I have only seen Coming to America once before. I watched it as part of my Throwback Thirty series during my 30th birthday blog celebration. I know that there is a lot of love for the film but it didn’t really do much for me. It’s sad that in 2021, its all-Black cast still feels so ground-breaking. It’s also important to note how important the film was and still is in terms of Black art. It’s not that I’m dismissing its entire existence. I just didn’t really think it was that funny. So, I wasn’t exactly overjoyed to hear that a sequel was coming to Prime. Was I still going to watch it? Of course. Did I think I’d enjoy it? Not really.
I never read Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events when I was younger. I remember seeing it in bookshops all the time but I never picked it up. Even when the film adaptation came out, I wasn’t really bothered by it. It wasn’t until I watched the Netflix series that I was interested in reading the books. The show was so well made and so much fun. So, I started thinking about reading the series. Of course, as my TBR is currently huge, I didn’t actually do anything about it. Not until I needed to cross off a couple of letters on my February Spell the Month Challenge. I knew that I’d be able to get the first 2 books finished in time and get the letter B and an R sorted before the month ended. It seems to make sense that I review these together, so consider this the first in Motherbooker’s A Series of Unfortified Reviews. Disclaimer, you’ll probably forget them in no time.
I had quite a bit to do on Sunday and my day ended up massively going off the rails. Meaning I forgot about watching a film for today’s post until that evening I didn’t really have time to watch what I’d originally planned so I ended up finding the first quick thing I saw on Netflix. What I didn’t realise at the time was that this film was a sequel. I’m not saying that it became difficult to follow because it’s still a kid’s film. It just meant that I was a bit slow on the uptake with certain references. I just thought the writers couldn’t be bothered to include all of the necessary context, which seemed quite an interesting choice.
I don’t wish to sound old and out-of-touch but streaming services aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all. I am currently subscribed to Disney+, Netflix, Prime, and Now TV. That’ so many hours of content to pick from. However, that also means I no longer rewatch films as much. There are just so many options that it sort of seems like a waste to watch something you’ve already seen. That’s the great thing about when you only have VHS and DVDs to pick from. How many times did you ruin a video because you’d watched it so many times. My twin sister and I watched the same selection of films endlessly when we were younger. We’d quote lines and never get sick of seeing the same thing. Now, I so rarely watch a film a second time. This is a golden age of content but it also feels kind of limiting. So, now that I’m reviewing two films a week (at least for now), I figured it was a good time to start going back to old classics. And why not start with a childhood favourite?
I feel so much better about doing these film reviews having had a week’s break from it all. Maybe, I need to come up with a plan to do film reviews every fortnight and some other film related content on the alternate weeks? I don’t know. I never want to reach a point where it feels like doing the things I love starts to feel like work. I’ve started to realise that my self-imposed schedule is really driving my life more than it probably should. I spend so much of my free time writing or watching/reading something to write about. Then there are the photos I take every week. It’s fine in lockdown because what else would I be doing? But, eventually, I’m going to want to start socialising again. Having spent a year forced to stay inside, I’m starting to realise how little I went out before. Although, there’s no need to worry about that yet. The UK isn’t going to be getting out of this mess any time soon so I might as well carry on watching films when I feel like it.
The year 2020 has been the year of the Netflix controversy hasn’t it. First, you had Cuties causing all sorts of problems in America. The Crown has the British government confused about the difference between drama and real-life. More recently, Hillbilly Elegy has been creating some strife thanks to its source material. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, there’s another social media storm. Now, it’s about their latest Christmas release The Princess Switch: Switched Again. Fans have taken to Twitter to share their confusion and, in some cases, outrage that two characters from The Christmas Prince franchise appeared in a scene towards the end. Personally, I didn’t even register, so well done to these people for actually watching the film properly. As we all remember, in the original film, Vanessa Hudgens settles down to watch The Christmas Prince at one point in the film. So, how do these clearly fictional characters turn up in the actual film? It’s a big question but not quite as important as “who cares?” Or even as “why did they even make a second film?”
You’ll no doubt have heard a lot about the second Borat film in the last few days. Mostly because of the outrage about a scene involving Rudy Giuliani and President Donald Trump’s reaction to it. The President has criticised Sacha Baron Cohen and described him as a “creep”. Of course, this will have done nothing but draw even more attention to the film. Not that it would have needed the help. It’s been nearly 15 years since the first film came out and we were all under the impression that Borat was never going to be seen again. After all, how do you make another Borat film when everyone is in on the joke now? Well, they obviously got round that somehow and, with the film being released on Amazon Prime last week, I had to check it out.
I was incredibly excited the moment that I found out that there was going to be a sequel to Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s Before the Coffee Gets Cold. It was one of my favourite books of 2019. In fact it was number 2. Only beaten by the exquisite comedy of Richard Ayoade‘s examination of the film View From the Top. The first book, adapted from Kawaguchi’s play of the same name, was such an unusual but engaging book. I had never read anything quite like it, so getting the chance to revisit his work was most welcome. It was released at an great moment and really helped pull me out of my reading slump. After taking a week or so to finish The Thursday Murder Club, it only took me a couple of nights to get through this. Hopefully, this means I’m back to normal. Definitely a good thing because my non-review bookish posts ideas aren’t exactly inspiring.
Jumanji: The Next Level film might be the third film to include Jumanji in the title but it is actually the fourth film in the whole franchise. It’s easy to forget that Zathura: A Space Adventure is part of the same universe. Mostly because both the writer of the original books, Chris Van Allsburg, and director, Jon Favreau, wanted to distance it from the Robin Williams film. Favreau, in particular, didn’t like the film at all and wanted to make sure that people knew it. Yet, the studio was keen to show that both films were connected and Zathura is officially the second film in the Jumanji franchise. I’d never actually seen it, though, as I was 17 when it came out. It definitely wasn’t the kind of film the 17-year-old me would have been comfortable admitting to wanting to watch. So, I decided it was finally time. After all, it got a much better critical reaction than the first Jumanji film even if it didn’t do incredibly well at the box office. The opposite of Robin Williams’ film. Was the space adventure actually better or was this another time when the critics were way off in their assessment?
Nobody really expected Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to be any good. At least, nobody who remembered the original 1995 film fondly. Of course, it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable experience. Certainly more enjoyable than the first pictures suggested. Thanks to Karen Gillan’s unnecessarily revealing costume, it seemed as though it was suffering from the same sexist approach as other Hollywood films. It turned out there wasn’t quite so much to worry about and the film made just under $1 billion worldwide. With figures like that, it was inevitable that a sequel would be on its way and, two years later, Jumanji: The Next Level was released. I had mixed feelings about the film. Part of me was really excited to see if they could match or, perhaps, better the 2017 film. The other part was worried that it would go the way of most Hollywood sequels. Wanting something fun and carefree to watch on my holiday, I decided it was finally time to find out.