Well, some exciting news for local residents this week. This weekend will finally see the release of “The Turkey Bowl,” a movie partially filmed right here in Purcell.

While the R-rated comedy sadly won’t see a wide release in most theaters, it will be available to purchase digitally November 15.

But for those like myself who prefer watching movies on big screen, worry not. It appears the movie will be showing in at least one theater in the Oklahoma City area.

Starting Friday, the Harkins Theatres in Bricktown will be playing the locally filmed movie. And you can definitely count on me being at a showing over the upcoming weekend.

But until then, there’s still plenty of other movies to talk about.

This week we have a dark comedy featuring a German boy and his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, a historical action film based on one of the most pivotal battles in the Pacific during World War II, a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” a family comedy starring John Cena as a firefighter forced to supervise three rowdy children, and a Christmas romcom featuring Emilia Clarke’s incredible facial expressions.

Let’s get to the reviews.

***

Jojo Rabbit

First up is “Jojo Rabbit.”

Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a lonely German boy living in Nazi Germany, discovers that his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic.

Aided only by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.

I don’t even know how to follow-up a premise like this.

Yes, it’s exactly as insane as it sounds.

This is a comedy about a little boy, a member of the Hitler Youth no less, whose imaginary friend is history’s greatest villain.

Of course Hitler and Nazism in general are far from strangers to satire. From Charlie Chaplin to Mel Brooks, many comedians over the decades have mocked the infamous dictator. I suppose it’s only fair that Taika Waititi has his shot as well.

Best known for directing “Thor: Ragnarok,” easily my favorite of Marvel’s “Thor” movies, not to mention one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi has made a name for himself over the years for his quirky style of comedy and writing odd, if lovable, characters.

Going into this movie, I was really looking forward to see how Waititi would handle such a difficult subject like Nazism. How do you make a genuinely funny comedy starring someone like Adolf Hitler while also showing the results of his hate filled ideology in full effect?

Well, I still have no idea, because I definitely don’t think they did it here.

This movie wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to portray Nazis as these bumbling, easily mocked buffoons, while also displaying the terrifying efficiency of their regime at work.

It felt so jarring to me.

One minute you see Waititi’s almost cartoonishly silly version of Hitler prancing around with the enthusiasm of a teenage girl, the next they’re showing dead Nazi dissidents hanging by their necks in the middle of town square.

How on earth do you put something like that in a comedy? And further, how do you make Nazis look so ridiculously incompetent while also showing their victims? To me it almost seems disrespectful to those who died by the hands of these apparently boneheaded fascists.

To be clear, I have zero problem with movies mocking Nazis or Hitler. Please, by all means, do it. Make them all into braindead drooling morons for all I care. But don’t do it while also showing the casualties of their systematic evil in full view.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, but after one particularly appalling scene towards the end of the film, I just felt completely numb. There was no way I could laugh at Waititi’s antics after that. I just wanted it to be over.

To give the film some credit though, I really like the way it was filmed. It had some pretty great shots, along with some framing that should feel familiar to any fans of Waititi’s past work.

I also liked the soundtrack. The movie is filled with a slew of excellent German covers of popular songs, and they fit the comedic side of the film perfectly.

Overall, I think a big part of my problem with this movie came down to the comedy.

I didn’t get much out of the jokes from the very beginning. To me, the comedic bits about Nazism seemed to be surface level jabs at best. All the jokes felt tired and played out.

Depending on your sense of humor though, you might actually enjoy the comedy. Which would perhaps make the juxtaposition of Nazi horrors seem less jarring to you. I don’t know.

All I know is this movie felt like a punch to the gut to me. Maybe you can laugh at monsters while also viewing their carnage, but I certainly can’t.

“Jojo Rabbit” is rated PG-13.

***

Midway

Next up is “Midway.”

Six months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway commences as the Japanese navy once again plans a strike against American ships in the Pacific.

For the next three days, the U.S. Navy and a squad of brave fighter pilots engage the enemy in one of the most important and decisive battles of World War II.

Roland Emmerich, the king of disaster movies, is back at it again.

This time instead of using his talents to bring to life global alien invasions like “Independence Day” or global catastrophes like “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” he’s decided to turn his focus on something more historical.

And to Emmerich’s credit, it seems he really went out of his way to make this film of his as true to actual events as possible.

Historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command were heavily involved in the movie, both in script development and production, and those historians who helped in the making of the film said they were impressed with the final product according to an article by the U.S. Department of Defense.

I applaud the film for having such an attention to detail.

I’m also impressed with Emmerich’s perseverance in getting this movie made in the first place. 

Apparently every studio the filmmaker went to balked at the high budget of “Midway” forcing Emmerich to go outside the studio system to finance the movie in the first place. Making “Midway” one of the most expensive indie films ever made.

All of that is fantastic, and I’m glad Emmerich had the chance to make this movie he’s clearly so passionate about.

Honestly though, I really wish someone else could have been in the director’s chair. Because while Emmerich might have an eye for action and mayhem, he is absolutely terrible when it comes to characters.

I could not have cared less about any of the people in this movie. Every single person was somehow as equally bland as the next. And what makes it worse is there’s so many of them.

This movie is filled to the brim with dozens of individual characters. And while many of them are portrayed by recognizable faces like Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson, and Aaron Eckhart, the fact is none of them are given enough time to shine.

It all made for a surprisingly dull experience.

Sure, the battles might be incredibly accurate to historical events, but without compelling characters to ground the audience and make them care about these heroic men risking their lives, it all feels pointless.

Frankly, I’d rather re-watch something like Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” from 2001 instead of this.

Sure, it was filled with historical inaccuracies, and the characters were often ridiculously annoying, but at the very least they were memorable.

I straight up hate Ben Affleck’s character in “Pearl Harbor,” but at least I knew his backstory, his personality traits, and his motivations. The characters in “Midway” have none of that.

I suppose if all you’re wanting to see out of this movie is a slavish dedication history, then you’ll probably like “Midway” just fine.

If that’s the case though, you’re probably much better off watching a documentary instead of going out of your way to see this snoozefest of a film.

“Midway” is rated PG-13.

***

Doctor Sleep

Third this week is “Doctor Sleep.”

Struggling with alcoholism, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child.

His hope for a peaceful existence soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a teenager who shares his extrasensory gift of the “shine.” Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal.

The Stephen King movies keep rolling in.

The fact that this film even exists is due to Warner Bros. Pictures’s incredible success with an adaptation of another famous King novel, “It,” back in 2017.

After that, it seems the studio fast tracked this movie’s production, hoping to capitalize on the perceived demand for Stephen King films.

But not only does this movie rely on King’s popularity as an author, it also happens to be a direct sequel to one of the most iconic horror films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

That makes this movie a very interesting case indeed, because while Kubrick’s vision of “The Shining” is one that has resonated with audiences for decades, it’s also a film that Stephen King himself has criticized repeated over the years, largely due to the movie not being a faithful adaptation of the book.

So where does “Doctor Sleep” lay? Is the movie a sequel to Kubrick’s film or King’s novel.

Well, turns out the movie tries to be both.

Now while I can’t speak to novelization side of things, as I’ve never read either “The Shining” or “Doctor Sleep,” this film is filled with direct visual references, and even entire scenes, ripped directly from Kubrick’s 1980 film.

And yeah, they definitely do go a little overboard with “The Shining” references during the final few scenes of the film.

Luckily, for the majority of the movie’s runtime, the film stands on its own as a continuation of the story, and doesn’t solely rely on nostalgia to sell the narrative.

And boy oh boy, what a story it is.

Danny, the little boy from the first movie, is all grown up now, dealing with his own demons. Both metaphorical ones like alcoholism, and actual ghosts attracted to his “shine.”

And not only are there spirits after “shine.” There’s also a whole caravan of soul eating vampires who feast on the “steam” of those who “shine,” lead by a woman named Rose the Hat, played by Rebecca Ferguson.

Sounds a little out of left field, right? Well that’s Stephen King for ya. It wouldn’t be a movie based on his work if things didn’t get flat out wacky at some point.

And despite how silly it might appear on paper, I thought the story, even the odder elements, all worked pretty dang well.

But for better or worse, the overall narrative is noticeably less subtle than “The Shining.” Instead of leaving things up for interpretation, the movie is much more explicit in his messaging.

I wouldn’t necessarily count this as a negative, but I seriously doubt you’ll be seeing years of critical analysis like you did with Kubrick’s film.

Character wise, Ewan McGregor makes for a really good Danny. But the person who really stole the show was 13-year-old actress Kyliegh Curran, who plays Abra, Danny’s fellow “shining” companion.

For such a young actress, the girl has a lot of screen presence. A fact that’s even more impressive considering this is her first major role in a feature film.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.

Sure, the story’s a little odd, but it’s engaging and surprisingly well paced considering the film’s 152 minute runtime. Add in some solid performances, creative cinematography, and a hint of nostalgia, and you have an entertaining autumn thriller on your hands.

It’s not Kubrick, but it’s definitely still entertaining nonetheless.

“Doctor Sleep is rated R.

***

Playing with Fire

Fourth this week is “Playing with Fire.”

When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena) and his elite team of firefighters (Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane) come to the rescue of three siblings (Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery and Finley Rose Slater), they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet. Babysitting. 

As their lives, jobs and depot get turned upside down, the three men soon learn that children, much like fires, are wild and unpredictable.

This kind of movie, the action hero turned babysitter, almost seems like a rite of passage for every large muscular actor in Hollywood.

Arnold Schwarzenegger did it in “Kindergarten Cop” as an undercover police officer posing as a  kindergarten teacher. Vin Diesel did it too, playing a Navy SEAL assigned to look after five children in “The Pacifier.” Now it’s John Cena’s turn.

And to be perfectly blunt, this is definitely not my kind of movie.

The humor is incredibly lowbrow, relying heavily on farts and physical comedy. The story is ridiculously predictable, not to mention sickeningly sentimental. And the whole thing has an air of cheapness that I found impossible to ignore.

But you know who doesn’t care about cheap sets or predictable stories and absolutely love fart jokes? Children. And that’s exactly who this movie is made for.

I swear I haven’t heard a theater full of kids laugh this much and this hard in a long time.

The little ones absolutely loved it, and I even heard a few of the adults cracking up too.

From Keegan-Michael Key’s constant mugging at the camera, to the children in the movie and their relentless pension to destroy everything in sight, and of course all the ridiculous falls, farts, and poop related gags, the kids watching seemed to love everything about the film.

Would I ever in a million years call this a good movie? No way.

But is this a comedy I probably would have loved as an eight-year-old? Oh you better believe it. And I think the rest of my family would have enjoyed it back then too.

It’s not high quality family fare, but to a certain younger audience it is highly entertaining. And at the end of the day, it’s all harmless fun.

Just don’t go into the movie expecting anything resembling a thought provoking comedy and I’m sure you and the little ones will have a great time.

“Playing with Fire” is rated PG.

***

Last Christmas

Finally, last this week is “Last Christmas.”

Nothing seems to go right for young Kate (Emilia Clarke), a frustrated Londoner who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop.

But things soon take a turn for the better when she meets Tom (Henry Golding), a handsome charmer who seems too good to be true. As the city transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, Tom and Kate’s growing attraction turns into the best gift of all, a Yuletide romance.

You know it’s finally the holiday season when Christmas themed movies start popping up in theaters. And what better film to get into the holiday spirit than a romantic comedy starring a cynical, sarcastic woman, hell-bent on running her life into the ground.

In all seriousness, this is genuinely a movie I’ve been looking forward to ever since I saw the trailer. And it’s for one simple reason. Emilia Clarke.

To be honest, I think Emilia’s true talents have really been wasted over the years. Oh sure, she had her moments in “Game of Thrones” as the dragon queen herself, Daenerys Targaryen.

But when you see Emilia’s television interviews, or other various promotional videos, she couldn’t be further from the fierce, stoic woman you saw in the long-running HBO series.

Instead she’s ridiculously expressive, with eyebrows that can practically do summersaults, and a wonderful smile that lights up the entire room.

And fortunately, Emilia’s got to be much more like herself in this movie.

I loved absolutely everything about her performance here.

She has such an amazing talent for emoting it’s almost unreal. I couldn’t help but fall in love with her character here. There’s something about her that feels so incredibly genuine.

When she laughs, it almost looks like she’s breaking character for how tickled to death she looks. I couldn’t help but crack up every time she looked like she was holding back a giant grin.

Emilia’s performance alone left me laughing constantly throughout the entire movie.

As for everything else, it all makes for a serviceable romantic comedy.

Emilia and her male counterpart, Henry Golding, have good chemistry together and their romance feels fairly natural.

But beyond the ending, which I don’t want to spoil, the movie ends up being fairly standard romcom fare. Which is fine, it just might disappoint those expecting a little more.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about the story, because regardless of the narrative, this movie ended up being the perfect outlet to show Emilia Clarke at her best.

So, bottomline, if you’ve ever watched a late night interview with Emilia Clarke and always wished to see that same lively energy in an acting role of hers, this is the movie for you.

Or if you’re a fan of romantic comedies, and don’t mind a story that may feel all too familiar, this film will probably scratch that itch just fine.

“Last Christmas” is rated PG-13.

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0