CHERRY (2021)

Directed by: Joe Russo & Anthony Russo 
Written By: Jessica Goldenberg & Angela Russo-Otstot 
Based On The Novel By: Nico Walker 
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Editor: Jeff Groth

Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Forrest Goodluck, Jeff Wahlberg, Michael Rispoli, Michael Gandolfini, Damon Wayans Jr. Kelli Burland, Daniel R. Hill, Pooch Hall, Thomas Lennon

Cherry drifts from college dropout to army medic in Iraq – anchored only by his true love, Emily. But after returning from the war with PTSD, his life spirals into drugs and crime as he struggles to find his place in the world.

It might be that one really wanted this film to succeed. As it is the first film for the Russo brothers directing after THE AVENGERS  movies and a starring role for Tom Holland in a more dramatic role. Not to mention actress Ciara Bravo in a leading female role after the streaming Series WAYNE was unfortunately canceled before it’s time and she was so good on it. That the film’s problems might’ve taken a little more personal. 

While I never read the book. I know it was critically acclaimed and had its fair share of fans. 

This is a clear case of style over substance. As the film gives us a story adapted from the book of the same name.

Though throughout the film flirts with so many different genres a mind types that it never has time to settle into any of them flirting but never quite sealing the deal. As they are just escapades that help us get to the next part of the story.

The film mainly revolves around two characters and at heart is a love story of two people trying to find themselves in one another. While dealing with constant mistakes that seem to get bigger whenever trying to solve the last problem.

It is also a drug addiction story. While the two leads are capable Tom Holland and Ciara bravo they look so young which might be the age of the characters, but they look Ike they are playing dress-up half the time. Especially as their characters get older and for Tom Holland especially the later scenes where he grows a mustache Looks more like make-up than a naturally grown character. Though Ciara bravo tries very hard with her character. Her more adult scenes just never hit home. As she is a good actress.

When it comes to the direction of the film. It is overly stylized which can be appreciated when done with just enough panache. The problem here though is that the story never quite earns it so it usually feels over the top. Though it does give the film an operatic presentation. It feels overdone and at times like it is taking suggestions from other films but is never quite as sharp as those other films. So that even in some scripted scenes that are more comedic it still falls flat.

Even as it tries to base itself on the book and present each new time period in their lives as a new or different chapter. Trying to elevate the material higher.

Even the bank robbery scene has no flair. We get that they are trying to show it’s not like the movies are glamorous or necessarily well thought out, but they just feel lifeless. As the film goes on everything feels familiar but the film keeps trying to present it in a different way that ends up going overboard and not actually adding anything to the overall experience or film. Be

The film seems to go out of its way to show that life isn’t fair as the good moral characters have a way of always having hardships or dying. While the characters who showcase bad moral behavior sometimes are punished but at other times seem to succeed or at least survive. At least In our time with them.

One of the problems is that throughout the movie the scenes feel melodramatic and examples of emotional beats you have seen done bigger and better and more deserved in Other films. Making the film again feel like it is more trying to be like films of this type instead of just being itself. It’s let’s put on a show rather than let’s stay true and tell a story.

It’s not a bad film but like the main character, it feels full of ambition but never quite makes it to where it wants to go or wants to be. Though it is a nice try. It ends up feeling like it is trying to show off to prove it belongs and in doing so showcases why it doesn’t.

It might be that the film feels more like a dramatic graphic novel with its style and with the filmmakers behind it. It just feels like a movie of moments that might have been handled better emotionally,  gritty and dramatic rather than grand and so visual and surreal. 

There is a plan here it just doesn’t match the story or material 

It’s an interesting try that in the end doesn’t quite stick to the landing. By the end, you have a film that will keep your interest but you might not have anything to really grab onto to remember or even truly feel.

Grade: C

WAR DOGS (2016)

Directed By: Todd Phillips 
Written By: Todd Phillips, Stephen Chin & Jason Smilovic 
Based on the ROLLING STONE Article “Arms and The Dudes” By: Guy Lawson 
Cinematography: Lawrence Sher
Editor: Jeff Groth 

Cast: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana De Armas, Kevin Pollak, Bradley Cooper, Eddie Jemison, Wallace Langham 

Two friends in their early 20s living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military – a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government. Based on true events.

The film is surprising while based on a true story. It comes across one film PAIN AND GAIN another based on a True story. Though Left out some important true details. To be either more comedic or dramatic. Though this one Manages to drag you Back down to earth. Amongst the fantasy and convenience. 

The film never becomes as gritty as it could be and always feels Like it has a shiny coat that keeps it away from Being as deep and serious as it might seek to be.

The strength of this film is that you can tell director Todd Phillips is trying to do something different than his usual comedies. While this has bits of humor and his touch. It is more dramatic and of more importance. As in this film not only Is it based on a true story but it deals with consequences that can be fatal. This feels more devoted to a rebellious spirit. Just like the main characters. 

So while the film doesn’t entirely succeed at its Aim. You Can tell the director, cast and crew really tried and put their hearts into it.

Jonah Hill is memorable in the film. As his character is more The showboat but also the more Loathsome of the main characters. By the end, he is the one you Remember. While Miles Teller is more the innocent heart of the film.

The film Is overly Stylish which can become distracting at times but also adds visual Flourish to scenes especially The action-oriented Ones and the scenes showcasing their success and wealth. 

Despite the epic storytelling the film surprisingly in size and scope still feels smaller. 

The character Teller plays particularly has a lot of heavy lifting yet never feels engaging or appealing until taken advantage of.

The film also feels like a chance for the actors and directors to be seen in a different way. A little more adult and show their strengths, as well as more range than maybe others, might have thought them capable of, just lien the two main characters they want to be viewed a little more serious and taken that way while still having some fun.

Bradley Cooper plays a more minor but integral role in the film. As his character is always in style and always surprising in action and some of the things he says. Though comes off like a minor James Bond villain only in real life.

Grade: C+