Hey, guys! Wow. I have been the worst about sticking to my schedule lately, huh? Sorry to disappear for almost a full week! But I’ve returned, and I have a couple of pretty good ones to talk about for this pair of reviews. They are basically on opposite ends of the genre spectrum, but, hey, variety is the spice of life, right? But enough chitchat. Let’s sing a Duet!
Ricki and The Flash
Synopsis: “A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her family.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Meryl Streep. Like, duh. She’s flawless in pretty much everything she does, and there’s no exception here. A rocker by night, a grocery store clerk by day, and a mother with a lot of regrets, Streep’s Ricki is a colorful character who is fun to watch grow and change throughout the film. Her opinions and choices are almost cringeworthy sometimes, yet she is charming and likable nonetheless. And her scenes with bandmate Greg (Rick Springfield) are surprisingly touching.
- The band. There are actually some really fantastic cover songs in this film—to the point that I kind of want to check out the soundtrack, actually. Lots of fun rock jams that will keep you tapping your toes. Streep’s singing doesn’t disappoint.
- The feel-good nature of the film. I don’t really go to a lot of films like this because I find them too sappy or generic or whatnot, but I don’t know…This one just worked for me. For the most part, it was just the right amount of feel-good. It might not work for everybody, but it worked for me.
The Low Notes:
- The stepmother, Maureen (Audra McDonald). Like, this woman is almost a caricature. She’s uptight, she’s a little too perfect, and she’s clearly there solely to create a rift between Ricki and the rest of her family. I wish she had a little more depth than that because I can tell McDonald is capable of much more.
- Writer Diablo Cody doesn’t seem quite as on point here. When I think of Cody, I automatically think of Juno and Jennifer’s Body—films where Cody’s writing is sharp, witty, and very much geared toward teenagers. And maybe that last bit is the problem. Maybe when Cody writes for adults instead of teenagers, it falls a bit flat. It wasn’t bad, really. I just expected slightly better, more memorable dialogue.
- The ending is a little too perfect. I know I said I enjoyed the feel-good nature of it, but I still felt like the ending ought to have packed a little more punch. But I won’t talk about that too much for fear of spoilers.
The Staccato Version: I enjoyed Ricki and The Flash. Maybe it won’t be garnering any awards come Oscar season (unless it happens to get a nomination for Streep, but even that seems unlikely), yet it’s still a pleasant musical dramedy that certainly isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon. If you’re a fan of Streep, I don’t think you’d regret purchasing a matinee ticket to hear her jam to some great rock hits.
My Grade: B+
Synopsis: “A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- The incredibly creepy grandparents. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a terrifying pair of old people. While Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) is a more subtle, unsettling kind of creepy, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) is full-blown terrifying at some points. They keep things very tense, and it’s delightful.
- The liberal doses of comedy. Really, this film is as much a comedy as it is a horror at some points. Granted, it’s fairly dark comedy, but it’s still effectively balanced with the creepier moments in the film to make it a thoroughly entertaining ride.
- THAT TWIST. Okay, so because this is an M. Night Shyamalan movie, we all knew a big twist would be coming. But this is one of the best twists I’ve seen in a long time. I didn’t see it coming at all. I went to see this film with a friend, and when this twist was revealed and we realized exactly what was going on, we both just gasped and gaped at the screen. It ratchets up the tension tenfold. Seriously, I think this is Shyamalan’s best twist since The Sixth Sense.
The Low Notes:
- For me, the kids are a little annoying sometimes. Becca (Olivia DeJonge) has a tendency to be a know-it-all, and her brother Tyler’s (Ed Oxenbould) wanna-be rap star thing gets old pretty fast. I definitely didn’t dislike the kids or anything, but they just wore on me a bit.
- If you’re expecting big, memorable scares, this might not be for you. Personally, that wasn’t a problem for me because I went in not expecting that kind of film. It’s a more subtle kind of horror film—still creepy, but not nightmare-inducing or anything.
- The ending could pack a little more punch. Hmm. I just said that with Ricki and The Flash, didn’t I? Either endings are just hard to get right or I’m too picky. Whatever this case, this ending wasn’t the strongest part of the film. Even so, it was far from a bad ending. Again, though, I won’t spoil it for you. 😉
The Staccato Version: I realize October is right around the corner, so this statement is subject to change, but this is one of my favorite horrors of the year so far. It doesn’t quite surpass It Follows, in my humble opinion, but it is miles beyond Poltergeist. Plus, as I said, the twist is amazing. Guys, it’s Shyamalan’s comeback! If you’ve been waiting to hear those words for the last 10+ years like I have, then I highly recommend going to see The Visit.
My Grade: B+