Bliss: It Never Quite Finds Its Feet – Amazon Prime Review

Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson bring us a new take on simulated reality.

SUMMARY

Greg Wittle (Owen Wilson) is a recently divorced office worker who spends his days daydreaming. He gets fired and accidentally kills his boss, Bjorn (Steve Zissis), before covering up the murder and heading to a bar to try and hide. He meets Isabel (Salma Hayek) a seemingly homeless woman who tells Greg that she created this world and that he is one of the few “real” people in it. She offers him some crystals that give him telekinetic powers. The two soon start spending time together, with Isabel warning him not to associate with any people who are not “real,” which includes Greg’s daughter Emily (Nesta Cooper). Eventually, Isabel pulls the two of them out of the simulation and reveals that they actually live on a utopian future Earth. However, Greg cannot remember any of his former life, and instead only remembers his life in the simulation. 

They’re homeless because reasons.

END SUMMARY

This movie has some fun elements to it, but ultimately cashes in on none of the potentially interesting ideas. The idea of “simulated reality” has been used repeatedly since The Matrix became a massively successful hit, but that means that a movie that just says “what if reality is fake” doesn’t really count as innovative. While the idea of being the only two real people in a world of fiction or a real person having beliefs that he has a real daughter in a false reality might be good, the film barely touches on them. Instead, it mostly features some odd scenes of the pair messing around with their powers (which are weirdly dependent on drugs for some reason) and a bunch of exposition that, like Matrix Reloaded, is mostly more complicated than the ideas that it’s trying to convey. It’s like someone audited a first year philosophy class, watched The Thirteenth Floor, and then churned out a screenplay.

And apparently lives near a roller rink.

About halfway through the movie, the film changes completely by heading to the futuristic world that is supposedly the “real” one. In it, humanity has entered an enlightened golden age thanks to science, making almost everyone on Earth desire to be an artist or an engineer. Also, Bill Nye and Slavoj Zizek are there, which raises so many questions about who they would be in a world that has largely moved into a completely different kind of existence. However, since Greg doesn’t remember it, he has to learn everything anew, which is good for the audience, but no one seems bothered by the fact that he has essentially been replaced by a new person. It’s an element that seems obvious and is completely overlooked. 

Also, the future is cool, but not cool enough.

Overall, it’s just not that great of a film. It seems like this should, at least, have some stuff to contemplate, but instead it’s just a waste of time.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Map of Tiny Perfect Things: Groundhog Day, Teen Romance Edition – Amazon Prime Review

I feel like I’ve seen this movie over and over again.

SUMMARY

Mark (Kyle Allen) is stuck in a Groundhog Day Loop that’s 16 hours long and has been there for long enough that he can roughly predict the events of the morning: His sister, Emma (Cleo Fraser), will call him a loser, his father (Josh Hamilton) will do a crossword puzzle, his friend Henry (Jermaine Harris) will lose at a video game, and a girl named Phoebe (Anna Mikami) will need directions. After being stuck for a while, Mark asks Henry for advice. Henry suggests that, like in Groundhog Day, Mark needs to get a girlfriend. While trying to find a loop that makes Phoebe fall for him, Mark is interrupted by Margaret (Kathryn Newton), a girl who is also stuck in the same loop. Together, the pair come up with an idea to escape the loop: Find all of the tiny, perfect moments that life has to offer.

The awkward car ride is not one of them.

END SUMMARY

I think I would have liked this movie more if I hadn’t seen Palm Springs last year. This movie is somewhat original in its use of the trope, but it just gets completely overshadowed by the darker and better-written version. While the characters are implied to have been in the loop for a while, they have not yet hit the nihilist period that often defines all of the films with this premise. As such, this film doesn’t ever feel like it explores its characters as fully as other movies using this trope. We also don’t really get any idea of how long the characters have been in the loop, but it feels much shorter than most other films like this. Hence, we don’t get the same feeling of character growth that we usually would.

Then again, teens might not be big on character growth.

The two leads both do a great job of conveying their confusion, mixed with excitement and worry, about their situation. They’re at a vulnerable time in their lives so they don’t immediately treat the time loop as an opportunity to do insanely dangerous or adventurous things like many people in such films. When they meet, they were both completely unaware of each other and the only thing they have in common is the situation. Their relationship feels natural even though they don’t have the kind of chemistry that makes us feel like they instantly connect. Even when it seems like they’re getting along, they never have the kind of passion we expect from these films. Instead, it’s a growing friendship that doesn’t necessarily feel like it needs to become romantic and that’s refreshing to me.

Partially because she starts off wearing Alex Mack’s wardrobe.

The thing that bothers me most about the film, though, is that they propose that finding all of these nebulous “perfect” moments might end the loop. They then spend the rest of the movie trying to somehow scientifically justify this solution. It’s kind of ridiculous and, while I do understand that it adds a little meaning to the film, I also just couldn’t quite get over it. 

Also, she’s trying to be an astronaut. She should know how science works.

Overall, though, it’s a pretty good movie. Just not Palm Springs good.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: A Great Modern Farce – Amazon Rental Review

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo star in a strange comedy about two women in culottes.

SUMMARY

Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) are furniture salespeople from the Midwest.  After losing their jobs and getting kicked out of their friends group, the two decide to take a vacation to Vista Del Mar, Florida.  They quickly become associated with a man named Edgar Paget (Jamie Dornan), who has been sent there by an evil super villain who is also his girlfriend (Wiig).  It will somehow be up to Barb and Star to stop the bad guys from unleashing a killer swarm of mosquitoes upon the unsuspecting citizens.  Also, hijinks will definitely ensue, some involving Damon Wayans, Jr.

And perhaps a musical number.

END SUMMARY

I did not know anything about this movie going into it.  Honestly, I had seen the ads and thought that it looked kind of generic.  There was almost no information about what was actually going to happen in the movie aside from what was in the title.  However, it did have two of the funniest women working today both onscreen and writing the film, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was actually a very good movie.

These two.

It was tough to find a movie to compare this to in order to even try and analyze it.  It’s not like the movie Airplane, where it’s mostly making fun of existing movies by just carrying everything beyond the point of rationality.  Instead, I think this movie is most comparable to the film Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, because it takes place in a world that runs on some sort of vague magical realism that just happens to be focused on our leads.  Sometimes, the things that happen are normal, but Barb and Star’s reactions are extremely unnatural, making them the weird element.  Other times, it just turns out that the world itself is ridiculous.  The main thing this film does well is use that inconsistency to constantly keep you on your toes.  At any given point in the story, it could play out in a way that is just slightly off from reality, or a crazy celebrity cameo could save everything, and you’ll be surprisingly invested in finding out which it is.

Also, Jamie Dornan is just hilarious in this. Great job avoiding typecasting, man.

There are also a ton of small details in this film that pay off as long as you are paying attention.  Many of the books have hilarious titles and quotes on them, as do almost all of the shops that people walk by, as do almost all of the T shirts.  These little details really helped to give this movie a fun atmosphere, particularly when combined with the film’s visual style.  I haven’t seen a farce done this well in a long time, because this movie understands that the entire point is that there is no point.  Everything just happens in a surreal way, and that’s all that the film needs to give us.

This crab is not voiced by Morgan Freeman.

Overall, I really recommend this movie.  It would have been way more fun to watch in a theater, but unfortunately it picked the wrong year to come out. Still, a good distraction.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Freaky: Genuinely Fun Horror – Amazon Rental Review

A girl and a masked slasher switch bodies. Hilarity and gore ensue.

SUMMARY

For decades the people of Blissfield have been attacked by the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), a masked slasher. During one of his newest attacks, the Butcher acquires the dagger of La Dola. The next day, he attacks local teen Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton), who manages to survive after being stabbed in the shoulder after her police officer sister, Char (Dana Drori), arrives and scares the killer away. The next day, Millie awakes inside of the Butcher’s body and vice-versa. Now the murderer is plying his deadly trade in her body and she has to convince her best friends Nyla and Josh (Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich) to help her get her body back before the high school is a bloodbath.

Be afraid of the teenage girl, Vince Vaughn.

END SUMMARY

Taking place in the same universe as Happy Death Day and its sequel, apparently, this movie also took that film’s idea of “take a comedy premise and make a horror film,” this time combining Freaky Friday with Friday the 13th. The film even drives this home by having the events take place on that day, making it quite literally Freaky Friday the 13th. It’s with that kind of deliciously terrible humor that this movie starts and it just keeps going from there. 

With tributes to many of the great slasher moments in history.

A lot of this movie’s success is due almost entirely to Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton. Each one has to play both the villain and the heroine and they both nail it. Vince Vaughn’s portrayal of a teen girl in the body of an aging serial murderer (complete with above-average strength) is so perfect that you can even understand why some of the characters in the film start to buy it so completely. Kathryn Newton, on the other hand, has to play Jason Vorhees if he was a cheerleader. She’s cold and ruthless and wants to kill everyone, but also, she weighs like 98 pounds, something that makes many of her attempts to commit homicide genuinely comical.

Although some are still scary.

This movie is further proof that one of the best ways to make a comedy movie is to take a ridiculous premise and treat it completely genuinely. Yes, this dialogue is pretty funny and the movie benefits from that, but most of the humor really just comes from how sincerely everyone plays this absurd idea. 

I mean, I admit that it helps that I find Vaughn very naturally funny.

Overall, if you’re a fan of horror or dark comedy, this is a must-see. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

To Your Last Death: We Are the Pawns of Fate – Amazon Prime Review

Could you win a horror film if you barely survived it once already?

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Miriam DeKalb (Dani Lennon) is the sole survivor of a brutal death game which was arranged by her billionaire father Cyrus DeKalb (Ray Wise) which killed her brothers Ethan and Colin (Damien Haas and Ben Siemon) and her sister, Kelsy (Florence Hartigan). Cyrus apparently covers up the killings and Miriam, who has a history of mental health issues, starts to get accused of committing the murders herself. She is approached by the Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin), a being who offers her a chance to go back and replay the events, now forewarned about what will happen. The only caveat is that the gods are wagering on the fight, so she can’t be boring. Miriam now has another chance to stop her siblings from being brutally murdered and to clear her name, but it turns out that the gods may have other plans, all under the eyes of the mysterious Overseer (William Shatner).

The art style is a bit comic-booky, including the dimensions of the characters.

END SUMMARY

Basically, this film’s premise is “what if you survived Saw and got a second chance to save everyone else?” Maybe it’s Saw II, really, since that’s the one with more people, but the idea is the same. The set-up is that the DeKalb children tanked their father’s attempt to become president and he’s seeking revenge. Given that he’s voiced by Ray Wise, he is naturally believable as a ruthless corporate bastard who would kill his own progeny out of spite. This alone would be a generic horror movie and that’s what the film’s counting on, because it skips over the first run-through (for the most part) and lets us just assume it played out like a horror film. We then have to watch Miriam try to “win” the next play-through.

Which is easier with a nail-bat.

While other films, like the Happy Death Day franchise, have used the Groundhog Day set-up for a horror story, this is not that. There’s only one single replay, but with the added element that the gods who are betting on the outcome, including the Gamemaster, will change things they don’t like at any point. That’s both the best and worst part of the film. On the one hand, it means that this isn’t like Groundhog Day where a screw-up can just be reset. On the other hand, the fact that the gods can just get bored and undo anything at any point, something that they do multiple times in the film, means that there aren’t really any “stakes” because it’s all subject to the whims of strange higher powers. If the film focused more on the horror of that situation, I think it would have been better, but instead it just uses it to artificially prolong the fighting. I found that disappointing.

The guy on the right is armed with a power-suit.

I do want to address the animation style, because I’m sure that a lot of people probably will be thrown off by that. It’s done in the style of a moving comic book, I think, which is a little less fluid and less natural than most animated films, but I think it works for the presentation given. Others may find it to be lazy, but I think it’s just a way to get the point across while also reducing animation costs. 

Plus it allows for more focus on some of the gorier elements.

Overall, it’s not the best movie, but it’s definitely a unique film and I think it was worth watching. This kind of idea needs to be played through again, because it could work very well on a different level. Maybe even by the same team that made this film, since the gods clearly want more wagers in the future.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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END OF 2020 FILMS (Death to 2020, Yearly Departed): Laugh So You Don’t Cry – Netflix/Amazon Prime Review

If you missed these, we’re almost a month into the next year and it’s time to set the last one on fire.

SUMMARY

Death to 2020 – Presented as a mockumentary about the last year and how completely and ridiculously unbelievable it was from an objective viewpoint, this special has performances by Samuel L. Jackson as a reporter, Hugh Grant as a historian, Lisa Kudrow as a conservative pundit, Leslie Jones as a behavioral psychologist, Joe Keery as a millennial, Kumail Nanjiani as a tech billionaire, Tracy Ullman as Queen Elizabeth II, Cristin Milioti as a “Karen,” Diane Morgan as a British person, and Laurence Fishburne as a voice. 

Shut the f*ck up, Karen.

Yearly Departed – Presented as a complicated funeral for the year, a group of female comedians (Rachel Brosnahan, Sarah Silverman, Natasha Leggero, Tiffany Haddish, Patti Harrison, Natasha Rothwell, Ziwe Fumudoh, and Phoebe Robinson) all give hilarious eulogies about various things that “died” in 2020.

Like most of us watching this, she’s not wearing pants.

END SUMMARY

2020 sucked. There was a lot of death, a lot of loneliness, and a lot of my neighbors planning an insurrection to overthrow the US government unless their candidate won (HEY, FBI, THEY’RE NEXT DOOR AND THEY HAVE A LOT OF GUNS). However, through it all, we found out that there is a lot of shit in this world that really isn’t necessary (working in an office building for many jobs) and a bunch that is more necessary than we could ever have imagined (teachers, nurses, and other people we don’t pay well enough). These films are a testament to the insanity that was the last year. What’s funniest, I think, is how many of the things in these films you will have forgotten about because other, crazier things happened afterwards. 

Remember how people were quickly cancelling cop shows and films?

If I had to choose between them, and I don’t really because they’re both fairly short, but if I did, I would say that I enjoyed the mockumentary format of Death to 2020 more than the fake funeral of Yearly Departed. Viewing last year through a semi-objective lens and just reminding us how much shit actually happened during it feels almost like a self-parody. Like when the movie Airplane! just lifted lines directly from the film Zero Hour and that made it apparent that Zero Hour was itself a terrible and ridiculous movie. However, I did appreciate that Yearly Departed focused almost entirely on female comics, giving it a distinction that most specials don’t have. They each essentially give different comedy monologues and they are all amazingly funny, it’s just that the format gets a little old eventually.

Plus, only Samuel L. Jackson is capable of expressing the frustration of 2020.

Overall, I recommend checking both of these out to help you move forward into the new year strong.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Uncle Frank: Great Performances, Mediocre Film – Amazon Prime Review

Paul Bettany brings some heavy emotions, but the film can’t hold up.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

In 1973, Beth Bledsoe (Sophia Lillis) moves from her traditional Southern family in South Carolina to go to college in New York where her uncle, Frank (Paul Bettany), teaches. Beth attends a party and finds out that Frank is gay and has been living with his boyfriend Wally (Peter Macdissi) for a decade. Beth agrees to keep Frank’s secret, but this is quickly put to the test when Frank’s dad, Frank Sr. (Stephen Root), dies. Frank has to go visit his mother (Famous Celebrity Character Actress Margo Martindale), brother Mike (Steve Zahn) and his wife Kitty (Judy Greer), and the rest of his family, which is complicated when Wally tries to secretly follow along. 

You could guess what decade it is just from this shot.

END SUMMARY

I constantly go back and forth about how much a good performance can salvage a mediocre or even bad film, but this movie is proof that a bunch of good performances can at least keep a mediocre outing interesting. What’s really sad is that, with relatively few changes, it feels like this movie could have been amazing, because Bettany and Lillis really seem to nail their characters far beyond what was on the page. 

Their interplay is strong.

The problem with this movie is the same problem that many films about a queer character coming out to a conservative family has: It wants to have it both ways. It wants the main character to go through the dread of interacting with a family that might reject him (despite the fact that he’s used a beard for a while) and also to have the family not really be monstrous towards him so that it seems reasonable that he still wants to be with them. To its credit, the film does a better job than many movies, like Happiest Season for example, because not everyone in the film goes immediately from “gays are defective” to “rainbow pride,” but it still makes a lot of the characters come off as less real than they need to be for this kind of drama. 

Stephen Root’s character is too unbelievable in a different way.

The other problem with this movie is that they actually waste a ton of the talent in the cast by not giving them more to work with. While I may have thought Judy Greer ended up being a little underused in Halloween, this is exactly the kind of film where she could have shone if given something good to say. The same is true of Margo Martindale, who, as BoJack Horseman repeatedly informed us, makes everything she’s in better, as well as Steve Zahn, who, honestly, has a few decent scenes as Beth’s cantankerous and somewhat off-putting father. 

Margo Martindale is a treasure. Always.

Overall, the movie isn’t bad. It’s actually pretty good. It just needed a little polish to be great and I think it’s sad that it didn’t reach that mark. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Sheena: Tanya Roberts, Queen of the Jungle – Amazon Review

Someone requested I review this film starring the late Tanya Roberts. 

SUMMARY (Spoilers)

It’s the 80s. After her parents (Michael Shannon and Nancy Paul) die while investigating the magical healing dirt of the Zambouli people, young Janet Ames (Tanya Roberts/Kirsty Lindsay/Kathryn Gant) is adopted by the Zambouli Shaman (Princess Elizabeth of Toro). The Shaman believes Janet, whom she renames Sheena, is a prophesied child who will become queen of the jungle. Sheena learns to telepathically command animals and lives a mostly peaceful life. Unfortunately, the king of Tigora (Clifton Jones), the country that the Zambouli live in, is assassinated by his brother Otwani (Trevor Thomas) and his fiance Zanda (France Zobda). Otwani wants to sell mining rights to the Zambouli land and conspires with mercenary Colonel Jorgensen (John Forgeham) to frame the Shaman for the murder. A visiting pair of reporters, Vic Casey and Fletch Agronsky (Ted Wass and Donovan Scott) catch the real killing on film, putting them on the run until they witness Sheena rescue the Shaman. Vic follows Sheena while Fletch goes to get the footage out. Vic and Sheena fall in love. Sheena uses animals to fight mercenaries. Bad guy loses. Yay.

There are animals.

END SUMMARY

This movie has one of the oddest criticisms leveled at it that I’ve ever run into: This movie contains a lot of full nude scenes of Tanya Roberts but is rated PG. This apparently was one of the major reasons why some big names, including Siskel and Ebert, openly condemned the movie. It’s not even just a little flash of nudity, it’s at least two scenes and one is fairly long. I can’t really fault the criticism, since, if you removed those scenes, this film is actually pretty much the kind of fare that you would market to younger audiences. I guess the news about that got out pretty fast, because this movie was also a colossal flop, as opposed to being the thing that every teenage boy watched every single weekend in theaters. Or maybe that means the news DIDN’T get out. 

Behold, a family film.

It probably doesn’t help that this is an adaptation of a 1930s comic book which ages about as well as you would expect a comic from the 1930s about a white woman ruling an African jungle is likely to hold up. Yeah, it was pretty racist. This movie, while it does have the “white savior” problem at its forefront, weirdly tries to balance that out by having the villain be a black guy who was “corrupted” by America (he’s a professional football player. No, really). I don’t know how well that works in terms of progressing the comic out of the 1930s, but I know that it does make the villain more interesting.

Yeah, this comic was not kind to the animals. Or Africans.

The upside to this movie is that it is gloriously campy and filled with amazing shots of animals. At one point there is a weaponized flamboyance of flamingos, at another there’s a chimp faking a sneeze. Elephants, zebras, you name it, the film probably has it in great supply. As to the performances, they’re all exactly what you would think for a movie like this. Yes, they’re mostly cheap stereotypes, but they get the job done. Then there’s Tanya Roberts. While her performance as Sheena was never going to win her any Oscars, there’s no denying that she absolutely looks the part of a wild and athletic woman. They also give an explanation for why her hair and skin look amazing, which is surprising for this kind of film. 

She has a zebra friend.

Also, this movie stars Princess Elizabeth of Toro, whose life needs a biopic as much as anyone ever has. I can’t even summarize it very well, but suffice it to say that she was a princess who was exiled when Uganda got taken over, became a lawyer and a runway model, then acted in this movie. Crazy.

The first female Lawyer in Uganda.

Overall, this isn’t a great film, but it’s a fun movie that should probably not have been trashed the way it was. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Santa Jaws: It’s Ho-Ho-Honestly Pretty Jawesome – Amazon Prime Review

The movie was better than the subtitle pun. Hopefully Street Sharks won’t sue me.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Cody (Reid Miller) is a young illustrator who has made a comic with his friend Steve (Hawn Tran) called “Santa Jaws” about a magical shark that ate an evil Santa Claus (Creek Wilson). On Christmas Eve, Cody has a fight with his family and his Grandfather, Papa Joe (Ritchie Montgomery), gives him an antique pen. Cody angrily uses it to ink a drawing of Santa Jaws, but it turns out the pen is magic and it brings the Christmas-themed Carcharodon to life. The shark quickly starts attacking the town of Port City, including Cody’s family. Now it’s up to Cody, Steve, and Cody’s crush Jena (Courtney Lauren Cummings) to stop the beast.

She eats you when you’re sleeping…

END SUMMARY

When I saw this title, I knew it was going to be a perfect watch for my bad movie group. This was supposed to be a complete and utter trainwreck of a film. Instead, this was one of the rare gold nuggets that you can find going through the river of crap that is the “horror film based on bad pun” genre. One of the best decisions in the film was to make the central conceit that it’s a comic book come to life. Comics are frequently full of weird physics and terrible puns, which allow for the movie to do over-the-top moments that might not work as well in other films. Since the main characters either wrote or read the comic, it seems more justified that they are willing to start engaging in the surreal logic… and making glorious puns while dealing with the shark. It also adds in a lot of great Christmas atmosphere, like having “Carol of the Bells” and “Ave Maria” in the movie soundtrack, and has a strong family theme.

She bites when you’re awake…

Santa Jaws, the shark, is everything that I wanted out of this film. It’s not just that she (yes, despite the name, Santa Jaws is female) wears a Santa hat on her fin, as the movie goes on, she acquires progressively more holiday-themed accessories to become a living tribute to the holiday. Perhaps I should say weapons rather than just accessories, since the shark actually manages to use them in its killing spree, like using Christmas lights as a rope to pull people into the water. The shark is also mostly invulnerable and it’s weakness is nothing short of hilarious. While you’ll probably guess the ending a mile away (the film foreshadows it pretty well), it also allows the film to go pretty extreme on how it gets there, and I mean that in the best way. 

She spears you if you’re bad or good…

The supporting characters are all pretty archetypal. Cody’s parents, Peter and Caroline (Jim Klock and Carrie Lazar), run a restaurant (and Peter teaches physics) and don’t listen to the kids no matter what they say. His brother, Josh (Arthur Marroquin), is the favorite who mocks Cody. His uncle, Mike (Miles Doleac), is a businessman so stereotypical that he first appears while talking on the phone about business and accompanied by his younger instagram model girlfriend Georgia (Haviland Stillwell). Oh, and there’s the comic-book store owner, Clark (Scott Allen Perry), who is, naturally, a pervy scumbag. While the basic roles are normal for this kind of film, the performances are definitely above average for “pun-based horror.”

So stay on land for goodness sake. Seriously, it’s a shark, just stay on land.

Honestly, if you’re a fan of low-budget horror movies, this should immediately jump to the top of your list this season. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Christmas Catch: A Masterpiece of Cheesy Xmas Movies – Netflix/Amazon Prime Review

I may have just watched too many bad movies, because I enjoyed this.

SUMMARY

Detective Mackenzie “Mack” Bennett (Emily Alatalo) is single at Christmas and, due to her natural awkwardness, has trouble finding dates. This causes no end of derision from her partner, Reid (Andrew Bushell), and her superior/mom (yes, her boss is her mom) Captain Bennett (Lauren Holly). However, when trying to find a guy at a singles night, she accidentally falls, literally, into the arms of Carson (Franco Lo Presti), a perfect guy with whom she immediately connects. The only problem is that the next day FBI Special Agent Robertson (Genelle Williams) arrives to inform the local police that Carson is a professional diamond thief along with his ex-wife. Now Mack has to go undercover, as herself, and date Carson in order to find the diamond encrusted reindeer that he supposedly stole. 

Yes, there’s a Santa sting.

END SUMMARY

Cheesy Christmas movies usually tend to involve two people who learn to love each other despite starting out disliking or not understanding each other. This movie kind of eschews that by having the two main characters fall in love at first sight. Literally, when he catches her (get it?) as she falls, they immediately are attracted to each other and bond quickly. There’s no question that they’re going to get together. Honestly, I buy their chemistry a little more than I should, because the dialogue they exchange is actually more than just “oh hey, you’re a hot guy and I’m a hot girl and it’s Christmas.” It’s a genuinely decent meet-cute scene that actually makes you root for them throughout the film. 

Also, this film lets the lead guy be more roguish than usual.

The general plot of the movie is predictable, of course, but the actual way it plays out has some fun moments, mostly because Mack’s character is almost entirely defined as “can’t flirt, not good under pressure.” It doesn’t help that her mother is her boss and combines the tropes of those roles we usually see in these films: too involved, inappropriate comments, lots of catchphrases, etc. It’s an insane conceit that her mother could somehow also be her commanding officer and no one seems to question that, but it leads to some interesting moments. 

Nepotism. It’s a thing.

The actual humor that comes from the characters interacting is not bad, the only problem is that almost no one ever quite nails the delivery. I will be frank, aside from Franco Lo Presti (whose appearances on Letterkenny might make me biased), most of the performances are a little too clearly composed of people acting. Line delivery is often unnatural, but I admit that it is more challenging to do the style of comedy the film is asking for from the actors. Alatalo is being asked to flirt badly at one point and, while she does flirt badly, it’s not quite the trainwreck that the screenplay seems to call for. The other person is supposed to be repulsed, but it’s hard to buy that from what Alatalo does in the scene. Still, there are at least some genuinely funny moments. 

There’s a lot of Christmas in it, too.

Overall, I have to say this was close to one of the best cheesy Xmas movies I’ve ever seen. Yes, it’s got some bad acting moments, but it actually skips the “will they won’t they” facade and I appreciate that. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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