I Love You, Man (2009), kind of…

I consider this film a romantic comedy. While Paul Rudd’s character, Peter, does get engaged to Rashida Jones’ character, Zooey, that is not the main love story of this movie. The main love story is between Peter and Sydney (Jason Segel). It’s a broship. A bromance. Like Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, or Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman, or Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Perfect for the Valentine’s Day season, this film is lighthearted and delivers exactly what you want it to. Paul Rudd never disappoints, and his chemistry with Jason Segel is fun to watch. Rudd plays Peter, a serial monogamist with no male friends. He focuses on one girl, gives her all his love and attention, and is not used to nurturing male friendships. But when his fiancé points this out to him and encourages him to explore friendships of his own, he goes on a journey of finding his own friends. First, he goes to his brother (Andy Samberg) for help, but that does not lead him anywhere good.

from Movieclips Classic Trailers on YouTube

Eventually, he finds Sydney (Jason Segel) and the sparks start to fly. Sydney brings out Peter’s fun side and encourages him to stand up for himself at work. Sydney even punches a huge, built guy because he thinks he is defending Peter and helping him in the long run. He is truly a good friend and cares about Peter’s best interest. After a few ups and downs, it’s clear that Peter and Sydney’s friendship is true and not just something that is surface level and going to disintegrate easily. After Sydney makes a risky business venture, their friendship is cemented forever.

Overall, this film is pretty good. It is not something extraordinary that takes the audience to a new realm or exciting perspective, but it is what I expected it to be. It is funny, goofy, and easy to watch. It’s a chill night film that delivers some laughs and it looks like the cast had fun making this movie. It’s a rom com with a twist. J.K. Simmons even plays Peter’s dad, Nick Kroll and Nelson Franklin (Robby from New Girl) even make an appearance. It was funny to think of Paul Rudd having Andy Samberg as his brother and J.K. Simmons as his father. That would be a family to remember. Imagine the summer barbecues and the Christmas party jokes.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

6.5/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

Freaky (2020), funny, and fabulous.

The comedy horror film that I didn’t know I needed. Staring Vince Vaughn (Butcher), Kathryn Newton (Millie), Celeste O’Connor (Nyla), Misha Osherovich (Josh), and Uriah Shelton (Booker) this movie surprised me in the best ways.

The concept of a teenage girl and a grown, 6-foot man switching bodies seems strange, but this movie makes it hilarious in the best ways. The jokes are about the right things in the right places and they do not take it too far. The goriness of the movie is extreme (for comedic effect), but that is to be expected from a horror movie. There will be blood, there will be chopped up body parts, there will be terror inducing images that make you want to look away but somehow you can’t.

from Universal Pictures from YouTube

While the story is somewhat predictable, I did not go into this movie thinking it would be nominated for an Oscar. It’s good for what it is. It’s funny, it’s scary and has suspense built in, but mostly it’s funny. It’s not groundbreaking, or something that has never been done before, but the movie is done well, has great actors, a good pace, and is just the right length without dragging on and on.

I think most people have thought about what it would be like to switch bodies with a person of a different height, gender, or with someone from a different time period. Thinking about how life would change just from switching bodies was always a conversation that came up in study hall during high school. This movie brought back those immature, but hilarious memories. I really like to imagine that the writers had a fun time writing this script.

Overall, horror movies are not my thing, but I think that is why I enjoyed this film. While Vince Vaughn’s character, the Butcher, was creepy and gave me chills, the film is mostly comedy. The gory kills are shocking, but the rest of the film is humorous and has some heart sprinkled into it. I also have to say that I enjoyed watching Vince act like he was a teenage girl. From a viewers perspective, it was funny knowing that the younger actors had to act with Vince like he was their age, when he clearly is not (Sorry, Vince). That adds another undertone of comedy to the film. I wonder what set life was like and if Vince assimilated well with his younger costars. I bet he did because the friendships on screen look pretty real. All of them.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

7/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

Class Action Park (2020), the harsh reality.

As someone who has been to Action Park, now known as Mountain Creek, I thought I should take some time to watch this documentary. I have heard stories from my parents about how different the park used to be, but I did not know a lot about its overall history. While I did not go to the park before the early 2000s, I have been there enough to know that some parts of the park still have not changed. And I do not mean that as a complement.

If you are not familiar with Action Park, it was an amusement park that was known for not being safe or family friendly per say. Many people got injured at the park and some even died. It was not well regulated and was a safe haven for dare devils. The “rides” were not even designed by engineers. Jimmy Kimmel once said that every person in his family got injured at the park. I do not think that was an exaggeration. I think that sums it up: an amusement park designed by people who were not qualified.

from HBO on YouTube

It was interesting to watch this documentary and learn how up-and-coming Vernon, New Jersey once was. I always thought of it as a quiet, peaceful nature town and never as a competitor to Orlando, Florida or Atlantic City, New Jersey. It’s crazy how much it has changed over the years and how much I did not know about this town that I have been to so many times.

Overall, as someone who has endured a concussion and has been dealing with the repercussions for more than 6 years, I am not a fan of Action Park and its history. After watching the documentary, I do not see myself going to Mountain Creek again. I know that Action Park was alive during a different time, but it was never right to have a park with attractions that were known not to be safe. Going on a ride that was not designed by an engineer, but a random guy that had no idea how safe it would be? No thanks. But the crazy part is that the people going to the park likely knew all of this and they still wanted to go for the thrill of it.

Even Donald Trump thought that the park was too “unhinged” when he visited it. After his visit, he decided that it was not the right fit to invest in.

I can acknowledge that if I was alive when Action Park was at its peak, I might have a very different perspective. I appreciate how honest this documentary was but when some of the people spoke, I felt so nervous and anxious about the stories they were telling. It was hard to listen to. A park run by teenagers. Oh god. I think this film told a story that definitely needed to be told.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

7/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie/tv show is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

The White Lotus (Season 1)

The White Lotus (2021-) has been widely praised since its release during the summer of 2021. It stars Jennifer Coolidge (Tanya), Connie Britton (Nicole), Alexandra Daddario (Rachel), Jake Lacy (Shane), Sydney Sweeney (Olivia), and others. As I started watching the first episode, I thought I would be turned away quickly and not care about the characters enough to watch the whole series. I was wrong.

As the episodes progressed, I could sense that something more sinister was brewing. Not in a bloody, traditional horror movie way, but in its own unique type of horror and suspense way. Slowly but swiftly, the true nature of the characters are revealed and the overarching theme of class is placed front and center. This is not the kind of show you are meant to watch in the background while you are doing something, you will miss something vital to the plot. This is a show you need to sit down and watch with your full attention. It comments on class, tradition, and norms. That can be a lot to handle and digest fully at times.

from HBO on YouTube

While some reviewers and magazines classify The White Lotus as a drama and comedy show, I would say it more closely aligns with drama. There are humorous, ironic moments, but that is not the focus of the show. Satire makes up a huge part of the plot and is central to the story, but the comedy feels more like a nicely incorporated decoration than the soul of the story.

The ending was one of my favorite things about this series, which has been renewed for another season. While I am jealous of the cast for getting to spend so much time shooting at a glamorous resort in Maui, the final episode found a way to make the island feel idyllic but also creepy.

The opening scene of the show that sets the series in motion is finally completed in the last few minutes of the last episode. It leaves the audience with a lot to think about regarding class and the structure of society. My mind kept thinking about how some people can get away with nearly anything because of their societal standing, but others make a bad choice one time and it changes their life irrevocably. I would love to read a disection of this show by someone who has a sound understanding of politics, sociology, anthropology, and psychology. I think that would make for an interesting YouTube video, Ted Talk, or thesis paper. Maybe I will search the internet to see if I can find that.

Overall, I recommend watching this show. It uses a great selection of music, color grading, and nature to set the tone and keep the suspense going even when the summary of the plot could seem too normal or ordinary to be interesting. Great job Mike White (writer, director, and creator of the show)! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the conversations this show has started in my mind.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

8/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie/tv show is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

The King of Staten Island (2020)

Pete Davidson (Scott) is the King of Staten Island. It took me almost 2 years to watch this movie but I am happy I finally got the chance to watch it. The film is directed by Judd Apatow and stars Bill Burr (Ray), Bel Powley (Kelsey), Moises Arias (Igor), Marisa Tomei (Margie), Maude Apatow (Claire), and Pauline Chalamet (Joanne). While I am not the biggest fan of Judd Apatow movies, I am a fan of Pete Davidson. It felt weird to write that because Pete is like a kid that never grew up but somehow also grew up too fast. I like how he uses comedy to get through dark stuff because I am drawn to comedy for the same reasons. I think a lot of people are.

I watched Big Time Adolescence (2019), another film Pete worked on, and I enjoyed it because of him. He has this way of centering a movie and making it feel more grounded. I am thoroughly excited to see what he does in the future and how he spends his long, exciting career ahead of him.

from Universal Pictures on YouTube

When I started watching this movie, I did not know what to expect. I knew it would be a comedy and that it would touch on the death of his dad. Apatow films are not usually my favorite because the comedy is not typically my style, however this film’s comedy is right up my alley. I felt the subtle jokes, the more obvious ones, and the overarching plot imbedded with nuance and irony. I honestly think that if you want to make any comedy feature film better, just add Pete. Comedy film + Pete = home run.

One of my favorite things in this movie is the relationships between the characters. From the beginning, the charisma is tangible and the cast does a great job at conveying the friend and familial bonds of the characters. They make the story more real and relatable. Another aspect of this movie that I admire is how it is semi-autobiographical for Pete, but it also takes its own creative liberties. From my own experience, I know how hard it can be to write about personal and hard experiences because it is easy to try to include all the real stuff that actually happened. Finding a balance between nonfiction and fiction is hard, but somehow this movie found the sweet spot.

The real moments between Scott (Pete Davidson) and Margie (Marisa Tomei) are my favorite. I also like the interaction of Scott and Claire (Maude Apatow). They feel so honest and vulnerable, those scenes are a work of art. I also liked seeing Pete dressed as a waiter. It made me wonder how hilarious it would be to go to a restaurant and have him as your waiter. That would be an experience to remember. I wonder if he would get my order right or trip walking to my table and spill my drink on the floor and then slip on that too. I wonder if he would earn a lot of tips because he has charm, but still has that geeky awkwardness.

Overall, this film was beautiful. There are so many hilarious moments mixed in with heartfelt moments. It felt like a perfected recipe. I especially enjoyed the soundtrack and the restaurant fight club. This film has so much charm and is definitely something I will be rewatching when I need to laugh but also want to feel held, understood, and not alone in my journey. Does that make sense? If you’ve seen it, I think you will know exactly what I mean.

“Hey, you want a hot dog?”

“Oh no, I can’t. I have Crohn’s.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s like when the lining of your stomach is all messed up so it makes you shit all the time.”

“Well, thanks for sharing.”

“Next time just say I don’t want a hot dog.”

“Alright, I’m just trying to spread awareness.”

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

8.69/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

Girls (Season 2 & 3)

While being stuck in my room thinking I had COVID for the third time, I watched lots of Girls (2012-2017) episodes. I was drawn to the show initially because I love the show New Girl (2011-2018), but have seen the episodes so many times that I wanted to spend some time watching something new. I also knew that Adam Driver was in Girls, and I wanted to see what kind of character he played. I have seen him in Silence (2016) and Paterson (2016), among other movies, but I wanted to see him in action comedically. I was not disappointed.

I already have a post where I talked about the first season of this show and compared it to New Girl. But now that I have watched Season 2 and 3 of Girls, I thought I should write another post to document my new thoughts.

One of my favorite aspects of the show is the songs that play during the end credits. Most of the episodes end with a cliffhanger or blunt dialogue that leaves you thinking about what happens next. The songs during the end credits reinforce the emotions felt in that episode’s final scene and help the show continue even when the screen time is over. Some shows have the same end tune play for every episode, but Girls takes music seriously and carefully selects a song that adds to the end plot of each specific episode. I often sit through all of the end credits just so I can hear the entire song. I wonder if I am the only one who does this. I hope everyone can appreciate the careful music selection.

Another reason I like this show is how it touches on emotional moments and stays on them just long enough without it being overwhelming for a comedy. For instance, when Jessa visits her father and it does not go well, it is not shoved down the audiences throat. Instead, the emotions are seen gradually and through action. This actually makes the plot more impactful because it is left for the audience to piece together what is left unsaid, much like real life. Overall, this comes down to good writing and I applaud that over and over again.

This strategy is used many times in the show. For instance, when Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) grandmother dies in Season 3. We learn this at the end of an episode through a phone call with her cousin, Rebecca (Sarah Steele). In the previous scenes, their grandmother’s health is improving, which makes it even more surprising when suddenly Hannah gets a call informing her that her grandmother has died from a heart attack. After this phone call, the screen cuts to black and the audience is left to deal with their emotions alone. I love how this mimics real life, how situations are thrown at us, no matter how surprising, and we are left to deal with them how we see fit. Some news can feel like a gut punch and the ending to this episode truly delivers that feeling.

Overall, I love the realist tone of the show. Often TV and movies portray people how we “think” or wish they really are, but I feel like Girls portrays people how they really are. With all their intricacies, bad moments and good, anger and sadness, and the ups and downs of growing up, honestly. The show does not set unrealistic expectations, I think it mimics real life. I like shows that do that successfully and I guess that is why I enjoy watching this show so much. So much that I watched 3 Seasons in 3 days. Is that some kind of record?

Rating: 8 out of 10.

8/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie/tv show is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

The Tender Bar (2021)

Directed by George Clooney and starring Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, and Lily Rabe, this film tells the story of a boy without a father, but he’s trying his best to be strong for his mother. According to IMDb, the story is based on a memoir by J.R. Moehringer.

The Tender Bar (2021) is an Amazon Original movie and can be viewed for free if you have an Amazon Prime subscription. With an hour and forty-five minute running time and an R rating, it’s an easy watch with nothing too off-putting.

Some of my favorite things about this movie are the directing, choice of music, and color grading that express the time period perfectly. With it’s connections to Amazon and the big stars in this movie, it is no surprise they were able to get ahold of the classic songs they incorporated into the story. Additionally, the directing is not always generic, it feels more specific to the plot and characters’ emotions.

from Amazon Prime Video on YouTube

The screenplay is well-written and the flashbacks are easy to follow. The pacing is even throughout and does not slow down or lull for too long. Information are the characters, their pasts, and relationships ae revealed in a timely manner, but not too fast that it feels rushed.

Overall, the creative direction of the movie is what makes it successful in my book. While the story is not something extraordinary, the acting and music combine to set a specific tone that is unique to the film. While I would not add this film to my “must-watch-list”, I think it is worth watching if you have the time. I wouldn’t say to skip it, but I wouldn’t say you need to watch it right now. Put it on your television when you want to watch something solid that won’t let you down.

The music in the film makes me so happy. I think it might make you happy, too. And the ending of the film felt pretty magical and just what I wanted to see.

Favorite Quote

“You’re a writer the minute you say you are. Nobody gives you a diploma, you have to prove it, at least to yourself.”

Rating: 7 out of 10.

7/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie/tv show is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

Podcast Trailer is live!

Around a month ago I recorded the trailer to my podcast. I kept going back and forth on whether or not I would post it, or just let it find its way into the blackhole of projects that never see the light.

Yesterday the trailer went live. I came to that decision because I realized that I enjoyed recording it and maybe it will make someone smile. When I was younger, I would create my own radio shows and record them on an old cassette player. So recording a podcast kind of came naturally to me. Instead of trying to go against my natural instincts, I decided to listen to myself and give this a try.

If you want to listen to the podcast, the trailer is available now on Spotify, Anchor, and the That Weird Friend YouTube channel. If you give it a listen, please connect with me on Instagram (@alohaarianna) and let me know what you think! Did I talk too fast, too slow? How can I make it better for the listener?

Thank you for giving me a chance, I appreciate it more than you will ever know.

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