I appear on “CTV News at 11:30” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend, including the Netflix biopic “Rustin,” the music documentary “The Stones and Brian Jones,” the animated “Trolls Band Together” and the prequel “The Hunger games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the animated “Trolls Band Together,” the origin story “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” the biopic “Rustin,” the sports comedy “Next Goal Wins,” and the rock doc “The Stones and Brian Jones.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies and television shows coming to theatres and streaming services. Today we talk about the animated “Trolls Band Together,” the origin story “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and the Apple TV+ series “The Buccaneers.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the animated “Trolls Band Together,” the origin story “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” the biopic “Rustin,” the sports comedy “Next Goal Wins,” and the rock doc “The Stones and Brian Jones.”
Three movies in you wouldn’t think there was that much story left to tell in the Trolls Universe.
And you’d be right. There isn’t.
But “Trolls Band Together,” the new animated jukebox musical featuring the voices of Anna Kendrick and Justine Timberlake, and now playing in theatres, isn’t so much about the story as it is the frenetic, psychedelic experience of watching it all unfold.
This time around, the story begins years ago with Baby Branch (Timberlake) making his debut with BroZone, the all-Troll boy band consisting of Floyd (electropop sensation Troye Sivan), John Dory (Eric André), Spruce (Daveed Diggs) and Clay (Kid Cudi). The pressures of life at the top of the charts, of chasing the perfect sound, is wearing away at the band, and when their choreography goes wrong during a live show, they decide to call it quits.
“We’re not in sync,” says elder brother John Dory. “We’ve gone from boys to men, and now there’s only one direction for us to go… to the back streets.”
Cut to years later. Branch is now married to Queen Poppy (Kendrick), queen of the ever optimistic Pop Trolls, and hasn’t been in contact with his brothers since their last show. “My brothers walked out on me,” says Branch, “and never came back.”
Out of the blue John Dory shows up with bad news. Their brother Floyd is being held captive in a diamond prison by pop superstars Velvet and Veneer (Amy Schumer and Andrew Rannells) who siphon off his talent to enhance their terrible singing voices. “I want to be famous,” says Velvet, “but I don’t want to work for it.”
The only way to rescue Floyd is to put the band back together and create the one thing powerful enough to shatter a diamond, the perfect family harmony of all their voices singing together.
The experience of watching “Trolls Band Together” is not unlike watching a great fireworks display. They both distract the eye, are often super cool looking and may cause temporary elation, but as soon as they’re over, so is the thrill. The frantically paced film is all spectacle, glitter and musical dance numbers.
There isn’t a moment for the audience or the movie to catch its breath, as though director Walt Dohrn edited out any moments without action, leaving behind all peaks and no valleys. The razzle dazzle may appeal to younger audiences but parents, despite the addition of adult level humor, may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of imagery in every frame.
Still, it’s hard to dislike a movie that emphasizes the importance of family and community, has credible boy band songs (NSYNC perform “Better Place,” their first original song in 22 years) and 2D animation sequences inspired by “Yellow Submarine” and “Fantasia.”
SYNOPSIS: Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star as Mac and Kelly, aging hipsters and parents to newborn Stella. Their quiet suburban life is uprooted when unruly frat boys led by Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) move in next door. “Make sure that if we’re too noisy, call me,” says Teddy on the eve of a big blowout. “Don’t call the cops.” When the house party spirals out of control the couple has to call the police, thereby violating the fragile “circle of trust” between the two households. Trust broken, petty resentments trigger a Hatfield and McCoy’s style feud between Teddy and Company and Mac and Kelly.
Richard: 4 Stars
Mark: 3 Stars
Richard: Mark, there’s an old saying that goes, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” True enough, but as this movie teaches us, you should add neighbors to the “cannot choose” list. Living next door to the frat boys would be a nightmare in real life, but in reel life it’s a great situation for humor. The movie is not so much a story as it is an idea played out in a series of gags, but it is funny. Raunchy, but funny.
Mark: Also a movie that would have us believe there are no zoning bylaws in this fictitious college town. And Richard, I half agree with you. There are two movies here. One is the story of a young married couple with a baby; the other the story of a bunch of frat house goofs. The former is extremely funny—Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne have a comedic chemistry as good as any great vaudeville duo. The frat boys, unfortunately, are mostly indistinguishable and their scenes made me long for Animal House. Why cast the wonderful Christopher Mintz-Plasse and give him so little to do?
RC: I wondered that as well, but let’s face it, in the frat house side of things Efron’s abs are the star. And his hair. And toothy grin. No room for the less physical charms of Mintz-Plasse. The real charm here, though, as you say, lies with Rogen and Byrne. They have great chemistry, and are a natural match; like a frat boys and bongs. Their story doesn’t hinge on the war with the neighbors, however, as much as it does the way they battle against growing up. Their need to be thought of as cool while still being responsible adults, is very funny and adds a nice subtext to what could have been simply a very silly comedy.
MB: And in this way, the movie could be seen as a sequel to Knocked Up. Both films deal with Rogen as a dad and a late bloomer to maturity. Neighbours wouldn’t be nearly as successful if the couple were older or stuffier. It hits the right note of them being almost young enough to take part in frat house shenanigans, but not with the responsibility of a newborn. As a recent first time dad, I can tell you they got all those jokes right. But, Richard, I still laughed the hardest at some of the physical stuff. The airbag sequence is bound to be a classic.
RC: The airbag gags made me laugh, for sure, but the real treat for me was watching Rose Byrne, in her natural Aussie accent, out cursing and out doing Rogen with razor sharp comic timing.
MB: Or check out her seduction scene of two frat kids-one male, one female-which will get an applause break from the audience every time!
There’s an old saying that goes, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” True enough, but as Hollywood has taught us, you should add neighbors to the “cannot choose” list.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star in “Neighbors” as Mac and Kelly, aging hipsters and parents to newborn Stella. “Just because we have a house and a baby doesn’t mean we’re old people,” says Mac.
Their quiet suburban life is uprooted when unruly frat boys led by Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) move in next door. The frat has a storied history, laying claim to originating Toga Parties, Beer Pong and something called Boot and Rally.
“Make sure that if we’re too noisy, call me,” says Teddy on the eve of a big blowout. “Don’t call the cops.”
When a house party spirals out of control the couple has to call the police, thereby violating the fragile “circle of trust” between the two households. With their bond broken, petty resentments trigger a Hatfield and McCoy’s style feud between Teddy and Company and Mac and Kelly.
“Neighbors” could have simply been “Animal House” for a new generation but mixed in with the laughs—and there are a lot of laughs—is a character study of two people suffering from arrested development. Rogen and Byrne have great chemistry, and are a natural match, like a frat boys and bongs. Their story doesn’t hinge on the war with the neighbors, however, as much as it does the way they battle against growing up. Their need to be thought of as young and cool while being responsible adults, is very funny and adds a nice subtext to what could have been simply a very silly comedy.
But make no mistake. This is as raunchy and batty a farce as we’ll see this year, but the reason we laugh so hard at the inane stuff is because there is something deeper at work. The frustration, irritation and exhaustion that goes along with being a new parent is amplified, giving the outrageous comedic characters some grounding. Characters like this are frequent in reel life but Bryne and Rogen bring them into real life.
“Neighbors” is not so much a story as it is an idea played out in a series of wild gags, but good performances—watching Rose Byrne, in her natural Aussie accent, out cursing and out doing Rogen with razor sharp comic timing is one of the film’s big pleasures—and some unexpected heart make it a cut above the usual frat boy fare.
Think about it; Las Vegas is the perfect place for a vampire to hang out. There are no castles or creepy forests but there are lots of potential victims who don’t go out until the sun goes down. It’s a town that lives at night which makes it the perfect place for Jerry (Colin Farrell) the new vampire in town.
Based on Tom Holland’s 1985 camp classic original of the same name, “Fright Night” sticks to the basic plot of its namesake but this isn’t a traditional vampire thriller. It’s more “True Blood” than “Dracula.”
High school senior Charlie (Anton Yeltin) doesn’t believe his childhood friend Ed’s (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) claim that Jerry, the new guy on the block, is a vampire. Doesn’t believe him, that is, until their friends start to go missing. With the help of his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) and a swishy vampire expert named Peter Vincent (David Tennant in the role Roddy McDowell made famous) Charlie tries to put a stake through Jerry’s reign of terror.
Even though “Fright Night” starts as a high school horror, this ain’t “Twilight.” It’s more concerned with thrills and chills and laughs than romance or teen ennui. This is a horror film, and a pretty good one too once it gets past the set up.
The first hour threatens to get bogged down by deliberate pacing and a slowish unveiling of the plot points but is rescued by engaging performances by Yeltin and Poots, and an eerie turn by Farrell. At the sixty minute mark the horror hits, the pace picks up and the blood starts spurting.
“Fright Night” is popcorn horror with just enough bite to appeal to horror audiences and more casual vampire fans.