Film Review: THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART (USA/Denmark/Australia 2019) ****

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Poster
Trailer

It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: Lego Duplo invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.

Director:

Mike Mitchell

Writers:

Phil Lord (screenplay by), Christopher Miller (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »

THE LEGO MOVIE 2’s  story in the human world starts after the events of the first film made in 2014, just as Finn’s toddler sister Bianca starts to play with Duplo blocks and tries to take over Bricksburg.  Bianca has grown up.  In the intervening years, Bianca has taken more of the Lego sets into her own room to incorporate into her own creations causing Finn  to get angry with her when he discovers this.   Meanwhile in the Lego story, the Duplo invaders have turned Bricksburg into a post-apocalyptic wasteland named Apocalypseburg, and continue to invade periodically.  On one occasion, Master Builder Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) attempts to broker peace between the citizens and the aliens with a Lego heart, to no avail.  The ordeal has made most of Apocalypseburg’s citizens hardened, but Emmet remains upbeat, wanting to move into a dream home with Lucy (Elizabeth Banks).   However, Emmet is troubled by dreams of a pending “Our-mom-ageddon”.

The film pays nods to a dozen films including the MAD MAX films, JURASSIC PARK, STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, BACK TO THE FUTURE and of course all the films the other Lego characters come from like Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), Aquaman (Jason Mom) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) among others.  These are the super heroes from the Warner Bros films.

The animation is impressive.  The Lego character also include fabrics and paper, exploring multiple animation styles for each playlet, thus expanding the target audience for girls as well as boys.

Mike Mitchell takes over the director reins from Lord and Miller who directed the original and Chris McKay initially signed to direct the sequel.  Mitchell does an awesome job.  Chris Miller and Phil Lord who stay around this film to write the screenplay.  The story is inventive and clever incorporating tow different worlds and in the concept of good and evil.

THE LEGO MOVIE worked, so there is no need to change the successful formula.  The format of the first film is kept similar including an ending involving human beings coming into the picture with the LEGO characters transforming into inanimate toys.  Will Farrell is again present (though is voice is only heard, shouting words like: “Where are my pants, honey?”)

Is the sequel just as awesome as the first?  It is awesome and just as inventive and hilarious.  The climax where Maya Rudolph appears as the mother is simply non-stop laugh-out loud laughter.  The original famous song “Everything is awesome” is replaced by a sister song “Everything’s Not Awesome” with news owns like “Catchy Song” written by Jon Lajoie who did the songs for the first movie.  The “Catchy Song” has the phrase ‘this song is gonna get stuck inside your head’ and indeed it does  Great songs and soundtrack!

THE LEGO MOVIE 2 is an animated film that should please both kids and adults.  It is tamed down several notches making it more coherent that the terrible LEGO NINJA movie.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU2qVosryck

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Film Review: SHOW DOGS (USA 2018)

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Show Dogs Poster
Trailer

Max, a macho, solitary Rottweiler police dog is ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog in a prestigious Dog Show, along with his human partner, to avert a disaster from happening.

Director:

Raja Gosnell

 

Watching the first 15 minutes of a film’s opening can usually determine what can expected from the rest of the film.  At the start of SHOW DOGS, Max (Ludacris ), a talking Rottweiler that works as a police dog mistakenly takes down an undercover cop while three talking pigeons explain what is gong on to each other and the audience as if the scene needs to be explained.  The baddies have a British accent, of course and the camera tilts sideways for no apparent reason.  The antics include the dog unimpressively tumbling around and dodging vehicles.  Max bites the cop in the butt.  This is a sequence that is neither funny or exciting or worthy of mention.

So, in this world where humans and sentient dogs co-exist, the macho but lonely Rottweiler police dog named Max has bungled his duty to save a kidnapped baby panda.  Max promises the panda that he will return to save her.  Max is eventually ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog at a prestigious dog show with his human partner Frank (Will Arnett), the one he bit on the butt earlier in the film.

An impressive cast of celebrities voice the canine characters.  RuPaul voices Persephone, 

Gabriel Iglesias, Sprinkles, a Pug, Shaquille O’Neal, Karma, Stanley Tucci, Philippe and Alan Cumming, Dante.  One wonders the decision for Tucci doing a French accent, thus making his voice hardly recognizable for the Belgium dog, Philippe.

There are no shortage of jokes in the film.  The trouble is that they are only mildly funny at best.  The best example is the fast sloth joke, humorous a little, but laugh-out loud, it is not.  To illustrate how good the jokes are, I did not laugh once during the entire comedy!  The film is also not short of ass-hole and gross jokes.  It is easy to calculate the jokes hit/miss ratio for this film.  Zero!

The film contains many show dogs that are perfectly groomed that are great to look at.  Still, this is insufficient to lift the film out of the doldrums.  Max, the Rottweiler looks sloppy compared to all the other dogs, kind of dirty looking an always drooling.  It does not help that the script insists on having a romantic angle between Max and Daisy (Jordin Sparks), a Border Collie.   To make matters worse, there is also a hint of romance between Frank and another dog handler, Mattie (Natasha Lyonne).

The script by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman, at best makes reference to better dog films like TURNER AND HOOCH.  At one point, Max calls his partner, Hooch.  Again, a little humorous at best!

2018 has so far seen the best and worst dog films of the decade.  Wes Andersons’ ISLE OF DOGS is so far the best dog film this year.  SHOW DOGS, lands on the other end of the spectrum. 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z8s36yLaLQ

 

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TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 12

 

What Time Is It Right Now Poster
 Directed by:

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie

by Mary Cox

“What Time is it Right Now?”

This season’s finale leaves us with a sense of conclusion, but not a sense of finality. Bojack and Hollyhock’s relationship has finally come to a point of mutual understanding, giving Bojack a sense of inner peace for the first time in the entire series. Princess Carolyn saves her career and successfully displaces her grief by channeling her emotional energy into a symbolic project. Todd’s dumb dentist clown venture ends up like every other single Todd scenario. The resolution we get between Bojack and Hollyhock is satisfying and ends the season on a positive note, but I’m more interested in the collapsing dynamic between Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane.

It’s profoundly obvious that Diane is suffering from the kind of slow-progressing, all-encompassing, weighty depression that sneaks into someone’s life like smoke under a door in a burning building. The question really comes down to how much of Diane’s pain is caused by unresolved internal issues, and how much of it is external and related to her failing relationship.

You have to commend Mr. Peanutbutter for at least trying to use all the power he has to give Diane what he thinks she wants to have. Mr. Peanutbutter is a textbook people-pleaser who can be goaded into almost anything if he feels his likability is at stake, and it seems like he only knows how to express himself in grand gestures, but that’s exactly his fundamental flaw. Mr. Peanutbutter can only really see and experience things from his own perspective, almost to the point where he lacks true empathy. Diane’s rejection of her “Belle Room” is complete evidence that Mr. Peanutbutter won’t ever be able to understand her worldview, and is another reason why this doomed couple is heading towards divorce.

The fifth season of Bojack Horseman has yet to be confirmed, although it would be highly surprising if this is where Netflix allows this series to end. How will a more emotionally-available Bojack handle the separation of his two best friends? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

*****
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 11

 

Time's Arrow Poster
In 1963, young socialite Beatrice Sugarman meets the rebellious Butterscotch Horseman at her debutante party.

Director:

Aaron Long

Writers:

Kate PurdyRaphael Bob-Waksberg (creator)

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie

by Mary Cox

 “Time’s Arrow”

This episode finally gives us all of the missing pieces we’ve been looking for in understanding Beatrice’s backstory, which is also effectively Bojack’s origin story. I don’t know if dedicating the bulk of an entire episode to the tragedy of Beatrice’s life was the best choice they could have made, but for what it’s worth, the pacing and visual storytelling here works well.

It’s impossible to really know what experiencing dementia is like from an insider’s perspective, but the perpetual hell we see Beatrice living through is genuinely chilling. The astounding revelation that Hollyhock is Bojack’s sister, and not his daughter, hinges a little on the side of melodrama, but it’s not to the point of eye-rolling soap opera nonsense.

What makes this episode work is it’s final sequence where, after we’ve seen and heard everything, Bojack still makes the choice to show kindness to his mother. He’s given an open, consequence-free opportunity to punish Beatrice for a lifetime of cruelty, and he still makes the right decision. This is possibly the biggest moment ever in Bojack’s emotional growth across all four seasons of this series.

So much of Season Four has been centered on Bojack’s anxieties over how much his inner “sickness” has been inherited by Hollyhock. The end of “Time’s Arrow” shows us that trauma ends when we actively make the choice to break the cycle of abuse, and that people can surpass their circumstances with time and healing. The endless march of time is a major focal point of this season, and for Bojack at least, time does heal all wounds.

*****
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 10

 

Writers:

Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator), Peter Knight (as Peter A. Knight)

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie

“Lovin’ that Cali Lifestyle!”

Structurally, I have to commend this episode for it’s detailed foreshadowing. Hollyhock’s enthusiasm about Beatrice’s coffee, the opening titles showing her not eating, all of the weight-based comments we get in the flashback sequences with Bojack’s grandparents. When combined with Hollyhock’s obsessive behaviors and her lack of interest in food, this totally, totally works.

It’s easy to not notice the subtle changes in Hollyhock’s physical appearance on your first watch through of this season, but if you actually go back and compare her appearance from episode to episode, the change in Hollyhock’s body is visible and incredibly obvious. It’s an excellent depiction of how dangerous drug use can sneak in, totally undetected, right under someone’s nose.

There are, however, some slight gaps in the logic of the big twist of this episode. Beatrice is home-bound and suffering from moderate-to-severe dementia, right? So how exactly did she manage to gain access to a large bottle of amphetamine-based diet pills? We’re not really meant to know Beatrice’s specific level of sentience, but it’s a little hard to suspend my disbelief to the point where I can see Beatrice gaining access to medical-grade amphetamines in her mental conditions.

Despite Hollyhock’s collapse being the main focus of this episode, the Mr. Peanutbutter gubernatorial campaign plot line finally meets it’s resolution. There are a few subtle references to the 2016 Presidential Election, such as petty factors like a distaste for avocado being monumentally important to public opinion. There’s also the darker note of Diane’s reaction to Mr. Peanutbutter assigning joint credit to her accomplishments, which is yet another moment pointing to their obvious impending separation. |az\

*****
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 09

 

Ruthie Poster
One one awful day, Princess Carolyn deals with rejection, deception and loss. BoJack and Diane try to track down Hollyhock’s birth certificate.

Director:

Amy Winfrey

Writers:

Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator), Joanna Calo

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie |

by Mary Cox

“Ruthie”

I can’t be alone in thinking that the handling of Princess Carolyn’s miscarriage was somewhat tasteless. We see her suffer yet another huge, profound disappointment in her life, one which ultimately ends her relationship with Ralph and sends her spiraling into alcoholism and depression, and how do they decide to frame this information? Puns and cheap jokes based on the accents of “foreigners.” Tacky.

Bad taste aside, the plot line about Princess Carolyn’s family heirloom was a decent metaphor for the artificiality of the lies we tell ourselves about the past and the future, which does seem to connect to this season’s greater theme of all things being swept away by the passage of time.

I could live without the somewhat uninspired sub-plot where Bojack and Diane try to track down Hollyhock’s birth certificate at the county courthouse. If DMV-type jokes are the “groundbreaking” territory this series aims to cover, Bojack might as well be doing a stand-up routine about airplane food.

The ending of “Ruthie” does kind of pull back around to a more tonally reasonable place, but this season has generally struggled a little when it comes to balancing comedic and dramatic moments, like how it stumbled over Bojack’s grandmother’s lobotomy. At the very least, “Ruthie” gives us clarification that inter-species relationships end up with babies that are either one animal or another, clearing up some of the mystery surrounding Hollyhock’s parentage.
 

*****
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 08

 

The Judge Poster
Hollyhock starts dating and intern on BoJack’s new show. Princess Carolyn meets Ralph’s parents. Mr. Peanutbutter throws his support behind Woodchuck.

Director:

Otto Murga

Writers:

Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator), Elijah Aron 

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie

“The Judge”

Princess Carolyn and Stilton’s relationship touched on interesting ground in this episode. Maintaining a romantic relationship across two different cultures can be a huge challenge in any situation, let alone when one culture bases part of its identity on denigrating the people and culture of another group.

How could Carolyn ever feel embraced in a culture that bases part of its core identity on hating cats? Stilton ultimately makes the right choice in standing up for his partner, even in defiance of his culture and family.

Bojack is making an attempt at fatherhood by trying to guide Hollyhock through one of her earliest relationship. While Bojack ends up being right about the Intern’s intentions, he has to backtrack to protect Hollyhock’s feelings.

Interestingly, Hollyhock shows us that some more of Bojack’s obsessive and self-destructive behaviors might be lurking inside of her as well.
 

*****
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

bojack horseman 1.jpg