Special guest reviewer Johnny Garnett weighs in
We’re not a Thanksgiving movie family; I’m not even a member of Cinemark Rewards. But somehow I found myself at the movie theater four times in the last five days. In the hopes that something might come of those trips, I thought I’d tell you about them. I asked my little brother to review the movies, too, because…family! Welcome to my Blockbuster Doorbuster three-reviews-for-the-price-of-one Thanksgiving Break Extravaganza.
That’s right, I saw Frozen II. To be precise, I saw it twice. The first time was justified by my seven-year-old brother, who laughed until he cried, both at jokes he understood, and jokes that he did not understand but knew he was supposed to find funny. The second time was because I wanted to see it again.
It’s a movie that leaves you with plenty of questions. How can Idina Menzel still sing like that? Where did Anna get that sweater? Who decided to give Kristoff a power ballad fit for the eighties? Why am I sobbing?
Disney has deftly handled the expectations for this sequel. They can’t give us another “Let It Go,” but they deliver “Show Yourself,” and encourage self-discovery––not at the expense of relationships in an ice castle on our own, but through the love and sacrifice of others. Anna’s darkest moment brings us “the Next Right Thing,” and if this was a different piece, I’d spend the rest of it arguing that the Frozen creators just immortalized the dark night of the soul in a show tune.
Yes, I have questions. But Frozen II is exactly what it sets out to be: a delightful maturation of a new princess, full of stunning nordic landscapes and catchy songs you can’t help but belt out.
Johnny rating: “4.5/5. Will you take me again? Will we go tomorrow?”
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood follows the 2018 documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, in attempting to capture the spirit of Fred Rogers, this time with Tom Hanks donning the red sweater and loafers.
While Hanks as Rogers energizes and organizes this movie, it’s really about Lloyd Vogel, an Esquire reporter who’s been tasked with interviewing Fred for a 250-word puff piece. Like me, he fails to obey his word count.
Mr. Rogers––or is it Fred? Are they the same?––sees through Lloyd, and wriggles his way into his heart and home with quips about feeling our feelings. Vogel, in return, learns a bit more about what it is to be a father, son, husband, and friend. If Mr. Rogers teaches anything with his disarming welcome and simple conversation, it’s how to be more human.
The transition in and out of the world of the Neighborhood is often jarring, and feels almost as out of place as Lloyd’s weird fever dream in which he becomes a puppet in the Neighborhood. But despite the occasional discomfort of its framing, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a good movie. Or at least, Mr. Rogers is a good man.
Could he really be that good? You wait for the mask to fall, for Fred to be a different kind of man than Mr. Rogers. But the cameras stop rolling, and Fred Rogers is Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rogers is your friend. Might it be that we continue to idolize this man because he exudes a goodness that feels almost alien? Maybe that sort of goodness unsettles us because we long for it. This movie––if we put on our sweaters long enough to be at home––is an opportunity to start noticing, even start living, that goodness.
Johnny rating: 3.5/5 (Author’s note: He has not seen this movie).
Benoit Blanc is the last of the gentlemen detectives. And though his exceedingly French name is quickly betrayed by a southern drawl as thick as the twists that Rian Johnson’s Knives Out brings, Daniel Craig delights as the latest 21st-century Sherlock.
The morning after his 85th birthday party, Harlan –– the patriarch of the Thrombey family and author of an empire of murder mystery novels –– is found dead, in the study, with the knife. At the family home –– which is straight out of a game of Clue –– local police and Detective Blanc question all the relatives. No one will leave until the case has been cracked. It’s all very mysterious, and the movie thrives in dancing through and around genre tropes fit for a Thrombey novel as it crafts this elaborate cast of characters and twists you won’t see coming.
Christopher Plummer fills the screen as Harlan Thrombey, though his character is dead for its entirety. I’d love to share my thoughts on Captain-America-no-more Christopher Evans as trust-fund baby Ransom, Jamie Lee Curtis as real estate tycoon Linda, or any number of the wacky members of the Thrombey clan, but I cannot risk spoiling a thing. It would do a disservice to Knives Out –– and the actual wall of knives that frames our cast and lends the film its title –– to not allow the movie to shock as it does.
If you’re looking for the class of a nineteenth century detective amidst the chaos of a twenty-first century family, allow Knives Out to confuse and surprise you. I promise it will.
Johnny rating: “1.5/5…actually 0. I hate the commercial” (Author’s note: He has not seen this movie either).
Maggie Garnett is a sophomore studying theology, with minors in Constitutional Studies and ESS. Johnny Garnett is a first-grader studying first grade things. The two of them enjoy screaming along to Disney soundtracks, and arguing over who’s better at Mario Kart. Weigh in at email@example.com.