Friday, July 15, 2016

First Time Watches: June 2016

It’s July.  The month of June is now behind us.  That means I have another month’s worth of first time watches.  These are the movies that I watched for the first time ever in June.  I had never seen them before and decided to have them go into my eyes and ears.  Now I’m letting you know what I watched and how I felt, just like I’ve done for the past few months.  This has become a routine.

The reasons that I do this are laid out in each post.  I’ll go over them again for any newcomers.  I watch fifteen to twenty new to me movies a month.  At the end of the month, I go onto Twitter and tell people my five favourites and my least favourite.  Sometimes that feels like I’m not doing justice to the other movies that I watched.  I want to say more about the movies than a simple Tweet or two listing out my favourites.  They deserve that much.  This is one of those months.

Most of the time, the first time watches are a necessity of the writing I do.  I review movies and I write about bad movies.  I sometimes contribute to other people’s columns.  In the month of June, there were eight movies that I watched for the first time that I had to write about.  That’s surprisingly low.  I expected more than that.  There were eighteen first time watches.  I guess I had a good Netflix month.  Plus I went to the theater twice.  Anyway, there are ten movies this month that I haven’t written about yet, outside of Twitter.  (Again, I don’t count letterboxd as writing)  That means that there are ten movies that I will be writing about for the first time here.  So why don’t we get to it?  Here are the eighteen movies that I watched for the first time in June 2016.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Sometimes when I watch a movie, there is one little alteration that itches at the back of my head.  I like Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.  It was a highly enjoyable horror comedy about a group of teens who were still in the Scouts that needed to save their town from zombies.  I couldn’t help thinking that the story would have been better serviced as a television series.  There was a little bit of character depth through the relationships, regrets, and high school interactions.  That stuff could have played better if presented in a longer form.  Though what’s there is solid, I can’t help thinking television would have been a better place for the story.
The Public Enemy
At the start of June, it was brought to my attention that I had only seen four movies in 2016 that were released before my birth.  That seemed insane, so I pulled out my Warner Bros. 100 years box set and found something to watch.  I decided a gangster movie starring James Cagney would be the place to get some classic movie watching in.  For the most part, I enjoyed this movie.  It has that classic set design that I love and acting that feels like acting instead of the ultra-realism that we’ve come to expect today.  The only thing I didn’t quite like was the ending.  It felt abrupt, like there should have been one more scene after it following up on what happened.  That wasn’t enough to make me dislike it.  It was just a small problem within a great gangster movie.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
This felt like the culmination of The Lonely Island’s career.  It took what they’ve done so well in music and sketch, and brought it to feature length form.  The story and music were great.  I listened to the soundtrack for about two weeks straight after seeing it and adore the songs as much now as I did when on opening night.  It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in the theater all year, even with the annoying group of teens that sat right behind me.  This will definitely be in contention for my favourite movie of the year.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
What makes this franchise special is that it is the movie version of a haunted house.  I don’t mean that it is a haunted house movie, though it is.  I mean that watching the Paranormal Activity movies tends to be like a theatrical version of walking through a haunted house at a carnival.  This experience has made the franchise stand out.  The Ghost Dimension shits all over that experience.  The movie becomes more of a haunted house movie and less of a haunted house experience.  The franchise is about the invisible stalker.  This one has a monster and shows it any chance it gets.  It takes away from the haunted house experience.  I was very disappointed.  This could have capped off the franchise in an interesting way but chose to become a standard haunted house movie instead of remaining a great haunted house experience.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
The Maze Runner isn’t a great movie franchise.  The movies are not memorable.  They don’t leave much of an impact.  They happen and are forgotten as quickly as I watched them.  Three things stand out in the movies, though.  One is the diversity of the main cast.  The group of “kids” that band together are quite diverse.  Props for that.  The cast is also good.  They aren’t exceptional, but they hold their own and are believable as their characters.  The other thing, and probably the most notable, is the action in the movies.  The Scorch Trials keeps up with the solid action of its predecessor, making for a fun watch.  It seems like the actors are doing many of their own stunts which sells how dangerous the situation is.  Good stuff.  If only the story was as good as these other things.
Mom and Dad Save the World
The title of this movie is barely accurate.  On a distant planet, an inept, unintelligent leader wanted to destroy Earth but was brought down by his own stupidity.  If anything, the dad helped to save the world.  The only reason that the mom could be included in the title is that the alien leader (played by Jon Lovitz) lusted after her.  This is not a good movie.  This is not a good movie at all.  Lovitz isn’t good when he goes full Lovitz for the entirety of a movie.  It wears thin quickly.  Also grating was that the entire movie was filled with wacky people.  There was rarely a moment with a straight man to play off of this zaniness.  It was too much and caused the movie to be as dumb as the characters.
License to Drive
The two Coreys were huge in the late 80s and early 90s.  This is the fourth of their movies together that I’ve seen.  Of course I’ve seen The Lost Boys.  I’ve seen one of its sequels.  I’ve also seen the first Dream a Little Dream.  This one felt the most 80s of the bunch, though.  It starts out as a boy crushing on a girl like most of the 1980s teen movies.  Then it became a story akin to Adventures in Babysitting.  For the most part, I enjoyed it.  Feldman and Haim play off of each other well, and it’s easy to see how they became such a good pairing.  They had chemistry.  The comedy worked pretty well, making me laugh almost the whole way through.
The Crush
Oh gosh.  This was a sexual thriller starring a 15/16 year old Alicia Silverstone as a 14 year old character who was obsessed with a 30ish year old Cary Elwes.  He fawned over her too.  This movie was disgusting.  They sexualized Silverstone’s character to the point that she got naked and her body double (since she was too young to really be naked on film) strolled from the bedroom to the bathroom while Elwes and the audience watched.  Who thought it was a good idea to sexualize a 14 year old character in an adult movie like this?  It’s hard to say anything else.  I hated it.
You know that Vince Vaughn movie Delivery Man?  It was a remake of Starbuck.  The two movies play very closely to one another.  The story beats are 90% the same.  That doesn’t take away from either movie.  There’s a weird lack of tonal consistency throughout Starbuck that is off-putting some of the time.  It will switch from broad comedy to sappy drama at the drop of a hat.  Yet, the messy tone pays off at the end with a rather emotional familial beat.  The movie ends up being quite heartwarming.  Much like Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Starbuck probably would have been better served as a television show.  You would get to know many of the children that Starbuck unknowingly fathered, and you would know them much better than in the movie.  But the movie’s still good.  Seek it out, though you should know that it’s a French Canadian movie and there are subtitles.
Lil’ Treasure Hunters
Also known as The Lil’ River Rats and the Adventure of the Lost Treasure.  This was one of those strange knock-offs of The Goonies that was made this side of 2000.  A group of kids travel down the river to find treasure so one kid can keep her house.  It doesn’t have the boobie traps but it does have the kids and the three adults chasing them.  The movie wasn’t good.  It was filled with terrible jokes, and it was clear that the director only made it because the kids wanted to be in a movie.  The one thing going for it was that it didn’t look bad.  It looked fine and it was watchable.  But it’s not good.
This will be short.  This was the 1986 movie Vampires, not the John Carpenter one.  I remember almost nothing about it.  All I remember is there were screams and it was boring.  So, yeah.  That’s Vampires.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
I didn’t plan on seeing this in theaters, but it happened.  I went out for wings with friends.  The bar is located in the parking lot of the local Cineplex.  One of the friends suggested that we go see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel after eating.  We all decided to go.  Thus, I ended up seeing the movie in theaters.  It was a CG filled extravaganza that I half enjoyed.  The one friend that was with us laughed every time Will Arnett showed up.  The soundtrack was pretty great.  I enjoyed the music.  It’s a major step up from the first movie, but still not a great addition to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.
This movie was an 80s movie made with modern comedic sensibilities.  It brought the entire Goosebumps series to life in a highly enjoyable way.  When this movie was first announced, I was wary because it would be tough to choose just one story to adapt.  Luckily, the movie didn’t stick to one story.  It was an original story that made use of many classic Goosebumps tales.  Some of them get more focus than others, of course.  Slappy (Night of the Living Dummy), the abominable snowman of Pasadena, the werewolf of Fever Swamp, and some gnomes get most of the spotlight.  There is a nice twist near the end of the movie that works exceptionally well.  I’ll be going back to this movie in the future.
That Thing You Do!
Netflix was tormenting me with this movie for months.  I’d go on there, and this would always be one of the Top Picks for me.  Written and directed by Tom Hanks.  A cast full of people I enjoy.  A catchy song.  This is a movie that should have been in my top picks because it seems made for me.  I enjoyed the movie but didn’t love it.  The fall of the band happened too quickly.  Everything happened at once, instead of being spread out.  I wish that there was a longer period of time with everything falling apart before the final uptick in story pleasantness.  Outside of that, it was pretty great.
Can’t Buy Me Love
There are so many teen romantic comedies that play out this way.  Guy is a creepy jerk.  He does something creepy and jerky to get girl to fall in love with him.  He ruins it through either being a creepy jerk asshole, or she finds out the creepy and jerky thing he did.  Then it backfires on him and people hate him.  The girl then falls for him again and they live happily into the end credits.  This is one of those movies.  I hated the main character.  He was terrible and really didn’t learn much.  He acted like an ass, got taken down a peg, and then got everything he wanted anyway.  It’s stupid.  I don’t like this story.  I kind of enjoyed the movie, but I don’t like that I enjoyed it.  I think it’s because the comedy worked.
Mark of the Witch
This was a horror movie about pre-set destiny.  A girl born out of a cult is destined to be controlled by the forces of the cult.  It followed her trying not to become a monster.  This movie is a “tell without showing” movie which made it a slog to get through.  There are moments that the character can’t remember that the audience is also not privy to.  These moments are semi-important to the story which makes it a disservice to not show what happened.  The most effective parts were the first and last five minutes which capitalized on cult stuff.  That stuff always gives me the willies.
The Stupids
I wrote about this for my Sunday “Bad” Movies blog, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here.  I just want to say that this movie is intelligent in how stupid it is.  It features dumb stuff.  There is no doubt about that.  The movie is called The Stupids.  How could it not have stupid stuff?  But the stupid stuff isn’t stupid for the sake of stupid.  It’s stupid for the sake of the Stupids.  The things happen because the family is dumb, not because the world is dumb.  They bumble through the world never noticing how dumb they are.  The world is the straight man to their antics and it works.  This movie deserves more credit for what it does.
The Spectacular Now
Did I like this movie?  Not really.  It was okay, but outside of Kyle Chandler, there wasn’t really anything that I enjoyed.  I know there are people who loved this movie.  I get that.  But I didn’t love it.  I barely liked it.  I didn’t dislike it.  It was just there.  That’s a shame.  I wanted to like it.  I like the people involved.  It didn’t happen for me, though.

That brings me to the end of another month of first time watches.  Eighteen more movies have been catalogued.  Some of them I liked, some of them I didn’t like, and one movie I outright hated.  That’s a pretty solid slate.  July is looking like it will have another interesting lineup.  I’ve seen Into the Storm, Jim Jefferies: Freedumb, and Blubberella.  I’ll have seen Ishtar, and hopefully Sharknado 4 by the end of the month.  There may also be Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Ghostbusters, or Star Trek: Beyond if I get out to see any of those, as well as a few newer Troma releases.  July will be fun.  See you next month for another bunch of first time watches.

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