Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Movie Review: Tag (R – 100 minutes)

Tag is a movie based on an article in the Wall Street Journal about a group of ten friends, now in their fifties, who spend the month of May every year playing Tag – regardless of where they are or how old they get. The game has functioned as a unifier for their friendship, keeping them in each other’s lives, no matter the distance between them.

The movie version shrinks the group down to five members: Hogan Malloy, Bob Callahan, Randy Cilliano, Kevin Sable, and Jerry Pierce.  The Story starts with Hogan, who gets a job with Bob’s company as a janitor so that he can get close enough to tag him, interrupting an interview Bob is giving to a Wall Street Journal reporter, Rebecca Crosby.  Once Callahan is ‘it’, they head to get Randy.  Rebecca insists on coming with them, realizing the child’s game they are playing as adults is a much better story than the story she was originally planning on writing.  

Together, Bob and Hogan (with the assistance of Hogan’s wife Anna) get “Chilli” and he becomes it.  The three go to get Sable, tagging him so that he is it.  United, the four friends head back to their childhood home to get Jerry, who has never been ‘it’ for the last thirty years.  Hogan tells the others they will have to work together to tag Jerry who is thinking of retiring undefeated and that his wedding will be the perfect opportunity.

Jerry has, of course, realized that they would be coming for him, prepped his bride-to-be for the occasion and set a plan in motion to ensure he will never be tagged.  They set up an addendum to their rules (yes, there are rules) to ensure that they will not ‘ruin’ the wedding, but are allowed to attempt to get Jerry in the time before the wedding.  Jerry also puts plans in place to confuse and misdirect the group to maintain his tagless streak.  Hijinks ensue.
Directed by Jeff Tomsic, who has directed mostly comedy specials and TV shows to date, the movie is definitely funny, but also surprisingly touching and genuine in parts. This game really does keep this group of friends together through the years and they do realize how special that is.  The tag sequences are directed like action movie sequences which really heightens the hilarity.  There are some plot points that are brought up and never appear again, or never follow through, but not enough to be distracting. For a movie that originally was going to feature Will Ferrell and Jack Black, the cast that is in the movie is fantastic.
  • Ed Helms plays Hogan ‘Hoagie’ Malloy and serves as the heart and soul of the group.  He’s the one pulling them together, and at the end of the movie, reveals why this year’s game is so important to him. He’s perfect in this role that can vary from completely zany to genuine very quickly – something right in Helms’s wheelhouse.

  • Jon Hamm plays Bob Callahan, who is very arrogant and confident, something very much in Hamm’s wheelhouse. Bob is full of himself, but does realize how important his friends are.

  • Jake Johnson plays Randy ‘Chilli’ Cilliano, a stoner who has gotten divorced and lives with his father, randomly played by Brian Dennehy for apparently no reason whatsoever as he never shows up again.  Chilli is the most annoying of the friends to me, but he does add to the comedy.

  • Hannibal Buress brings his trademark dry hilarity to Kevin Sable, committed to his friends and the game.  He has some really funny one-liners and ridiculous action sequences.

  • Jeremy Renner plays Jerry Pierce, and Renner really excels at this type of comedy - playing the intimidating ‘straight man’ surrounded by others who can take the comedy a little more broad.  He gets to use his action skills in the tag sequences, so much so that he managed to break both arms while shooting a stunt, and then returned 2 hours later to continue shooting.

  • Annabelle Wallis plays the reporter Rebecca Crosby who gets sucked into the story and ends up really caught up in the ability that these men have to stay connected through this game. I do appreciate that they did not end up forcing her character into a romantic entanglement with any of the characters.

  • Isla Fisher plays Anna Malloy, Hogan’s wife who is very competitive in terms of the game, willing to do almost anything to help her husband win or advance his strategies.

  • Nora Dunn plays Hogan’s mother, and she has a very weird sub-plot where she flirts with Chilli. It was unnecessary and never paid off, which I suppose I am grateful for.
  • Steve Berg plays Lou Seibert, a childhood friend of the group who wants to be included in the game, but has to make do with helping out with information.
  • Leslie Bibb plays Susan Rollins – Jerry’s fiancĂ©e, who is aware of the game, and wants to ensure that it will not interfere with her wedding.

  • Rashida Jones plays a childhood crush of both Bob and Chilli who Jerry calls and invites to the wedding for the express reason of throwing off Bob and Chilli – which is very successful.

Overall, the movie is hilarious, which I was expecting, but it also has some really touching moments, which I was not expecting. The best part is getting to see some footage of the real guys playing the game over the end credits, along with the cast singing Crash Test Dummies MMMMM song – for no reason.  The movie is rated R, for language – which I think could have been cleaned up for a PG13 rating, there’s not much else in it aside from a lot of “dude-bro” humor – which can get gross and tiresome. Slight spoiler alert here - there is one thing I really did not like, and that was Susan faking a medical condition to get Jerry out of a spot with the guys.  That was a step too far in my opinion, and could have been achieved with some other type of plotting.  It wasn’t enough to sour me on the whole movie, but I really did not like that scene. She does get called out by the other characters for taking it too far, so the movie thinks it excuses itself that way.  Still, the movie is really entertaining, check it out – I think you’ll enjoy it.

7 out of 10 – one of the best comedies I have seen this year, just in front of Game Night.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Movie Review: Hotel Artemis (R – 93 minutes)

Technically, Hotel Artemis is a “dystopian neo-noir crime film”.  In a summer filled with reboots and sequels, it is an original story with that wants to be a slick crime action thriller. 

The story picks up in Los Angeles in 2028 during a “water riot”.  Apparently, the water supply has been privatized, and the company that owns it has turned it off.  Desperate, the people have started to riot through the city, picking up steam and power until they will arrive at the building of the water company.  The Hotel Artemis is a secret hospital for criminals that is run by Nurse Jean Thomas with the assistance of Everest.  It seems that the Artemis is one in a series of secret hotels like this – in which criminal sbuy membership so that when they are hurt during a ‘job’, they can go to the Artemis for assistance with no questions asked.

As the riots move through the city, two brothers injured in a bank robbery head to the Artemis, but not before one of them grabbed what seemed to be a fancy pen from a man preparing to deposit it in the bank.  They head to the Artemis to get treatment, where members are given code names based on the room they are staying in.  The brothers are Waikiki and Honolulu.  Honolulu needs a new liver, and the Nurse prints one on a 3D printer, and gets it installed.  Waikiki has to wait for the integration to finish up before moving on.  Also in the hotel are Nice – a deadly assassin who seems to share a past with Waikiki; and Acapulco, a really annoying Charlie Day-type arms dealer. Nice seems to have ulterior motives, but she does let Waikiki know that the fancy pen his brother stole is actually a portable vault containing diamonds owned by the “Wolf King”, the crime lord boss of Los Angeles, and the owner of the Artemis.  The thing is, once you steal from the Wolf King, he drowns you in the ocean. 

Sure enough, the riots get closer and more dangerous, and the Wolf King is on his way to the Artemis, having been wounded.  An injured cop starts banging on the door to be let in for help. Waikiki is wondering how to get his brother out instead of drowned, Nice is putting a plan together, Acapulco seems to be there to irritate everyone, the Nurse has to deal with some residual trauma from losing her son years ago, and Everest is just trying to keep things together and keep everyone following the rules.  The Artemis may not make it through the night.

The story is slick and unique with some really great potential.  The tone is a little uneven here and there because the movie wants to be an over-the-top action thriller with an almost 'graphic-novel' stylization to it but some pieces don't quite fit that idea. There are a couple of things that are set up, but that are not delivered on, and are never brought back. Written and directed by Drew Pearce, this is his feature directing debut.  He does a good job with the action and the characters are all interesting. Once the large final action piece starts up, the last half hour of the movie is massive fights and action set pieces. The cast is the strongest part of the movie.
  • Jodie Foster stars as the Nurse, and honestly, I could have used a little less of her in the movie. I can't tell if that's because I don't like Jodie Foster or I didn't like this character. Also, not entirely sure why she's aged up. She could have just looked like she normally does. I know it’s about her struggling to overcome her crippling agoraphobia that kicked in when her son died, but she seems to be playing the role far more somber than everyone else in the movie. Everyone else seems to embrace how the movie teeters right on the edge of silly, and she avoids that - which does work for the character, so I suppose it's a good choice on her part.

  • Dave Bautista plays Everest, and gets some of the best lines in the movie as he struggles to keep everyone in line with the rules but also get the Nurse what she needs.

  • Sterling K. Brown is really charismatic as Waikiki, a man trapped in a life of crime due to his love for his brother.  He manages to be incredibly likeable, as well as a capable lead for the movie.  Brian Tyree Henry seems to be everywhere these days and here he plays Honolulu, a criminal who just keeps bringing his brother down.

  • Sofia Boutella plays Nice, and once she kicks her plan into gear, she is almost unstoppable.  She is really good at this type of role, and she’s getting better at the slow parts.

  • Jeff Goldblum plays the Wolf King, who is really just Jeff Goldblum running a crime syndicate. He’s very entertaining while dealing with both his underlings and the Nurse.  He also manages to have just the right amount of creepy undertones as someone who is used to getting their way.

  • Jenny Slate plays the cop, Morgan, who suddenly shows up at the door asking for Mrs. Thomas.  Her role has little to do with the story, but much to do with the Nurse’s character development.
  • Zachary Quinto plays Crosby, the wolf king’s son.  He’s belligerent and intolerable, just wanting to impress his father.

  • Charlie Day plays Acapulco, and he’s completely irritating in this movie – harassing Nice and trying to pick a fight with Waikiki, then demanding a helicopter to get out of the hotel.

Overall, the movie is fun, action packed, and entertaining. Some of the backstory is a little heavy-handed, but overall, I enjoyed it. It definitely ends with the possibility of a sequel, set at the Hotel Apache in Las Vegas – one can only assume it has the same type of setup.

6 out of 10 – entertaining enough.  Gained points for Dave Bautista being an awesome “health care professional”.

Bonus – every time someone referred to Charlie Day’s character, I couldn’t help but think of Acapulco Heat.

On Kelly Marie Tran's awesomeness

Re-posting this rant I posted on my Facebook page. 

Warning - rant ahead.
Kelly Marie Tran, the lovely and amazing actress who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, has reportedly had to delete some of her social media accounts after receiving hateful and attacking comments from those who 'hate her character' and 'think she ruined Star Wars'. Daisey Ridley did the same last year. This sickens me on many levels - but in a very personal way, sickens me because these idiots threatening her are the loudest, and so get the most attention - causing some to think the entire Star Wars fandom is like that.
We are not.
There are many of us my age (and older), who grew up loving the original trilogy and the countless books, games, graphic novels, etc. that formed the Expanded Universe. At the time (the 80s), many of us were bullied and picked on for liking something viewed as "nerdy", "geeky", or "non-mainstream" (this happened to fans of any genre entertainment at the time - for example, Trekkers can relate). The bullying was especially harsh for girls (how many times did I hear, "You can't like Star Wars - it's not for girls"), and even more predominant for girls of color. Growing up through those experiences and clinging to these stories that we loved made them very personal for us.
The prequels built on the story, and elicited some hatred, but the difference between that hatred and the current round is social media. For most of us (I repeat, MOST of us, please know that the loud idiots do not represent us), we understand that it's hard to let go of this thing that we were bullied for loving, and accept that it is now something globally and widely loved. it's not just ours anymore - and we understand that is a good thing. Why wouldn't we want more movies and stories?! Even if they're not our cup of tea, more of the thing we love is not a bad notion.
However, there are some that are unable to let go - and who feel that they have some ownership on this universe. Unfortunately, they also have internet access and get loud on the social medias. The best thing to do is ignore them - negativity doesn't help anyone - if you didn't like the latest movie, that's fine, and sure, you can share your opinion - as an opinion, not as fact - and without directing a personal attack on any of the folks who made the movie. You can say you didn't like it, and move on - it is just a movie, after all. Attacking an actor or director and saying hateful things to them online thanks to the anonymity of the internet makes you a coward and is inexcusable.
And oh yes, let's not forget that the loudest of these complainers are white men who cannot handle the fact that many of the leads of these new movies are female and people of color. Ahem - one more time for the racists in the back: SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP. RACISTS ARE NOT WELCOME - EVER - AND YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED.
Racism and sexism are never acceptable. Just because our favorite fantasy universe is now reflecting a wider array of folks, doesn't mean it's any less for you, it's just now for everyone, and honestly that's the part that pisses them off.
I personally loved Kelly's character, Rose, and while her side-quest in the movie felt a little unnecessary, I loved what she brought to the performance - which was pure exuberance!  I read something today that Rose's character in the movie was essentially a 'fanboy' that had to grow up quickly and shift her worldview - something that caused some upset because it hit a little close to home for these few toxic individuals. An interesting take that I had not thought of before. Also - I can't help but think of her last line - we will win not by destroying what we hate, but saving what we love. 

Personally, I still love Star Wars, and I really love that it's become more diverse, widely accepted, and more inclusive.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing a little girl who is super into Star Wars. Even if I don't care for some of the new movies (sidenote, even the new movies I didn't care for - I still really liked). Also - I love Kelly Marie Tran, and wish her the best.
MTFBWY, Always.
Rant over, you can return to your regularly scheduled scrolling.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Movie Review: Solo A Star Wars Story (PG13 – 135 minutes)

If you would like to listen to myself and fellow LAMB members break down this movie – twice – check out the LAMBCast review of Solo, both of them!
Solo is the first truly stand-alone Star Wars movie to be released.  Previously, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was actually more of an episode – episode 3.85.  In this case, Solo takes place shortly after episode 3, long before the events of Rogue One.

We are introduced to a young Han as he and his lady friend Qi’ra are ‘scumrats’ on Corellia. It’s a shipbuilding planet, loyal to the empire, but run by various crime syndicates and the crime bosses that work for them.  Han and Qi’ra are working for Lady Proxima, but Han has just successfully stole a bit of refined Coaxium (which seems to be hyperfuel that is much in demand).  He stages an attack on Lady Proxima, and the two of them take off, attempting to bribe their way off the planet with the Coaxium.  Han makes it through, Qi’ra does not.  She tells him to run, he joins the Imperial Navy in the hopes of getting off-world, getting a ship, and coming back to Corellia to rescue Qi’ra. 

We cut to three years later, where Han has been busted down to infantry and he and his company are on some muddy planet attempting to take a ridge from an enemy when Han encounters a group of thieves/scoundrels attempting to steal a ship.  He tries to join them, but ends up thrown in a pit and meeting Chewbacca.  Eventually he joins a crew, and I’m going to tell you their plan, because it’s a little complicated and I think it bears explaining.  Tobais Beckett and his wife Val, along with their friend Rio, steal an imperial ship because they need it to steal a case of Coaxium from a train to take to Dryden Vos of the Crimson Dawn Crime Syndicate.

That part makes sense, but the heist goes all wrong thanks to the interference of Enfys Nest and her Skyriders.  Without the payload, Han, Chewie and Beckett go to Vos, learn Qi’ra is working for him, and decide to run another heist in an attempt to bargain for their lives from Vos.  To do this, they need more Coaxium. It turns out there’s an unrefined stash under the spice mines of Kessel. Once you grab it, you need to get it refined before it explodes. To do that, you have to get it from Kessel to a refinery on Savereen.  To do that, you need a really fast ship to do the Kessel Run, and to do that, they need Lando Calrissian and the Millenium Falcon.

By now, you’ve heard that the reviews of this aren’t that great, but let me tell you – I really enjoyed it. The movie is directed by Ron Howard, even though it was originally supposed to be directed by Lord & Miller from the Lego Movie.  Apparently their take was just a little too slap-sticky, and not quite what was right for the character, so Ron Howard came in to finish it up, and I for one am really glad that he did.  The movie is super fun, and plenty entertaining.  It feels very much like a space-western, and the cast was wonderful.
  • Alden Ehrenreich does a great job of playing a young Han Solo, and not trying to be a young Harrison Ford.  It’s a tough task, and I think he does a good job.

  • Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca, and one of the great thrills of this movie is seeing Chewie and Han meet, and begin what will become one of the epic friendships in the galaxy.  It’s also great to see a younger actor in the suit who is a little more action-capable.

  • Woody Harrelson plays Beckett, a very Woody Harrelson-type scoundrel with fancy blaster skills and a ‘don’t trust anybody’ attitude.  He doesn’t spend much time mourning his losses on the first job before jumping into the second, but I did enjoy his character. Thandie Newton plays Val Beckett – she also doesn’t trust anyone, and is convinced they do not need any help on their job.

    • Jon Favreau provides the voice for Rio Durant, the third member of the Beckett crew.  He’s fun and entertaining, and all CGI.

    • Emilia Clarke plays Qi’Ra, and she gets more interesting as the movie goes on.  Once Han finds her again, she keeps telling him that he doesn’t know her anymore, and has no idea what she’s capable of.  I also look forward to seeing more scenes with her new boss, because I love that character.

    • Donald Glover is easily one of the best pieces of this movie. In his first appearance he sounds and feels like a young Billy Dee Williams, he’s all slick charm, and it’s very easy to see how he will become the Lando we all know.

    • Paul Bettany plays Dryden Vos, and he goes from charming and compassionate in one scene to merciless and threatening in the next. For a character that was originally motion capture Michael K. Williams, this is still pretty great.

    • Pheobe Waller-Bridge provides the motion capture for Lando’s droid L3-37.  She has a bizarre droids-rights side plot that sort of helps to advance the plot, but is a bit annoying.
    • Erin Kellyman plays Enfys Nest, she and her band of Skyriders are great and terrifying.

    • Linda Hunt does the voice for the Lady Proxima puppet.

    Overall, it’s not perfect.  There are a couple of character moments that made no sense (Lando would not care that much about a droid, and Han would have chosen his own name), but the action set pieces are fantastic. There are a lot of practical effects – Lady Proxima in particular is amazing, and the aliens around the card tables are spectacular. Lando is fantastic, his droid is annoying, but the best parts are anything with Han and Chewie.  It’s what you wanted to see in this movie, and honestly, I really hope they get to make another one, because I just want to see Han and Chewie have more adventures.

    8 out of 10 – go see it with no expectations, you’ll enjoy it.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    Movie Review: Deadpool 2 (R – 119 minutes)

    The second installment in the Deadpool franchise which is part of the Fox Marvel, but not Disney Marvel (so it’s with the X-Men, but not the Avengers), is more of the same as the first one. And honestly, that’s a good thing. 

    The “merc with the mouth”, Wade Wilson, is traveling around the world, working as a contract killer – taking out bad guys and romancing his lady love, Vanessa.  He’s still horribly scarred from his “cancer-cure” last movie, and pretty much unkillable – the cure sort of worked.  He and Vanessa are living their own version of ‘happily ever after’, ready to start a family and have a baby.  A killer that Deadpool missed in his last epic takedown of a bad guy’s hideout comes by and takes out Vanessa.  Deadpool goes after him, but consumed by guilt and depression, attempts to off himself to no avail.  Collected by Colossus, he’s brought to the X-mansion to recover while Colossus tries to talk some sense into him.  He agrees to become an X-man Trainee.

    Meanwhile, sometime in the Future, Cable (Nathan Summers – though never called that in this movie), is mourning the loss of his wife and daughter and pops back in time to off their killer before he gets to ‘full killer mode’.  To further the plot, currently the killer is a young kid named Russell, right on the brink of going full villain. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead bring Deadpool to attempt to collect the kid as he’s raising hell at his boarding school.  Deadpool, swiftly realizing the kid was being abused, offs a couple of the ‘caretakers’, promptly landing himself and the kid in a mutant jail – complete with collars to dampen their powers.

    From this point forward, it becomes a bit of a race between Deadpool and Cable to protect the kid (and ensure he doesn’t turn into a killer), or eliminate him (Cable is convinced he can’t be saved).  Along the way, Deadpool drops out of the trainee program and forms his own X-Force collection of folks to help try to save the kid.

    If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. Equally as funny, irreverent, and disgusting, it solidly delivers more of the same in the best possible way.  This one is directed by David Leitch, a former stuntman who has started building a strong reputation as an action director: John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and the upcoming Hobbs-n-Shaw movie (I can’t wait for that).  The movie is fast-paced, hilarious, fourth-wall breaking, and very R-rated.  The returning cast members are great, but the new cast members are even better.
    • Ryan Reynolds continues to relish Wade Wilson as the role he was born to play. He’s the perfect sarcastic smartass, always pretending to be on top of the situation, even when he isn’t.

    • Morena Baccarin plays Vanessa, who has a smaller role in this movie, as she is ‘killed’ early on and spends the rest of the movie ‘haunting’ Wade into doing the right thing.

    • T.J. Miller plays Weasel, and if you can avoid thinking about the trouble he’s been having in his personal life lately, then you can enjoy the fact that Weasel is snarky and entertaining as he helps DP assemble his new group.

    • Karan Soni returns as Dopinder, Deadpool’s buddy and cab driver.  He gets to step into a large, more active role this time around as he decides to become a ‘contract killer’, to mixed results.

    • Josh Brolin plays Cable with less of a deft touch than he had in the previous movie this year based on Marvel comics.  Cable is fairly one-note – kill Russell as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Eventually he gets to turn slightly as DP gets him to realize he may be able to reach Russell.

    • Zazie Beetz plays Domino, and she is easily one of the best additions to the roster. She proves that yes, good luck can be quite a superpower the way she uses it.  She’s a formidable warrior, and manages to stay fairly level-headed to DP’s crazy.

    • Brianna Hildebrand returns as Negasonic Teenage Warhead.  She’s equally teenage angsty, but a little more self-assured in this movie.  Shioli Kutsuna joins as Yukio, another XMan and NTW’s girlfriend.

    • Julian Dennison plays Russell, and he steals most of his scenes.  He’s remarkably natural and entertaining for a kid, and I love that they just let him be from New Zealand instead of trying to force him to do a different accent.

    • Leslie Uggams returns as Deadpool’s ex-roommate, Blind Al.

    • Rob Delaney plays Peter, another scene-stealer, as a regular guy who has no super-powers, but saw the ad and decides to join the team.

    • In terms of the rest of the newly formed X-Force: Lewis Tan plays Shatterstar; Terry Crews plays Bedlam; Bill Skarsgard plays Zeitgeist; Brad Pitt plays the mysterious Vanisher. 

    • Also – there’s a random cameo of Matt Damon and Alan Tudyk as two random rednecks.  No, I don't know why - but it's definitely entertaining.

    Overall, the movie is tremendously entertaining, but again – please don’t take your kids. It’s rated R for a reason.  Hell, at one point, Deadpool is literally ripped in half.  In half!!
    8 out of 10, gained points for all the cameos, and the overly dramatic Celine Dion song over the brilliant opening credits. 

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Movie Review: Life of the Party (PG13 – 105 minutes)

    Melissa McCarthy is very skilled at larger-than-life comedic characters.  Many of them are similar to one another, so the movies can run into one another without some clear differentiation. I’m not entirely sure this one had that differentiation, but it was entertaining enough.

    The story begins with Deanna dropping her daughter Maddie off at college for her senior year.  It’s the school Deanna attended, but never quite finished because she dropped out partway through her senior year to have Maddie – at the insistence of her husband, Dan.  She has always regretted not finishing, and when Dan tells her as they are pulling away from the school that he wants a divorce, the opportunity presents itself for her to go back and finish what she began.

    Once back at school, Deanna begins to enjoy all parts of the college life.  Once Maddie gets over some initial embarrassment (very quickly), she and her sorority sisters take Deanna to parties, give her a makeover, and insist that she have a good time while finishing up the courses.  Although honestly, we only ever see her in one course – she must have been really close to graduating the first time around. 

    Dan eventually announces he’s marrying his new lady friend, Marcie, a real estate agent.  She also happens to be the mother of Jack, a guy Deanna is hooking up with on campus – which results in some hilarity.  Eventually Deanna learns to value herself again, finishes school, and I assume lives happily ever after.
    This movie (like Tammy and The Boss) is directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone.  Like his others, this one is uneven tone-wise. It wants to be both a slapstick comedy and a gentle family comedy with some dramatic moments. It would have been stronger had it picked one of those and committed to it.  Falcone is good at letting McCarthy’s characters run the scene, but I wanted even more comedy from this.
    • Melissa McCarthy is charming and funny as Deanna.  She is a bit overbearing as a mother, but does make it clear she knows when her daughter is embarrassed and does try to pay attention to those boundaries – just not very well.  She’s good in this, but honestly deserves a little better material.  Can we just get a sequel to Spy?

    • Molly Gordon plays Maddie, and she was very good at being very subtle to let McCarthy dominate their scenes. I found it interesting that she was embarrassed of her mother in one scene, but then she and her friends very quickly grow to adore her and want her around all the time.

    • Matt Walsh plays Dan, and the opportunity was there to make him really detestable, but it was downplayed slightly.  When he tells her he wants a divorce, he does it simply and straightforward without any cruelty. The cruelty comes later in a passive aggressive way in his wedding decorations. Julie Bowen plays Marcie, the evil real estate agent.

      • Maya Rudolph plays Christine, Deanna’s best friend and Damon Jones plays her easy-going husband Frank.

      • Gillian Jacobs plays Helen, a sorority sister of Maddie’s who was in a coma for eight years. This is an odd character trait that is used once or twice, but seems a bit forced in for little to no reason. 

      • Jacki Weaver and Stephen Root play Deanna’s parents, Sandy and Mike.
      • Jimmy O. Yang plays Tyler, Maddie’s boyfriend and Luke Benward plays his friend Jack, the dude who is really into Deanna, as well as being Marcie’s son.
      • Chris Parnell plays Mr. Truzack, who once was a classmate of Deanna’s and is now the archaeology professor.  That relationship was strange, and felt like the beginnings of something, but then was not followed through. 
      • Heidi Gardner plays Leonor, Deanna’s Goth roommate, who is strange, dark, and reclusive, but also relatively nice.  And cousins with Christina Aguilera.

      Overall, the potential was there for a much funnier movie, but this is still entertaining. It’s not terrible, but I did often find myself wanting more. Also – how in a movie with this many talented improvisers are there no outtakes over the end credits?!?  Rule number one with a comedy – put some outtakes over the end credits!

      5 out of 10 – it’s just fine. Worth watching if it comes on TV.  And yes, it's very similar to Back To School: