ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson 
Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott 
Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott

Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

JACK (1996)

Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: James DeMonaco & Gary Nadeau
Cinematography: John Toll
Editor: Barry Malkin

Cast: Robin Williams, Diane Lane, Jennifer Lopez, Brain Kerwin, Bill Cosby, Fran Drescher, Adam Zolotin, Todd Bosley, Jurnee Smollett,  Michael Mckean, Don Novello, Keone Young, Seth Smith, Mario Yedidia, Jer Adrianne Lelliott

Because of an unusual disorder that has aged him four times faster than a typical human being, a boy looks like a 40-year-old man as he starts fifth grade at public school after being homeschooled.


This is a feel-good movie that feels at times too artificial.

A kids movie, more from an adult’s point of view that families will enjoy. That tries to capture the winsomeness of youth but reeks of sentimentality and a kind of contempt with an over the top earnestness. That works for the audience but feels pointed and over intellectual at times just to try to explain things in a plausible way. While taking itself too seriously.

It attempts to be a feel-good film so much that it feels like a cop-out or set up to watch Robin Williams be wacky with kids while supposedly being a kid. Letting him loose to be wild and showcase his improv talent while still playing a character convincingly.

If you are a fan or completist of his works then this film is great. As I can admit a favorable bias when it comes to Robin Williams performances. This feels almost like the greatest hits collection. As it shows his range fully in character. As this is a role seemingly written for him. So it is perfect casting with him is the lead being unpredictable and always having a certain playfulness. Though as you watch you get a sense that he is better than the material. Even as the movie is more or less built around him. 

While Francis Ford Coppola tries to make the material and the film more enriched then it is or deserved to be. As to not embarrass himself. Plus gives him the chance to work with Robin Williams. Though the film Still feels disappointing as he tries to bring tone and atmosphere to the material. Just as he did in his previous for hire film THE RAINMAKER.

The film tries to show the joy of youth and ends up coming off more obvious than anything. While some comedic scenes seem misplaced even though they are supposed to be in a kind of reality seem silly more than anything.

Child actor Todd Bodley does his similar oddball schtick he did in the movie LITTLE GIANTS. Though he used his talents better in the kids film LLOYD then here.

Bill Cosby plays a supporting role as a child psychiatrist that feels more like a special guest star and is filmed in a warm loving way. That set the time for his reputation more. That watching the film now is almost sad and scary knowing what we know and scars the movie a bit. In which his performance and character are some of the better things in it.

The film is an interesting contrast of the two comedians working together though mostly in dramatic scenes.

As towards the end the film takes a more dramatic and sad turn, but it also ends up being a life-affirming film for the whole family. As even in It’s More adult scenes it comes off as silly and innocent 

The film in the end is definitely a crowd-pleaser. That you can’t help but smile and giggle at least once or twice.

Grade: C

HUSTLERS (2019)

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Written & Directed By: Lorene Scafaria
Based On an Article By: Jessica Pressler
Cinematography: Todd Banhazi
Editor: Kayla Etmer 

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Julia Stiles, Mercedes Rehul, Dov Davidoff, Trace Lysette, Frank Whaley, Lizzo, Cardi B, Big Jay Oakerson, Devin Ratary, Jon Glaser, Rhys Coiro, Madeline Brewer, Stormi Maya 


Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.

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MONEY TRAIN (1995)

Money Train - Wesley Snipes - Woody Harrelson

 

Directed By: Jospeh Ruben
Written By: Doug Richardson & David Loughery
Story By: Doug Richardson
Cinematography By: John W. Lindley
Editor: George Bowers & Bill Pankow 


Cast: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Blake, Chris Cooper, Skip Sudduth, Bill Nunn, Joe Grifasi, Larry Gillard Jr., Vincent Pastore, Aida Turturro, Vincent Laresca 


Two foster brothers work as transit cops. While one’s life is as good as it gets, the other’s is a pit. After losing his job, getting dumped by his brother, and getting the crap kicked out of him by a loan shark for the umpteenth time, He implements his plan to steal the “money train,” a train carrying the New York Subway’s weekly revenue. But when things go awry, will his brother be able to save him in time?

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THE BOY NEXT DOOR (2015)

boynext

Directed By: Rob Cohen
Written By: Barbara Curry
Cinematography By: Dave McFarland
Editor: Michel Aller 


Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Kristin Chenowith, Ian Nelson, Hill Harper


When a handsome, charming teenager named Noah moves in next door, newly separated high-school teacher Claire Peterson encourages his friendship and engages in a little bit of harmless (or so she thinks) flirtation. Although Noah spends much of the time hanging out with Claire’s son, the teen’s attraction to her is palpable. One night, Claire gives in to temptation and lets Noah seduce her, but when she tries to end the relationship, he turns violent.

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