Licorice Pizza

Here is another film that I’m unsure about.

I was entertained.

Yet, I had all kinds of problems with it. This is going to make it difficult for me to recommend this.

Paul Thomas Anderson has an eclectic list of films that he has directed over the years and this has that PTA feel to it.

Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) is a 15-year old high school student who meets 25 (maybe 28)-year old Alana (Alana Haim) when she was at the school to do student pictures. They bond as friends and more and they spend the movie doing things around the San Fernando Valley, 1973.

One of my biggest problems with the movie was that there was really no narrative structure to it. It had a series of scenes, many of which were very entertaining, but had no narrative need for the movie. I guess the relationship between the two of them was the throughline of the story, but so many other scenes felt like distractions from that path.

Another major issue is the age difference between Gary and Alana. Alana was 25 (and at one point she slips and says that she was 28) and Gary is 15. That relationship is, at best, questionable. Neither of them are characters that I was rooting for to get together either. I actually couldn’t care less if they overcome the challenges that had been placed in their way.

Going along with this, I was unsure exactly what the passage of time was like here. I got the implication that some time had passed during the film, but I was not aware what that time was supposed to be, which caused an even more problematic situation between the two people.

There are some great actors involved here with characters that were very funny, but just show up for no apparent reason. Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, John Michael Higgins, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly and Benny Safdie all had scenes in the film and very few of them had any sort of resolution or purpose for being there.

For example, when Gary was at a convention type affair selling waterbeds, the police grabbed him, cuffed him and arrested him for murder. They shoved him in the car and took him to the station. They dragged another person out in front of him and he said that he wasn’t the guy. So they let Gary go. I found that irreverent and funny, but it absolutely served no purpose to the film except as a funny segue. It was never referenced again. Maybe I missed the relevance but there were a bunch of other examples just like that which made me think that the randomness of the situation is what they were going for.

Again, I was entertained by the scene, but why was it here?

I did find the performance of Alana Haim to be great. She brought the right amount of confusion and anguish as well as joy that I related to her most of all. Her character was not vey likable, so it was her acting that brought me in.

The film was around 133 minutes and that felt too long. The middle of the film meandered a lot and could have benefited from some editing. Perhaps they could have removed a scene or two of unnecessary nonsense.

Maybe the idea behind it is that the world is full of ridiculousness and when you have a chance at happiness, you should not let it get away. Maybe.

While I did enjoy the overall haphazardry of the scenes, I do not think this is a good movie. Again, I feel odd because I did find much of this movie entertaining, but I would not recommend it to anyone.

2.75 stars


This was a gutpunch.

I wasn’t expecting that. I had no idea about Mass when I saw it on Vudu for rental. I recognized the title during my research for potential Oscar winners. In fact, I remembered it from seeing Ann Dowd in consideration for Best Actress. I remembered Dowd’s name from the Live Different Stroke/Facts of Life special where she was Mrs. Garrett.

This wasn’t anything like that.

This was a story of two families who had been impacted a few years before from a school shooting. Jay (Jason Isaacs) and Gail (Martha Plimpton) were the parents of one of the victims while Linda (Ann Dowd) and Richard (Reed Birney) were the parents of the shooter. They were brought together as a way to try and find a way that they could move on.

This was as uncomfortable as you could imagine it would be. The pain, the grief, the anger and resentment all still raw like an exposed nerve.

Both couples started on eggshells, as you would expect. Before the meeting had been arranged, the psychologists had prepped them to not be judgmental or to interrogate each other. The couples tried desperately to cling to those rules of meeting, but they were not having much success because they needed more.

As it moved along, things started to become more confrontational, more tense, and these actors’ performances really started to rip your heart out.

Speaking of the performances, these four actors are just amazing. With a completely dialogue/conversation driven film, it depends 100% on the actors to carry the load and to keep the engagement of the audience and these four actors do so brilliantly.

As a teacher, this topic is one that hits home very hard and this was a difficult film to watch. It was painful, but so worth it. The idea of the shooter and a victim’s parents meeting is filled with dramatic tension and scenes.

Mass was compelling and tough. Seek it out if you want to search through your emotions.

4.5 stars


Another film that I am catching up on for the 2021 year is on Netflix and it featured Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga in a period piece.

Thompson and Negga play old high school friends who have come back together. Both women are light skinned African American, but Thompson is married to a black doctor and Negga is pretending to be a white woman and she is married to a wealthy racist white man.

Once they meet back up, they become involved in each other’s life. Ruth Negga inserts herself into Thompson’s world in part because she missed the black culture that she had given up to pass as a white woman.

During this time, the strikingly beautiful Negga began to become close with Thompson’s husband (André Holland) and Thompson started to feel jealous as he began displaying tendencies that made Thompson suspicious and uneasy.

The performances in Passing are strong and the story flows pretty well. It is an intriguing concept that I did not know ever occurred. The film creates beautiful imagery as it is filmed in black and white, making Negga look even more like she was white. That helped create an illusion about the skin color of Ruth Negga, and her blonde hair made it all the mosre.

The ideas of the differences in race is very apparent in the movie, as the behavior of the different characters displays their feelings. Holland wants to inform his children about the dangers of living in Harlem, but Thompson wants them to stay children longer. These conversations are happening yet today in black homes and it is hard to grasp if you are white skinned.

This is a well done film that moves rapidly and has a sudden shock in the third act that will blow your mind.

3.75 stars

A Boy Called Christmas

I’m not crying, *sob* , you’re crying.

I had it in my head that this movie, A Boy Called Christmas, was an animated film instead of the live action film that it is. But I figured that I could do one more Christmas movie even though Christmas had passed.

I never anticipated this film hitting me as hard as it did.

A Boy Called Christmas is a story of hope, a story of love and a story of perseverance. It is filled with magic and mythology, packed to its brim.

Aunt Ruth (Maggie Smith) has to babysit for three precocious children whose mother was gone. Seeing that the children needed some magic, she told them a story about Nikolas (Henry Lawfull), a young lad whose mother had died and whose father (Michiel Huisman) was struggling. The village’s King (Jim Broadbent) offered a reward for anyone who could find some magic to renew hope in their land. Nikolas’s father departed with a group of other men in search of the mythical town of Elfhelm.

After awhile, as Nikolas was having troubles with his wicked Aunt Carlotta (Kristen Wiig), he took off with his mouse friend Miika (Stephen Merchant), who Nikolas had taught to speak, to try and find his father.

Nikolas met a reindeer who had been injured by an arrow, helped him out and named him Blitzen. Nikolas found the village but discovered that the elves are mad because a group of humans had kidnapped a child elf.

Nikolas took off to try and find his father and save the child.

Honestly, I am not a huge fan of Christmas. I haven’t been for years, but this film is so filled with magic and emotion that you cannot help but love it. It does take a little while to get going and I was disappointed with Kristen Wiig’s character, but once this gets underway, A Boy Called Christmas pushes all the buttons. It is a beautiful origin story for Father Christmas and it has some totally powerful and legitimately painful moments. This is not just a movie for kids. This deals with serious topics, including grief.

The wonderful Dame Maggie Smith has the best quote of the film when she said, ” Grief is the price we pay for love, and worth it a million times over” which, of course, immediately made me think of Vision’s classic quote from earlier this year, “What is grief, if not love, persevering?” These are wonderful quotes to help approach the concept of loss for kids. Something this movie does extremely well.

You can add this to Klaus as classic Christmas movies to watch on Netflix. A Boy Called Christmas is everything that is great about Christmastime.

4.5 stars

Don’t Look Up

Oh, this one isn’t going to be divisive.

Adam McKay’s new satire on Netflix is going to split the viewers apart because it parodies plenty of current issues. To be fair, and I am not sure some will be such, it does not make either side look great. There was enough satire to go around.

Astronomy professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and astronomy grad student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) made a startling discovery. There was a massive comet heading straight at the earth, preparing to strike the planet in 6 months, which would lead to a catastrophic event.

They went to see United States President Orlean (Meryl Streep) with their concerns only to be rebuked and told that their comet would be something that they would observe and reassess. This led to Mindy and Dibiasky to begin their own media campaign to get the message out to the public.

The whole comet about to hit the earth became a giant analogy for the COVID-19 struggles, with our science vs. disbelief with Mindy taking the role of Dr. Fauci. Dr. Mindy was not free of being parodied as DiCaprio took that character to several questionable moments, including an affair with a talk show host from the Daily Rip, Brie (Cate Blanchett).

Not only was the COVID response skewered by this movie, so was social media and what becomes important. Celebrity stories outweighing important news and the public turning events into memes are all over the film.

Jonah Hill played White House Chief of Staff and son of President Orlean, Jason, an obvious shot toward Donald Trump Jr. and some of the other nepotism that went on during that administration. But Trump was not the administration that had some shots fired. There was a photo on her desk of President Orlean hugging Bill Clinton.

The film shoots at the extremely wealthy and their disregard for the climate of the world in order to become even wealthier. Mark Rylance played a character named Peter Isherwell, who convinces President Orlean to mine the comet before breaking it away from orbit.

Political messages are another target here. When Dr. Mindy could see the comet in the sky, he started a campaign about just looking to the sky and, in response, we saw huge campaign rallies, led by President Orlean, with the message “Don’t Look Up.”

There may be too much satire in the story, as things get kind of ridiculous. The sad part is it also felt too real and familiar. I think McKay should have balanced out the satirical elements a bit more so his message didn’t become so obvious. He is going to lose people who claim he is “preaching” to them, even though, as I said earlier, there was enough mockery to go around.

There was a huge cast and some of the actors that I haven’t mentioned yet include Tyler Perry, Rob Morgan, Ron Perlman, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Himesh Patel and Michael Chiklis.

As I said, I don’t think the audience will look past some of the divisiveness in Don’t Look Up, but I found it a funny, dark comedy with some real laugh out loud moments.

3.4 stars


I had received a recommendation to watch Lucky on Shudder, and I had heard that this was one of the best movies of the year. No doubt that it is a solid new take on the slasher movie with a message to say. Natasha Kermani directed the film and leaves some things maddeningly unresolved.

The general idea behind the story is that May (Brea Grant), a self-help book author, is in a shaky marriage with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh), but she is being attacked by a home invader every night and she has to fight him off to survive.

People she tells either does not believe her or does nothing to help her and she continues to be frustrated by events. When ted leaves her alone, she becomes even more worried as the strange events repeat themselves every night, no matter where she is.

As the film progresses toward the conclusion, it becomes apparent that Lucky is more about the message and less about the plot. It seems to be a gigantic metaphor for the way women are treated and about the issue of misogyny in the lives of women.

My first instinct when the film ended was that I wanted more, I wanted more of a conclusion to the story than what the film was presenting. However, upon reflection, Lucky became more about the idea than the story. It deals with the struggle of women in the world and the challenges that they have to fight to accomplish. It does discard much of the narrative structure to end the film with a shocking turn, leaving the results very unresolved. It is a fascinating film that takes some big swings that mostly create the image that Natasha Kermani wants to project.

This won’t be for everyone, but the message is important and dominates the movie.

3.5 stars

Swan Song

Apple TV + has had a few movies on their streaming service in 2021, but they have not had a lot. There are more series than movies. However, Mahershala Ali’s new sci-fi film, Swan Song, debuted on the service last week and he is a standout in the film.

Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. His doctor (Glenn Close) presented him with an opportunity to spare his wife Poppy (Naomie Harris), who just recently lost her twin Andre (Nyasha Hatendi), the grief of his death. She offered to have him replaced with a duplicate of himself who would insert himself into his family’s life without them knowing.

Mahershala Ali brings a major performance in this dual role, playing the uncertainty and the anguish of a man not sure if what he was doing was right. Mahershala Ali is really strong and elevated the film, which is okay, to another level.

Performances are absolutely the strength of this movie because not only is there Mahershala Ali, but Awkwafina, who plays another person who has already replaced herself with a duplicate, is amazing and Naomie Harris as Poppy has some really powerful moments over the loss of her brother.

The premise is excellent too, but the film does not feel as if it takes the steps to really commit to it. Thanks to the performances, Swan Song turned out to be a worthwhile experience.

Swan Song is currently available on Apple TV +.

3.6 stars

C’mon C’mon

Director Mike Mills’ new film has a simple story, but it dives into considerable depth of character, looking at the relationships between adults and kids, in C’mon C’mon.

Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) is a journalist who is working on a project that calls for him to interview kids across the country. Suddenly, he is tossed into a situation in Los Angeles where he has to help take care of his nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) because Jesse’s mother/Johnny’ sister Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) has to help her ex-husband (Scoot McNairy) get past a major life event.

However, Johnny needed to continue his work in New York so he convinces Viv to let him take Jesse with him to the Big Apple.

The relationship between Johnny and Jesse is at the center of the film, but it is not the only relationship investigated. Johnny and Viv’s mother/son relationship is looked at as well as the relationship between Jesse and his father. Each one is realistic and caring, showing the depth of love between the individuals as well as the amount of other feelings that occur in a normal relationship.

Johnny struggled as he was unused to having to connect with a 9-year old kid before, searching for support on the phone with Viv, both verbally and via text. You can see how close Johnny and Jesse becomes through the difficulties of living in the world.

The film is beautifully shot in black and white, bringing a richness to the imagery of the land. We get to see the differences between LA, New York and, eventually, New Orleans, as Johnny continued his work interviewing kids about their thoughts and concerns.

Some of the interviews with the kids are wonderfully intriguing and feel as if they are real. I do not know if these are actors as the interview subjects, but if they are, they do a tremendous job of feeling genuine. These interviews play over the end credits as well and help to emphasize the themes of the movie.

C’mon C’mon is poignant and emotional and anyone who has relationships with kids are going to relate to the film. Joaquin Phoenix is subtly great and Woody Norman gives a fantastic performance. Gaby Hoffmann is amazing as well, especially considering that, for most of the movie, all she has to act opposite is the phone she is talking on.

This film is recently available on VOD and is a very strong and positive film you should search out.

4 stars

The Matrix Resurrections

Back in 1999, there was a science fiction adventure film released that was imaginative, inspirational and epic. It was called The Matrix. It transcended the theater and planted itself squarely in the pop culture zeitgeist of a generation. Then came a pair of sequels that most (though admittedly not all) of the people believed were a major step down. They convoluted the narrative structure of the original until it was a mess.

Then, almost 20 years later, one of the original creators of the original, returned and resurrected the series with a brand new film featuring some of the same stars and several of the same characters.

The Matrix Resurrections returns to the world of the Matrix with our favorite Neo (Keanu Reeves) back on tow. Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), who died in the third film, is here too. Morpheus is back, sort of, with a different actor taking the role made famous by Laurence Fishburne, although it is not quite the same.

Then there are a group of other secondary characters who make up the crew, most notably Bugs (Jessica Henwick). None of these secondary characters mean much.

Our villain from the original trilogy was Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, is now being played by Jonathan Groff, in one of the more interesting takes. Agent Smith’s newness is strange and I can honestly say I am not sure how it happened. I must have missed that reason among the ton of exposition being dropped.

Another villain was Neil Patrick Harris. He plays villains surprisingly well. He has some great facial expressions that provide the Analyst with his development.

I’m not sure if you can tell from my tone so far, but I did not like this movie very much.

It started meta to the max as Mr. Anderson was shown as the creator of a video game called The Matrix and that all of Neo’s memories were inside the game as fiction instead of truth. He was shown as mentally unstable and it had been stated that he was suffering from mental illness. I have to say the whole meta narrative started to pull me in a bit. I was wondering exactly where it could go from there.

Where it did go was to Exposition City. The next hour (or more) of the film was spent telling us what had happened and how our heroes had been placed in this new reality. Some of the exposition was documented through scenes from the original trilogy to help cement the concept.

It was during this period of time that I found myself losing interest.

The action scenes continued to be repetitive and were nowhere as inventive as the ones from The Matrix.

Most of the second half of the movie was spent trying to reawaken Trinity from the Matrix and getting her out while avoiding the Swarm, which was absolutely not zombies.

I enjoyed Keanu and Carrie-Ann in their iconic roles. They were a strength of the film. It continued to look tremendous and the CGI was top notch. I’m not sure the purpose of the film. The narrative was a basic retread with a few tweaks, and the characters were flat and uninspiring. Jonathan Groff was great too, as he always is.

There is a post credit scene that is as out of place as much of the rest of the movie. I feel as if there is a story inside this film that has a comment about the overall use of nostalgia in Hollywood, but it never takes full grasp. Otherwise, there is nothing new here and The Matrix Resurrections should have just stayed in the goo.

2.2 stars

Sing 2

When the first Sing came out, I remember not expecting to like the film much, but enjoying it quite a bit. Now, with Sing 2 coming out, once again I was not certain that I would like the new Illumination film. However, for the second time, I enjoyed this sequel a lot.

In much the same way as the first film, our mismatched group of animal performers now are trying to put on a show on a bigger stage, for the wolf Mr. Crystal (Bobby Cannavale), whose viciousness showed through. Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) yells Mr. Crystal that he can guarantee the return of rock star Clay Calloway (Bono), who went into seclusion after the death of his wife. Problem was… Buster did not know where he could find Clay.

The story was pretty simple and straight-forward, with the creators throwing conflicts into the story to cause issues. Each of the main characters had something that they had to overcome in order to put on their show.

The first act of the film is a bit slow, bordering on dull. As the film progressed, the story picked up steam. In the third act, the story was mostly about the show, as the characters accomplished what they had to do in order to be successful.

Easily the best part of the movie is the music, with the exception of the opening number, Let’s Go Crazy, which would most likely have Prince rolling over in his grave. The stage show that makes up the third act is filled with amazing music and beautiful animated backdrops. The colors and brightness of these scenes leaped off the screen.

The film is filled with a great deal of voice talent, both those returning from the original and new ones to the sequel. They include Taron Edgerton, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll, Nick Offerman, Halsey, Letitia Wright, Pharrell Williams, Tori Kelly, Jennifer Saunders, Peter Serafinowicz, and Adam Buxton.

Though the ending was predictable, it still had an emotional wallop and made the journey worthwhile (that is …after Let’s Go Crazy).

4 stars

The King’s Man

The prequel to the Kingsman franchise, The King’s Man, finally opened after several years of pushing the film back for a variety of reasons.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the world was filled with dangers and on the brink of war. There was a cabal featuring some of the worst individuals from history such as Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) trying to push the world toward war. This led to the eventual formation of the Kingsman agency.

I did not enjoy this movie that much. Let me specify. I did think the third act was pretty good, probably my favorite part. I did think Rasputin was over the top and I enjoyed him. He seemed to fit with the idea of the Kingsman universe.

However, much of this movie did not feel like a Kingsman film. There was a long stretch where the film was more of a World War I film than what was expected. This section of the film felt out of place and was drawn out.

Ralph Fiennes played Orlando Oxford, who lost his wife around the turn of the century and had to raise his son Conrad, desperate to protect him. As Conrad (Harris Dickinson) grew to a young man, he wanted to go and serve his country in the war, but his father did whatever he could to keep Conrad safe.

I did not find the first two acts of this movie entertaining, if not dull. The overall film is a mess. It does not know what it wants to be and the tones do not work together.

Djimon Hounsou played a partner of Fiennes named Shola, and he does a decent job as always. Gemma Arterton played Polly, another who would be within the eventual Kingsman.

The film played with a lot of the real history of Europe and the world. It certainly did not make Woodrow Wilson look very good.

I enjoyed the first Kingsman a lot, but I did not like the sequel. Unfortunately, this tips to the side of negative.

2.3 stars

Being the Ricardos

Aaron Sorkin has returned with his newest film that he both wrote and directed, this time the story of the week where Lucille Ball’s possible Communist ties were published and the doubt of the future of her career and the show, I Love Lucy, created a stressful and difficult workplace.

The film started in the style of a documentary, with several older version of people who were there with Lucy and Desi, talking to the camera about the events of that week. The film also used flashbacks to give us a flavor of how Lucy (Nicole Kidman) and Desi (Javier Bardem) met, fell in love and became one of the power couples in Hollywood during the 1950s.

Much like celebrities today, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were interesting personalities that people wanted to know more about and, at the same time as the Communist story was being threatened to drop, a story speculating about Desi cheating on Lucy came out, adding to the stress and anxiety of the week.

The film showed us a behind the scenes look at I Love Lucy and how it was created. It showed us the powerhouse, the tornado Lucille Ball could be in search of the perfect comedic bit. The film went out of its way to show how Lucy could focus on the small details in order to make a scene perfect and how some of the crew may have taken it.

JK Simmons and Nina Arianda played William Frawley and Vivian Vance, respectively, who were the actors behind Lucy and Ricky’s next door neighbors and best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz. JK Simmons was awesome as William and seemed to embody “Fred” beautifully. We also got to see how much he cared for Lucy and how much he had a tempestuous relationship with Vivian Vance.

As with all of Sorken’s scripts, the dialogue is sparkling and a wonder to listen to. While his direction may not reach the level of his writing, the film does a great job of showing us who these people were, despite the fact that we know all about them.

Nicole Kidman is exceptional as Lucille Ball. She brings a ferocity to the character that you may not have known existed. Javier Bardem may not look much like Desi Arnaz, but he brought a definite energy to the Cuban bandleader and gave him his own strength outside of his famous wife. The lead performances , as well as the rousing dialogue, prevents this from turning into a Lifetime movie.

Placing the film during this time is a good choice and the life of Lucy and Desi is filled with drama and comedy. I loved the way this was presented, smart and witty.

4.4 stars

The French Dispatch

Wes Anderson is one of the most original, quirky film makers working today. His style is unlike any director in the movie industry and that oddball flavor is in full display in The French Dispatch, Anderson’s latest film.

According to Anderson, The French Dispatch is a “love letter to journalists” as the film follows three separate stories of three journalists preparing their stories for the fictional Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun newspaper as they create its final issue. The three sections of the movie are “Concrete Masterpiece”, “Revisions of a Manifesto” and “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner.”  Each section have its humor and eccentricities that fill the approximately balanced screen time.

I laughed a lot during The French Dispatch because there were so many things that were so silly that it was humorous. So much was presented with a sly, deadpan delivery that no one involved believe it to be funny or even strange. This, of course, made the situation all the funnier.

There is a massive ensemble cast. Wes Anderson has many of his reoccurring troupe of actors in the film, but there were others present that we have not seen in Anderson movies prior. The cast included Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeffrey Wright, Benicio Del Toro, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Owen Wilson, Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Lyna Khoudri, Adrien Brody, Christoph Waltz, Liev Schreiber, Stephen Park, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, Fisher Stevens, Willem Dafoe, Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, Winston Ait Hellal, Tony Revolori, and Griffin Dunne.

The first and third sections of the film were my favorites. There is an animated bit in the third story that was just hilarious. It is so clear that the whole cast was just having a ball with their bizarre characters that it came across in their performances.

The colors are perfectly mixed with stylish black and white that enhances the storytelling of each act. The writing is witty and verbose. The dialogue is rich and intricate and helps to infuse each individual character with something original and special.

If you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s work, this film is for you. If you enjoy eccentric characters and some ridiculous situations, you’ll like The French Dispatch. Yes, it is a little disjointed but it fits together sufficiently enough, I guess. It is an experience for sure.

4.2 stars


CODA stands for children of deaf adults. This film has been around all year, originally debuting at 2021 Sundance in January, and it was one that I heard about from the For Your Consideration crew on YouTube. It reminded me of this movie that was being talked about earlier this year on SEN Live.

I went to see where the film was streaming and found it on Apple TV +. I don’t check Apple TV + much so some things may slip past. CODA was one of the films that slipped by, but I am so grateful that I was able to circle back to CODA because it was a tremendous film.

Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a teenager whose mother (Marlee Matlin), father (Troy Kotsur) and older brother (Daniel Durant) were all deaf. Ruby is the only member of her immediate family who could hear. At school, Ruby joined the choir because she loved to sing. She also had to help her father and brother on their fishing boat as the translator.

In the choir, after some initial doubt, Ruby showed her talent and her teacher, Mr. Bernardo Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) thought she had that special “it” and wanted her to try to apply to Berklee.

The film does a wonderful job creating these characters and presenting their relationships. How important Ruby was for her family and how she was getting overwhelmed by expectations and how it conflicted with what she wanted to do.

The ending of the film was very emotional and real. There was a scene between Ruby and her father sitting on the tailgate of his truck that was just beautiful.

By the way, Eugenio Derbez does a phenomenal job as Bernardo. He was funny, had great dialogue and played off Emilia Jones so well. This was one of my favorite performances from him.

This coming to age movie tells a great story, has great performances with real deaf actors and fills the screen with awesome characters. It is a film that you should seek out. It’s worth it.

4.3 stars

Ron’s Gone Wrong

Now that winter break is here, I have the opportunity to catch up on a few of the films that I have missed over the year (especially since the year end lists are coming up soon). Today, I went to Disney + for the animated film Ron’s Gone Wrong.

Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer) was a socially awkward middle schooler who was lonely and isolated from his class. Picked on and tormented, Barney was the only person seemingly anywhere who does not have a B-bot, the new walking, talking, digitally-connected device- the best-friend-out-of-the-box. Barney desperately wants one for his birthday so he could possibly become one of the crowd. When he did not get the B-bot, Barney was truly disappointed. His father Graham (Ed Helms) realized his mistake and went to find him one, but it was going to take 3-months back order. He found a damaged one that had fallen off the delivery truck and he bought that for Barney.

Barney realized almost immediately that the B-bot he had was unlike the others. After some chaotic moments, Barney bonds with the B-bot and named him Ron (Zach Galifianakis). All the while, the producers of the B-bot were desperately trying to find Ron and recycle him, through a crusher machine.

This animated film was fun, enjoyable and had a good message of friendship and respect, as well as a message about the online community and how it is a danger to become too hooked into the internet.

The connection between Barney and Ron really work and it feels real. They were more like brothers in the film than they were kid and their toy.

I also enjoyed the simple design of Ron. He reminded me of a smaller version of Baymax from Big Hero 6 and his look absolutely created something that I can believe cares for Barney.

This is a movie that would be good for both adults and kids. It can be found not only on Disney +, but also on Hulu and HBO Max as well.

3.8 stars