Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Rating: 15
Length: 1h 49
Release: 19.12.2014
Dir: Bobby + Peter Farrelly
About: In need of a new kidney and having learned that he has a long-lost daughter, dimwit Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) snaps his equally cretinous pal, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey), out of an apparent fugue state to accompany him on a journey to find her. The witless wonders criss-cross the country using whatever mode of transportation they can find, ultimately arriving at the one place on Earth where they least belong: a summit of the world’s most brilliant minds.


The Good

  • I like that they brought back the kid from the first film to reprise Billy. In fact, the casting choices throughout the film are really good. From Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden to Paul Blackthorne’s brief cameo. It’s clever choices that make this film almost bearable.

The Bad

  • “gotcha”. The whole premise of this film runs on pranks that just don’t make sense and are not remotely funny. Much like the first film, the humour is way too taxing.

The Ugly

  • Having Lloyd laughing at Harry’s mother for talking in Chinese is just fucked up.
  • That god damn incest trope again. We spend the movie with him wanting to bang the girl, for him to work out she is most likely his own daughter. Gross. (Gross is in fact the most recorded word withing my notes for this film)
  • Yet another form of sexual assault played for laughed. Lloyd on one of their many misadventures, is manipulated into touching an old lady’s genitals. Upon realising no diamonds are to be found where he’s been led, he tries to remove his hand but she clamps his hand between her legs. So wrong on so many levels.

Final Thoughts

Yet more misses than hits, but if you liked the first one; this is just more of the same.

Fly Away Home (1996)

Rating: U
Length: 1h 47
Release: 7.2.1997
Dir: Carroll Ballard
About: Amy moves to Ontario to live with her father after the death of her mother. Her father, an aviation expert, helps Amy lead a flock of orphaned geese south for the winters.


First Thoughts

This was one of those rare films I got to see in the cinema growing up. A cinema outing was primarily just for my birthday until this point. However, 1996 marked a change. Labour came into power here in the UK and both my parents became almost immediately employed. This meant there was a little more disposable income and my mum added in this spring half-term trip to the cinema.
This also became the first film I ever bought myself on VHS, having been bought Jurassic Park by a family friend and a number of Disney VHS from my Gran for Christmas. It was a hard decision; Fly Away Home or The Santa Clause (the Tim Allen one). I’d loved both films so much I’d even read the books. I think it was the all-year-round appeal that saw Fly Away Home win out. However, that was perhaps mum’s logic than my own; I was the girl who would watch Santa Claus: The Movie all year round. Perhaps mum didn’t want a repeat.
It’s also thanks to this film (and Jurassic Park) that I really wanted to see the Piano. Anna Paquin was someone I felt was ‘like me’. So I wanted to see everything she was in. The VHS was set up to record. I was very disappointed when I came down the next day to be informed that mum had stopped it and that it was not a film I should watch. Safe to say, I’ve still not watched it to this day and from that point, I was a little more reserved in watching her films.

The Good

  • It’s a story about adorable animals and their relationship with a kid that ‘could be you’. What is not to love about that? Oh and they go on this great adventure with a parent, when you (as kid) totally know your parents would NEVER be that cool.
  • While it opens on a sad note, this film actually is uplifting and what I would call a ‘cathartic’ tearjerker. The viewer gets to see Amy express and embrace her grief.
  • While there’s no attempt to give each and every one of the geese a distinct personality, you don’t have a heart if you don’t immediately love Igor. His narrative gives you all the feels and there are some giggles to be had when he tries to keep up with his siblings.
  • As always, Jeff Daniels gives a brilliant performance. These are the sort of roles he’s made to do and can balance the eccentric and paternal really well.

The Bad

  • Anna Paquin screams way too much in this movie. That high pitch just really starts to grate after the millionth time. As a kid I don’t remember this being something that bothered me, but this time it was a massive irritation.
  • It does feel a little slow in parts with it trying to introduce us to all of the characters without being overwhelmed.

The Ugly

  • It is based upon a true story and as I said before there is a book out there. However, the book is a novelisation of the film so I think my point going forward is fair. The wildlife guy who comes to the house to clip the wings and proceeds to play the antagonist just doesn’t sit quite right. It feels as if he’s given this persona just to have something to fight against and make the film more dramatic.
  • THAT SONG! If the song that opens the film doesn’t make you ugly cry, either at the start or at it’s reprisal, you need to warm up that cold cold heart of yours.

Final Thoughts

It’s such a heartwarming film and I really am surprised I’ve not watched it more.

Unlikely Hero (2009)

AKA: Paper Man
Rating: 15
Length: 1h 50
Release: 14.4.2014 (UK DVD)
Dir: Kieran & Michele Mulroney
About: A frustrated novelist (Jeff Daniels) begins to depend less on his imaginary friend (Ryan Reynolds) when he forms a unique bond with a Long Island teenager (Emma Stone).



The Good

  • Ryan Reynolds is just incredible as this larger than life, colourful superhero imaginary friend. This sort of crazy is where he shines. His character is just delightfully absurd and is the saving grace of the movie. He works so well alongside Jeff Daniels. I really wanted more. In fact, it could have just been the two of them for the entire time, and i still would have wanted more.
  • There’s a scene in a bar in which Richard is befriending the locals. The way in which he has them all hanging on to every word is something I would have loved to have seen more of.
  • Emma Stone’s character is just as complex as Richard’s. Everything about her individually I love; her background, her anger, her outlook. The only thing I don’t like is her relationship and interaction with Richard. It being the basis of the movie, therefore, becomes a problem.

The Bad

  • Some of the film’s choices are massively problematic and, on the whole, the film leaves too much unresolved. What happens to Abby’s friend as a result of the film is quite horrific and the relationship between Richard and his wife is so toxic, but its played out in such a bias way that I don’t know how any viewer can be satisfied.

The Ugly

  • There’s an uncomfortable line that this film dances with, and it stops it being the uplifting film I certainly wanted it to be. The issue is the establishment of what the relationship between Daniel’s Richard and Stone’s Abby. It takes way too long to suggest that what both are missing the father/daughter bond. By the time its suggested (not established) the creepy/ grooming seeds have been sown. It’s further compacted by the final act; the post party snuggle and her kissing him on the mouth during their farewell. It completely ruins the entire tone of the movie and for at least the first half, I had my finger on the remote ready to turn it off.

Final Thoughts

There’s a charming indie film hidden under a gloss of grooming and misery. It stops you engaging with the more important, meaningful, aspects.

Arachnophobia (1990)

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 49
Release: 4.1.1991
Dir: Frank Marshall
About: Dr James Atherton moves to a small town and witnesses a series of unexplainable deaths of the locals. Upon investigating, he discovers that a flock of spiders are responsible for it.


First Thoughts

I remember watching this as a kid and being scared. I remember watching it a few times. I’m not sure it was one we recorded onto a tape, but we’d watch it if it came on tv. There are certain scenes that have stuck in my memory (the shower) and have been replaying in my head ever since I decided it was time for a rewatch. I’d never watched this film alone, so that was… fun!

The Good

  • The story is actually really cool and I totally didn’t remember. New doctor comes to small town to replace older doctor. As with small town politics, Ross Jennings struggles to win over the confidence of the residence. It’s not very helpful, then, when the other newcomer (South American spider) starts killing the only people on the good Doc’s side. I love that there are elements that make Ross even doubt himself, but also that he is able to stand his ground.
  • John Goodman’s character is a brilliant addition and brings some levity to this very scary film. His presence is accompanied by this jovial music that is a complete contrast to the rest of the movie. As someone who is on edge, I am so grateful for this.
  • If you want a scary movie, this is the big daddy of them all. If you’re afraid of spiders that is. No cartoonish Freddie, no man in a painted up Shatner mask. Just something that most of us are afraid of just as they are. This one has a killer bite too. It has everything; jump scares, those slow builds the viewer sees coming but the victim doesn’t and even the fake out. It’s the biggest roller-coaster in the genre.
  • Chekhov’s gun is a bottle of wine. Okay, so it might be that I had a vague memory of the final act, but I do enjoy putting the pieces together and making predictions.

The Bad

  • Not really this film’s fault, but I’m getting really sick of animal POV in these creature features. However, this one gets the added mention because of how messy it actually is. As it happens when the bird picks it up, it’s actually unclear as to which animal the pov is coming from.
    Just stop with the POV. It doesn’t add anything to the film and it feels a little like reading homework that’s been copied from wikipedia.

The Ugly

  • I’m not a fan of the 20 minutes it takes to get to the small town. It’s a little too much of a ball ache set up and based upon how the spiders are collected, I feel bad for the first victim. You have these dicks who kill all these insects in the name of ‘discovery’, but its the man who doesn’t seem to really want to be there that gets it in the neck. With this sort of beginning, I feel like it should have developed more into a ‘creature from the black lagoon’ sort of plot. Or, tighten up that opening completely; five minutes tops and have that spider rushing for the airport, so to speak.

Final Thoughts

I’ve never been so scared watching a film in my entire life. During one scene I actually pulled off my glasses to stop myself from seeing the screen. However, I am proud of myself for watching it and I have to admit, it’s a well made film.