Category Archives: Rom-Com

REVIEW: “MARRY ME” (2022) Universal Pictures

“MARRY ME” is the new rom com directed by Kat Coiro rolling itself out just perfectly for Valentines Day weekend release. All I can say is something has happened to me where I think someone has cast a spell on me as this is the second rom com that I will scream at the top of my lungs “YES! YES! YES!” to in one week. Who am I right now? Someone who loves this movie apparently even though you think it might be cheesy and full of fluff, and it is, but it all works so well.

(from left, center Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) and Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro.

The film is about pop singer Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez), who together with her singing and real life partner Bastian (Maluma), are about to release their new album called, you guessed it “Marry Me”. With the simultaneous release they will then get married themselves onstage while filming live to an audience of over 20 million people. When Kat learns that Bastian has cheated on her with her own assistant no less, she cancels the wedding plans on the spot and while on film getting ready to married LIVE. While looking out into the audience in pain, she then randomly sees Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who was bribed into coming by his co-worker Parker (Sarah Silverman), and with his daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman), in tow ends up in the with a sign that says ‘Marry Me and next thing you know, Kat spontaneously asks to marry him instead. With this one singular act, the lives of both Kat and Charlie both change completely, well at least Charlie’s does. With the assumption that Kat now seems a bit desperate by marrying a total stranger, and Charlie finding himself in the world he does not know with publicity he is not used to at all, the two just put on a show of trying to make the best of it together.

Look, we all know where this goes from here as let’s face it, it’s not rocket science. But it all comes down to how the story is told – even if we think we know the ending. And this is one story that is just all goodness, from how Charlie is the awkward math teacher who does Mathalons with his students, or as we watch as Kat basically continues with her life as well with what I’m sure might just be a bit of a glimpse into what Jennifer Lopez’s actual life is like. But it works, it just all works. Whether is be a moment where JLo pops in another amazing outfit, or sings and dances with the mathletes to teach them a whole new way to lose their nervousness in competition, or even when comedic Silverman’s character Parker tries to capitalize on Charlie’s new found fame – which ever it is, it all works.

(from left) Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and Bastian (Maluma) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro.

Best of all here is the acting in the film is well done whether it be the supporting roles of Kat’s manager Collin (John Bradley), or her social media maven/assistant Melissa (Michelle Buteau). For Maluma, this is his first acting job in a movie, and as he’s really just playing a famous singer, much like his own career, he doesn’t really get the chance to come forward as an actor. But that’s okay, because that voice is heavenly and so is he. (sorry guys-a quick girl thing there). Owen Wilson is well, Owen Wilson. The same character he has played so many times with the exact same facial expressions, tonal quality to his voice and all – which is probably the best thing to say about his performance, other than again, it works as they do have chemistry. But guess who does all the heavy lifting here – Yep, it’s none other than our newly crowned Queen of Rom Coms, Jennifer Lopez! She sings, she dances, she blows your mind with how amazing she looks, she’s funny, and probably the biggest point of all – she gives it her all here by giving us hand down, her best Rom Com performance to date.

All I can do is leave you with these parting words. Say “YES! YES! YES!” to “Marry Me” this weekend as Jennifer Lopez sings and dances herself right into our hearts with this one.

Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“MARRY ME” IS NOW IN THEATERS AND STREAMING ONLY ON PEACOCK

REVIEW: “I WANT YOU BACK” (2022) Amazon Studios

Have you ever found yourself in a movie where the surprise of how good it is actually stuns you? Well colour me that person with this wonderful little surprise from director Jason Orley and writers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, with Prime Videos exclusive upcoming release of “I WANT YOU BACK.” It took the rom com cynic in me and turned it upside down and inside out, with this wonderful little switch-a-roo of taking the norms of the genre and well, not just changing them, but owning them and so much more.

It all starts with a little bit less than stellar opening for the first 10 minutes or so, with Emma (Jenny Slate), whose boyfriend Noah (Scott Eastwood), is breaking up with her. All the while Peter (Charlie Day), girlfriend Anne (Gina Rodriguez), is doing the same with him by citing the fact that even though she’s a teacher, she somehow thinks he’s holding her back from her non-existent acting career and life as a worldwide traveler. From there, the two recently dumped strangers stumble upon each other’s breakup anguish in, of all places, the stairwell of the office building where they both work. Terrified at the prospect that, in their 30s they have lost their last shot at love, they each seek some solace in each other and together hatch a desperate plot to win back their ex’s, which ends up turning into a mission to help each other con their respective exes back into their lives. Emma agrees to seduce Peter’s ex Anne’s new boyfriend high school drama teacher Logan (Manny Jacinto), and Peter agrees to become Emma’s ex Noah’s best buddy to distract him from his new pie shop owner girlfriend Ginny (Clark Backo), each in an effort to sabotage their new relationships and remind them of what they’re missing. It’s a setup that can defeat all logic, but as well sets up a classic movie that is a lot funnier than the majority of its counterparts. But what makes it so perfect is everything that happens along the way and boy does a lot happen.

I WANT YOU BACK

Honestly, it’s the fun of watching moments like Emma telling Peter he’s more of a ‘slow-burn attraction’ highlights just one of the many moments of fun in this film that after it’s slightly bumpy beginning that had me wrapped up in it’s palm, in no time at all. Until now, I did not realize that what has been missing from my life is Slate’s character Emma, playing homage to “Little Shop of Horrors” as just one of many hilarious moments in a film packed wall-to-wall with laugh out loud comedy moments. One of complete delights of these moments is when seventh grader Trevor (Luke David Blumm), who is only working on the school’s play to cut some detention points off, becomes friends with Emma, but never in a creepy way, but in like a “I don’t know what platonic means, but you’re my girlfriend now” hysterically funny, but also sweet way.

But it’s truly the chemistry between Charlie Day and the wonderful Jenny Slate that does everything for this movie and when I say everything… I mean EVERYTHING. They are wonderful together and make every little twist believable, laughable or emotionable. The entirety of this supporting cast is so spot on, diverse and wonderful. And I would be remiss to not mention some keep-your-eye-out-for-them-cameos, that will just make you love this movie till it’s very end.

So honestly, take it from a rom-com cynic, this movie will de-ice your heart, make you laugh and maybe…just maybe, you and me both will find our ‘plane mask buddy’.

Grade: B

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“I WANT YOU BACK” premieres exclusively on Prime Video Friday, February 11, 2022

REVIEW: “I’M YOUR MAN” (2021) Bleeker Street

Not knowing much going into this film, little did I know what a lovely surprise I would be in for in director Maria Schrader’s quirky fun rom-com “I’M YOUR MAN”. Not usually being someone who is fond of the A.I. genre of films and having once been known to say “If I ever find that an A.I. is my my relationship – please slap me”, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this one even though I wasn’t ready for it to be almost entirely in German as well.

Thankfully though – this isn’t my story though as this one is not only better but it centers on esteemed archaeologist/researcher Alma (Maren Eggert), who accepts an offer to participate in an usual experiment in exchange for research funds. She agrees to “beta test’ on a three-week trial run, living with a humanoid named Tom (Dan Stevens), who has been programmed to be her exact ideal life partner. From there, she has to evaluate on the successes and/or failures of the AI prototype to help decide whether they should be introduced into society as potential life partners for well, everyone. During this three week time period, we find ourselves watching things that are essentially very human. Alma is anti-relationship as the film starts to reveal more about her we find she grieves over a miscarriage she suffered during a past relationship and her former partner Julian (Hans Low) is very much around. While Alma is single, she’s not alone – she has a younger sister, Cora (Annika Meier) and an elderly, deteriorating father (Wolfgang Hübsch), who require a lot of her attention in life as well.

Not to be overlooked is the fun CGI of a bar scene of playing itself well on the ‘who is/who isn’t’ a AI or hologram and of course the acting. Eggert is wonderful at playing off the strong, defensive woman she is supposed to be and slowly letting her wall down to open up to the idea of this AI actually being ‘the one’. While Stevens is quite good here as he absolutely crushes it by speaking surprisingly fluent German, that is when he’s not speaking Spanish, French, or Korean and most notably, not a single word of English. He also manages to somehow be a robot, yet convey small emotions such as being flirty, funny, sad and dare I say it – humanistic.

With some funny, snappy, smart dialogue and a well structured storyline “I’m Your Man” moves it all along in a realistic looking manner, while being hugely entertaining as well. There can be huge risk involved with films that tackle themes such as this one, and then be successful at it to boot, but this one was all handled so well and came across as down to earth while also making itself fun and thought-provoking.  

Grade: B+

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“I’M YOUR MAN” from Bleeker Street Films – is in limited theaters on Friday, September 24, 2021

Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

Bentonville Film Festival Review: “FALLING FOR FIGARO” (2021)

“FALLING FOR FIGARO” gives Millie (Danielle McDonald) an American living in the U.K., has a thriving career as a fund manager and lives with her boyfriend Charlie (Shazad Latiff), who attends the opera because she truly loves it. Charlie does not. So it’s really not a surprise when she upends a promotion at her job, to become an opera star and wants to compete in the renowned ‘Singer of Renown’ contest. But of course first she must learn opera – you know that style of singing that takes a lifetime to learn and be good at. Well for Millie things are going to go on the fast track, because well, of course it is, and she is going to learn this entire lifetime of something as sacred and acclaimed as being an lead opera singer – in a year.

She in turn moves to the remote Scottish Highlands where she wants to be taught by one Megan Geoffrey-Bishop (Joanna Lumley), a once legendary opera singer in her own right. There is one problem, Geoffrey-Bishop is retired and is notoriously known for being a big pain in the arse, completely horrible to her students, believing in the old adage of an opera singer must ‘suffer’ in order to be able to sing. This all of course does not deter Millie in the slightest and there she is checking into ‘The Filthy Pig’ pub/hotel and is welcomed by pub owner played by Gary Lewis, who is quite funny in his introduction. Here as well, we are introduced to Max (Hugh Skinner), who doubles as the cook/server, as well as anything else that is needed. Crazily enough, Max is ALSO a student of Megan’s, in fact he has been singing his whole life and has been a student for five years and wait for it, is also shooting to win the competition. I think we all know where this is heading from here. Of course Max is jealous and upset at first, then they start singing together and well the rest is rom-com history.

Look, I get it, this is what rom-coms are, sappy, cheesy, where there is always something stopping them from finding ‘true love’ until there isn’t. But it also needs to be a teensy bit believability to pull it off really well and this just isn’t that. What can be said and what director Ben Lewin, did pull off nicely was having two things that made it pleasant enough to still give it a watch. The first of course is the music. Opera can be simply beautiful and while we don’t know if the actors really sang this (somehow I highly doubt they did), it was beautifully done and fun to watch. The second thing is casting the simply wonderful Joanna Lumley as yes, ‘Patsy’ makes this movie watchable, as do a few fun takes from Gary Lewis, but mostly, it’s Lumley who shines the brightest and the best. And that’s perfectly fine in my book.

Grade: C

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of the Bentonville Film Festival

Falling for Figaro debuts in theaters on Friday, October 1st from IFC Films

REVIEW: “PALM SPRINGS” (2020) HULU

It’s no surprise that an Andy Samberg comedy is relentlessly funny here with “PALM SPRINGS” –but what was pleasantly unexpected was a deep examination of humanity in general. The film is a really funny, heartfelt romantic comedy that drew me in right from the start.

The premise here is a familiar one, think ‘Groundhog Day’, but then give it an entirely unique twist with new events throughout the story and a you are left with a remarkably fresh perspective.  When Sarah (Cristin Milioti) meets Nyles (Andy Samberg) at a Palm Springs wedding, she unexpectedly joins him in a time loop that sees them reliving the same day repeatedly.  J.K. Simmons is also part of the cast, taking a run at a comical character Roy who is also experiences the Groundhog Day effect, but uses his time to torture Samberg’s character Nyles. It all comes together and wraps up with a fun theory on Quantam Physics giving us a play here in a refreshingly unique story that takes a familiar idea and makes it its own.

While there are laughs throughout, the peak of the humour comes from a typical hijinx montage where instead of the typical cheap gags, there was a familiarization of the two lead characters adding to their chemistry. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are so good together. They were fun when they were supposed to be and when they were supposed to show a romantic energy, they did just that. Samberg not only relying typical his typical humour and charm here as he also brings a much understood darkness to the performance that managed to draw you in. Milioti also managed to show a large amount of pain and conflict in her character while successfully portraying her discovering the world around her. J.K. Simmons is always good and in this movie he goes through an incredible transformation and makes the absolute most of a criminally small role and the smattering of other supporting, Peter Gallagher, Jacqueline Obradors, Jena Friedman, June Squibb and Tyler Hoechlin all add oodles of fun to the all around plot of the film.

The best part about this comedy is it doesn’t overplay it’s hand. It brings laugh out loud comedy to tangible levels where your place in life is examined and how such difficulties can be handled. Besides the silly little comedic jokes which were still enjoyable, there was an underlying depth and intelligence to the humour itself, handling how we may deal with our own decision regardless of the consequences. Slower moments aside, Palm Springs is a complete blast – and if you don’t get the ending, that’s on you.

Grade: A-

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“PALM SPRINGS” IS AVAILABLE TO WATCH NOW ON HULU

INSTA-REVIEW: “LONG SHOT” (2019) Lionsgate

Charlize Theron hasn’t been the best at comedies.. that all changes with Long Shot . Paired up with Seth Rogan here is maybe the key as their characters really have nothing in common. Charlotte (Theron) is running for President and needs a speech writer.. Fred Flarsky (Rogan) is actually a kid she used to babysit whom had an undying crush on her. 20 years later he comes on board her team as said speech writer.
You would think such an odd pairing would have no chemistry..but they most definitely do. And while you won’t find any breaking out of the box – rom com formula here.. it is just a good fun ride of a comedy.
The supporting cast help make that happen in a big way, most especially June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel. Bob Odenkirk lends a hand as POTUS, Andy Serkis is thrown in for a bit Alexander Skarsgård as Canadian PM & potential romantic partner for Theron, is hysterical as playing the cad. The weakest support coming from O’Shea Jacksons character of Lance, BFF to Fred.

All in all Long Shot – while formulatic, is a fun watch!
Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Monday, April 8, 2019 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV meetup.

 

REVIEW: “TABLE 19” (2017) Fox Searchlight

Director Jeffrey Blitz and The Duplass Brothers writing team takes the approach with this one that I know many wedding guests would prefer – skip the wedding and head straight to the reception. Another wise move is assembling a very talented ensemble of funny folks. This cast proves they can get a laugh from dialogue and moments that would probably otherwise not elicit much of an audience reaction because frankly, it’s only the fact that they are talented that makes it happen.

The initial set-up drags a bit as we are introduced to the characters that will soon enough populate the dreaded Table 19 at the reception. Tony Revolori is Renzo, the longing for love high schooler who might be a bit too close to his mother (voiced by Margo Martindale). Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson are Bina & Jerry Kepp, a mostly unhappily married couple who own and run a diner together. June Squibb is Jo Flanagan, the bride’s long-forgotten nanny who sees and knows more than most. Stephen Merchant plays the outcast nephew/cousin Walter Thimple, who has been recently released from his prison sentence for white collar crime. Lastly we have Anna Kendrick as Eloise McGarry, the fired maid of honor and former girlfriend of the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the best man and is now dating the new maid of honor Nikki (Amanda Crew)
table-19-1
This is the island of misfit wedding guests known as Table 19, and purposefully placed in the back corner as far as possible from the family and the other more ‘favoured’ guests. Of course we know immediately that this Team Reject will unite for some uplifting purpose at some point. Comedic timing in a group setting can often come across on screen as forced, and it’s a kudos to the cast that can bypass that..somewhat. Stephen Merchant is our shining star here on that note with his droll Brit humour.

Make no mistake though, this is Anna Kendrick’s movie. She plays Eloise as we would imagine Anna Kendrick in this real life situation. Sure, a wedding reception is low-hanging fruit for comedy, but it’s the third act where Kendrick comes up with comedy drawn from emotional pain, because we’ve all been there and thankfully can look back and laugh at it. The melo-dramatic moments that creep in are oh-so-predictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s all lost. The scenes with Kendrick and Russell are best at the emotional part, but not enough so that it would really leave you wishing for more. In actuality that’s where this film slips up. I was hoping for more comedy, less emotional drama and while we get about a 2/3 – 1/3 ratio of drama to comedy, I wish it would have gone the direction of more laughs as the emotional front isn’t enough to sustain the film as a whole.
table-19-2
Don’t worry though, the film features the required wedding cake mishap, a flirtatious hot-Brit wedding crasher named Huck with a secret of his own (Thomas Cocquerel) and a drunken mother of the bride (Becky Ann Baker) singing karaoke to Etta James’ “At Last”. It’s designed to be a crowd-pleaser, and while it doesn’t quite step up enough to really down and out laugh, it does somewhat succeed as rom-com-ish with a blend of silly, cute, and emotional tugs. Just not enough laughs.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Nationwide Release: Friday, March 3, 2017

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts if you liked this film or not. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!