Shmee Is Happy To Be Mister Rogers’ Neighbor!

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ is just the kind of movie we need today.  It follows the life of a man who believed that if we just treat each other with kindness and learned to properly deal with our feelings that the world will be a better place.  This man of course was Fred Rogers, and he delivered his message to children through his prolific show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

If you are looking for an in depth portrayal of Fred Rogers life, you may be a little disappointed with ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’.  It mainly deals with his career, and it primarily gets its information from the people who loved him most.  However, I am not sure how many people there could be that didn’t love him, so to get an opposing viewpoint would probably be difficult.

The main question this film is asking is: “Was Fred Rogers the same loving man in real life that he was on TV for several generations of kids?”  And the answer is unequivocally, yes.  Which is reassuring.  It is nice to watch a movie that is simply about a good man, who set out to do good, and did it.  It makes me wish he was around today.

There is not a lot to review with ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’.  If you want to know more about the man who wore zip-up sweaters and sang songs about emotions, it is the film for you.  Even if you didn’t like or watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, it is still worth learning about a man wanted share love and help children grow, without an ulterior motive.  To let us all know that we are special, and worthy of love and respect, just the way we are, and that so is every one else.  We are all neighbors.

Shmee Hangs Out With Ant-Man And The Wasp!

After the success of 2015’s Ant-Man there was never a question that there would be a sequel, and here it is, Ant-Man and the Wasp.  After Avengers: Infinity War and even Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a much smaller movie, with way smaller stakes.  Which is a nice change of pace.  It is a fun little comedy in the middle of the rest of the MCU’s epic goings on.

It has been two years since Captain America: Civil War, but before Infinity War, and for his part in that little skirmish Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest.  Unfortunately he didn’t tell Hope van Dyne-Pym (Evangeline Lilly) or Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) about his little trip to Germany, and since it gets them in trouble with the law as well, they are not supper happy with him, but when Scott has a dream about Hope’s mom Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) they will all be forced back together to try and save her from the Quantum-Zone (don’t ask me why Marvel hyphenated it).

Like I said in the opening, the stakes are very small.  At worst a woman that everyone thought was dead, would stay probably dead.  Not a great outcome sure, but compared to worlds ending or countries being taken over, it doesn’t rank very high on an average superhero’s emergency list.  The plot also uses a lot of coincidences to drive itself forward.  Now is the time a black market tech salesmen comes after Hank and Hope, and now is also the time that Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and her issues emerge.  Not to mention none of this can wait three days for Scott’s sentence to be over? Sure.  Thankfully the ride is enjoyable enough to gloss over all that stuff.

The cast is excellent.  We all knew Rudd was good from the last movie, but this time Lilly gets a little more time to shine, which is nice, and I am always on board for more Michelle Pfeiffer, but I think she was too young looking for the age they wanted her to be, so they did some pretty distractingly bad aging makeup.  She is Michelle Pfeiffer don’t mess with that!

After Infinity War it was nice to watch something more scaled back.  To watch a little story in the MCU before things get crazy again, and if the after credits scene for Ant-Man and the Wasp is anything to go by, things are going to get nuts.  If you have liked the average Marvel superhero movie, you will like Ant-Man and the Wasp.  If not, this wasn’t a game changer.  Just a fun little mid-summer popcorn flick to pass the time until the MCU comes unglued next year.

Shmee Fights Crime With The Parrs In Incredibles 2!

We had to wait fourteen years for a sequel to The Incredibles, meanwhile we got three Cars movies.  How is that fair?  Especially when Incredibles 2 is so amazing and the Cars movies are so mediocre.  Oh well, it is finally here, and you should go see it.  It more than lives up to the original, and it manages to expand the Incredibles storyline in meaningful ways.

Unlike most Pixar sequels which take place years after first film, Incredibles 2 picks up exactly where the first film left off.  With the Parrs (The Incredibles) fighting the Underminer.  Sadly things do not go as planned, and the Parrs are once again on the outs with local law enforcement.  Luckily for them Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) has a plan to make “Supers” legal again, and that plan is to show the world how great Superheroes are.  All his plans hinge on the very marketable Elastigirl (Holly Hunter).  Much to the chagrin of Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson).

While at first the setup for this seems lazy: Mr. Incredible stays at home and is an unprepared and jealous father, while Elastigirl goes out and finds new purpose in life with her career, but Incredibles 2 is able to start there and move in to deeper and more touching territory.  Mr. Parr does have issues, but he doesn’t give up, and he works on being a better dad.  Mrs. Parr is able to remember the joy of helping and saving the day.  At the same time proving why she is a top tier “super” and not just some sidekick.  The kids?  They are just great kids with normal kid problems.  Except for Jack-Jack, who has all sorts of fun issue causing powers.

Apparently Brad Bird didn’t spend the last fourteen years just ignoring The Incredibles, he was finding a story worth telling, and it worked.  While I didn’t like waiting a decade and a half, I am pleased with the results.  Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another fourteen years for Incredibles 3.  I don’t know if I can make it through Cars 4-6.

Shmee Meets Tonya!

For us kids of the late 80’s and mid 90’s, we remember the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident vividly.  Low class villain Tonya Harding tried to get ahead by bashing in the knee of her main rival, America’s Sweetheart, Nancy Kerrigan.  Of course that isn’t quite what happened.  That is just the way it was reported, and thus how we remember it.  In all actuality Tonya’s ex-husband hired some guys to scare Kerrigan, and they went a little rogue.  According to him anyway.  The movie “I, Tonya” explores all this, and it does its best to get across all the wildly different stories about what happened.  It is an interesting and funny film, but sometimes the tone doesn’t quite jell with the content.

“I, Tonya” follows the life of Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) from her early life to her trial and judgement just after the 1994 Winter Olympic Games.  It is also partially told through re-enactments of interviews with Tonya, Tonya’s Mother LaVona (Allison Janney), and Tonya’s Ex Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan).  Gillooly and his crew are rubes of the highest order.  So much so that the movie is more comedy than drama.

The main problem with film, other than the fact it is told by very unreliable narrators, is that its comedic tone often clashes with the violent and verbal abuse that is directed at Tonya by LoVona and Gillooly almost nonstop.  We will be laughing at the idiocy of Gillooly’s goons one minute and then see him punch Tonya in the face the next.  It is jarring to say the least.  The juxtaposition happens so often that you almost feel like the movie wants us to laugh at it, but the director Craig Gillespie and the actors made clear in interviews that we are not.  They were just going for that whiplash effect.  I am just not sure it is always successful.

As with all character movies, they are only as successful as their characters, and the lineup for “I, Tonya” is fantastic.  Allison Janney makes everything better, and Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan more than keep with her.  The side characters are all wonderful too.  It is a real acting showcase.  It is no wonder that Janney won an Oscar and that Robbie was nominated.

“I, Tonya” is streaming right now on Hulu, and it is well worth spending the two hours to watch it.  The abuse may be hard to watch, and the language is rough, but it was insightful to finally get Tonya’s take on the scandal.  Plus, the actors are all great.  “I, Tonya” is not your average sports movie, there are no heroes, and nobody wins the gold, but I enjoyed being introduced to Tonya Harding.

Shmee Checks In To The Hotel Artemis!

Hotel Artemis is the second movie in a row I have seen to place itself in a near cyberpunk setting, and I am all for it!  Of course besides its setting, Hotel Artemis shares very little in common with Upgrade.  Upgrade is an over the top action revenge movie, and Hotel Artemis, despite its advertising, is a quirky character flick that if it were a little more stylized could have easily been directed by Wes Anderson.  Which is to say, I liked it.

Hotel Artemis is a hospital in the near future where criminals can get patched up in safety away from the prying of authorities.  The type of place John Wick would totally know about and have a membership to.  The movie takes place on a busy night where the hotel is full up with crazy characters.  It is up to the head nurse, Jodie Foster, and her orderly, Dave Bautista, to keep everyone from killing each other.

I think the trailers for Hotel Artemis do the film a disservice.  They bill it has a full tilt action movie, but besides a quick shootout in the intro to setup the movie, a couple of crooks get shot and need a place to get patched up, and the third act where the pot boils over so to speak, this movie is just about the cast bouncing off of each other.  Not in an outright funny way, but like I said before, in quirky way that will make you smile, so if you were expecting one cool action sequence after another, you might be disappointed.  I, on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised.

Obviously character movies don’t work without good characters.  That is why Wes Anderson uses the same cast over and over.  In Hotel Artemis’s case it is hard to beat: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella, Zachary Quinto, and Jeff freaking Goldblum.  They all make their characters quite a delight to watch, so Drew Pearce’s casting director knew their business.

Hotel Artemis is smart enough not to outlast its welcome.  Its ninety-five minute running time (okay now it has two similarities with Upgrade) was a perfect fit.  A quick setup, the characters get to chew on each other for forty five minutes, and then the whole thing descends in to chaos.  It was very enjoyable ride.  It is not for everyone, but I had a lot of fun, and if you like funny (not ha-ha funny) little crime movies, you probably will too.