Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 28, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 28, 2023

Vacation Friends 2
Rated R for drug use, some sexual references and pervasive language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 22%
Streaming on Hulu

When the first Vacation Friends came out in 2021, I found it to be a hilarious and lovable comedy. I immediately gravitated toward it because after all, I’ve never been on a trip where we didn’t make friends with another couple and some of those relationships have lasted years. Obviously, the story is a worst-case scenario situation, but man was it funny. Coming back for more, our two couples (John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji) are getting together for a resort stay in the Caribbean. But things start to go horribly wrong when Hagner’s criminal father (Steve Buscemi) shows up to recruit them all into a nefarious plot involving a local gang and a high dose of unsuspected danger. While there are some big laughs to be had, the film certainly doesn’t have the verve of its predecessor, and much of the humor fails to launch. One of the problems is that the bad behavior by Cena and Hagner is very toned-down to the point that they are greatly subdued. Their craziness served as the fuel to the first movie’s fire, and that fuel was missing here, for the most part. Also, the plot around the father is simply weak and unbelievable, and completely unnecessary. It’s not a bad film, but it certainly doesn’t deliver the goods nearly as well as it could have. C+

The Blackening Rated R for violence, pervasive language and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on disc and paid streaming

This hilarious horror/comedy focuses on a group of black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. While there, they discover that there is a killer who intends to kill them if they can’t beat him in a game of black trivia. Going in, I thought this was going to be just a horror parody like Scary Movie. I quickly understood my mistake though as the film establishes itself as a smart and original mystery with a clever script and actors good enough to give it the gravity it needs to be taken seriously. While it’s not super-scary, it certainly makes up for that deficiency with a killer sense of humor and wit. And coming in at just over 90 minutes, the film gets its job done rapidly and efficiently. Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that deserves to find a broader audience now that it’s playing in homes. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 21, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 21, 2023

Blue Beetle
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action, language, some suggestive references and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
In Theaters

When Xolo Mariduena (Cobra Kai) comes home from college to visit his family after graduation, he finds them in a rut financially and decides to take on a thankless job to help them out. But when that job leads to the discovery of an alien artifact that takes over his body, he becomes a superhero who must stop the evil weapons manufacturer (Susan Sarandon) who will do anything to get the artifact back. This latest addition to the DC universe is going pretty deep into the bench to find a superhero most of us have never heard of in a universe that doesn’t quite fit in with its other heroes. Thankfully, its creative team does a fine job of serving up a very decent origin story, along with an enjoyable adventure in a world which most of its audience will probably want to sink more of its’ teeth into. Set in an imaginary city that we can only assume is supposed to resemble a futuristic Miami, rather than the El Paso-centered town of the comics, the mostly-Latino edge of the film is not only timely, but quite fun as well. The family are all more vibrant and full of life than most supporting characters we get in these types of films, and I especially loved his uncle and nana, played by George Lopez and Adriana Barraza, who bring much more than just comedy relief to the picture. While there are some moments that drag a bit, once you get into the third act, the film turns into an all-out party that you are glad you attended. With the DC universe very much in flux right now, who knows where this franchise will go, but hopefully the box office will give them a chance to see where they can take it. B

You Hurt My Feelings
Rated R for language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This new comedy from Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said, Can you Every Forgive Me?) stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a struggling writer/professor who thought she was in a blissful marriage until she accidentally overhears her husband (Outlander’s Tobias Menzies) telling his friend how much he dislikes her newest book she is trying to get published. Creating important but awkward conversations on the difference between honesty and encouragement, the couple must try to come to terms on what is more important in a relationship, brutal truth or making the other person feel better. What I love most about Holofcener’s movies is that while they look like (and get categorized as) romantic comedies, they are really neither romantic nor true comedy. They are just darn good adult stories focusing on real-world dilemmas we tend to get stuck in or should at least think about. In this case, the narrative is a poignant discussion point that will surely get its audience thinking, but in a way that at least lets you work it out in your head before the possibly awkward discussions that could come afterward. So while the characters are in deep turmoil, their journey is both organic and enjoyable as they get through it. That kind of authenticity is hard to find in films and certainly doesn’t fit the typical Hollywood mold. The movie certainly won’t put you in a state of euphoria or joy, but it will stick with you and possibly even help you down the line. B+