First – Our Review Criteria

Is it safe?

— Marathon Man (1976)

We – Todd & Kara – use Letterboxd (TJSNK = the initials of each member’s name in our family) to keep track of the movies watched and provide short reviews with ratings. Star ratings are assigned based how entertaining the movies are: with anything 3-star and above being RECOMMENDED.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Love it, Must See
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – Amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Great
⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – Good
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Entertaining
⭐️⭐️½ – OK
⭐️⭐️ – Mediocre
⭐️½ – Bad
⭐️ – Terrible
½ – Unwatchable

Weekly Schedule – average 3 posts per day
Monday – Sunday – Streaming reviews, news and movie & TV discussion
Wednesday – All wide opening films in theaters are profiled (examples)
Thursday – Sunday – Opening films are watched, rated and reviewed (text reviews posted to Letterboxd, and video reviews to YouTube channel)
Sunday – no later than Sunday night, NOW PLAYING REVIEWS (examples)

Monthly Schedule – Interactive, you can join … viewing challenges
CURRENT: January 2020 Movie Viewing Challenge: 21+ New/Unseen Movies

Todd Russell is the author of all reviews and watches all movies. Some movies are reviewed with another TJSNK family member.

These are our (mostly his) opinion only and don’t expect everybody else on the internet to agree (or disagree), but love to discuss more about movies and TV.

Todd started this blog to explore from a fan’s perspective the theater-watching experience, movies, movie lists and other features that Letterboxd doesn’t (yet?) make available (why can’t we blog through there?). Also to explore the Regal Unlimited Plan (member since August 2019), streaming video channels and TV without cable. Subscribe below to get notified when new posts are made.

Disney purges "FOX" name – the FOX has left the 20th Century Mouse House

As seen at the beginning of Star Wars, the most profitable movie of all time, the title card will no longer hold relevance soon. Disney is removing “FOX” from 20th Century Fox.

Disney is dropping the Fox name from its 20th Century Fox brand, renaming the longtime studio as just 20th Century Studios. Its art house production company, Fox Searchlight, will now be known as Searchlight Pictures.

Disney drops ‘Fox’ name and will rebrand its movie studio as ’20th Century’ | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports

After Disney bought Fox, the name’s fate was just one of many question marks. How much of the 20th Century Fox movies will end up in Disney+ and what will go into the infamous Big D vault?

This name change seems to be a departure from what Disney CEO Bob Iger said back in August 2019:

“The company itself will be The Walt Disney Co., but there will still be companies, especially on the movie side, with the Fox name,” Iger said during the meeting, which Disney live-streamed. “We will continue to make movies under the Fox brand and Fox Searchlight brand. And FX, which isn’t Fox, but sounds like it will keep its name.”

Disney Boss Bob Iger Says 20th Century Fox Will Continue to Make Films Under Its Own Brands

No entities live forever: people, business and brands. Still, sad to see the FOX leaving the hen, er, mouse house. R.I.P FOX.

Hank Azaria No Longer Voice of Apu on The Simpsons possibly being replaced by Indian Actor = Insanity

For several years now there has been tension over the politically incorrect character of Apu on The Simpsons — he is an Indian-American man who works at a convenience store. In the tweet shown above, The Critical Drinker is claiming that most viewers don’t have a problem with the character.

In 2020, insanity is fast becoming the new norm in show business.

Hank Azaria, voice actor the character Apu on The Simpsons for more than 30 seasons, 30+ years, will no longer be voicing the character of Apu. Azaria isn’t retiring from the business or even being kicked off the show. He’s still going to voice other characters. He won’t be voicing the character Apu any longer.

Although Azaria would no longer voice the character, The Simpsons weren’t necessarily removing Apu from Springfield: Slash Film suggests producers could recast the character with an Indian actor

Hank Azaria Says He Will No Longer Voice Apu on ‘The Simpsons’ – Rolling Stone

In recent times we’ve seen iconic movies being rebooted, recast, redone with an emphasis, motivation and agenda of empowering women, minorities, LGBT and now it’s open season on actors who have been doing voice roles — for dozens of years — on adult animated films to match the character they are voicing.

Let me see if I’m understanding the logic here: does this mean all minority characters now need to be voiced by minority actors/actresses? Gay and lesbian comic book characters (some do exist, I’m guessing) need to be cast by a respective gay actor or lesbian actress? Donald Duck now needs to be the voice of a talking duck? Good luck with casting there.

Insanity.

Voice actors and actresses by their very nature create different voices. Nobody sees these voice actors, but we come to love their voices. It’s the single most non-discriminatory thing in voice acting. Women sometimes voice men, men sometimes voice women, young people voice old, old voice young, blacks voice whites, whites voice black, aliens and animals and …. every living human being, animal, alien or object is voiced by a man or a woman regardless of their age, race or sexual orientation.

Disclaimer: I stopped regularly watching The Simpsons years ago, but will still tune in from time to time and check in our old friends. Barney, Moe, Principal Skinner, The Sea Captain (Ar!), Apu and others are all side characters that have made me laugh. Sort have become apathetic to the show, so it’s not a show where I can say I’m voting with my feet and not watching it any more. Not being part of the regularly viewing audience, thus my voice doesn’t matter in that way. If I was watching it regularly every week, this would be the camel’s back breaking moment. This Apu voice actor must be Indian controversy doesn’t — and will never — change the fact that it’s the greatest adult animated series ever.

Hank Azaria is owed a huge apology by whomever is making this decision. He’s been a hard working, skilled voice actor for dozens of years. It’s not his fault that the character he plays has controversy in 2020 swirling around it.

Graciously and compassionately, Hank Azaria seems to be OK with this decision.

Hank Azaria on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert addressing the Apu character controversy

Azaria’s willingness to step aside for an Indian-American actor to step in and play Apu seems heartfelt in the video above with Stephen Colbert. After all, Azaria has voiced dozens of characters on the show, so he won’t be losing much by giving up voicing Apu to another voice actor. It’s not like he’s being fired and replaced with another voice actor for the entire show. He’ll still be very, very rich from his work and this could afford a job opportunity to a minority actor.

My opinion, although I’m sure some others will disagree, is they should just find a dramatic, humorous character arc for Apu to ride off in the sunset from the show. Perhaps kill off the politically incorrect character. Maybe Apu dies in some sort of Indian-American Lives Matter march.

(remember, this is a comedy)

The Rolling Stone article linked above indicates that is the primary objection from a vocal minority in the Indian community. An Indian-American director Hari Kondabulu created a 49 minute documentary called The Problem with Apu (2017) and he’s encouraging others to watch it (“legally or illegally”) so the underlying message is clear. JustWatch shows it is only available for streaming on DirectTV and fuboTV as of this writing. Maybe I’ll run that down for a follow-up if it’s worthwhile to support the opposite side of this debate. Am admitting, I don’t understand why this matters, but in fairness to this film, I might be missing something that is important to understanding the controversy. It costs $4.99 to buy on Amazon Prime. Seems a bit pricey for a 49 minute documentary when I’m paying $5.99 for an entire month subscription to DC Universe, so will pass for now. Maybe someday it will be available on one of the streaming channels we subscribe to.

That aside, it’s clear that some want to use Apu on the show to educate the rest of us on Indian culture and diversity. Sorry, but that’s not what I’d be interested in watching from the character Apu at the Quik-E Mart on The Simpsons, would you?

Yes, there are jobs in Hollywood that go primarily to white men and you know what, white men make up two-thirds of movie reviewers, too, I’m told. They are trying to help fix that with Sundance, see: Sundance Film Festival Enforces More Diversity with Travel Stipend for Movie Critics – Will This Make Reviews More Diverse?

Replacing Hank Azaria some 30+ years later for another voice actor that matches the character’s race would be one of the single, stupidest casting changes made in any TV series ever. This is not some golden opportunity to make The Simpsons more culturally diverse. The show became popular in great part for how it made fun of EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. Irreverence to the nth degree. If suddenly this is serious education stuff that matters, we’re burning down the roots of the show in favor of turning it into Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.

Hey, but we can do that with Star Wars, Charlie’s Angels, Terminator, so why not The Simpsons, too? Many are calling this getting “woke” but it seems like a better way of going broke.

Lest we remember this is comedy, folks. Humor. It’s supposed to be funny and make people laugh. If we cannot laugh at ourselves any more, if we become so hyper-sensitive and label everything in comedy, stereotypical or otherwise, racist and wrong, what jokes can be told?

In 2020 we’re now saying this matters? At a time when we have homeless tents rising up all over the United States, including not far from Hollywood, we’re worried about this? This.

Insanity is the wrong word, I’m choosing another: bullshit.

NOW PLAYING REVIEWS: Doolittle, Bad Boys For Life

Week #3 (1/17-1/19/2020) for wide opening films at the theater and time for me to pick the wide opening movie of the week to recommend.

On one hand we’ve got talking animals and a children’s classic for soft reboot live action vs. the third movie in a buddy cop series starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back together again. Neither film is earth shaking good, let me get that out of the way right now before picking …

#1 … goes to …

Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not too much suspense, as the title graphic is a giveaway, but sometimes I play around and put up a different title graphic than the top wide release film of the week.

This film is simply more fun than Doolittle. It’s also a little better than the second film in the series, which, like the original, was also directed by Michael Bay. There wasn’t enough in the budget for all three to return for this film, so famous action frenzy director Bay was not chaired. The new directors are the team of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Don’t know who these people are, but they did a competent job for the franchise and made another entertaining Bad Boys film.

No, it’s nothing groundbreaking and you can watch my just left the theater review and read the starred review (just click the title) for more specific thoughts, but it is entertaining enough to take this week’s watched in the theater #1 crown. And, more importantly, it joins the list of recommended movies to watch.

This brings us to the other wide opening film this week:

Doolittle ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Honestly, I had mixed emotions going into this one. I’d seen the low star rating reviews and some very unflattering and negative headlines for reviews. Here is a video that explains my thoughts going into this film and similar films where the early critics have panned the film.

Now here is my actual review of the film after watching it.

This apprehension before viewing and then relief afterwards is similar to my feelings regarding Little Women, although that movie was worlds better than both of these (that was one of my top 5 favorite films of 2019).

I don’t make a habit of doing both on the way to theater videos to accompany the just left the theaters that have been done for every wide opening film (and a few that weren’t even wide screenings) since Lion King (2019) on October 5, 2019. The times I do shoot videos on the way to theaters are when there is something else noteworthy about the moviegoer experience prior to seeing the film.

In the case of Doolittle, it’s seeing numerous negative critic reviews. The audience reviews so far, however, at Rotten Tomatoes are more positive. This remains one of my early telling barometers for how likely I’ll be entertained by a movie. No offense to the critics pool, but they haven’t been as accurate a gauge to my movie tastes.

Again, neither of these films are rewatchable to me and my recommendation is selective, at best. Those who like the Bad Boys franchise will likely be interested in the new movie and animal lovers will at least be entertained by Doolittle.

Both are toward the bottom of the movies playing in theaters that I’d recommend seeing. Go see 1917 or Little Women if you haven’t seen those yet. Much, much, much better movies.

Want to see what else we recommend NOW PLAYING at the theater?

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theater recently (maybe they are available in your area still) that are recommended. Any movie rated at least 3-stars is recommended. You should read any 3-star review (click the title), because sometimes we do qualify those recommendations, meaning we were entertained, but it doesn’t mean that the film was that good.

4-star movies are highly recommended and films we rate as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see.

  1. 1917 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 
  2. Ford v Ferrari ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ScreenX
  3. Little Women ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  4. Richard Jewell ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  5. Uncut Gems ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  6. Frozen II ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  8. Bombshell ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  9. Like A Boss ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  10. Doolittle ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy movie watching!

FIRST LOOK: Emma (2020)

Wrongly, it seems, I thought Kirsten Dunst starred in a past Emma movie adaptation.

Looking through the many adaptations of the 1815 novel by Jane Austen, I was confusing Dunst with Gwenth Paltrow! Yikes, these are two very different actresses, but they do share both being in Marvel films (Paltrow played Pepper Potts and Paltrow starred opposite Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man).

Paltrow’s Emma was a feature film in 1996.

Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.

Movie Insider Story Info for Emma
Wikipedia’s list of Emma adaptations.

Emma trailer:

Emma official trailer

My anticipation and interest in this movie is about how I felt about Little Women before seeing it — minimal. These type movies have the greatest potential to surprise me. It’s not the movie you’re expecting to like.

How about you? Are you looking forward to seeing Emma in the theater?

Emma is opening in theaters on February 21, 2020.

Regal Moviegoers, Claim Your Digital Copies

The emails came out this week for the Regal promotions from Lionsgate and STX films. Did you see all the movies above and use your Regal Crown Club card?

If you watch certain movies in the theater and use your Regal Crown Club card (free), then you’ll be emailed a verification code so that you can get a free digital copy.

Enter in the code at sites like VUDU and …

Voila! The movie appears in your digital library.

This is one of the easiest ways to build your digital library without doing anything extra. If you have the Regal Unlimited Pass yes, this works too. Both my wife and I received digital redemption codes for all the movies shown above. We saw them in the theater, received the codes this week, redeemed and now have the movies.

This means you can pay like $22/month and see all the new movies in theaters you want, as many times as you want and if you watch out for deals like the ones shown in this post, you’ll also be emailed at a later date codes to redeem free digital copies of the movie.

Very cool deal!

FIRST LOOK: The Invisible Man (2020)

H.G Wells is best known for The Time Machine, but he also penned other popular works like The Invisible Man.

Blumhouse is not-so-quietly making a business out of licensing and rebooting older TV and movie properties (see Fantasy Island [FIRST LOOK] being marketed as “Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island”), usually with a modern horror slant. Enter Claude Rains, er, no, some other actor (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) as the man who nobody can see, Adrian Griffin.

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister, their childhood friend, and his teenage daughter. But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

Movie Insider Story Info
The invisible Man (2020) Official Trailer

Are you planning on seeing The Invisible Man (2020) in the theater?

The Invisible Man opens in theaters on February 28, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: The Photograph

Who doesn’t enjoy a good love story?

Our January 2020 viewing challenge is seeing 21+ new/unseen movies, but now seems like a good time to tease what February’s challenge will be. With Valentine’s Day it will be all about romance movies like … this. Rom-coms, too, basically any romance.

This movie that opens on Valentine’s Day is a bullseye.

When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton (Rae) hurt, angry and full of questions. When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae finds herself on a journey delving into her mother’s early life and ignites a powerful, unexpected romance with a rising-star journalist, Michael Block (Stanfield).

Movie Insider Plot/Story

The movie description reminds me almost of an Twilight Zone episode. I doubt there will be any fantasy or supernatural elements to the story based on the trailer:

You bet it’s time to kiss her!

Seems like the guy has some good lines he’s using on Mae — and they’re working. A reporter doing a story on her mother who passed away, I am intrigued by the trailer.

The Photograph opens wide on February 14, 2020.