October 2020 Movie Reviews
Looking Back At Some Films Released For Public Consumption In October 2020
October 2020 brought the spooky season with it and alongside it the final weeks of a stressful election, a third spike in the pandemic that would have many theatres nationwide closing by month’s end, and of course plenty Halloween themed films. For my part, I watched 12 films for the month and these are 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: At a birthday party in 1968 New York, a surprise guest and a drunken game leave seven gay friends reckoning with unspoken feelings and buried truths.
- The Review: Great acting performances from a solid cast make this dialogue-heavy film one that keeps your attention from start to finish. However it does leave you with a feeling of an unfinished story, though in the film’s defense this is an adaptation of a stage play which it very much feels like on film. I wouldn’t have minded seeing this on the big screen, but Netflix has it ready for streaming in your home. B- for THE BOYS IN THE BAND.
- The Plot: Three gutsy kids from a rapidly gentrifying Bronx neighborhood stumble upon a sinister plot to suck all the life from their beloved community.
- The Review: Interesting concepts and themes here, but dull characters and story beats that left me frustrated on how mediocre this played out. This is where it belongs as a straight to streamer on Netflix. C- for VAMPIRES VS THE BRONX.
- The Plot: Hubie Dubois who, despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts (and its legendary Halloween celebration), is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something really is going bump in the night, and it’s up to Hubie to save Halloween.
- The Review: Adam Sandler once again disappoints me by playing down from his talents, and his character is the most annoying thing in this. And yet all the other quirky personalities surrounding him in this, the Halloween theme, and the fact I got a few chuckles out of this makes this not as “hate-ble” as I thought it’d be. That said it doesn’t aspire to anything past a Halloween season stay at home movie watch. C+ for HUBIE HALLOWEEN.
- The Plot: A stressed-out police officer struggles not to give in to the paranoia that grips his small mountain town as bodies turn up after each full moon.
- The Review: An interesting mixture of comedy and ultra-gory horror lifted by commendable performances from the whole cast. That said there are a few times the comedy seems misplace and the film does feel a tad rushed with a less than stellar climax towards the third act. That all said I would have not minded seeing this at my local theatre rather than on VOD. B- for THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW.
- The Plot: Peter is thrilled that his Grandpa is coming to live with his family. That is, until Grandpa moves into Peter’s room, forcing him upstairs into the creepy attic. And though he loves his Grandpa, he wants his room back – so he has no choice but to declare war.
- The Review: I seem to be on a lonely Island on this one. I actually found it to be a fun, charming family flick that I honestly think most families would have some entertainment from had they visited a safe theatre showing it. I think too many try to take these sort of films too seriously and get themselves hating more than they should from simple films like this. B- for THE WAR WITH GRANDPA.
- The Plot: What was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. The organizers of the protest—including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale—were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and the trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history.
- The Review: Aaron Sorkin’s writing can have you rolling your eyes at times in this, but it also does a good job of keeping this very serious and significant for the time injustice light-hearted enough so that you can be entertained as such a story unfolds. Topping it all off are stellar performances from a very impressive cast. This is definitely one of the better films of the year. A- for THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7.
- The Plot: Recruited by a secret society of babysitters, a high schooler battles the Boogeyman and his monsters when they nab the boy she’s watching on Halloween.
- The Review: There’s some really impressive stylistic set designs in this and even some interesting world building. That said its not enough to save it from a very cringe script that had me rolling my eyes and wishing it just ended already. Its not the worst films I’ve seen this year, far from it, but it belongs where its at as a straight to streamer on Netflix. C- for A BABYSITTER’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING.
- The Plot: In late 1967, a young orphaned boy goes to live with his loving grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch has gathered.
- The Review: The first act of this film outside of the Hotel is the best part of this film, once we get to that Hotel this feels like a much inferior and worse written version of the 1990 classic. Granted I do think the acting in this comes from actors giving it their all, but some real head scratching changes from previous adaptations in book and film form just don’t work here. Its a shame too because before the Hotel I was really getting a kick out of this. This is something you put on at home to keep the kids busy. C+ for THE WITCHES.
- The Plot: After a whirlwind romance with a wealthy widower, a naïve bride moves to his family estate but can’t escape the haunting shadow of his late wife.
- The Review: I see this film getting some really rough reviews based on a lot of comparisons to the Oscar Best Picture winning film, but I think it has some good merits of its own and I for one liked some of the performances here. That said the movies does seem to take a bit of a nose dive in the final act in its pacing and I was not a fan of some of the changes they made to the climax. Overall its an inferior version to the original 1940 adaptation, but its decent enough I actually would have gotten a kick out of seeing this on the big screen. B- for REBECCA.
- The Plot: In this animated musical, a girl builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess.
- The Review: The animation is decent, the songs can be hit or miss, and the story has its high and lows. However it did finish strong enough that I think this would have been a nice time at the movies with the kids versus just seeing it at home, but alas Netflix has it. It didn’t blow my mind as much as it did others, but it was a decent watch. B- for OVER THE MOON.
- The Plot: Faced with sudden doubts about her marriage, a young New York mother teams up with her larger-than-life playboy father to tail her husband.
- The Review: Bill Murray kills it in this and I got plenty chuckles out of this one - and yet I kept feeling like there was an empty space in this. Like it needed an extra edge or a better in-depth middle and ending. I like this, I would have liked to have seen this at my local theatre, but I can’t help but feel like it could have offered me a little more than it did. B- for ON THE ROCKS.
- The Plot: An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.
- The Review: Really good queer representation here, and I was pleasantly surprised to have some fun moments with this in time for Halloween weekend. That said it does ultimately feel like a movie more worthy of renting for home viewing than anything bigger than that. C+ for THE CRAFT: LEGACY.
And that wraps up a whole month of quickie movie reviews from me for the month of October 2020. In the next post for this newsletter I’ll be running down my quickie reviews for the November 2020 films that caught my attention. Stay tuned…