Thor Love and Thunder Review

The character of Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had some films that were received very well — Thor and Thor: Ragnarok — and one that wasn’t — Thor: The Dark WorldThor: Love and Thunder is the fourth film in the franchise. Throughout Thor’s incarnation in the MCU, he had his fair share of trials and tribulations. After Endgame, he was considered fat and out of shape and went off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. This film picks up where Endgame left off, but maybe Kevin Fiege and company should have left sleeping dogs lie and see what happens with him in the next Guardians of the Galaxy film instead of making another Thor film.

Taika Waititi infused Thor: Ragnarok with his own blend of comedy that made fans of the character proud. The action was great, and the story was pretty cool. He was hoping to do the same with Thor: Love and Thunder. I’m here to say he didn’t capture the same magic he did on his last film with this new installment. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the crew of the Milano — Star Lord, Rocket, Drax, Groot, Nebula, Mantis, and Kraglin — are on some nondescript planet helping some natives fight a war for them. While that’s going on, Gorr (Christian Bale), on a different planet, sees his daughter die of thirst and blames the gods he worshipped for not saving her life. He finds a sword called the Necro Sword that channels the Dark Dimension. He vows to use this sword to take revenge on all gods. Also, on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. She seeks help from New Asgard in Tonsberg, Norway.

Taika doubles down on the humor and the zaniness that he brought to the last film in this franchise, but it doesn’t work this time around. It just feels forced and out of place in this film. Like the previous film, he brought some serious subject matter to the forefront, and those story beats were good, except they were sidetracked by the comedy schtick he added. The film’s strengths were Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher and Portman as Mighty Thor. You could say this film lacked the thunder and brought the love. The film’s title was a bit misleading because Thor was the weakest part of his own movie. Portman and Bale stole the show. It’s almost like Chris Hemsworth ran out of material as the character and didn’t know what else to do except this comedy routine. He was also pretty bad at it.

Portman is an Academy Award-winning actress, and so is Bale. You can see they took these roles seriously, Portman in her return and Bale in his first appearance in the MCU. There were scenes where these two seasoned actors brought gravitas to the screen. The subject matter involving their characters was serious here. You can see why these characters had these types of performances. It was like Hemsworth was in a different film altogether. It’s a shame because he has been as great as this character for a decade. The writing and or ad-libbing failed him and the rest of the cast because this film had the potential to be very good.

Some of the technical aspects of the film were pretty good, though, such as the whole dark dimension sequence. That was filmed beautifully. Also, the scenes of Omnipotent City where Thor met Zeus and the other gods were pretty to see. The costumes were also pretty awesome. Thor, the Mighty Thor, Gorr, and the Guardians all had pretty cool costumes and looks that befit this film and the MCU. The soundtrack was full of Guns n Roses songs, which made me happy.

I wanted to see more of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The end credits were pretty cool, but the actual end credits scene was unnecessary. Russell Crowe as Zeus was unbearably bad, and he took me completely out of the film. I don’t know why Waititi and Crowe went in this direction with these characters, as well as Thor. They just ruined the film for me.

Sometimes characters and franchises go too long, lacking the originality and stamina to keep themselves fresh and reinvigorated. I think that’s the case with Thor and Chris Hemsworth. It was clear he and Crowe were doing something completely different than Portman and Bale. The comedy routine completely ruined the movie for me, while it worked better in Thor: Ragnarok. The technical aspects like cinematography, costumes, and the soundtrack were all on point. The writing and direction, for the most part by Waititi, and the acting by Hemsworth and Crowe were what turned a promising film into a complete disaster. If the talk is true and there is another Thor movie, I hope they go in a different direction from Waititi and his schtick. I’m sick of it after seeing this film. It’s sad because I had high hopes for this film and franchise.

1 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Borlman Founder/EIC disappointment media

My Top 10 Films of 2022 Halfway Through the Year

Honorable Mentions are as Follows

X, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Julia, Hustle, The Sea Beast, Survivor, Top Gun: Maverick, Turning Red,

10: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

This film leans in on the nostalgia of Nicolas Cage and his entire persona. He is very self-deprecating regarding making fun of himself and that persona he has gained over the last few decades. The cast, most notably Pedro Pascal, is fantastic. The action-adventure aspects of the film all are fantastic This is surely one of the best films halfway through 2022

9: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

This film is an adorable cute little film that talks about big ideas within it. The voiceover cast, led by Jenny Slate and Isabella Rossellini, is phenomenal. A little personal project from Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny has become something bigger thanks to A24. Families of all ages will be able to relate to this amazing film.

8:Cha Cha Real Smooth

The idea of a young man trying to find his way in the world is one filmgoers have seen before, but not like this. Cooper Raiff infuses this film with a lot of himself, and it shows in the end result. This coming-of-age tale of a man who oversees bat mitzvahs as a way to grow as a human being is masterful. Dakota Johnson gives one of the best performances of her career. This film had a great message about caring about people and those who are not as good off as everybody else.

7: The Black Phone

Horror set in the ’70s and ’80s has become a subgenre that fans have embraced wholeheartedly. This era of film is the best there is for this genre. Scott Derrickson and Ethan Hawke have kept this genre interesting and original. The kids on bikes aspect played perfectly into the film’s plot and were very fulfilling to witness as they unfolded on screen. The twist in the story was pretty cool as well. 

6: RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt)

This is a Bollywood film I never knew I needed until I saw it. The action is never-ending, and the camaraderie between the two leads, Ram Charan and N. T. Rama Rao Jr., is one of the best I’ve seen in a film in a long time. The country of India puts out great movies, and this is another stellar example of it.

5: The Northman

This is the third film by director Robert Eggers. It might just be his most ambitious film yet. This Viking epic is filmed with backstabbing bloody action sequences and great performances from the entire cast, most notably from Alexander Skarsgard. He gives a visceral, raw performance like he has never given before. I wished this film was even longer than it was because I was completely immersed in this epic Viking take on revenge.

4: Elvis

This film is the Elvis biopic I’ve been waiting for my entire life. My mother, a huge Elvis fan, would be proud of how this film turned out. Baz Luhrmann’s style and vibe worked perfectly for this man’s incredible life. Austin Butler gives an Oscar-caliber performance, singing and dancing his way into our hearts. Tom Hanks gives a great performance as the film’s villain, Colonel Tom Parker. The first of his career. The costumes, editing, and set production are all first-rate as well.

3: Lightyear

Lightyear isn’t your daddy’s Toy Story film. It’s the origin of what made Andy in the Toy Story franchise want to buy a Buzz Lightyear action figure. The voice-over work is fantastic, especially Chris Evans, who replaces Tim Allen. The animation by Pixar, maybe the best in the business, is gritty and darker than usual. The whole grain and darker animation make for some of the best ever for this stalwart of animation Pixar.

2: The Batman

The Batman is the fourth reboot of the Batman franchise, and it’s comparable with the Christopher Nolan franchise, which was great. The whole film noir and detective aspects of the film were very good and right up my angle. The entire look and sound of the film from cinematographer Greg Fraser are gorgeous, and the music is great by composer Michael Giacchino. It has a vibe of Se7en and Zodiac, both from David Fincher, with a modern-day flair. Robert Pattinson gives one of the best performances of his career as this darkly torn crime fighter. The rest of the cast, including Colin Farrell, Zoe Kravitz, John Turturro, Geoffrey Wright, and Paul Dano, are all fantastic. This film is great on all levels.

1: Everything Everywhere All At Once

This is the real multiverse film we needed this year. The Daniels — Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — have given the world the best movie thus far this year. It had such a crazy wild vision that it’s hard to describe. The performance by Michelle Yeoh is the best of an actress so far this year. The rest of the cast is also fantastic, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan. This film is an ode to family in all its crazy wild purifications. Our family is our family, whether we want them to be or not. The multiverse action is off the charts as well. Hopefully, this amazing film will stand the test of time, and I’ll be talking about it come 2023 for a bunch of Academy Awards nominations

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media.com

Minions: The Rise of Gru Review

The Despicable Me franchise and the Minions spin-off have had relatively great success over the past decade and a half or so. These films have helped Illumination become one of the best animation studios in the business. Their version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the Sing films are amazing. Like many animation studios, they like to cast the biggest names as voiceover talent in their movies. Steve Carrell is one of the best comedians in the business, so he was the perfect actor at the time to launch a new animated franchise, similar to Mike Myers in Shrek and Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda. The newest installment proves that theory true.

In Minions: The Rise of Gru, the story picks up with Felonious Gru (Steve Carrell) being a little kid with big dreams of becoming the biggest master villain of all time. His idol is a man named Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin). He’s the leader of a super villain group known as The Vicious 6. They consist of Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Severance (Dolph Lundgren), Stronghold (Danny Trejo), Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless, and Jean Clawed (Jean Claude Van Damme), in the best casting yet in this film. They have plans of their own to rule the world, so they release Wild Knuckles of his duties as the leader of the group. Gru wants to join them, so he inevitably gets mixed up in their scheme. With Gru comes his trusty Minions, Kevin, Bob, Stuart, and Otto. You know these guys are going to cause a major problem who mess with Gru, and that’s what happens.

I’m a sucker for films that take place in the ’70s. I love the whole ’70s vibe in this film. The clothes and cars, and hairstyles are all spot-on. Along with the look of the film also comes the music. This film has all the classic ’70s songs we’ve come to remember and more. The idea of this prequel film taking place in this period makes perfect sense. Having this film set here allows for a lot of creativity for the writers and director of the film. They knew they had a lot to play with. The animators worked well in this area as well.

The voiceover cast in this film is incredible. It’s always cool to try to pick out the various a-list celebrities the filmmakers have chosen to play the various roles in the film. The standouts include Alan Arkin and Taraji P. Henson as two members of the Nefarious 6. A few perfectly cast were actual tough guys and gals, namely Jean Claude Van Damme. He has a French accent and all. A couple of newer characters at this particular time in history are Dr. Nefario, voiced by Russell Brand once again, and Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh), who’s having a great year so far. This voiceover cast is one of the strong points of a film with a lot of them.

This film has a James Bond vibe to it also that I loved. There is a cold opening just like a Bond film, and the whole villain vibe and so forth leans in on this entire aspect of spy films. Put that together with the ’70s vibe, and you have a very fun adventure film the whole family can get behind. The kids can enjoy all the Minions’ funny, wacky, zany antics while the adults can enjoy the spy stuff, the ’70s, and all the James Bond stuff. This film has a multi-layered approach to storytelling, and all of the subplots and various story beats work very well to help tell this early story in Gru’s life. 

Minions: The Rise of Gru is a fun adventure film that leans heavily on a James Bond aesthetic while also being true to what the Despicable Me franchise has set up before. Five years have passed between films in this franchise, and it shows in the storytelling aspect. This entire film was well thought out and implemented to perfection. With a lead voice actor like Steve Carrell at the head, it shows what good thought can go into something, and it can work out in the end. The ’70s vibe and all that jazz were fun to watch. The villain aspect of the film is always a major plus. The Nefarious 6 were all pretty cool. And I loved hearing all the various voiceover cast cut it up throughout the film. Minions: The Rise of Gru was another entertaining addition to this already enjoyable long-time franchise.

4 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

The Phantom of the Open Review

There is one thing about movies that I have always loved: a little slice of life story that I may have never heard that gets the big-screen treatment. Sony Pictures Classics is good for bringing these types of stories to life. The Phantom of the Open is such a film. I’m sure many people were like me and didn’t know anything about the man depicted in this film, but after watching it, they will.

Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) is a pretty generic man living a rather mundane life in England. He’s a heavy machinery operator who lives with his wife, Jean (Sally Hawkins), and their three sons Michael (Jake Davies), who works at the same place his dad works, Gene, and James, twins who like to disco dance. One day, Maurice sees that you don’t have to be a professional golfer to apply to play at the British Open, so he takes up the game of golf and registers for the tournament.

Even though Rylance’s character has support from his family and friends to do this unusual thing late in his life, he finds out very quickly that there are people, such as Mr. Mackenzie (Rhys Ifans), who don’t want him anywhere near the hallowed grounds of a British Open golf course. Ifans’s character will stop at nothing to have Rylance’s character removed from playing ever again and get him banned. However, this doesn’t stop Flitcroft because he’s determined to learn the game and get better, enabling him to play at The Open.

The cast of the film is excellent, from the best being Rylance himself to Hawkins and Ifans. Even the small character actors’ roles are pretty good. Every actor plays a role in this odd, strange man’s story. The film uses a trickle framing device of Rylance’s character sitting down for an interview and telling his story to a television reporter. This is very effective in getting his story across to viewers. It’s a pretty straightforward biopic in that sense.

I’ve seen underdog sports stories before, but this one is a little unconventional because of the man the film is depicting. He’s a bit quirky, and Rylance brings his Academy Award-winning talents to the forefront. The visual style is a little different, too, with a few CGI sequences that are a bit jarring because I didn’t expect to see them. They just add to the fact that this man’s story isn’t a normal one, so the film shouldn’t be either. 

As far as golf movies go, I’ve seen better, but this film has a loving and sweet nature to it. Rylance shows why he won an Academy Award in the past with this touching soft-hearted performance. The rest of the cast is solid as well. The story is engaging and interesting once it gets going. The visual style of the film is nice too. The Phantom of the Open isn’t anything that will blow people away, but it has an innate ability to draw you in, entertain, and engross you. It did for me.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Black Phone Review

Stephen King is considered one of the world’s best novelists. He has created some of the best horror and pop culture novels of the last fifty or so years. His credits are numerous. That can’t be said about his son Joe Hill. The Black Phone is based on his story, though, and a new horror legend is about to be born into the horror film genre. This is Scott Derrickson’s follow-up to Doctor Strange since he was unceremoniously discharged from Multiverse of Madness. He also gets to work with his Sinister collaborators Ethan Hawke and C. Robert Cargill once again. Here’s hoping The Black Phone repeats that success.

In North Denver, Colorado, there is a kidnapper of children running amuck named The Grabber (Ethan Hawke). He waits until his victims are walking alone to grab them. He eventually grabs a 13-year-old boy named Finney Shaw (Mason Thames), who he keeps in his basement. This isn’t the weirdest part, though. Finney gets calls from an unconnected black phone while he’s being held prisoner in the cellar. He must figure out who’s calling him and what it all means.

The setting of the film and the look of the film were what sucked me in right away. The ’80s have always had a soft spot in my heart because it’s when I grew up. Kids on bikes is a subgenre of action-adventure, and in this case, it leads into a horror film. So these genres were mixed very well, along with a detective investigation. Derrickson seemed right at home with all of these genres.

The cast beside the two leads was so good. Mainly the kids. The sister of the main kid in the film, Gwen Shaw (Madeleine McGraw), was excellent. Her story parallels her brother in a side plot — they were like a yin and yang to each other. The other kids in the film were pretty cool as well. They all had different personalities of their own, and they don’t resemble anyone else in this film. They are all distinctly different and original from one another. The character actors we’ve seen before, like Jeremy Davies, James Ransone, and E Roger Mitchell, were all nice additions that complimented the kids very well.

Two of the best aspects of this film I can’t say enough about are the cinematography by Brett Jurkiewicz and the original music by Mark Korven. The film has a grain and shadowy look to it that makes it look authentic to this time in American history. The greyness of the sky and the backdrop fit perfectly for the film. The music brought a moody yet original sound to the film. During the ominous scenes, the music seemed more dreadful, and during other parts, it was lighter for the children it followed in the film.

Even though there were a lot I liked about this film, there were a couple of things I didn’t like. In one scene where the main boy’s sister is running out of the house, she’s just running in place. I don’t know if this was intentional or if the editors missed this in the editing process. Another aspect I wasn’t on board with was the clunky dialogue at the beginning of the film. As the film moved forward, the acting and dialogue were much better for everybody involved in the movie.

Ethan Hawke is like a sponge as an actor. He absorbs everything he needs to become each of his characters. He knew he needed to be big and over the top but still be an evil presence on camera. He so easily transitions from film to film and character to character. Having already worked with Derrickson before, these two probably already have a shorthand with one another. They both know what they want from a scene and or character, and it shows very evidently onscreen in the film. He is amazing as a villain that could be an afterthought in the context of the film.

The Black Phone fits perfectly in the world and time it takes place in. The cinematography and original music both set a tone for how this film should look and sound. The cast, mostly kids, were all fantastic, especially Thames and McGrew. Ethan Hawke does what he always does: he molds into his character with the precision of a seasoned professional he is. Derrickson fit this film into a few different genres, and they all worked together perfectly. This film will be one horror fans will love and general audiences will embrace. The horror renaissance continues on with this film.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Mr. Malcolm’s List Review

Sometimes various genres of film are bigger than the medium in some ways. One of those genres is the period piece set in the colonial era here in America or overseas in Great Britain. Films like Pride and PrejudiceSense and SensibilityHowards End, and Emma and shows like Bridgerton and Dickinson have made the females in the world flutter. This period is said to be a romantic era in history. Mr. Malcolm’s List is another film in this genre by the author Suzanne Allen.

Mr. Malcolm (Sopé Dìrísù) is a rich man in England who is looking for a bride. The problem is he has a list that he goes by to determine if the woman he is courting is suitable for him. One woman, Julia Thistlwaite (Zawe Ashton), finds out about the list and decides to get revenge on him for scorning her and being so picky with his choices. She calls a friend, Selina (Frida Pinto), to help her with this ruse. 

This film has a tranquility about it that makes it a lovely little film. The world is beautiful, and the setup of the story is perfect. The characters are quite interesting, and the dialogue they say works pretty well in the context of the film. The director Emma Holly Jones adapts Allen’s novel with a very fine-tooth comb. She doesn’t go crazy with the material. She lets the story do the heavy lifting. 

The cinematography and costumes from the craft point of view are very good. The lighting is exquisite — every scene is lit perfectly. It doesn’t matter if a scene is outside in the British air or in a ballroom — they all look gorgeous. The costumes are great in this film. Each character has their own style within the colonial style of men’s and women’s wear. The colors jump off the screen in the various dresses and suits the characters wear. This works perfectly within the style Jones is going for in this film. I love when the characters look the part within the context of the film.

These types of romantic films have to make the romantic entanglements make sense, and this film does just that. The particular peculiarities of the main character are out front, so the viewer shouldn’t have a problem understanding his decision process regarding how he chooses the woman he wants to be with for the rest of his life. It’s not an easy choice, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. If more men and women thought like this, we wouldn’t have so many divorces and children out of wedlock or couples who have no business being together in the first place.

The supporting cast of the film is a nice addition to the film. Theo James plays a friend of all parties involved, but he finds himself caught in the middle of this matrimonial struggle. Oliver Jackson-Cohen is a cousin who brings a little bit of comic relief to a relatively serious film. And in a film such as this, there have to be some parents, and Dirisu’s character’s mother is one of the better mother characters in a movie like this I’ve seen. She brings good advice to the main character.

Mr. Malcolm’s List is a delightful little romantic period piece set in the 1800s. All the actors were very good in their roles. The crafts like the cinematography and the costumes are all excellent in this film. The look of the film is exquisite, and the costumes are wonderful to look at on the various characters within the film. This film does a great job creating swoon, and the ladies should enjoy it as much as I did. 

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Elvis Revew

I don’t remember much about my mother, except that she was a very sick woman who died very young. One of the things I do remember about her was she would load all the kids — my brothers, my sister, and I — into whatever car we had at the time, usually a station wagon, and we would take day-long trips throughout New England. Sometimes to Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine. Those were good memories of a childhood filled with trauma. Gas was cheap back then, unlike today, a dollar and change. While we were driving, we played the oldies station. In the ’70s and ’80s, the ’50s and ’60s channel was considered “the oldies.” Elvis’s songs played quite a bit, and we sang along with them. My mother was a huge Elvis Pressley fan. That makes this film very special to me, a long-time fan of his growing up. Finally, we’ve got what seems like a genuine Elvis Pressley film worth talking about.

Elvis Pressley (Chaydon Jay, Austin Butler) is a young kid growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in Black neighborhoods, so he gets exposed to soul music and country music at the same time. He gets inspired to become a singer and entertainer. Using what he learned from his childhood, he goes out with his band. While playing a little Hayride show, he gets noticed by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), a music agent. Together, they change the music industry and create a style of music no one has ever been able to duplicate. 

Baz Luhrmann has been a pretty prolific director. He has made some pretty good films in his career and some bad ones. Elvis might just be the best film of his career. His district style is at the forefront of this biopic. He creates a world that Elvis exists in that is pretty cool and unique. I don’t think anybody could have made the story of Elvis like Luhrmann did. It has some black-and-white sequences, animated sequences, and even the words and title sequences pop off the screen in cool and amazing ways. His style for this film is second to none.

The editing of this film by Jonathan Redmond and Matt Villa is phenomenal. It is the best editing I’ve seen in a movie in years, with no comment about another biopic that won an editing Academy Award. This film deserves an Academy Award nomination in this category. More editing isn’t always better, but in the case of Elvis, it definitely is. As much editing there is in this film, there are also a lot of costume changes. The costumes by Cathrine Martin are another aspect of this film that is amazing. She had her hands full with all the different outfits Elvis wore and the rest of the cast. She deserves an Academy Award nomination as well. These costumes were unbelievable.

I always wanted a great Elvis biopic. Sure we got 10,000 Miles to Graceland and another tv Elvis biopic starring Kurt Russell as Elvis, but we never got a true Elvis biopic for the big screen until now. I could never have imagined an actor who could portray Elvis as good as Austin Butler. He’s a relative newcomer to acting, but this role will put him on the map. He gives the best performance of the year by an actor and is the frontrunner for Best Actor at the Academy Awards next year. He embodied Elvis in a way that can only be described as perfection. He gets the voice down and nails the gyrations and dance moves the King has become known for. He also sings all the songs Elvis has become known for as well. He is going to be hard to beat for that Best Actor Academy Award, that’s for sure.

If Austin Butler is considered the best lead performance of the year, then Tom Hanks might just give the best supporting acting performance of the year as a villain. This character helped Elvis become who he is, but not without thinking about himself. He makes decisions to help Elvis, but that benefit him as well. His sinister ways are very subtle and reserved until he has to give the character some spunk and a southern drawl that seems so spot on. Hanks could be up for his first best-supporting actor win, which would be his third win overall. Right now, he’s the frontrunner.

The set production and songs in the film are fantastic as well. The soundtrack supports the already iconic Elvis catalog of songs and mixes in very nicely. Along with Butler and Hanks, the supporting cast compliments them very well. Kelvin Harrison Jr. plays BB King, Dacre Montgomery is Steve Binder, Luke Bracey is Jerry Schilling, and Olivia Delonte is Pricilla Presley. These are just some of the fantastic actors and actresses who co-star opposite the two main stars. These actors could have gotten lost in this with such great performances by the two leads, but they complement them perfectly.

Elvis is the best musical biopic I’ve seen since Rocketman. Austin Butler and Tom Hanks give phenomenal performances to anger this amazing film. This film is filled with men and women who deserve Academy Award nominations, especially the editors and the costume designer. So many aspects of this film are terrific, and Baz Luhrmann deserves a lot of credit for that. He has made a film that rivals his best films, such as Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby. His style comes to the forefront and compliments Elvis’s life perfectly. This film is phenomenal and is one of the best of the year. Will it stand the test of time and get all the Academy Awards it deserves? We will see. My mother would be proud of the film we got. I surely am.

5 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande Review

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is an audacious film that deals with subject matter that isn’t talked about enough in Hollywood — the human body and how we as a society deal with our own bodies and how others perceive us and what we look like with and without our clothes on. This film opened at the Sundance Film Festival 2022 and streams this week on Hulu.

Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson), an older woman, is a retired school teacher who has lost her husband. She’s alone and decides to call a sex service and requests Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack), a young Black man. The two hit it off even though there is an apparent age and cultural background difference between the two. Between three meetings, these two get to know each other on many different levels.

Age is always taboo in Hollywood, especially when paired with sex. This film examines how age and sex can be linked together constructively. Loneliness is debilitating for some, especially older people who’ve lived a long, happy life with their significant other. Sometimes this means exploring other avenues to be satisfied and or happy again. This film adeptly deals with these topics and doesn’t shy away from the hard questions.

On the flip side, the film also deals with another topic that is usually tiptoed around in films: sex workers. Sometimes it is a blatant thing, like in Pretty Woman, where the main character is clearly a prostitute, and in this film, Leo Grande talks about fulfilling dreams and making his customers happy. Each customer has different things they need from him. In this case, Thompson’s character needs him to assure her that she’s worth something and still desirable no matter what her head tells her or what she sees in a mirror.

We all have that moment where we’re in the shower and say to ourselves, “This is what I look like without clothes on? I guess I have to live with my body or do something about it.” Loneliness can be a midfield of regret and lost opportunities that we either have to live with or do something about. If you are happy with your life, keep living it and try to find meaning in whatever you’re doing. If you’re not satisfied, go out and do something that makes a difference in how you live your life.

Emma Thompson, Academy Award-winning actress for Howards End, and Daryl McCormack, a relative newcomer, are both fantastic in this film. They are not afraid to go to different levels with these characters that aren’t easy to go to. They, with their performances, do a lot of heavy lifting. They don’t shy away from asking the viewer hard questions like how we would react in these situations. They handle this material like seasoned veterans. 

This film examines topics that aren’t typically talked about in big movies. Writer Katy Brand and the director Sophie Hyde deliver an examination into our own lives rarely seen these days. Dealing with topics of self-worth and body image isn’t easy in films, but they handle it with ease and an adept hand like seasoned pros. If this is the kind of film these two can make, I look forward to their future work.

41/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Jerry and Marge Go Large Review

think I would be saying a lot if I said the majority of Americans could generally benefit from winning the lottery. A movie back in the 90s came out called It Could Happen to You, starring Nicolas Cage and Rosie Perez. More often than not, you hear about people who won that are now broke from winning the lottery. In this film, Jerry & Marge Go Large, the people are pretty smart about winning the lottery.

Jerry and Marge Selby (Brian Cranston and Annette Benning) are your average couple. They have kids that are all grown up, and Jerry is about to retire from his job at Kelloggs in Michigan. Marge is a stay-at-home wife. After retiring, Jerry was bored one day and decided to play the Win Fall Lottery. He just happens to notice a mathematical loophole in the lottery system. So he enlists his wife to help him invest in this chance to win big and create a better life for himself and his wife.

These types of stories are pretty interesting because if you are not local to Michigan or Massachusetts, where this story takes place, you wouldn’t know anything about it unless you see the movie. This film reminds me of a film from last year called Dream Horse, about a group of people who invest in a racehorse, hoping it will win big. It’s a slice-of-life story. This particular story has some ups and downs that keep it interesting to the end.

The story in this film is fine, and I think audiences will enjoy it, but the real draw that this film has is the cast. The two main actors — Bryan Cranston and Annette Benning — are both seasoned professionals who have been nominated for Academy Awards and other accolades. At first glance, this could have been a throwaway role for both of them. They don’t let it be, though. They give it their all and totally invest in the film and the story it’s trying to tell.

The film has a nice story and a good cast of actors who’ve been around the bloke. As a film Paramount is putting on their streaming service, this is a fine addition to their original programming. These services like Paramount+ need good original material like the offer and this film to attract subscribers. Sure, all the Star Trek content and movies coming out of theatrical runs like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also bring viewers to the service, but its original content with big-name stars that will have people coming back for more and more.

Jerry & Marge Go Large isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or anything. It’s a nice slice of life true story. Its seasoned cast performs very well, especially Cranston and Benning. Paramount doesn’t have an Academy Award-worthy film on their hands, but they have a good little film they can throw on their streaming service and get some viewership that way. I enjoyed this film for what it is and for what it was trying to do and say.

3 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Lightyear Review

Pixar has taken over the animation sphere since Toy Story came out in the mid-’90s. They have created films that children and adults can relate to on different levels. These films have transcended the animation genre and have become a part of the filmmaking community like no other animated films have. Pixar has had three of its films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and they hope that Lightyear, based on the character originating from the Toy Story franchise, is the fourth.

The film starts with a few lines of dialogue on screen explaining where this character came from and then goes right into his story. Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) is a member of the star command. He is one of many on a ship affectionately dubbed “The Turnip” because of its shape. When the ship passes a nearby planet, it senses that it might be inhabitable, so it releases two members of its crew to go down to the planet to explore and see how inhabitable it truly is. The other space cadet the ship releases from stasis is Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), Buzz’s friend and sidekick in Star Command. Together they explore this new planet and get a not-so-pleasant surprise.

Pixar/Disney has revolutionized the animation genre. They have made animation films look almost real. The characters look so real it’s sometimes uncanny. In Lightyear, the animation has a layering and shadowing effect I’ve never seen before. The shading of the animation is incredible. The blacks and greys stand out so vividly. The dirt on characters just jumps out off of the screen. There is even one scene where Buzz is looking out of a window, and his reflection is seen in the window, and it’s absolutely stunning to look at. Pixar has done it again in this film. The computer animation is flawless.

One of the things about Pixar films I’ve always liked is how they are relatable to many different audiences and demographics. They can still entertain children while adults get an entirely different message from the same film. Films like Wall-ERatatouille, and Up have demonstrated that animated films can be multi-layered and cross boundaries of what animated films can say. The Toy Story films are on a different level, though. People of all ages have gravitated towards the friendship of these two oddball toys and their ragtag group of friends. Lightyear takes this to the next level by explaining who and why Buzz Lightyear is the way he is.

The friendship and camaraderie are back again for this film like the four previous Toy Story films — the only difference is it’s a different group of ragtag friends that have to go on a mission to defeat Zurg and his army of robots. This group consists of the granddaughter of Alisha Hawthorne, Izzy Hawthorne (Kiki Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), and Darby Steel (Dale Soules). These people are thrown together through a confluence of events and have to help Buzz Lightyear defend the planet. It’s a bit of a learning curve for these oddballs, but they get their acts together by the end of the film to start working together as a team.

One particular character that adds quite a bit of comedic relief and levity to a film that is serious at times because of the nature of the story is Sox, the robotic cat (Peter Sohn). Sox has so many funny lines and creates a friendship with Buzz Lightyear I just couldn’t help but admire. If you weren’t a cat person before this film, you would be afterward. This cat’s cuddly nature is off the charts, and just when you thought he couldn’t get any cooler, he does. He just knows what to say and do at the right moments every time during the film. And the reasoning behind Sox is pretty damn terrific as well. I’m sure audiences will adore Sox just as much as I did.

Lightyear does something that all films should do. It evokes an emotional response and brings the audience to places they rarely go in their lives. When they enter the theater, they should be entertained, wowed, laugh, or cry. These are emotions that Lightyear brings to the screen. Pixar has done it again by the sheer awesomeness of the character of Buzz Lightyear. The way this character is written and portrayed by Chris Evens is nothing short of brilliant. We feel what he’s going through from the beginning to the end of the film. That is a rarity for an animated character to evoke that much emotion from the audience. Our empathy for him and his mission is through the roof, which is another key to why this film and Pixar films in general work so well. I loved this film so much!

5 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media