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Review: Trolls (2016)

Directed by: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn | 92 minutes | animation, adventure, comedy, family, fantasy, musical | Original Voice Cast: Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Timberlake, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Gwen Stefani, Russell Brand, John Cleese, Quvenzhané Wallis, Meg DeAngelis, GloZell Green, Ron Funches, Walt Dohrn | Dutch voice cast: Sharon Doorson, Waylon

Anyone who grew up in the eighties or nineties of the last century will probably remember them; the plastic troll dolls with their brightly colored, combable – and often straight up – hair. The doll was designed in 1959 by the Danish woodcarver Thomas Dam, who had no money for a Christmas present for his daughter and therefore made a doll himself, with glass eyes and sheep wool hair. When the other children in the village saw the troll doll, they wanted one too and Dam started producing the dolls in plastic. As early as the 1960s, children across Europe and the United States played with Dam’s creation. In the decades that followed, the troll dolls experienced a new period of popularity, so that many generations grew up with the cheerful figures. And they are also experiencing a comeback in the twenty-first century; the trolls now even have their own movie!

‘Trolls’ (2016) is an animated film from the DreamWorks stable (known from film series such as ‘Shrek’, ‘Madagascar’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda’) that contains an explosion of color, music and cheerfulness. The Trolls are little creatures who are always happy and go through life singing, dancing and cuddling. Directly opposite them are the Bergens, huge grumpies who really only get happy from a nice bite of Troll. The Bergens once held the Trolls captive, but through a moment of inattention from the Chef (Christine Baranski) – the very day the Bergen Crown Prince Gristie Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) would eat his first Troll – they manage to escape. Twenty years later, the anniversary of the liberation is still celebrated, because the race-optimistic troll princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is throwing a party. All the Trolls are looking forward to it, except for the mournful and paranoid Branch (Justin Timberlake), who fears all that partying will get the Bergens’ attention. And yes, he turns out to be right, because Chef comes to the fireworks and manages to catch a few Trolls. When Poppy makes a plan to save them, no one dares to join her to the realm of the Bergens. She only manages to persuade Branch. It turns out that kitchen maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) has been assigned to guard the Trolls, but she’s more concerned with arranging a date with King Gristie and helping them escape. But when saving the last Troll, Creek (Russell Brand), things get out of hand … who is afraid that all that partying will attract the attention of the Bergens. And yes, he turns out to be right, because Chef comes to the fireworks and manages to catch a few Trolls. When Poppy makes a plan to save them, no one dares to join her to the realm of the Bergens. She only manages to persuade Branch. It turns out that kitchen maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) has been assigned to guard the Trolls, but she’s more concerned with arranging a date with King Gristie and helping them escape. But when saving the last Troll, Creek (Russell Brand), things get out of hand … who is afraid that all that partying will attract the attention of the Bergens. And yes, he turns out to be right, because Chef comes to the fireworks and manages to catch a few Trolls. When Poppy makes a plan to save them, no one dares to join her to the realm of the Bergens. She only manages to persuade Branch. It turns out that kitchen maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) has been assigned to guard the Trolls, but she’s more concerned with arranging a date with King Gristie and helping them escape. But when saving the last Troll, Creek (Russell Brand), things get out of hand … It turns out that kitchen maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) has been assigned to guard the Trolls, but she’s more concerned with arranging a date with King Gristie and helping them escape. But when saving the last Troll, Creek (Russell Brand), things get out of hand … It turns out that kitchen maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) has been assigned to guard the Trolls, but she’s more concerned with arranging a date with King Gristie and helping them escape. But when saving the last Troll, Creek (Russell Brand), things get out of hand …

Music plays a prominent role in this animation film; According to the makers, even the Trolls’ brightly colored hair could be explained by their musicality. So a musical comedy, in which we have to wait quite a while before we can finally hear Justin Timberlake’s sweet-voiced sound. Perhaps the makers play a little with the expectations of the viewer. But Anna Kendrick has also proven to have an excellent singing voice. As we saw in the ‘Shrek’ films, pop classics are given a contemporary guise. Only once in a while do we hear a new song (of which Timberlake’s summer hit ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ sticks best). The music is an important asset in ‘Trolls’; that takes the attention a bit off the color hysteria. Because yes, you have to be able to take it, all that candy pink, canary yellow and fluorescent green, with glitter and flowers. The clichéd story and the cardboard characters contrast sharply; all attention has apparently gone to the visual department. The lack of depth is not a disaster; the young target group will enjoy all that splendor of color. And mom and dad who are watching undoubtedly hum softly along with all those well-known songs.

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Review: Mama Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Mama Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Directed by: Ol Parker | 114 minutes | comedy, musical | Actors: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Cher, Julie Walters, Jeremy Irvine, Andy Garcia, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Celia Imrie, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Naoko Moric

A sequel is rarely a good idea. For Hollywood, it is mainly a way to stretch successful films just a little longer than necessary. If it is also not a high-quality work, true film lovers will avoid a second cinema visit like the plague. In the sequel to ABBA musical film ‘Mamma Mia!’ from 2008 this will be no different. That film was not very well received by critics, but with its shameless charm (and Meryl Streep) still managed to lure a large audience to the cinema. The sequel had to happen at some point, but it really didn’t come until ten years later, in the form of the wonderfully subtly titled ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’.

The sequel to ‘Mamma Mia!’ Contrary to expectations, does not opt ​​for an automatic repetition exercise. Although the story hardly has anything new to offer (except for a few small surprises), it is in any case commendable that the makers have opted for a slightly different approach. The makers opt for a ‘Godfather II’-like approach in their storytelling: on the one hand we follow Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) who has drastically renovated the hotel of her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) and turns out to be pregnant by her boyfriend Sky (Dominic Cooper). In parallel, we follow the young Donna (Lily James) in 1979, and we see how she ended up on the paradise Greek island and how she experiences stormy affairs with Sophie’s ‘fathers’.

In fact, there is no need to waste more words on the plot, where the trailer is actually the entire film in a nutshell. But just like with the first part, the plot is actually just secondary and you shouldn’t worry too much about this. The film is bittersweet and averse to any pretension, just as the fans will wish.

The choice to have half the film played in the past does not work out very well and that is mainly due to the mediocre acting of the younger actors. The rather unknown actors here are mainly busy imitating their ‘older versions’ as much as possible; for example, Donna’s friends (in the older version wonderfully portrayed by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, who actually deserve a spin-off) are in fact caricatures of themselves. The singing skills of the younger actors are also not entirely flawless. The great thing about ‘Mamma Mia’ was the shameless fun with which actors such as Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan walked and sang (out of tune) around. It had an infectious effect, and it’s exactly where the part of the film that revolves around the young Donna is mediocre. The older actors are now also given much less space, so that someone like Colin Firth is in the picture for less than ten minutes. A shame, because it was precisely those actors who managed to make the first part manageable. Still, there are a few moments that are wonderfully over the top again: think of Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth going wild on ‘Dancing Queen’ and the way Pierce ‘007’ Brosnan bounces back on the storm of criticism he received for his vocal performance in the first part.

The step back in time is therefore quite annoying for the story, but has one very strong weapon in his hands: Lily James (who already made an impression in films such as ‘Baby Driver’ and ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’). James is so charismatic and acting so infectious that the rest of the young cast doesn’t stand a chance in her presence. And although the sung parts have certainly been refurbished in the studio, James also proves to be more than her man vocally. James is the absolute star of this film and is therefore a worthy ‘replacement’ for Meryl Streep. In short: an actress to really keep an eye on.

The big question that many fans struggled with for ‘Here We Go Again’ was what exactly Meryl Streep’s role would be in this part. The answer will not be revealed here, but the makers opt for a daring (and perhaps unnecessary) twist. However, it hardly gets in the way of the fun. With dazzlingly filmed songs, the ever-bitter sweet but catchy music of Abba and a lot of acting fun, ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ does everything the fans could hope for in a sequel. It is certainly not pompous and if you are going to get annoyed by the many clichés and the bittersweet tone, it is better to avoid the film. If you want to see Cher sing a duet with Andy Garcia (yes, they’re still around in this sequel) and above all, have some shameless fun, this summer movie is all you need for two hours of unpretentious entertainment. In cynical times, a movie like ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ is the ultimate escapism: irresistible nonsense that doesn’t really hurt anyone.

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Review: Bad Moms 2 – A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

Bad Moms 2 – A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore | 104 minutes | adventure, comedy | Actors: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, Jay Hernandez, Justin Hartley, Peter Gallagher, Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, Lyle Brocato, Wanda Sykes, Christina Applegate, Cade Mansfield Cooksey, Ariana Greenblatt , Jacks Dean, Madison Muffley, Kenny Go

If the American comedy ‘Bad Moms’ (2016) taught us anything, it’s that motherhood is hell and it’s impossible to keep all the balls in the air. Nothing new under the sun for most mothers in the Netherlands. The loyal viewer of the hit series ‘De Luizenmoeder’ – and there were many! – also know that the schoolyard is a snake pit, with ‘Queen Bee’ class mothers who seem to have it all together and look down on any mother who shows the slightest glimmer of humanity. The struggle that Mila Kunis and her friends went through in ‘Bad Moms’ is recognizable for many women. Who doesn’t dream of just letting things go and choosing for yourself instead of always effacing yourself? Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn went completely crazy, because of course there must be something to laugh about. Only a year and a half after ‘Bad Moms’ there was already a sequel, which was released in the Netherlands under the unoriginal title ‘Bad Moms 2’ (2017), but which is called ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ in the US and many other countries. . As the title suggests, this time the bad moms throw themselves into the most stressful event of the year for moms—at least for Americans: Christmas.

A beautiful tree, decorating the house, preparing Christmas dinner and getting presents; it’s not all for Amy (Mila Kunis). Because she wants to give her children the ‘best Christmas ever’. Since she got rid of her untrustworthy husband, she takes care of her two children alone, though she has a happy relationship with divorced father of one daughter, Jesse (Jay Hernandez). Actually, she would like to take it easy for a year, but those plans come to nothing when her mother Ruth (Christine Baranski) suddenly shows up at the door. Ruth is the snobbish kind, always striving for perfection. She turns her nose up at the snacks that Amy has prepared with great care. And that tree is a mockery. Before Amy knows it, Ruth has completely taken over the reins and plans a high-class gala to impress the outside world. At her daughter’s house! Amy’s friends Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) are in the same boat, even though their mothers are very different types. Kiki’s mother Sandy (Cheryl Hines) wants so much to look like and be with her daughter that it takes on psychopathic forms. And Isis (Susan Sarandon), Carla’s mother, is a flutter, who is more often than not there and only visits her daughter when she needs money. Disappointed by the arrival of their mothers, the three friends decide to take matters into their own hands. But that’s easier said than done.

‘Bad Moms 2’ is a quintessential sequel that is purely made to make a quick buck. The story is wafer thin and predictable and the humor is often too flat for words. It’s part and parcel of these kind of party comedies, that underpants fun, but that doesn’t mean writers/directors Josh Lucas and Scott Moore can get away with it all. Just like in the first part, Hahn has the funniest part, but after two jokes about waxing genitals, we’ve seen it. The romantic subplot surrounding Carla and a male stripper (Justin Hartley) is a sad low. Much funnier – because less vulgar and much sharper – is Baranski as the über-perfectionist Ruth, who orders her daughter around in a very blunt way. Peter Gallagher as her faithful husband keeps bumping after it, but does play a crucial role in the transition from fun and craziness to an (attempt at) a deeper layer. Ruth can’t help it that she is the way she is, and the disagreements are settled in a sweet scene in a church. This melodrama contrasts sharply with the crude jokes from the first half of the film and feels unreal. Even though we have actresses of Susan Sarandon’s level (what the hell is she doing in this movie?), a poorly written script is still a poorly written script.

‘Bad Moms 2’ is a no-brainer in every way. The humor is cheap, the script is rushed and the talents of the actors are wasted. Why Amy, Kiki and Carla didn’t kick out their annoying mothers much earlier is a mystery that haunts us for over an hour and a half. An hour and a half of wasted energy. Let’s hope the ‘Bad Moms’ twerk is over and they can get back to doing things that really matter.

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Review: The Bounty Hunter (2010)

The Bounty Hunter (2010)

Directed by: Andy Tennant | 106 minutes | action, comedy, romance | Actors: Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Christine Baranski, Natalie Morales, Jason Sudeikis, Siobhan Fallon, Cathy Moriarty, Peter Greene, Liam Ferguson, Daisy Tahan, Ruby Feliciano, Dorian Missick, Adam Rose, Frank Apollonio, Peter Conboy, Joel Garland, Eric Zuckerman, Kevin Cannon, Jason Kolotouros, Reyna de Courcy, Bob Kaplan, Frosty Lawson, Robert Feeley, Joe Zarriello

Truly successful romantic comedies are rare. A first and fairly important threshold for filmmakers within this genre. In the last few decades, only ‘Groundhog Day’ has really come to the fore, and maybe you can count ‘Shakespeare in Love’. In addition, Woody Allen has its own playing field, but no good matches have been played there for a long time either. The reason why the rom-com continues to make an unprecedented contribution to the annual film production therefore has an increasingly strong commercial aspect. Movies in this genre don’t have to be good. As long as the star couple on the bill is sufficiently bankable, the director, plot and further cast become secondary to keep costs low and you still have a solid return. At least that’s the formula.

If you’re lucky, it’ll be accompanied by some strong jokes (often from the supporting cast), an entertaining story, and an upbeat soundtrack. However, ‘The Bounty Hunter’ is neither a high flyer nor successful in-between entertainment and thus falls outside the above categories. All parts that are supposed to provide the filming pleasure within that standard formula are absent. In the first place, there is zero chemistry between Aniston and Butler, one comedic supporting role is even more retarded than the other by the hair. Now the latter is often the case with the predictable plots of the genre, but the developments here are so standard that you can fill in the entire film based on the title and premise. Any comic distraction or original find is therefore nowhere to be found. Not in the bumbling introduction, not in the predictable middle, not in the hackneyed ending and certainly not in the messy and absurd storylines that run off the main theme. While director Andy Tennant in the past regularly managed to raise contributions to the genre somewhat above average (‘Anna and the King’, ‘Hitch’), this production seems to have run out of cake for a while. Even the supporting soundtrack features ill-used, temporary pop hits (Kesha, for example) and songs that distract you from the story because you have to ask whose idea it was to assist this ridiculous scene with this song.

The most glaring flaw, however, is the injustice done to Aniston and Butler. Both have proven to be much better, in various genres, but here the plot and the supporting cast fall short, making their interaction only irritating in the end. But a greater injustice actually falls on the viewer’s plate. After all, a nearly two-hour comedy where there’s no laughter to be found is just plain boring. Especially because those same two hours you have to watch an incessant series of unsuccessful attempts by the actors and the story. How the creators get that fans of the genre are still waiting for golf carts driving in ponds, stalking losers chasing the female lead and stereotypical Disney-esque bad guys is really the only joke of the film.

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Review: The Grinch-Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

The Grinch-Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Directed by: Ron Howard | 105 minutes | comedy, family, fantasy | Actors: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Clint Howard, Josh Ryan Evans, Mindy Sterling, Rachel Winfree, Rance Howard, Jeremy Howard, TJ Thyne, Lacey Kohl, Nadja Pionilla, Jim Meskimen Michael Dahlen, David Costabile, Mary Stein, James Ritz, Deep Roy, Jessica Sara, Mason Lucero, Ben Bookbinder, Michaela Gallo, Verne Troyer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anthony Hopkins

dr. Seuss was a well-known children’s author, whose fanciful books were filmed several times. Not so strange: his ‘The Cat in the Hat’, for example, ensured that many, especially American children, learned to read and the illustrations of his books are beautiful. Theodor Seuss Geisel, the real name of Dr. Seuss, possessed the rare talent to create wondrous worlds, which will continue to appeal to generations thanks to their timelessness. How the Grinch Stole Christmas was released in 1957. Within ten years of publication, the successful book already resulted in a cartoon film that is still beloved to this day (1966, 26 minutes). In 2000 Imagine Entertainment came up with a variant for the current generation. The story was stretched to feature film length. The reliable, risk-averse director Ron Howard unfortunately does not manage to bring the magic of the book to the silver screen.

In a snowflake a very small people live in the village of Whoville. These residents are called Who’s and they are a friendly and cheerful breed. They look like humans, but have weird haircuts and funny faces, with snouts instead of noses. The Whos love Christmas. The focus is on the Lou Who family, father Lou Lou Who (Bill Irwin) works at the post office and is therefore busy with the distribution of all Christmas mail, mother Betty Lou Who (Molly Shannon) is determined to win this year’s prize for the most beautiful Christmas lights and then there are also Christmas presents for everyone to be bought. Daughter Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) has her doubts about the upcoming big party. She wonders what Christmas really stands for and whether all those gifts are necessary. When she encounters the evil Grinch at the post office, whom everyone is raving about, she senses there is more to his pickle and sets out to investigate. She finds out why the Grinch hates Christmas so much and decides to get him to join the festivities in the village.

Jim Carrey is barely recognizable under all the green makeup, but his physical acting is impressive nonetheless. He jumps, dances and performs silly antics that it is a delight and even his crazy pelvic pulling is not lacking. For example, Carrey is delightful in the scene where he can’t decide whether to accept Cindy Lou’s invitation. Carrey’s portrayal is one of the main reasons to see the film, but his contribution does not save the film. ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ didn’t become the Christmas classic the filmmakers had in mind. dr. Until his death, Seuss reportedly denied any filmmaker who wanted to use the rights to the book to make a live action production of his beloved book. You wish he’d lived or at least his heirs wouldn’t have gone for the big bucks, because there isn’t much to recommend the film except for Jim Carrey. No matter how beautifully cared for the village looks, how comical (or is bizarre is the right word?) the appearance of the Who’s; nowhere are you drawn into the world, such as in the beautiful animated film ‘Horton Hears a Who’ (2008), which is also based on a book by Dr. Seuss, and also set in Whoville, succeeds. The characters are not charming enough, but come across as nasty and materialistic monsters. Cindy Lou may have a heart of gold on paper, but Taylor Momsen is nothing more than a cute blond girl and completely interchangeable as an actress and film character, because she only serves as a plot mechanism.

In addition, the Grinch’s background knitted into the original story provides an irritating, explanatory tone. The explanation for his behavior comes much too soon, probably to arouse sympathy for the green furry creature, which is partly successful, but it takes away a lot of the tension. All in all, How the Grinch Stole Christmas isn’t a feel-good Christmas movie, but a bleak and unnecessary retelling of Dr. seuss. Although the viewer rating indicates “All ages”, the film is not suitable for young viewers due to the melancholy atmosphere and various tense moments.

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Review: Bow finger (1999)

Bow finger (1999)

Directed by: Frank Oz | 97 minutes | comedy | Actors: Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Robert Downey Jr., Terence Stamp, Barry Newman, Kohl Sudduth, Adam Alexi-Malle, Jamie Kennedy, Christine Baranski, Alejandro Patino, Alfred de Contreras, Ramiro Fabian, Johnny Sanchez, Claude Brooks

The idea for this film originated in the 1980s. Steve Martin, writer and creator of the script, carried the idea with him for over a decade before he decided the time was right to actually do something with it. Martin, of course, knows the ins and outs of the film industry and makes fun of everything and everyone. Whether it’s the dumb blonde who thinks she’s working her way up by sleeping with everyone else or recruiting Mexican refugees as a cheap film crew.

Director and friend Frank Oz did a good job of translating the script to the silver screen, giving the lead actors a free hand to improvise during filming. Especially Eddie Murphy, who plays a double role, has gratefully made use of this. Jiff’s appearance is completely his. He came up with the clothes and braces to color this character. The portrayal of Jiff is one of Eddie’s best acting performances. The other character played by him is Kit Ramsey, a paranoid and insane top actor. The two characters are at odds with each other, but he also knows how to make a beautiful creation of Kit. In addition to Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin is the one who, with his interpretation of the character Bowfinger, manages to lift the film to a high level. He knows how to portray the manipulative director in such a way that you even start to sympathize with his actions.

‘Bowfinger’ is a film that portrays the hypocritical side of Hollywood in a very humorous way, but also about a group of people who want to realize their dream at all costs. The film sometimes balances on the edge of a farce, but the strong one-liners and dialogues keep it in balance.