“Dumbo” (1941)

There is probably no other film that perfectly captures the tone of 1940s animation, both the good and the bad, then this film. Despite the film’s incredibly short runtime of 64 minutes, there is a surprisingly large amount of filler that doesn’t effect the plot in any way. In many ways, this movie feels like a classic Disney cartoon that’s been stretched and stretched in length to the bare minimum of what could be considered a film. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. The film is consistently entertaining, it’s a breezy watch, the music is great, the characters are good, and the film also runs through the gamut of emotions from funny to heartfelt. This is just a cute and charming little flick.

Rating: 4.5/5

“Cinderella III: A Twist in Time” (2007)

Disney straight to video sequels tend to get a bad rap (not unjustifiably), but this is one of the better ones, and the one that’s probably the most surprising, especially after Cinderella IIturned out so awful. But for some reason, for this one the writers and animators actually felt like they were legitimately trying. The story is solid and flows naturally. The characters are actually improved versions of their original counterparts. There’s a surprising amount of humor that actually works. And the film actually manages to have two climaxes without having the second one feel at all unnecessary. It’s not perfect, but compared to the other straight to video sequels, it might as well be.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Sex and Death 101” (2007)

The concept for this film; a man receives a mysterious list of the names of all the women he has and will ever sleep with; seems like it should work. You would think that there’s decent comedic mileage you can get out of the premise. But if this film is anything to go by, it just didn’t. Instead of actually trying to tell a decent story, or have good comedic set pieces, it seems like the film is much more concerned with being a male fantasy than anything else. Add on top of that the poorly misguided attempts at dark comedy, an overlong runtime, and an out of place subplot about a female vigilante targeting misogynistic men and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

Rating: 2/5

“Tag” (2018)

This film takes advantage of its high concept comedic premise, even if it’s not quite as much as it probably should. There are several genuinely funny comedic set pieces, including a clever one that homages war films. The actors work well off of each other, but by far the one who steals the show is Isla Fischer, who proves that she hasn’t lost even a touch of her comedic prowess since Wedding Crashers over a decade ago. The film’s main issue is the ending, with an out-of-nowhere twist that contributes to a jarring tonal shift. This feels like an ending that was made last second, after the writers couldn’t come up with anything better. Still,Tag’s funny enough to warrant a solid recommendation.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Three Fugitives” (1989)

This film’s premise had promise, but the script just goes through the bare minimum effort, perhaps hoping that the chemistry between the two leads would help override its flaws. It doesn’t. The pacing is atrocious in some spots. Martin Short’s character has funny moments, but also some obnoxious moments as well. Nick Nolte is actually fine, and he even manages to have decent scenes with the little girl that don’t feel forced or awkward. And that’s not to say this film is completely devoid of laughs. But you do have to slog through a lot of unfunny moments to get to them. This is for the most part a painless sit, but there’s not enough good here to encourage you to seek this film out.

Rating: 2.5/5

“National Security” (2003)

An attempt at both telling a social satire about race and police brutality, and a buddy cop film, but with absolutely disastrous results. Under normal circumstances, this would’ve been just an unoriginal and uninspired buddy cop film, but Martin Lawrence’s lead performance in this film is just… the worst. His character is clearly written to be some kind of lovable rascal, but in reality, he is a vile, vindictive, and racist individual with absolutely no redeeming values whatsoever. And the film apparently expects us not only to find him funny, but to sympathize with him. His character would’ve been enough to sink an otherwise decent film. But the rest of the film isn’t even at all decent to begin with.

Rating: 0.5/5

“Gordy” (1995)

This seems like a film that was made when some execs in Hollywood realized that an adaptation of Babe: The Gallant Pig was being made, and so they rushed this through with the hopes of beating it to market, hoping to earn the odd dollar from confused parents. And this film did beat it, by three months. But barely anyone has even seen this film, and for good reason. It’s crap. The film’s plot is nonsensical, lacks any semblance of style and memorability, and, especially when you compare it to the much darker and riskier Babe,it’s clear that this film has no backbone and no desire to engage with its younger audience. It’s only good moments come about ironically, from the film’s own insanity.

Rating: 1.5/5

“Nightcrawler” (2014)

While the film’s satire of news media and the inherent sensationalism within it may not be anything all that new or earth-shattering, this film’s execution of its message makes it stand out. A lot of what makes this film work is all because of Jake Gyllenhaal, as he gives a remarkable and chilling performance as Lou Bloom, one of the most terrifying movie characters of the 2010s. On top of that, the film’s script is intelligent, the film is effortlessly paced, and the climax is incredible and impossible to tear your eyes away.

Rating: 5/5

“Ghostbusters” (2016)

Paul Fieg’s inexperience at directing big-budget blockbusters is made apparent here. This film has the feel and pacing of an R-rated studio comedy, but with stale, inoffensive PG-13 jokes. The leads mostly range from okay and decent, in Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig’s case, to downright obnoxious in Kate McKinnon’s case. The only actor in the film who’s consistently humorous is Chris Hemsworth. The visual effects are passable, but not all that creative. There’s not much about this film that’s terrible, but not much that’s really good either. Neither deserving of intense ire, nor deserving of much praise, this is a very average, and middling remake that’s watchable, but will be rightly forgotten in a few years.

Rating: 3/5

“Red Sparrow” (2018)

Starts out strong, with a great first act, but completely fizzles out by the end. This film is way, way too long; twenty minutes to a half hour could’ve been cut easily. Jennifer Lawrence gives a solid performance for most of the film, but her character simply isn’t very believable. Had this been a film that followed a “Sparrow” as it were, and explored her emotional journey over the years, and examined the mental tolls that such a job would take on a person, this could’ve been something special, probably even great. What we get instead is an overly complicated and boring spy film, that thinks it’s a lot more artistic and important than it actually is.

Rating: 2.5/5