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July 27, 2020


Hello Movie Buffs!

I just wanted to take the time to give you an update on what's going on with Ask Lucy: Movies.

As we all know the world is still dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak, which has forced a lot of theaters to close and put many highly anticipated films like Mulan, 007: No Time To Die, A Quiet Place Part 2, Fast & Furious 9, and many more on the back-burner. Of course, some studios have opted to use other streaming services like Apple TV, Hulu, Netflix, AMC OnDemand, and Red Box OnDemand to showcase their new movies. But with so much uncertainty as to when everything will go back to normal if ever, I have decided to hold off from posting movie reviews at this time.

If you're an avid reader or an occasional onlooker of this blog then I wanted to thank all of you for your support. If you are new to this blog then I ask that you subscribe so that you can stay up to date on any new posts or reviews.

- Ask Lucy

May 11, 2020

The Willoughbys (2020) --- “A Family Story For Anyone Who Ever Wanted To Get Away From Their Family.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Neglected and abused by their selfish parents (Martin Short and Jane Krakowski), the four Willoughby children - Tim (Will Forte), Jane (Alessia Cara) and the twins both named Barnaby (Seán Cullen) - hatch a plan to sending their parents on dangerous “vacation” that will leave them orphaned. With the help of a sweet-natured nanny named Linda (Maya Rudolph) and a kindly but intimidating Willy Wonka-esque candymaker named Commander Melanoff (Terry Crews), the young Willoughbys embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family. Directed by Kris Pearn (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), and Corey Evans, and Rob Lodermeier, and written by Pearn and Mark Stanleigh, The Willoughbys (2020) is an animated family comedy and a Netflix Original based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry (The Giver). 
     The Willoughbys (2020) is a fun and colorful family adventure that doesn’t really have that many flaws nor does it have anything particularly outstanding within its delivery. Despite being a little predictable and taking some time to kick into gear, the story is witty and full of humorous set pieces that take us on an imaginative ride and makes the most of its colorful aesthetic. The story utilizes a nameless and sarcastic Cheshire-like blue cat (Ricky Gervais) to be the film’s narrator that also adds to the story’s humor and character. In addition to being appealing to kids, the film also has a quirky charm and a lot of tongue-in-cheek laughs and self-referential humor that appeals mostly to adults. While the story may touch on some sensitive topics, such as kids going out of their way to intentionally orphan themselves, but at the same time, the story succeeds in reminding people that you are loved and have much to be thankful for despite your current circumstances.
     The voice acting is done well. Will Forte (Good Boys, Scoob!) as the rational eldest child Tim, Alessia Cara (singer) as the musical-prone middle-child Jane, and Seán Cullen (The 20th Century) as the "creepy" twin boys Barnaby A and Barnaby B do a fantastic job as the Willoughby children, especially Cara who got to show off her singing talent as well. Maya Rudolph (The Good Place, Big Hero 6: The Series) as Linda the fun and eccentric Nanny provides a necessary balance for the kids and a nice contrast against the parents. Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) was perfect as the intimidating but joyous candy factory owner Commander Melanoff and provides the necessary father figure that the kids needed. Jane Krakowski (Dickinson) and Martin Short (The Morning Show, SNL) as the neglectful Willoughby parents who are also ironically named and called Mother and Father, especially to each other, were perfect for their roles. They brought their respective characters to life, portraying them as villains more than parents, and actually made you hate them throughout the entire film. The use of Ricky Gervais (After Life) as the grim and sort of deadpan narrator of the story adds a nice element to the storytelling, which is reminiscent of the technique used in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004). All in all the voice acting was good, with standout performances from Forte, Rudolph, Short, and Krakowski, who all have extensive backgrounds in comedy and are able to easily bring those sensibilities to the film. 
     Overall, The Willoughbys (2020) is a colorful, humorous, and fun family film that will entertain both kids and adults alike. Of course, the film is a hit or miss with families due to its sometimes sensitive subject matter, such as children intentionally seeking to orphan themselves, the message does remind us the importance of family, being thankful for what we have, and that family comes all different shapes and styles. The voice acting was great with the most noteworthy performances coming from Forte, Rudolph, Short, and Krakowski. All in all, this is a good film that deserves to be given the chance. 

NOTE: Although I can understand where the writers were coming from, perhaps the film would have had better success if the writers had chosen to use the term emancipation rather than orphan because it normally implies death and/or loss.

Final Vote --- 6.8 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
The Addams Family (2019)
The Emoji Movie (2017)
Home (2015)
Onward (2020)
Spies in Disguise (2019)
Trolls (2016)
Trolls World Tour (2020)
Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (2019)

May 6, 2020

Resistance (2020) --- “He Saved Their Lives In Silence”


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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz (Hands of Stone, Fugitives),  and inspired by the life of Marcel Marceau, Resistance (2020) is a revolutionary tale of a selfless act that would forever change countless lives for years to come. Before being known as the world's most famous mime and "master of silence" Marcel Marceau (Jesse Eisenberg), he was first known as Marcel Mangel, an aspiring French-Jewish actor who works at his father’s butcher shop, paints murals for his plays, and likes to impersonate Charlie Chaplin at a local cabaret. Through his cousin Georges (Géza Röhrig), Marcel gets the opportunity to put his acting skills to the ultimate test: teach orphaned Jewish Children how to survive in the horrifying reality of the Holocaust. Soon Marcel, his brother Alain (Félix Moati), and a few others (Clémence Poésy and Vica Kerekes) join the French Resistance as a way to fight back. But after the complete occupation of France and a devastating death, Marcel decides that the best way to combat the Nazis is by saving as many children as possible by helping them get to Switzerland. “The best way to resist is to survive.” - Marcel Marceau. 
     For writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz, WWII films are more than just another war genre, they are incredibly personal, especially since he lost over four hundred family members during the Holocaust. Jakubowicz’s Resistance is a handsomely crafted labor of love that is more of a somber tale of defiance against the Nazis than an action-packed war film. While staying true to the source material and being very much a unique film, Resistance pays homage to films that have come before, like Schindler’s List (1993), The Pianist (2002), and even The Zookeeper's Wife (2017). The film’s title suggests two options: take revenge or survive. As mentioned earlier Marcel’s answer to fighting back against the Nazis is, The best way to resist is to survive.” And he uses art to teach the children how to survive, not in a giving hope kind of way but in learning practical techniques to survive. When the film needs to be grim it features intense scenes captured with fast-moving track shots, tense moments, and sudden outbursts of violence. The quick changes allow for the film to express the constant and unrelenting danger that the characters face even when it seems they are safe. But while the characters encounter violence throughout the course of the film, violence is never accepted as the appropriate revenge. It’s a timely message that demonstrates that even in a world of hate, compassion and love will always win. Even the tiniest acts of compassion performed by ordinary individuals can be seen as some of the most significant acts in the world because these silent gestures carry their own power or resistance. 
     Despite the often over-wrought theatrical and socially awkward performances he has played in the past, here Jesse Eisenberg (The Art of Self Defence, Zombieland: Double Tap) proves to be perfectly cast as Marcel Marceau. His flourishes, theatrics, earnestness, and socially-awkward nature are perfectly suited for a character who gives into theatrics in order to escape the horrors of the world and is socially awkward when he has to interact with other people outside of his theatrics. But at the same time, Eisenberg delicately balances on the narrative's emotional tightrope by carefully inserting moments of either joy or sadness whenever necessary. His interactions with the children are delightful because he understands the importance of a child embracing the wonders of their childhood but he also understands that their lives are at risk too. Even during tense scenes he still manages to lighten the mood and bring the film back into focus. It is a sweet and thoughtful performance of earnest heroism. Matthias Schweighöfer's (You Are Wanted) wildly intense performance of the ruthless Gestapo agent and the “Butcher of Lyon” Klaus Barbie was terrifyingly captivating in every scene he's in. And while he regularly displays monstrous acts, his vendetta is not against Marceau specifically but rather he acts as a physical embodiment of Nazism’s evil. However, there were times when his performance seemed to be a bit much for the story. Clémence Poésy’s (Genius, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows) performance Emma, Marcel’s love interest is both magnificent and heartbreaking, while Bella Ramsey (Judy, Game of Thrones) as Elsbeth continues to impress long after she blew us away with her Game of Thrones performance as Lyanna Mormont. The rest of the cast members - Géza Röhrig as Marceau's cousin Georges, Félix Moati as Marcel’s brother Alain, Vica Kerekes as Mila, and Ed Harris (Westworld, Top Gun: Maverick) as General George S. Patton - gave solid performances, each doing their own part to help carry the story.
     Overall, Resistance (2020) is a handsomely crafted labor of love that is more of a somber tale of defiance against the Nazis than an action-packed war film. From beginning to end it is clear that writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz is incredibly passionate about Marcel's story and the accomplishments of the French Resistance. The story is captivating and the message is clear, no matter how bad things get, no matter how evil the world might seem, compassion and love will always triumph over hate. It is a film that focuses on genuine heroes and their everyday events, showcasing how their quiet and sometimes silent acts of courage carry their own power of resistance. In Marcel Marceau’s own words, “The best way to resist is to survive.”

Final Vote --- 7.5 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
Argo (2012)
Alone in Berlin (2016)
The Banker (2020)
The Book Theif (2013)
The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas (2008)
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Colonia (2015)
Dunkirk (2017)
Escape from Pretoria (2020)
Fury (2015)
Flowers of War (2011)
Hostiles (2017)
Human Capital (2019)
The Imitation Game (2014)
Papillon (2017)
The Promis (2016)
Race (2016)
The Song of Names (2019)
Unbroken (2014)
Zookeeper's Wife (2017)

May 4, 2020

The Gentlemen (2020) --- "High Crime Meets High Class."


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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Directed by Guy Ritchie (Aladdin, The Man From U.N.C.L.E) and co-written alongside Ivan Atkinson (The Man From U.N.C.L.E) and Marn Davies, The Gentlemen (2020) is an R-rated action-comedy about an American expatriate and drug lord Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). Using his unprecedented audacity and intelligent mind, Pearson built his highly profitable marijuana empire off of the impoverished English aristocracy. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out and sell his empire to fellow American ex-pat Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong), it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes from no less charming but tough gentlemen who seek to steal his domain out from under him. Of course, these gentlemanly exchanges of courtesy will not do without some shooting, bloodshed, swearing, and one or two accidents.
     The Gentlemen (2020) uses a clever framing style to tell the story of Mickey Pearson. Rather than let the story play out on its own in real-time, the film plays out like a tall tale filled with exaggerations and embellishments. The story’s narrator is the sleazy tabloid writer and would-be screenwriter Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who gloats in his vast knowledge of the intersecting criminal-drug operations happening in England and he seeks to blackmail everyone with the incriminating screenplay he's written. It’s a script within a script but this cinematic retelling of what’s happened so far via Fletcher’s pitch to Mikey’s right hand-man Ray (Charlie Hunnan) allows director Richie to provide commentary to the film without being too distracting. The Gentlemen isn’t without its charms and the film utilizes enough misdirection in order to deliver some pretty interesting twists, some of which don’t make themselves known until the very end.
     The cast performances were solid and on point. Matthew McConaughey (Serenity) is impressive as the suave and intelligent Oxford-educated, well-spoken drug lord Michael 'Mickey' Pearson. He demonstrates numerous times that he is every bit as intimidating when calm as he is when his emotions break free. Charlie Hunnam (Triple Frontier) as Mikey’s equally charming but calm right-hand-man Raymond and Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal) as the conniving and sleazy Fletcher have good chemistry together as they banter back and forth throughout most of the film. They contrast each other nicely Henry Golding (Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origin, Last Christmas) as Dry Eye and Jeremy Strong (Molly’s Game, Serenity) as Matthew Berger provide great contrast against McConaughey’s character. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) as Mickey’s wife Rosalind has great chemistry with McConaughey and she demonstrates that she is a tough badass just like her husband. Colin Farrell (Dumbo, Artemis Fowl) as Coach and the rest of the cast provide some interesting characters to the story.
     Overall, The Gentlemen (2020) is an entertaining R-rated action-comedy that is not for the faint of heart. The story utilizes a storytelling technique that provides enough commentary to be interesting but without distracting from the overall story. There are a number of twists throughout the film, some of which are not revealed until the end, and the cast performances were solid and on point throughout. If you're a fan of films like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and Legend (2015) then I highly recommend that you check out this film.

Final Vote --- 7 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
Baby Driver (2018)
Bad Boys (1995)
Bad Boys 2 (2003)
Bad Boys For Life (2020)
The Irishman (2019)
The Joker (2019)
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Kingsmen: Golden Circle (2017)
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May 1, 2020

Ready or Not (2019) --- “In A Killer Game Of Hide And Seek The In-laws Can Be Murdered.”


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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (Southbound, Scream 5) and Tyler Gillett (Southbound, Scream 5), and written by Guy Busick (Stan Against Evil, Castle Rock) and R. Christopher Murphy (Stan Against Evil, Castle Rock), Ready or Not (2020) is a comedy horror film that follows young bride Grace (Samara Weaving) as she joins her husband Alex’s (Mark O’Brien) rich and eccentric family (Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) in a time-honored wedding ritual that takes a sinister turn. Tradition dictates that as the new member of the family, Grace is required to draw a card from a special box that will determine what game they will play. Although the “Hide & Seek” card she draws may seem innocent at first, there is a catch - Grace must hide from midnight until dawn while her new in-laws hunt her down with guns, crossbows, and other weapons in order to perform a sacred ritual. While Grace desperately tries to survive the night, she soon finds her own way to turn the tables on her not-so-lovable new family. 
     Although Blumhouse Productions was not involved with this film, the directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett take a page out of the successful horror studio’s low-budget, no-frills approach. Ready or Not (2020) is a combination dark comedy meets horror thriller, possibly something that we might have gotten had Monty Python made a gothic-tinged horror film. By combining tones from other films such as The Purge (2013), Clue (1985), and more, Ready or Not manages to mix these influences into a refreshingly clever story. The story is unapologetically simple and progresses as expected, but the narrative offers its share of surprises that defy predictability by exploring every avenue for plot twists that leaves audiences breathless by the end. The story uses ridiculously shocking gore and equally, pitch-dark comedy helps accentuate its tightly-paced plot. The humor is sometimes inappropriate and oftentimes tongue-in-cheek humor like using Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” to a good and memorable effect, and yet it is both funny and believable without being slapstick. At the same time, it ensures that it includes enough gore to appease those who want it.
     In terms of the cast, Ready or Not does not feature any big-name actors, in fact, the most familiar of them all would be Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day, Four Weddings And A Funeral) as Alex’s mom Becky and Henry Czerny (Quantico, Sharp Objects) as Alex’s dad Tony, while Samara Weaving (Babysitters, The Three Billboards Outside...) Grace bears an uncanny resemblance to Margot Robbie. Out of the cast, only Czerny and Weaving are able to fully seize every second out of their screen time with Weaving being the most noteworthy. Her guttural power as the lead shows her going from the blushing bride to the final girl, while also taking the time to go through the emotional journey that it takes to get there. Mark O’Brien (Marriage Story, City Hall) is great as Grace’s husband Alex. His subtle and strong supporting performance to Weaving’s powerful lead is incredible. Adam Brody (Shazam! Promising Young Women) as Daniel, Alex’s brother, and a ne'er-do-well who always has a drink in his hand-deliver a deeply wrought performance of a character who struggles to find his place in a messed up family. He is both intolerably ineffectual and bemusing as he sympathizes enough with Grace and Alex to not truly hunt her but would rather pour another glass as the rest of the family spiral into madness.
     Overall, Ready or Not (2019) demonstrates a pitch-perfect tonal balance of dark comedy and horror-thriller. Since the film draws inspiration from a number of horror films, when the film comes to end the audience will be left breathless. The cast may not have featured big-name actors but the performances were exceptional and believable with Samara Weaving delivering one of the best performances out all of them. If Blumhouse Productions had a sibling that produced a film in the same genre then this would be the result, I highly suggest that you check out this film as you will most definitely be thoroughly entertained to the end.

Final Vote --- 7.5 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
The Babysitter (2017)
Crawl (2019)
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
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