It’s pretty disappointing going in to a movie expecting so much and leaving it felt like it could have been so much more. While many have sung the praises of Jennifer Seligman’s “Bottoms,” I am sad to have left it feeling generally indifferent. It has an interesting premise and has a good time taking its LGBTQ premise and fitting it right in to the myriad coming of age high school comedies, but so much about “Bottoms” felt so under developed and incomplete. Apart from its absolutely bizarre premise, “Bottoms” spends most of its run time trying to figure out what it wants to be.
I imagine one day one of Adam Sandler’s daughters was having a birthday, and they mentioned something about wanting to be in the movies. Seeing as how Sandler is that kind of guy, he cracked and gave his daughters their very own movie. I’m assuming he also promised them a career too, like the Apatows. It’s sad that in a year where we were given “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.,” Sandler offers up his own version of the coming of age teen tale, except with major discrepancies.
“Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret.” was about a lower middle class teen girl trying to find her place in the world. “You Are So Not Invited…” is about an affluent upper class teen trying to—create the perfect bat mitzvah. Because heaven forbid she goes to high school with less than four friends.
Director Osmany Rodriguez’s “Miguel Wants to Fight” is a lot like a Gen Z version of “Max Keeble’s Big Move” mixed with “Three O’Clock High.” It’s a coming of age movie about a teen who makes a self realization in the midst of a big move to another town. Except the premise for the movie is what you see in the title. Our main character is teenage Miguel who is looking for a fight before he leaves; except it’s a tad more complicated than that.
I imagine the board meeting at Disney Channel went “What if we did “The Hangover”–but G rated?” And what we got was “The Slumber Party.” Director Veronica Rodriguez lays all of her influences out for the audience from minute one, even involving a small group of friends that make a pact that results in a night that neither of them can recall. It’s almost verbatim sans any and all adult content. Not that that’s a bad thing in particular, as thankfully “The Slumber Party” is quite good. The fact it’s blatantly derivative of the aforementioned movie is outweighed by the charisma of its cast, and its lively energy.
One thing Richard Linklater can never be accused of is someone that deals in concepts of fate and destiny. He’s also pretty much an atheist when it comes to storytelling. His characters aren’t fulfilling destiny or living up to a higher purpose (e.g. “Boyhood”). They’re merely characters drifting and crashing in to one another, creating random occurrences that may or may not work out the way they want to. Jessie and Celine in “Before Sunrise” are just drifting along the world until they meet one day. The dreamer in “Waking Life” is just drifting through his sub-conscious meeting others. Jake is ostensibly drifting around in “Everybody Wants Some!!” Hell, even Dewey in “School of Rock” doesn’t truly fulfill any grand destiny, except merely learning to grow.
One of the things about “Fury of the Gods” that made me laugh is that people gave “Man of Steel” so much crap for its blatant product placement. And yet, with “Fury of the Gods” there is literally an entire plot point centered on the candy Skittles. At one point one of the characters even proclaims “Taste the rainbow!” as they ride unicorns in to battle with the film’s villainesses. It’s really not a hindrance on the movie as a whole, but I was kind of laughing to myself at those that made such an issue about big product placements playing key roles in major films.
Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” is quite possibly one of the most iconic and influential young adult novels ever written. Even back in the early nineties, all the girls in my class read it. Director Kelly Fremon Craig pulls off a great feat, taking what’s usually considered a novel for young girls and transforms it in to a narrative that any tween or pre-teen can relate to. Even with its setting in 1970, “Are You There, God?” is still such a down to Earth and richly developed story about growing up, choosing your path in life, and trying to understand the adults in your life.
Hey, it’s better than “Black Adam.”
That’s about the biggest glowing opinion I can give “Fury of the Gods” when all is said and done. The follow up to the 2019 crowd pleaser is a perfectly fine film. It’s a solid adaptation of a unique comic book series, and it’s a good chance this is the last time we’ll see “Shazam!” with this cast. That being said, I liked “Fury of the Gods” even if I wasn’t a big fan of how much they toned down the content to make it so much more appealing to the younger audience. “Shazam!” had demons, and “Fury of the Gods” has unicorns.