Film Review: PRIVATE LIFE (USA 2018) ***

An author (Hahn) is undergoing multiple fertility therapies to get pregnant, putting her relationship with her husband (Giamatti) on edge.


Tamara Jenkins

PRIVATE LIFE is a Netflix original movie which normally means that the main studios will not touch the film.  The likely reason is the ‘difficult’ theme of the film, about the trauma a couple goes through in order to have a child of their own.  So desperate they are, that they try two options simultaneously – adoption and getting an egg donor.

Written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, her film begins as a comedy and a very sly and deadpan one at that.  As the film progresses and fertilization attempts fail, drama sets in and the comedy slowly gives way to a more serious film.

Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) are a childless middle-aged couple desperately trying to have a child.  After multiple failed attempts at artificial insemination they attempt in vitro fertilization where they learn that Richard has a blockage that is not letting him produce sperm forcing him to choose a quick surgery and go $10,000 dollars in debt to his brother Charlie (John Carroll Lynch) and Charlie’s wife Cynthia (Molly Shannon).  At the same time they are also attempting to adopt a child after having previously being matched with a pregnant teenager from Little Rock who was looking to give up her child and then stopped contacting them.

The drama continues as the plot thickens.  While still  maintaining a it of humour, the funny bits slowly fade away.  The IVF fails.  Their doctor, Dr. Dordick (Denis O’Hare who can be quite hilarious as well)  floats the idea of using a donor egg to inseminate Rachel which would raise their chances of success from 4 to 65 percent.  Rachel is initially vehemently against the idea, but slowly begins to contemplate it with Richard’s encouragement.

Into the picture arrives Cynthia’s 25 year old daughter, Sadie (beautifully played by Kayli Carter), who meanwhile decides to leave her college writing program to finish in absentia.  Sadie goes to live with Richard and Rachel, with whom she is already very close.  Rachel, who struggled with the idea of an unknown egg donor, decides that she wants to ask Sadie for her eggs. To their surprise Sadie quickly agrees, both because she loves Richard and Rachel and because she thinks the egg donation will bring meaning to her life.

Giamatti and Hahn are two actors that are comfortable with both comedy and drama.  Their transition to drama is therefore credible.  Comedienne Molly Shannon ditches her funny personality playing a dislikable opinionated mother,  Teen actress Kayli Carter who seems to be doing Saoirse Ronan is not half bad either.

Jenkins’ film at the end, the film clocking a full 120 minutes, is quite different from what is expected at the start.  In the same way, her characters change as well, i.e. there is quite a bit of character development.  Many of the characters develop for the better, which makes for one of the film’s greater pleasures.

Jenkins loves to poke fun at males.  Richard has one testicle.  Richard has a sperm blockage.  Still PRIVATE LIFE is an intelligent though more female oriented drama.



Film Review: FLOWER (USA 2016)

A sexually curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother.


Max Winkler

The film begins with teen Erica (Zoey Deutch) giving a blow job to a sheriff Dale (Eric Edelstein) in his cop car while being filmed on the cell phones by Erika’s friends  (Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshet).  They threaten Dale, extort money, split the money and go their own ways.  An exciting start of the film, no doubt and what transpires through the rest of the film matches the incident in terms or surprise and vulgarity.

The story settles on Erica and her mother (Kathryn Hahn from BAD MOMS) who loves her but gives her free reign.  Erica makes the extra cash not only for herself but to earn enough for bail to spring her father in prison.  Mum has a new boyfriend and Erica promises to be nice to his son, her new step-brother, Luke (Joey Morgan) who has just been sprung from re-hab.  Luke is mentally unstable, fat and is troubled after he accused a teacher of molesting him.

The sparks start flying when the teacher Will (Adam Scott) is seen at the local bowling alley.  Erica decides to help her step-brother.  Good intentions using bad tactics never result in things going well.  Director Max Winker (son of Happy Day’s ‘Fonzie’ Henry Winkler) plays the film as a black comedy which largely works despite a few flaws.

The script co-written by Winkler with  Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer contains problems the foremost being credibility.  The audience is supposed to believe that Erica can make extra pocket money by giving blow jobs which she finds acceptable.  She also offered to give one to her step-brother out of pity.  When questioned, she likens the penis to be similar to a finger without a nail.  But a finger does not pee or cum either.  The script also has Eric fall in love with her fat step brother who actually have no redeeming qualities except for the only one good deed he had done.  Erica is also put up by her long-suffering mother, a point hard to believe.  When mum finally blows up, the story suddenly becomes believable with the mother/daughter confrontation segment making the film’s best part.

The film benefits from some excellent performances mostly from Deutch as the lead and comedian Kathryn Hahn as the mother.  Hahn has proven her comedic and dramatic potential in films like BAD MOMS but also demonstrates that if the vehicle is extremely bad as in A BAD MOM’S CHRISTMAS even she cannot save the movie.  Adam Scott plays the odd role (as least he is an actor daring enough to undertake risky roles like this one and the one in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2) as the pervert.

The film ends up a rather unbelievable morality tale that borders borders on farce because of the incidents in the story.  The film is supposed to demonstrate that good intentions are all that count.  But it also truthfully shows that if good intentions come about by criminal means there is a price to pay.  Luke ends up in prison and Erica under house arrest.  Entertaining to a point, one wishes the film could have been better.


Film Review: A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (USA 2017)

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A Bad Moms Christmas Poster

A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas.


Jon LucasScott Moore


Christmas comes early this year with Hollywood’s first Christmas comedy opening on November the 1st.  And it is a nightmare – a nightmare before Christmas.  When Publicity handed out sheets of an embargo to be signed with the embargo lifted at 9 am on opening day, the critics attending knew that something about the film must be amiss.  A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS is really bad, and a major turn of events considering that BAD MOMS was really funny and that the entire crew responsible for the first successful comedy hit returned for this dud.

Once again, under-appreciated and overburdened moms Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) rebel against the challenges and expectations of Christmas.  As if creating the perfect holiday for their families is not hard enough, they will have to do it tho time around while hosting and entertaining their own respective mothers (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon) when they come to visit.  But in the moms’ own words, they want to reclaim Christmas for themselves, very much the same way they did in the first movie.

When the three moms in the first movie decided to take back their own lives, it was funny and fresh.  Here, the freshness has changed to stale.  All the perkiness and naughtiness, especially with the Kathryn Hahn’s character rubs totally the wrong way – especially in a Christmas movie.  The stripper dance during the Christmas dinner (at the end of the film) with the kids present is the perfect example of humour gone wrong.  Kahn is obviously trying too hard her and the directors Lucas and Moore given her too much to do after her first success.  Waxing too many vaginas in her job at the spa where she works, her foul language, her way with men and her drunkenness and loudness in public have been reduced from funny to annoyance.  The romance element of Carla and her new stripper boyfriend is both unfunny and silly.  Also missing in this sequel is Christina Applegate who played the bitchy head of the PTA who fought with the BAD MOMS.

Also to keep with the spirit of Christmas films, the film has to bring in the expected sentiment of good cheer, with too much material falling into cliched territory.  As expected, each mom is told off by each respective daughter, for whatever reason – not being able to let go of mommy strings; borrowing money and then comes the reconciliation, one of them done in the midst of a church service, as if no one in the congregation minded or noticed.  The worst sentimental crap is Amy’s father (Peter Gallagher) given his daughter the speech on how special her mother is.

Oddly the moms’ moms are funnier.  The only decent scene is the one where Sarandon, Hines and Baranski end up in church as they help each other out with their daughters amidst insulting each other.  But the film ends with the three bad grandmothers  heading for Las Vegas – which makes for a terrible thought – the possibility of two sequels in the making. 


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BAD MOMS (USA 2016) ***

bad_momsBAD MOMS (USA 2016) ***

Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Stars: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate

Review by Gilbert Seah

he story centres on a young mother, Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) who appears to have the perfect family. She has a good mortgage broker husband, two smart over-achieving children and a career. But she is overworked and the husband does not do much except maybe watch porn. She catches him, kicks him out and finally has had it at being a good mom. Teaming with two friends Carla (Kathyrn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell) who she gets drunk with, she decides, with them to f*** it and become BAD MOMS. Amy does not make breakfast for her kids anymore and stops going to her meaningless job meetings.

The film picks picks up when the three meet the good moms headed by the head of the PTA, Gwendolyn Jones (Christina Applegate). The war starts when Amy decide to run for the post of the head of the PTA.

If the film sound trivial, it actually is. But the script by Lucas and and Moore, treats its subject very seriously. This is the comedy duo that did the successful HANGOVER male raunchy comedies. BAD MOMS does the same for the opposite sex. So expect lots of foul language and lewd humour. The moms here get drunk, laid and stoned. For the most part, the males (husbands) in the film are all idiots (like the black school principal), clueless (Amy’s husband) or sexual objects (sexy latino Jay Hernandez s Amy’s fling). But as the script is written by two guys, some redeeming qualities are written into Amy’s husband’s character as the two do share a moment and hug, after a big quarrel.

One of the best things about BAD MOMS is actress Kathryn Hahn. She has a supporting role as Carla, one of Amy’s best friends who drinks and sleeps her way as a ultra bad mom. Hahn has the ability to do both drama and comedy exceptionally well. In the recent CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, she played the victimized mom at the dinner table. In BAD MOMS she proves she is versatile also as an antagonist, Carla. When not spurring Amy on to do bad things, her character is hounding other victims. Hahn brings the most laughs in the movie, steals very scene and still has the audience wanting for more. It would be difficult to imagine how funny the film would be without her.

The product placements (Arby’s and Bed Bath and Beyond) are a little too obvious. The supermarket sequence where the three go on a drunken shopping spree is simply priceless. Hahn is the funniest of the three. This segment alone is worth the price of the ticket. The film includes two cameos by Martha Stewart (very funny) and Wanda Sykes (not so funny).

BAD MOMS ends up a guilty pleasure for all mothers. There are quite a lot of mothers out there that make up a good target audience number. The film should do for females what The HANGOVER films did for the males. Even the males can sit through and laugh through BAD MOMS.

Happy Birthday: Kathryn Hahn

kathrynhahn.jpgKathryn Hahn

Born: July 23, 1973 in Westchester, Illinois, USA

Married to: Ethan Sandler (3 January 2002 – present) (2 children)





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