Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of July 20, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 20, 2020

The Rental
Rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
Available in Drive-Ins, Select Theaters and Paid Streaming

There have been multiple news stories in recent years of people checking into their vacation rental, only to find out that their every move was being recorded by a pervy owner with a hidden camera. In this new psychological thriller, writer/director Dave Franco tells the tale of two young couples who rent a secluded beach house only to find out that they are being watched. Clocking in at a little less than 90 minutes, you get just enough character development to somewhat care about the characters, as well as their motivations and fears. It’s actually a really nice amount of tension laid out with honest reactions and a realistic-enough plot. And when the hammer finally falls, the horror action is swift and scary. As a first-time writing and directing gig for Franco, who we have seen plenty of times on screen as an actor in such films as Neighbors and The Disaster Artist, this is pretty good work. The film has an eerie feel and the plot is original, unnerving and topical being that these kinds of vacations are the simplest to be had during a pandemic. And while you won’t catch me in a theater right now, I love the idea of seeing this at a drive-in rather than renting at the house. It may not scare the socks off of you, but with a good script, great cast and fast pace, it will certainly give you the chills for now – and whenever you rent your next house. B

Rated PG for some action, language and rude/suggestive humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49%
Available on Disc, HBO Max and Paid Streaming

Rather than continue the franchise in live-action, Scooby-Doo goes computer-animated in this new adventure that was bound for theaters until Covid killed its doggy dreams. Released first only on paid streaming, the film quickly made its way to the new HBO streaming service and now on disc. The opening gives a sweet little origin story before setting up its main mystery, which revolves around a dastardly bad guy, an army of robot scorpions and the learning of Scooby’s secret legacy and relationship to Alexander the Great. Quite honestly, none of it makes sense and by the end you feel like you just watched a prettier and slightly longer episode of the original show. But Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops with a killer cast including Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Zac Efron and Amanda Seyfried, all of whose talents were completely wasted on the silly material. The film seems to be built simply for young kids who need a time killer or a 90-minute baby sitter. C-

Summer of Spielberg: Week Eight
Ready Player One
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
Available on paid streaming

Spielberg’s latest theatrical outing is 2018’s Ready Player One, based on the best-selling sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline. Set in the near-enough future, the movie tells the story of a world that lives in their Alternate Reality game called the Oasis, which has consumed every aspect of modern life. The rationale for this all-consuming madness is that the creator and CEO, upon his death, left a challenge for its players with the gift of the entire company to the person who wins it. But when a young kid and his friends start to uncover the challenge’s mysteries, a sinister corporate organization, led by the amazingly evil and smarmy Ben Mendelsohn, tries to stop them at all costs. As someone who loved the book, I was super excited to see this film hit theaters, even though I was worried about it not living up to its expectations. But it turned out that hiring the novelist to write the screenplay was the perfect idea as he kept the books spirit while completely freshening up, and even changing, the plot points. And while the movie wasn’t just an 80’s nostalgia story any longer, the changes manage to thrill and excite in the same way. Notably missing here is a score by John Williams, but in its place is music by Oscar-winner Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future) which is one of the best substitutes you can hope for. Only a modest hit in the U.S., it was a monster overseas, pulling in one of the biggest box offices of 2018. And while it is fairly kid-friendly (they do throw in a completely unnecessary yet funny F-bomb) the film is a blast to watch with older children and teens, but just be prepared to pause the film at times to explain the references and nostalgia, and lovingly annoy them a little in the process.