The wonderful Dell over at Dell on Movies is back with his annual summer Against The Crowd Blogathon! I've participated in this every year, and it's always a fun post to write. This year it snuck up on me though. Where did August go? It's not like I've been doing anything.
As always, here are the rules:
Pick one movie “everyone” loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have score of 75% or more on rottentomatoes.com (or at least 7.5 on imdb.com). Tell us why you hate it.
Pick one movie that “everyone” hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of 35% or less on rottentomatoes.com (or 4.0 or less on imdb.com). Tell us why you love it.
Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.
Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own (just include all the pertinent details), or just mention this blogathon if using an audio or visual medium.
Let us know what two movies you intend on writing, vlogging, posting, or podcasting about in one of the following ways: Comment on this or any ACB 2020 post on this site, tweet me @w_ott3, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publish your post on any day from Friday, August 21 through Sunday, August 23, 2020, and include a link to this announcement. If you’re a podcaster or YouTuber that is interested in participating just talk about your chosen movies during your closest podcast and/or video to those dates and mention that you are taking part in this blogathon.
If posting on social media, use the hashtag #AgainstTheCrowd2020
If there's one thing I've over-achieved on during this pandemic, it's watching my entire 2020 Blind Spot list early, I've even cracked into my prelim 2021, so the oldies have been on my mind. Then it came to my attention that the one I hated the most this year, and who currently has the worst letter grade out of any Blind Spot I watched has a whopping 93% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.. Now I must ask myself why...
Results may vary.
A new pill is being sold around New Orleans that gives each person very unpredictable super powers...or sometimes they just explode. Detective Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has been tracking it low key for a while, and works with a teenage dealer, Robin (Dominique Fishback) to help get it off the streets. Meanwhile, Art (Jamie Foxx) known as "Major" is also after the source of the pill for very personal reasons, and when he kidnaps Robin looking for a lead, the three begin working together.
I ended up liking this a lot more than I was expecting - mostly because when I see "Netflix action movie" I immediately think garbage. But while this film is far from perfect, I found most of it pretty enjoyable. It definitely takes the easy way out with the villains, who might as well be blurred out suits that speak in Charlie Brown Adult voices because they're all exactly the same and have zero depth to them. Thankfully our three leads have the chemistry to make the rest of the movie bearable.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is my favorite actor, so of course I enjoyed him here. His character has some pretty cringey "This is my city!" dialogue I didn't care for but it was fun to see him kicking ass and cracking a few jokes here and there. Dominique Fishback was the star. She was wonderful and I liked how realistically she got herself out of tough situations. They could've turned her into a random super genius kid a few different times, but they didn't. Jamie Foxx doesn't play anything too out of the ordinary for him but he's always a solid actor. He had a bit of a "women in Michael Bay movie" thing going on here. When he should be realistically sweaty, dirty, and gross but instead is framed like he is the hottest thing you've ever seen. No complaints.
Overall, I liked the set up, but when it came to meet the conflict head on, I felt they dropped the ball a bit. They explain why the pill is a thing, and the nameless suits try to stop them. It's a bit boring, but overall I preferred this to say, Extraction. It's a fine streaming watch.
Memorable Quote: "Want to know what animal I got?" - Art (Jamie Foxx)
Time to brine.
Hershel Greenbaum (Seth Rogan) immigrates to America with his wife, Sarah (Sarah Snook) and begins to work in a pickle factory to fuel his American dream. One day he's accidentally knocked into a pickling vat, and the factory is condemned so he's left to brine for 100 years until two kids accidentally free him. He then meets his only living relative, great-grandson, Ben (also played by Rogan) and becomes a media sensation.
I absolutely love how they explain the science of how he was able to stay alive. It's hysterical. Sometimes the easiest way is the best way. When I sat down to watch this on Saturday night (pro tip: it's best to have pickles handy in your house because you will want to eat one at some point during this movie) I had pretty much forgotten the trailer I had seen months ago. Because of that, the conflict in the movie was a bit of a welcomed surprise for me.
Seth Rogan is great in this. It's easily the best performance he's ever given. Both Hershel and Ben are very different and Rogan never loses sight of that. He's never just playing "Ben with an accent" when he's playing Hershel, and vice versa. They're both fleshed out characters in their own right.
I will say structure wise, this movie does play out a bit like a shorter Judd Apatow film, meaning it has about 15 minutes or so towards the end after the main conflict has reached its crescendo where is absolutely drags while the main character ponders what he did wrong. But that aside, I laughed enough to make this worth my time.
Memorable Quote: "I will create a pickle empire and prove you stupid." - Hershel (Seth Rogan)
What I knew going in: The famous songs.
IMDB sums up Meet Me In St. Louis up best. "In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York." The majority of the film follows Esther Smith (Judy Garland) as she tries to get her new neighbor Jon Pruitt (Tom Drake) to notice her. Esther also has an older love sick sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) and two mischievous little sisters, Agnes and Tootie (Joan Carroll and Margaret O'Brien)
I realized, embarrassingly that I'm not very well versed in the late, great Judy Garland's filmography. I knew plenty about the drama surrounding her life, but I had only seen two of her films. This year I decided to right that wrong and I figured Meet Me In St. Louis was a good place to start.
This movie was delightful and just what I needed after a long, depressing week of another needless killing of a black man by a police officer in America. (You're reading this in August, but I'm typing this review on May 31st. Hopefully people have started to listen to the protesters more by now) It lifted my spirits for a short while, and for that I'm very thankful.
Judy is wonderful and her voice is just something else. The films is so bright and colorful and she radiates joy throughout. The Smith family was fun to watch and it was nice to get all the context behind the musical numbers I was familiar with. I wish Joan Carroll would've gotten more to do though. She opens the movie singing the title song briefly, then she's really just background noise to Margaret O'Brien, who had the juicer role of the two younger sisters.
Memorable Quote: "Oh I don't hate you, I just hate basketball." - Esther (Judy Garland)
Now onto Summer Stock, in this film Judy plays Jane, a down on her luck farmer whose sister Abigail (Gloria DeHaven) shows up one day with about 20 actors in tow and has promised them the barn for the show. Jane beings to butt heads, then fall for the show's director and star, Joe. (Gene Kelly)
I love me some Gene Kelly but everyone in this movie aside from Jane, Joe, and Esme (Marjorie Main) is too dumb for words. That made it a little hard to watch at times, but the dance numbers were so much fun that I would forget it about briefly. I read a lot about the backstage drama surrounding this film. How Judy was at the height of her drug addiction, and performance wise you never would've guessed. She's good here too and Kelly is an absolute delight.
As you probably can tell, I liked Meet Me In St. Louis far more, but don't sleep on Summer Stock. It's enjoyable enough, plot contrivances aside.
Memorable Quote: "We're trying to tell a story with music and song and dance." - Joe (Gene Kelly)
The Sopranos - After 84 years, I'm finally starting the Sopranos. So far so good, I'm only on season 2 but it got off to a better start than the last old HBO show binged.