12/16 Movie Trip

Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, gives us his take on some shows you can catch on Netflix.

MATILDA THE MUSICAL (Netflix)

Roald Dahl’s magical tale of Matilda wowed readers for decades and was adapted into a movie back in 1996 and a stage musical in London. The musical has now received the stage to screen adaptation for Netflix. Young Matilda has grown up in home where her parents barely pay her any attention. Even her mom once said, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” when she gave birth to Matilda. Matilda is a smart, creative, and sometimes naughty girl who goes does what she wants in life. She’s excited to start a new school but is quickly warned about the headmistress, Mrs. Trunchbull, who is cruel and vicious to children. Luckily, there’s Miss Honey who knows Matilda is extraordinary in every way and takes Matilda under her wings. Matilda sees an opportunity to unite the children and start a revolution against Mrs. Trunchbull.

-Director Matthew Warchus, who also directed the stage musical, knows exactly who his audience is and makes this a loud, high-energy musical aimed at kids.

-This is a bright and playful world full of pastels and bold colors to bring out Roald Dahl’s creativity. Kids will easily latch onto the characters who represent their more rebellious and naughty side. “It takes a little genius to change the world.”

-Emma Thompson is unrecognizable under her prosthetics and lives up to her character’s name of Mrs. Trunchbull. She is fully deranged and mad as she bullies kids in the school. She might be too scary for little kids, but it’s a heightened and elevated performance perfectly fitting this type of musical theater character.

-Lashana Lynch is also wonderful as Miss Honey playing into the sweet and endearing qualities as her name would suggest.

-The music and lyrics are catchy to hear, but I don’t find them all that memorable. A majority of the songs are big group numbers that results in poor diction with all of the kids singing together. That being said, I still think and understand why it plays well for kids who will enjoy the rock-style sound the songs have.

-Despite strong performances, Matilda the Musical feels stretched thin and could have been shorter to keep up the pace and energy of when it works the best.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS

GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO (Netflix)

There is no shortage of Pinocchio adaptations. We had a dismal “live action” remake from Disney earlier this year and now Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro adds his visual eye using stop motion animation with Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. Del Toro’s adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s famous work starts off with Geppetto living in Italy with his son, Carlo, during World War I. This backstory introduces us to the beautiful and tragic father/son story that sees Geppetto witness the accidental death of Carlo due to a war bomb. A cricket named Sebastian J. Cricket sees Geppetto weeping, crying out over Carlo. Later on after having a few drinks, Geppetto creates a wooden marionette boy who comes to life thanks to some magic, and it’s up to Sebastian to guide him through his new life.

Features the voice of: David Bradley, Ewan McGregor, Gregory Mann, Tilda Swinton, Ron Pearlman, Finn Wolfhard, and Cate Blanchett.

-Guillermo del Toro is one of the great visual storytellers of our time and you can easily see how he’s incorporated his own style into the world of Pinocchio from the carnival scenes to the spirits of Wood Sprite and Death that look like characters have come to know from Pan’s Labyrinth.

-The meticulous design put into each of these characters is exquisite to say the least. It’s almost silly say that Pinocchio actually looks like a wooden boy, but he’s never looked this fully realized in other adaptations. The artists and animators want you to visibly see the wooden grain and textures that Gepetto carved into him as he’s held together by nails.

-The opening prologue told a full story with its emotional storytelling and acts as a reminder of the power that animation can over the viewer.

-Guillermo del Toro’s approach is a darker one that most audiences will expect going in. This isn’t your Disney kid-friendly take. David Bradley takes a gruffer approach to Gepetto deeply traumatized Carlo’s death. There are big identity issues that come into play with these characters and what Gepetto wants out of Pinocchio calling him a burden and blaming him for not being Carlo.

– Del Toro effectively creates an emotional connection between the viewer and the material that I didn’t quite feel was accomplished with Nightmare Alley or The Shape of Water.

-Not afraid to be violent and scary, but strongly counters that with Pinocchio’s zest for life and positivity even in the worst of times.

-It’s a testament to Guillermo del Toro’s vision for making it feel like I’m watching something new and fresh despite the many Pinocchio iterations that have come before. The painstaking effort to bring this world to life is breathtaking in every frame as the whimsical and elegant Alexandre Desplat score plays out over it.

-It’s one of the best of the year and deserves the Oscar for Best Animated Film.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS

GLASS ONION (Netflix)

Writer/director Rian Johnson crafted a fine web of intrigue with his murder mystery Knives Out. His lead detective Benoit Blanc is back on the case in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. It features an all-new cast joining Daniel Craig who’s back as Benoit Blanc. Kate Hudson stars as a fashionista and influencer. Kathryn Hahn plays the governor of Connecticut, and Leslie Odom is a scientist who works for a tech billionaire. Then there’s Dave Bautista, another influencer who creates Men’s Rights videos for YouTube. It’s a lineup of usual suspects for a film set at the height of the pandemic in May 2020. They’re all friends who refer to themselves as The Disruptors. They each receive a puzzle box from their friend, Miles, asking them to come to his compound for their annual reunion. It’s a puzzle within a puzzle within a puzzle asking them to help solve Miles’ future murder. They all arrive in Greece for their getaway and find their former friend Andi also along for the trip. As one of them states, “The question is why did she show up?” Is this all a silly game or is Miles predicting his untimely death?

-Starring: Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, Leslie Odom Jr, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista

-Move over Agatha Christie as Rian Johnson is the new master of the murder mystery genre. I’m amazed at the creativity he has come up with not only for Knives Out, but to have an equally thrilling new mystery for audiences to solve.

-Setting it during the height of the pandemic is key to exploiting these ultra-rich characters who thought they were above any COVID protocols. Kate Hudson shines as Birdy Jay who is the Queen of being cancelled but as she says, “I speak the truth” Rian Johnson even includes the infamous zoom calls.

– Daniel Craig is at his most playful and goofy as Blanc which is a stark contrast for his years as James Bond. Johnson knew he had to raise the stakes on every level with the sequel.

-The Greece-setting is absolutely breathtaking as Miles’ compound is a state of the art “commune for creativity” as he proclaims with room assignments divvied up by chakras. Jenny Egan’s lush costumes accompany the design esthetic to perfection, and I want many of Benoit Blanc’s clothes.

-Like the title object, Johnson has written layer upon layer into this murder mystery twisting the story on its head about halfway through. Even if you’re trying to play the role of detective, you won’t see what happens next. As these characters start to reveal themselves, Johnson treats these Disruptors as people who only look out for themselves, stabbing each other in the back to remain relevant and keep their own skeletons in the closet hidden.

-The cast is perfect with Dave Bautista fully poking fun of the toxic masculinity found in that macho bravada. Kate Hudson is a riot playfully leaning into the world of obnoxious influencers. The highlight of this strong ensemble is Janelle Monáe who channels her own Jessica Fletcher while being the outsider of the group. Again, saying anything more would spoil the film.

-Rian Johnson has created another exceptional murder mystery playing with characters we know all too well in our current culture. We get to play the role of Detective Benoit Blanc trying to solve it before he does. I’ll be shocked if you do! It’s wildly entertaining and should lead to more Benoit Blanc mysteries, and I’ll gladly follow him along for the next ride.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS