Shmee Is Invited To A Destination Wedding!

Destination Wedding asks a simple question, “Are Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves charming and talented enough to pull off a movie all by themselves?”  Answer: almost.  The problem is that the script and the production as a whole don’t give them a lot to work with.  Which is a shame because these two leads are very watchable, and even more watchable together.

Destination Wedding sets up two unlikable people and traps them at a wedding that they don’t want to be at, and that no one wants them at, so they are forced to spend time together.  It is like a very long sitcom elevator episode except that the elevator moves around to different locations.  Also, we aren’t really sure about anyone’s motivations for inviting these two because only Winona and Keanu have speaking roles.  Well maybe technically a mountain lion speaks, but I am not sure roars and hisses count.

Speaking of the mountain lion, it is the only real thing that happens in this movie.  Otherwise it is just Winona and Keanu trading barbs, and most of the time they are pretty good at it.  The issue is that when you have to spend an hour and a half talking with only two people, that is a lot of dialog, and a lot of it doesn’t hold up.  The leads do their best, but there is only so much they can do, and the only props they are given are wine and food, so they literally chew and drink the scenery.

Listen, putting Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder together is a brilliant move, and they are excellent at delivering witty banter and trading insults, but to have the whole movie just be two people talking to one another the script has to be perfect.  Destination Wedding’s is not.  Reeves and Ryder have their moments, almost enough of them to carry they movie, but the effort falls short in the end.  Hopefully we get a more fleshed out movie with these two again soon because they are great.  Destination Wedding, not so much.

Voltron Season 7 Stumbles A Little Heading In To The Final Chapter

Voltron has been one of the better surprises to come out of the trend of rebooting my childhood.  Everything has been great from the cast to the animation, so I was pumped to watch season 7, and for the most part it continues its excellence, especially in the early episodes.  However, a few too many of the fights end with the Paladins being overwhelmed only to have them manage to come together and give even more, or plot ‘twists’ we see coming a mile away.

I mean the second to last anything always has to act as a setup for the finale, and in that regard season 7 was a success.  The stage is set and now it is up to season 8 to finish this series off.  The producers have gotten us this far, so I have no doubt that next month we are in for something special.  An early Christmas gift for us all!  I will be watching that is for sure.  I have my thoughts about who the Paladins are going to have to face, but to quote Luke, “This is not going to go the way you think!”

Shmee Visits Fargo!

My wife made an amazing discovery, all of FX’s Fargo is now streaming on Hulu, so we quickly watched season one, and all the hype is real.  It is a thrilling and darkly funny ride.  I was worried how the creators were going to translate the Coen Brother’s crazy style to the small screen, but Noah Hawley and crew managed it daftly.

The story for the first season follows the hapless Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) as he gets mixed up in murder and mayhem.  All the while the Bemidji police are on his tale.  Well one police officer, Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), is on his tale, the rest of the police would probably rather be fishing.

It is such a strange tale that you can’t believe your eyes for most of it, but it still manages to hang together and keep you on the edge of your seat.  Much like Fargo the movie.  Obviously the “this is a true story” at the beginning of every episode is just as false as it was for the movie, but it still manages to add to the tension anyway.  If not just give us all a little laugh.  Which is all Fargo wants to do anyway.

We all know that Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton will give us good performances, but Allison Tolman is great as Deputy Solverson, and Fargo is probably the best thing that Colin Hanks has ever done.  He may never be as good as his dad, but this was truly some good work on his part.  I hope this gets him better roles in the future.

Fargo is worth watching if you are looking for something interesting to watch.  I laughed and I wondered what would happen next, and I was almost always wrong.  The first season was great, and I can’t wait to see what story they cooked up for season two.  I hope it is just as good, if not better than season one.

Shmee Witnesses The Power Of The Witch’s Flower!

‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ is the first feature film from Studio Ponoc, but the visual style may seem familiar to fans of Studio Ghibli (Spirted Away, My Neighbor Totoro) since Studio Ponoc was founded by long time Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and directed by former Studio Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi.  While I don’t think ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ is as good Studio Ghibli’s classics, it is still a great debut for this new studio and well worth watching.

The story is based on the short children’s fantasy book ‘The Little Broomstick’ by Mary Stewart, and follows a lonely young girl named Mary (Ruby Barnhill) who is led to a magical flower by some local cats.  This flower takes her on a fantastic journey.

Considering this is Studio Ponoc’s first solo outing it would have been nice for them to try something outside Studio Ghibli’s wheelhouse, everyday girl being brave and all that, but none the less it is a gorgeous movie.  It is no wonder that Hiromasa Yonebayashi was chosen to be Studio Ghibli’s youngest director for the ‘Secret Life of Arrietty’ before moving over to Studio Ponoc.  Plus the story is very sweet.  My wife and daughter loved it, and I can’t say I disagree.  Though their red hair probably gave them an even greater affinity for this film.

‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ was one of the rare anime movies to get a major push here in the States, and given its pedigree and quality it is easy to see why, but if you were like me and missed it when it came out, now is the time to give it a watch since as of mid-July it has been added to Netflix.  It is more than worth your time, and I would love to see more of Mary and her fantastic world.  If you have any frizzy red heads in your life, then this is a must watch.  I am thinking a Blu-Ray copy of this film may end up in my daughter’s collection at some point.

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.