Film Review: Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Release Date: January 20th, 2017 (Sundance)
Directed by: Matt Spicer
Written by: David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer
Music by: Jonathan Sadoff, Nick Thorburn
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, Pom Klementieff

Star Thrower Entertainment, 141 Entertainment, Mighty Engine, Neon, 97 Minutes

Review:

“…and also, no Batman talk!” – Ingrid, “What am I supposed to talk about? I don’t know these people!” – Dan, “Talk about something cool, like food or clothes or Joan Didion!” – Ingrid

I wanted to see this in the theater around mid-2017, when it came out. But it was only in my town for a cup of coffee and I was traveling for work at the time.

The film follows a young woman, Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), who obsesses over social media and stalks the girls she follows, trying to emulate them and essentially become them. The opening scene sees the final moments of her “relationship” with one of the people she follows. We then see her move on to Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), a girl who lives in California. Ingrid takes the inheritance from her mother’s death and moves to Cali, in an effort to become friends with Taylor and to emulate her cool, social media projected lifestyle.

The film’s cast is rounded out by O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays a lovable character who is an aspiring screenwriter and has an obsession with Batman, Wyatt Russell as Taylor’s disenchanted and withdrawn “artist” husband, Billy Magnussen as Taylor’s incredibly douchey brother and Pom Klementieff in a fairly small but important role, as she drives the initial wedge between Ingrid and Taylor.

I liked this film for a lot of reasons but mostly because of how good Aubrey Plaza was in it. She is able to convey loneliness and an obsessive need for belonging in such a sad and tragic way that you almost excuse her behavior and just want to help her. She’s not dissimilar from a lot of people out there who obsess over this new breed of celebrities: social media “influencers”.

Really, Ingrid just wants a friend and wants to feel like she is someone but completely misses out on the fact that social media is mainly just manufactured bullshit that people use to project their ideal persona. None of it is really genuine or real and the film doesn’t just examine Ingrid’s side of the equation, it also examines Taylor’s and who she really is. This is kind of a necessary movie for this day and age.

In the end, Ingrid actually has what she needs in the character of O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s Dan. He loves her, cares for her and treats her better than anyone else in the film and ultimately, even when she burns him, he doesn’t leave her side and is a good support system.

I do have a problem with the film though and that is in how it wraps up. The first 90 percent of the picture was really good. I just felt that maybe the writers didn’t know how to conclude the story after using this well-crafted tale to make their points. Ingrid’s actions just feel too predictable at the end and the final moment brings things full circle to a point where you know that Ingrid didn’t really learn the lessons she should have and she’s now attained the superficial and artificial online life she craved.

Despite an unsatisfying ending, the rest of the story was well paced and pieced together nicely. The film is accented by nice cinematography and really effective lighting. Plaza and Jackson were the real highlight of this movie and had spectacular chemistry.

Film Review: Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)

Release Date: March 17th, 2017 (Canada)
Directed by: Jay Baruchel
Written by: Jay Baruchel, Jesse Chabot
Music by: Trevor Morris
Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Marc-André Grondin, Kim Coates, Liev Schreiber, Jonathan Cherry, Wyatt Russell, Elisha Cuthbert, T.J. Miller, Tyler Seguin, Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Prust, George Parros, Colton Orr, Georges Laraque

No Trace Camping, Caramel Film, Entertainment One, 101 Minutes

Review:

“Evolve. Or go extinct.” – Xavier LaFlamme

I’m a pretty big fan of the original Goon, which I consider to be the best hockey movie since Slap Shot. I am also a huge fan of hockey and the preseason for the NHL is already underway and I’m being overtaken by hockey fever. Living in the States, I wasn’t able to see this movie until now but at least it dropped just in time for the hockey season, which seems more fitting than it’s St. Patrick’s Day release in Canada.

Unfortunately, Goon: Last of the Enforcers isn’t quite Goon but I did enjoy it.

The one thing that the film is missing is the heart and spirit of the original. Ultimately, it feels like an unnecessary sequel even though I was personally looking forward to it because there is a certain magic between Seann William Scott’s Doug Glatt and Liev Schreiber’s Ross Rhea. I wanted to see these two interact one more time and despite this film not living up to the original, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to one more go around after this.

Scott and Schreiber are just great as these characters. The rest of the cast is fun too but the film is powered by these two men and their rivalry turned to respect.

In this picture, a third goon shows up and has absolutely no respect for anything. Frankly, you just want to see this asshole get his just desserts. This new goon, played by Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt) is so good as a despicable character that you can’t not sort of admire his performance and his presence. The sky is the limit for this kid.

Doug’s teammates return and they are all just as funny as before but you seem to spend less time with them and more time on the drama of Doug trying to discover himself in a life after hockey with his now wife and coming child adding a sense of pressure and responsibility that he has a hard time balancing with his personal struggles.

In the beginning, Doug is beaten into retirement by his new rival. He takes on a normal life but wants to get back on the ice to prove that he’s still got it. In an homage to Rocky III, Doug seeks out his former rival, Ross Rhea, in an attempt to train himself for the possibility of a rematch with the man that put him on the shelf and usurped him as the king of hockey fisticuffs.

I liked the premise and seeing Doug and Ross work together and even become teammates, by the end of the film, was a cool evolution of their story. The film takes their mutual respect to a new level and that is much more interesting than Doug dealing with his insurance job and becoming a father.

Marc-André Grondin’s Xavier LaFlamme is also back but he takes a backseat and doesn’t have the screen time he had in Goon. I really like the LaFlamme character and thought he was sort of wasted here. The same goes for Jay Baruchel’s Patrick but Baruchel also directed this and probably thought that a cameo here and there was all he could tackle while helming this picture.

If you love Goon, you will probably like Goon: Last of the Enforcers. It doesn’t live up to its predecessor but you get to see these characters evolve into something more than where they were when we left off with the first film.

Film Review: Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Release Date: March 11th, 2016 (SXSW)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Cast: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell, Austin Amelio

Annapurna Pictures, Detour Filmproduction, Paramount Pictures, 116 Minutes

Review:

“Have you noticed whenever we’re around baseball all we talk about is pussy. Now, we’re actually around a few potentially interesting young women, all you talk about is baseball. It’s a little fucked up!” – Finnegan

I really anticipated Everybody Wants Some!! when it was coming out. It was Richard Linklater’s spiritual successor to his coming of age classic Dazed and Confused. Also, Linklater seems to really nail it on the head when it comes to coming of age films.

While I enjoyed the experience of Everybody Wants Some!!, it wasn’t on the level of Dazed and Confused. That’s okay though because even if they share narrative and style similarities, they are very different movies.

This film picks up in the summer of 1980 as it follows a college freshman as he moves in with the baseball team to prepare for the upcoming year. The story then captures their lives and their camaraderie while becoming a team and chasing girls. The film ends the moment the first class starts, so it really just focuses on the main character’s introduction to his four year college journey.

The cast is pretty fantastic and Linklater has a way of steering ensembles into great territory. This film is no different in that regard. All the main actors hold their own and feel like authentic teens and twenty-somethings.

I do have to say that Austin Amelio really steals the scenes he’s in but maybe that is because it is hard to envision Dwight from The Walking Dead as some collegiate baseball star. But his comedic timing and presence are great and it was really cool seeing him do something that is such a departure from his more famous character.

I really liked Zoey Deutch in this but she didn’t have a lot of screen time compared to the guys. Speaking of which, Jenner, Powell and Hoechlin had a great chemistry. The other scene stealer though was Wyatt Russell, who just commands attention without really trying but when you are the son of the legendary Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, that shit’s in your blood.

Everybody Wants Some!! is pretty enjoyable but it doesn’t have the lasting impact of Linklater’s Dazed and ConfusedSubUrbia or Slacker. It is a nice companion piece to those films however and sort of adds a fourth chapter to those pictures that I always thought of as a loose trilogy.