BARE BONES: GOOSEBUMPS 2-HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (2018)

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GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (2018)

Sequel has two boys, Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) finding an unfinished book by R.L. Stine (Jack Black) in an abandoned house. Upon opening it, they accidentally unleash the evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy (voiced by Mick Wingert). Slappy now plots to bring Halloween to life and starts bringing monsters into the sleepy town of Wardenclyffe, New York. Can Sonny, Sam and Sonny’s sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) stop Slappy’s evil plot!?

Film is lackadaisically directed by Ari Sandel (The Duff) from a story and script by Rob Lieber and Darren Lemke. It’s a weak script that replays a lot of the same schtick from the first flick, yet not as energetic or fun. Black’s appearance as Stine is basically an extended cameo and the movie as a whole seems a very uninspired effort. It has the definite feel of a paycheck job for those behind the camera. There is some very cool Halloween imagery, some amusing bits and Madison Iseman (Tales Of Halloween, Jumanji) does make for a feisty and resilient heroine. The rest of the cast seem to be having a fun time, but the film itself isn’t as buoyant as it’s predecessor. A mediocre follow-up to a surprisingly fun first flick. Also stars Wendi McLendon-Covey as Sonny and Sarah’s single mom.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

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WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

Dull and sometimes annoying romantic comedy has Noah (an awful Adam Devine) watching the love of his life Avery (Alexandra Daddario) become engaged to another man (Robbie Amell). He somehow uses a photo-booth he and Avery used on the Halloween night they first met and travels back in time three years to that day, determined not to end up being just the best friend this time.

This is a terrible romantic comedy that sadly starts out OK till we once again use both the Groundhog Day and Big plot devices of both someone going back in time and reliving a fateful day over and over to try to get things right. None of it done cleverly like in Happy Death Day. It’s a simply unimaginative script by Miracle Jones, whose writing is anything but, lamely directed by Ari Sandel, who did much better helming The Duff . It’s monotonous and tedious to watch Noah keep going back to that day and trying more and more ludicrous ways to win Avery, all the while screwing things up even worse. Then two thirds of the way in, he switches his attention to Avery’s gal pal Carrie (Shelly Hennig). WHAT? This is a terribly written and generic rom-com that has no point or purpose and uses a now time worn plot device in the most unimaginative way possible. Add to that a truly smug and grating performance by lead Devine and there is little to no reason to waste time on this flick. At least Daddario’s cute and perky thing saved her dignity in this mess.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: ROOMMATE WANTED, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and THE DUFF

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ROOMMATE WANTED (2015)

Incredibly boring and amateurish flick has odd couple roommates Janie (Alexa Vega) and Dee (Spencer Grammar) bickering and getting on each other’s nerves for the entire length of the film till their feud goes from vengeful pranks to violence. And it’s no surprise they get on our nerves, too. That’s it story-wise. Written by Aaron Edward and directed by Rob Margolies, this is a tedious flick, despite being less than 90 minutes in length and the throw-down finale is just silly. Sure Alexa Vega has grown up quite nicely since her Spy Kids days, but otherwise there is nothing much to recommend about this grating and annoying indie film except Vega and Grammar show they’re worthy of better material.

one star rating

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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (2015)

Based on the bestselling novel by E.L. James, this is a dull, lifeless and by-the-numbers film about young college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) who falls into a sadomasochistic relationship with young billionaire Christian Grey (Jaime Dornan). For a film about a passionate but twisted romance, director Sam Taylor-Johnson delivers a cold and stale telling from Kelly Marcel’s equally bland script. There is no heat, passion or even shock as it plays it’s story as safely as possible considering the fetish elements that made the books so notorious. There is very little heat between it’s stars and the sex scenes are quick and over with before you can feel any impact. Dornan is bland and offers no mystery to his emotionally troubled Christian Grey and only Dakota Johnson really tries hard to give some life to her Anastasia Steele (The phony sounding soap opera character names don’t help either). For a film that tells a story of forbidden passions, it’s like watching 50 shades of grey paint dry.

2 star rating

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THE DUFF (2015)

High school comedy, adapted by Josh A. Cagan from Kody Keplinger’s book and directed by Ari Sandel, starts out as another very cliché, ‘hip’ telling of the woes of the high school class system, but as the story progresses, actually evolves into a sweet story of a young girl finding herself. Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is shocked and hurt to find out she is the “DUFF” of her group of friends…the Designated Ugly Fat Friend…whose existence is solely to make the others look better. Bianca then sets out determined to change her status and on the way finds herself and her first love. Despite that girl-next-door Mae Whitman is too cute to really be a DUFF (it is explained, though, that a DUFF merely needs to be the least attractive of the group, not necessarily ugly) and the film starts out echoing every other recent high school flick, a third of the way in it starts to become something with a little more substance. After the generic make-over attempt scene, the film takes a slight turn and becomes a sweet and poignant tale of a young girl who realizes she only needs to change how she looks at herself to change how others see her. And as such, it works quite well and is far more entertaining than we thought it would be at the start. A cute, harmless film with a heart and surprisingly, a little depth, too.

3 star rating

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 -MonsterZero NJ
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