By April 2020 the pandemic and recession it caused were in full-effect across the country and the rest of the world. Theatres were closed and the realization of what kind of year 2020 was shaping up to be was hitting every sector of private and public life. Streaming started to become the dominant form for film releases and in April that would dominate the way we consume movies. And yet that didn’t mean we didn’t get some gems. Here are the 11 films that I watched for April and my quickie reviews for each of them.
But first, a reminder of what my grading system for movies works like:
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film I’ve Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Graded Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd
With all that out of the way, lets get to those quickie reviews already…
- The Plot: A Detroit cop reluctantly teams with his girlfriend’s 11-year-old son to clear his name and take down the city’s most ruthless criminal.
- The Review: Critics were very harsh on this one, but I thought it was an alright comedic straight to streamer. The film gave me a few chuckles and I don’t thinkthis is half-bad for a watch at home during a boring Friday night. C+ for COFFEE & KAREEM.
- The Plot : Queen Poppy and Branch make a surprising discovery — there are other Troll worlds beyond their own, and their distinct differences create big clashes between these various tribes. When a mysterious threat puts all of the Trolls across the land in danger, Poppy, Branch, and their band of friends must embark on an epic quest to create harmony among the feuding Trolls to unite them against certain doom.
- The Review: The animation and art direction are incredible, but it can’t save a subpar plot, annoying characters, and what feels like something that was better watched at home than taking the kids to an overpriced theatre screening to see. C+ for TROLLS: WORLD TOUR.
- The Plot: After discovering a magical mask, an 11-year-old aspiring wrestler enters a competition to become the next WWE superstar by using special powers from a magical mask.
- The Review: As someone who actually watches wrestling, this was painful as it gets with subpar acting, horrible pacing, and hilarious nonsensical story beats. I wouldn’t even let kids who liked wrestling see this its that bad. D+ for THE MAIN EVENT.
- The Plot: While trying to make his sister’s wedding day go smoothly, Jack finds himself juggling an angry ex-girlfriend, an uninvited guest with a secret, a misplaced sleep sedative, and the girl that got away in alternate versions of the same day.
- The Review: Interesting concept, I got a chuckle a few times, but the film seems afraid to show us what its own plot can do and some character choices just leave you scratching your head. This isn’t bad for a boring date night in at home, but i’m glad I didn’t have to trek out to my cinema to waste time and money on this. C+ for LOVE, WEDDING, REPEAT.
- The Plot: A man reflects on the lost love of his youth and his long-ago journey from Taiwan to America as he begins to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
- The Review: Really poignant immigrant story coupled with a lot of heart and aches. The film’s ending had me in tears as much as our protagonist. I only wish we had a little bit more definitive answers for the climax as well, but still this was one of the best films I saw for this month and maybe even the year as a whole. A- for TIGERTAIL.
- The Plot: A hardened CIA operative finds himself at the mercy of a precocious 9-year-old girl, having been sent undercover to surveil her family.
- The Review: Breaking with the critics on this one. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing more than a few times with this film and even considered it a good would be theatre trip with the kids for a family night out at the movies. That said this film was cursed, getting delayed constantly and I watched it months before its official release thanks to the international cut being leaked out online earlier in the year. B- for MY SPY.
- The Plot: This mix of a scripted buddy comedy road movie and a real hidden camera prank show follows the outrages misadventures of two buds stuck in a rut who embark on a cross-country road trip to NYC. The storyline sets up shocking real pranks.
- The Review: If MY SPY was cursed, this film has been damned. Not only has it seen various delays that show in the dated cut of the film, but the movie was accidently leaked on Amazon Prime in April in such a bad PR move that the film switched over to Netflix, thus why I have trouble labeling a studio for this one and why I can already review the film even though its technically not out yet. Anyhow the film seems better as a stay at home watch than its original theatrical aspirations, as the prank nature of it will get you some laughs but it starts to feel gimmicky enough by the end. C+ for BAD TRIP.
- The Plot: Paloma, the new girl at an esteemed prep school, is drawn into the daily aggressions of warring senior class factions. She joins the Spades and becomes friends with the Spades’ leader, an enigmatic and scheming cheerleader named Selah.
- The Review: A frustratingly botched concept with good technical filmmaking that could have been interesting to watch play out; the movie does little to make you warm up to its protagonists and makes Selah’s group so powerful it renders the rest of the side characters completely useless. I ultimately felt like I was watching a television show that wasn’t vibing with me more so than the festival film its supposed to be. This belongs as a stay at home watch on Amazon Prime. C- for SELAH AND THE SPADES.
- The Plot: Tyler Rake, a fearless mercenary who offers his services on the black market, embarks on a dangerous mission when he is hired to rescue the kidnapped son of a Mumbai crime lord…
- The Review: Amazing action sequences and commendable acting performances in this one, but I can’t ignore that I ultimately felt like I was just watching car crashes and stunts for the sake of having action sequences more so than any plot being driven forward. This is really good for staying at home and watching Netflix on a boring night, but I honestly can’t say I’d be that excited to spend resources on seeing this on the big screen. Its probably where it belongs as a straight to streamer. C+ for EXTRACTION.
- The Plot: When the four Willoughby children are abandoned by their selfish parents, they must learn how to adapt their Old-Fashioned values to the contemporary world in order to create something new: The Modern Family.
- The Review: Basically TROLLS: WORLD TOUR all over again. Amazing animation and art direction, but ultimately I ended up feeling like I was watching a pretty substandard story with story beats that seemed more focused on visual comedy than driving story and character development much further. This is where it belongs as a straight to streamer for Netflix. C+ for THE WILLOUGHBYS.
- The Plot: A superintendent of a school district works for the betterment of the student’s education when an embezzlement scheme is discovered, threatening to destroy everything.
- The Review: A great dramedy that artfully gives us all the sides to an actual true white collar crime from history, giving you smiles even as you watch people do terrible things. All capped off by an amazing performance from Hugh Jackman alongside an equally stellar cast. This might be one of the better films of the year. A- for BAD EDUCATION.
And that wraps up a whole month of quickie movie reviews from me for the month of April 2020. In the next post for this newsletter I’ll be running down my quickie reviews for the May 2020 films that caught my attention. Stay tuned…