Matt’s Movie Review Roundup

It was a big week for new releases, especially with many areas on Spring Break. We got notable theatrical releases and streaming films. Below are my thoughts on the new films I saw this week. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.

Air (Theaters)
Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, and Chris Messina
Synopsis: We’ve seen Damon and Affleck paired together many times before. It even won them an Academy Award. Now, the pair are teaming again to tell the story of how Nike courted a legend. Damon stars as Sonny Vaccaro, the talent scout that bet it all on signing Michael Jordan and made that signing a reality. The film takes place in 1984, where Nike is third in the shoe company power rankings. In fact, their close to shuttering the basketball division. But Vaccaro has a plan. All he has to do is convince Nike CEO Phil Knight (Affleck) to be it all on Jordan, then convince Delores Jordan (Davis) that Nike is her son’s best bet. I loved the period setting and the way Affleck, who steps in as the director here, crafts the story. He also gets the most out his talented cast. Damon is solid in the lead role, bringing the complexity of the character and the story to life. Davis is also magnificent, shining brightly in just a few scenes. But perhaps my favorite performance is from Messina, who plays Jordan’s agent, David Falk. He’s got some incredible lines in back-and-forth phone calls with Vaccaro. More importantly, even knowing how it would turn out, the construction of the film keeps you hooked into the story. It’s my favorite film of the year so far, a wild and fun ride that is worth checking out.
Rating: Rated R for language throughout.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Praise This (Peacock)
: Tristan Wilds, Chloe Bailey, and Anjelika Washington
Synopsis: As we enter Easter weekend, we get our second faith-based film release of the week on streaming. This time, an original musical on Peacock that clearly draws its inspiration from the formula that made Pitch Perfect a hit. This time, we open with we open at the Gospel Youth Choir competition in Atlanta. And things don’t go well for Jess (Washington) and her choir. It’s also a rough go for Pastor PG (Wilds), who is the new preacher and new church on the block. Their choir performance goes off the rails and leaves them embarrassed. When Jess’s cousin, Sam (Bailey), comes to live with them, her fortunes and the fortunes of her choir begin to change. Will Sam and her talent be enough to carry them to the top during the next competitive cycle. This film follows closely the formula and plot outline of the original Pitch Perfect film, including the arcs with Sam pursuing her own musical career. It wants to be funny and charming. It wants to get you to buy into these characters and their journey. It’s also a film that wants to explore faith. All those are noble pursuits, but this doesn’t quite come together. The narratives and the construction of the plot fall short and create sequences that are often awkward to watch. It was a decent idea, but it doesn’t land.
Rating: NA

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields (Hulu)
This new documentary made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. It looks at the career of Shields, a performer who has starred in some iconic productions. But this is a behind-the-scenes look at her life and career like you wouldn’t expect, including some honest dialogue about the exploitation of her early career in films that likely couldn’t and wouldn’t be made today. Through it all, Shields lays herself and her story bare for the audience. It’s broken down into two parts, each a little over an hour. It was a fascinating look at the star, her body of work and the way she’s reflected on her life and career, especially now that she has teenage daughters of her own. It was a powerful documentary that’s worth seeking out.
Rating: TV-MA

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Theaters)
: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Keegan Michael-Key, Seth Rogen, Charlie Day, and Jack Black
Synopsis: It’s been 30 years since the characters of the popular Nintendo Game, Super Mario Bros, was adapted into a film. In that case, it was a live-action film starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. Now, we get a new take. This one an animated tale from Illumination featuring plenty of nods to the games, a brightly colored palette and a strong voice cast. It made a lot of money over the weekend, and owing to its family-friendly packaging, it will likely do well at the Box Office. But is it a good film? No, it’s not. I’ve played Mario over the years, and I enjoyed all the nods to the game, including a number of musical riffs that were a lot of fun. There were some funny and creative moments, too. I also thought the overall look was somewhat eye-catching, especially with its use of color. It’s just that the story feels dull. The performances are just OK and for a film that’s just 92-minutes long, it feels like it takes a long time to get anywhere. Overall, creatively, this feels like something of a miss.
Rating: Rated PG for action and mild violence.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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.


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