BARE BONES: WELCOME TO ME

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welcome to me

WELCOME TO ME (2014)

Comedy/drama finds emotionally and mentally troubled Alice Klieg off her meds and obsessed with TV, namely Oprah. When she wins $86 Million in the lottery, she pays a down on his luck producer (James Marsden) to let her have her own TV talk show…one that stars Alice, is about Alice and the only guest being Alice.

Kristen Wiig is a brilliant actress and comedian and the only reason this flick is as watchable as it is, is because of her performance. The concept from Eliot Laurence’s script, as directed by Shira Piven, is interesting but the film never really takes full advantage of it’s premise. We follow Alice as she reflects back on incidents in her life, such as having make-up stolen out of her bag as a teen and cooking her own concoctions such as meatloaf cake with sweet potato icing…all in front of a live audience. Predictably, she becomes a cult hit until the whole thing starts to backfire as all those she blames for her problems in life take issue with her finger pointing. The filmmakers roll out these mundane and ludicrous set pieces, as Alice goes from one tangent to another, but miss the opportunity to really provide some satire and commentary on today’s society and it’s obsession with the lives of others. It also only weakly touches on the current trend of seeing ourselves as some kind of celebrities with our posts on social media, as if everyone cares what we’re thinking, watching or eating (says the guy with the movie blog. LOL!). It really misses a golden opportunity to skewer the notion that through reality TV and social media, we all have become celebrities in our own minds and can’t wait to share our most droll thoughts with millions of others. Instead we just get yet another indie flick about yet another self absorbed person learning some life lessons about being less selfish and thinking a little more about those around them. It’s a shame, Wiig is up to the task but not given material worthy of her talents or the story’s premise. Also stars Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Joan Cusack.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: GRANDMA and FREAKS OF NATURE

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GRANDMA (2015)

Written and directed by Paul Weitz, Grandma tells the story of cantankerous Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin), an aging lesbian poet who has just ended a relationship with a younger woman (Judy Greer). On that same day she gets a visit from her granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner)…obviously, Elle was married once…who needs over $600 for an abortion. The penniless Elle now begins a trek across L.A. to see friends, her ex-husband and ultimately, Sage’s mother, trying to raise the cash for her granddaughter’s procedure and unintentionally raising a little hell and learning something about herself, as well.

The performances in this flick are first rate, with Tomlin ruling the roost with her angry, volatile Elle and the film is well directed with some snappy dialog. It’s the story that fails to really involve the audience as it’s a just another ‘angry eccentric learning something about themselves’ flick. The film also tries way too hard to have all it’s liberal and indie film pieces in place with it’s story of an eccentric, lesbian poet helping her granddaughter get a *gasp* abortion story. It thinks it’s daring, but clear away the controversial topic and it’s just another journey of self-discovery movie about someone realizing they have let their inner pain sully their life. Elle is an interesting character, but one we’ve seen before, who comes to the same realizations that these types of grumpy characters usually do. Adding a pro-abortion element doesn’t make it any more new or daring. Also stars Sam Elliott and Marcia Gay Harden as Elle’s ex-husband and daughter respectively.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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freaks of nature

FREAKS OF NATURE (2015)

Dumb and dull horror/comedy takes place in the town of Dillford, renown for it’s rib sandwiches. Also, the community is made up of a mix of humans, vampires and zombies living in an uneasy harmony. When an alien spacecraft arrives, it creates a panic, which in-turn reignites old rivalries. As human, vampire and zombie are once again at each other’s throats, three high school kids, human Dag (Nicholas Braun), vampire Petra (Mackenzie Davis) and zombie Ned (Josh Fadem), are forced to work together to save all from the alien invasion.

This is a silly flick with a very convoluted concept and plot, that could have worked in more capable hands. It all boils down to the same “we can live together despite our differences” message we have seen so many times before and a bland use of it’s oddball story set-up. The film is goofy and gory and that would certainly be fine if it were also clever and funny. It’s just a bunch of ideas thrown in a blender with a half hour plot dragged out over 90 minutes. The action stops for long periods of character moping and once it’s over, you realize it went exactly where you expected it to from scene one. The SPFX are surprisingly good, as is the gore and at least the cast gets the tone of the weak material. As directed  by Robbie Pickering and written by Oren Uziel, the film is basically a ho-hum mess, whereas somewhere inside it there might have been a fun midnight movie buried under all the mediocrity. Also stars Denis Leary, Joan Cusack, Patton Oswalt and the yummy Vanessa Hudgens as Dag’s hopeless pursuit turned vampire vixen.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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