Hot News (Bombshell, 2019)

Bombshell_PosterBombshell is the dramatic recounting of the harassment scandal surrounding Fox News top guy Roger Ailes in 2016. Focusing on a wide eyed new Fox News employee Kayla Pospisil. An ambitious Conservative Christian, she finds her reality challenged as she starts to rise through the ranks, eventually becoming a victim of Ailes.

Robbie’s Popsisil is a composite character invented for the film. Robbie manages to be sympathetic in spite of her aspirations. Theron and Kidman do a good job disappearing into their famous roles, as does Lithgow.

The real MVP of Bombshell is the make-up, which made many actors near unrecognizable.

This being your standard “inspired by a True Story” fare, there is a lot of embellishment (outside of actual Fox News personalities, the central people Kayla interacts with the most are fictional, including Kate McKinnon’s Jess Carr).

The story playing out is pretty engaging, but the film seems unsure of what it wants to be. Is it a drama that indicts a sick corporate culture? Is it a satire of a sick corporate culture? Is it just the facts?

The main story is bookended by two very different set pieces.  It opens with Megyn Kelly (Theron) giving us a tour of the Fox News offices. It closes with a Gretchen Carlson (Kidman) speech about sexual harassment in the work place.

Bombshell is largely well made, bolstered by excellent make up and good performances.  But it’s lack of focus on what type of film it is trying to be definitely is a detriment.

Spy Games (The Spy Who Dumped Me, 2018)

Spy_Who_Dumped_Me_PosterIt is Audrey’s birthday and she has not been having a good day. Recently, her boyfriend Drew dumped her via text, and her best friend Morgan is determined to bring her spirits up. When Morgan texts Drew that they are going to burn his stuff, he suddenly responds, asking her not to, and promising to show up the next day, but in the meantime, she is accosted by the CIA who announce that Drew is actually a spy. Drew shows up and gives vital information to Audrey and Morgan before being killed.

What ensues is the two being caught up in an international espionage plot as they try and determine who they can trust. Hunted by the CIA, British intelligence and a terrorist group they try and survive shootouts, car chases and evil torturers.

Honestly…I feel like I should just hate this movie and trash it. The plot is not fresh and the film is incredibly predictable. At no point did any surprises…well, surprise me. But you know what?

I enjoyed this flick. A lot. This is largely because the cast makes it work so well. I was laughing throughout the movies and the cast was the reason. Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon totally have great comedic chemistry.  They sell the heck out of their friendship and their comedic timing with each other is a blast. Gillian Anderson is a straight man character, but she creates laughs with the simplest of moments. The small roles are filled with people who just make the most of them (Lolly Adefope killed me with her role as a condescending co-worker and Kev Adams had me in stitches with his role as an Uber driver).

The Spy Who Dumped Me makes up for it’s shortcomings with such engagingly funny interactions and jokes that it left me smiling and laughing as I left the theater.

No Fear (Ghostbusters, 2016)

ghostbusters-posterThe moment it was announced that instead of Ghostbusters 3, we were getting a rebooted film with an all-female team there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Never mind that much of the original cast would have been less than convincing at their ages…never mind that in the time it would have taken to get made Harold Ramos passed…and the original cast without Egon would feel off.  But what really seemed to drive the anger was the notion that this was feminism out of control, trying to take away someone’s toys.

It was never that, mind you.  But that did not stop folks from screaming to the hills that this would never be a good film.  Throw in the severely low Youtube rating for the trailer (which is suspicious as the trailer fared much better pretty much everywhere else) and you had an overflow that made people skeptical.

What we have received from Director Paul Feig and his cast is a pretty funny film.  The team is brought together pretty organically.  Erin Gilbert is approached by a man hoping she can help him with a ghost problem.  She is a Physics professor at Columbia University and has hoped noone ever discovers a book she wrote with a friend.  She finds out, however, the book is available on Amazon.  Going to confront Abby for releasing a book she promised to never release.  It does not go as expected and soon (along with Abby’s associate Holtzmann) they are chasing ghosts.  They end up hiring dumb as a post Kevin and adding subway worker Patty to their ghost hunting team.

The film is a lot of fun, and strong comedic performances.  The film devotes a lot of time to them learning to use their equipment, but often to very funny results.  Admittedly, Kate McKinnon steals the show as Holtzmann, often able to inspire laughs with ease and a wink.  Hemsworth is almost adorable as the handsome but very stupid Kevin.

I was a bit disappointed that Leslie Jones character Patty was not a scientist after the first trailer, but it turned out okay.  And Jones never devolves into racial stereotypes that comedies lean on, such as Loud Black Lady.  No, her character is a blue collar worker who finds herself facing the super natural.  I enjoyed her performance.

Rounding out the cast, McCarthy and Wiig have good chemistry as a pair of estranged friends.  Also, the cast is full of seasoned and talented character actors.  The cameos from original cast members are fun and the “fan service” is rarely intrusive.

This film has a different type of villain…a young man who feels walked over and is bitter at the human race.  But he is not the only problem.  As with the original, they face bureaucratic interference as well.  Unlike the original, the Mayor is well aware of the ghosts, just trying to keep it all hidden from the public.

I walked out of the film with a smile, and laughed throughout the film (as did the rest of the audience I was with).  This film does not ruin anyone’s childhood.  It is not quite as good as the original (though it has far more good roles for women…the original had two major female roles)…but it is far better than Ghostbusters 2.  Feig and the cast should be pleased with the product, which overall is effective and funny.

Bustin’ Up

 

So, the Ghostbusters Trailer has hit.  And there were responses.  I initially saw plenty of “I’m in” responses.  Suddenly I started to see a lot of “blah” reactions.  Some were super aggressively angry that the trailer was a disappointment.

And, I agree to an extent that there was some stuff that is frustrating (Mentioning the original film as it does makes it seem like a sequel, and it is not).  But I loved the interaction between Wiig, McCarthy, Jones and McKinnon.  Plus Jones slapping McCarthy yelling “the Power of Pain compels you!” cracks me up.

But then there was a complaint that started a war of words.  See, Leslie Jones’ character Patty is a transit employee.  People questioned why she could not be a scientist.  And this question was lambasted for it’s being PC.

I am weary of this.  I am weary of how legit questions of story and character choices in regards to diversity are so quickly attempted to be shut down with cries of PC Culture.  Diversity in film is, of course, not important to these mostly white critics.  White people in America have no idea what it is like to watch movies after movie where there is only one or two folks who look like us.  It is easy when your face is all over the screens.  And my entire life, I have heard white people lament even one non-white character appearing in a story as being unrealistic, or they are token characters or they are forcing diversity.

Ghostbusters_2016

The question of why Patty could not have been one of the scientists (and having, say, McCarthy be the “every man”) is a valid one.  It is not like film and television have had a bunch of black nerds.  Now, they already finished the film.  Feig did not consult me.  And Leslie looks like she had fun with the role.  She is certainly protective of it.  I am holding back final judgement until I see the film.

Personally, I still wish it was within the original film’s storyline.  I think it would have made things fun if they returned in a sequel.  Let these ladies be aware of the originals, but nobody really knows where they went.  So, this film would focus on the new team, but in the background there is that mystery of where they went.  Then in a sequel, they could bring the still living cast in to team up with the new team.

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