Swanner: Julia has met mister right; she’s picking up stakes and moving in with him. The only problem is, mister right has an ex-wife and she’s crazy. Rosario Dawson plays Unforgettable’s Julia, a book editor who moves from her comfy San Fransisco flat to David’s family home in southern California. David also has a daughter to which he shares custody with before mentioned crazy ex-wife Tess played Katherine Heigl.

Right off the bat, you start comparing the film to Fatal Attraction. I’m being generous saying it might actually compare. It doesn’t. It’s not because of the acting; it’s the script and direction. New director Denise Di Novi doesn’t create the tension this film needs, and the script by Christina Hodson and David Johnson is flat, and leaves what could have been some very creepy moments missing. I’m not sure if there was a big edit job done on the film, but either way, it’s a mess. 

The actors do their best with what they were given, but since they weren’t given much, many scenes feel lost and unnecessary. There is a storyline with Julia’s abusive ex-boyfriend that is teased but never delivers. Same thing with Tess’s past that is exposed in seconds and never used again. It’s as if they thought they could have Heigl end a storyline with some crazy act and leave it at that. The rest of the cast includes Geoff Stults, Cheryl Ladd, Whitney Cummings and Isabella Kai Rice who plays Lily, the child caught in the middle of this madness. Everyone here deserves a better opportunity.

This is nothing more than a TV movie with real movie stars. I love a good “Crazy Ex” movie as much of the next guy, but this isn’t it. If you’re a fan of the two leads, then you’ll probably have an okay time, but this film misses on so many levels that I can only suggest waiting to seei the film at home on TV, where it belongs. Unforgettable is unforgivable.

Swanner: 1 ½ stars

T2: Trainspotting


Judd: Twenty years ago, Danny Boyle burst onto the scene with a movie about Scottish heroin addicts. While his debut movie, Shallow Grave, is fantastic in it’s own right, Trainspotting contained scenes, images and humor that both sickened and enchanted American audiences. Coming at the zenith of the “Heroin Chic” look only made the movie more appealing. Trainspotting ends with Renton (Ewan McGregor) stealing a sack of money from his friends, looking to escape addiction and a dead-end life. After a 10 year feud between McGregor and Boyle over casting DiCaprio in “The Beach” (of all movies!), the two men finally come together for T2 Trainspotting, the follow up story to Renton and his friends; and how twenty years have treated them.

When Renton returns to Scotland for health reasons and to pay back the movie he stole, he finds Spud (Ewen Bremner) still addicted to heroin and barely making by; Simon aka Sick Boy has moved on to cocaine, and is trying to open a brothel to compete with a local gangster; Begbie has escaped prison and looking to get his son into the family business, and to bust heads for his share of the stolen money. Screenwriter John Hodge returns and bases the script on the novel by Irvine Welsh.

While the first movie is full of wild imagery and crackles with energy, T2 is a much slower, less frantic affair. While I’m sure part of that is two decades taking it’s toll on the director and his actors, the script does not compare with the original. Having not read the books, I don’t know if that fault belongs to Hodge or Welsh. The script doesn’t carry the same emotional heft of the first; the only character I felt anything for this time around is Spud, because while he is still battling his addiction, he is the only character that is worth redeeming; the rest are as bad, or worse off than we left them.

The script tries to cash-in on nostalgia for the original movie with varying degrees of success.  Reminding us of the past with clips from the original film makes the passage of time all the more profound. Renton reprising his “Choose Life” monologue updated for modern times, comes across as cheap trick – and unfortunately, McGregor’s delivery of the modernized speech is one of the only times the sequel matches the electricity of the first. Not only lacking in energy, the movie lacks the same dark humor that makes the original such a classic. There is nothing like the “Worst Toilet in Scotland” in T2.

While the movie is a welcome finale for fans of the first, for the youths that were too young to see the original, T2 isn’t going to inspire them to watch it.

Judd: 2 ½ stars

The Fate of the Furious


Swanner: After Furious 7 made over a billion dollars, it was just a matter of time before an 8th film was made. Keeping up with the franchise, The Fate of the Furious has got even bigger, and we all know bigger is better when you’re talking action films. This time around Dom (Vin Diesel) is working with a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron). What is her plan and what does she have that could make Dom turn against his country and more so, his team?

Judd: Director F Gary Gray has quite the resume, beginning with 1995’s Friday; 2003’s Italian job; and 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. He does a good job here, keeping the film moving as fast as it’s featured automobiles. Speaking of, Dodge’s new Demon Challenger makes it’s debut within the first 10 minutes of the movie.

Swanner: The screenwriter is Chris Morgan. He’s been writing the screenplays for the franchise since my favorite, Tokyo Drift, and I think that’s why the storylines and characters have developed so well. I think most people are going to feel emotionally involved with the characters. When Dom goes rogue, the audience is going to feel the teams pain. How did you like Theron’s villain?

Judd: I liked Theron’s character, Cipher; she she reminded me of a Bond villain, though I thought her hair was an unfortunate choice. I’ve never been a fan of the franchise. They’re car movies for people who don’t know anything about cars. The fact that you’re a fan, and Tokyo Drift is your favorite, only proves my point. Really, the only positive thing I can say about the movie, is that even at 2 hours and 16 minutes, it goes by quickly.

Swanner: That makes a lot of sense. I love these movies but really don’t care about the cars at all. I will say that the stunts were spectacular again. The weird thing is, anymore I have no idea what’s real and what’s special effects. I checked and there are at least two more films planned through 2021. I’m also glad that the cast keeps coming back to do the films. As long as they keep coming back, so will I.

Judd: For me, the movie serves up more of the same. I had to go back and read plot summaries of the last few movies because I couldn’t remember what happened. I will immediately forget this movie, as well. As the franchise moves forward, the effects and stunts will only become more outlandishly impossible. I’m waiting for the day to come where Dom activates Super Pursuit Mode, or says “Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed…” when he starts his car.

Swanner: 3 ½ stars
Judd: 2 stars

Smurfs: The Lost Village

Swanner: In this new animated film we see the Smurfs back on the big screen, but this time fully animated, with no ventures into the real world. That’s good news, those live action films were testing my love of all things Smurf. The storyline follows Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty, and Clumsy after they find a map that guides them through the forbidden forest to discover the biggest secret in Smurf’s history. Fear not, Gargamel and his two henchmen are doing their best to make sure our heroes never make it home. Gargamel really is an asshole.

Director Kelly Asbury takes us back to the land of the Smurfs, with all it’s magic and beauty, giving us an exciting adventure that, with it’s bunnies and pastels, makes it looks like it was made to be released in theaters right before Easter. The writers are both from TV, Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon, and they keep the journey fun and and the dialogue funny. The cast is full of bankable voices, although the only one I recognized was Jack MacBrayer. Other voices include Julia Roberts, Joe Manganiello, Michelle Rodriguez, Ariel Winter, Mandy Patinkin, Rainn Wilson, Demi Lovato, and Meghan Trainor adds songs and a voice to Smurf, Melody.

Now that I’ve got all the official stuff taken care of, this is what I thought of the film. It’s not a movie for adults. That’s not to say that the parent drawing the short straw isn’t going to enjoy the movie. The film is meant for younger children. The audience I screened the film with was 50% under 10 years old and, believe me, they loved it. They laughed in the right places, and cheered when they needed to. At a highly emotional moment, the little boy sitting behind me burst into tears, but, within a minute, he was dancing in the aisle again. That being said, this is a perfect film for fans of the Smurfs and something sweet to find in theaters for Easter.

Swanner 3 stars

Going In Style

Swanner: Three old friends decided to rob a bank after their pension gets dissolved to pay the company’s bills as they prepare to move jobs overseas. This is a remake of the George Burns, Art Carney, Lee Strasberg film from 1979. This time around Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin star, with the still striking Ann Margret as Arkin’s love interest. Zack Braff (Scrubs) directs with a nicely complete screenplay from Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures) based on Edward Cannon’s original story.

Judd: Had you not told me this was a remake, I wouldn’t have known – until I looked it up, that is, because I’m a professional and do my research! The movie is a pleasant little feature that will please it’s target audience. There is absolutely nothing political, gauche, edgy, or “artsy” about the film, and that’s OK. I left the movie thinking, “My grandmother would have enjoyed this.”

Swanner: Well I’m the same age as your parents, and they’re going to enjoy this film as well. You make a good point about the script. The only thing political is that jobs and the pensions are leaving the country. The rest of the story is the joys of getting old, and whether it’s funny or tragic, it usually gets a laugh. I don’t know if folks under 30 are going to flock to the film, but anyone that finds getting out of bed harder every year should enjoy this light comedy. Not to mention three of the greatest actors of their time.

Judd: I don’t think anyone under 50 is going to want to see this film, but it’s not made for them anyway. It was nice to see Christopher Lloyd on screen again, even though he was in a very minor role. The only issue I had with the movie, was the obvious use of stock police pursuit footage during the heist. I understand that you cut corners where you can, but the footage was damn near VHS quality!

Swanner: I liked the movie. It’s about three old guys “givin’ it to tha man.” Did I say that right?

Judd: Oh brother.

Swanner: It’s got a very likable script and a pleasing director. The script is also very complete. Every loose end gets tied up. When does that ever happen? I hope this film does well so we can see these actors, and all the great older actors out there get back in the game.

Swanner: 3 stars
Judd: 2 ½ stars