Handsome -it really isn’t! – a review

     JESUS wept! Once again, I am reviewing a Netflix film. I watch them so that you do not have to. You’re welcome. In the case of Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie, the only mystery is how the heck this ‘movie’ ever got made! 

    Truth be told, it feels like bullying to review this film. It is that bad. I actually have begun reviewing this film before it has even ended, otherwise, it would be totally unwatchable and I would not, in good faith, be able to review a film I have not seen.

    The film opens with, actor Talbert Bacorn (Steven Weber), exiting his pool and confessing to the camera that he is the murderer. We then meet detective Gene Handsome (Jeff Garlin), who is teaching some rookie detectives the ropes.

All the detectives are morons. One of the detectives, Burt Jerpis (Brad Morris) spins a dubious theory for what might have occurred. His superior, Lieutenant Tucker (Amy Sedaris) is, for no good reason, crazy for him. Haha, hilarious. 

    Handsome – so funny, because he’s not! – returns home. He has a big dog that he walks past his neighbour, Durante (Eddie Pepitone), who is an ex-detective and shouts out to him, accusing him of letting his dog foul his lawn. We – the viewer – are then subjected to another unfunny scene about detecting skills and introduced to his morose partner, Esta (Leah Rimini). We also find out he has a new neighbour.

    Handsome takes it upon himself to go and meet the neighbour. She is not in when he gets there, but he does meet the babysitter, Heather (Hailee Keanna Lautenbach) who is abrupt and refuses to let him into the house. The next day she turns up murdered on the lawn of Bacorn’s home.

   As Handsome investigates Heather’s murder, he finds that she was not exactly well loved or even liked by anybody. He also finds out that his neighbour, Nora’s (Christine Woods) ex-husband paid Heather to spy on her, as he is fighting for custody of his daughter, Carys (Ava Acres). 

   Okay, so Handsome eventually catches the murderer and meets Kaley Cuoco playing herself in an utterly pointless scene – like the rest of the film. He returns home to find his neighbour moving out and labouring the point that she is never going to see him again. He encounters Durante for another unfunny scene and then the film, thankfully, ends. 

    I do not even know where to start to express just how utterly dreadful this film is. Running at eighty-one minutes, this is a short film by any normal standards. Unless you are watching it. Then it becomes an excruciatingly long film. 

    Written, directed by and starring Jeff Garlin, the only positive I can see is that he gave many friends employment. If I was Garlin I would change my friends. How any of them could allow a work this inept to get made is beyond me. I have a pretty low bar for comedy. I enjoyed Pixels and the Ghostbusters remake. I am not a comedy snob.

   This film is not, by any stretch, a comedy. It is an entirely laugh-free zone. The real problem – besides the piss poor writing – is not deciding what sort of a comedy to be. It is like a lightweight saucy comedy, which is an oxymoron in itself as saucy comedic properties are inherently lightweight.

    With the exception of the child actors, the dogs, and Garlin, no actor really commits to their character. Not that they have much to work with, such is the paucity of a line worth uttering in the script.

If a YouTuber produced a comedy this bad it would get ripped to shreds in the comments, much less a production backed by the predominant streaming platform on the planet.

   Nothing works in this film. The plot is nonsense, the humour non-existent, the scenes lack any punch, it is completely unoriginal and probably at least an hour too long. The best thing in the film is a woman who is seen hoop dancing in the distance by Handsome, whilst on her front lawn, in a couple of scenes.

   This film is basically a collection of sketches that would barely make it to the cutting room floor of an SNL show. It might seem that I am labouring the point of how unfunny this film is. I really am not.

The stand out comedy-free scene is when Handsome and his team of inept detectives, eight – who I refuse to name because it really does not matter  – of them standing in a semicircle at the murder scene, come up with ridiculous possible theories as to how the killing might have happened. Jerpis again spins a ludicrous scenario that could not have been gleaned from the available evidence. What a card. 

    A bus full of Japanese tourists, doing a stars’ house tour, pull up in front of the house and then we – the viewer – are forced to read unfunny exchanges as all the tourists speak in Japanese. 

     This film is so bad it makes anyone who has any ambition of making films – me – angry. This film has production value, a massive – mostly unnecessary – cast, extras, good, competent, camera and sound. Utterly shit direction. Did I mention the unfunny script?  

     In conclusion, this film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Every joke misses the mark. I don’t even think the jokes can see the mark! This is a bad, bad film. 

Overboard (2018) Netflix – a review

      Anna Faris is the hardworking, blonde comedic actor, known for her roles in Scary Movie, the House Bunny and – slightly, unfortunately – better known for being the ex-partner of Chris Pratt. 

As I have always enjoyed her somewhat ditzy performances and I wanted to watch a movie that I did not have to think too much about and could possibly get me in the mood to write my own script, I decided to delve into the murky world of Netflix films.

     With Disney dominating the multiplexes – Star Wars or Marvel – actors not connected to those cinematic juggernauts are looking for other avenues and platforms to keep working. Netflix has become one of the world’s leading streaming services and as such is attracting the productions and films from companies that use to look to the multiplexes.

Initially, a platform that showed readymade shows from external production companies, Netflix is now producing and co-producing an increasing amount of their own content.

    Following the likes of Will Smith, Sandra Bullock, Kurt Russell, and Goldie Hawn, Anna Faris has found her way to the streaming platform. In a mildly ironic way, she follows in the footsteps of two of the aforementioned stars – Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn – playing Kate Sullivan, a widowed mother of three in a remake of their 1987 comedy, Overboard. 

    The 2018 version of Overboard, a story of an obnoxious millionaire who, after falling overboard whilst on their yacht, gets temporary amnesia and is tricked into to believing they are part of a low-income family, differs from the original with the male and female roles being reversed.

    In the original film, Goldie Hawn was the obnoxious millionaire, with Russell playing a struggling labourer. In the 2018 version the obnoxious millionaire, Leonardo Montenegro, is played by Eugenio Derbez and Faris is the hardworking commoner. It is an interesting reversal of roles, especially as Faris is almost the perfect modern-day homage to Goldie Hawn’s many kooky blonde characters of years gone by. 

    In Overboard she leaves the silly comedy mostly to Derbez. This is one of the many good decisions that were taken in making this film. The 1987 film is not the sort of film that would be necessarily thought of as ripe for a remake. In fact, when I saw the title show up on Netflix, I thought it was the original. Then I saw it was a remake and thought ‘ that’s a terrible idea!’.

    As the holiday period passed and I flicked through various channels and worked my way through Agents Of Shield’s season’s four and five – both brilliant – I thought I would work on my own script and put on some light fluff in the background. The Overboard remake was my choice for background noise.

   Ten minutes into the film, I was engrossed. Overboard is the perfect easy watching film. Captivating enough to keep watching, but not so cerebral that your head hurts trying to follow the plot. The two leads have the perfect chemistry. Different enough for one to believe that they come from different world’s, but not so opposed that one could not see them together.

   The supporting characters are all very strong and amusing, with Eva Longoria and John Hannah being the two most recognisable faces in the supporting cast. Derbez is the standout performer in the film, however. His turn as the obnoxious millionaire who is tricked, whilst in an amnesiac state, into becoming an everyday guy is, ridiculous as the premise is, believable. 

    With upward of twenty thousand votes on IMDB, Overboard scores a paltry five point nine, giving the impression that it is an unwatchable mess. That is not the case at all. By way of comparison, the risible Tomb Raider – my review here – scores six point three. 

    The film is funny and hopeful and leaves you with all the feels you would want from a film such as this. It won’t be challenging any of its peers in awards season, but as a pleasant distraction for a couple of hours, Overboard is one of the better little-known films to watch on Netflix.



Taxi Brooklyn – I watch it​ so that you don’t have to!

TAXI Brooklyn is a short-lived comedy/drama, buddy-buddy show that has found its way to the televisual graveyard that is Netflix. With a truncated twelve episode season, the procedural police drama/comedy stars Chyler Leigh – better known for her role as Alex Danvers on Supergirl – as Detective Caitlyn Sullivan and Jacky Ido as Leo Romba, a French-born, Brooklyn residing, taxi driver.
Taxi Brooklyn, a lazy title for a lazy show, takes the implausible premise of difficult-to-work-with detective – she has already had five partners that year in the opening episode – and pairs her with an immigrant, street savvy taxi driver, whose sense of right and winning charm makes him one of the few people who can stand to be around the detective. Conveniently – and there are a lot of convenient situations in this show – the detective has her car privileges rescinded by her captain John Baker – a thankless, horribly cliched role taken on by James Colby – this little detail brings about the ludicrous plot device of having the taxi driver ferry the detective everywhere. They even go as far as having him run over her foot in episode three so as she cannot drive!
Caitlyn, or Cat as she is called in the show, is a ‘maverick’ cop who is obsessed with finding the killer of her father. He was also a member of law enforcement. Sound familiar? It should, it is basically the same premise as Castle, the much superior Nathan Fillion/Stana Katic starrer. Whilst, like Castle, the ‘who murdered my father?’ arc is the overarching story that sustains the season, each episode has a separate story.
My heart, as ever, goes out to the actors in this mess of a show. Besides the aforementioned, there is José Zúñiga who plays, I kid you not, detective Esposito and Jennifer Esposito – a crush of mine from her Spin City days – plays Dr Monica Pena. These fine actors are forced to try and breathe believability into scripts of staggering ineptitude and – sorry to repeat myself – cliche-ridden plots. The scripts are just the tip of the iceberg. I was momentarily buoyed by some interesting editing in the opening of episode two. My hopes were quickly dashed by the handheld camera work, poor sound and slapdash editing.
Even with the sloppy production of a show this contrived, the scripts needed to at the very least be competent and mildly believable. They are not. Aside from shoehorning in random characters connected to the killing of Caitlyn’s father, the scripts have so much horrible exposition, not to mention quite unbelievable, convenient, coincidences that one spends most of the watch time spotting the next cliché.
The real pity with this show is that the two leads actually have the right chemistry for the show’s premise, unfortunately, the characters are never given any scope to develop, forced to spout their lines with little to no motivation.

Though not totally unwatchable, Taxi Brooklyn is definitely in the realms of bad television. That it managed even to run for twelve episodes is an achievement, thankfully, even though NBC is notorious for cancelling solid shows, the cancellation of this show was a tick in the correct column.

Oh Anna….

Anna Akana – https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnaAkana/featured – is an Asian actress, comedienne, and filmmaker with a channel on YouTube that has – including me – over one million subscribers. Her viewing figures are approaching the hundred million mark and she puts out opinionated and entertaining content on a regular basis.

Her monologues to camera, generally interspersed with snappy, comedic, skits are amusing and inspired. She tends to radiate a positive vibe, evident in most of her content output and monologues to camera.

As a fellow would-be filmmaker, I am a supporter of her works and enjoy many of her skits. Unfortunately, what I am not loving are her short films and it hurts me to say that! Let me first say, they are not terrible.

They do tend to be overly female-centric (she knows a lot of women!) and mildly dramatic. They are well shot, edited and framed. The acting is good, though – and I am no actor – the material does not give them enough to invest in, so they generally look as though they are acting.

Anna directs and mostly writes all of the films. She also tends to be in them; not always the star, but in them nonetheless. She also makes a LOT of films and content! In the past year alone she has made six shorts. Six. For anyone who makes films – especially as she also directs and appears in them – this is a lot, even if they are short films.

What is really disappointing is that pretty much every film is a good or great idea. I cannot help but feel that if she had taken more time to work on the scripts and explored the ideas further, she probably would have made a stronger, more resonant film by now.

My hope is that in 2015 she paces herself a bit more so that she might put out the great short film I am sure she is capable of creating.