REVIEW: “SCREAM” (2022) Paramount Pictures / Spyglass Media Group

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Ring..Ring.. Ring..Ring.. Yes – someone still has a landline and yes, what would “SCREAM” be if they didn’t. I mean they have to follow some traditions and this one is a MUST to have as they can’t deny us, the audience this one major plot point now can they. Well thankfully co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett agree.

The plot is simple and while it’s good to it all keep vague to not spoil it, it’s also exactly what you think it will be with the exception of this time around they’ve brought along with them a new cast of characters. New girls Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), and her older sister Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), as our female leads, essentially taking the spots of Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox), and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), they have the same chemistry of not really being close at the beginning. And then Ghostface returns to town proving he can still slash with the best of them, and turns everything upside down.

With her own set of suspects…errr… friends, Tara gets attacked by whomever Ghostface might actually be this time around and that list of new suspects is long. There is Sam’s boyfriend Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid), along with Tara’s group of school friends, Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison), the twins, Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy-Brown), Liv McKenzie (Sonia Ammar), and Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) – who is none other than Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) son. Combining this new cast along with our old favourites – Gale, Sidney and yes, the now “retired” Dewey Riley (David Arquette), makes this film an absolute blast, with a lot of crisp, smart, but alas also cliched writing, that combines the nostalgia of what has come before with the infusion of fresh talent present here. Now this is how you return to Woodsboro.

SCREAM is a fun, intelligent horror film and the fandom should be quite happy here with it as it draws some good laughs for how the writers nail every piece of the dialogue, along with the film’s ability to recognize not only where it came from, but to play with it along the way. You’re along for the jokes as an audience, while it juggles every one of your expectations when it comes to what is on the screen. And while of course it has cliché galore and some cheese is thrown in, but that is sorta what the DNA of the franchise is notorious for now isn’t it?! Truly, what would a ‘SCREAM’ movie be if your characters didn’t get slashed and still be able to get up and walk around like nothing has ever happened. And that’s also what brings the humour – the quick funny one liners about what people “should” be doing in a horror movie is what made the original well.. so original.

And while the new cast is good and pretty solid in their respective new roles with any one of them being able to be and/or suspected of at one time or another, of being Ghostface. Noting that they remind you of characters of old is to be expected as well, but it is Jenna Ortega who is truly amazing here. She brings the solid teen vibes making being stalked by Ghostface seem realistic. But for all that they bring, it’s hands down the old school cast that brings it hard here. Every one of them brings back not just the memories, but their characters are more solid at this point as well. One can’t help but be entertained by it all.

With tons of slasher kills, some are not for the faint of heart, as they try to outdo each other in this area and while fun, the finale seems almost like they were trying a bit too hard to come up with too many twists and turns that are fairly obvious. But again, it’s mostly just some fun with cliché thrown in adding to the good old time slash – all in all – it’s a ..SCREAM!

Grade: B+

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Review Screening: Tuesday, January 11, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment

“SCREAM” IS OUT IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, 2022

REVIEW: “THE 355” (2022) Universal Pictures

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Universal Pictures and director Simon Kinberg brings together an incredible group of women from Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Bingbin Fan and Diane Kruger in it’s latest release “THE 355”.

The film follows CIA spy Mason (Jessica Chastain), as she goes off-grid after a tangled mess up debacle with fellow agent/love interest Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan). On the hunt for a new mass destruction techno weapon – one that could probably bring World War III about and possibly destroy the world through the power of technology, she teams up with her old friend MI6 cybersecurity expert Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o). But getting the disk eludes them as they battle as well against German BND Agent Marie (Diane Kruger), as they end up combining forces for the common good. As well, Colombian psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz), and Chinese MSS spy Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), come into play as well, though Graciela is no spy – she is a mother with a family back home who was thrown into it all when her friend Luis Rojas (Edgar Ramirez) is killed. As well Lin Mi doesn’t join in until they get closer to the asset and expose the corruption that may take them down some paths that lead closer to home than they realize.

Now does this film involve brain surgery – no it does not. It is however full of decent action and can be entertaining for the most part – if it weren’t so darn predictable with the character story lines. It has it’s ups and downs, for the most part getting a bit more exciting in the second half where the device is put up for auction, but again, we are in the predictable ‘bad guys at the auction’ set-up here. And as I always say, you are only as good as your villain, which here is once again, predictable.

However all is not lost as the five leading ladies are all quite superb with their distinctive characters with all of them given a decent amount to do and flesh out their characters, though Fan’s Lin Mi character doesn’t show up till at least two-thirds of the way, she makes her mark. Their dynamics and chemistry are engaging as well though Chastain and Kruger’s respective agents spark off one another throughout with their entertaining, but averse relationship, while Nyong’o brings the ‘heart’ to the film in her role as retired MI6 computer expert. It is however, Penélope Cruz who comes close to stealing the show as Colombian psychologist Graciela, as she brings the much needed fun into the film with a character very much out of her depth in the espionage and action department. And lastly, the character of Marie – with Diane Kruger just bringing the bad-assery with her here every step of the way. She’s the character you love to hate, and then love again.

Again, while entertaining at times, and the bad-assery is quite on par, and ‘Girl Power’ definitely reigns supreme here, unfortunately the end result is a rather mish-mash affair that, while not really ever dull, never really feels all that fully exciting either.

Grade: C-

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Review Screener: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“THE 355” is out in theaters Friday, January 7, 2022

REVIEW: “DRIVE MY CAR” (2021) Janus Films

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Continuing on with some reviews I had in the queue from 2021 and this next one is the incredible “DRIVE MY CAR” from director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi.

If someone had told me that I would be spending three hours watching a Japanese film with sub-titles and actually want more when the film ended, well yes, I would have probably thought you had popped a gummy or two. I mean honestly, when was the last time you saw a three-hour movie you wished could be longer? And trust me when I tell you that “Drive My Car” not only inspires that wish, it grants it along with every other single film wish you ever had. It also has a moment where if ‘fools’ you as the credits roll around the 45 minute mark, which made me stop and think ‘what? what is happening right now, this can’t be over’. Have no fear because it continues to give you another glorious two hours of the world of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s film, and its wayward characters, that keep unspooling in your head.

Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), is a Tokyo Theater Director and actor who travels to Hiroshima to be in residency at a local theater group putting on a performance of Uncle Vanya. The production is to be multi-lingual including Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog and even a sign language performer playing the role of Sonja (Yoo-rim Park). Then an arrogant young actor from Kafuku’s past, Koji (Masaki Okada), appears for the auditions to the everyone’s surprise. Mostly because the recently widowed Kafuku is overly obsessed over why, before her death, his wife had an affair with the young, famous actor, whose intelligence and lifestyle seemed, well, to put it nicely, beneath her. Is there something more sinister at hand here? Well stay tuned as it will all unfold before you in glorious fashion.

As one of the stipulations of this residency though is that Kafuku has to have a driver at all times. And that driver arrives in the form of the quiet and introspective Misaki (Toko Miura). Reluctant at first because not only of tradition but of learned leariness, Kafuku ends up accepting her. Part of his method acting is that he likes to take long drives in his car while listening to a specially recorded audiotape of Uncle Vanya. It’s during these trips where both the title comes from, but, also provides a basis for their relationship even though few words are exchanged between them though Miskai has a stoic enough approach early into it all that it can’t help but to suggest she’s haunted by something. And yes, it’s the images that will stick with you throughout this film; like the two hands thrust through a Saab’s moon roof clutching cigarettes, two figures perched atop a cliff-like snowdrift, a young woman hanging back, completely captivated, as the actors rehearse the play in a park setting.

And just like a well-done play, the earlier acts create the necessary build-up for the climax and resolution to this journey. The structure of the film is like a mystery box, opening its secrets stage by stage. Even the last act is never rushed. Each scene, each nuance, is so very carefully weighed and delivered to you. It’s all so brilliantly that again, you never realize you’ve been spending the last three hours of your life completely enthralled and enveloped in the journey ‘DRIVE MY CAR’, as it’s well-worth every minute of it.

Grade: A+

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Review Screener: Courtesy of Divergent PR.

“DRIVE MY CAR” is now playing in select theaters

REVIEW: “CODA” (2021) Netflix

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Catching up on some quick reviews from 2021 that I didn’t get to and starting off with the wonderful “CODA”.

I feel that at this point what can be said about “CODA” that hasn’t already been said by a gazillion critics since the movie’s debut on Apple TV+ earlier this year? Sadly, I don’t have the Apple so I only got the chance to see it while kitty sitting! But this story of a teenager, Ruby (Emilia Jones), who is the lone hearing person in her deaf family just struck such a cord with me that I would be remiss to not at least say how much it really just hit home with so many. It also continued to further the conversation on why Deaf and disabled stories need to be told and what writer/director Sian Heder did was open that door if even just a little, it’s finally deservedly been done in a most wonderful and effective way.

The Rossis family are, in many ways, just like the average American family. They also happen to be predominately Deaf and by telling this story, which is filled with so compassion and humour (spoiler alert- people with disabilities can be funny as well), it did a lot to further the sadly, under-discussed topic of disability representation in films with people with actual disabilities. There are so many elements of this movie to love. Every thing from Troy Kotsur’s portrayal of Frank Rossi, the embarrassing father, who talks about sex with a boy Ruby likes, but yet is also her biggest supporter in learning what her true passion is and why she feels obligated to help her family, and finally sees what her true passion is and why she loves music. Marlee Matlin, whose portrayal of her mother Jackie, widely opens up the door so far closed until now, onto the unspoken of discussion on how disabled/Deaf parents relate to their children. The aforementioned Jones and Daniel Durant as her brother Leo Rossi, who is as well deaf, as two siblings whose desire for responsibility and independence are brought to the forefront, but the story in how they are perceived in totally different ways, is what makes it all the more special.

And the acting is just truly one of the best things that just makes the film all the more special. Every single person from Kotsur, Matlin as the openly in love deaf couple showing they not only have to deal with the same hardships hearing people deal with, but add into that, their being deaf to the outside world, to the wonderful Emilia Jones, who characterizes flawlessly the hardships, the happiness and finally comes into her own in spectacular fashion. I hope we see many awards nominations and wins come there way this season as it’s all much deserved.

This movie captured the little things that I think we all didn’t know we truly wanted to see and learn about in the ‘disability narrative’, one that I know I want to see more of.

Hopefully we all will.

Grade: A

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“CODA” is now showing on Apple TV+

“REVIEW: “SING 2” (2021) Universal Pictures

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It’s ‘Illumination’ time again with the wonderful song and dance filled latest sequel once again directed and written by Garth Jennings. As expected, the sequel includes a return of the all of our favourite characters from the first “SING” film, including our lead Koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), the adorably Mama Pig Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) along with all her piglets and husband, our in house rocker-chick Porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson), shy, sweet Elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), and our overly sensitive Gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton). But wait! As there are new friends and villain as well.

The film opens with a completely wonderful and wild performance of the Prince song, “Let’s Go Crazy” and at the center of it the story here is of course, Buster Moon, with the movie picking up where the last one left off. Buster is trying to impress a big city talent scout name Suki (Chelsea Peretti), who has informed him that his team is ‘cute’, but “not good enough”. See, Buster’s dream is to introduce the act on a global scale and take it to Redshore City, an Illumination version of Las Vegas. So in true Buster-style he gets the gang back together and along with our fun German accented Dad Pig Gunter (Nick Kroll), and of course his ever present assistant Gecko Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings), and they all hop a bus to Redshore City to get an unplanned audition with big entertainment mogul Lion Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Canavale), who runs Crystal Entertainment.

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The key element here in SING 2 is Buster’s promise to Crystal to deliver the one and only, Clay Callaway (Bono), to the new production, though he hasn’t performed live or much less been seen in public since his wife passed away 15 years earlier. As well, he has to put Crystal’s spoiled daughter Porsche (Halsey), in the show as well, who while she can sing and fly like a bird, cannot act to save her life. So as not to spoil the whole story, just know it involves a lot more great music including songs from such artists as Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, Billie Eilish, and The Weeknd, which all play well. There is a possible romance between Meena and newcomer ice-cream man Elephant (Pharrell Williams), and a sweet relationship between Johnny and a Lynx street dancer Nooshy (Letitia Wright). Put in some crazy moments with the piglets that kids and adults alike can’t help but laugh at, and of course the shenanigans of Buster dodging threats from our villain Crystal, all add up to just being a lot of fun and some great singing/dancing from the wonderful cast of animal characters.

The highlight of the movie hands down is Ash and Callaway with the climax of the show featuring them singing a version of Bono’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that actually made me a bit emotional. As the film is so character driven one must mention the voice acting. As a rule they’re all great, but I’ve got to make some special notes for Bobby Cannavale who’s brilliant as the villain and for Halsey who does very well as his spoilt daughter. The entire original cast is still shining bright and one more special mention must go to Bono who does surprise performing the role of the aging recluse Clay Calloway.

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Bottom line, having gone with an 8 year old and three adults, we all loved it equally as it’s a true family film for all ages. and I can’t wait to SING again.

Grade: B

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Review Screening: Wednesday, December 15, 2021 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“SING 2” is out in theaters on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 //Worldwide in of January 2022

REVIEW: “THE POWER OF THE DOG” (2021) Netflix

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Set on a Montana cattle ranch in 1925, Jane Campion’s psychological Western is a slow burn. Her adaptation from the novel by Thomas Savage, depicts somewhat of a four-sided death waltz between two brothers. One is a tortured cowboy Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), the other, his softhearted brother George Burbank (Jesse Plemons), who have drifted apart in their manner and outlook on the constant life on the range and running of the family ranch. When George marries a restaurant owner named Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), a single mother with a delicate-seeming teenage son Peter (Kodi-Smit McPhee), the stress on their relationship deepens – especially since all four will now have to live on the family ranch together. The movie is divided into five chapters – none which are given a name, but simply an on screen number and these numbers are a clue as to how the story is going to unfold in progressive steps, with each act building into the next. The story that unfolds from this whole scenario is so many things, but mostly can almost be looked at as a cautionary tale, with it being told in a way that feels almost like a study of it’s characters. As the chapters ensue, the focus subtly changes as does the focus on what characters come to the forefront of issues in each of their lives. It’s a movie that demands your complete attention as the individual incidents often matter less than what isn’t shown, the underlying means of it all. Blink and you just might miss it all.

As well the acting is for the most part, on par with Cumberbatch not being anyone’s first idea of a cowboy. While he does well with the body of work, he is just not good with accents and this one as well, is all over the place. Plemons subtle turn as George is just divine and Dunst is fine as well, but heads above the rest is Smit-McPhee, who has the toughest task as the smart, somewhat devious, shy young man who consistently surprises the viewer – pay attention to this character as he is the underlying thread throughout as little pieces of him are given to you at times, that if you miss them, you won’t understand the absolute brilliance of his character. Thomasin McKenzie, Adam Beach and Keith Carradine fill out some of the fairly large supporting cast as well.

Grade: B-

“THE POWER OF THE DOG” is streaming on Netflix

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REVIEW: “THE KING’S MAN” (2021) 20th Century Studios

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Having seen this one over a month ago, but not being able to even speak about it till Dec 6th, made me almost forget I’d even seen it. Or maybe that was just a wish that didn’t come true. Having highly enjoyed the original Kingsman: The Secret Service, and even somewhat Kingsman: The Golden Circle – I found myself looking forward to it’s prequel “THE KING’S MAN” as I was looking forward to some high paced fun. Instead for the first 45 minutes of this film I felt like I was in seventh grade history class and we had a substitute teacher who decided to show us a film all about what led up to WWI and who Rasputin really was. And not in a good way, but in an almost odd, campy way.

It starts with father and son, the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), the title character, and Conrad (Harris Dickinson), and wanders slowly through the beginnings of their relationship. Fiennes’ Duke of Oxford is at the right hand of King Edward (Tom Hollander) just as WWI is about to break out between England, Germany, headed up by Kaiser Wilhelm, also played by Tom Hollander, and the Czar of Russia, also played by you guessed it, Tom Hollander. Add in Rhys Ifans as Grigori Rasputin, the team of servant spies, including Polly (Gemma Arterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou), who are part of the few who can protect the Crown, and Matthew Goode as Morton, the good guy/villain. Add in a lot of camp with it’s first fun, action moment coming in right around the 60 minute mark, where by then three people had walked out of the screening, but Rasputin finally gives us this, and moments where you can actually see Fiennes action double take over, then this is your movie.

Honestly the main issue with The King’s Man is the script. It’s all over the place type jumbled and difficult to keep up with what the plan was because of everyone involved. The first half of this film feels like it’s moving slow because of everything that is being set up. Then, once they get into the actual story, it loses its footing, goes off the rails and tries to get into way to many storylines all at once. It felt like Conrad and the Duke’s relationship played a more important role than saving England from villains. In the end, both narratives end up fizzling out and the film never really creates any emotional connection to the original Kingsmen agency, or even father and son story which it goes into huge depth trying to explain to you in the first hour as well.

It was nice to see the who developed the agency as it at least gave Arterton a strong take in it all, but the story wasn’t executed well enough to make it as enjoyable as the others were. I think it there might be the camp who didn’t like the first two that will enjoy this one, and those that enjoyed the first two more, maybe won’t have the same feelings on this one and share mine. Who knows. But I can credibly say the campy nature of the espionage and the cheesy dialogue did not suit the era at all, which made some moments incredibly awkward and just overall, not my movie.

Grade: D+

‘THE KING’S MAN” is coming to theaters Wednesday, December 22, 2021

REVIEW: “NATIONAL CHAMPIONS” (2021) STX FILMS

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The first sports movie I’ve ever watched that didn’t involve the actual playing of sports scenes that usually would fill up a movie like this one. Instead, it’s a completely different type of sports story. Essentially, it’s a fictionalized version with it’s main topic being the college football scene and shows what a boycott against the NCAA would look like 72 hours before the National Championship game. Two students, LeMarcus James (Stephan James), the star quarterback who will be one of the top draft picks and a pretty much guaranteed contract for millions of dollars playing in the NFL – and fellow player and friend Emmett Sunday (Alexander Ludwig), not a draft pick and destined to be one of the thousands who don’t go on to the NFL. It’s an interesting concept that I believe was a huge subject a few years back of how they make billions of these guys, and then whether due to injury or just the fact there are more college teams/players than their are professional ones, they end up with nothing.

With a little backstory involving that centers around Kristen Chenoweth, cast against type as head Coach James Lazor (J.K. Simmons), wife Bailey Lazor, who is sleeping with of all people, the labor law professor Elliott Schmidt (Timothy Olyphant), who is actually the one who inspired James to make his stand. The first good thing about this movie is the cast, especially J. K. Simmons as the old, broken college football coach with the desire of winning the national championship with his team, while dealing with his rebellious players, has his wife walk out on him. He again brought passion and energy to his role. His dialogues were powerful, and can be emotional too and then flip a switch and he can be both fearsome and convincing. As well, Uzo Aduba as Katharine Poe, a ruthless NCAA attorney who has a backstory of her own, which comes out in a stand up monologue near the end.

To sum it up simply, the movie it isn’t about “a” game, but it’s about “the” game, that’s being played by all the ‘executives’ involved in college level football. And to be fair, it might take sides here and there, but it also presents both sides fairly well. All in all, this is a decent watch and definitely scores a touchdown, though it does lack the extra oompha to give it the extra point.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of STX Entertainment

“NATIONAL CHAMPIONS” is now playing in theaters – coming to VOD on Tuesday, December 27, 2021.

REVIEW: “THE TENDER BAR” (2021) Amazon Studios

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Based on J.R. Moehringer’s coming-of-age book, this is a somewhat sweet drama that tells the story of a fatherless boy Young Jr. (Daniel Ranieri), growing up with his loving, determined mother (Lily Rabe), his wise, advice-dispensing Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck), and his eccentric Grandpa (Christopher Lloyd). As he gets older, he begins to pursue the Ivy League education his mother wanted for him, while also keeping a matter-of-fact outlook on life thanks to the time he spends in his uncle’s bar and the patrons within it.

DANIEL RANIERI and BEN AFFLECK star in TENDER BAR Photo: CLAIRE FOLGER © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

Director George Clooney and screenwriter William Monahan don’t quite hit a home run with this familiar but likeable enough story, but it definitely has it’s moments of sweetness, drama and charm. Tye Sheridan steps in a the young adult version of Jr., but is quite bland and Ranieri definitely steals the role from him. Affleck comes through here playing a gruff, endearing character reminiscent of some of his best ’90s roles. Ranieri, Rabe and Lloyd are also strong, but the most memorable work is courtesy of newcomer Briana Middleton. She plays J.R.’s first love, an ambitious student who’s far more complex than the typical cinematic dream girl and makes their relationship over the course of the movie much more interesting than it otherwise might have come around as.

Still, the low-key approach taken here, accompanied by a wonderful period-appropriate soundtrack makes The Tender Bar a decent, heartfelt watch.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“THE TENDER BAR” is now playing in select theaters in LA/NYC going nationwide Wednesday, December 22, 2021 / Global release on Amazon Prime Friday, January 7, 2022

REVIEW: “BEING THE RICARDOS” (2021) Amazon Studios

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“Luuuuuucy… I’m Home.”

Probably one of the most timeless, classic lines that is still uttered today. But behind the scenes of not only the “I Love Lucy” show itself, but the marriage between Lucy and Desi itself, was a very tumultuous relationship. This is the story of one week in the lives of these two larger than life characters known worldwide then, and still today.

So let’s get the elephant out of the room right off. Nicole Kidman does not look like Lucille Ball. Javier Bardem does not look like Desi Arnaz. Whether you choose to overlook this and instead concentrate on the performances and story itself, is up to each individual watching Being the Ricardos”. As well, it was nothing as I thought it would be, hence Being the Ricardos is not a funny comedy like the show was, and while yes, it’s hard to fathom a film about Ball that isn’t at least accidentally a bit funny, Sorkin’s biopic instead, focuses his lens on the couple through one particular tumultuous week in their lives as a married couple, their very well known marital problems, as well as being co-TV superstars. And we can also be honest enough to say “should seen it coming” as comedy is not really Sorkin’s bag.

As for Lucy herself – well she was at the time, Hollywood’s most bankable comic genius. Ball was the biggest TV star on earth, a massive moneymaking machine whose eye for physical comedy was like no other. Those working on the then biggest soundstage at the infamous Desilu Studios, in the writers room around her — Co-stars Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda), William Frawley (J.K. Simmons), Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale), Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) and a bland Bob Carroll (Jake Lacy), who contribute to a fractured work dynamic that is on the verge of collapse due to a leaked news story about Lucy being a member of the Communist Party. On top of that, pictures of Desi appeared front page of the biggest of all tabloids at the time, the Confidential, with another woman. And to add the icing to the cake, Lucy is pregnant and both her and Desi want to televise her pregnancy as part of the show – something that just wasn’t done in those times. These were the days when married couples still had separate beds on TV. So a very big deal indeed.

JAVIER BARDEM, J.K. SIMMONS, NINA ARIANDA, and NICOLE KDIMAN star in BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

While writer-director Aaron Sorkin places three different events in the same week – but did they take all actually take place during the same week? Not really knowing much about all the events of the time, doing a little research paid off in droves to find out the following points of fact:

Point #1. The Walter Winchell accusation about Lucille Ball being a Communist took place on September 6, 1953. This accusation is what kicks off the events in the film.

Point #2. Lucille’s second pregnancy with her and Desi’s son, Desi Arnaz Jr. who was actually born on January 19, 1953. This would make the pregnancy announcement actually being made at some point around July of 1952.

Point #3. Desi’s cheating scandal plastered on the front of Confidential tabloid as the magazine was considered to be THE gossip magazine of the 1950’s – well, yes, they did run an article about Desi cheating on Lucy. The film implies the photo was from six months before, but the truth is that the affair had happened many years before. The article also ran as the cover story of the January 1955 issue versus the same week as everything above was listed.

JAVIER BARDEM and NICOLE KIDMAN star in BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

So all this has of course been taken the liberty of making it all more intense of a week than what probably really happened. Look, there’s no denial that Lucy and Desi had their marital problems, nor is there any doubt about the complex (to put it nicely) relationship between the two in their private and professional lives. However, Sorkin just tries to combines too many incidents in telling this story and while we all love going behind the scenes of TV and film stories, Being the Ricardos just goes about this the wrong way.

The performances though are all quite on par. Kidman actually really comes through as Ball, even doing one of the most favourited Lucy shows of all time, the stomping of the grapes. Bardem as well, let’s you know that while Lucy is always front and center, he is the true head of the show. Nina Arianda really comes through as Vivian Vance showing how things really were for her as being the side-kick of the show and her resentment of being so much younger than her ‘show husband’. As well, when does J.K. Simmons not come through with a character performance and he does so here on point.

With good performances like these they could have left the taking of liberties with the timeline of the story itself seem unnecessary and might have been better served if staying a little more to the actual true timeline it really was, rather than trying to push making a tense drama of it all happening at once. In essence a more cohesive biographical telling of the story of such icons would have been enough.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

BEING THE RICARDOS opens in theaters Friday, December 10th and debuts on Amazon Prime Video December 21, 2021.