It’s hard to believe that a two-hour homage to a cartoonish 1960s sitcom might be “polarizing,” but hey, this is the age of Twitter. Everything is polarizing. Especially if you are Rob Zombie, a director known for R-rated fare like The Devil’s Rejects and Halloween (2007). Zombie’s fan-base is typically into sex, violence, and gore — but Herman and Lily Munster? Probably not so much.
And yet, who are we to say that Zombie shouldn’t indulge his inner child? The TV series was not exactly Shakespeare, and neither is Zombie’s film, but it is amusing, nostalgic, and (literally) colorful as hell. Would I watch it again? Probably not. Am I glad I watched it once? Sure.
The plot: Herman (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Lily (Zombie wife/regular Sheri Moon Zombie) meet and want to get married. There is opposition to this idea. And then … oh, hell. The plot doesn’t matter. Corny jokes, goofy-looking monsters, and the good-natured spirit of the TV show are what matter.
Grading a movie like The Munsters is tough. It depends on the audience. I would guess that kids would say Grade: A. I am guessing that most adults would say Grade: B-minus.
Unless, of course, they were expecting sex, violence, and gore. Release: 2022
Writer-director B.J. Novak plays a New York podcaster who travels to Texas to investigate the death of a local girl with whom he had a fling. When Novak’s city slicker meets the residents of a west Texas town, ideologies clash, fish-out-of-water humor ensues, and a family drama unfolds. In short, it’s Meet the Parents wrapped up in a murder mystery.
Wikipedia describes the movie this way: “Vengeance is a 2022 American western neo-noir mystery black comedy film.”
By my count, that’s four genres. If that sounds like a bit much, I think it is. By trying to tackle so many themes, Novak dilutes each of them.
Still, Vengeance is thought-provoking and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. It’s certainly an ambitious movie, and I give it an A for effort but, sorry, I can’t go higher than an overall Grade: B Release: 2022
The Black Phone
It’s 1978, and someone driving a black van is kidnapping kids in suburban Denver.
The good: Black Phone features nice performances from child actors Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw as siblings living in an abusive home. Their relationship reminded me of Jem and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird (aside from the abuse). The 1970s atmosphere is also quite good.
The bad: In an otherwise cookie-cutter kidnapping movie, it would be wise to have a memorable villain. Alas, Ethan Hawke isn’t likely to make anyone forget Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal Lecter. Despite wearing an obligatory serial-killer mask, Hawke oozes all the menace of a fly on the wall.
Release: 2021 Grade: B-
Halloween ends? Well, the movie’s midsection is certainly endless.
After a nifty opening scene involving a child and his babysitter, the audience spends the next hour (or more) following two troubled and morose young people as they act … troubled and morose. Michael Myers, apparently as bored by this twosome as we are, is nowhere to be seen.
Not so for Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising yet again the beloved scream queen Laurie Strode. You might expect that Laurie, now much older and presumably wiser than when she first encountered Michael Myers, will use her experience and wits to finally triumph over the masked boogeyman.
But this is 2022 and the age of “you go girl” superheroes, and so aging Laurie is asked to dispatch her nemesis, mano a mano, using her brute strength. Because that’s believable.
Sure. OK, whatever. Stupid.
Release: 2022 Grade: C-
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