Author: Nicole Frangos

Review: Why Him?

We’re pretty familiar with the plot of Why Him?: a college-age woman, Stephanie, (Zoey Deutch) introduces her older, free-spirited, billionaire boyfriend Laird (James Franco) to her family, which includes an overprotective but loving dad, Ned (Bryan Cranston). There’s tension, since Ned thinks Laird is extremely inappropriate for his daughter. In an attempt to win over Stephanie’s family at Christmas, Laird hosts them at his massive California mansion as he falls over himself trying to impress them with elaborate parties, gifts and gestures. So yes, the trope of the inappropriate boyfriend is something we’ve seen many times. However, this take on the trope is one of the funniest in recent years. Despite my reservations going into this movie (I thought a Franco/Cranston pairing was too good to be true and would disappoint), this movie made me laugh. A lot. Most of the film depends on Cranston’s ability to play the straight man against Franco’s off-kilter character, and it works pretty well. Laird is genuine and well-meaning, and it’s hard to really dislike the character even when so over the top. Laird’s over-zealousness may provide the core jokes of the film, but there are still many other amusing scenes. A special mention needs to be given to Keegan-Michael Key, who plays Laird’s loyal butler Gustav. He is hilarious and the comedic highlight of this movie. My favourite scene was heavy on...

Read More

Review: Bad Santa 2

When Bad Santa was released in 2003, we hadn’t seen anything quite like it. No film had quite as much fun bastardizing the Christmas genre with such filthy glee. Billy Bob Thornton’s lewd Santa Claus remains a Christmas classic that many return to yearly, much like the more sanitized classics like Home Alone. This is why a sequel is particularly tricky: it’s such a beloved, unique film that its sequel was bound to have a tricky time filling those boots. And this is the case occasionally with Bad Santa 2, which is definitely an inferior film. Bad Santa 2 resumes 13 years after we last saw Willie (Thornton), the washed-up, alcoholic conman. We learn that in the last 13 years he hasn’t done much. He still keeps in touch with that adorable kid from the first movie, Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), all grown up now and clueless as ever. Unfortunately, Willie is single, hopelessly drunk, broke, and suicidal. Without any other prospects, he agrees to reunite with his old partner Marcus (Tony Cox) to help with another big heist that promises a huge 2-million dollar payout. So Willie travels to Chicago with Marcus, Thurman in hot pursuit, where he dons his Santa suit once again. Major cameos in the movie include Kathy Bates, who has an occasionally creepy/occasionally funny turn as Willie’s crass mother and partner, and Christina Hendricks as Willie’s...

Read More

EUFF 2016 Review: Head Full of Honey

Head Full of Honey is a bittersweet tale about a family dealing with their grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease. After his mother’s death, Nico (Til Schweiger) becomes concerned with the deteriorating mental health of his father (Dieter Hallervorden). Nico encourages his father to move in with his own wife and daughter Tilda (Emma Tiger Schweiger — Til’s real-life daughter). Grandfather and granddaughter develop a strong relationship, and they fill their days with stories and adventures. As her grandfather’s behaviour becomes more erratic and dangerous, Tilda learns that bringing dementia patients to meaningful places from their younger days can sometimes help their memory. So Tilda takes her beloved grandfather on one last adventure — a visit to Venice, where he and his late wife honeymooned — before he is put in a nursing home. This film is a touching drama that ultimately expresses the uncertainties that a family feel when a member has Alzheimer’s. It’s a heartbreaking account, but also filled with comedic moments — the grandfather is charismatic and loveable even when almost burning the house down. There’s also a fair amount of tenderness here. The grandfather’s attempt to recreate his honeymoon with his late wife, whom he still adores, is romantic, and the relationship he has with his granddaughter is cute to say the least. Til Schweiger — who many of you will be most familiar with as the tough Nazi-killer...

Read More

Cinema Revisited: Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus (1993) was standard watching fare in the nineties; plenty of millennials may still own their worn-out VHS tapes, or at least remember them fondly. For those who haven’t seen it, Hocus Pocus tells the story of a teenager who accidentally brings a coven of evil witches back from the dead on Halloween night. If you browse through any click-baity site, it would appear that everyone is still obsessed with this movie. But why do we love this movie so much? What is it about Hocus Pocus that makes it incessantly re-watchable for some of us, even as we age well into our 30s? John Hodgman said that nostalgia is the most toxic impulse. If this is true, then that would mean that movies like Hocus Pocus – which seem to persist in popularity purely due to nostalgia – should be terrible to re-watch. This isn’t the case though; the movie still holds up, for a few key reasons. First: Bette Midler. It’s still a delight to see Bette Midler stomp around in full evil-witch mode. Same goes for Sarah Jessica Parker bouncing around idiotically. Since Hocus Pocus, Sarah Jessica Parker moved on to more arguably adult movies and the Sex and the City franchise. But she’s so wonderfully ditzy in this movie, it’s kind of charming to watch her 20 years later. Bette Midler, meanwhile, is just Bette...

Read More

Review: Ouija: Origin of Evil

It’s 1965 in Los Angeles. After purchasing a Ouija board as a prop for her séance scam business, a widowed mother (Elizabeth Reaser) accidentally invites evil spirits into her home. Her youngest daughter becomes possessed by a particularly malevolent spirit and the family is forced to save her, with the help of a priest – E.T.’s own Henry Thomas. And now you know the whole plot of Ouija: Origin of Evil; hopefully we saved you a visit to the cinema. As far as evil spirit movies go, this one fits the formula perfectly. Nice family plus Ouija board equals youngest child doing and saying creepy things for no reason. Add in a well-meaning priest with sexual undertones and you have the bones of this movie. Unfortunately this formula doesn’t work very well this time. The movie is devoid of scares, devoid of any redeemable plot or character points that would make it compelling to watch, and it’s a little boring. It’s almost 2 hours of nothing really happening, and you’re waiting for something to happen — but nothing happens. It tries, though – we have to give it credit for that. It tries to be scary and creepy, and satisfy our craving for horror. It’s occasionally self-aware. Lulu Wilson, who plays the possessed little girl, actually does a really great job here; she is convincingly disturbed and says and does a...

Read More

Review: The Girl on the Train

It’s hard to talk about the plot of The Girl on the Train without getting spoiler-y. Those who haven’t read the book will want to go into this movie knowing only the basics; and those who have read the book don’t necessarily need a plot recap. So let’s put it this way: The Girl on the Train is the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ wildly successful 2015 novel, which tells the story of Rachel (Emily Blunt), Megan (Haley Bennett), and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), three women whose lives are intimately connected in ways that are deceitful and dangerous. The film goes back and forth from each woman’s point of view; however, Rachel is the definitive protagonist and (anti-?) heroine of the film. Lovers of the book will not be disappointed by this film. Director Tate Taylor does a good job bringing the tone and feel of the novel to the screen. There was some discontent before the release of the film surrounding the decision to set it in New York instead of London; the location change does not negatively impact the story or tone in any way, though. The dreary commute from the suburbs to Manhattan is a good stand-in for London. Emily Blunt is excellent in this new role. We’re not used to seeing the polished Blunt look this way: like an unhinged, obsessive alcoholic. Rachel is a character...

Read More

The TFS List: Ranking Rob Zombie’s films

Rob Zombie is a contentious figure in horror – but whether you love him or hate him, there’s one thing that’s certain about him and his films: they’re sure to ignite a response. A shrinking violet he isn’t. Also, he is a true horror fan – not only because of his awesome horror memorabilia collection, which we still remember from MTV’s Cribs, but because his films pay homage to the greats. In celebration of October, horror’s finest month, we’ve ranked Zombie’s films from great to horrendous. We only took a look at full-length feature films directed by Zombie – we didn’t include the animated El Superbeasto movie or Werewolf Women of the SS, the awesome faux-trailer made for the Grindhouse films, which is worth a watch if only for Nicholas Cage’s cameo. Now let’s take a look at the films. 1. The Devil’s Rejects (2005) The sequel to House of 1000 Corpses (2003) will remain Rob Zombie’s best film to us, until he can outdo himself. The movie brings back the Firefly family: Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis (Bill Moseley) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), a trio of killer fugitives who are on the run. This is a grittier film than its predecessor, and the tone is a little more sinister and less campy (“less” being the operative word – this is still a Zombie film, after all). In...

Read More

Recent Tweets

Pin It on Pinterest