25. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
So, you may not have heard about this, but apparently this has actually been making a fair amount of money lately? Yeah, weird right? You heard it here first folks. That said, honestly… it kinda deserves it. It really is a very entertaining family blockbuster with a very rewatchable quality. Even as someone who personally liked TLJ more, I entirely get why that movie’s legs have comparatively stalled compared to how people keep watching this again and again. Because it is very pleasant and watchable.
Heck, it’s especially kinda weird for me to see this be so enjoyed and do so well because I genuinely hated the trailers and the general premise at first. An adaptation of a classic adventure movie being replaced with bunch of teenagers being sucked into a videogame? Yeah, that sounded like a very hard pass for me when I first heard it, The Rock be damned. But when I finally managed to watch the actual film itself (after being delayed like 2/3 weeks by a bunch of stuff), I had to admit it really made it work, in large part thanks to its strong character writing, good humour, excellent acting and chemistry and a nice sense of adventure that very few blockbusters are capable capture nowadays. So kudos on that.
That said, while I’m distinctly not looking forward to this being inevitably milked out into a franchise by Sony, because that company has been fairly shite with its franchises lately, this was still a very fun ride and deserves every cent it made.
(Although seriously, if they announce a Jumanji Cinematic Universe, I’m out.)
Okay, I’ll admit I’m a complete sucker for these sorts of inspiring stories about real-life civil rights figures. I’m also a sucker for courtroom dramas. Combine the two, add Chadwick Boseman/Black Panther playing a totally suave, real-life badass in the form of the titular Thurgood Marshall, a lawyer for the NAACP (who later became the first black judge on the Supreme Court). and you’d better believe I’m going to enjoy it. Sure, it’s about as standard a movie as you can get for this genre. Sure it doesn’t exactly have much new or interesting to say about race or the like. And sure it’s hella awkward that like 50% of the story is focused on the Josh Gad’s schluppy white protagonist. But the writing is honestly pretty damn solid, the story is interesting and Chadwick Boseman is cool as hell in the titular role.
So yeah. I liked it. I’m not going to claim it’s a revolutionary movie for this sort of genre or that it lives up to same standards of something like 12 Years a Slave or Selma, but as a look into the accomplishments of a lesser known inspiring civil-rights figure, it’s still pretty damn good..
23. The Big Sick
Funny. Very very funny. Very very very funny.
(I’unno, it was like 3am when I wrote this bit and I couldn’t really think of all that much to say. It’s a good movie, okay?)
22. Captain Underpants
Okay, this one was genuinely a very pleasant surprise. I was actually a pretty big fan of the Captain Underpants books back when I was a kid, but even I wasn’t entirely certain what Dreamworks were smoking when they decided to make a movie about it. Especially, y’know, since it was about 10 years too late to really capitalize on the series. And the trailers, while not terrible, didn’t really do all that much to convince me to see the movie either. Yet when I finally decided to bite the bullet and check it out, I was surprised by a genuinely fun and creative movie that reminded me exactly why I liked the books so much as a kid in the first place.
See, one of the great things they really captured from the book that really helped make the movie in my opinion (aside from, y’know, being really genuinely quite funny) was both the camaraderie/genuine sense of friendship between the two main kids and, even more than that, that weird and wild sense of creativity you often have as a kid. Watching these two friends just putting their heart and soul into their amateurish and scribblings and seeing how much fun they all seemed to have making their comics just brought back memories of my own childhood and the weird and silly characters I drew as a kid (My personal favourites were the Snails in Black. Who were Men in Black but snails. Because that idea was practically mindblowing genius to an 8 year old. (And they were easy to draw))
But even aside from that, there’s still plenty of other things to love about Captain Underpants as well. The humour is funny (to me at least), the animation smooth (if a bit basic) and there’s just a pervasive sense of childish fun to the whole thing that makes it really enjoyable. I’ve not seen Boss Baby (and have little-to-no intention of changing that) but I’d be surprised if it was anywhere near as unexpectedly good as this movie was.
Also, it has a theme song by Weird Al Yankovich. Who doesn’t love that shit?
21. Wind River
*sips tea* Aaaah, that’s some good tonal whiplash.
Okay, before I start talking about this, I feel I gotta get the elephant out of the room out of the way real quick, because there’s something that really bugged me about this film. Specifically, I think it’s really hella awkward that a movie all about the plight and sexual assault/regular assault of Native American Women… has almost no significant Native American female perspectives and is primarily about the male pain involved instead. And I know Taylor Sheridan said somewhere that that was because he didn’t feel he could appropriately write from the female perspective but, fuck it, that’s why you get consultants and shit. Not really an amazing excuse.
That said, I really did think this movie was great. Taylor Sheridan’s previous works have never quite hit that same zeitgeist for me that they have for everyone else, largely because I’m not much of a Neo-Western guy, but something about this movie really just clicked, especially in the second half. It’s a strong meditation on grief and sudden loss just as much as it is a well-needed light on the plight of Native Americans (even if I’d have liked to have seen more meaningful female presence in the cast). Jeremy Renner in particular was just robbed of any Oscar recognition, because he gave one hell of a performance, particularly in his big scene with Olsen. The side cast was good too, including surprise Jon Bernthal, and there were some gorgeous shots of the mountainous scenery.
So yeah, I don’t know entirely what it is, but something about this movie just worked for me where Sheridan’s previous movies haven’t. And it’s a real shame that this seems to have been largely forgotten come awards time. Even if, as mentioned, it kinda skimped on the Native American female perspective, it still should definitely be lauded for shining a light on those issues in the first place. Combined with the beautiful cinematography and excellent acting and this really deserved a lot more than it got.