When I first saw P.S. I Still Love You, all it got out of me was a half smile and a shrug, and I think it showed in my review. As I mentioned, it was just more of the same. The reason why I didn’t rush to see Always and Forever when it was released in February of this year is precisely because the previous film in the series, which Fimognari had also made, had made me lukewarm on the entire series. When I finally sat down to watch it this summer, I hoped to be surprised and, indeed, elated by the supposed conclusion to the film adaptation series.
So, how is it? Well, again with the third film, I must say that is clichéd and very predictable. It gets by almost entirely on the connection we have to the past films, as well as the undeniably charming screen presence of Lana Condor. Noah Centineo shares a great chemistry with her, and they are great together here, as expected. The problem is that I just don’t think it is much else. It feels like it has almost all of the same positives and all the same negatives as the second film in the series. Now, however, I did enjoy this film more than I enjoyed the second film in the series, and that is in large part due to the whole theme of accepting and dealing with change that is risky to your relationship (the film is very relatable), but, as a text, it doesn’t ever reach the highs of the first film.
Lana Condor and Noah Centineo are just fun to watch in these films, but is the film really anything more than that? I appreciate the theme and I appreciate the New York and Seoul sequences, but, ultimately, this is just more of the same. If the previous films floated your boat, then this one will too. I do think, however, that this does have a fitting ending, even though it is hopeful in a way many of these kinds of romance films are. It hasn’t done anything bold and original here, but it is a solid ending, even though it is slightly unremarkable and not-very-memorable. In the end, I think it’s clear that the career breakthrough of Condor and Centineo is what will ultimately be these films’ legacy, and I think I speak for everyone, who, like me, has found themselves entertained over the course of these three films, when I say that I am excited to see where their careers go from here, as I have become somewhat of a fan of them.
It perhaps doesn’t sound as funny as it sometimes is. This can be a very uncomfortable show about privileged people, the damage they inflict, and the sometimes odd predicaments they find themselves in as a direct result of a double booking or the like. What will probably help keep most viewers intrigued throughout is the fact that the first episode opens as a bit of a murder mystery. The actual reveal was jaw-dropping to me but not because it was unpredictable. It’s just really absurd.
Ultimately, I don’t think the film is as bad as I had feared, but, it did, however, really disappoint me when I saw just how bitter the film is about film criticism. In no way, shape, or form are art critics above criticism, but there is a difference between bringing up valid points about film criticism and spouting senseless anger towards someone very specific, and the latter certainly, at some points, seems to be the case here. While there are moments where Levinson’s dialogue makes fair points, like how some phrases are overused by film critics, his main character’s own high-minded ideas don’t really add up to much. A walking contradiction (though likely intentionally), Malcolm certainly feels like a stand-in character. But that’s not a good thing here for various reasons, some of which I won’t get into in this short review. Washington’s character is defined by his vitriolic ramblings about film criticism, in which he punches downward against a very particular person. It is entirely mean-spirited, it feels direct, and it feels a little bit cruel within context.
But whether or not a character’s comments are mean-spirited or not, of course, doesn’t make or break a film. What does, however, break the film is that there isn’t enough here to weigh down the negatives. I think that the black-and-white images are stunning, I love the house that the film is set in, I think that the film is very stylish in moments, and I think Zendaya is genuinely great as this, at first, restrained lionness who is able to pounce on Malcolm at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, the dialogue — or rather the extensive monologues — drown out anything that John David Washington is trying to do. Washington is a fantastic young actor, but, with this very theatrical but thinly written character, he is given very little to work with, and you find yourself genuinely baffled by the fact that Marie hasn’t walked out the door yet multiple times throughout the film. His rants are excessive, smug, not to mention completely unnecessary and borderline film ruining.
Honestly, and excuse my blunt and informal wording, this film is a bummer. Because it feels a little bit like a minefield within film criticism (but for good reason), while, at the same time, there is undeniable potential and talent at play here that seems destined to be forgotten amidst all the noise. Because of that I’ll be interested in seeing what Levinson does next (I was already a fan of Washington and Zendaya, so my excitement for their next projects should be a given), and I hope the meat of Levinson’s next film won’t be pushed to the side by unnecessary monologues that probably should’ve been trimmed down before the cast and crew arrived on set.
This film is so derivative that it feels completely generic. It’s honestly wild to me how much it borrows from other films, whether that be X-Men or The Old Guard or you-name-it. There are several things about it that just don’t work. At the end of the day, it just feels tedious, even in spite of all of its ‘deep’ lore and action scenes.
I really struggled with Wahlberg’s lead character, and, especially, his performance. At several times, it just looked like Wahlberg was bored, and his unresponsive and drab performance is certainly not able to carry a film that relies on so much heavy-lifting. Ejiofor, admittedly, does go all out with a wild accent to match his character’s beard and eye-liner, but it never feels believable. But it’s not just the main performances that don’t work.
Again, this film is just generic, and its script feels like it was assembled from so many different well-known influences to such an extent that it is just completely uninteresting. The dialogue is just not up to scratch, as it is filled to the brim with expositional dialogue and humor that doesn’t work. As if that wasn’t enough, Wahlberg’s flavorless performance is made worse by a sporadic voice-over that tries to hold your hand, while most viewers will probably be busy checking their phones. Infinite, Antoine Fuqua’s science-fiction action film, is, on the whole, bafflingly featureless.
Vacation Friends | Film | Dir. Clay Tarver | Release Year: 2021 | Seen on: Disney+ | Recommended?: Yes.
Released on Hulu (or on Disney+ in my region), Clay Tarver’s Vacation Friends is a kind of film that I would probably call a ‘buddy-couple comedy.’ This film, specifically, is about Marcus (played by Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (played by Yvonne Orji), who are a couple that have booked an exotic vacation at an expensive hotel. But due to an accident at the hotel, they end up having to stay in the same room as the friendly but also extremely wild couple of Ron (played by John Cena) and Kyla (played by Meredith Wagner).
Although the two couples end up having a great time on vacation together, Marcus and Emily, unlike Ron and Kyla, are not interested in continuing the friendship once they get back home. But Ron and Kyla are not willing to let a good thing go, so they decide to invite themselves to Marcus and Emily’s upcoming wedding, which is a surprise that Marcus and Emily are not ready to handle.
To be perfectly honest, this film isn’t anything too special. It almost feels like a fairly disposable Netflix comedy, but John Cena helps to make it feel like something more (he has so much energy in this role). It probably won’t last the test of time, it isn’t all that memorable, and perhaps it won’t be particularly rewatchable. But the plot is easy to roll with (there is some heart there), and, even though the film is a little bit predictable and not laugh-out-loud funny, it must be said that it is genuinely chuckle-worthy from time to time.
Now, admittedly, the first half (when they are actually on vacation) is easily the best part of the film, and the rest of the film is not nearly as entertaining, but John Cena‘s strength as a comedic actor helps to make this film a passable comedy that I think most people would enjoy.
As someone who has followed John Cena‘s career since his early WWE days, I continue to find so much joy in seeing him thrive as a comedic actor, which I never would’ve pegged him as. At this point, I think I’d watch any comedy he is in.
The Voyeurs | Film | Dir. Michael Mohan | Release Year: 2021 | Seen on: Prime Video | Recommended?: Mixed Thoughts.
Michael Mohan’s The Voyeurs follows a young couple — Pippa (played by Sydney Sweeney) and Thomas (played by Justice Smith) — as they move into their first apartment together. Not long after they’ve first moved in, they notice that their apartment gives them the opportunity to look directly into another apartment across the street, where another couple lives.
Pippa and Thomas initially get a kick out of spying on their neighbors, and eventually Thomas starts to lose interest. But Pippa is unable to let go of her unhealthy obsession, when she discovers that one of the people across the street may be cheating on his partner.
The Voyeurs is an almost passable twist-heavy modern take on an erotic thriller that is obviously inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. It is a little bit too long, it definitely doesn’t all work, and for a while there isn’t a lot to write home about, but its bonkers third act made it stand out right when I thought it was losing my interest. Do the plot twists stand up to scrutiny? Perhaps not, no. But I appreciated that strange change of pace late in the film. I also think the egg-transitions in the film are very interesting. That visual motif is probably the most memorable thing about the film.