2023 Movie Reviews: Air / Sick / Swallowed

Everything was really just fine this week. Not great, just fine.


It’s truly bizarre that folks are whispering sweet Oscar buzz about Ben Affleck‘s thoroughly fine but definitely unspectacular Air Jordan biopic, Air. Taking place in 1984, and don’t worry if you miss the title card; the extensive list of on-the-nose references will clue you in; the story follows a fat white dude (Matt Damon) who is in charge of the basketball division of Nike, putting his career on the line to sign Michael Jordan as a client and design a whole sneaker line around him. Sounds like a slam dunk, huh? Well…at the time, Nike was primarily geared toward runners, and all the hot cool people wanted to wear Adidas or Converse. So Mr. Michael needed some serious convincing. The best thing about Air is that the title also seems to refer to the film’s weight. This light, breezy, and easy watch will never bore you. It also will never rivet you. The only astonishing thing about it is the ensemble cast. Damon hasn’t been this good in a long while, and Ben Affleck perfectly casts Ben Affleck as the very normal boss. It’s nice to see Chris Tucker working again, and he’s quite good here, as is the always-excellent Jason Bateman and Devil‘s Chris Messina. The movie’s best performance, very unsurprisingly, comes from Viola Davis as Mrs. Jordan, the mother of Michael Jordan. She never overplays anything, and her scenes with Damon serve as the heart of the picture. Air is a nice compromise movie for a large group of people. When one group of friends want to watch Yorgos LathinmosDogtooth and the other group wants to watch some Ant-Man bullshit, you can put this on to meet them in the middle. The best part is, if you have Amazon Prime you don’t have to pay for it. How can you pass up a free decent movie in this economy? P.S.: Michael Jordan isn’t in it. Grade: B- (Amazon Prime)


Kevin Williamson, the writer/creator of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Dawson’s Creek is back with a post-Covid slasher that’s actually good. It takes place in April 2020 and surrounds two teens quarantining at one of the girl’s dad’s summer homes in the middle of nowhere. Miri (Beth Million) is scared about getting sick, and Parker (a very good Gideon Adlon) is dealing with some heavy life shit. That all changes when they hit the lake, though, and it seems like it will be a nice relaxing vaca…..ahhhhhhh there’s a (N95) masked serial killer who followed them from the city! But who is it, and what is their motive? That’s the fun thing about Sick. Williamson knows how to properly pace out a good mystery while creating interesting, (almost) three-dimensional characters that aren’t just bags of meat for the killer’s pointy thing. Another reason this works is that it’s very well directed with some wonderfully staged set pieces by John Hyams. The opening kill, in particular, is one of the best-choreographed scenes I’ve seen all year. Sure, Sick isn’t perfect. Some of the dialogue seems a bit forced, and the ending killer reveal/subsequent “I’m the killer, and here’s why!” speech is a bit too contrived, campy, and preachy for my taste. It also goes a little overboard with the Covid references, but shit, I remember those times. I was wiping down my groceries with pilfered Clorox wipes like a mad dog buffoon. I was spraying Lysol in the air like it was bug repellent and basking in all of its glory. We all were. Even you. At this time, we didn’t know jack shit about this disease, and everyone was fucking scared. Except for those having dope-ass spring breaks and then coming home to infect grandma. Look, one of the rarest things in cinema is a legitimately good slasher, and Sick is it. Grade: B (Peacock)


A far less successful and enjoyable horror movie than Sick is a good deal more ambitious. Swallowed is a technically well-made and somewhat unique body horror film about a dude who wants to suck his best friend’s dick. Essentially. Benjamin (an excellent Cooper Kach) is leaving town to become a porn star in L.A. and spending his last night in his hometown with his straight best friend, Dom (Jose Colon). Drinking, doing blow, and having heavy talks about life, it becomes obvious these guys are crazy about each other but never wanted to risk the friendship by crossing the waist-band threshold. When the topic inevitably comes around to money, Dom offers Benjamin a way to earn more for L.A. by smuggling drugs across the border. They realize they’ve bit off more than they can chew when the drug runner who employs them, Alice (a superb Jena Malone), reveals they have to swallow the drugs in little baggies.

Except, the drugs aren’t really drugs. They’re this weird substance that distorts your body if they enter your system. From there, intense and violent body horror occurs mixed with a healthy dose of paranoid homoeroticism. One scene features a character choking to death while their erect penis is exposed, intensely throbbing on the passenger seat of a pickup truck. This all sounds insane, but in order for it to work, it needed to be a smoother blend of eroticism and horror, and here it’s a fairly chunky. The metaphors are laid on really thick, and while the visual style of the movie is on-point, writer/director Carter Smith (2008’s The Ruins) simply doesn’t succeed in executing his vision in a way that says everything Swallowed wants to say. I guess you could say it chokes on it a bit. It does feature a very entertaining performance by Mark Patton as the movie’s main villain, whom you may remember as Jesse from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, the gayest slasher ever made. That certainly gives the film a much-needed jolt in its third act, but overall Swallowed is frustrating because it hints at something a little more fleshed out. Grade: C+ (VOD)

Streaming Recommendations:

Video on Demand (VOD)

Aftersun (A)

Creed III (B)

Decision to Leave (A-)

Infinity Pool (B)

Renfield (B)


Beef (A)

John Mulaney’s Baby J (B+)

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio (B+)

Pressure Cooker (B)

RRR (B+)


The Banshees of Inisherin (A-)

Barbarian (B+)

The Last of Us (B+)

The Matrix Resurrections (B)

The Rehearsal (A+)


Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (B+)

The Beta Test (B)

Pig (A-)

Resurrection (B+)

Titane (B+)


Knock at the Cabin (B)


Of An Age (B)

Poker Face (A-)

Violent Night (B)


Bacurau (B+)

Bodies Bodies Bodies (B)

The Fabelmans (A-)

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (B+)

Red Rocket (A-)


Black Bear (B+)

Candyman (B)

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (B+)

Licorice Pizza (A)

Scream 6 (B)

Amazon Prime

Bound (B+)

Jury Duty (A-)

The Kids in the Hall (B+)

Nope (B+)

Sound of Metal (A-)


Adventures in Babysitting (B+)

The Beatles: Get Back (A)

Soul (A-)

The Straight Story (B)

West Side Story (B)

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