#SpoilerFreeReviews

    Written by: Aaron (Dobler) Goldstein. Follow along on twitter.

    WENDY 🏡

    In 2012, Benh Zeitlin’s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD was my favorite film of that year and I’ve returned to watch Hushpuppy navigate the bathtub countless times.

    Sadly, Benh Zeitlin’s follow-up WENDY tries to create the same magic, yet fails to transcend to the great heights of BEASTS.

    A quote from WENDY: “All children grow up, for most it just happens like a change in the weather. But for some. The wild ones. The ones with the light in their eyes. Escape.”

    Here’s hoping that Benh Zeitlin “escapes” this misstep and makes something that once again captures that deeply-personal feeling of what it is like to be a child. Here’s hoping that he has another story in him that makes Hushpuppy proud.

    WENDY is available to rent on Amazon Prime and Apple TV

    SCOOB! 🤮

    SCOOB! Should have taken more from the latest SONIC THE HEDGEHOG playbook, where less fan service and more heart made it a far better film.

    It doesn’t take a Mystery Machine to realize the filmmakers were attempting to make a love letter to Hanna Barbera. Unfortunately, SCOOB! quickly becomes a dastardly convoluted story that would have benefited from focusing on what Scooby-Doo has always been about - friendship.

    THE HALF OF IT 🍿

    THE HALF OF IT is:

    • ½ predictable teenage CYRANO DE BERGERAC
    • ½ LGBTQ character study with a focus on friendship and family

    Combined together you get an easy to digest 50/50 blend aka Netflix’s version of the black and white cookie.

    It is currently available to stream on Netflix.

    A QUIET PLACE 🍿@Home Edition

    Five viewings later and A QUIET PLACE is still my top movie from 2018. The plot parallels with a family attempting to go outside feel oddly familiar…subbing an invisible enemy for one that can be seen.

    The film pays brilliant homage to HUSH, BUFFY the VAMPIRE SLAYER’s best episode that wasn’t a musical while adding more empathy, characters and most importantly, the struggle to try keep you and your family alive during a pandemic.

    Here’s hoping the sequel gets released in 2020…

    It is currently available to stream on Hulu.

    SING STREET 🍿 @Home Edition

    John Carney’s best film from 2016 is a pitch-perfect coming of age story full of inspirational sing-along moments.

    It’s the typical plot of a teen outcast with a troubled home life that starts a band in Ireland to get the girl. What starts as a love story about a repressed youth fighting against the establishment quickly transcends genre trappings by becoming a thank you letter to older siblings.

    During a time when we all feel stuck “sheltering-at-home, here’s a film that is so full of hope to break free, get the girl and once and for all…figure out the “Riddle of the Model.”

    It is currently available to stream for free on Vudu

    BEASTIE BOYS STORY 🍿

    Pass the mic to Ad-Rock and Mike D for the best Ted Talk of 2020.

    It is currently available to stream on Apple TV +

    BAD EDUCATION 🏠

    Is it a thriller? No, it is a docudrama…wait, maybe it is a love story? Oh, I know…it is an Oscar/Emmy bait movie with Hugh Jackman playing against type in a career defining performance.

    It is actually all of the above and director Cory Finley does what most directors cannot when they are balancing several genres - he keeps the tone masterfully even throughout the entire film. If only the script spent a bit more time creating empathy for the lead characters, I would have given it a grade A instead of a solid B.

    It is currently available to stream on HBO.

    THE WILLOUGHBYS 🍿

    Since most kids are “Sheltering-at-Home” with their parents, the release timing for Netflix’s new animated movie about getting rid of your parents seems destined to resonate with family streaming audiences over the weekend. It is a sugary blend of Roald Dahl absurdity, Lemony Snicket grimness and Wes Anderson inspired narration courtesy of a cat played by Ricky Gervais. My only calorie counting ding against the film is that it suffers at times from an unsustainable sugar high that crashes a bit before a thrilling final act.

    It is currently available to stream on Netflix.

    Reminder of the new SpoilerFreeReview ranking scale:

    • 🍿- see it now
    • 🏠- wait to stream it for free
    • 🤮 - skip it

    SNOWPIERCER @Home Edition

    Before Oscar winning director, Bong Joon Ho made PARASITE, he made the video game like 2013 indie-gem SNOWPIERCER.

    The simple premise - a failed global-warming experiment kills life on the planet. The survivors are on a train that travels around the globe, keeping them alive. The low-class live at the back and the high-class at the front…until Captain America’s Chris Evans starts a revolt.

    The film is a violently funny shot of adrenaline that is one part Terry Gilliam absurdity and another part non-stop action that would fill a Michael Bay wet-dream. If that wasn’t enough, it also surprisingly has a message about social class commentary that audiences won’t forget once they get off the train ride anytime soon.

    It is currently available to stream on Netflix and the TV series launches on TNT in May.

    SAY ANYTHING @Home Edition

    SAY ANYTHING celebrates 31 years since it was originally released on April 14th 1989 and it still remains the greatest movie of all time…for me. Since I first saw it in 1997, it has shaped my life, friendships, career, humor and musical taste.

    There are no small SpoilerFreeReviews that will do it justice. Instead, here’s my top ten list of the lessons learned in this classic film via quotes:

    1. Your parents are flawed human beings that are just trying to make good choices but can and will mess-up. “Just knowing a person like that exists, knowing that for a minute that she felt that and wrote ‘I still can’t help loving you’. That’s gotta be a good thing, right?
    2. The act of falling in and out of love…and back in again. “Nobody thinks that it will work, do they?” “No. You just described every great success story.”
    3. The fear of closing the door on your youth and moving out into the “real world.” “I’ve glimpsed our future, and all I can say is…’Go Back’…but when I think about the future, the truth is, I am really…scared”
    4. What it means to be a gentleman. “The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don’t be a guy.”
    5. The value of being in a good mood. “Why can’t you be in a good mood? How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood and be in a good mood once in a while?”
    6. Not knowing what your future career is, but being okay with that. “How many of them really know what they want, though? I mean, a lot of them think they have to know, right? But inside they don’t really know, so…I don’t know, but I know that I don’t know.”
    7. How to pitch yourself to the father of the woman of your dreams. “What I really want to do with my life - what I want to do for a living - is I want to be with your daughter. I’m good at it.”
    8. How to draw the line at seven unreturned phone calls. “I draw the line at seven unreturned phone calls.”
    9. Never give a pen to someone in a break-up. “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.”
    10. Eat healthy. “There’s no food in your food.”

    Since you cannot be in a public parking lot and kick glass out of the way for your significant other, be more like Lloyd Dobler in this time of social distancing and play “In Your Eyes” on a boombox (hopefully Sonos) from 6+ feet away. Oh, and if your name is Joe…stop lying.

    It is available to stream on Hulu.

    ROOM @Home Edition

    The 2015 indie-gem that went on to receive four Oscar nominations about a mother and her seven-year old son held captive for years inside a small room feels fitting as we are all “sheltering-at-home.” The movie proves what can be accomplished when a filmmaker works with a confined space and two actors (Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson) that bring emotional depth to the screen in #NowPressRepeat performances.

    Stream it at home on Netflix.

    TROLLS WORLD TOUR 🏠

    TROLLS WORLD TOUR attempts to follow the sequel formula to pitch perfect success with more characters, brighter animation and so many song mash-ups the movie becomes one giant sing-a-long. Yet for all the effort, it falters due to a tone-deaf convoluted plot with way too many flashbacks instead of simply just “letting the movie sing.”

    New Movie ranking system:

    • 🍿- see it now
    • 🏠- wait to stream it for free
    • 🤮 - skip it

    DONNIE DARKO @Home Edition

    Sometimes one cult classic is enough to define a filmmaker’s legacy, and that is exactly what Richard Kelly does with his giant rabbit-led coming-of-age story, DONNIE DARKO. It blends just the right amount of teen angst and science fiction mumbo-jumbo that audiences will easily forgive Kelly for all the narrative debt he does not provide an answer for once the credits roll. How does he do this? By paying audiences back tenfold with an emotionally charged climax that has urged viewers to spend countless hours searching for hidden easter egg answers via repeat viewings.

    It is currently available to stream on Tubi TV for free.

    SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD @Home Edition

    Before Lorene Scafaria made 2019’s overhyped HUSTLERS, she made 2012’s criminally under hyped SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD. The movie proves that even with a doomsday fast approaching, friendship, kindness and a ton of humor are the key ingredients for survival.

    It is currently available on Hulu Starz to stream.

    THE WAY BACK

    Two new movies this weekend and both with similar challenges - staying true to the world building it presents to the audience for the entire game.

    ONWARD dribbled away from an amazing 1st quarter, with a sleep worthy 2nd and 3rd only to return to the court for an ‘I’m not crying you’re crying’ final 4th.

    While THE WAY BACK leaves the serviceable, predictable and sentimental 1st half for a 4th quarter that fouls out, leaving audiences without what they expect from a sports movie - the sport.

    Onward

    It’s a shame the last heartfelt 20 minutes of ONWARD are so good as the rest of the film stumbles away from the magical world building it so beautifully sets up only to become a mash-up of “Fatherhood of the Traveling Pants” and Weekend at Bernies.”

    Call of the Wild

    Despite several uncanny valley issues that would make any dog howl, CALL OF THE WILD is the perfect 20th Century movie (can’t say Fox anymore)…to stream at home on Disney+.

    Sonic the Hedgehog

    Before you warp via a giant ring from this review, please understand that I have critical “blue-ball” admitting that I enjoyed the world’s favorite hedgehog’s first movie. Yes, it was as predictably safe as Green Hill Zone Act 1, but for once a property didn’t overstuff by putting too many characters in an origin story aka not putting all of the Dr. Robotnik eggs in one basket.

    Listening to my inner child video game ❤️, I recommend you spin-dash over to the cinema this weekend and bring the kids for the first big-screen worthy movie of 2020.

    Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

    With an all in performance by Margot Robbie, BIRDS OF PREY attempts to be the next DEADPOOL, but it comes up short with an unfunny / uninspiring take on Harley Quinn. The film pays homage to the animated series but owes more to the 90’s Joel Schumacher BATMAN where at anytime Arnold as Mr Freeze could’ve appeared on screen and it wouldn’t have been any better or worse.