Reel Reviews

By on January 3, 2018

For those who already piled into theaters to see “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” or perhaps could care less about stories from galaxies far, far away, here is a look at two movies hoping to topple the mighty Jedi franchise as people flock to the theaters during the holidays.

‘Downsizing’

I should have known from the disjointed trailers “Downsizing” was bound to be a bit confusing. One trailer teases the Matt Damon film as a modern comedy in futuristic proportions. Another trailer sets the tone for a deep look at the human condition through a statement about our own humanity. It turns out both are untrue as this movie simply struggles to be anything.

Damon is Paul Safranek, a nearing middle age man who decides with his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig), to undergo the downsizing procedure, which will shrink the couple’s size while multiplying their assets and helping to curb a population in an ever-growing world. Except Audrey can’t go through with the procedure at the last minute, leaving Paul to a new life in miniature where he meets party boy Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz), political dissident Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau, who is the lone, shining star in this film), and downsizing founders and pseudo cult leaders, Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen (Rolf Lassgård) and Anne-Helene Asbjørnsen (Ingjerd Egeberg).

Part farce, part treatise, the movie fails to gain any kind of momentum as a whole. The story is disjointed, incomplete, and lacks any kind of cohesion. Social commentary is mixed with crass potty humor, and heady/enlightened ideas are shoved between theatrical filler and fluff.

Hailed as “brilliant” on some promotional items, “Downsizing” is the exact opposite. Avoid this disaster at all costs as there are plenty of other, much better movies in theaters.

‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which reviewer Michael Upton calls “a wonderful family movie, which everyone can enjoy,” stars (left to right) Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson, as the avatars of four teenagers who get stuck in the Jumanji video game.

‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’

Speaking of disasters, this is what many expected when hearing of a reboot of the board-game-comes-to-life film from 1995 starring Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst. But, from trailers it is a bit tricky to realize the newest film, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” is actually a sequel.

“Not a remake. It’s a sequel and they even pay homage to (Robin Williams). It was hysterical and very well done,” writes my friend Lisa M. in defense of the latest release.

I must have missed the homage, probably because I couldn’t stop laughing during this movie.

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” follows unsuspecting youngsters Spencer (Dwayne Johnson/Alex Wolff), Fridge (Kevin Hart/Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Jack Black/Madison Iseman), and Martha (Karen Gillan/Morgan Turner) as they become trapped inside a video game and must work their way through a series of quests and levels before returning to the real world.

The quests put the characters in hilarious situations like a snake vs. human staring contest and a dance fight choreographed to Big Mountain’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” — a flashback to the mid-90s. Even though reality bites for these teens (who had met during detention), they make it through the game and become friends in the end. It is a wonderful family movie, which everyone can enjoy.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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