The App That Stole Christmas – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A successful app developer creates an app that eases the burden of shopping over Christmas. Unfortunately, his busy lifestyle sees him neglecting everything in his life because of the business. When he has an accident and falls unconscious, he wakes up in Santa’s warehouse and is tasked with making one hundred toys. 

Is it any good?: The App That Stole Christmas is fucking awful. The story is A Christmas Carol meets Wizard Of Oz-esque story, without the meanest of the central character or the sweetness. The story is not the problem. The telling of the story is. 

The acting is uniformly poor, the script is rubbish, the directing is crappy. It manages to at least be in focus and the music is okay but for a film that is only sixty-four minutes long, The App That Stole Christmas is a real chore of a watch. 

I had to watch the film in three parts, that is how much of an abomination I found this film. Even my computer stuttered at the awfulness of this film.

Spoiler territory: company CEO, Felix Rhome (Jackie Long), is on a business call whilst his PA, Merry – haha, very droll. No. (Mellissa Macedo), follows him with a clipboard and a document she needs him to sign because he is an important guy and needs to sign off on stuff. He goes to his office, no idea why he was walking around the conference room. Better acoustics maybe? 

Elsewhere, his wife, Ellen (Diane Howard), is receiving reflected praise for her husband’s app. His Bomazon company – I see what you did there. Jeff, please sue them! – have created an app that is brilliant for Christmas shopping. Yes, really. 

Ellen, who is in a socially distanced hairdressers, is chatting with effeminate (yawn) hairstylist, Jaiden (J. R. Taylor) and two other stylists, Samantha (Genevieve Helm) _ who is white so they really pushed the boat on names in this script – and Carly (Elise Neal).

A third stylist is cleaning up, Jessie (Amber Cornish). The two stylist leave after a brief conversation about who the best stylist is. Don’t care. 

Ellen leaves almost immediately afterwards, giving the keys to Jessie to lock up. So that scene was pointless. Back at Bomazon headquarters, Felix is giving Merry – haha, that never gets old. 

Except it does – orders about some such over the phone’s intercom. As soon as he has finished that conversation, literally the next second, Merry – haha…argh! – is in the office telling Felix there is someone to see him. It is JayQ (Jayq – that’s what it says on IMDB, maybe he is a rapper as well), about the app. 

JayQ comes into the office. JayQ tells him that his app is stealing quality time. They have been watching him and his company. None of this psychobabble seems to alarm Felix at all. 

He just defends his app as though this were a normal conversation. People love his app. JayQ tells him that that night, life as he knows it will change forever. 

Felix is still not at all alarmed by this. Nada. Nothing. This does not strike him as a usual remark. Anyhoo, Merry – ha. That’s all. – comes into the office to tell him he is needed. Felix gets up to leave and tells her to get rid of JayQ, not in a mafiosa way, unfortunately. 

The security guard (Torae Carr) is getting told off by Ms Booker. Felix walks past and they exchange a few words. Felix goes home and gets into a disagreement with his wife because….it serves some purpose? 

He wants to know where his son, Ben (Jalyn Hall) is. He is playing a video game. Felix goes to talk to his boy. 

The sullen little fuck, is playing games with his friends online – no cliché there then – his grandfather, Gramps (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), thinks he should be outside. Gramps and Felix getting into an argument about that. So there is that. 

Dinner gets delivered. Around the dinner table – everybody comes to the dinner table – Gramps complains about everybody’s obsession with apps.

Felix tries to restrict Ben’s access to his phone at dinner. Later, whilst in bed, Ellen and Felix argue about his constant busyness. Ben picks up his phone to play and Santa Claus is on the screen. Ben is shocked. Hmm. 

The next day in the salon, everyone is still raving about the Christmas app. What world is this?! As inane conversations continue, we see that the app is addictive. People keep shopping on it! Wow! 

In a board meeting at Bomazon – stop him Jeff! Stop him! – everybody is happy with the profits from the app and predict bigger profits the following year. Yippee. 

Felix walks past the security guard again and the guard bemoans his struggle to get gifts for Christmas. Felix, the magnanimous and generous boss that he is, tells him to get the app. Thanks, Felix! 

You can get anything you want on the app. What a great idea. Felix tries to get the details of the visitor he had earlier, JayQ, from security. There is no record of JayQ. 

Merry – fuck off – comes in and talks about another problem. They need another factory for some bollocks or stuff. Who knows, nothing is clear. Felix rings his wife. It is supposed to be date night but Felix is working. He has a business to run. Maybe he should employ a few managers….

Ellen goes to her no customers salon and waits all day. She bemoans Felix’s lateness as darkness falls. Felix manages to get a new factory. He sees that he is late for his date with Ellen and rushes out of the office. He crashes into the security guard and is knocked unconscious. 

Felix wakes up in Santa’s workshop. He sees JayQ and Ray (Ray J – names are not a creative consideration). Ray recounts his day to him, to see if he remembers anything. Felix does. 

It is late, Ben asks his mother if his dad is back yet. She tells him he is stuck at work. Back at the workshop, Felix is being told by JayQ that they know everything about him and he has been missing quality time with his wife and family. 

Ray reminds him how he used to make toys with his father but now he has created an app that steals time and makes people buy more stuff. Felix argues that his app has improved lives and made Christmas easier. He wants to see his son. Not worried about his wife then? 

Ellen calls the police, unable to get in contact with her husband. They tell her it has been less than forty-eight hours, so they cannot do anything. 

Back in Santa’s house, Santa (J Anthony Brown) tells Felix that he has to work making toys. Ellen is at the hospital. Felix is in a coma having been knocked unconscious at work. The doctor tells Ellen and Gramps he is dreaming. He can tell by the eye movement. Wow, wow, wow. 

Santa is telling Felix they need him to make toys. He hands him over to JayQ even as he protests. Ellen takes Ben home. 

He not hungry when she offers to make lunch. She offers him a cookie and he succumbs. Forgets his father for a cookie, bleedin’ kids. 

Felix is having a tantrum at Santa’s house. Santa tells him they just want him to make toys. Ray takes Felix to the workshop. Gramps waits by his son’s bed in the hospital. At home, an excited Ben runs to his mother, saying he heard his father’s voice in Santa’s workshop. 

Back at the workshop, Santa tells Felix he needs to make one hundred toys. Felix tells them he needs to call his family. They give him a phone but it does not work. 

JayQ gives him a useless pep talk. In the hospital, the doctor (Kenny Rhodes), who is, frankly, an embarrassment to the profession, tells Ellen of the multiple things that could be afflicting Felix but he has no idea which it is. They just have to wait. 

Felix tries to escape from Santa’s world and keeps running into invisible walls. He asks Ray how can he get out. Ray tells him that he will get out when it is time. Okay, very helpful. 

Felix enlists the help of Ray to make up his quota of toys in the hope of getting out of Santa’s world. 

Ben talks to Santa. Ben tells Santa he wants his dad back. They talk about other stuff but as I’m suffering this film for the second time I cannot be bothered to recount it. 

A morose Ben is consoled by his mother, reminding him of the time he got a telescope in time for a meteor shower. Sometimes things happen. Okay…then. 

Back at Santa’s house, Felix is woken up by Toc (Anthony McKinley). Felix tells him why he stopped making toys and how making the app made him successful. Toc tells him that he needs to spend more time with his family. I see a theme here….

Ben sees Santa again. Ellen walks past his bedroom and sees Santa on his phone. She watches the Santa’s house Livestream with him and sees Felix on the phone. 

Ellen tells Ben to get his clothes on. They head to the hospital. Back at Santa’s house, Santa tells him it is time to return home. After an unnecessary speech and heart to heart, Santa shakes Felix’s hand. He wakes up in the hospital. 

Felix wakes up and is contrite about his fast lifestyle – he works a lot, we get it – and tell everyone he is going to be different now. Felix leaves the hospital. Immediately. Beds are not cheap even if one is a millionaire. 

At home and it is Christmas Eve. Felix and the family have everyone come around for a party. Felix kisses Ellen. The end. Thank fuck. 

Final thoughts: The App That Stole Christmas is easily the worse Christmas film you will ever watch. It is so bad that they even get one of the actors name in the credits wrong! 

There is nothing at all to recommend this film. Even the fact that it is short does not save it. The acting is bad, the script is bad, the framing is bad, the….you get my drift. 

It is not as though a Christmas film has to be a masterpiece, all one expects is a bit of festive cheer; a middling rom-com with a couple of attractive people; a lonely child who gets loved in the end; a lonely person, man or woman, who is saved and has their faith renewed by Christmas, it’s not hard! 

Four people were involved with the writing of this crap – four! Jennifer Rapaport and Monica Floyd wrote the story – ha! – and Peter John and Miriam Bavly, the screenplay. Floyd is on directing duties. 

I can only assume this was the first draft or that they had a deadline by which to spend the production money because there is no way anybody, any single person, reads this screenplay and thinks it is ready to go. 

The app angle is so overused that when it is employed it needs to be done well. That is not the case here and the premise is bullshit. An app that has everyone shopping at Christmas? Really? Nothing like that exists and if it did, would anyone use it? The words “close the door” and “horse bolted”, come to mind. 

The App That Stole Christmas is a disgrace of a film and even a student filmmaker would be embarrassed to have made it. I can only think the production company behind it are laundering money but that may be because I watch too many telenovelas. That being said, unless you want to ruin your Christmas, I suggest you avoid this film. Awful. 

The Princess Switch: Switched Again – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A princess, days away from her Christmas Day coronation is given a chance to rekindle her romance with a love she thought lost when a fellow princess, who is her doppelgänger, switches places with her to give her a chance to get the romance back on track. A greedy cousin to the soon-to-be-queen princess, who also bears the same uncanny resembles to the princesses, throws a spanner in the works when she kidnaps one of the princesses. 

Is it any good?: The Princess Switch: Switched Again, follow up to the 2018 film, The Princess Switch, is harmless nonsense with Vanessa Hudgens going full Eddie Murphy this time, taking on three roles instead of just the two. 

There are no surprises in the film and the story is not going to win any awards. It is just festive fluff with Hudgens utilising her Disney kudos to the full. 

Spoiler territory: it is two years since Stacy (Hudgens), a baker from Chicago, switched places with Lady Margaret (also Hudgens), a duchess from Belgravia and married a prince, Prince Edward (Sam Palladio), when she visited Belgravia for a baking contest and the two swapped places after the duchess noted their remarkable resemblance. 

The duchess fell in love with Stacy’s best friend, Kevin (Nick Sagar). Unfortunately, their relationship did not last and Kevin went back to Chicago. In Belgravia, Stacy is keeping busy with her royal duties and presenting an award at a cake competition. Edward comes to meet her at the event. 

Later, as Edward tries to broach the subject of them spending more time together, a distracted Stacy tells him that she is worried about Margaret. 

She is in line for the throne after the king died and Prince Howard, who was next in line, abdicated. She is next in line and the coronation is due to take place on Christmas Day. 

As Edward makes suggestions to try and get more amorous, Stacy speculates that she does not believe that Margaret is happy. She has not been happy ever since she split from Kevin. 

Edward tells her that people split all the time. She keeps on speaking along the same lines; Olivia (Mia Lloyd), Kevin’s daughter, has been on the phone to her telling her how miserable he is since he split with Margaret. 

Stacy goes to Chicago to see Kevin and Olivia and to persuade Kevin to come to the coronation in Montenaro. Kevin is looking dishevelled and slovenly. 

He tells Stacy that he has moved on. He believes Margaret has moved on also. Stacy tells him they need to support Margaret at the upcoming coronation. He agrees to attend. 

Stacy meets up with Edward and they go to Montenaro. Margaret is very happy to see them. She is also happy about the surprise visit of Olivia and Kevin. Inside the royal palace, everything is covered over. 

Margaret is not comfortable getting ready for Christmas festivities when the country is in mourning for the king. Edward points out that the country wants to celebrate a new era, with a new ruler; her. They decorate the house. 

Margaret and Kevin have obviously missed one another. Olivia suggests they have some hot chocolate, which they all think is a good idea. She then suggests Kevin and Margaret make it. 

The two go to the kitchen and as they look for ingredients to make the hot chocolate, become playful. Antonio (Lachlan Nieboer), the chief of staff, interrupts their frivolity. 

Taking her away, he remarks on how there is much to review before the coronation. There is a concert on Christmas Eve and a reception. Antonio makes a great effort to ingratiate himself with Margaret. Stacy interrupts his brown-nosing. 

Stacy comes to see Margaret the next morning. She wants to know what her relationship is with Antonio. She tells her that he has been very helpful with the royal protocols, as he had been the king’s consort. Margaret asks how Kevin feels about her. Stacy tells her to ask him. 

At the evening ball, Stacy encourages Kevin to ask Margaret to dance. As Antonio tries to win her over with florid words, Kevin comes and takes her onto the dance floor. 

Whilst on the floor, Kevin invites her out for a drive the next day. Margaret accepts. As the ball continues, Margaret’s cousin, Fiona (Hudgens again), makes an entrance. She is not dressed for a ball. 

She is flanked by two minions; Mindy (Florence Hall) and Reggie (Ricky Norwood), who quickly disappear into the throng of ball’s attendees. 

Stacy comes over with Edward. Fiona immediately comments on their likeness, remembering that they swapped roles a while back. 

Fiona leaves them. Margaret tells them that Fiona likes to party and has already burnt through her late uncle’s fortune. 

Antonio comes to get Margaret. The Prime Minister is there to see her. She tells Kevin she will see him tomorrow at two o’clock. She leaves. At the ball, Mindy and Reggie are pickpocketing guest and stealing items.

The next day at the Pembroke Estate, Fiona’s home, Mindy and Reggie reveal their stolen stash. Fiona is not impressed. Mindy makes an off-hand comment, saying their lives would be better if she was to become queen. Fiona dismisses both of them. She then looks at the invite for the coronation. 

At the royal palace, Margaret meets Kevin to go out for their intended drive. Before they can leave, Antonio comes and tells her that he needs to speak with her urgently. Getting her alone, Antonio gives Margaret a piece of jewellery and makes a play for her. He tells her they would make a fantastic couple. 

Margaret talks to Stacy about it. Stacy, who is team Kevin, tells her she is sure she and Kevin should be together. Meanwhile, Antonio tells Kevin that he is not being fair to Margaret and is possibly holding her back from becoming the monarch she could be. Olivia overhears the conversation. She tells Stacy. 

They go to Margaret and tell her she needs to find out where she and Kevin are, relationship-wise. Stacy suggests they swap again, to give her time to be with Kevin. Mrs Donatelli (Suanne Braun), Margaret’s lady-in-waiting, will help. Margaret has reservations but agrees. 

At Pembroke Estate, Fiona has come up with a plan. She plans to become queen long enough to transfer money to an off-shore account. She plans to kidnap Margaret before the coronation and take her place. Fiona goes to the palace to find out Margaret’s movements. She finds out that Margaret is going to a charity concert. 

The next day, as Olivia distracts Edward, Margaret and Stacy swap roles. Fiona also gets a makeover, her blonde hair made black like the princesses.

Margaret goes to see Kevin. Edward, unaware of the role swap, speaks to Stacy mistakenly thinking she is Margaret. He tells her that he thinks that Stacy might be becoming tired of him as she always seems to be too busy to make time for them. He tells her that Stacy is everything to him. She tells him everything will be fine. 

Olivia gets Edward to take her Christmas shopping. Stacy fulfils Margaret’s royal duties as Margaret goes to meet up with Kevin. Olivia continues to run interference with Edward. 

Stacy goes to the carol concert as Margaret. Fiona, Mindy and Reggie turn up at the concert. 

Kevin and Margret have a proper conversation about their relationship and their feelings for one another. Kevin tells her he does not want to hold her back. 

She tells him that he is the one she loves. Back at the concert, Reggie spills a drink on Stacy as Mindy distracts Mrs Donatelli. Mindy immediately tells Stacy, who she thinks is Margaret, that she can help her in the bathroom. They go to the bathroom.

In the bathroom, Fiona chloroforms Stacy and they swap clothing. Mindy and Reggie take Stacy to Pembroke Estate. Fiona returns to the concert and immediately calls for the car. 

She wants to return to the palace. She leaves Mrs Donatelli behind. Back at Pembroke Estate, Mindy and Reggie do not believe Stacy when she tells them they took the wrong person.

At the palace, Margaret comes to swap back with Stacy. Fiona as if Margaret is Stacy and kicks her out of the room. She calls her minions. They grabbed the wrong person. They have got Stacy. Mindy tells Fiona she can move up the coronation. 

Margaret goes to speak to Edward. She tells him that his wife has been kidnapped. Mrs Donatelli returns and tells them that she has been fired and that the coronation has been moved to that night. Margaret tells her she is not fired.

Kevin goes to see Margaret, not realising it is Fiona. She tells him that they cannot be together. She says they must end their relationship. Kevin tells her if he leaves he is not coming back. Kevin leaves. 

Back at Pembroke Estate, Stacy is looking for a way out. Kevin and Olivia leave the palace and head to the airport. Mrs Donatelli tells them what happened at the concert. 

Margaret works out that they must have switched there and that she is probably being held at the Pembroke estate. Antonio works out that Fiona is impersonating Margaret and makes a deal with her in the hope they can both become very rich. 

Reggie takes a sandwich for Stacy. She distracts him and escapes the basement room. Edward, Margaret, Mrs Donatelli and Frank (Mark Fleischmann), the driver, arrive at Pembroke Estate and rescue her.

Mrs Donatelli reminds them that they need to stop the coronation. At the church, Fiona and Antonio argue the veracity of having a coronation a day before its date with the priest. 

Kevin and Olivia are being driven in circles by the taxi driver. The coronation begins. Margaret enters the church and demands that proceedings be halted. 

She looks to Antonio to verify that she is the real Margaret. Antonio tells the guards to arrest her. Stacy steps forward and backs Margaret. Margaret tells Fiona that Reggie and Mindy have been arrested and have confessed. 

She says it was Antonio’s idea. Margaret has Antonio arrested. Fiona tries to wriggle out of it but she is taken into custody. The coronation moves back to Christmas Day. 

Fiona tells her that she sent Kevin away. Margaret heads to the airport to catch Kevin. She catches up with him and, along with Edward, Stacy and Mrs Donatelli stops him. Stacy tells Kevin that it was Fiona told him to leave. 

Margaret asks him to marry her. He says he wanted to marry her six months before. They both say yes. Margaret sees a priest and says they should get married right there and then. He marries them hurriedly. 

The next day, the Christmas coronation goes ahead and Margaret becomes queen of Montenaro. The end. 

Final thoughts: The Princess Switch: Switched Again is a pleasant film that is exactly as one would expect it to be. Hudgens is entertaining as all three characters and the rest of the supporting cast reprise their roles with ease. 

Hudgens, Hall and Norwood in the roles of Fiona, Mindy and Reggie respectively, bring a nice levity to proceedings, breaking away from the rom-com formula of the previous film slightly. Though the film still uses the swap as a crutch, it is utilised in a, as much as it ever could be, organic way and does not jar in the context of the film. 

As a festive film, The Princess Switch: Switched Again suffers the same weakness of many festive offerings in that it is not so much a Christmas film as a film set at Christmas. The story could’ve been set at any time of year. It is a minor gripe and does not impact the film. 

The Princess Switch: Switched Again, directed by Mike Rohl, who directed the first film, and is written by the same writers as the first film as well, Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger.

At ninety-six minute long, it is just over the standard ninety-minute mark of a standard rom-com but is not noticeable for it. The Princess Switch: Switched Again is a nice enough film in the run-up to the festive season and worth a watch.

Holidate – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: a woman approaching her thirties, is under constant pressure around the holidays to find a partner and settle down. An aunt tells her that the random men she brings to every holiday event are her ‘holidates’; partners just for the holiday period. 

When she meets a man who has been similarly traumatised over holiday single-dom, she tells him about holidates. The two end up agreeing to be one another’s holidates. 

Is it any good?: Holidate is an amusing rom-com with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Emma Roberts, as Sloane, is luckier this time in being cast opposite someone who complements her better in Luke Bracey as Jackson.

In her previous rom-com, she found herself playing opposite a miscast Hayden Christensen, a casting error as the acting was fine from both, just not the chemistry. 

The chemistry between Roberts and Bracey works much better and pulls a relatively predictable film through its slightly long runtime of one hundred and three minutes. Holidate is an enjoyable film even if it does not bring anything new to the genre. 

Spoiler territory: Sloane (Roberts) is on the porch of her mother’s house, finishing a cigarette surrounded by lively Christmas decorations. On entering the house, she is immediately greeted by her mother, Elaine (Frances Fisher), who remarks on her dowdy appearance. She also informs her that her aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth), has brought the mall Santa (Carl McDowell) as her holiday date. 

Sloane’s sister, Abby (Jessica Capshaw) comes and greets her. Both mother and sister pester Sloane about her lack of a love life. As they leave her alone, she is accosted by her brother, York (Jake Manley) and his girlfriend, Liz (Cynthy Wu). They tell her she looks sad. Abby’s husband, Peter (Alex Moffatt) comes into the room. 

Sloane talks to her aunt. Susan tells her she met her date at the mall, as they watch him scoffing hors d’oeuvres still wearing his Santa suit. Susan tells her that he is just a holidate, a day for the holidays. No commitment. 

Elsewhere, Australian, Jackson (Bracey), is being introduced to Carly’s (Aimee Carrero) parents on their third date. They greet the couple dressed in matching Christmas jumpers. 

Carly’s mother (Meeghan Holaway) goes through a photo album, giving Jackson a little too much information about Carly. She even tells him that her and Carly’s father (Carlos Lacamara), do not mind if he sleeps over. 

Back with Sloane’s family and she is sitting at the children’s table as she is the only adult who does not have a partner and the table cannot accommodate her. 

One of her nieces, Daisy (Savannah Reina), questions her about her single status. She even boasts about having a boyfriend. Sloane tells it will be different when she is older. 

Jackson’s evening takes another turn, as an excited Carly jumps on him after telling him how much her parents love him. She proceeds to have sex with even as he tries to slow the relationship down. 

Sloane is gifted loungewear pyjamas for Christmas from her sister, a pointed reference to her spinsterhood. A still overwhelmed Jackson meanwhile, finds himself unwrapping a present of khaki pants from Carly. She is mortified when he tells her he did not get her a gift, as they had agreed not to exchange gifts. 

Carly rages at him, especially as they had had sex. He offers her cash, a gesture that enrages her more. Jackson leaves the house. Back with Sloane’s family and York proposes to Liz, even though they have only been together for three months. She accepts. The whole family cheer and whoop excitedly. Sloane remarks on how she likes her gift of pyjamas.

In the mall, after Christmas, Jackson is trying to return the khaki pants. The sales assistant (Nastassia Johnson) tells him he cannot get a refund without the receipt but he can get store credit. He does not want store credit. 

A grumpy Sloane interrupts, telling him that some of the people waiting have jobs. Jackson takes offence at the insinuation that he is unemployed. Sloane does not care and steps up to the counter, wanting to return the pyjamas she received for Christmas. 

The two end up comparing their awful holiday experiences. A customer behind them, with hair like Princess Leia, (Marisa Davila) offers to buy Jackson’s khaki pants. He declines the offer. The sales assistant returns.

Sloane’s pyjamas are from two seasons ago and only worth five dollars. As Sloane bemoans her sister’s cheapskate-ness, the Princess Leia customer tells her that she could make nice cut-off short with them. 

Jackson takes the pyjamas and his khakis and offers the lot to Princess Leia for fifty dollars. With some input from Sloane, they settle on forty-five dollars and a coupon for pretzels. 

Jackson and Sloane chat as they walk through the mall. Susan’s holidate, dressed in his Santa suit, hollers at Sloane. An embarrassed Sloane tells Jackson that the Santa was her aunt’s holidate. She explains what a holidate to him is and Jackson thinks it is a brilliant idea. 

He tells her they can be holidates for New Year’s. Sloane is reluctant to be a fake date with someone she barely knows but Jackson gives her his card. 

Whilst working from home, Sloane’s mother FaceTime’s her to introduce her to Faarooq (Manish Dayal) a doctor who has moved in next door. An exasperated Sloane ends the call. She contacts Jackson. 

They go to a New Year’s party where they proceed to make fun of other party-goers and what their lives might be like. Jackson sees a young man and older woman and begins to describe what he thinks their lives might be back. Sloane looks up to see her aunt Susan with another holidate, Ronald (Johnathan Baron). 

Jackson and Sloane sit chatting in a booth. Sloane tells him about Luc (Julien Marlon), who destroyed her faith in rom-com films. Sloane goes to the bathroom. In the bathroom, a woman, Annie (Mikaela Hoover) is being consoled by her friends because of the dark red stain on her white dress. She is expecting to get a marriage proposal. Sloane exchanges dresses with her. 

The night continues and Jackson disappears to the bathroom just as the clock strikes midnight. Sloane stands around awkwardly as couples smooch around her. She sees Annie get proposed to. Jackson returns and apologises sheepishly. 

The two ride in a cab silently. As Sloane is getting out, Jackson suggests they should meet up for Valentine’s. Sloane dismisses the notion. Fast forward and Abby and Liz are grilling Sloane about her plan for Valentine’s. 

Sloane tells them she plans to buy and eat copious amounts of chocolate. As she walks around a shop buying chocolate, Sloane bumps into an immaculate looking Luc. He is dismayed to see how dishevelled she looks but before he can say anything, his new girlfriend, Felicity (Nicola Peltz) comes over and mistakes Sloane for a shop worker. Felicity is stunning. 

Jackson sees Sloane squirming and comes to her rescue, pretending to be her boyfriend. They leave the store. Having inadvertently stolen a load of chocolate whilst escaping the store, the two eat chocolate in Jackson’s car and discuss their holidate arrangement, agreeing to reignite it and keep it platonic. 

St Patrick’s day sees them together in a pub. They bump into York, Liz and Abby. York already knows Jackson because he is his golf coach. Liz did not know that York played golf. Abby asks Sloane about Jackson and Sloane tells her it is strictly platonic. 

Elaine hosts an Easter brunch for the family. She invites Faarooq hoping to match him with Sloane. Sloane has brought Jackson. Susan, who has brought another holidate, is instantly attracted to Faarooq. 

Sloane and Jackson meet up for Cinco de Mayo, spending all day drinking tequilas. They fall asleep drunkenly but neither can remember if anything sexual happened between them. They meet up again for Mother’s Day. Elaine wants to know why the two of them have not even tried to get together. 

Jackson hangs out again with the whole family for Independence Day. By a lake, the men and the women split up, the men playing with fireworks, the women talking about men. Everybody’s fun is interrupted by Jackson having an accident. He blows a finger off. Sloane takes him to the hospital. Faarooq is the doctor who reattaches his finger. 

Finger reattached, Sloane takes Jackson to his home. Jackson tells his friend, Neil (Andrew Bachelor), that Sloane and his hands touched and there are feelings between them. Sloane tells Abby that she thinks there is a vibe between herself and Jackson. Neil tells him to break it off. Jackson tells Neil that he is meant to be accompanying her to her brother’s wedding on Labour Day. Neil tells him that he has to break it off. 

Abby says to Sloane that if he comes with her to the wedding it means he likes her. Jackson calls Sloane and says that they should take separate dates to the wedding before Sloane can suggest they go together. 

At the wedding, Sloane is with Faarooq and Jackson comes with Susan. Jackson and Sloane meet at the bar and bicker. They see Liz and her father dancing to an inappropriate song for the wedding and intervene. Everybody starts dancing and they see Faarooq and Susan grinding on the dance floor. Susan has an accident and Faarooq takes her away. 

York and Liz throw a Halloween Party. Jackson and Sloane attend but Sloane wants to leave when she sees that Luc has been invited and brings, a heavily pregnant, Felicity with him. Sloane’s misery is compounded when she finds it difficult to get out of the costume Jackson picked for her, especially as her sister accidentally gives her a laxative. 

Jackson takes her home and gets her into her apartment just as the laxatives begin to work. They lie down on her bed and end up fall asleep opposite one another. 

They end up making love to one another the next morning but when Abby comes over and confesses to kissing Neil, their conversation about what happened gets lost in miscommunication and mixed signals. 

Jackson tells Neil that Sloane kicked him out. Thanksgiving rolls around and it is being hosted again by Elaine. Sloane asks aunt Susan why she is not with Faarooq, her turning up with Wally (Dan Lauria). Susan tells her that she does not keep holidates.

Elaine burns the dinner, so Sloane and Jackson go to the store to and end up arguing about him leaving after their sexual episode. Jackson opens up to Sloane but she rejects him. 

Sloane returns to the house without Jackson and Abby tells her off for never taking responsibility in her relationships. Sloane blurts out that she kissed Neil and Peter hears it. Abby and Peter argue. Wally has a heart attack and Susan and Sloane go to the hospital with him. 

At the hospital, Susan confesses that she always ran from commitment. Faarooq comes out looking for Wally’s relatives. Susan ends up confessing that she got scared of getting close to him. They get back together. 

Sloane misses Jackson and starts stalking him. Out Christmas shopping at the mall, with Abby, Liz and Daisy, she sees Jackson on the down escalator as they are going up. Daisy tells her to go after him. She chases after him, screaming his name but the mall is too loud. A Christmas choir end up singing his name to get his attention. 

She confesses her love for him over a public PA system and they kiss. The end. 

Final thoughts: Holidate is an enjoyable rom-com written by Tiffany Paulsen and directed by John Whitesell. The central pairing of Roberts and Bracey works really well and, despite the inherent predictability of rom-coms, one still wants them to get together. 

The humour, for the most part, hits its mark with all the actors on show performing well and believably. Though the title and media lean towards this being a festive film, it is more of an anytime rom-com that just happens to be set between two Christmases. Every holiday is given a showing in the film. 

The film looks nice enough and is competently directed, maintaining a good pace throughout. Personally, I did feel it was a little on the long side with some scenes extraneous, mostly the scenes with Bachelor’s Neil, whose brevity in the film made the scenes irrelevant. 

The New Year’s sequence was a little overlong, lessening the emotional impact of Sloane giving her dress to Annie to get proposed to in. The entire Cinco de Mayo sequence could have been left out without it affecting the narrative at all.

There are so many characters in the film that it is difficult to justify all of them but the film just about manages it. These are minor gripes and, as I said earlier, the strength of the central pairing pulls one through the film. Holidate is worth a watch on a lazy, lockdown, afternoon.

Midnight at the Magnolia – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: a couple of local radio host, who also happen to be long time best friends, get notoriety for their relationship advice on their morning show. A flippant conversation, on-air, about their trepidation when introducing prospective partners to their families has their boss suggesting they should introduce their partners to their families live on air.

A larger corporation is prepared to syndicate them countrywide if they do so. They agree to the task but a spanner is thrown in the works when both are dumped before New Year’s Eve. They decide to fake a relationship between the two of them to fulfil their dream of getting syndicated across the country. 

Is it any good?: Midnight at the Magnolia is a sweet rom-com that works even though it is quite predictable. The two leads, Natalie Hall and Evan Williams are great. Their chemistry is excellent and the script is above average for a Netflix festive film. An enjoyable eighty-seven minutes.

Spoiler territory: Maggie Quinn (Natalie Hall) is smartly dressed, ready for work early in the morning. Jack Russo (Evan Williams) is shocked out of his slumber by his alarm clock. Maggie eats her breakfast and leaves for work, arriving comfortably early for the morning show she hosts with Jack, Windy City Wake-Up. 

Their boss, Deb (Alison Brooks) asks her where Jack is. Maggie tells her he will be there. She is not worried. The show is about to go live. Deb counts Maggie in for the morning introduction, as Maggie speaks to Chicago, Jack rushes in and joins the show. 

It is Boxing Day and Maggie and Jack’s radio banter denotes that the two are longtime friends. They get on to the subject of their prospective partners. Maggie asks Jack if he is bringing his latest girlfriend to meet his parents. Jack says he is not. He asks her if she is bringing Seb (Sean Williams). Maggie replies in the negative. 

After the show, Deb tells them that not only was their talk of introducing their partners to their families a hit, it got them noticed by a bigger network who are thinking of taking them countrywide. Seb comes to meet Maggie for lunch. He tells her that he felt like they were making fun of him and Jack’s girlfriend, their closeness making him feel excluded. 

Jack and Maggie’s fathers’ jointly own the Magnolia restaurant and jazz club. The two go to a family dinner and are warmly greeted by Jack’s father, Martin (Martin Gordin Shore) and Maggie’s dad, Steve (Steve Cumyn). Jack’s mum, Bev (Susan Hamann) comes and joins the party. Maggie’s sister Amanda (Victoria Maria) her husband, Matt (Matthew Stefiuk) and their son Cody (Dane O’Connor). 

Jack and Maggie tell the family the news about their impending syndication, everybody is happy. At the dinner, Martin is reluctant to speak about the bar’s business much to Jack’s surprise. He asks him about it after dinner. He tells him that the bar is not as popular as it once was. 

The next morning, after their show, Deb comes and tells them that the broadcaster wants to take them nationally with a show on New Year’s Eve. They also want them to introduce their prospective partners live on air. Both are initially reluctant but the thought of going national persuades them. Jack thinks that they should do it at the Magnolia to help boost sales for the venue. 

They go and tell their fathers. Having told their fathers, they decide that they need to tell their partners. Maggie tries to get through to Seb, leaving him messages. He calls her back and breaks up with her. There is a knock at her door. It is Jack. His girlfriend broke up with him as well. Worried about the upcoming syndication opportunity, Jack suggests that they pretend to be together. 

After some convincing, Maggie reluctantly agrees. To try and convince Deb, the two decide that they should be caught kissing. As they are kissing, Jack’s parents walk in and see them. After a bit of confusion, Jack’s parents surprise them both, ecstatic that they have got together. They find that all of the family is happy that the two of them are together, having believed that they should have always gotten together. 

Alone in Jack’s apartment, the two recall when he sang a song and how captivated she had been by his performance. The next day, Deb tells them that they have been invited to a cocktail party by the Judd Crawford (Peter Michael Dillon), the boss of the syndication. She also tells them that their new union is going to be live-streamed. 

Jack and Maggie go to the local coffee shop. Maggie sees Seb with another woman and is hurt at the thought that he has replaced her so quickly. Jack takes Maggie sleigh riding to cheer her up. Maggie sees her sister in the bar. Amanda tells her that she can see that Maggie is smitten, having always loved Jack. The New Year’s Eve party sells out in an hour. 

Jack and Maggie go to the cocktail party. Whilst talking to Judd, they are surprised to find out that he is expecting a midnight kiss live on air. After the cocktail party, they go to the bar and reminisce. They arrange a dinner at Maggie’s apartment to commemorate the anniversary of her mother’s death. They talk about broken hearts, with Jack admitting that Bianca Bell (Hannah Gordon) broke his heart in high school. 

Maggie says she had her heart broken once but does not tell him who it was. As they walk home, Maggie tells Jack that she has never had a midnight kiss. Jack says they should practice but the blaring of a car horn dissuades them. 

The next day at the bar, an anxious Steve is waiting for Jack. When he arrives he takes him outside and gives him Maggie’s mother’s ring. Jack is thrown by the gesture and leaves, telling Maggie he is not feeling well. On his way home, Jack runs into Bianca. They go for a drink and a catch-up. 

Bianca tells Jack that Maggie was heartbroken when he did not take her to the prom. She also tells him that she broke up with him because he loved Maggie. Jack denies loving Maggie. He realises that he has forgotten his dinner with Maggie and rushes over to try and make it up to her. Maggie is not happy and admits that she feels he always puts her second. 

Maggie goes to see her dad. She asks him how he knew that her mother was the one. He tells her that she had a fear of spiders but when she heard him falling in the attic, she ran through cobwebs to get to him. Maggie is not sure that Jack would run through cobwebs for her. 

It is New year’s Eve and they are doing their morning show. Maggie is still angry at Jack. Maggie goes out for coffee and bumps into Seb. Jack sees them together in the coffee shop and realises he does not want to lose her. He goes to see his dad for advice. 

At the party, Jack sees Judd and is told that he is thinking of giving them separate shows. Jack, taken aback, asks if Maggie knows about the idea. Judd tells him that she does and seemed open to it. As midnight approaches, Jack tells the live stream and the listeners that they are not getting together with their prospective partners or, as their families and bosses believe, one another. 

Maggie admits that their relationship is a sham and they only got together for the sake of their career. She leaves the stage. Jack tells the live stream that he loves Maggie and does not want his own show. He sings a song that he wrote for her and they get together for real and kiss at midnight. 

A year later, Jack proposes to her with the ring Steve gave him. Maggie accepts. The end. 

Final thoughts: Midnight at the Magnolia is a delightful rom-com written by Carley Smale and directed by Max McGuire. Hall and Williams are perfectly cast as life long best friends who dance around their love for one another. Williams is particularly good as the clueless Jack, oblivious to that fact that his best friend is in love with him. 

All the cast play their parts perfectly well, something that really helps the central pairing seem more believable. The pacing of the film is good and it whizzes through its eighty-seven-minute runtime. 

Being a post-Christmas film, with the plot running up to a New Year’s Eve party, the film is slightly festive, being set in winter, without any mention of Christmas. The script is more amusing through its character interaction rather than any pithy witticisms in the writing but it all flows very naturally. 

Midnight at the Magnolia is a nice film to while away eighty-seven minutes. Sweet. 

Vampires Vs. The Bronx – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A teenager in the Bronx is trying to save the neighbourhood from gentrification and a shady company buying up the buildings in the area. When he discovers that the company is a front for vampires moving into the area, he and two friends are determined to save the neighbourhood. 

Is it any good?: Unfortunately, no. Vampires Vs. The Bronx has a simple and promising premise that is weakly executed. The young leads are good but not great and the script is not as funny as it thinks it is. The film starts off well enough but gets poorer through its runtime. A pity. 

Spoiler territory: Vivian (Sarah Gadon) goes to Becky’s (Zoe Saldaña) nail salon. She tells Becky, as she is having her nails manicured, that she is moving to the Bronx. Becky tells her that she is moving out, selling up her business that very night. 

Manicure finished, Vivian is leaving as Frank (Shea Whigham) enters the salon. Frank has brought some papers for Becky to sign so as she can sell the salon. Flirty banter is exchanged as Becky signs the papers and tells Frank that he is welcome to visit her in the suburbs when she settles. He asks her if she has a husband or boyfriend. Becky says she does not. A minute later, Becky is attacked and killed by a vampire. 

The next day, Miguel (Jaden Michael) is putting up posters for a block party he is organising to try and save the neighbourhood. Gloria (Imani Lewis) is filming a live vlog, telling the world about what is happening in the neighbourhood and how businesses are selling up. She notes how many disappearances there have been of late even as the neighbour is seemingly becoming more upwardly mobile. 

In the local convenience store, Tony (Joel ‘The Kid Mero’ Martinez) greets Miguel and complements his block party poster. Tony is not too convinced that the party is worth the effort but he allows Miguel to put up his poster. Bobby (Gerald W. Jones III), comes to meet Miguel. 

Outside the store, the two boys run into Rita (Coco Jones), who is with a couple of her friends. Rita and her friends are older than the two boys but Bobby, knowing Miguel has a crush on Rita, has told the girls that they can get them tickets for the block party. 

Miguel, momentarily caught out by his friend’s ruse, eventually comes around and tells Rita that he can get her tickets. He is, he feels, looking good in front of the girls until his mother, Carmen (Judy Marte), shouts for him from their apartment window. 

The two boys go to meet up with another friend, Luis (Gregory Dias IV). They notice that Becky’s nail salon has also been bought by the same company that is buying all the businesses; Murnau. The local priest, Father Jackson (Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith), sees the boys together. He warns them to stay out of trouble. 

Henny (Jeremie Harris), a local gangbang leader, drives up with his crew. He talks briefly to Bobby. Miguel asks Bobby why he was talking to Henny. Bobby tells him that Henny wanted him to do something but he refused. The three boys keep walking and run into Vivian. They think she is lost but she tells them that she just moved into the neighbourhood. 

The boys move on. They see that the local courthouse has been sold to the same developers. Bobby persuades Luis to plays videos games with him at Tony’s and the two leave Miguel, who says he is going to keep putting up posters. 

Still at the courthouse, Miguel sees some strange figures. He rides off quickly, turning a corner and crashing into Slim (Germar Tarrell Gardner), one of Henny’s crew, causing him to spill a drink on himself. Miguel retrieves his bike and rides off. Slim, embarrassed in front of his friends, pursues him. 

Miguel turns down an alley and goes up a ramp. Slim, unable to see him, shouts a warning. Slim sees another man, Alexis (Adam David Thompson). Alexis walks towards him. Slim pulls a gun. Alexis looks at him, hypnotising him and attacks him. Alexis is a vampire. Miguel, who is watching the scene unfold between the two men, sees everything. 

Miguel flees to Tony’s store. He runs into the store, frantic and telling a surprised Tony, Bobby and Luis that Slim has been killed by a vampire. Before he can explain what he has seen, Alexis comes into the store. He buys hand sanitiser and leaves. Miguel takes the others back to the alley but Slim’s body is gone. 

Elsewhere, Frank is getting rid of Slim’s body for Alexis. The next day, Miguel meets up with his friends. He wants to investigate the vampires. Luis is inclined to believe him but Bobby thinks he is crazy. They go to Tony’s store and watch the film Blade, the Marvel superhero film about a being who is half-human, half-vampire and hunts vampires. 

Luis gives them the lowdown on vampire rules. The boys go to the Murnau offices to try and investigate. They meet with Frank. He has one of Miguel’s block party posters. The boys feel trapped but the meeting is interrupted as Luis pretends to pass out and Vivian turns up for a meeting. Booby steals a small document bag from Frank’s office. At Bobby’s home, the boys find a flash drive in the document bag. On the drive, they find a plan for a large vampire crypt. The work out that it is the old court building. Also in the bag is a strange, black key. 

They break into the building and find the vampires but Bobby’s phone wakes them up and the boys are forced to flee but not before they think they have filmed the vampires. The boys get apprehended by the police as they flee the building. 

The police tell them that they are going to see Frank, to see if he wants to press charges. Miguel shows the video to locals gathered around Frank’s offices having heard about the boys being picked up. 

The vampires do not show up on the video. Miguel challenges Frank to come out into the daylight, hoping to prove that vampires exist. Frank comes out of his office to meet the crowd and address Miguel. The boys are forced to give back the document bag. The boys’ parents and family come and drag them home, Frank having agreed to let the matter rest. 

Frank returns to his office and get out a small box. He looks for the black key in the document bag. It has gone. An angry Carmen tells Miguel that they are going to church. Frank goes to sees Henny. He wants him and his crew to cause more disruption in the neighbourhood so as the more stubborn residence will sell. He also wants him to retrieve the key and kill the boys. 

Bobby ignores Miguels calls, Luis and Miguel are forced to attend church by their respective guardians. Henny comes to recruit Bobby. At the church, Miguel plans to steal some holy water. Vivian goes to see Tony. She is looking for Miguel. When she is about to leave, Tony notices he cannot see her on the CCTV. She is a vampire. Vivian kills Tony. 

Back in the church, Miguel and Luis sneak into the priest’s office to steal holy water whilst the congregation is praying. The two escape the church with the holy water but are caught by Rita. Bobby is regretting his decision to follow Henny when he finds out they are working for Frank. Henny also wants to know where Miguel and Luis are. Bobby makes an excuse and sneaks out of the bathroom window. 

Miguel, Luis and Rita see Tony’s place boarded up. Bobby finds them at the store. Henny and his crew find all of the kids at the store. They escape out of the back but run into Alexis and three other vampires. They run into the street and encounter Vivian. Not knowing she is a vampire, they tell her that she is in danger. 

Henny and his crew shoot Alexis and his fellow vampires. The vampires, unaffected by the bullets, kill them. Vivian takes all the kids to Carmen’s apartment. Bobby notices she cannot come into the apartment. He works out she must be a vampire as they cannot enter a place unless they are invited. 

Vivian reveals to them she is a vampire and threatens to drain them like Tony unless they give her the key. Miguel throws holy water on Vivian, causing her to retreat. Vivian meets up with the other vampires and Frank. He has bought the building that Carmen lives in, so the vampires own it and no longer need an invitation to enter. 

The next day, Miguel, Bobby, Luis and Rita, head to the courthouse building to kill the vampires before nightfall. In the courthouse building, they find Vivian’s sarcophagus empty. Rita leaves to get reinforcements. The others search the building and find them hanging from the ceiling in one of the upper rooms. 

Miguel stakes one of them, killing him. The rest of them wake up. Bobby kills a second one. The remaining three come to attack. Vivian gets the key back, Miguel having left his backpack in the confusion. She tells them that with the contents of the box she can create more vampires. The boys escape. One of them grabs Luis. Luis gives him a sacrament wafer, killing him. Only Vivian and Alexis remain. 

Frank tries to stop the boys but Bobby appeals to his human side. Vivian kills Frank. The two vampires chase the boys. Luis splits from the other two. Alexis catches up with Luis. Luis manages to kill him with his broken skateboard. Vivian catches up with the other two. She is about to kill Miguel but is confronted by the locals. 

As they attack her, Vivian is easily besting them. She grabs Bobby and is about to turn him into a vampire. Miguel rides into her and stakes her through the heart. A couple of weeks later, the block party goes ahead and is a success. The crew promise to be on the lookout for any further vampires. The end. 

Final thoughts: Vampires Vs. The Bronx is an intermittently okay film. With a story by Osmany Rodriguez, who also directs and a screenplay by Blaise Hemingway, the film sparkles occasionally through the script. All the usual vampire tropes are observed, bringing nothing new to the genre at all. 

From the look of the film, Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is obviously a big influence. As that is one of this reviewers favourite television shows of all time, this film was always likely to compare unfavourably to the brilliance of Buffy. And so it proves. 

At only eighty-five minutes long, Vampires Vs. The Bronx is a short film but because it loses momentum and lacks urgency, with the vampire threat peripheral for much of the film, it feels longer than it should.

Gadon’s Vivian is so obviously the villain that Christmas being in December is more of a surprise. The actors do well with the material on offer but there is a definite unevenness to the script with the likes of Lewis’ Gloria and other minor characters working better, even though they are mostly just for comedic banter. 

Vampires Vs. The Bronx is not terrible but perhaps would have worked better as a series, allowing the characters to grow more. Unfortunately, the film is just an okay effort that is neither horror, comedy or drama, instead a confusing mishmash of all three. One to give a miss.

The Babysitter: Killer Queen – (Netflix) review

Brief synopsis: After surviving a traumatic satanic, murderous night two years earlier, high-schooler Cole, finds that he is the butt of ridicule and shunned by most of his peers because no one believes his story of a night of horror, murder and mayhem. 

Only his friend, Melanie, believes him as she was with him the night of the incident. When Cole finds out his parents plan to put him in a mental institution he tells Melanie. She persuades him to escape for the weekend. Unfortunately, for him, Melanie has an ulterior motive.

Is it any good?: A sequel to the 2017 horror-comedy, The Babysitter, 2020’s The Babysitter: Killer Queen, is an enjoyable one hundred plus minutes of hokum that sees the original cast reprising their roles as well as a few new additions. 

Carrying on in the same vein as the earlier film, there are gruesome, bloody deaths, sharp, quick-witted dialogue exchanges and cartoonish, video game direction. The Babysitter: Killer Queen is an enjoyable and worthy sequel. 

Spoiler territory: Cole (Judah Lewis) is a diffident and nervous high school student. Two years after having nearly being killed by his Satan-worshipping babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving), nobody believes his story as no evidence of the night was left behind. All the students, the student’s guidance counsellor, Carl (Carl McDowell) and even his parents, Archie (Ken Marino) and Phyliss (Leslie Bibb) do not believe him.

The only person who believes him is Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind), who was with him on the night but will not back his story. Cole goes to see Carl. Carl tells him that his only problem is he needs to have sex. Cole meets up with Melanie and voices his concerns about everyone thinking he is crazy. She tells him that he should not talk about the night.

As they are talking, Melanie’s boyfriend, Jimmy (Maximilian Acevedo) and two other friends, Diego (Juliocesar Chavez) and Boom Boom (Jennifer Foster) turn up. Another student asks Jimmy if he is going to the lakes at the weekend. Jimmy answers in the affirmative. They all head to class. In class, a new student joins. Her name is Phoebe (Jenna Ortega). She is a little strange and bold. 

At home, Cole’s parents are discussing treatments that they think he needs to be taking. Cole walks in on them talking. They pretend to be discussing dinner. Later in the evening, Archie tells Cole he needs to keep taking his pills until he gets back to feeling normal. Cole protests a little, explaining that he was always told to be true to himself. 

In their bedroom, Archie tells Phyliss that Cole still believes he had a terrible encounter. They decide they will have to put him in a psychiatric school. Cole discovers that his parents plan to move him to a psychiatric school. 

At school, Cole tells Melanie. They plan to do it that lunchtime. She tells him that he needs to get away and that he should come to the lake with her for the weekend. 

Cole’s parents turn up at the school to collect him. Cole decides to go with Melanie. He does not realise that Jimmy, Diego and Boom Boom are coming as well. 

Cole’s parents, unable to find him at school, go to Melanie’s house to look for him. Her father, Juan (Chris Wylde), answers the door. He is not at all worried about his daughter being away until he finds out she took his car. 

Down at the lakes, Cole is having second thoughts as he sees his peers having fun and frolicking by the water. He feels out of place. Melanie persuades him to stay, telling him his innocence is endearing. Cole’s parents report him missing. 

At the lakes, Cole and the others are on Jimmy’s uncle’s boat. The group play a card game. Cole and Melanie end up kissing in a closet. They get back to the game. Diego asks Cole about his cult horror night.

Melanie tries to dissuade him but mentions the devil book. Cole never told her about the book. Melanie realises the ruse is up. She kills Boom Boom. 

Melanie, Diego and Jimmy have all signed the devil book in exchange for getting the life they desire. Cole freaks out when he sees Max (Robbie Amell). He saw him die two years before. John appears and then Allison (Bella Thorne). 

Cole swears that they are dead. Allison tells him they are dead. Max explains that they have until sunrise to complete the ritual they did not complete two years before otherwise, they would have to wait another two years to try again. 

Sonya (Hanna Mae Lee), comes into the room carrying cookies. She died two years ago as well. Cole grabs the fish hook Melanie killed Boom Boom with and threatens the group. 

Phoebe, coming across the boat accidentally, walks in on the scene. Cole thinks that it is all her fault. Phoebe, seeing Boom Boom’s corpse on the floor, makes an excuse and leaves. 

With the group momentarily distracted, Cole escapes and jump onto the back of Phoebe’s water ski. Max chases after them and shoots a harpoon arrow at them. He only manages to hit the water ski’s fuel tank, causing it to leak. 

Cole and Phoebe escape to another part of the lakes. Melanie, Jimmy and Diego, the new younger cultist and Max, John, Allison and Sonya, argue. Melanie sees the fuel trail in the water and sets it alight. 

The water ski blows up and the group go to the site of the explosion. Phoebe, already on a secret quest of her own, leaves Cole. She sees a man sitting by a fire. She talks to him but his intentions are less than gentlemanly. Cole comes to her rescue. 

The seven pursuers look for Cole and Phoebe. Sonya finds them first, killing the would-be molester of Phoebe before turning her attention to the two youngsters. Cole, who is in the car of the dead molester with Phoebe, runs Sonya down. He crashes her into a wall, the surfboard on top of the car sliding off and decapitating her. 

The others find Sonya’s corpse and decide to split into two groups, the younger cultist leaving three originals. Max, John and Allison go off to search for them. Cole and Phoebe head to a cabin that Phoebe used to stay at with her family as a child. 

Allison sees the kids first and goes after them. Back home, Archie, who is at Juan’s, is getting high and playing video games. At the lakes, Cole and Phoebe are spooked by a hare. Allison shoots the hare. She comes down to confront the kids. They manage to distract her by appealing to her need to be famous. Allison, offended by a comment, shoots wildly at them causing a bullet ricochets and hit her in the chest. 

The two run off, pursued by an enraged Allison. She falls between the rocks, her head getting stuck between rocks, her body dangling above the ground. Cole and Phoebe pull on her legs, parting her body from her head and killing her. Max is right behind them and immediately tries to kill them with an axe. 

They escape to a motorboat and ride off. Max, undeterred, jumps into a lifebuoy that is attached to a rope and the rope to the boat. Phoebe slows the boat down and sprays silly string into Max’s face. She sets it alight. He falls into the water, which puts the fire out. He comes to attack again. Cole switches on the boats propellor and Max gets killed. 

On the pier, with only four of them left in pursuit, Jimmy and Diego tell Melanie they are leaving. She tells them that they cannot because the deal they signed has no get-out clause. They decide to leave. They both blow up. 

Melanie decides to execute another plan. She calls Cole’s dad, telling him that Cole is not acting right. Archie, who is still at Juan’s, says they will come and pick them up. 

Cole and Phoebe head for the cabin. Melanie and John follow after them. In the cabin, Phoebe takes them down into her basement room. Archie and Juan head to the cabin. In the cabin, Cole and Phoebe get amorous. Cole loses his innocence.

Archie and Juan reach the cabin. Melanie tells Archie that Cole is freaking out. Phoebe tells Cole she was in the car that crashed into her parents. She feels it is her fault they died. 

Archie comes and calls to Cole. Phoebe tells Cole not to go upstairs. Cole, determined not to leave his father in danger, comes out of the basement with a crossbow. He tries to shoot John but misses. John grabs a sword and comes after him. He cuts through a rope, causing a large horned ornament to fall on him and kill him. 

Melanie comes into the cabin. Cole tries to tell his father that she is part of the problem but he does not listen. Phoebe throws a machete at Melanie. Melanie catches it. Cole and Phoebe run from the cabin. Archie goes after Cole. Juan tries to stop Melanie. She kills him. 

Cole and Phoebe split up. Archie catches up with Cole. He drugs him and takes him to the car. Melanie and Phoebe fight. Phoebe is winning but Melanie pulls a knife and takes her hostage. Cole wakes up at the gas station and steals the car leaving Archie. He goes to where Melanie has Phoebe and gives his blood. The others return; Max, John, Sonya, Allison and the original leader, Bee.

Melanie mixes his blood with Boom Boom’s. She, along with Max, John, Sonya and Allison, drink the blood. They all die, Cole’s lack of innocence spoiling the ritual. 

Bee knew that the ritual would destroy them and had set the actions in motion, having been Phoebe’s babysitter also. Her deal with the devil came about because she had wanted to save Phoebe’s life in the crash. 

Happy that the ordeal is over, the three hug. Bee tells them that all the demons are not dead. She drinks the blood herself and dies. Archie sees Bee die and realises that Cole had been telling the truth. Cole returns to school a happy high-schooler. The end. 

Final thoughts: As I said before, The Babysitter: Killer Queen is wonderful fun and total hokum. The actors commit fully to the material and seem to be having a blast reprising their 2017 roles. Directed once again by McG, he employs various cinematic techniques and exercises all of his flair in directing the film. 

Written by Brad Morris and Jimmy Warden, with the screenplay by Dan Lagana and McG, the script crackles with sharp and clever witticisms. 

With Weaving’s Bee taking a much smaller role in the sequel, it is left to Lind to fill the role of antagonist. She does so wonderfully, sneering and scowling as the wish craving Melanie.

The Babysitter: Killer Queen flies through its one-hundred and five-minute runtime and keeps one interested throughout. If you enjoyed the first film, you will enjoy the sequel. 

Unknown Origins – (Netflix) review

Brief synopsis: An uptight detective finds his way of life and work challenged when his cosplay loving boss instructs him to work with a comic-loving son of a retiring detective to solve a series of gruesome murders that all relate to classic comic superhero origin stories. 

Is it any good?: Unknown Origins (Origenes Secretos – original Spanish title) is an enjoyable, quirky film that speeds through its ninety-six-minute runtime. The acting is good from all concerned and the story is interesting enough to keep one gripped to its conclusion. 

Spoiler territory: Police search a burning building for survivors. Police officer Javier (Álex Garcia) finds an old lady and hands her to a colleague. The woman tells him that her husband is still in the building. Javier tells his commander that there are still people in the building. His chief tells him that the building is unsafe and they should leave it to the fire department. Javier ignores his superior and heads back into the building. The fire engulfs him and he dies. 

Sometime later, Javier’s father, Cosme (Antonio Resines), who is a detective and close to retirement, knocks on the door of his other son, Jorge Elias (Brays Efe), as he leaves for work. He gets a call over the radio about an incident and heads out. 

Jorge stumbles out of bed. He is not a policeman. Jorge runs a comic book store and is a sci-fi and comic geek. At the incident location, Cosme meets the detective who is replacing him, David Valentin (Javier Rey). The two exchange greetings and head into a dark building where a body has been found. 

They find a muscular man on a workout bench, his head seemingly severed by the barbell falling on his neck. His skin is pallid and greying. David, on seeing and smelling the body, vomits. Whilst in a laundromat, he tells Cosme that his parents were killed when he was a boy but it had no bearing on his decision to become a policeman. 

With David cleaned up, the two men go to see Bruguera (Ernesto Alterio), the pathologist. He tells them that not only was the man killed but his skin was deliberately made to look grey. Before Bruguera can tell them anything else, their conversation is interrupted by a woman dressed in an anime costume. 

She wants to know why Cosme is there. David is confused and Bruguera amused. Cosme quickly explains to David that she is the boss, Norma (Verónica Echegui). Norma is not happy. She wants to know why the retired Cosme is looking into a case. David tries to intervene, saying he thinks Cosme’s experience would be helpful. Norma tells Cosme he needs to clean out his desk. She leaves. 

David gets called to the scene of another murder. The body is in armour but the man’s heart has been cut out. The victim, it turns out, was a weapons seller on the internet.there is the fragment of a comic book found near the victim.

Cosme is looking at photos from the first murder. Jorge sees one of the photos and remarks on how he looks like the Hulk. Cosme asks if the Hulk is not green. Jorge tells him that in early issues of the comic the Hulk had been grey. 

The next day, Norma forces Cosme to sign his retirement papers. Cosme sees photos from the scene of the armoured body on a board in Norma’s office. She tells him that the killer kept the body alive for hours after taking the heart out by attaching a mechanical contraption to the organs. 

Cosme takes the comic cutting. He returns to the scene of the first murder. He finds a piece of paper with the words ‘secret origins’ scrawled on it. He also finds part of an old comic. It is from the first Hulk comic.

David and Jorge ride in a lift to the same floor in the police precinct. David has a meeting with Norma and Cosme. As Cosme explains the connection between comic book character origin stories and the gruesome murders, David’s attention is split as he watches Jorge in an adjoining office. 

David is sceptical about the murders and comic book link. Norma explains that they are bringing in someone to help him as he has very little knowledge of comics. David sees Jorge taking something from the office and tackles him to the floor. Norma tells him the man he just tackled is his new partner. 

David and Jorge return to the second crime scene. Jorge points out that a fire axe that is in the display is wrong. The axe is given to Bruguera to analyse. David goes to Jorge’s comic store to buy some comics. He runs into Norma who is dressed, once again, like an anime character. David questions her recruitment of Jorge, especially as she seems to be as much of a geek as Jorge. 

Norma points out to him that she does not read comics and knows very little about them, preferring anime and films. An admonished David tries to belittle others in the store, scoffing at heir interest in the comics. Jorge points out to him that all of them hold very responsible and high paying jobs.

David returns to the precinct. Norma comes and tells him there is a suspect. She reminds him to pick up Jorge. At the location, the special operations team will not let them in. Norma turns up and shoots the door lock off. 

Inside the apartment, they find the suspect is the next victim. The man is burning to death as they enter the apartment. Jorge tells them it is the Human Torch origin story. Bruguera tells them the man boiled to death over many days. David asks Norma why can’t she let Cosme keep working. She tells him that he is dying of cancer. 

David goes Cosme and Jorge’s for lunch. David tells Jorge about the night his parents died. It sounds like the Batman origin story. Jorge asks him if he has looked into the case. David tells him he has not. He tells him to call Norma. They head to the records room and find David’s parents case. Amongst the evidence is a comic book title. It is the Batman origin story. 

The three start to collate comic book character origin stories. Jorge explains that to purchase the comics that the headlines came from would cost a small fortune. Whoever was committing the crimes had to be rich. Jorge tells them that there is only one person who could tell them who might have purchased the comics; Paco. They go and meet Paco (Leonardo Sbaraglia). 

Jorge makes a deal with Paco to get the name of the most likely suspect. Paco tells them that it is a man named Victor Vid. David drops Jorge home, telling him they will go to the suspects home the next day. He heads to the suspect’s address. 

Jorge, knowing that David is lying, calls Norma. David breaks into the Vid’s apartment after getting no response when knocking. 

Inside the apartment, David finds a wall with cuttings and comic references. He comes across Vid sitting in a chair, the shock of seeing him making him shoot. Hallucinogenic gas is released by the shots and David finds himself facing a masked man whose voice is distorted electronically. David sees insects crawling out of the man’s mask. The man identifies himself as Nóvaro and hits David with a crowbar. 

Norma arrives and shoots at Nóvaro. He sprays mace in her face and escapes. Later, Bruguera tells them that Vid had been dead for years. The killer had stolen his identity and embalmed him. He also tells them he has found traces of polonium-210. Norma is worried but David does not know why. 

Bruguera points out that internal affairs will take over once they find out polonium-210 is involved because it is so dangerous. David tells Norma he is going to see Cosme. Whilst at Cosme’s place, another murder happens. It is a recreation of the Spider-Man origin story. 

David goes to see Norma and Jorge. Jorge tells him that he thinks that Nóvaro wants David to become a superhero. Norma agrees. David thinks they are both crazy. He tells Jorge, in a pique of anger, that his father is dying. Jorge shows Cosme his brother’s suit from when he died. He bought it because he felt it depicted a hero. 

David goes to see Jorge. Jorge is not at the store, having gone out to buy pizza for the patrons. He has left a costume for David. David puts on the costume. Jorge returns to the store with pizza for all the cosplayers. He and David speak. David apologises for telling him about his father and tells him he needs him. Cosme works out who the murderer is. 

Nóvaro kidnaps Cosme. He calls David at the comic shop and tells him to meet him at the Madrid water plant. He tells him he will poison the water supply unless he comes alone. David tells the other two that he is heading to the water plant. Norma says she is coming with him. Jorge wants to go but they tell him he cannot. 

Jorge gives David his brother’s police protective gear to wear as a costume. David and Norma head to the water plant. Cosme’s kidnapper reveals himself. It is Bruguera. He kidnapped Cosme because he realised he had worked out who he was and he could also use him to help create the world’s first superhero. 

His plan was to force David to become that hero. David tricks Norma into getting out of the car and drives off, leaving her. He tells her he has to confront Nóvaro alone. Bruguera tells Cosme he never killed David’s parents but the story of them being shot in an alleyway after a concert was too good an opportunity to miss. he planted the comic book clipping in the evidence. 

David gets to the water plant. At the top, Bruguera is numbing his face with injections. He is convinced David will show up as a superhero. He tells Cosme he is going to kill him but has drugged him so as he will not be in pain. He wants to give David more of an incentive to take up the hero mantle. Bruguera dips his face in acid so he cannot be recognised. He puts a mask on.

David gets to the top and points his gun at Bruguera/Nóvaro. Bruguera threatens to kill Cosme if he does not put his gun down. David puts his gun down but Bruguera kills Cosme anyway. Burguesa and David fight. Bruguera, who had planned to die, falls into a vat of acid. After Cosme’s funeral, the three keep looking for clues of Nóvaro’s true identity. All they find is a lair with access to police files worldwide and a lot of money. David decides to become a superhero. The end. 

Final thoughts: Unknown Origins, written by Fernando Navarro and David Galán Galindo, with Galindo also on directing duties, is a pleasant enough film. The premise of taking superhero origin stories as the link between murders is a good and interesting one, along similar lines of Fincher’s darker serial killer film, Seven. 

Unlike Seven, Unknown Origins is not dark, with a lot of humour coming from the absurdity of the premise and the challenging of what is considered normal and right. Considering that Rey’s David is the main protagonist, his character is a little underwritten making it difficult to root for him as much as one should or want to. 

Echegui’s Norma and Efe’s Jorge are much stronger characters, adding depth and colour to proceedings. Even Resines’ Cosme is stronger than David. 

Galindo’s directing is competent and the film is nicely lensed. The makeup department and costume department can both take a bow, as both of those elements are top-notch in the film. 

In a film where, ultimately, the villain wins, Unknown Origins will not sit well with everyone. That being said, it is a good enough film to devote an hour and a half to. 

Desperados – review

Brief synopsis: a thirty-something woman, desperate to get back into dating, goes out on a date and it is a bust. On her way home, she bumps into a man and they start a relationship. When he does not contact her after nearly a week, egged on by her drunken friends, she sends him an abusive email.

He contacts her just as her friends are sending the email and tells her he was in an accident and in hospital in Mexico, which is why he had not spoken to her. Realising she has made a horrible mistake, she decides that she needs to go to Mexico and intercept the email.

Is it any good?: Desperados is okay. It is not great but it is not terrible either. The premise is not original, having been used in other comedies to better effect, and the execution is patchy. The script is funny in parts and touching in parts. Unfortunately, the overall is not as good as it could have been and there are more misses than hits.

Spoiler territory: Wesley (Nasim Pedrad), is an out of work, thirty-something guidance councillor. She interviews for a job at a Catholic school but does not get the job due to her forthright views on sex, something she voices during the interview. She told as much by her close friends, Kaylie (Sarah Burns) and Brooke (Anna Camp). Wesley laments about not having achieved what she thought she would have by her thirties.

With bills piling up and her dating life in tatters, she receives a voicemail message from her ex-boyfriend. He boasts about his upcoming marriage and warns her that he has a photo spread with his fiancé in a popular magazine. Wesley heads to a bookshop to check out the spread.

Whilst in the store, she gets a message from a friend. He sends her the details of a man, Sean (Lamorne Morris), who he thinks she would gel with. Wesley gives him a call. Sean agrees to meet up with her. On the phone, the two have a quick conversation and agree that if either one of them thinks the date is not working they can just cancel it on the spot.

Wesley goes to meet Sean and is babbling excitedly as she sits opposite him. Sean ends the date, telling her it is not working. An offended Wesley, vents at Sean and leaves the bar. As she walks away from the bar she trips and falls, knocking herself momentarily unconscious.

She comes to and meets a handsome man Jared (Robbie Amell) who tells her that he has retrieved her purse. He lives close to the bar and tells her she can come and wait at his home for her friends. Still dazed from her fall, Wesley is less forthright than usual.

Meeting up with her friends the next day, she explains that not being her normal self was her way to get a man. Against her friends better judgement, Wesley begins to see Jared whilst suppressing the more outlandish traits of herself. After seeing one another for a month, they succumb to carnal desires.

Jared disappears. Kaylie and Brooke come over to Wesley’s home and find her drunk and miserable, believing she has been ghosted by Jared. The women all drink together and Wesley decides she needs to vent, in an email, to Jared. Her friends, whose moods empathically mirror hers, encourage to write the email.

Wesley writes a highly abusive email. As she is about to send it, she gets a phone call. She leaves the email for her friends to send. The call is from Jared. He is in a Mexican hospital because he got into an accident. He is calling to apologise for not speaking to her. A panicked Wesley tries to prevent her friends from sending the email but is too late.

Wesley tells them that they can go and intercept the email and delete it because Jared’s laptop and mobile phone are in the hotel he was going to be staying in. Kaylie immediately agrees to go with her. Brooke is a little reluctant but is soon persuaded to go to Mexico. The three friends head to Mexico.

At the resort, Wesley bumps into Sean, who is at the same resort. She gives him short shrift, remembering their last encounter. Wesley desperately wants to get into Jared’s room but the resort will not give out his details. After an abortive mission to get into his room, that ends up with her flashing a twelve-year-old boy, Wesley ropes her friends into helping her steal a resort pass.

The plan ends up with Wesley forced to go on a paddleboard lesson with Sean. The two end up hitting it off enough to be friendly. Whilst she is with Sean, her friends steal the resort master key. After another incident with the twelve-year-old, the women are kicked out of the resort.

After decamping to a less ritzy resort, Wesley tries to persuade her friends to return to the previous resort to get to Jared’s laptop and phone. They refuse to go with her, so Wesley goes alone. At the resort, she gets a call from Jared. He tells her he is leaving the hospital the next day and wants her to pick him up at Los Angeles airport. Wesley gets arrested and thrown in a cell in Mexico.

Her friends and Sean, come to bail her out. They try to tell her that her behaviour is getting out of hand but Wesley is still determined to get to the email before Jared does. Kaylie and Brooke lose patience and leave Wesley with Sean.

Kaylie and Brooke decide to go and see Kaylie’s spiritual guru at a retreat, Ángel (Heather Graham). Kaylie is hoping that she can be healed and become pregnant, even though multiple specialists have told she cannot have children. Brooke is sceptical.

Wesley and Sean hang out as he is roped into her harebrained pursuit of the email. Sean wants to know what she sees in Jared. He remarks that Jared’s romantic approach is not the most original. Wesley finds out that Sean was married but his wife died. Jared calls again and tells Wesley he is getting out of the hospital.

She tells him she is in Mexico and will meet him at the airport. Quite by chance, Wesley and Sean find themselves outside of the hospital Jared is leaving as he is calling her. They decide to follow him, still wanting to get to the email.

Kaylie and Brooke meet Ángel. Ángel tells Kaylie she cannot help her and points her in the direction of adopting. She takes the still sceptical Brooke for a private meeting. Wesley and Sean have an accident as they pursue Jared’s luggage. They are forced to continue their journey on foot. Ángel and Brooke have a spiritual and carnal experience together.

Wesley and Sean continue to bond and come across the van they had been following, seeing the driver getting out to go and play at a quinceañera. They end up going to the party as well. A distraught Kaylie vents at other attendees of the spiritual retreat. Wesley and Sean continue to bond at the quinceañera. Kaylie and Brooke head to the airport. Wesley shows Sean the email as they also head to the airport. He tells her she should let Jared read the email.

Wesley catches up with Jared at the airport. She sees Kaylie and Brooke but treats them as though they are only acquaintances. She gets on the plane with Jared. She belatedly decides to show him the email. Jared reads the email and immediately rejects her.

At the airport, Wesley argues with Kaylie and Brooke when they point out her selfishness. They leave her to her myopic view. The next day, Wesley gets a job interview, thanks to a recommendation from Sean, gaining employment in a school. She settles into the position well and her life begins to get better.

She reaches out to Kaylie and Brooke to repair their friendship. Wesley finds out, through social media, where Sean is and goes and meets him at a bar. He is waiting for a blind date. His blind date arrives and an awkward conversation ensues. His blind date steps away, allowing Wesley and Sean to speak privately. She tells him she likes him.

Sean tells her that he does not know if he can be the sort of partner that he feels she deserves. Wesley leaves him to his blind date. Sean goes after Wesley and tells her he wants to date her. They kiss. The end.

Final thoughts: Desperados is a hit and miss comedy carried by the pleasant, doe-eyed Nasim Pedrad. Pedrad’s Wesley’s chemistry with Lamorne Morris’ Sean – something that has probably carried over from their time on New Girl together – is great and definitely enhances the film. Directed by LP – a curious moniker if there ever was one – and written by Ellen Rapoport, Desperados is an inoffensive rom-com that goes exactly where you think it is going to go.

A gently amusing film, punctuated with some genuinely mirth-some moments, Desperados is only let down by the fact that some of the elements in the film are a little forced – the twelve-year-old horny kid, the opening interview – and the secondary stories of Camp’s Brooke and Burns’ Kaylie are somewhat underwritten.

Heather Graham as Ángel, who has always had good comedic timing, is wasted in this film not adding to the plot at all. At 105 minutes long, Desperados is a little on the long side for a rom-com but not noticeably so. Though not the greatest comedy, Desperados is an easy watch in these trying times.

I Love You, Stupid – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: After getting dumped by his girlfriend of eight years and then losing his job in the same week, a man finds himself back in the dating pool. After blackmailing a friend to get him a new job, he searches online to find out how to date in the twenty-first century. He runs into an old female acquaintance from his school days who always liked him.

Is it any good?: I Love You, Stupid (Te Quiero Imbécil – original Spanish title) is an amusing comedy that is not perhaps for everyone. With good performances from all on show and an amusing script, I Love You, Stupid is a pleasant enough film without any great surprises that is entertaining throughout its runtime.

Spoiler territory: Marcos (Quim Gutiérrez) is in a restaurant with his girlfriend of eight years, Ana (Alba Ribas). He proposes to her, sliding a ring across the table. She ends the relationship. As he had moved into her home, Marcos has to move out after the split and goes to live with his parents.

He tells them he will only be with them for a few days or weeks, believing he is about to be promoted in his present job as he has a meeting with his boss the next day. When he goes to see his boss, Marcos is told that he is being laid off because business is tight. He goes to see his friend, Diego (Alfonso Bassave), for a drink and to talk about his woes.

Diego, a real ladies man, tells him he needs to get back into the dating market and forget his ex-girlfriend. He puts a load of dating apps onto Marcos’ phone. Marcos is not sure what he wants or even how to date. He turns to the internet, searching for answers. He finds Sebastian Venet (Ernesto Alterio), an Argentinian self-help guru, who promises to guide him through twenty-first-century dating and modern masculinity.

Venet tells him he needs to make some money and stop living with his parents. Marcos goes to see Diego and tells him to get him a job, blackmailing him by saying he will tell all of his friends that Diego has slept with their girlfriends. Diego gets him a job.

As Marcos is returning home, he is called to by a woman, Raquel (Natalia Tena), a punk-ish looking woman, with an easy smile. He does not recognise her but she reminds him that they knew one another at school. They had not seen one another for fifteen years. The next day, Marcos is being shown around the new office layout of his job by his boss, Lorena (Patricia Vico).

Marcos goes on a double date with Diego. Diego quickly charms one of the ladies and leaves. The other woman has no interest in Marcos and leaves him alone in the bar. He goes back to the internet, consulting Venet again. He needs to get in shape and update his wardrobe. Marcos starts exercising and grooming himself.

He runs into Raquel again, who calls to him as he is walking past the store she works in. She accompanies him as he goes to update his wardrobe, him having told her he needs to hook up with women to get over his ex. He goes on multiple dates, most of which turn out to be fruitless. When he thinks he is about to succeed with a possible conquest, his chance is kiboshed by him returning with his date to find his parents getting amorous in the living room.

Marcos gets himself an apartment and Raquel helps him move in. Marcos finds that Ana has blocked him from all her social media. He sees Diego. Deigo tells him he needs to stop thinking about his ex. The dating continues. One date, Veronica (Vanessa Castro), goes well and she invites him back to her place. Marcos is confident of getting laid until he sees her standing up whilst urinating.

Raquel and Marcos go to a concert of one of Raquel’s friends. Marcos, thinking Raquel wants to hook up with the musician, makes an excuse and leaves. At work, Marcos’ new wardrobe and workouts get him noticed. Lorena invites him to a party she is having. He goes to see Raquel. She gives him a tattoo whilst admonishing him for leaving her alone with the boring musician.

Marcos decides to take the office boy, Tomy (José Garcia Ruiz), with him to the party, so as he will not be outshone. At the party, Marcos is confident that he will be able to meet someone new at the party. Lorena comes to talk to him. As they bond over the party’s music selection, they are interrupted by Ana. She is impressed by Marcos’ new look and vibe. While Raquel is doing a music gig, Marcos hooks up with Ana.

He goes and tells Raquel that he had sex but does not tell her that it was with Ana. She goads him, asking if he will wait eight years before proposing again. He tells her it was just a hookup and will not happen again. Marcos calls Ana later that day. He asks her out but she turns him down. At work, Marcos gets promoted when one of his tweets becomes a trending topic.

He goes to hangout with Raquel. He lets slip that it is the woman he hooked up with has a birthday coming up. Raquel wants to know how he knows she has a birthday coming up. He makes up some excuse.

Back at work, Diego comes to see Marcos and notes that he is not talking about his ex anymore. He goes to help Raquel in her shop. Whilst moving a heavy sculpture, he damages his back. In the hospital, he gets a call from Ana. Raquel is convinced he is going to see her. He says he is not. He goes and sees her but does not tell her he has damaged his back.

Raquel comes to see him in the hospital the next day and brings him wine. Back at the office, Diego is a little worried about Marcos’ increasingly effeminate mores. He tells him they need a guys night out. He invites them to his home for soccer and beer. At Diego’s place, Marcos stands talking about relationships with a couple of the guys.

Diego kicks the guys out and tells Marcos that he is turning into a woman. Marcos talks to Raquel about his disagreement with Diego. They spend the whole day together and end up in a club. The Proclaimers record comes on and Raquel wants Marcos to get on the stage and sing with her. The conservative Marcos is too scared. She does not force the issue. Ana comes and kisses Marcos. Raquel leaves him alone with her.

Marcos wants to know what is going on with Ana and their hookups. She tells him that she is getting married the next week but her fiancé is in Germany. She invites Marcos to the wedding. He reluctantly accepts the invite. He tells Diego that he has been seeing Ana and that she is getting married. He tells him about Raquel as well, feeling that he has been leading her on.

Diego tells him he is in love with Raquel. Marcos sends Raquel an invitation to his office Christmas party. At the party, Lorena comes as tells Marcos she wants to have sex with him. She takes him to a private room. Raquel turns up at the party and Tomy, even as Diego is trying to stop him, tells her where Marcos is. She walks in on him being pawed by an amorous Lorena.

Marcos goes after Raquel and tells her nothing happened. She asks him why he invited her to the party but he does not have the courage to tell her he loves her. She walks away. A morose Marcos contacts Diego. They go to a bar and speak about his trip to London. He takes some things around to his parents’ home. His mother tells him that she found the box he was looking for.

He finds an old cassette tape in it. Marcos takes a car to the airport. He stops off at Ana’s wedding and tells her future husband that they slept together and she is a bit of a bitch. He heads to Raquel’s shop and lip-sync’s to The Proclaimers’ hit outside of her store. He strips off in front of her and tells her that he loves her. They kiss. The end.

Final thoughts: I Love You, Stupid (Te Quiero Imbécil) is a pleasant Spanish rom-com starring Quim Gutiérrez and Natalia Tena as the central couple you want to get together. Tena is especially engaging as the free-spirited Raquel and is likable from the moment she appears on the screen. Gutiérrez is great as the initially confidence-damaged Marcos. Though the film follows the normal path of a classic rom-com, it still has a few nice quirks to make it different from the run-of-the-


Written by Abraham Sastre and Iván Bouso, the script has some nice lines and utilises a few fourth-wall breaks, something that can sometimes take one out of the story but works perfectly well in the film. It is ably directed by Laura Mañá and flows smoothly through its eighty-seven-minute runtime, switching between scenes seamlessly.

The music works well in the film and adds to the youthful vibe. I Love You, Stupid scores a lowly five-point-eight on IMDB which would give one the impression that it is a poor film. It is not. Though not the best film or rom-com on Netflix, the film is worth taking an hour and a half out of your day to enjoy.