Review of the movie The Happytime Murders (2018)

“Noir gone porn with puppets”

“Noir is a genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.   It includes films or books that show the world as being unpleasant, strange, or cruel.”  Dictionary definition.

This adult spoof movie had potential to be a passable film noir movie.   It had the trappings of noir without the substance.   It had the deadpan disgraced detective puppet turned private investigator (well voiced by Bill Barretta), the tense relationship between the detective and his human female partner/former lover/candy addict (played by Melissa McCarthy), the dutiful discrete human secretary (played by Maya Rudolph) who had the detective’s back, etc.    I liked Melissa McCarthy in Ghostbusters, Spy, Brides Maids, Life of the Party, The Heat, and The Boss.

The technical part with the green screens and the puppets and their voices were excellent work as in all Muppet work, but I believe a movie with puppets could have been done without the extremely overt sex acts though.

However, the title was misleading, implying that a child could see it.   I saw Muppets on the DVD cover and didn’t realize that it was rated “R”.   It was just a matter of time when porn came to puppetry.

Animation has been into adult themes for the last 20 years with The Simpsons, American Dad, Family Guy, South Park, Futurama, etc.   Parents have had a losing battle finding television shows or movies that young children can see where children are not telling their parents to “eat their shorts.”   Disney’s “Snow White” was adult enough with showing little children a witch who fed Snow White a poisoned apple.  The many renditions of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” in books and movies may be frightening to young children.

One theme in the movie is racism in which a puppet says, “all I do is sing and dance” and that theme is repeated by humans who don’t care that the puppets have been killed.   Other themes include puppets in the sex trade, puppets as endangered species, puppets in addiction, puppets tortured by bullies on the street with no recourse, puppets gambling, etc.

“Murders” implies that there will be killing.   Seems like all of the puppets get killed by being gunned down, exploded, overdosing on candy, etc.; especially the ones who were prior puppet stars of the Happytime television program.

I remember watching Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Electric Company, etc. when my child was young.   Today, children know more about technology than their parents do and are able to access what they want.

Wikipedia calls it “a 2018 American black comedy crime film” in which “puppets and humans co-exist”, but not well.   But, if you like this kind of movie, this is your chance.

The movie, “The Happytime Murders” (2018), was directed by Brian Henson, produced by a multitude of people including Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, Brian and Lisa Henson, etc.; story by Todd Berger and Dee Austin Robertson; and screen play written by Todd Berger.

Source:  https://IMdB.com

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of two movies:  Bãhubali:  The Beginning (2015), and Bãhubali 2:  The Conclusion (2017).

Per Wikipedia, Bahubali: The Beginning is the seventh-highest grossing Indian film worldwide.    Both these movies are about political intrigue, love, greed, betrayal, etc.–the stuff that epic legends are made of.

Two sexy brothers, Bahubali (played by Prabhas) and Bhallaladevi (played by Rana Daggubati), were raised by the same woman from infancy, Queen Mother Sivagami (played by Ramya Krishnan).   Both the brothers were mama’s boys and tremendously conceited.

Although Bahubali winked at the girls, was always the apple of his mother’s eye, and certainly had the popular vote, he still cared about his people, gave to them and helped them every chance he got.  We use the word “ma” as short for mother, but Bahubali used it as a term of endearment when he addressed his queen mother, and his slave “uncle”, Kattappa.  Bahubali’s son, Shivudu, also used this term when he addressed his foster mother who he believed was his real mother.

Bahubali found love when he was sent by his mother to see what was going on in their country to get experience.   Acting as a poor simpleton, Bahubali met princess Devasena (played by Anushka Shetty), who fought alongside her men to defend herself.   She smelled Bahubali and knew he was neither poor nor simple.  Sexy.

When his Princess not yet betrothed, tried to walk across the short bridge to the boat that would take her to meet his mother, the bridge breaks and Bahubali jumps in the water between the boat and the princess in order for her to walk barefoot across his shoulders to the boat.  Sexy.

The evil that men do.   Bijjaladeva (played by Nassar) was always the buzzing insect in everyone’s ear, always drunk and looking out for himself by pretending to care about his son, Bhallaladevi, who was in line to be king.   He was constantly suggesting bad ideas to the Queen mother who had the last say on everything.  He seemed to poison everything with words.

After Bhallaladevi stole the throne, he terrorized his people, made thousands more slaves, wanted everything his brother had, and took for himself what his people were entitled to have, including having a 100-foot gold statue made of himself.   We see in the celebration that many peoples other than Indians were there to pay tribute to King Bhallaladevi.   Soldiers were numerous and expendable at any time.

Later on, in part 2, the queen is bamboozled into putting out her good son and his pregnant wife.   But that backfired because Bahubali had to go and live with the poor.   Because of his good nature, he and his wife prospered among the people.

Another trick.   When Bahubali found out that his treasured slave, Kattappa, who he called “uncle”(played by Sathyaraj) was in trouble, he ran off by himself in his overconfidence in his super strength which proved his undoing.   The Queen mother was once again bamboozled into agreeing to Bahubali‘s execution, mainly because his princess was so outspoken which caused Bahubali to kill a man not in her station who attempted to put his hands on the princess in public.

How the queen could think anything bad of Bahubali is beyond my understanding.    But it’s difficult to see when you have the constant buzzing in your ears from people around you who don’t have the country’s best interest in their hearts.

When the people didn’t like what rulers did, they made it known vocally, and with undercover rebellions—a part of both movies.

A big surprise to me was how the man who played the hideous Kalakeya king (Prabhakar) looks in real life.  We don’t get much back story on this king.  This was the biggest war waged out of both movies.   What a hunk.

These Indian movies were directed by S. S. Rajamouli and written by his father, K. V. Vijayyendra.   Budget 250 crore ($2.5 billion).

I was unfortunate enough to miss both of these films on the big screen.   I don’t remember them being advertised in Baltimore, Maryland.   If they were, I didn’t see the ads.

As I told you before, subtitled movies may be some of the best movies you get to see.  Pretty soon you can grasp what’s going on and don’t necessarily have to read every word.

I recently viewed a library dvd of each title.    I was overwhelmed with the music, the dances, the costumes, the cinematography, the feats of strength, special effects, colors, exquisite fight scenes, etc.

I am ready for Bahubali 3, which I will go to the movie theater to see beautiful people of color on the big screen!

Other sources that will give you information on Indian history/mythology:

“Is Bahubali a Real Story from History?” by Harpreet Kaur, April 28, 2017, https://www.speakingtree.in

“Is the Telegu Movie ‘Bahubali’ a Real Story from History?”, https://www.quora.com

Wikipedia on Jainism, ancient Indian religion

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

Review of 2018 Aquaman movie

On Saturday, December 22, 2018, I saw the Aquaman movie in 3D at the Security Mall AMC theatre at the 7:30 p.m. show.  I was charged $15.49 which I thought was a bit much, but I felt it would be worth it to see Jason Momoa’s animal magnetism on the big screen.

I never saw Jason on “Baywatch”, but I did see him as the villainous werewolf in the movie “Wolves”.    Filmmakers did not pretty him up as movie leading men are prone to be.    In close-ups, he looks like a seafaring guy with lines in his face that could have come from working in the sun and wind.

Jason is not a pretty boy, but a gritty man on the order of a Charles Bronson-type who commands the screen when he’s on it.   Even without the hair, he would still look like he could kick ass and take names later.

Arthur Joseph Curry (played by Jason Momoa) didn’t start out as Aquaman.   He was just a fun-loving average guy who enjoyed fishing and guzzling gigantic beers with his lighthouse dad (played by Temuera Morrison).   Despite kids teasing him as he grew up because of his ability to communicate with sea life and his special abilities in water, he was always rescuing people who were in trouble in the water.   Otherwise, he just wanted to live an ordinary life.

But he’s no ordinary guy because of his mother.   However, his human father never told him about his inhuman powerful mother Atlanna who was queen of Atlantis (played by Nicole Kidman).   She was forced into a loveless marriage with the then-current sea king and left her lighthouse keeper/sweetheart to protect her human baby.

The queen’s legitimate heir to her throne and Arthur’s inhuman step brother, King Orm or Ocean Master (played by Patrick Wilson) starts a war with humankind because of humans polluting the oceans he says.   But it seems to me that he just wanted everybody to recognize him as king.    He uses fear tactics to bully all the other sea peoples into war with the land humans.   Some of the nonhuman beings under the sea resembled the mythical traditional mermen/women with fish tails while the rest were walking on legs like humans and they all could live and breathe underwater.

A great scene was when the sea creatures brought all the pollution and trash back to the coasts so that humans could see how much they have polluted the oceans.

Arthur’s advisor as he grew up human was Nuidis Vulko, (played by Willem Dafoe), who trained him in the skills he would someday need as king of the sea.

Mera is Vulko’s powerful daughter (played by Amber Heard) who comes to Arthur for help to stop the coming war between sea creatures and land humans.   He wants no part of this war but is forced into it by his step brother harming humans.   Mera is aloof at first because she doesn’t know Arthur.   All she knows is what her father has told her about him.   Arthur becomes Aquaman after he passes the test of retrieving the royal trident that no one else could do as well as saves his mom’s life with Mera’s help.

Director James Wan did a great job of getting that story told as a love and action story.   He pulls it all together so it’s full of fast-paced action and no way boring.

The actors make you believe they are underwater, and it doesn’t hurt for the special effects to make their hair move in water every time they are supposed to be in water.   You can tell a ginormous amount of money was spent on the special effects for this movie.   The visualization was done by a multitude of companies including Lucasfilm.   The powerful drum-busting music was wonderful throughout the movie.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of the book, The Devil You Know, by Mary Monroe

Ms. Monroe’s adult story is told simply without being too graphic or explicit.   It is a tale of people who are unsatisfied with their life situations as some of us are.

The three main characters are Lola Mae, an unmarried woman; Joan, a married woman; and Calvin, a married man.    All three join an online sex club where they meet a lot of other people who are strangers to them—an exciting, but possibly dangerous adventure any way.   They each get to meet other members of the opposite sex.  The remaining characters are sex club members, family members, church folk, and neighbors.

However, Calvin happens to be a serial killer which Ms. Monroe wastes no time in telling the reader.   We’ve all heard of similar dangerous situations, but the author has created meaty characters with their own individual lives.

Single Lola Mae has lived with and been tortured nearly daily by her step relatives since her father’s death.  Her step mom, Bertha, makes her do chores and prepare her step-mom’s “lack of hair.”   Her lazy married step-sister and step-nephew are always on Lola’s back.  Lola always has to explain herself to people who don’t give a damn about her as well as account for her whereabouts 24/7.   Lola has a job at a supermarket, but if you are going to do this much clandestine adventure, you need to have a house or apartment of your own at the age of 32.

Joan, a little older than Lola, is married to a boring guy, Reed, who had let himself go weight-wise and sex-wise.   Reed blackmails Joan into staying with him by often threatening to kill himself if Joan leaves him.   Joan is Lola’s best friend.    Lola helps Joan keep her sex club secret from her husband, but her husband also has a secret.

Calvin, the serial killer, has met Lola who he describes as “drop-dead gorgeous”.   But she has one major flaw—she looks like the wife he secretly killed a few years ago for being unfaithful.   Calvin had choices in this situation.   He could have divorced his wife, or they could have gone to couples’ therapy.  Not everything has to end in murder.   He paints Lola with the same characteristics, but she is not an unfaithful type and dreams of being married to Calvin.

Here’s where the suspense comes in.    Oh, there’s no doubt that Calvin’s going to kill Lola, but when?  So, for several chapters, when you think Lola had breathed her last, she doesn’t.    But you know the hammer is going to drop any minute.   In your mind, eventually you start thinking, why doesn’t he just get it over with?   But, no, he uses many substitutes to satisfy his murder monkey before he can set the right time to kill Lola.

The novel is light and entertainingly pleasant—a book to take your mind off your own troubles.   Each chapter is titled by the person’s name who is telling their side of the story, which makes it very personal.  Put all the ingredients together and you get a wild ride that keeps you on your toes.   The book was not boring!   Per Calvin, “murder is complicated”.

© 2017 Mary Monroe, Kensington Publishing Corporation

Review by Rosa L. Griffin