INSTA-REVIEW: “UGLY DOLLS” (2019) STX Entertainment

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“Ugly Dolls” brings a wonderful adaptation of the kids books to the big screen. It’s sweet story with a wonderful message behind it all, that is actually for kids!! No double entendre here nor is it filled with references like a few other kids movies, that go right over their heads..nope..this one is truly for the kids and its lovely.

Also different and very enjoyable, is the voice cast is made up almost entirely of music superstars. Kelly Clarkson voices our plucky pink doll heroine Moxy with Janelle Monáe coming in as Mandy, Moxy’s ally.  Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton offer up their voices as rivals Lou and Ox, the leaders of their respective town’s of Perfection and Uglyville. And most surprising, is a fun debut by Pitbull as Ugly Dog who is one slick rapper!! 😁

The storyline of Moxy wanting to break out of Uglyville and find a child who will love her for all her imperfections could be any one of us charting our way thru life. Being held back at all points by people telling you only the perfect ‘dolls’ can pass thru life and find true happiness, only to learn to embrace herself and fearlessly show others how to love themselves and flaws can be special and there is truly someone out there to love us all.. it’s a sweet, strong message that all children should be taught.

The music/songs are wonderful and catchy tunes you will find yourself singing long after the movie is over. My message to you is to take your kids and yourself to see this one..you will be happy you did.

Grade: B
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Media Premiere Review Screening: Saturday, April 27, 2019 ~ Courtesy of STX Entertainment (post carnival event was absolutely amazing with giant slide, fun house, face painting and so much more for the kids!)

“UGLY DOLLS” IS IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2019

Side note: Running into Kelly Clarkson & Gwen Stefani on the side street while walking up as they were having a nice chat – was a good highlight! 🙂

“BLACKHAT” (2015) UNIVERSAL PICTURES

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Ahhh Michael Mann.. First off, I am a fan..have been for ages, so many good movies & fashion statements in your TV & film work ~ and “Blackhat” is not the massive fiasco that it could be but it’s hard to know where to begin analyzing it. First off there’s the screenplay by Morgan Davis Foehl, which alternates between dull, rushed and an utter disregard for reasonable logic at times.

But let’s not rush ahead of ourselves here with all that. Chris Hemsworth stars as “Nicholas Hathaway”, the world’s greatest computer hacker who also happens to look a lot like Thor (thankfully). Currently serving 15 years for cyber-crimes, he gets furloughed from jail at the behest of his old MIT roommate “Lien Chen” (Leehom Wang) who is now a big-time higher-up in the Chinese military. Chen is working with FBI agent “Carol Barrett” (Viola Davis) to track down a hacker who put the whammy on both an Asian nuclear reactor and the American commodities exchange using malware code created by Hathaway & Chen in their college days. blackhat 1

The pursuit of the villain takes our team — which includes Chen’s sister “Lien” (Wei Tang), who falls in love with Hathaway in one of the most random, chemistry-free onscreen romances in recent memory — to Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, but in all this globe-trotting studio money can buy, it’s no substitute for things little things like oh..character development, suspense and motivation. Hathaway’s character concept is lacking, and he’s one of the film’s better-written roles, and it seems only Davis can make filet mignon out of the ground beef of this material, turning vague and clunky dialogue into gold with just one or two quick quips and a sardonic glance over her sunglasses.
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The screenplay, mocks us at times, with the fact that we are not supposed to take notice the bad guys’ inability to hit with directly aimed bullets, key characters – aka “The Good Guys” -despite constant flutters of automatic weapons fire, or the fact that an FBI agent asks another a personal question based on a phone call to which he was not privy to, or one of my favourite aspects, the fact that blond, six-and-a-half-foot Hemsworth is supposed to blend in with the crowds in Asia like he’s not head & shoulders above them all..literally..and attracting no second glances whatsoever as he’s on the run in airports or sneaking into computer facilities or engaging in gun battles in the middle of crowded street festivals. Lastly, that a computer hack with huge mayhem & destruction imminently pending, within a matter of hours to be precise, but curiously so, the lead characters have time to fall completely in love and plan a future relationship and as cyber-hackers they just pick up guns that they immediately know how to use truly made me shake my head as in ‘okey dokey then’. blackhat 2

But to best describe what truly underscores the problems with some of the filming, which oddly enough looks at it’s worst whenever there’s some type of light source on screen, whether it be a lamp or a car headlight or just the sun; so where does the big finale happen? Well…amongst hundreds of people carrying torches, but of course (insert facetious sarcasm here). Because not only is it weird and completely off base, but that these guys are carrying huge automatic weapons and no one out of all these thousands of people notice it. NONE! Come on now.
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Given Sony’s recent ‘issues’ with hacking, the timing couldn’t be better for a movie about the vulnerability of international computer networks, but “Blackhat” isn’t that movie..though I’m not going to say it couldn’t be plausible, because despite what you might think, the actors are believable enough as their characters, it’s what the plot makes them do at times that isn’t. I’m thinking that pretty much no matter how you slice it, this is one hack-ity hacker pic that just hasn’t really cracked it’s own code of how to make a movie about computer espionage that doesn’t come down to scene after scene of people sitting at keyboards and making clicky-clack noises with their fingers. To his credit, Michael Mann does try to jazz things up with cool tracking shots through microchips (it’s like the express lane to Tron’s house) or even putting the camera inside a thumb-drive slot or under a keyboard that’s being typed upon, and though it has it’s entertaining moments for sure, in the end it’s to little avail in saving the film from some of the other things that make it a no go.

Grade: C-
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(See grading scale)