Coming 2 America

Dropping a night early on Amazon Prime, Coming 2 America was trying to do something that is really difficult to do: be a good sequel to a comedy movie 30 years later. There are way more sequels that were terrible (Zoolander 2, Dumb and Dumber 2, Anchorman 2 etc) than those that are good. Coming 2 America had a huge hurdle to get over to avoid falling into the same club.

Sadly, it could not do it.

I was disappointed with Coming 2 America. I had been excited for this project and was anticipating watching this movie. When it dropped early, it was so unexpected that it felt special, and, while I would not put it in the same category as some of those other sequels I mentioned, this was nowhere near what I had hoped it would be.

Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is still in Zamunda with his princess Lisa (Shari Headley) and his three daughter. As Akeem’s father King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) is on his deathbed, a neighboring despot General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) is looking to grab some power, either by marrying off his son to one of the daughters of Akeem or by something more violent.

Trying to look strong, Akeem discovered that he had a bastard son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) when he went to America to “sow his royal oats.” Apparently, Lavelle’s mother Mary (Leslie Jones) had been a set up by Semmi (Arsenio Hall) and she wound up drugging Akeem and having sex with him. She wound up pregnant, and Akeem did not know it had happened.

Ignoring that date rape part, Akeem came back to Queens to find his illegitimate son, which he does easily, thanks to the same old barbers that were there thirty years ago (without changing one bit). He brings Lavelle back to Zamunda to attempt and make him into a prince which includes a pre-arranged marriage.

One of the biggest problems with this movie is that it plays on the nostalgia of the original Coming to America so hard that large sections of the movie feels like a repeat of what we saw before. They even replay several scenes from the first movie in the sequel. Why do we need to see the same bits over again in 2021?

There are some strong parts to the film as well. It is not a total failure. Westley Snipes is tremendous as General Izzi, continuing his revitalized career with such interesting choices. Snipes was surprisingly funnier than many of the comedians in the movie. Jermaine Fowler developed Lavelle into a decent character, though he started out as an obnoxious kid. There were some definitely funny moments as well. My favorite scene may have been Akeem and Cleo (John Amos) having a heart to heart talk in the back of the Zamunda version of McDowells.

Unfortunately, parts of this did not work either. Lavelle’s “true love” story with the royal hair dressed felt forced and unrealistic. There was not enough scenes between the two of them to really find the investment in their relationship. There were too many characters who were there to just scream. Not only was there Murphy, Arsenio, Leslie Jones, but also there was Tracy Morgan. Historically, I have not been a fan of that style of comedy.

There were a ton of cameos here too including Morgan Freeman, Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, Colin Jost, Gladys Knight, Dikembe Mutombo, and Louie Anderson. These were fun and kept you on your toes while watching.

It is just such a Xerox copy of so much of Coming to America, with just a few little tweaks, that it did not feel new or original. In fact, I found a good chunk of the movie to be boring because I knew what was going to happen. I like al these actors, but there just felt as if there was to much. This version did not take its time like the original and it did not have the same amount of heart or innocence.

I had seen a trailer and it made me nervous because I did not find it funny. Sadly, for me, the trailer did display the movie as I saw it. While I did not hate this, I was absolutely disappointed.

2.75 stars

The Mauritanian

Based on the novel Guantánamo Diary, The Mauritanian tells a tragic and painful story about a man in Guantánamo under suspicion that he was involved as the organizer of the 9/11 Attacks.

I had not heard anything about this movie until I was watching Collider’s FYI with Scott Mantz, Perri Nemiroff and Jeff Sneider and they were talking about award nominations and they came across a nomination for Jodie Foster. None of them were familiar with the movie, The Mauritanian, which intrigued me.

When this came across the streaming services, I had learned that it was a thriller and had some court elements to it, both of which appealed to me. I rented it.

It was a difficult watch at times, but the performances were outstanding and the story was one that struck at the heart of the United States and the policies of torture that engulfed the foreign policy of our country from the days following the fall of the Twin Towers. It was ugly. It was difficult to wrap my mind around it.

In this true story, Tahar Rahim played Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the man who was captured and held in prison for years because of a apparent connection between him and Osama Bin Laden. Defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) wound up on his case, despite not being sure, at first, that he was innocent.

Rahim, in particular, delivers a knockout performance and dominates his screen presence./ He creates such a character that an audience could root for. The building relationship between Rahim and Nancy Hollander is another strong point of the movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch is Stuart Couch, the military man who was supposed to prosecute the case against Rahim. His American accent was a little iffy.

The Mauritanian was a tough watch and had one of the best go-to-black moments at the end of the movie ever. Great performances and a heartbreaking story carries this film. There may be other films more powerful, but that takes nothing away from this.

3.8 stars

Bigfoot Family

Found this new animated movie on Netflix last night and it found its way onto the list to watch this weekend. I have always been a big fan of bigfoot and this premise intrigued me. Unfortunately, the actual execution of the premise was lacking.

I did not know that this was a sequel to another animated movie from 2017 called Son of Bigfoot, and that might actually have helped the viewing of this film since much of the backstory with Bigfoot and his family felt crammed in to this. Understanding that it is more of a synopsis of a previous material helps.

Bigfoot (Alexis Victor) has decided to use his 15 minutes of fame to help protest against an oil company’s planned drilling of Alaskan land when he goes missing. His son Adam (Kylian Trouillard), his wife Shelly (Marie Chevalot), Wilbur the grizzly bear (Frederic Souterelle) and the raccoon Trapper (Sébastien Desjours) take off to help him.

This was a below average animated movie that might appeal to the children since there are some funny, cute talking animals involved. Wilbur had a couple of funny moments and I seen worse.

However, as an adult, even an adult who loves animation, this was not for me. The story was simple and stereotypical. The messages were over-the-top and obvious. The animation was fine and the voice work was okay. Nothing really stood out on either of those areas.

The villain was the head of the drilling company, Connor Mandrake (Pierre Tessier) pretended to be a friend of the environment but. in truth, was a typically boring oil executive. And he was not a smart one either as there were several moments where I thought to myself, “Why is he doing this?” or “Why didn’t he just ____?”

The film also overused the tiresome phrase of “fake news” which is a comment that has its own connotation to in this day and age. The use of it is meant as a joke, but it was anything but.

If you need a movie to put on for the kiddies, then you could do worse than Bigfoot Family. However, have something for you to do while its on.

2.6 stars

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Director Lee Daniels has taken a section of the life of a jazz legend, Billie Holiday, and brought to life a new biopic on the singer. Originally scheduled to be released in December, the movie wound up being sold to Hulu, where it was released this weekend.

The film follows Billie Holiday during a period of her life that she was being pursued by the Federal Department of Narcotics. The feds claimed they were looking at Holiday because of her heroin use (Billie Holiday did spend a year in prison because of this), but the movie and book this was based on, claimed that another of the fed’s purposes for their dogged pursuit of Holiday was to prevent her from singing a song called “Strange Fruit.” “Strange Fruit” was a controversial song that dealt with the topic of lynching and helped lead into the era of civil rights.

However, the fed’s had some inner issues as Agent Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), who had been assigned to keep track of Holiday, ended up in an affair with her.

Andra Day played Billie Holiday and she was tremendous. Day was easily the best part of the movie. While much of the movie was slower and a bit muddled, Day’s performance elevated the film to a much higher level. This is an especially impressive trick as Day has not had any major movie acting experience. She also did much of the singing in the film as well and she was wonderful. The music of the movie was another strength.

Many of the scenes felt disjointed as the complexity of Billie Holiday’s life did not seem to come together here well. There were sections of the movie that dragged along, but any time Day was there, there was a new life to the scenes. The inclusion of “Strange Fruit” is one of those examples as it did not seem to be woven into the story arc effectively. They leave it and come back at other moments and it did not blend well with the drug abuse of her life.

In the end, the reason to see this movie is Andra Day in the lead role. She does an admirable job both as a singer and an actor.

3 stars

Minari (2020)

A24 has been a bastion of light among the world of independent cinema for several years now. They have consistently released some of the best films of the year, while not losing focus on the ideals of the independent theater. Minari is another triumphant success for the movie company.

Minari follows the life experiences of a Korean family that has moved to a small farm in Arkansas. Steven Yeun played Jacob Yi, a highly successful chick sexer who decided that a change of lifestyle was necessary for his family. His wife, Monica (Yeri Han) was not enthused with the move and this caused some friction among the couple. Adding to the worries was the health of their youngest of two children David (Alan S. Kim), whose heart flutter was a concern for the family.

In order to help out with the family, Monica’s mother, Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn) comes from Korea, but she was not quite the grandmotherly-type. Soonja clashed with David’s expectations of what a grandmother was supposed to be like.

As with many independent movies, the film is more of a series of scenes from the characters’ lives than a structured story narrative. In this case, the performances from this group of actors really standout from the calm and quiet storytelling. Steven Yeun, best known for his role as Glenn from the Walking Dead, carries his character with such a pride and determination despite the struggles and the problems facing him from his choice for his family. The relationship between Jacob and Monica was strained seriously, but there was always the feeling of love with them.

The standout performance though is clearly that of Yuh-Jung Youn. When she arrived as Grandma, a foul-mouthed, brash woman, everyone, especially David, are on their toes. Yuh-Jung Youn is amazing and you can not take your eyes off of her. You are never sure what she was going to do next and she brought a humor and a passion to the story. Her developing relationship with David is a strength of the film, and the results are human as can be.

Directed beautifully by Lee Isaac Chung, Minari is one of the leading candidates for Oscar glory this year. It was a film that I enjoyed very much. It provided a glance at the immigrant life and the attempt at the American dream.

4 stars

Tom & Jerry

We have an early leader for worst movie of the year.

Tom & Jerry, the classic cartoon cat and mouse, debuted this weekend in some open theaters and on HBO Max and jumped to the lead in terribleness. Honestly, I would not feel right even saying the line, “This is a film that kids will like, but parents will not” because the fact of the matter is this… kids should not be exposed to stupidity of this caliber.

There is a plot, sort of, but it revolves around the human characters. Tom & Jerry are cartoon animals living in a real world with humans around. They find themselves in a hotel to cause shenanigans after our heroine Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) sabotaged another person’s job interview at the hotel, stole her resume and took the interview herself. Nice message to the little children watching.

There was a great cast in Tom & Jerry reduced to slapstick and a brain damaged script. Not only was there Moretz, but there was Michael Pena, Ken Jeong, Rob Delany (Peter from Deadpool 2), Colin Jost (of SNL fame) and Jordan Bolger. The cast was wasted, and yet seemed to take up a lot of screen time. Perhaps that is because Tom and Jerry do not speak and someone had to carry the narrative.

There was rapping pigeons too. In the first scene of the movie with the rapping pigeons, one of them let off a pigeon poop at the other. I knew what kind of movie this one would be. There was also a scene where poor Michael Pena had to stop to clean up the poop that the dog Spike (Bobby Cannavale, no really) took in the middle of the crosswalk. High brow comedy, for sure.

The poop jokes could be excused if they were actually funny, but they were only cringy. I was looking at the time after only a half hour (which felt like triple that time). This movie was long too. Over a hundred minutes is way longer than this movie had any right to be.

The plot surrounding a wedding of a rich couple was the main driving force of the film, but it made little to no sense and depended upon a bunch of stereotypes. There was no need for it.

Characters bounced around, changing characteristics depending on what the plot required them to have. No one in the film was smart or elevated the film above the words on the page. It was a painful watch, but I was proud of myself for finishing it because, since I was viewing it at home on HBO Max, it would have been very easy to shut it off and turn to something else. Minari is available on Vudu this weekend.

Tom & Jerry is an utter waste. Go watch some of the classic Tom & Jerry shorts instead. They’re much better.

1 star

The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, died just a few weeks ago. I remember following his “career” when I was in high school. I was always fascinated by the eccentric behavior displayed by the publisher.

With his death, I decided to revisit the biopic from 1996, The People vs. Larry Flynt starring Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love and Edward Norton.

This role was one of the earliest efforts of Woody Harrelson to break away from the Cheers sitcom world. Coming off the Natural Born Killers, this movie placed Harrelson into a new stratosphere of his career. Harrelson was nominated for his first Academy Award for this biopic.

The controversial publisher’s life is examined in this biopic, focusing on his rise to the top of the nudie magazine world and his constant court battles against those looking to bring him down. It is odd to buy, but Larry Flynt was always a proponent of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Wrapping himself in the Constitution, Flynt acted the fool to bring the contempt for his opposition.

Not only is Harrelson tremendous, so was Courtney Love. Courtney Love, playing Flynt’s wife Althea, transformed herself from stripper to eventual victim of AIDS. Althea and Flynt had a complicated relationship but the film does a great job of presenting how much they loved each other. The chemistry between Harrelson and Love was obvious every second they shared the screen.

It was weird to see James Carville, well known Democratic political strategist, appearing as the prosecutor Simon Leis who worked on Flynt’s first trial. Looking at his list of credits on IMDB, he has spent the most of his acting career playing James Carville (he was also in the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).

The People vs. Larry Flynt was an impressive biopic and truly does have something to say.

RIP Larry.

I Care a Lot

I Care a Lot is the first movie ever that has made me want to root for the Russian drug dealing gangster.

Released this weekend on Netflix. I Care a Lot is a black comedy featuring a group of characters that are, simply put, the worst people around. It’s like Ruthless People and Horrible Bosses without the cartoonish moments.

Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is a legal guardian who uses her court appointed position to drain the bank accounts of elderly people who are court-determined to be unable to take care of themselves. Her manipulation of the court system made me feel bad for the other lawyer. When her doctor friend sends her an older woman without family, friends, but a tone of money, Marla realizes that she has found a “cherry,” an absolute easy mark. Easy money.

However, the woman, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne West) was more than what she appeared. Turns out that Jennifer Peterson had her own dark secret that was coming into conflict with Marla’s plans. SPOILERS We discover that Jennifer Peterson was not her real name and the woman was the mother of the presumed dead Russian gangster Roma Lunyov (Peter Dinklage). END OF SPOILER.

Marla, along with her partner and lover Fran (Eliza Gonzalez), are such rotten people that I found myself openly rooting against them and hoping that they would pay to karma. Rosamund Pike does a fantastic job of making me hate her. Her performance was great as I never once thought of her as Rosamund Pike. Instead, she was the selfish manipulator of these helpless elderly people.

She was very much like a cockroach too since everything that happened to her would never get rid of her. Peter Dinklage was a frightening presence in the film and these two characters had some powerful scenes together.

What was keeping me watching the movie was the hope of seeing Marla get her comeuppance. Even when the film switches gears and wants you to support Marla and Fran, I did not want to do it. I wanted this character to face justice for her ill-gotten gains, and when it started to look as if she was not going to pay the price, I was getting upset with the film.

SPOILER Yet, when the ending arrived, I was very satisfied on the fate of Marla with a call back from the beginning of the movie. END OF SPOILER.

I can see where some audience members may be split by this movie. Still, I found it to be very entertaining and I was pleased with the result of the movie. Rosamund Pike was exceptional as this horrendous woman and she easily matched the presence of the counter-balance of the film.

4.25 stars

Flora & Ulysses

You know a movie that starts out with animated clips of the Silver Surfer and Wolverine was going to be right up my alley.

Based on the children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo, Flora & Ulysses dropped on Disney + this weekend and gave us what we never knew we wanted… a super hero squirrel. And I am not talking about Squirrel Girl, either.

Flora (Matilda Lawler) was a ten-year old cynic, who loved comic books, especially those drawn by her father George (Ben Schwartz). Unfortunately, George had fallen on hard times in the comic industry and was currently separated from his author wife Phyllis (Alyson Hannigan). Flora was looking for something hopeful and she found it in the form of a squirrel, who after being accidentally sucked up by the neighbor’s runaway rumba-like vacuum, gained super powers.

Flora and Ulysses bond quickly (Flora actually saved Ulysses’s life with mouth to mouth) and she took him home, leading to shenanigans and chaotic events.

I had some doubts heading into this film, but I was entertained thoroughly. I found Flora & Ulysses funnier than I thought it would be, engaging relationship between the characters and silly situations that make this film a decent family movie to share with the entire family.

Matilda Lawler was charming and did a great job as the lead protagonist, wrangling the super squirrel and doing what she could to straighten out her life. There was the arrival of another young character, William (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), who had been stricken with hysterical blindness. It may not have been a very sensitive representation of blindness, but William was more than his disability. The film gave us some quiet moments with the boy too as there was a nice character moment with him.

The young actors do a great job, and they are anchored by Ben Schwartz and Alyson Hannigan, a pair of experienced actors who carry a heavy load. Anna Deavere Smith appeared in a strong cameo role.

Slapstick humor and a natural cheesiness, Flora & Ulysses provided a energetic film with decent special effects and some positive performances. The film is fun and certainly worth a watch as a family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Kids should love the misadventures of the super squirrel and the parents can engage with the problems faced by the adult characters. Flora & Ulysses is just the type of film that will find a level of success on Disney +.

3.4 stars

Nomadland (2020)

Nomadland was one of the films that was at or near the top of many critics for 2020, but it was not one that I was able to see until this weekend, as it just now dropped on Hulu and in selected theaters. Many consider it a leading candidate for a possible Oscar nomination. That raises the question… is Nomadland really that good?

Short answer is… yes, it is really good.

Director Chloé Zhao provides a beautifully looking film as we follow the story of Fern (Frances McDormand), a woman who had lost everything in the Great recession and decided to take to the American roads as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

The movie has that distinct independent cinema feel to it as we do not have a true narrative plot to follow as much as we see a slice of life of Fern and what her days are like. She interacts with the people she meets along her journey and continues to find the little joys in life. Nomadland is a deep character study of Fern and the people that she meets on her trip, and it is compelling to watch.

Frances McDormand is wonderful as she always is, but this is an even more impressive performance considering many of the other people in the movie are real life nomads, including Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells from the film. Many times the use of untrained actors is a stunt, trying to draw attention to the film and show how “unconventional” it is trying to be. Many times, these stunts backfire because of the untrained actors and their lack of “acting” ability. However, the characters in Nomadland are real and believable, giving the film a natural feel. These non-actors do a really great job here.

The film does have a slow pace to it, but since the plot is an extremely limited aspect of the movie, there is not a really need to go fast. The imagery of the American West is lovely and plays to support the decisions of these nomads to travel the land instead of going into the bustling modern life. There is a theme within the movie of a rejection of putting down roots, despite the draw that it creates. David Strathairn is one of the other career actors involved here as Dave, whose ties to the home become strong and tests his feelings for Fern.

This was a enjoyable, engaging film that has a great central performance and beautiful cinematography. Chloé Zhao does a masterful job on only her second feature film (and it makes me fascinated to see her MCU film late in 2021, The Eternals).

4 stars

Marvel’s Behind the Mask

Disney + has a wide variety of entertainment options on the streaming service. And Marvel makes up a huge section of the site. So it only makes sense to do a documentary on the background of the comic titan.

Behind the Mask is the story of Marvel, specifically with their attempted history to increase diversity. The doc is slight, but there are some cool facts featuring many of the breakout characters from Marvel Comics including Spider-Man, Black Panther, The Fantastic Four, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales and Captain Marvel.

The idea that Marvel was a leader in pop culture embracing diverse characters of color was part of the hour plus doc. They spoke with some of the greats in the history of Marvel, including some archived footage of Stan Lee that I had never seen before, talking about how these characters are relevant and relatable to the readers they are.

The film talked with such notable creators such as Chris Claremont, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Joe Quesada, Darryl McDaniels, Larry Hama, Gerry Conway, Ann Nocenti, and Christopher Priest.

Though the doc does not shy away from some of the more controversial parts of the time, it does not focus too deftly on it either. It is basically what you would expect from Disney + when talking about it current top cat in way of IEP.

The doc ends with the reading of one of the more famous Stan’s Soapbox columns that would appear in the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins every month. Stan would write about all sorts of relevant material and civil rights was one of Stan’s deepest held beliefs.

The documentary was enjoyable and a comic fan, especially a fan of the Marvel style of comics, can’t go wrong with this film. It is not a giant time commitment and it gives voice to some of the most powerful comic creators available today.

Willy’s Wonderland

This one is Nicolas Cage at his schlocky-best.

Willy’s Wonderland is a strangely odd horror/comedy with Nic Cage playing a character who does not speak and is only known as “The Janitor.” He is fighting monstrous animatronic possessed by the demon spirits of some of the worst serial killer of all time. These animatronics are in the form of Chunk E. Cheese-like mascots.

Yes, that is what I said.

These animatronic monsters are kept inside a rundown restaurant called Willy’s Wonderland and the people of the town are feeding them by tricking strangers and visitors to stay at the restaurant and be killed by the monsters.

Nic Cage’s car has tire troubles and he makes a deal to clean the interior of the restaurant in exchange for his tires being fixed. Little did he know that he was being set up.

There was a group of kids here too, who had been trying to burn the restaurant to the ground. These kids are as disposable as possible. None of them were given much anything of a character and are the typical victims arriving in a slasher movie.

Cage’s character had all kinds of quirks, masquerading as character development. He did not speak at all in the movie and there was no indication as to why. That was not the only thing that was never explained. Cage had an alarm on his watch that went off on a regular basis, and, no matter what he was doing at the time, he would stop and go drink a soda that he had brought with him. He would break until his alarm went off again. There was no explanation for this either (outside of the guy who set up Nic telling him to take breaks, although I believe he had done this before that comment anyway).

Once inside, Cage was locked in, and the animatronics would come to life and try to kill him. Unfortunately for them, Cage seemed to be the real slasher in this slasher movie, and he went about systematically killing these creatures.

And this is the key to this movie. It is silly, B-level film (at best) but, if you watch this with the expectation that this film is just Nicolas Cage out killing weird monsters, then you’ll probably enjoy it. There is zero character depth or development. The story is silly. The local residents are horrific and caricatures. There were no surprises.

And yet, Willy’s Wonderland was fun. It was stupid, but engaging. The special effects fit the type of movie we had. I’d be lying if I said that I did not enjoy watching this. So, while this movie can not be considered good, it can be considered amusing. It is lively and entertaining. It might fall into that cult classic category eventually.

3 stars

Kick Ass (2010)

This past Friday’s episode of WandaVision had a scene where Wanda and Pietro made a reference to Kick Ass. It was funny because both the actor who played Pietro in the episode, Evan Peters, and the actor who originated the role of Pietro in the MCU, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, appeared in the movie Kick Ass. It had been quite awhile since I saw the Mark Millar inspired comic book movie.

Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. originated the characters of Kick Ass and Hit Girl in a Marvel Comics book (under the company’s Icon Comics imprint), which was reprinted in Image Comics.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) was a comic book geek who always wanted to be a superhero. One day, Dave decided to order himself a green wet suit and become Kick Ass, posting his adventures online. Since Dave had no specific super powers, his fights as Kick Ass were less than impressive, though the exploits did create an online sensation.

Kick Ass’s efforts drew the attention of vigilante Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his daughter Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), whose revenge campaign against drug kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) was just beginning. Dave finds himself deep in a violent world of vengeance.

Kick Ass is a remarkably violent and bloody film, anchored by the fun and charismatic characters of Kick Ass and Hit Girl. I have never been a huge fan of the bloody murdering super hero (Punisher type). Growing up with Spider-Man, I have always been of the mind that super heroes do not kill. However, there is no denying the charm of the film and the heroic aspects of the characters, especially Kick Ass, who lacked any measurable skills or abilities for the role. His desire to do good outweighed his own personal danger and that is absolutely what a hero is.

Nicolas Cage was fantastic here. Kick Ass marked a bit of a resurgence for Nic Cage, moving into a different stage of his career. Big Daddy loved his daughter above all else…except perhaps for his vengeance. He is the type of character that could have been fascinating to go into a deeper dive with considering the argument that he is totally off-kilter would not be incorrect. Cage dresses Big Daddy in a Batman-like outfit and the connection to Batman, using his young ward in his fight against crime, is unmistakable. The film touches on, but does not go into great detail, about the moral implications of this partnership.

There are some gay moments and uses in the movie that may not play as well in 2021 as they did in 2010.

Kick Ass does a great job of combining the world of four-color comic books with the brutal world of vigilante heroes. The violence, at times, borders on comical, but there are other times (for example the internet streaming of the torture of Big Daddy and Kick Ass) where the violence was all too real.

Director Matthew Vaughn brings his typical level of style and visual acumen to Kick Ass, overcoming, perhaps, the slightness of the plot. The film was a huge success in the early days of the current renaissance of the comic book movie genre.

Coming to America (1988)

In March, there is a film releasing on Amazon Prime that is a sequel of a movie that came out 33 years ago, which makes me feel really old. Next month see the release of Coming 2 America, the sequel to Coming to America which starred Eddie Murphy as a prince of the African country of Zamunda who comes to New York to find a bride, became something to revisit and remind me of its goodness.

Prince Akeem wanted to find a woman who he loved, who was more than just a subservient, who had a mind of her own. His father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) had an arranged marriage waiting for his son, but Akeem wanted. Accompanied with his loyal servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall), Akeem headed to Queens, New York to find his own potential queen.

To avoid any gold-diggers, Akeem decided to pretend to be destitute, a decision that did not sit well with Semmi. Eventually, Akeem met a woman named Lisa (Shari Headley), who works with her father Cleo McDowell (John Amos) at his fast food restaurant, McDowell’s, not to be confused with McDonald’s. Lisa was already dating a selfish and arrogant jerk, Darryl (Eriq La Salle). Lisa quickly is attracted to the kind and regal nature of Akeem, who takes a job mopping the floor at the restaurant.

Coming to America had always been a favorite of Eddie Murphy’s oeuvre for me, however, watching this film today, I saw some of the drawbacks to it. It did feel long, and I thought there could have been some scenes early in the film that were droppable. It did take Akeem quite a chunk of time to get to New York and he did not find Lisa for awhile. While that makes sense, some of the scenes that were included felt unnecessary.

Still, this movie is very funny and tells a sweet story with Akeem and Lisa. Their relationship felt real and they were very much worth rooting for. I might have liked a little bit more with them, since it seemed as they wound up together pretty quickly. Maybe some of the other scenes could have been edited out to include more of the interactions with Akeem and Lisa.

Eddie Murphy is fantastic here, truly embracing the sweetness of the character of Akeem. He is the most likable character Eddie has ever played, and his sweet attitude bordering on nativity. However, the film does an excellent job of showing Akeem as the fish out of water without letting him cross over into parody.

Murphy and Hall played multiple characters here, including people at the barber shop, and I am not sure that does much for the film. It certainly showed off the skills of these two actors, but it may have taken away from the narrative.

The trailers for Coming 2 America have not looked promising to me, and most times when a sequel comes this long after the original, the results are iffy. Still, Coming to America continues to be a classic and a great film to enjoy.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

The time loop/repeating day film has started to become its own genre as there have been a bunch of these films over the years. Groundhog Day is what everyone always goes to at first, but there has also been Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt’s action adventure Edge of Tomorrow and last year’s surprise hit on Hulu, Palm Springs. If done correctly, these can be very compelling films.

We have reached the next installment in this type of movie with Amazon Prime’s new movie, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.

Mark (Kyle Allen) is a high school teen who appears to have everything in control. We then discover the secret. Mark is repeating the same day over and over on a loop. Becoming complacent with his life, Mark’s world was suddenly rocked when a blonde girl walked through his sight. changing what he knew. He became fascinated in who she was and started trying to find her. When he finds Margaret (Kathryn Newton), he discovers that she is in the same situation as he is.

The two of them began spending time together and started looking for those tiny perfect things that fills out the time in life between the major events.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a charming, fun and entertaining and uses the familiar idea of the repeating day in a new and creative manner. One of the key aspect of the success of the movie is the wonderful leads, Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen. They carry much of the film with their chemistry and their allure. You enjoy watching these young actors whether they were together or alone.

There are some strong moments as we follow the pair along, adapting to their new regular circumstance. Both have internal struggles with their lives and facing them are developing their characters. They approach the idea that maybe they did not want to escape the time loop, which is something that we have not seen yet.

This is a enjoyable movie that is romantic and funny, with some very good performances from young and charming lead characters. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things makes for a good time.

4 stars