7+ The Way Back Reviews – Ben Affleck as damaged basketball hero doesn’t shoot, but still scores

The Way Back ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Affleck explained that the high school basketball team in his new movie reminds him of filming “School Ties” and starring alongside Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell, Randall Batinkoff, Andrew Lowery and Anthony Rapp.

Ben Affleck says ‘The Way Back’ reminds him of ’90s film ‘School Ties’

… you have been warned SPOILERS ahead….

Cardboard Character Team

The basketball team, save for the star athlete, wasn’t very fleshed out with characters having many arcs. It’s clear the script wanted to focus as much energy, emphasis and time on star Affleck. I could have done with fewer scenes of him tipping back drinks at the bar and getting the guy to help him to his house and a little more stories behind the basketball players and how they were changed by the coach and playing more as a team.

In fairness, there was some attempts made for a couple characters, but they were more pastiche than flesh and blood. Like the kid who was always trying to make out with the girls and running late to practice. Is that all there was to his character? How about the tall forward who got kicked off the team and then invited back because he was always late to practice.

Who was that good Samaritan at the bar helping out Affleck’s character, anyway? Another character helping him out that doesn’t really have anything else to do in the movie except wait at the bar for Jack Cunningham (Affleck) to be past his limit and then help him to his house.

The Broken Marriage was a bit empty

So Jack and his wife are separated and she’s sleeping with another guy. We are left as viewers to believe this happened because Jack started drinking to deal with the death of their son. His wife must not have been able to handle the drinking and that was the cause of their separation.

I didn’t care enough to want to get them back together. It wasn’t so much a lack of chemistry, as I did believe that they were a couple, but the movie would have been better had I wanted them to get back together. Maybe that’s a bit of a romance genre inspiration, but felt that the way they were left was missing something. An emptiness.

Summary

I liked how Jack never picks up a basketball until the ending scene. We keep expecting him as the coach to take a three point shot and swish the net or drive up on the lane and dunk it, so the final scene pays off the character’s skillset fully coming out of stasis.

Reviews by Others

Here are reviews from other movie bloggers for The Way Back.

Recommended

  1. Chris Longo / Den of Geek: “Affleck seems to channel his own personal demons directly into Jack in a performance that is complicated and vulnerable, slowly peeling back the shell that Jack has encased himself in until we get to the heart of the agony that drives him into the bottle every night.”
  2. DiscussingFilm: “…is a slam dunk for Ben Affleck. It is the emotionally poignant character drama that we yearn for and should be rewarded for its honest yet still entertaining depictions of a delicate subject matter.”
  3. filmfanstake: “Affleck delivers a beautiful performance. He has his past to draw from to bring Jack to life. This is the most human performance I’ve seen from him.”
  4. Moore Reviews / Tom Moore (4/5): “…eludes most of its clichés by offering viewers a more personal story that O’Connor and Affleck absolutely thrive in.”
  5. Music City Drive-in / Jacob Thronberry: “…becomes a product of its own cliches with a very “by the book” story, but is absolutely elevated by a hellacious performance by Ben Affleck. One that if the film was released later in the year, or if more of the first half gave Affleck his time to shine, we may be talking about serious award consideration.”
  6. screenaddictreviews (3.5/5): “the movie’s heart is just not found here”
  7. Wannabe Movie Critic (84/100): “in The Way Back he’s big and messy and covered in beer sweats. Affleck will break you down, he chips away at you slowly, until he himself breaks.”

Not Recommended (or on the fence)

  1. Bringin The Juice: “They either needed to focus more on the rehab or the basketball but neither felt like they got enough attention when the movie ended.”

Linked above and wondering what would be the cool thing to do next? Commenting once in awhile is always good (I like reader and other blogger interaction). If you have the trackback/pingback come to your site then just approve it because after people read your review then they can come here and follow links and read someone else’s review. What comes around goes around and sharing is the ultimate “thank you!” on the internet.

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

Happy movie watching!

NOW PLAYING REVIEWS: Onward, The Way Back

Week #10 of 2020 (3/5-3/8/2020) sees the first Disney/Pixar animated film of the year about a brotherly quest to bring back their father for one magical day and Ben Affleck wrestling sobriety demons and coaching a losing basketball team.

Although I didn’t verify, but I believe this is the first week with multiple movies playing in 2020 that both movies have been recommended.

The coronavirus continues to dominate the news with wide impact in international markets, including the news that Bond #25 No Time To Die has been pushed back from April to November 2020. Hopefully a vaccine will be created/discovered before too much longer or flu season will end the widespread concerns.

Back to a brighter topic, which movie this week takes the crown?

#1 is ….

Onward ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

The is a heartwarming, teen brotherly story with the right touch of humor and substance. The story is quirky and unusual, which is why we liked it so much.

UPDATE 8:19am PST: Just remembered when checking out other reviews from those I subscribe to at Letterboxd that before Onward played, there was a new Simpsons animated short featuring a romance for Maggie called Playdate with Destiny ⭐️⭐️½  Got to see this twice because of a theater screw-up (see my Onward review for details), but it’s not a very memorable or fun Simpsons short. Cute, though.

The Way Back ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although Ben Affleck has had dramatic acting roles, this serious story really pits him against himself and the parallels in his personal life and his character’s life are profound. I think he really gets into his character better, drawing on his own well publicized issue of his break-up with Jennifer Garner and struggles with sobriety. It’s the best acting I’ve seen from him in quite some time.

The story is a little cliched and runs long in parts, but it’s a very meaty role for Affleck and he delivers.

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

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theaters recently and liked (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 rated as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see.

  1. 1917 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 
  2. Onward ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (current week) 
  3. Sonic The Hedgehog ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  4. Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  5. The Way Back ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (current week)
  6. The Call Of The Wild ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy movie watching to you!

Opening 3-5-2020 in Theaters: Onward, The Way Back, First Cow

Wednesday! Week #10 of 2020 (3/5-3/8/2020).

This week we get an animated treat from Pixar involving a search for the top half of their father so they can spend one day with him, a basketball coach tries to rehabilitate his drinking problem and his team, and a movie about — and don’t have one (who knows where that comes from: “Don’t have a cow, man.”?) — a cow.

Yes, a cow.

But, first, let’s go …

Onward
[FIRST LOOK]

Onward official trailer #1
Onward official trailer #2

First and foremost we want to be entertained and Pixar has a proven track record of producing entertaining films. The story here seems quirky and offbeat, but not cliched. Looking very forward to watching this one.

Anticipation for Onward: 7/10

The Way Back
[FIRST LOOK]

The Way Back official trailer #1
The Way Back official trailer #2

Ben Affleck has been in some good movies and he’s got the acting chops, but this alcoholic former basketball player turned coach story could go either way for me. It doesn’t look like the team is going to have the personality or comedy of The Bad News Bears and this doesn’t seem like Hoosiers either.

Anticipation for The Way Back: 5/10

First Cow
[FIRST LOOK]

When I wrote the COMING SOON for this movie, my anticipation was 0/10. I find the whole idea of watching a movie about a cow similar to watching paint dry, however, I’ve been wrong about movies I’ve expected to strongly dislike, so I’m bumping my anticipation up from zero to one. Surprise me, cow. MOoove me. Yeah, yeah, stop throwing the rotten banana peels.

Anticipation for First Cow: 1/10

ANTICIPATION for Week #10: 3/5/20 MOVIES

How much on scale of 1-10 anticipating the 3-5-2020 movies?

  1. Onward – 7/10
  2. The Way Back – 5/10
  3. First Cow – 1/10

Are there screenings in our area to see these movies?

We’re going to be in Las Vegas this week, not our home area, so we’ll be checking out screenings there. We’re planning on seeing Onward in 4DX + 3D and The Way Back in standard 2D format, but have not found if First Cow is playing anywhere nearby. At least two of the three will be watched, rated and reviewed.

FIRST LOOK: The Way Back

Rated R. Ben Affleck.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any movie with Ben Affleck in it. For a few years it seemed like he was channeling Nicolas Cage and in everything. I checked his Wikipedia filmography and he wasn’t in any movies in 2018 and missed his two movies in 2019.

Affleck as an alcoholic basketball coach? Yes, that’s what we seem to have here …

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) once had a life filled with promise. In high school, he was a basketball phenom with a full university scholarship, when suddenly, for reasons unknown, he walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Now years later, Jack is spiraling down, triggered by an unspeakable loss, and drowning in the alcoholism that cost him his marriage and any hope for a better life. When he is asked to coach the basketball team at his alma mater, which has fallen far since his glory days, he reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself. As the boys start to come together as a team and win, Jack may have finally found a reason to confront the demons that have derailed him. But will it be enough to fill the void, heal the deep wounds of his past, and set him on the road to redemption?

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Info
The Way Back official trailer

Official trailer #2:

Not sure how I feel about Affleck in this role. Sure, he can play the alcoholic, but I don’t see him as a basketball star, much less coach. Maybe that’s a good thing, will find out soon. This one is a month away from hitting the screen.

The trailers look … OK. Nothing that is really jumping out at me.

The Way Back opens wide in theaters on March 6, 2020.

9 Movies COMING TO THEATERS in March 2020

Movies coming to theaters in March 2020 (some pictured are coming other months)

NOTE: This post will continue to be updated until the end of March 2020, as movie release dates change, sometimes within weeks of the scheduled release date

The following are movie trailers and my early thoughts for all films tentatively scheduled coming to theaters in March 2020.

2020 Theater Releases
JAN | FEB | MARCH 2020

If you’d like to see a list of all movies released in 2020 click here (that post is being updated throughout the year). Most releases profiled below are WIDE screenings showing on 2,000+ theater screens in the United States. If the movie title has the word LIMITED following then it means it’s being released on less than 2,000 screenings in the United States.

All movie release dates unless otherwise indicated are for the United States, the release dates in other countries may vary.

March 2020 Movies

First Cow – LIMITED from A24

First Cow official trailer (A24) – opens March 6, 2020

LOL. I keep laughing while watching this trailer.

A movie about a … cow? They are like the most passive, boring animals on the planet. They move around lethargically and “moo!” all the time, eat grass and, well, provide a very awesome supply of milk. We wouldn’t have cheese or milk without cows, so god bless ’em, but a movie about a “first” cow?

Don’t know. It’s got to be a 0/10 for anticipation from me. That’s a first on this blog, as I’ve not been as disinterested in seeing any movie like this one.

The only reason it’s even here is because it is from the studio A24, that has released some surprisingly good movies. It’s a LIMITED release, which means I might not even see it pass through the theaters in this area, but maybe others reading this will. And can’t help but be at least a tiny bit curious based on the boring subject matter.

A movie about a cow .. yeah, ok, maybe it should be 10/10 for anticipation because, honestly, in the many thousands of movies I’ve seen in 40+ years of watching movies, I can’t remember seeing even one about a cow.

Didn’t think a movie about a tire called Rubber⭐️⭐️⭐️½ would ever remotely appeal to me either, so why not a movie about a cow?

Thank you for the laughs, A24, even though this appears to not be a comedy.

Anticipation for First Cow: 0/10

The Way Back
[FIRST LOOK]

The Way Back official trailer – opens March 6, 2020

Bearded Ben Affleck as a high school (?) basketball coach. Looks a little on the sappy side and possibly even cliched. He’s got a drinking problem. Gee, where have we seen Ben Affleck in a movie boozing it up before? The plot all seems very familiar to me, based on the trailer. A man down on his luck, coaches a losing team (Bad News Bears, anyone?). Although this seems to be going the heavy drama route and not comedy.

Have enjoyed some Ben Affleck movies, but he is kind of like Nicolas Cage to me, sort of one-dimensional. And what was the last good movie I’ve seen him in, anyway? It’s been awhile. I know he’s now divorced from Jennifer Garner (sad, too, because they looked like a nice couple together), which should have nothing to do with his movies, but somehow that is the most recent thing I can think of hearing or seeing him in the news.

I’m not very interested in watching this movie after the trailer. The title is more interesting than the trailer.

Anticipation for The Way Back: 1/10

Onward
[FIRST LOOK]

Onward official trailer #1
Onward official trailer #2 – opens March 6, 2020

Pixar does it again with eye-catching graphic work and a bizarre, yet catchy trailer. “24 hours to bring back … the rest of dad” — what a hook!

This looks like a ton of animated fun. Am not sure if it will be age-appropriate for our grandchildren, but the story has a very Twilight Zone like edge to it which definitely appeals to me. Looking forward to this almost as much as Trolls World Tour.

Anticipation for Onward: 7/10

Bloodshot
[FIRST LOOK]
RELEASE DATE CHANGED from Feb 21 to March 13, 2020

Bloodshot official trailer – opening in theaters March 13, 2020

This shares the distinction of being the only 2020 movie based on a comic book character not coming from Marvel or DC. Have been a fan of Vin Diesel in action, notably the Fast & Furious franchise, so curious to see what he does with a Valiants comic character.

I don’t like the background song choice for the trailer. Doesn’t fit. The trailer otherwise makes the film look interesting. The release date was delayed and pushed back a month, was this so they could work on it more or the result of a negative test screening? Don’t know. Torn on this one. This could go either way.

Anticipation for Bloodshot 5/10

My Spy

My Spy opens March 13, 2020 – official trailer

Another delayed and pushed back title. Juvenile action-humor feel to the trailer. Reminds me of something The Rock or John Cena would do/have done, but instead this is Dave Bautista trying to be Dwayne Johnson or John Cena. Big, strong tough guy with 9-year-old girl “teaching” her how to be a spy. This doesn’t seem like a promising movie — at all.

Will probably appeal to families though like Playing With Fire⭐️½  which means it will likely get horrible reviews, but make money, encouraging similar future movies. I don’t think, based on the trailer, that this movie will be for me. Hoping I’m wrong.

Anticipation for My Spy: 2/10

The Informer (LIMITED)

The Informer opens (LIMITED) in theaters March 13, 2020

“It’s happening.” Seems more like a horror line than a thriller, but could fit.

Originally scheduled to release January 2020 and moved which makes me a bit less interested by default. The third movie this month moved from another month. Are the studios making March 2020 their new dumping ground? Also, this went from a wide release to LIMITED, which means less likelihood I’ll see it in theaters near me, anyway.

My original trailer viewing had me thinking this was an average thriller. Rewatching? No change.

Anticipation for The Informer: 2/10

The Hunt
[FIRST LOOK]

Bonus drop-in movie on 2/13/2020. This film was mired in controversy back in September 2019 when it was dropped for being a political hot potato. Read the FIRST LOOK for more.

Anticipation for The Hunt: 7/10

I Still Believe

I Still Believe official trailer – opens March 20, 2020

Christian musician who wants his fans to help him pray for his wife that is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is based on a true story. Jeremy Camp’s spiritual journey to overcome his wife’s illness. This looks like a crying fest. Stay away from Wikipedia as it will ruin what happens in this movie. Darn it, why did I bother to look up this musician’s page? Oh well, I knew what happened with the Titanic and still enjoyed that, so maybe the spoilers won’t matter.

I don’t look for tear-jerker spiritual dramas, but this one seems more promising than several other titles this month.

Anticipation for I Still Believe: 3/10

A Quiet Place: Part II
[FIRST LOOK]

A Quiet Place: Part II official trailer – opens March 20, 2020

Sequel to A Quiet Place ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½.

Easily the most anticipated movie of March. I hadn’t seen the first horror film until recently and that easily became one of the best newer horror films I’ve seen in several years. Very scary, non comedy horror. These sightless creatures are the stuff of nightmares. Can’t wait to see this one!

Anticipation for A Quiet Place Part II: 9/10

Mulan

Mulan official trailer – opens March 27, 2020

Disney live action based on the animated film of the same name. This will probably make boatloads of $$$ at the box office, but definitely not something I’m very interested in seeing. I do like the whole China backdrop, however, so maybe I’ll turn out loving this one. Just never know.

I’ve never seen the animated film it’s based on, either. These Disney live action remakes have been received less enthusiastically by critics, but moviegoers have seen them in droves.

Anticipation for Mulan: 3/10

Ranking the March 2020 movies by anticipation (as of this writing)

  1. A Quiet Place Part II – 9/10
  2. The Hunt – 7/10 (bonus 10th movie added on 2/13/2020)
  3. Onward – 7/10
  4. Bloodshot – 5/10
  5. I Still Believe – 3/10
  6. Mulan – 3/10
  7. The Informer – 2/10
  8. My Spy – 2/10
  9. The Way Back – 1/10
  10. First Cow – 0/10

What movies in March 2020 are you looking forward to seeing?