PG-13, although a pretty mild PG-13. It's got a little bit of innuendo. Flash Thompson is still a jerk, but I don't think the f-word is said in any part of this movie. Nor does he refer to Peter as part of the male anatomy. We have some pretty great superhero violence. Peter gets pretty beat up, but nothing too terrifying. My son, who cringes at blood of any kind, handled it. There's some pretty anxiety inducing hallucinations, but over all it is pretty fine. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Jon Watts
The biggest frustration I have right now, besides the fact that I wrote a pretty amazing article for Catholic News Agency already, is the capitalization of the title. For all intentions, "From" should not be capitalized. It's acting as a preposition here, which we don't really capitalize in titles. When I look it up on IMDb, "from" is lowercase. But the poster straight up has it upper case. Also, Wikipedia also has it uppercase. Honestly, the poster isn't exactly subtle about what direction they went, so I'm going to go with the marketing team for how this is capitalized. It was the same deal with mother!, so I'm just going to be consistent.
Why do good Spider-Man movies make me so happy? I love the character. I do. There's something so pure about Spider-Man as a character that somehow just acts as a warm blanket. Peter's almost more Captain America than Captain America is. I'm really dancing around something that I want to say, but I can already warn you that it is going to be too verbose to be of any worth. The character of Peter Parker is fundamentally a really good person. A lot of superheroes are bogged down with this darkness within them. I'm not saying that Spider-Man never goes down that route. But Peter, at his core, is really good. But he's also saddled with moral complexities all of the time. When I watch a Spider-Man movie, I know that I'm watching a movie about a good person who is going to try to do his best in every situation and sometimes fail. Sometimes, the best choice for everyone often involves self-sacrifice. On occasion, Peter will have a happy moment. I don't know what the recipe is for the perfect Spider-Man story, but it tends to involve a positive attitude, some despair, a lot of tragic things happening, and one really good thing happening in the film. Geez, I told you this analysis wasn't worth it. I've minimized a very complex formula into something trite and formulaic.
Did I predict the outcome of this film? Sure, me and every person who has a general understanding of the Spider-Man characters outside of the films knew what was going to be the result of the film. I've been looking at a lot of films that have the big turn that people guess ahead of time. I talked about this recently with my look at Star Trek Into Darkness, where producers just straight up lied to their audiences. SPOILERS: I keep saying I'm going to stop giving Spoiler warnings because this is an analysis page, not a review page. But the movie JUST came out, so I'm going to give some degree of politeness. Mysterio is a bad guy. Considering that I adore Far From Home, I have to tag it with the fault of just copying the plot from The Incredibles. But I knew, that if you were every going to pull a fake out, the movie had to have Mysterio in it. Yeah, when I saw the trailer for Far From Home and they mentioned that Thanos opened the door to the multiverse, I lost my mind too. The movie looked huge. The first assumption I ran to was that Mysterio was a bad guy from another Earth pretending to be a good guy. But then I thought it out for a second and realized that everything was just a lie. It didn't matter. A lot of that came from the fact that Tom Holland is adorable when he's trying not to spoil a film. He's really sincere. Also, Jake Gyllenhaal somehow came out of his skin and became Mr. Personality on this press tour. Part of me thinks that he's having a good time for the first time in his life or that the studio asked him to really amp up the energy. But I never felt actively lied to. They kept saying that Spider-Man and Mysterio are friends in this film. I mean, it's technically not a lie. If in real life, people told me that kind of truth, I would probably be mad at them. But I also realize that it must be hard to try to maintain a secret. I think a lot of it depends on the idea that the twist ultimately is just flavoring, not the anchor for the film. WIth Into Darkness, the movie really hedged its bets on Khan being the villain and that no one really guessed that. The Mysterio twist is a great reveal, but the movie works completely without the twist. It's a good film and the "twist" is almost barely a twist.
Instead, the Mysterio reveal kind of does something else for the film. Like most people who knew that Mysterio is infamous for illusions, the actual twists serves to be a reveal for how Mysterio was different in the MCU. That's what the movie does. It ties Quentin Beck intimately into the events of the MCU. It did the same thing for Vulture. Kevin Feige kept saying that Far From Home is really the last film in the Infinity Saga and I can kind of see how that worked out. I just wrote about how Toy Story 4 changed my mind about epilogues. As much as the story is about Peter's relationship with Iron Man coming to a close, serving as a conclusion to the Infinity Saga, Quentin Beck's relationship to the events of the previous movies is also really important to remember. Okay, it's not that great of a magic trick to bring back featured extras from previous films and saying that they are important. But it is kind of cool. Like, I don't care that it is an easy trick. It's still fun. The important thing about Beck's tie to the story is that Tony Stark's story has always been about the consequences to his actions. I don't want to get overly political, but we have a way of turning on good people. We tend to want to tear them down because it's just our nature. I guess I get paid by Catholic News Agency, but I just read something from Church Militant (out of shock and outrage that they had written it) knocking down Franciscan University a peg for something that really wasn't its fault. I'm not saying that my alma mater is perfect and is above scrutiny, but we love reminding people that they aren't perfect. Tony Stark died saving the world. Most people are in agreement of that. But then we also have these toxic personalities out there. Quentin Beck and his team seem like realistically toxic people. Yeah, Tony Stark made a joke at the expense of Quentin Beck. Okay, that's a bummer. But also, you know, he saved the world. I'm sorry that people seem to like him, but destroying his legacy seems like a bit much.
Stepping well out of the realm of analysis (as I often do), can I tell you how much I loved the mid-credits scene? Okay, the best thing that has ever come out of the the Spider-Man films was J.K. Simmons as J Jonah Jameson. Yeah, he doesn't have the flat top. Okay, fine. I don't care. There has never been more perfect casting that Simmons as Jonah. Seeing him was one of the best post-film moments I've ever experienced. And then, the movie just ramps up the tension 1000%? Remember how I started this essay by saying that Spider-Man has to experience angst? Things need to happen to him that ruin his life? The MCU is not going to allow us to feel comfortable with these choices. If we see what's coming, we don't really get the same experience we get from the comics. When Spider-Man's world is turned upside down in the comics, it is genuinely shocking. There was a time when Spider-Man let the world know he was Peter Parker...or vice versa. But having JJJ reveal to the world that not only is Peter Parker Spider-Man, but he also was the bad guy behind all of the events from Far From Home is amazing. Like, I don't know what direction the movie is going to go in. I have ideas based on the comics. This is probably as nerdy as I'll get on this website (which I honestly can't promise because I've met me), but the other films seem to be team up movies. Iron Man was in Homecoming; Nick Fury was in Far From Home. I can guess that Dr. Strange can be in the next film. In the comic version of Civil War, Peter's revelation to the world was put back in the bottle by Doctor Strange. Okay, it's a cop out. But I can see the next movie with Peter desperately trying to find some sense of normality by getting people to forget that he's Spider-Man. But I hope they keep the consequences of people thinking that he's a bad guy. That's rad. My bigger question, besides just the Spider-Man movies, is how this is going to affect the MCU as a whole. People might fear Spider-Man. It's weird that everyone is just going to ignore Peter's participation in the Infinity War and believe this guy, but it is going to happen. How is Phase 4 going to look with this knowledge? It's such a good way to introduce a new phase and it was right there! It's the thing that every writer wants to do, but has been too afraid to. It's a hard genie to put back into the bottle, but I want to see how the MCU deals with that.
The one thing that I don't think was all that exciting is the inclusion of Skrulls into S.H.I.E.L.D. / S.W.O.R.D. As much as I love Sam Jackson as Nick Fury, I don't know if he's the best addition to the movie. I don't feel like Spider-Man has the relationship with Nick Fury that he does with Iron Man. It's also odd that people are looking to Spider-Man to be the next Iron Man. Yeah, Cap and Iron Man are gone, but isn't Hulk still around? Why is everyone looking to this little kid to lead the Avengers. I mean, he talks in front of audiences, which makes him seem like a kid. But it makes Peter's journey the most pesonal. MCU Peter really was attached to Tony Stark, despite the fact that they are drastically different people. (Man, what if Peter was close to Steve Rogers. That would be an interesting franchise.) But I can see that the MCU would want to put Peter front and center of a new universe. Spider-Man has always been the heart of the Marvel U, so I can see the film franchise doing the same. Can I tell you how mad I would be if Sony decided to bogart their character back someday? I've often bemoaned Sony and its completely backwards practices when it comes to their characters and properties. They seem to have their head finally fixed when it comes to the Spider-Man stuff, especially between this and Into the Spider-Verse. I can just see them thinking that they can do this all by themselves only to completely fail the character again. I hope they don't view Venom as a template for what people like because I can completely see that falling apart. Regardless, I hope this collaboration keeps on going because Tom Holland is crushing it and he really thrives inside the MCU.
I had such a good time with this movie. I had a kid who was whining on my lap for a good chunk of the movie and I still loved it. (Although, it did make me more annoyed by the whining because I realize how much more I would have adored the film as a whole.) I'm almost afraid to say where this movie falls in the grand scheme of great Spider-Man titles, but it is up there.
PG-13. I read an article as if this is a raunchy rom-com. Okay, we need to take a step back. Things that are raunchy: pre-marital sex. It happens in the movie. But I think of Knocked Up as a raunchy romantic comedy. This is a slightly risque romantic comedy. There's drug use. There's language. But really, all of these fall under the purview of PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Nahnatchka Khan
I'm sorry, Pat. I watched it. There were so many adds for it. So many people were talking about the Keanu Reeves scene. Also, it was a romantic comedy that looked tolerable. When you watch five movies a week, you take what you can get sometimes. When my wife told me that she wanted to watch a movie, I got really excited. I pretty much traded Always Be My Maybe for some episodes of Jessica Jones season three. But you know what? It did its job.
If a rom-com makes me openly laugh, even slightly graciously, it did its job. It isn't the funniest movie, but it is darned entertaining. I know that Ali Wong is famous. Like Pat's aversion to Netflix previews, I kept getting previews for Ali Wong's standup on Netflix. I don't know who cut that together, but it came off as way too aggressive for someone who wants a chill night of enjoying some standup. But I'm seeing Ali Wong's name attached to some pretty impressive projects, so I might be giving her standup a chance despite a frantic trailer editor. Randall Park is also kind of crushing it right now. My wife asked me what he was from, and I just said "Everything." I really was thinking Ant-Man and the Wasp, but I knew that's not the direction she was taking that question. I knew that she meant Fresh Off the Boat, but I only read the book and didn't watch the TV show. (That last sentence was to make me sound somewhat literate.) But these two have a really rad chemistry. The odd thing is that I think that they took their archetypes a bit too far. I mentioned that Knocked Up was the raunchy comedy that the movie was being compared to, but that's because the movie uses the same archetypes. But Always Be My Maybe almost takes the successful woman / stoner man a bit too far. When I think of Knocked Up, Katherine Heigl's character is goal oriented, but not wildly successful. She's doing what she wants and is still climbing the ladder. When she runs into Seth Rogan's lovable loser, it's the kind of person that she has avoided and might slow her down. When she realizes that she's ultimately happy with a combination of work ethic and emotional self-care, that's when things work out for her. It makes Hollywood sense. The thing about Sasha and Marcus is that Sasha is TOO successful. Sasha has already made that choice in life to pursue her dreams. She's a hard worker. As goofy as her relationship with Daniel Dae-Kim is, it also makes sense. They would naturally be supportive of each other because they can have emotional love and professional love. It's just that Brandon doesn't actually love her. But she's emotionally pretty stable from the beginning. Yeah, she's a workaholic. But she was in the relationship for love. It was only once he removed himself from the relationship (the best way I can put it) did she discover that her relationship was toxic.
I get the concept that Marcus was her crush for seventeen years. I get that they lost their virginity to each other. I understand what the initial spark might be between those two people. But Marcus is such a deadbeat. Seth Rogan tries putting on a show for Katherine Heigl at least. He gets frustrated easily and then lowers the defenses. Marcus clearly loves his low stakes life. His repeated mantra is that he will never leave that neighborhood. This would make sense if Marcus and Sasha were copacetic when they reunited. But there was this period where they barely wanted to talk to each other. Marcus saw Sasha as stuck up and rich and Sasha saw Marcus as this loser who broke her heart. To get them into a relationship as quickly as they did really didn't make a ton of sense. I mean, the Keanu Reeves scene gave us a bit of room to see what they could see in each other. But the movie almost ended two-thirds of the way through the film. In the courtroom of Literally Anything: Movies, I'm going to allow this structural choice because it is at least interesting. Always Be My Maybe, which is a title that doesn't make a lick of sense for this movie because it isn't the central theme unless you really try and force it upon the film, Why I like it is that it is a bit different for once. I know that I'm skipping by tons of examples that don't fit in the following categories, but I also really don't think that I'm a rom-com expert. A lot of rom-coms are people putting aside their crap and ending the film in love. The entire time is the pursuit. OR, the movie could be about a couple that was in love and has hit a rock in their relationship, only to save it by the end of the film. The structure of this film is trying to do both with a 2/3 for the first plot and 1/3 for the second plot structure. It's weird. Basically, it becomes a will they / won't they followed by a "How is that going to work?" idea.
It's not the worst. I can see neither plot really having the legs by itself. But when the first two thirds do the When Harry Met Sally structure and doesn't have the content to pull it off, having the question that we all have answered is a good idea. I don't necessarily think that how the movie ends up is necessarily believable. But it is Hollywood believable. What kind of happens to make the story keep going is that they give Marcus a major flaw. Like, it's big. I know that the writers probably thought that they gave both characters a flaw. But Sasha's flaw is evident from moment one. She's an emotional and vulnerable person who hides behind work. It's consistent throughout the film. It looks like Marcus's problem is that he has no ambition. Yeah, that's a big problem for a character to have, but it also makes him way too lovable. Marcus's character takes some really out-of-character moments in the story. He's got this thing that is only quasi-consistent. Marcus seems like a really nice guy throughout the movie. He listens to Sasha even though he hates her boyfriends. Yeah, he gets passive aggressive or aggressive aggressive. But he's mostly a best friend type for the majority of the film until he sleeps with Sasha. It's then that he turn into a demon. It is done under the guise of awkwardness. I know that Marcus isn't the first character to have this trait put upon him. But he doesn't really do this with Jenny. Jenny kind of sucks. She's written to be slightly the worst. She's way more of a caricature than any other character in the movie and she's meant to be considered obnoxious. The movie at least made a clear delineation that Jenny is terrible as opposed to my least favorite character: nice boring person. Marcus is really nice to Jenny even though he kind of hates her. I don't know if he knows that he hates her. But Sasha is way more important to him and he treats her like dirt after they sleep together. Why is that separation there? Does Marcus actually treat Jenny like dirt because I don't really get that vibe?
Listen, the big sell is the Keanu Reeves moment. It's been spoiled by everyone on the Internet and Keanu is getting himself a Keanuissance. (Or, the Reevesisance. The Keanu de Reevesistance?) Keanu gets tone. My wife was asking me if Keanu Reeves was a bad actor and I emphatically said, "Yes." I'm so sorry, Mr. Reeves. You seem down to Earth enough to be someone who actually reads this. I have so many compliments for you coming up, but I don't love your acting style. I'm one guy. I make very little money. Forgive me. But Reeves gets what he's doing here. I adore when actors can kind of make fun of themselves. I was talking about how Ed Sheeran couldn't do this in Yesterday. But Reeves knows what the public perception is of him. The movie, when Reeves came on screen, went from adequate rom-com to something absolutely hilarious. I don't know if my wife agreed. But I felt like everyone came alive for those scenes. Randall Park and Ali Wong were funny, but were kind of doing bits. But watching them play off of the absurdity of Keanu Reeves was perfect. It honestly is worth watching for that part. It's also kind of long. This isn't a cameo thing where Reeves makes fun of himself for a second. He's kind of vital to the film and really just goes for it. Yeah, he may not be an amazing actor, but I'll watch him in anything. Except Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. Geez, he's so bad in that. (I'm sorry again, Mr. Reeves. You are a wonderful human being and I wish for you to continue being the best. When my wife asked if you were a bad actor and I responded positively, I pulled out the Buzzfeed article of you helping people get a bus home. God bless you.)
I don't know why the movie is called Always Be My Maybe. I get that they knew each other as kids. But there was never the scene where the two of them made a pact to get married before a certain age or else they had to marry each other. It's one of those generic titles and sounds like a song that is used during the closing of the film. But the movie holds its own. It's not amazing. Few rom-coms really are. But on the grand scale of rom-coms, I'll rank this one high. I had a good time and I laughed pretty hard for a while.
G. They finally did it! They created a movie that I can completely agree with a G rating on. Oh, wait, I have to play Devil's Advocate, don't I? I tend to think that a lot of stuff is okay. But I know that parents on pages that I frequent think that everything is offensive, so I'm going to really try and throw this rating under the bus. The dummies are terrifying. I'll give you that. Bunny and Ducky fantasize about beating people up and killing them with laser beams. I still give it a G. My son didn't freak out, so that's a big win. G.
DIRECTOR: Josh Cooley
I was wrong. I'll admit it. I saw the trailer and went "meh." Toy Story 3 had such a perfect ending. It definitely felt like it dismounted perfectly. Rarely do we see a movie trilogy that's so tight and actually managed to close up a franchise well that the very notion of a Toy Story 4 seems offensive. And that trailer? Man, I was not impressed by it at all. But I was wrong. I was completely wrong. It took the combined reviews of Rotten Tomatoes to get excited for this movie. But when I saw it, it was great.
How the heck do you make Toy Story 4 work, especially after Toy Story 3? The Andy story was done. The toys were going to continue living with Bonnie and that's all we really needed to know. Bonnie was a sweet girl and it left on that note of "And they lived happily ever after." But there was one more story to tell and that story needed to put a cap on the entire franchise. I didn't know that the Toy Story movies really needed an epilogue. But like Spider-Man: Far From Home, apparently an epilogue can go a long way. Pixar and the Toy Story folks seem to understand that the adventure is really very much second to the emotional journey that the characters go through. It's so weird, because Pixar has made us all think like toys. If I completely summarized the emotional journey that Woody goes through in this movie, it wouldn't make a lick of sense. These seem like "toy problems." I left the movie, completely overwhelmed by the emotional journey I had gone through and then thought, wait...am I supposed to be a "lost toy"? MILD SPOILERS FOR BOTH TOY STORY 4 AND SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME: Is the message that I have to take care of myself for once because Far From Home would disagree. Sometimes I think of this blog as cinematic therapy. I emotionally experience films and I encourage you to do the same. I always want to cry at movies, but I'm not much of a crier in that way. So writing this stuff out is to figure out what I both believe about the movie and what I believe about life. I can't believe how much I'm going to want to tie into Far From Home because I just left the theater about an hour-and-a-half ago. But I'll avoid that until I write the Far From Home analysis. I don't believe that the people at Pixar are making stories about toy problems. The beginning of the movie, very much like the beginning of Up, nearly made me break down. It's about break ups and dealing with responsibilities. Bo Peep (it sounds even goofier typing it) is given away to another family. She has finished her goals. I'm a goal oriented guy. My list, I typed blindedly, will never end. I just keep piling stuff that I want to do in life onto the pile. But Bo Peep had done her job. She was appreciated when she was around, but sometimes that isn't everything. The big metaphor in this kids' movie is one of retirement. I don't even know if Pixar movies are made for kids anymore. The more I sit on that conclusion, the more it makes sense. Toy Story 4 is about retirement.
From a teacher's perspective, I'm constantly having to deal with someone not needing me anymore. This is me feeding my own ego, but I am an important figure in students' lives for years. There's an emotional distance between me and my students. We respect each other. We laugh together. But like a toy and a child, there's an emotional distance that eventually grows when we don't have that symbiotic relationship anymore. Students grow up. They go onto bigger and better things. They should. If they don't, that means I haven't really done my job, I suppose. But there is something remarkably depressing at the end of the year for me. I haven't really taught seniors before. But as much as they praise you for being the person who taught them to love English when they are juniors, you are chopped liver when they are seniors. All the dedications to the teachers that aren't you gets to you after a while. It's a bit of a bummer. Toy Story 4, believe it or not, deals with that. For a moment, I want to explore why these movies keep on dealing with adult situations. The entire Toy Story franchise, I suppose, deals with the concept of not being important anymore. The first film dealt with Woody's jealousy over Buzz being the new favorite. I don't remember part 2, sorry. Toy Story 3 deals with Andy growing up and leaving. Toy Story 4 is realizing that people don't need you anymore because you are old. Outside of people leaving, the secondary message of Toy Story 3, which of these apply to kids? I mean, any day of the week, I'll let my kids learn that message. Kids deal with friends leaving when they move. I can't imagine what will happen to my kids if their friends decide to move away. I know that parents divorce, and I can see Toy Story acting as a balm in that case. But dealing with retirement? That's so bizarre. I suppose the first film kind of can be about jealousy in general. But retirement? Woody straight up retires in this film. He puts away his need to keep working and taking care of others and learn to take care of himself. Epiphany! He has completed his character arc!
The first film is all about Woody's selfishness. Very rarely is it actually about Andy in the first film. It's about how much Andy should be paying attention to Woody. By the third film, Woody sees himself as a caretaker of both Andy and the toys. He's ready to go to college with Andy to take care of him there, but learns that other people need him more. Okay, that's pretty great. But Toy Story 4 makes a clear break between selfishness and self-care. He lost Bo Peep (similar to the way she lost her sheep?) and now has a second chance at happiness. The film kind of plays around with the concept that Woody may have made the bad decision nine years ago when Bo Peep left. I don't know if the film condemns him for the choice he made. Bo doesn't seem that mad. She wishes he joined her, but doesn't really seem to hold it against him. She does kind of view him as an idiot for doing so. From Bo's perspective, Woody is noble, but dumb. He's the good guy of the piece for the majority of the movie and only once does she hold it against him. What I love is the complicated relationship that Woody and Bo deal with when it comes to morality. Often, Woody's dilemma's aren't as clear cut as they are in the first movie. Woody is at fault for what he does to Buzz in the first film. But Woody now has two bad options in a lot of cases. He knows that he is devoted to his kid, even if that means taking a back seat to her other toys. In this case, it's Forky...a spork with googly eyes. The film shows his maturity by treating this fork like he's the most important toy that ever existed because Forky is that important to Bonnie. But it is interesting to see that the other toys get mad at him for not taking care of himself. He only took care of himself in the first film. Now, his devotion to others is actually kind of infuriating. I think that the other toys know that he's in the right to put Bonnie and Forky first, but they also like being listened to. Woody's life has become such an exercise in routine and strength that he can't see that a little vulnerability goes a long way. The constant reminder that he's not Andy's toy makes him question the power dynamic. It's all very interesting. God, getting older is just getting depressing and Toy Story 4 is the film to remind me of it.
What's really weird is that this definitely feels like the last film for the Toy Story franchise. I know that I thought that with Toy Story 3, but this has such a cap on it that I would be shocked if we saw more Toy Story movies, at least ones with Buzz and Woody in them. Considering that this feels like the end of an era, it's bizarre that Buzz Lightyear has so little to do in the movie. Don't get me wrong. I totally approve of the focus of this movie. But it's strange to think that Buzz and Woody are iconic friends at this point. I mean, "You've Got a Friend in Me" still plays in the movie. Originally implying that the toys are friends to their owners, that song has definitely shifted to Buzz and Woody being the best of friends. This is a story that culminates with Woody leaving everyone to live a life of quiet love and marriage with Bo Peep. (No, there's no toy marriage. I just read between the lines.) Buzz has a role in the movie. He's not completely removed from this movie. But he almost could be. It's weird to think about that. In one way, the movie would almost be stronger without Buzz. Buzz is tying Woody back to Bonnie's house. He has that friendship that has been there for almost decades. It would make sense for Woody to move on knowing that Buzz moved on as well. But Woody has to make the more complex choice of love or friendship. Geez, I've been there. I mean, my wife's my best friend now. But it is hard to say goodbye to people. But then why isn't Buzz there for the entire film? Part of me think I would have noticed even more that Buzz had nothing to do. Buzz doesn't really grow that much. He almost becomes more sentient. This has to be a bit of a bummer for Tim Allen, who has probably cherished this character. (If Tim Allen doesn't like Buzz Lightyear, I'm flummoxed.) It seems like Tim Allen and Tom Hanks are friends and now they just have to say goodbye. I mean, I'm giving them permission to hang out, but it seems like this is something important that is just going away. If the other movies are Buzz and Woody adventures, then this just feels like a Woody adventure. But I guess that the stories have always been about Woody. We call them Batman movies, not Batman and Robin movies. Buzz Lightyear really acts like a foil. There's not a ton of growth almost because Buzz is unable to conceive of complicated thought. I know that's unfair and I'm sure there are a handful of examples of Buzz dealing with complex emotions. But Buzz often doesn't make mistakes. Woody does. So having Woody being so right that he's wrong is a tale that would only get muddled with the constant attention of Buzz Lightyear.
I really liked the movie. I'm really surprised that I did. I tend to roll my eyes at people who lose their minds over stuff like this. But I consistently like a lot of the stuff that Disney rolls out. As a dad, it's great to see a movie that's well made for my kids. It's not absolutely perfect, I'll grant you. But it is really a phenomenal addition, almost because of the smallness of this piece. As much as I adored Toy Story 3, I'm considering placing it second to Toy Story 4.
PG-13 for off-camera pre-marital sex, mild language, and stoner behavior. There's some pretty funny cocaine humor, despite the fact that no one actually uses cocaine in the movie. Also, the protagonist gets hit by a bus and gets pretty wrecked. That's mainly because it is a bus. If you were really stretching to find some questionable content, some of the Beatles songs make me question the wholesomeness of the Beatles' image. Regardless, PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
The movie isn't perfect. I'm just going to start with that. But some comments I received blamed the issues I had on the director. In that moment, I opened up a can of wrath defending Danny Boyle. I just really like Danny Boyle. I know. That's a snobby thing to do. But I do it and I don't even feel bad about it. I like that Danny Boyle keeps changing his image. That's fun for me. Sure, when Rivers Cuomo does it with every other record, I want to barf behind my eyes. But Danny's Boyle's message has always been of changing things up. I also want to state that I nearly lost my mind when I saw this trailer for the first time. It's everything I think I wanted in a movie musical. But did it completely satisfy?
It's very good, but I had insane expectations. I watched the movie and there was nothing wrong with it. It was everything I wanted. But I came in with this attitude that this movie was going to blow my mind. I don't know what I expected. The premise is right there in the trailer. it delivered on the premise it agreed to. Heck, it even went further. It touched some very amazing buttons that I didn't know were going to be in the movie. It also to a heady-concept and completely embraced it. Like The Predator, there was no attempt to explain what actually happened. The power goes out for no reason. Was that why the Beatles disappeared? Actually, it kind of had to be. Wait, no. (As you can see, I'm figuring this out as I'm writing.) Was it the bus? Is the protagonist dead? He might be dead. The movie never really tries exploring this. By-the-bye, I beg for no one to try and pull a 28 Weeks Later and sequelize this film. (The Day After Yesterday doesn't work.) Instead, it adds all of these complications to the story that make it more fun. I'm not going to lie. One of my favorite things besides time travel is alternate universes. I always feel like it is a waste to not take advantage of the details of an alternate universe. Into the Spider-verse did it. Fringe did it. I adore this kind of stuff. Yeah, I love the concept of Yesterday, but the movie really sold me on the other things that were missing besides the Beatles. I kept on guessing what the next thing that was going to be missing. Boyle makes the world without The Beatles well lived in. I had to explain to people who were upset at the concept. It seemed to them like this was an anti-Beatles film. It's not. I'm genuinely surprised the Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr weren't on every frame of this movie because this movie had to boost sales of albums...assuming the estate of Michael Jackson wasn't holding most of the rights.
The movie definitely deifies the Beatles. I love the Beatles. I've never been much of a music guy, considering how entrenched I am in the world of popular culture. (May I remind you of the Literally Anything podcast? I mayn't? Okay.) I know. It's hack to say that you love the Beatles. But I also think it's a little snobbish to say that you hate the Beatles. My old boss swore that he hated the Beatles. It's kind of like when teenage boys claim that they loathe the newest boy bands. It's because it gives them a bit of cred. You are allowed to not be into The Beatles. But hate them? That seems like you are protesting too much. It's kind of bananas the exact setting that Yesterday builds. This is a world without The Beatles. (Or Oasis. Or Coca-Cola. And some other stuff.) The world isn't a terrible place. But Boyle's message kind of seems like a perfectly fine world that is just missing something essential. Lives are fundamentally the same. People still love music and a lot of the same artists are around. But specifically, the world of pop music hasn't had true artists. Without having to have said anything, popular music almost lives up to the reputation that it has right now. It's weird that Ed Sheeran is in this movie with all of this in mind. Ed Sheeran kind of plays an unlikable version of himself. There are some really weird results of having Ed Sheeran in this movie. He's clearly the guy who helps Jack get recognized. By all intents, he's a heroic character. But he also thinks that he is the greatest musician if it wasn't for the world of the Beatles. Or in his case, Jack Malik. He actually compares himself to Mozart and Salieri. Come on. That's not someone who really is making fun of himself. It just reads like he's a jerk. I don't think that Ed Sheeran is really written as the jerk of the piece. It's just something that I take away from the film because that's what Ed Sheeran comes across as. But the sheen of the world is a little diminished. It's kind of a specific setting. (I'm getting repetitive.) There's this b-plot that's kinda/sorta the a-plot. Malik lives in a world where music is completely commercial. Covered that bit. But Malik is bringing art to the world through his playing of the commercial system. I adore the mystery that is in the background of the two people who remember the Beatles. The misdirect works absolutely perfectly. Boyle's toying with tropes is a masterclass in manipulation. The entire movie, I wait for his comeuppens. But the comeuppens not only doesn't happen, but his success is encouraged. And then...AND THEN on top of it all, he still follows through on the moral act. He's actually given a free pass by the last Beatles nuts and still he confesses to the crime he has committed. And that character's cameo is precious. Side note: I'm actually kind of a bad person. I hate me right now. I was so obsessed with seeing who played that cameo that I didn't actually get to enjoy it in the moment. I know that my page is all about spoilers, but I have a hard time writing it out, despite that it would give me more content to discuss.
My wife adored this movie for all of the reasons. But the number one thing that she kept saying about this movie is how small and British it is. I'm actually flummoxed. It doesn't feel like a summer release film. If it wasn't containing a ton of Beatles music, it would probably be buried in February somewhere because it is such an intimate rom-com. It actually kind of feels like it was written so it could be adapted later into a Broadway musical. I think this might be one of the first films with that intention. That's entirely speculation on my part. Go figure. But as a rom-com, it actually makes me mad. I'm really forgiving of the movie because I emotionally enjoyed it. But it broke a ton of my morality rules for rom-coms. I don't know why rom-coms get analyzed harder than other films. I think it's because I'm a snob and want to say that I don't like romantic comedies and then I really started believing it. But the movie broke my number one rule: Don't have the leads dump good people for the sake of the protagonists getting together. It's such a Hollywood thing. Gavin should not be cool with what happened. This happens all the time. The dumped is such a good guy that he can forgive his significant other and place their needs in front of his own. Let's break this down. Lily James, for a not unnoticable portion of the film, refers to Gavin as the first guy who has ever treated her right. He is the best guy she has ever met. Okay, I don't say that she has to be committed to the guy, but from his perspective, everything was going right. He had the girl of his dreams. She told him over and over again that this relationship was perfect. Then her rich and famous obsession embarrasses her, and by proxy, him in front of everyone in Wembley Stadium. They get together and run off into the sunset. That's not how that works. Honestly, that is major news. Jack Malik stole the best songs ever written from four guys who have never really met. The best version of the headline is that people never find John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The worst version of the headline is that Jack Malik infers that he's from another universe and he brought that music with him. You don't think that they are going to look into Gavin? He confesses all of these things for Lily James's character. They're going to find out that she dumped Gavin that moment for Jack Malik. Uncool. My wife didn't have a problem with that so much. She's a bit of a Lily James fan. I suppose I am too. But James's character is really underwritten. Lauren pointed out that she played far too bubbly for far too long to actually be compelling. Their relationship is cute, but unrealistic. I have a bigger problem with her character. She is mad at Jack for not reading her mind. Yeah, from an outside perspective, their relationship is obvious. But she constantly reminds Jack that she is her manager. It is only when he is about to go off and be successful that she drops the bombshell on him. She puts him in this uncomfortable place where he has to risk everything he / they have worked for to pursue a relationship that might not work. Remember, she worked for him to get this level of success. She is wanting both ends. When he moves on, she pursues him. When he reciprocates, she says that having a relationship is unfair. He then does the romantic bit and pursues her to the train station. Yeah, he gets tongue-tied. I don't know if tongue-tied is a dealbreaker. Then he offers a reasonable solution! He offers to take her with him and she says no. She's constantly putting all of the risk on him. Every time he starts to heal, she contacts him and reminds him that they won't be together. He's not exactly pursing her. He's doing the reasonable and responsible thing and allowing them to heal. It's really frustrating. Yeah, it works out in the end. But it shouldn't have.
But all that being said, the casting is perfect. The concept is really fun. I like the Beatles as much as the next guy and this movie works with it. Himesh Patel really sells the character. It's funny that no one really think that he has talent without the Beatles and the story keeps sidestepping that little element the whole time. Regardless, this movie was really cute and I'm surprised that I haven't asked Alexa to play the album yet.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.