We’re still in a slow period at the theaters—though I hear Barbarian was great. I didn’t get a chance to hit the theaters because I was traveling, but I saw a few streaming offerings. Below are my thoughts! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
End of the Road (Netflix)
Starring: Queen Latifah, Ludacris, and Beau Bridges
Synopsis: Brenda (Latifah) is a nurse and single mother forced to move her kids from California to Houston. She’s traveling with her teenage daughter and young son, also making the trip is her brother Reggie (Ludacris). It’s a tense trip to begin with but when they are in the next hotel room from a drug deal gone bad in Arizona, things go from bad to worse. Brenda just wants to get on the road, but soon she finds herself pulled into this world of crime and fighting to safeguard her children. This is a pretty standard plot and it plays out like you’d expect. Latifah does a decent job in the lead role. She’s solid in action sequences, something she regularly handles as the star of The Equalizer on the small screen. The rest of the cast is OK. The main antagonist is meant to be revealed in something of a twist that fell flat, as did the menace of the character. While much time is spent talking about this threat, when it’s finally revealed it feels more like a shoulder shrug. It’s a breezy watch as just under 90 minutes but it’s far from compelling.
Rating: Rated R for some strong/bloody violence, drug use, sexual content, and language.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth
Synopsis: The big release from Disney on Disney+ day was the live-action re-make of Pinocchio, hailing from director Robert Zemeckis and featuring Hanks as Geppetto. It was anticipated, I suppose. It boasted a solid cast and a classic story but it just didn’t work. There are, at times, some nice visual sequences. But the telling of this story is flaccid. There isn’t emotion or heft. One musical number that worked is Erivo as the Blue Fairy, but the rest were mere shoulder shrugs. The CGI is also uneven. In particular, I was put off by the look of Jiminy Cricket, and I wasn’t sure what Gordon-Levitt was doing with the voice work. There have been some great live-action adaptations of Disney films, but this isn’t one of them. This can be safely skipped and it’s safe to say this isn’t going to be the original content that gets someone to subscribe to the streaming service.
Rating: Rated PG for peril/scary moments, rude material and some language.
Out of Office (Comedy Central)
Starring: Ken Jeong, Milana Vayntrub, and Jay Pharoah
Synopsis: Vayntrub takes a break from those AT&T commercials to star in this made-for-Comedy-Central film from Paul Lieberstein. Lieberstein wrote and directed the film, which has some familiar beats for those that remember him best as Toby in The Office. Vayntrub is in need of a job, with her parents (Cheri Oteri and Jason Alexander) moving away and cutting off their support. She latches on with an online tech support company whose employees, led by Jeong, spend their days on a group video conference call, getting to know each other’s lives. It’s a fun spin on the new era of remote work. There’s some fun moments and a decent cast. It’s not incredible, but it fittingly debuted on Labor Day. For those that want an easy watch with a few laughs, this hits the spot.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.