Folks, holidays off of work will derail any routines you have, be it parenting or writing and publishing film reviews and online content. I had a week and my world went lazy in a happy and welcome hurry. Super-sized to match our post-Thanksgiving “muffintop” bellies, here’s a late edition of “What We Learned This Week!”
LESSON #1: YOU REALLY NEED TO SEE LADY BIRD— There is a five-star and potential best-of-2017 film sitting right under your noses with Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. My review glows like the California sun and you will find much more like it from my peers on Feelin’ Film and the pros on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, take a look at this distinction, one even greater than the RT buzz given to Get Out‘s high score earlier this year:
LESSON #2: WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, GO SEE WONDER TOO— So often, we ask where are the quality family films in this current Hollywood marketplace. I can’t be the only parent out there who asks for something better than made-for-TV ABC Family and Hallmark channel movies and the endless string of mindless noise coming out of blockbusters like Minions, Sing, and etc. Disney scaling things down with Pete’s Dragon and The Queen of Katwe last year gave me hope that a legitimate live-action family film could still be made and be mildly successful. Wonder is that exceeding hope this year. Its messages are virtuous and heartwarming. Add Stephen Chbosky’s film to your shortlist for holiday viewing. It’s a keeper.
LESSON #3: SPEND EXTRA TIME IN THE LOBBY, BATHROOM, TRAFFIC, OR AT DINNER BEFORE SEEING COCO (BUT DON’T FORGET TO STILL SEE COCO)— Disney/Pixar’s Coco is another family-friendly keeper right there with Wonder, but the animated “short” before it the opposite. I don’t know about you, but I was done with Frozen when it came out. Subjecting a (hopefully) diverse family audience to 21 minutes of repetitive Olaf silliness on top of previews and other advertisements before a hearty and heavy 109-minute film is too much. Dear Disney, save that crap for your own TV channel and future streaming service. Dear Pixar, we come to a Pixar film for your brand of superior original shorts, not Disney’s extra product placement. Future Coco audiences, use article guide from Slate to calculate how much time to stall and cut right to the feature.
LESSON #4: BE MINDFUL OF WHO IS IN BED WITH WHO WHEN IT COMES TO THE BUSINESS OF HOLLYWOOD— Rotten Tomatoes was applauded before the release of Justice League for its stance to hold its first official rating designation until the opening day of Friday, four days after publication embargoes for critics ended that Tuesday. It was seen as a move of patience and a step in the right direction away from the immediacy of rash judgment. When you learn Warner Bros. owns Flixster, the parent company of Rotten Tomatoes, you might realize it was a selfish move of shielding flack instead of championing temperance. Let me continue to join many other voices, including this great piece from Hype, begging for the general public to loosen their obsession with the broken math of Rotten Tomatoes. Find critics you trust and appreciate and separate from the pack mentality of pitchforks and/or circle jerks.
LESSON #5: YOU GET WHAT YOU GET WITH JUSTICE LEAGUE— I’d love a Zach Snyder or Joss Whedon “director’s cut” (hell, even both) of Justice League, but conflicting reports make it sound like it can’t or won’t happen. No matter what, too many folks play amateur armchair film editors. If we get a bonus, that’s great. If we don’t, take what the film gives you.
LESSON #6: SPEAKING OF SUPERHEROES, IT’S TIME FOR EVEN MORE DIVERSITY REPRESENTATION— Seeing the strength of the Amazons in Wonder Woman and Justice League as well as the badassery of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, it’s time additional diversity in comic book films. This Collider column and list lay out six places inclusion of LGBTQ characters could have been made and it’s a good blueprint for more. Heck, just start with women in general, let alone the other special demographics of the acronym. The Guardian recently outlined a primer for a full “women’s canon” foundation. It’s impressive. Let’s see Hollywood continue to get progressive and build on the good starts and new energy.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.