anything and everything to help Sophie. Donna’s best friends, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) return to the villa to kick off the party. Sadly, Sophie’s husband, Sky (Dominic Cooper) is in New York and can’t be there…in fact, he’s been offered a job of a lifetime to stay in New York.
Sophie’s and Donna’s worlds combine when Sophie finds out she’s pregnant in the same place as her mother. As she grapples with her mother’s loss, the coming baby brings her closer than ever to her mom.
Featuring more songs by ABBA, Mamma Mia 2 is a grittier story with more emotion than the first one. This one will require tissues! The first movie focused on family and fathers while this movie’s focus is on mothers as we learn more about Donna’s early life.
Cher shows up in a cameo which seems forced and not really needed. But hey, it’s Cher. Lily James as a young Donna is entertaining. For fans of the original, there were many secret nods to only things fans will get—twins, spontaneous, Titanic recreations. While many of the songs aren’t as well known, they will quickly become some of your favorites. Two of the members of ABBA even show up in cameos. The musical numbers are fun with strong dance numbers and toe tapping songs.
There are some continuity issues from the first movie which become glaring when you re-watch the first soon after seeing the second. But that’s what happens when ten years pass between two movies and when writers are forced to use songs to tell a story. Suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. Mamma Mia will appeal to fans of the original. The theater was filled with groups of women out enjoying some camaraderie together, celebrating life.
PS. Be sure to stay for a special after credits scene….way at the end!
Big or small, Antman and the Wasp is a fun movie for summer.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has only three days left on his house arrest after the incident in Germany with the Avengers when Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) seek him out to help with recovering Dr. Pym’s wife, Janet Van Dyne, (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm. Caught up in a race against time to rescue Janet, Antman and the Wasp must battle Ghost, a young woman who phases (Ghost) and a smarmy technology dealer, as well as keeping the FBI from finding out the Scott is out of the house.
Balanced between funny moments, action and heart-warming, Antman and the Wasp is a fun movie for the summer. The whole movie encompasses a few days in Scott’s life as he tries to balance being a father, helping others and starting his own company. The moments with his daughter, Cassie are sure to tug at your heartstrings. But it’s the comedy which steals the movie. From the “Truth Serum” to “Channeling Janet”, the movie will have you laughing out loud.
With a marvelous cast including Lawrence Fishburn, Michael Pena and Judy Greer, in addition to the stars- Douglas, Rudd, Lilly and Pfeiffer, there are plenty of familiar faces. More serious than the first Antman movie, this sequel ties in nicely to the Infinity War movies and features two after credits’ scenes and a Stan Lee cameo.
The music reminded me of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies with songs by The Partridge Family The Four Seasons. Viewers of the certain age will be tapping their feet along with the music. Antman and the Wasp leaves you hanging as it segways into the Infinity War movie and possibly sets up what may happen in the future unnamed Infinity War sequel.
While a fun movie, Antman and the Wasp will appeal to fans of the Marvel Universe more than typical movie goers since they will understand the connections and comments about certain characters. But with a family friendly message, it’s a movie which will appeal to young and old alike.
“We’re putting the team back together.” Basketball meets Blues Brothers in this funny sports movie.
When Coach Dax (Lil Rel Howery) spends his life savings to enter the Rucker Classic basketball tournament, only to lose his star player and team, he seeks out a new team and finds a family. Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) is a mysterious former big name Rucker player who walked away on the eve of the big tournament, when he’s given a chance to make things right, he sets out to reunite his former team.
Dax’s life is in shreds. He’s afraid to play basketball after losing a big game when his shot gets blocked. Now he only coaches while working at Foot Locker. When he loses his team to the guy who blocked his shot, his girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish) leaves him and he’s kicked out of the house they share. Alone and homeless with all his belongings in a garbage bag, he has nothing to lose when he agrees to Drew’s terms as he creates a team.
Uncle Drew’s stuck in the 1970’s with old R&B music on his eight-track player inside his orange van with a boom-boom room in the back. His old team has changed over the years. Lights is now legally blind (but that doesn’t stop him from driving in a getaway scene!) to Boots who hasn’t walked or talked in years. But Drew and basketball has the magic which allows them to reclaim their passion and life.
Uncle Drew began as a Pepsi short/commercial which wowed viewers so much that Pepsi, decided to create a movie based on the characters. Using some of today’s best-known basketball players, Uncle Drew is a cute story about what’s important in life and families. From Shaq to Lisa Leslie and Reggie Miller, the stars wear full make-up to age them. Also featuring some “basketball” snips which only fans of the stars would get, from comments about missing time outs and Kobe, you will have to pay attention to catch them all. My favorite character was The Preacher (Chris Webber) who’s like a James Brown basketball star.
Fans of basketball are going to enjoy this movie more than others. But it does have some laugh out loud moments which will appeal to everyone. I enjoyed the way it felt like Blues Brothers from the Preacher and his wife, who didn’t want him to get back with the team to the way the group finds adventure along the way to the big event. While this movie is a fun romp, it’s not really one you have to see in the theater. Wait and catch it on TV or DVD.
The park is closed. The humans long gone and dinosaurs have run wild. But what happens when the island is about to blow? Government Hearings.
Three years after the last Jurassic World movie, the dinos face extinction as the island’s once dormant volcano is erupting. Mr. Hammond is dead but his former partner would like to save the dinosaurs and has come up with a plan to move some of them, thirteen species to a new island. They need Claire’s (Bryce Howard) and Owen’s (Chris Pratt) help. However, things aren’t what they seem and the project goes haywire.
Returning to its roots in the first Jurassic Park, Fallen Kingdom bridges the new characters with the old storyline of gene splicing and playing God. Dr. Wu returns and tries to pick up where he left off, creating a new dinosaur which can be taught and controlled. However, it’s the greed of Mr. Mills who sees the dinosaurs as a commodity for war and destruction, much like nuclear weapons which pits Claire and Owen against the bad guys in an effort to save the dinosaurs.
Claire and Owen share responsibility for the dinosaurs. They also share in the guilt that they might have done something wrong by allowing the park to be built and dinosaurs to be used as a tourist opportunity. Not alone in their effort to save the dinosaurs, they bring along an easily frightened IT guy and dinosaur doctor- yep, new jobs are being created every day.
The dinosaurs steal the movie, from their sweeping majesty to their silent tears. They are even the stars of the bonus end credit scene. We see them as more human than the humans. They only seek to survive, not dabble with creation. Blue is grown now and because of her intelligence, is highly sought after. She becomes the hero of the story, saving Owen more than once. In fact, for someone who has lived with dinosaurs, Owen gets very lucky. But it’s the new Indoraptor is crazy mean. He can scent someone and track them through the rain over roofs. He’s trained with a red laser beam to set a target and not go off target until it’s dead. And his human-like hands recall images of Freddy Kruger’s knife fingers. Certainly the stuff of nightmares.
While there are many plot holes, the fast-paced action keeps you jumping. The CGI brings the dinosaurs to life, in a way which makes you wish you could have one of your own. With one of the toughest scenes to watch since Me Before You. On the opposite side, Chris Pratt has a scene reminiscent of Jerry Lewis’ physical comedy which will have you belly-laughing. The message about gene tampering and playing God is heavy handed. Once we as humans have done this, can it be undone? Or since we have created the animals, should we strive to protect them. Jeff Goldbulm’s character starts and ends the movie with that question and leaves the audience questioning it as well.
Leaving the door wide open for the final Jurassic World movie, Fallen Kingdom. Please keep in mind this is a PG-13 movie. There were young kids in attendance when we saw it and tears, screaming could be heard.
It's all about the movies...