8/4 Movie Trip
Paul McGuire Grimes, the creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, gives us his review of a few things to watch.
HEARTSTOPPER Season 2 (Netflix)
The first season of Heartstopper was a smash hit for Netflix as it gave voice to budding queer romances for today’s youth. As season two kicks off, we see that Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor) are navigating their new relationship. They’re giddy in love with all the texting, flirting, and secret kissing sessions during school. Nick’s not out to his friends or brother yet, which provides a strong internal conflict for himself this season. Charlie is really supportive knowing how hard it is to be your authentic self and doesn’t want Nick to be bullied. Meanwhile, Yasmin Finney’s Elle and William Gao’s Tao are struggling as to whether they want to risk their friendship and be in a romantic relationship. Tao’s self-doubt and insecurities feel all-too real in the name of teen romance. Their friend group is there for all the ups and downs as they prep for Year 11 exams, Prom, and a big class trip to Paris.
-Starring: Joe Locke, Kit Connor, William Gao, Yasmin Finney, Olivia Colman
-Heartstopper is based on the graphic novel series by Alice Oseman who is back to pen the screenplays for each episode. She teased that it is based around Volume 3 of her book series if that’s any indication to fans as to what they can expect.
-It’s not hard to instantly fall back in love with this series within the first few minutes of the premiere episode.
-It still retains those graphic novel qualities with the split screen, the multiple panels, and on-screen illustrations. The first season had terrific music, and the second season is full of bangers as well.
-The first half of the season is fully leaning into the teen romance and the drama that stems from that. There’s lots of sneaking around the parents for Nick and Charlie, as their grades are slipping, and coursework is not being completed due to their constant togetherness time. There is a lot of teen angst here with family and school pressures getting in the way of Nick and Charlie and Tao and Elle.
-The series has a terrific cast each making you fall head over heels for their characters. Kit Connor is especially strong in the second season that finds Nick at a crossroads in the process of coming out.
–Heartstopper is a cute show that makes for an easy watch. You can easily get sucked in and crank out all eight episodes in one sitting if you have the time. More importantly, it meets queer youth where they’re at right now at that age.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
THEATER CAMP (in theaters)
Summer camp can be an amazing place to meet friends, learn something new and celebrate your favorite hobby or talent. The new film Theater Camp is a mockumentary that celebrates all things theater, camp, and the young triple threats out there. Amy Sedaris stars as Joan, the founder of a summer theater camp in the Adirondacks called Adirond Acts. They’re struggling for money, and it gets even worse when Joan suffers a stroke and ends up in a coma right before camp is in session. Leave it up to her son, Troy, to take it over despite not having any real talent in the arts or even knowing how camp is run. Ben Platt and Molly Gordon star as Amos and Rebecca-Diane, two friends and alumni, who are now two of the teachers at camp. Troy gets word from the local competitive camp that Adirond Acts is facing foreclosure and its up to him to turn the show boat around all while a documentary crew is on site to film the behind the scenes shenanigans of theater camp.
-Starring: Ben Platt, Molly Gordon, Jimmy Tatro, Noah Galvin, Ayo Edebiri, Amy Sedaris
–Theater Camp the movie certainly feels like the scrappy undertaking many theater productions have where everyone involved wears multiple hats to put the show up. Molly Gordon also co-directed the film with Nick Lieberman. Both of them share writing duties with Ben Platt and Noah Galvin as its based on a short film they made a couple of years ago.
-The mockumentary style is a little overdone right now, but this is more of the cinema veritae type without direct to camera interviews. It made me think of this as a Waiting for Guffman for a new generation.
-This has the same kind of nod to Broadway like the new AppleTV series Schmigadoon that has fun Easter eggs if you know your Broadway history. It’s hysterical, somewhat cringey, and slightly inappropriate at times, which feels absolutely correct when it comes to theater camps.
-Ben Platt, Molly Gordon, and Nick Lieberman really know this world and it shows. You almost can’t take it too seriously or you’ll be annoyed if you feel like you’re on the outside of this world.
-All the teachers are over the top, almost farcical in nature thanks to Ben Platt and Molly Gordon’s performances. Jimmy Tatro is pitch perfect casting as Troy. He steals the whole movie as you wouldn’t expect him in this type of movie.
-While the adults here may be obnoxious, the heart and energy of these kids is admirable for today’s youth. It’s a cute movie that families could watch together that showcases the inclusive setting and importance camps like these can have. Fun and delightful for any current or former theater kid out there.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
HAUNTED MANSION (in theaters)
Disney is no stranger at turning their theme park rides and attractions into exciting big blockbuster movies. Their latest is turning the Disneyland attraction Haunted Mansion into a big screen family fright fest with an all-star cast. Haunted Mansion was previously turned into a movie twenty years ago with Eddie Murphy, and now LaKeith Stanfield leads the new adaptation as Ben Matthias who is a former astral physicist and has developed a camera that can capture ghosts. He’s left a lot of this behind after the sudden death of his wife but is brought back into the eerie world when visited by Father Kent, a priest played by Owen Wilson. He’s been summoned to perform an exorcism on a haunted mansion now owned by a Rosario Dawson’s Gabbie, a single mom who recently moved in with her son, Travis (Chase W. Dillon). The mansion is haunted with several ghosts from the former inhabitants who are now wreaking havoc. It becomes too much for Ben and Father Kent so they call upon a medium played by Tiffany Haddish and a college professor whose studied old mansions, played by Danny DeVito.
–Haunted Mansion is set in New Orleans which provides a fun backdrop given the city’s history and love of the paranormal.
-Right off the bat, the film felt very reminiscent of Casper, The Addams Family, and of course, Ghostbusters.
-Director Justin Simien has gathered a terrific ensemble to carry the film and play into some larger-than-life personalities.
-It’s wonderful to see LaKeith Stanfield take on a family friendly story after heavier films like Get Out and Judas and the Black Messiah. He has some really touching scenes with young Travis providing the paternal figure for him. He’s also given a backstory about the grief he still holds onto for his late wife.
-Simien is trying to appeal to both the adult crowd with its themes on grief and then kids will love the ghouls and goblins.
-Tiffany Haddish is having a blast playing into the heightened nature of a fraudster medium that is questioned along the way by the more jaded characters. Owen Wilson knows kids love his shtick so easy to play into laughs as the token priest character.
-Simien has the fine line of trying to make this spooky and funny at the same time. It’s probably not nearly as consistently funny as it should be knowing what Eddie Murphy brought to his Haunted Mansion movie.
-There is a lot of build up introducing these ghost experts, the history of the haunted mansion and who the Hatbox Ghost is. It could have gotten to the climax much faster to keep the runtime down.
-I was pleasantly surprised that grief was such a major theme for a family friendly film to remind the audience that are loved ones are still with us long after they pass.
–Haunted Mansion should be a new family favorite at Halloween.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS