April 13, 2023

What We’re Watching: April 14, 2023


The whole family had a lot of fun with The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) and enjoyed it for what it was. For lifelong fans of Mario games like us, especially me and my son – who himself has played through every mainline Mario game including “The Lost Levels” – we enjoyed how much Mario “lore” they included.  We had so much fun that when we got home we were in the mood for, and played some, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and even Wrecking Crew after the movie nicely incorporated that early Mario title into the story. Chris Pratt received a lot of flack when he was cast as Mario, but he affects enough of a NY accent that his voice didn’t take me out of the movie. And you’d never know it was Keegan Michael Key or Fred Armisted in their roles either. Seth Rogan and Jack Black tampered down their voices for character, but they still stuck out more than the others. But yes, the plot is fairly thin and standard, there was little to no character development, and without the goodwill of the property I can see how viewers may not enjoy it as much as us. My biggest complaint is that like every other Illumination Studio movie, the filmmakers unnecessarily ONCE AGAIN used tired pop songs to “accentuate” what is going on. With so much great Super Mario music available – and they used quite a lot and with some terrific new arrangements – this movie especially did not need those pop songs. Illumination – please stop using tired pop songs and do what better animation studios do instead – write better scripts that don’t need pop songs to elicit emotion from the audience.


If Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) were a straight fantasy flick, I might have given it a pass. But because the trailers promised it to be a medieval Guardians of the Galaxy, I had to check it out. Some might find it too jokey, but I loved the D&D‘s humour and irreverent tone, and in truth it more resembles Monty Python than Marvel for the most part. Chris Pine is an obvious but reliable choice as the wise-cracking lead, and he’s as likeable as always, and Michelle Rodriguez seems to be having a ball as his much-tougher and smarter partner-in-crime. The plot is fairly standard fantasy stuff, but the good humour and great supporting cast (Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Rege-Jean Page and especially Hugh Grant) make for a fun two-and-a-bit hours.


In my perhaps ill-fated quest to watch the whole filmography of Nick Frost, I watched a two-part BBC miniseries, Money (2010). Based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Martin Amis, Money tells the pseudo-true story of John Self (played by Nick Frost), a television ad director who is on his way to America to direct his first feature film. Set in the 1980s, the story is a predictable tale of money corrupting all. Self tries to navigate his way through it all and make a worthwhile film, but Self wasn’t a good person to begin with–he berates flight attendants, picks fights at strip clubs, and is a raging alcoholic. He also surrounds himself with awful people, including an unfaithful girlfriend and a brownnosing movie producer. The series dawdles around until the final act, when something suspenseful finally occurs. But for the most part, this is a predictable, low-energy affair that tries to recreate the vibes of something like Scarface or Boogie Nights, but as a BBC TV production, it nevers reaches those same heights of excess and extravagance. The series is little-known today, and maybe it should stay that way. Not recommend.





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