chris-jones
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Chris Jones | Contributor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Columnist covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the founder of Overly Honest Movie Reviews.

 


Licorice Pizza
Movies

Licorice Pizza

After a lot of thought, I gave this film a 2.5/5. On the one hand, I wanted to give it a 4 out of 5; on the other hand, a 1 out of 5.  I go into greater detail at the end of the review, but for now, I will just say that I had a significant issue with the story and how it was handled. There has been a lot of coverage about the handling of some dialogue and nearly “racist” comments in the film. I found those moments to be problematic, but in a way that you could tell it was to show the time and just how bad some acceptable things were. You could then argue my more significant issue with the film was the same, but I couldn’t look past it. I feel like somewhat of a hypocrite, and I am still processing a lot of the film. Please keep in mind that there are many dated things in this movie; it takes place in 1973 and doesn’t shy away from portraying how it was. The film itself was excellent, from the cast to the direction; that’s why it’s a shame that it had the issues it did. For a movie that runs a little over two hours, I was locked in the entire time; there weren’t a lot of slow moments. Throughout, some oneliners were brilliant, and the story itself was simple yet very effective. Alana Haim (who has a successful musical career with her sisters in the band “Haim”) and her co-lead Cooper Hoffman are both pretty much newcomers to the acting world. They manage to both be brilliant onscreen and play well off each other. Haim has some more experience with her music videos and different limited roles.  Sean Penn, Tom Waits, John C. Reilly, and Bradley Cooper all have more minor roles. Each manages to make the best of their time on screen. Reilly is a blink, and you’ll miss it, cameo, thankfully his voice is iconic and hard to miss.  One of the most complex parts of film critique is when you both enjoy and dislike a film, regardless of the reasons. Some say a 2.5 is a terrible rating, but by definition, it’s right in the middle (for me at least!) People will disagree with me, but I feel the 2.5 rating is when you’re entirely crossed and can’t decide. I usually don’t do this, but I need to explain my reasoning. If you haven’t seen the movie, please don’t read below because I hate the idea of spoiling anything for anyone. BE WARNED,  SPOILERS BELOW: So in the film, the lead actress (who is now 30) played a 25-year-old. Cooper Hoffman, the lead actor (now 18), played a 15-year-old. They have a “romance” in the film, and I can’t quite explain how uncomfortable it made me feel. Had these roles been reversed, people would be up in arms. The double standard here is beyond comparison. Could you imagine a film with a 25-year-old male and a 15-year-old girl? Ultimately director Paul Thomas Anderson said this was done intentionally. However, it made the film hard to watch. There was a chance to redeem the film in the end, yet he went in the opposite direction and just nearly ruined the entire experience. I’m sure I’ll receive some hate for this section specifically. Still, I feel Hollywood has enough issues to deal with right now without glorifying this type of relationship (which is also terribly toxic.)  READ MORE...

Movies  |  January 16, 2022
Encanto

Encanto

Are we in the midst of another Disney renaissance? Disney has had a couple of ups and downs in their time; it usually comes in waves. Lately, I feel like Disney and Pixar both have had a lot of mediocre films; they have potential but never blow me out of the water. “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Frozen,” and “Big Hero 6” were the last of the newer wave that impressed me. “Encanto” is more of the same; I feel like “Moana,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and now this were all good but not great. I don’t think any of them will become “classics” in the long run. There is a magic formula to a genuinely magical animation; Disney is hit or miss even though they created the recipe themselves. It’s hard to describe; I watch these films and enjoy them, but I walk away from them just feeling “eh,” which draws conflict from within myself. I want to enjoy them, but sometimes it feels like they’ve just been trying too hard. It’s become the norm for Disney to have beautiful animation (even though I still prefer hand-drawn to computer animation); however, there’s more to it than just some pretty visuals. I liked that this one didn’t have the traditional “villain” but more so the battle with living up to “your own potential” and family conflict. As per usual, Disney knocked it out with a fantastic voice cast. I can only assume that they have people lined up at the door to work on a Disney film. So to some extent, that’s almost unfair, but I will still give credit where credit is due. I was incredibly impressed with Stephanie Beatriz (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) as the lead Mirabel and John Leguizamo (“Spawn”) as Bruno.  I’m a big fan of the Oscars, but Disney/Pixar usually always win; my issue is that they win for the wrong reason. A mix of them “paying” for the victory with promoting it to voters and their films get a more significant release area. Cartoon Saloon has released four animated films, all four have been nominated for an Academy Award, and all four lost to either Disney or Pixar. I realize that the Oscars have their issues, but it would still be nice not to be that predictable. I also feel like I need to point out that the Oscar-shortlisted song from the “Dos Oruguitas” sounds very much like “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid.” Which ultimately makes sense, Lin-Manuel Miranda helped score, compose, and write the lyrics to “Encanto.” He’s credited “Under the Sea” as the moment he decided what he wanted to do in his life (and also named his son Sebastian.) On a somewhat unrelated note, Pixar’s film “Turning Red” will be released on Disney+ instead of in theaters as initially projected. It will be available on March 11th, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing my thoughts on it shortly after that! If you’ve been to a movie in the last few months, you’ve likely seen a trailer for it (a girl that changes into a giant red panda.) I will say that the trailers have sold me, and it’s one of the first films that I’m looking forward to from either Disney or Pixar!

Movies  |  January 9, 2022
The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections

So I’m going to start by saying I still don’t know how I feel about this movie. I saw it, tried to let it sink in, and I’m still wholly crossed. My first DVD was “The Matrix” I was the perfect demographic when the film came out, and I loved (and still do) everything about it. Not only was it a beautiful film but it also gave you something to think about. It takes you down a rabbit hole, one that you honestly can’t answer. I mean, are we in a computer simulation? If we are, and it’s a good one, no one would ever know. So I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I honestly don’t believe we are, but I found it interesting that the question really can’t be answered.

Best of 2021  |  January 2, 2022
WandaVision is Must See TV

WandaVision is Must See TV

WandaVision – 2021 (Action/Adventure/Comedy)     Mini-Series    |    

Movies  |  December 12, 2021
Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

“Who ya gonna call?” The answer is the 1980’s; in the never-ending rush to capitalize on proven franchises, we get to revisit (again) a franchise that was so iconic that it needed to be handled with baby gloves.

Movies  |  December 5, 2021
House of Gucci

House of Gucci

“Father, son and House of Gucci.” What is possibly one of the most memorable lines in recent movie history for me. Star of the film Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born,” “American Horror Story”) ad-libbed the line. She said, "I would do it in the trailer all the time. I was doing it in the trailer and then something about that scene when we were doing it felt right. We did it, and it's a testament to [director] Ridley Scott as a director because he uses the stuff. He uses the creativity. He uses the love."

Movies  |  November 28, 2021
tick, tick...BOOM!

tick, tick...BOOM!

While not 100% accurate, this semi-autobiographical film about American composer, lyricist, and playwright Jonathan Larson (“Rent” Broadway production) played to its strengths. It hit every note just right.

Movies  |  November 21, 2021
Spencer

Spencer

“A fable from a true tragedy,” and honesty those words were one of the film’s most significant faults. I have a hard time calling this a "biography." I’ve always been a fan of Diana, Princess of Wales. She indeed was the "People's Princess," and although her life was tragically cut short, she cemented her place in history as an icon.

Movies  |  November 14, 2021
Eternals

Eternals

Another week, another Marvel film (I swear Disney has something releasing weekly, on the big screen or Disney+.) I’m a big Marvel fan, and I usually try to keep myself from reading anything from other reviewers or aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes. I intentionally do this so that I don’t have my view of a film skewed. Sadly I was unable to avoid the response to the Rotten Tomatoes critics scores on this one. Usually, I wouldn’t care, as I often disagree with the popular critics.

Movies  |  November 7, 2021
Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho

I have so many things going through my mind right now! Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Baby Driver”) does it again, and this time in a mixed genre film that was everything I wanted it to be and more. Let me preface this review with the fact that if you have any desire to see this, please don’t read other reviews or anything about it. As always, my reviews are spoiler-free and mainly my thoughts and feelings about the film, cast, and crew. A word of warning, the film has a lot of horror elements and flashing lights, so just in case either of those bothers you.

Movies  |  October 31, 2021
Dune

Dune

“Dune” has long been considered an “unfilmable” work, and honestly, after watching this, I may have to agree. To be fair, I’ve never seen the 1984 version by David Lynch (although I do own it, so I need to get on that.) Previously the film was in preproduction by the director Alejandro Jodorowsky; this was such an infamous achievement that an entire documentary has been made just on the work he had put into a film that was never made.

Movies  |  October 24, 2021
Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills

I’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started! First, I’d like to bring attention to the fact that my Facebook page was deleted (I’m trying to appeal, but I’ve heard the odds aren’t in my favor.) Anyway, make sure to go follow my new page; you should still be able to find it by searching “Overly Honest Movie Reviews.” Make sure to visit my link at the bottom of the page and follow my other social media accounts.

Movies  |  October 17, 2021
The Addams Family 2

The Addams Family 2

Where to start with this, I guess the best I can do is say that it’s not a terrible film to entertain children when it becomes available to stream for free. I don’t know where they went wrong with this, but it was a big swing and miss for me. I wasn’t a fan of the original animated film, and this one doesn’t do anything to impress me.

Movies  |  October 10, 2021
James Bond: No Time to Die

James Bond: No Time to Die

“Bond, James Bond”… One of the most classic lines ever delivered in cinematic history, right up there with “No, I am your father.” The 25th film in the James Bond franchise, produced by Eon Productions, is also Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as the titular character of James Bond.

Movies  |  October 3, 2021
Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen

What does 2016’s “La La Land” (my favorite film of 2016 and one of my all-time favorites) as well as 2017’s “The Greatest Showman” (my favorite film of 2017 and one of my all-time favorites) have to do with “Dear Evan Hansen”? They all three had music composed by Pasek and Paul (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul,) an American songwriting duo who have also created incredible songs for a ton of Broadway musicals. Sadly, this is where the train stops, “Dear Evan Hansen” will not be my favorite film of 2021.

Movies  |  September 26, 2021
Lady of the Manor

Lady of the Manor

The film was Justin & Christian Long’s directorial (and writing) debut. A cast straight out of the ’90s, including Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures,) Judy Greer (13 Going on 30,) Justin Long (Accepted,) Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions,) Luis Guzmán (Boogie Nights,) & Patrick Duffy (Step by Step) this felt every bit as dated as you’d imagine. As much as I appreciate Justin Long’s acting in general, he picked a stinker to start with, unfortunately. 

Movies  |  September 19, 2021
Kate

Kate

From first-time feature film director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan comes a pretty standard action film. It isn’t to say it was good or bad, and this fits into an ever-growing list of movies that are cookie-cutter copies of each other. If you’ve seen “Gunpowder Milkshake” (which, based on my review several weeks ago, you probably wouldn’t have,) “Anna,” “Atomic Blonde,” “Ava,” “Hanna,” “Lucy,” “Salt,” “Aeon Flux,” “Wanted,” Colombiana,” “Ultra Violet,” “Violet & Daisy,” “Red Sparrow,” etc. then you’ve seen everything that “Kate” has to offer.

Movies  |  September 12, 2021
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Let me start by saying that this is a Marvel movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). If you go into this expecting anything else, I place the blame purely on you. With that out of the way, this will sound hypocritical, but I would say that this is more than a standard Marvel movie.

Movies  |  September 5, 2021
Habit

Habit

Before I get into the review, this movie has a lot of trigger moments. The film has so many moments that feel like shock moments, just to be shock moments. Constant swearing, blasphemous content, drug use, and more litter this film from start to finish; I knew that going into the movie, though, so if you’re going to watch this, do so at your own risk.

Movies  |  August 29, 2021
Bedford Falls Film Festival

Bedford Falls Film Festival

Film This past Saturday; I had the honor of attending (virtually) the Bedford Falls Film Festival. Bedford Falls Film Festival celebrates black and white cinema that was birthed at a very vintage and vibrant NYC venue. The founders wanted to pay homage to an earlier time in cinema where gents such as Jimmy Stewart and Jimmy Durante were captivating cinemagoers.

Movies  |  August 22, 2021
Free Guy

Free Guy

From the guy (Shawn Levy) who brought us six episodes of “The Secret World of Alex Mack,” three episodes of “Animorphs,” “Jett Jackson: The Movie (and 47 episodes),” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Real Steel,” and all three “Night at the Museum” films comes what is possibly one of the best “superhero” style films. In a nutshell, this was a fun and yet meta take that tackled many different things and did most of them well. They missed some moments, but overall, I would say the entire team succeeded in what they were going for. Some moments felt like they were playing in the larger video game/movie universes, similarly to how “Space Jam: A New Legacy” failed and how “Ready Player One” did so well.

Movies  |  August 15, 2021
The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad

Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. If this title sounds familiar, it’s because DC/Warner Brothers released “Suicide Squad,” a film with a very similar story just five short years ago. Just a few years later, why did they release another movie with the same name (plus the word “the”?) That is up for debate. Is this a remake, reboot, or sequel? So, there are returning cast members such as Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang (then 13 NEW members as well, that’s an issue for further in the review.)

Movies  |  August 8, 2021
The Exchange

The Exchange

Before I get into the review, I want to say that even though the film isn’t rated, it most definitely isn’t meant for children. While the language wasn’t terrible, some suggestive scenes would make it inappropriate for children.

Movies  |  August 1, 2021
Gunpowder Milkshake

Gunpowder Milkshake

What do you get if you combine “John Wick” and “Captain Marvel”? Well, unfortunately, you get a film that doesn’t hit a home run either way. There aren’t many successful “John Wick” rip-offs; most falter, except for “Nobody.”

Movies  |  July 25, 2021
Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy

The only way I can start this is by saying I’m still not sure who this movie was for. It’s not for fans of the original (they’ve aged out of the humor,) it doesn’t seem to be for diehard LeBron James fans, Looney Tunes fans may be upset about the drastic change in animation styles (and in my opinion, some of the worst voices for the Tunes.) There wasn’t anything I truly hated about this film, it wasn’t what I would typically call a “bad” movie, but it had few if any saving graces.

Movies  |  July 18, 2021
Black Widow

Black Widow

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” was released in theaters 737 days before “Black Widow,” resulting in the most prolonged delay between two Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films since the gap between “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man 2” (693 days.) This time around was a bit different, being as though it was due to a worldwide pandemic. We also were given two entire MCU series (“WandaVision” and “Falcon and The Winter Soldier”) on Disney+ as well as almost the entirety of a third one (“Loki”). On that note, this is also the first time in history that we’ve received two MCU offerings in the same week, the newest episode of “Loki” and “Black Widow.”

Movies  |  July 11, 2021
A Quiet Place II

A Quiet Place II

So let me get this out of the way; I hated that they showed the "creatures" in the original film "A Quiet Place." The film would've been better, in my opinion, without that unnecessary addition. The suspense and not knowing would make it so much better. There were multiple scenes early on that were so well done and only showed glimpses and flashes.

Movies  |  July 4, 2021
America: The Motion Picture

America: The Motion Picture

Before I get started, I need to point out that this is most definitely not a kid-friendly animation. It contains a lot of violence and crude language. I believe this may be the lowest-rated review I’ve done here so far. Sadly, the film started with a lot of potential and then quickly faded away. This short synopsis explains the basis of the movie better than I could “A chainsaw-wielding George Washington teams with beer-loving bro Sam Adams to take down the Brits in a tongue-in-cheek riff on the American Revolution.” I love an excellent satirical film. They just didn’t hit the marks in this one that they were aiming for, in my opinion.

Movies  |  June 27, 2021
Luca

Luca

Where to start, I had a hard time with this one. Pixar traditionally hits a home run with every production. This film didn’t do it for me; unfortunately, that seems to be a common thread with many movies that I’ve seen so far this year. There haven’t been many that have blown me away, although that’s usually the standard, to be fair. There tends to be a film or two that I enjoy before August, then a flood of great films from August to January.

Movies  |  June 20, 2021
In the Heights

In the Heights

From the creator of “Hamilton” comes the newest musical extravaganza, “In the Heights.” So I loved “Hamilton,” it was one of the most original and action-packed experiences I’ve enjoyed recently. Sadly I haven’t seen the production in person, just the recording of the stage production on Disney+; however, that was amazing enough. I wish that they had gone forward with a live-action film of “Hamilton” instead of “In the Heights,” though. It’s not that there was anything bad about the movie, but it didn’t have quite the same punch as “Hamilton.”

Movies  |  June 13, 2021
Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon

There are great voice casts, and then there are voice casts like this; Disney hit an absolute home run with the voice cast for this film. Including Kelly Marie Tran (“Star Wars,”) Awkwafina (“Crazy Rich Asians,”) Gemma Chan (“Humans,”) Benedict Wong (“Doctor Strange,”) Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy,”) Lucille Soong (“Fresh Off the Boat,”) Alan Tudyk (“Firefly,”) and more!

Movies  |  June 6, 2021
Cruella

Cruella

In the words of the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies, “It's all been done, done before,” and when I say all, I mean all. This film was almost a direct remake of “The Devil Wears Prada,” which is generous. 

Movies  |  May 30, 2021
Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead

If any director has successfully covered a more comprehensive range of genres, I don’t know who it would be. Zack Snyder started with the zombie genre and has made his return in his latest film ‘Army of the Dead.’ Snyder has had many hits in my book, my favorite being ‘Sucker Punch’ by far. Although it’s been panned by critics in general, I loved everything about it. Most of you have probably heard about the recent drama that ended up getting Warner Brothers to release ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ a four-and-a-half-hour version of his final vision of the film (he stepped down from directing during a family emergency.) They gave in and let him do his dream, and by all accounts, it’s been a huge success financially for Warner Brothers, especially their streaming service HBO Max.

Movies  |  May 23, 2021
My Top 3 Graduation Films

My Top 3 Graduation Films

Graduation - noun : the award or acceptance of an academic degree or diploma.

Movies  |  May 16, 2021
Oxygen

Oxygen

I usually wouldn’t do a full review on a foreign film, not because I don’t enjoy them but because I know there’s a limited audience for them. I decided to check this out on Netflix, and it ended up being the exception to the rule. As per usual, I do my best not to know anything about a film before I watch it. That led to an exciting discovery here; I started the movie. Almost half an hour into the adventure, I realized my subtitles weren’t on (I like to watch pretty much everything with subtitles just to make the viewing experience easier with ambient noises.) I noticed that the film I was watching is a French film, that says something that I hadn’t seen. Netflix put the English dub on by default. I usually would never recommend a dubbed movie outside of animation; this may very well be the exception to that rule.

Movies  |  May 9, 2021
The Mitchells vs. the Machines

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

So in my recent memory, there haven’t been many animations that blew my mind. Last year, my favorite was ‘Wolfwalkers’ by a long stretch. This year I may have already found the one. This film had such heart and emotion it truly touched me.

Movies  |  May 2, 2021
Oscars Review

Oscars Review

So I was never a straight-A student, but a C minus isn’t precisely what I was hoping for either! I hope that if any of you took my advice on my Oscar picks this year, that whomever you were going up against picked worse than I did! In an average year, I’ll miss anywhere from three to five categories because flukes just happen. This year I picked wrong in seven categories, the worst for me in the last eight years.

Movies  |  April 25, 2021
Top 20 Movies

Top 20 Movies

Usually, I would have my weekly review here; this week will be a little different, though. Hopefully, you all caught my Oscar preview last week, and if you're getting this on the 25th, make sure to follow along with my picks. If you missed them, they will also be posted midday on Sunday on my Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter (visit the link at the bottom of this story to see those picks.)

Movies  |  April 18, 2021
Oscar Preview Special

Oscar Preview Special

The time has come to talk of many things: of shoes - and ships - and Oscar wins…

Movies  |  April 11, 2021
Shiva Baby

Shiva Baby

ShivaBaby – 2021 (Dark Comedy)     –    

Movies  |  April 4, 2021
Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla vs. Kong – 2021 (Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller)     –    

Movies  |  March 28, 2021
Love and Monsters

Love and Monsters

Love and Monsters – 2020 (Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-fi)     –    

Movies  |  March 21, 2021
Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman – 2020 (Crime, Drama, Thriller)     –    

Movies  |  March 14, 2021
My Salinger Year

My Salinger Year

My Salinger Year – 2020 (Drama)     –    

Movies  |  March 7, 2021
Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America– 2021 (Comedy)     –    

Movies  |  February 28, 2021
Nomadland

Nomadland

Nomadland – 2020 (Drama)     –    

Movies  |  February 21, 2021
Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction – 2006 (Comedy/Drama/Fantasy)     –    

Movies  |  February 14, 2021
Malcolm & Marie

Malcolm & Marie

Malcolm & Marie – 2021 (Drama/Romance)     –    

Movies  |  February 7, 2021
Earwig and the Witch

Earwig and the Witch

Earwig and the Witch – 2020 (Animation, Family, Fantasy)     –    

Movies  |  February 7, 2021
Rebuilding Paradise

Rebuilding Paradise

Rebuilding Paradise – 2020 (Documentary)     –    

Movies  |  January 31, 2021
A Fun and Campy Musical

A Fun and Campy Musical

The Prom – 2020 (Comedy/Drama/Musical)     –    

Television  |  January 24, 2021
WandaVision is Must See TV

WandaVision is Must See TV

WandaVision – 2021 (Action/Adventure/Comedy)     Mini-Series    |    

Movies  |  January 17, 2021
‘Wolfwalkers’ is Brilliantly Animated with Stellar Story

‘Wolfwalkers’ is Brilliantly Animated with Stellar Story

Wolfwalkers – 2020 (Animation/Adventure/Fantasy)     –    

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