2021 Reviews: Coming 2 America / Don’t Tell a Soul/I Care A Lot / Tom and Jerry

When Coming 2 America is the best out of four movies, you know you’re in trouble.

Coming 2 America

Incredibly mediocre but not nearly as awful as I’d feared, this is the sequel nobody asked for or expected to a self-contained 1988 comedy classic that concluded its story satisfactorily. Eddie Murphy essentially sleepwalks through the role, which is disappointing given how exceptional he was in last year’s Dolemite Is My Name, and Arsenio Hall‘s Semmi is oddly underused seeing as though he was the second lead of the original film. The best part of this movie besides Ruth E. Carter‘s lavish costumes and the entertaining, if out of place, music numbers are the little easter eggs and callbacks to the original. Murphy and Hall bring back their barbershop characters as well as the Reverend and Sexual Chocolate frontman, and all around weirdo, Randy Watson. It’s nice to see more female characters in the cast, even if most are fairly one-dimensional archetypes pandering to the times and it’s nice to feel a little nostalgic about a movie from a time we remember as better but was most likely, just as shitty as where we are now. Grade: C (Now Streaming on Amazon Prime)

Don’t Tell a Soul

Indie thrillers are always a gamble but sometimes you meet you one that defies its budget and its filmmaker’s possible lack of experience. Movies like Blue Ruin, Memento or more recently, The Kid Detective. Don’t Sell a Soul isn’t nearly as clever as the aforementioned films, even though it tries, it tries really hard to be the smartest thing you’ve ever seen. Jack Dylan Grazer (It, We Are Who We Are) and Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) play two brothers whose mom (Mena Suvari — in a mom role? How old am I?) is dying of cancer and can barely afford treatment. In an act of desperation, but maybe just personal interest, the boys steal $10,000 from a neighborhood home undergoing fumigation but run into a security guard (Rainn Wilson) who tries to stop them. After a short chase sequence in the woods, the security guard falls down a covered well and can’t get out. The younger brother wants to notify the police and help the man, but the sociopathic older brother is fine with him dying if it means they make out with the ten grand. From there, Don’t Tell a Soul undergoes a series of twists and turns ranging from predictable to nonsensical. The acting is solid from all involved not named Mena Suvari, but the material is so bonkers and mean-spirited it’s neither fun nor thrilling. It all arrives at a very TV movie conclusion, evoking moments from better films that came before it. Also, can you get me a diet soda? Grade: D+ ($5.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

I Care A Lot

Good production values, crisp editing and competent performances can’t distract from the fact I Care A Lot is up its own ass with nothing to say, and a thoroughly unpleasant experience to boot. Rosamund Pike plays an evil monster that makes money by defrauding old ladies by becoming their legal guardian, having them committed to care facilities and stealing all of their money so they eventually die with nothing. As an audience, it seems like we’re positioned to root for her because she’s clever and also because as Pike‘s character puts it to her business and romantic partner, if it was a man doing it, no one would care. What? It’s apparently a comedy, or so the Golden Globes have told me, but nothing lands. Is it supposed to be funny because she’s such a ridiculously over-the-top villain attempting to use her femininity and queerness as a free pass to elder abuse? Eventually she ends up defrauding an elderly lady (a criminally underused Dianne Wiest) who turns out to be the mom of a former Russian mob boss (Peter Dinklage, another acting victim of bad material) but the mob is no match for a former James Bond villain. It’s really easy to tell this movie was both written and directed by a man, hopelessly at a loss to understand women even in the slightest sense. I’ll take my female leads written and directed by women, thank you. Grade: C- (Streaming on Netflix)

Tom and Jerry

The worst of a bunch of movies that were all disappointing, Tom & Jerry is a piece of shit. Pure and simple. What’s more is that it’s not even an entertainingly bad piece of shit, it’s just tediously awful. It basically feels like they shot five 30-second Travelocity commercials with Tom and Jerry creating shenanigans around a hotel and then decided to fill in the blanks and try to make a feature from their footage. The titular Tom and Jerry never talk, but for some reason all the other animated animals talk? I guess that’s the way it is in the classic cartoon, but to me, that’s weird as fuck. Also, the humans don’t realize their pets are cartoons and doing cartoon shit like pulling a dumbbell out of their ass to start working on their biceps while out for a morning walk? That’s just Rufus being silly, I guess! The human actors surrounding these lame cartoons somehow manage to be even lamer. Chloe Grace Moretz and the usually brilliant Michael Pena seem to at least be trying, while the rest including Ken Jeong, Rob Delaney and an especially terrible Colin Jost really phone it in. This is from the same writer of one of my favorite and most original comedies of the past five years, Brigsby Bear, and I’m shocked. I’m 99% sure the studio interfered with the integrity of this product, but given how terrible it is, it’s hard to imagine any iteration of this screenplay was ever any kind of good. Grade: D (Streaming on HBOMAX)

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