Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

“Pinhead.” “She-Hulk.” “Sumbitch.” “Wanker.” “Bulldog Balls.” “Asshole.”

These are just a few of the lovely pet names the double-ampersand stars of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw call each other throughout what unexpectedly turned out to be a deeply, deeply unpleasant trip to the movies. Of course, a little misguided machismo is always to be expected when venturing out to a Fast & Furious movie, but there’s usually an underlying sweetness & sincerity to the series that’s sorely missing from this scaled-down spinoff. Director David Leitch is unfortunately operating here in his Deadpool 2 shock humor mode rater than continuing the over-the-top action cinema slickness he brought to John Wick or Atomic Blonde. Fast & Furious is an absurdly melodramatic series in which global-scale action set pieces are flimsily glued together with teary-eyed speeches about what it means to be Family. It’s understandable why a spinoff from the series would operate with a smaller scale & budget in its action, but once you also substitute its Sappy Bro messaging for winking-at-the-camera meta humor there’s nothing left that feels Fast or Furious at all. It also doesn’t help that this film’s approach to “jokes” is to have its two absurdly muscly stars, The Rock & Jason Statham, insult each other for two solid hours about the size and/or existence of each other’s dicks. It’s as exhausting as it is repugnant.

The best way to encapsulate what’s so wrong-headed about this deviation from Fast & Furious tradition is to point to the godawful stunt-casting choices the movie floats as potential new members of the Family: Kevin Hart & Ryan Reynolds, two absolute clowns who believe any #haters don’t find them as funny as they believe themselves to be are #triggered #snowflakes. Their above-it-all, insincere Family Guy snark humor seeps into the rest of the film’s DNA like a fast-acting poison. In fact, the literal, potentially world-ending poison that Hobbs & Shaw are tasked to contain in this single-conflict plot is called Snowflake as a reflection of that #edgy sense of humor. You can hear it echo in a subplot wherein Hobbs & Shaw are wrongly reported by the Fake New media to be criminals instead of heroes. Worse, you’re strangled by it in every over-written one-liner insult they bitterly trade throughout, like when one describes hearing the other’s voice as feeling “like dragging my balls against shattered glass” and the other retorts, “Oh yeah, well, looking at your face is like having God projectile vomit right in my eyes.” Shut the fuck up, you cruel, unpleasant goons. The only satisfactory line of dialogue from either knucklehead is when they simultaneously point at each other and complain “This guy’s a real asshole!” I couldn’t agree more, but I don’t understand why that should entice anyone to spend 137 minutes with either of them, much less both at once.

Not everything about Hobbs & Shaw is a misstep. The third act of the film, in which our titular Heroic Assholes attend a family reunion in Samoa to overthrow their heavily armed enemies Ewok-style, is sincerely cheesy & melodramatic in a way that actually feels at home with Fast & Furious pathos. The earlier action sequences in urban spaces like London & Moscow are more aesthetically similar to the series’ past but aren’t nearly distinct enough in their goofball stunts to make much of an impression (give or take a shapeshifting motorcycle that hilariously defies all laws of physics, Transformers style). Hobbs & Shaw really finds itself in its Samoa stretch once its stars decide to get along for a common good and cool the insults for a much-needed breather. It’s too little too late, though, as the bitter taste of them flipping each other off & calling in false alarms so that security guards anally probe each other (har, har) has already poisoned the mood beyond repair. Vanessa Kirby & Idris Elba are also welcome additions to the cast who somehow shine through the winking snark humor as a badass hero and a futuristic supervillain, respectively, but both performances deserve to be in a real Fast & Furious movie instead of this Deadpool-flavored knockoff.

A lot of people complained when Statham’s character made the jump from villain to Family in this series, even starting a #JusticeForHan hashtag campaign to protest the decision. It was never really a complaint that registered with me, since the only consistent thing about the Fast & Furious series from the beginning has been its total disregard for consistency in favor of in-the-moment thrills & novelty. By the time the series had forgotten its allegiance to Coronas at its Family cookouts for crew to instead toast each other with Bud Lights or some other such blasphemy, it was clear that nothing is sacred. Apparently, that includes the one thing that has been consistent to this series up until this point: its big, stupid, dorkily sincere heart, which contrasts wonderfully with its over-the-top action. That’s a damn shame; the series is nothing special without it.

-Brandon Ledet

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

I’ll admit upfront that I was highly skeptical of the new “live-action” Pokémon movie when it was first announced. It’s not the Pokémon property itself that had me rolling my eyes. To the contrary, I was excited to see a CG Pikachu go on a seedy urban adventure in the real world, encountering a vast array of fellow pocket monsters along the way. It was the announcement of Ryan Reynolds’s casting as the voice of Pikachu that had me worried. Detective Pikachu is specifically adapted from a Pokémon videogame in which the electric-rodent yokai is voiced by a hard-boiled detective, finding humor in the contrast between his cutesy appearance and his tough-guy demeanor. Personally, I’d much rather see these same CG characters & world designs treated with a straight-forward, genuine sentient true to the series’ kawaii beginnings. Covering up those cutesy impulses with a joking, above-it-all snark from the most sarcastic wisecracker in the business seemed like preemptively apologizing for making a Pokémon movie in the first place, as if it were embarrassing that adults would want to see something so cute & nerdy without a smartass celebrity there to hold our hands and reassure us that it is Cool. Basically, I was afraid that Ryan Reynolds was going to transform Pikachu into Lil’ Deadpool.

I’m happy to report that Reynolds’s mood-ruining smartassery only distracted from Pikachu’s cuteness to a minimal degree. This is a movie where Pikachu makes sex jokes (including an alarming one about people nonconsensually sticking fingers inside of him), refers to strangers with pet names like “Sweetie” & “Doll,” and constantly pressures his human partner to flirt with women. I would have much rather had the electro-rat in question only say its own name in cutesy Pokémon tradition to the annoyance of a tough-guy human detective partner (as if its Who Framed Roger Rabbit? lineage couldn’t be any clearer), but you take what you can get. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a compromise for everyone who dares enter. No one who is disinterested in Pokémon’s inherent kawaii appeal is going to give the movie a short based on Ryan Reynold’s voice acting, nor based on the film’s Baby’s First Noir plot in which a young teen finds himself (and his missing father) in a futuristic Tokyo. Those inconveniences are just obligatory concessions to get a Pokémon movie greenlit by studio executives in the first place, so that the already-converted could all get a gander at our favorite pocket monsters on the big screen (and, in my case, in 3-D). I do think the concessions are worth the effort, though. No matter what you must put up with to get a look at them, the pokémon themselves remain very, very cute.

Detective Pikachu is pretty damn cute overall, but in every single frame where there weren’t any pokémon I was thinking “Where’s the pokémon?,” so I guess it could have been cuter. Squirtles, Psyducks, and Mr. Mimes (along with pokétypes I’ve forgotten the names of in the decades since I really enjoyed this stuff as a kid) all get their chance to shine alongside brand-ambassador Pikachu, but I greedily wanted more. The movie starts off in the deep end of pokélore with references to Mewtwo, the personality differences been fire & water types, and all kinds of other series-specific jargon that would confuse anyone outside A Certain Generation who grew up with this nonsense. It even eventually follows Pokémon movie tradition in claiming themes against the capture, subjugation, and battling of pokémon despite those morally bankrupt practices all being essential to series lore (to the point of referenced in its theme song). Still, it ultimately settles into a serviceable, but forgettable neon & synths noir that distracts from its higher purpose: parading as many cute-as-fuck pokémon across the screen as it can in under two hours. The absurdity of enlisting Ken Watanabe for its pokénoir proceedings was amusing, but I even would have traded that living legend for another few seconds of pokémon cuteness, preferably without Lil’ Deadpool’s incongruous horniness spoiling the mood.

-Brandon Ledet

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Although they’re clearly not made for me, I’m starting to become fascinated by Deadpool movies as a cultural curio. There usually isn’t any fun to be had from sitting through a comedy you find thoroughly unfunny and the reference-heavy Family Guy irreverence of Deadpool seems custom-built to create a laughter-free vacuum of punishing bro humor around me. What’s fascinating about these movies to me is watching them in the theater anyway, where laughter is a constant, thundering flood. To watch a Deadpool movie in public is to feel as if I am from a different planet than the rest of the room. Edgy hack jokes about suicide & child rape, lazy references to vintage pop culture ephemera, and mater-of-fact namedrops of unrelated comic book characters all land as if they’re carving out previously undiscovered, revolutionary forms of comedy the world has never seen before. Audiences gasp, involuntarily muttering “Wow” and “Oh My god” after every supposedly transgressive gag in total disbelief of the films’ comedic brilliance. Jokes that have been run into the ground though months of being repeated in advertisements somehow earn belly laughs so deep it’s a wonder no one vomits. Just as I was with the first Deadpool movie, I was befuddled throughout Deadpool 2 by why everyone around me though it was hi-larious that this “annoying prick” of a lead character (the movie’s words, not mine) broke kayfabe by saying “Patrick Stewart” instead of “Professor X” or suffered sub-Rickles insult comedy routines form real-life shitbag TJ Miller or celebrated a weapon’s forcible insertion up his enemy’s ass. I felt partly like a land mammal attempting to swim with the fish, partly like the only person in Jonestown with concerns about the Kool-Aid. I was surrounded by creatures I didn’t understand: true nerds.

Although my outsider’s discomfort watching Deadpool in public continued into this sequel, it was a marginal improvement on the first film, which barely feigned a superhero origin story around its bro-friendly meta humor. Directed by Atomic Blonde/John Wick vet David Leitch and afforded a more legitimate big studio budget, Deadpool 2 feels a little more authentic to the action genre it’s spoofing. When Deadpool himself isn’t sucking all the oxygen out of the room with his constant flood of “Ain’t I a stinker?” metacommentary, the movie manages to stage a few halfway decent gags, such as an early yakuza-themed sword-fighting montage set to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” (even though that exact song was already similarly employed in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, of all lowly places). Romantic tragedy, conversion therapy anxiety, and existential self-loathing are all taken more seriously here than they probably even need to be as the movie builds a time-travelling revenge plot around Deadpool’s sudden desire to have a family and the threat of X-Men antihero Cable. Genuinely entertaining performances from James Brolin (as Cable), Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison (as Deadpool’s troubled, unwanted ward), and Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz (as Domino, a superhero character who much better deserves her own franchise) all helpfully distract from the Ryan Reynolds/Deadpool-shaped hole at the film’s self-corrupted center. The comedic payoff to a team-building montage spoof was lifted directly from a better-executed bit in MacGruber, but comes awfully close to achieving legitimately well-crafted humor. The film even finds ways to make Deadpool himself occasionally funny, against all odds, by pausing his dialogue to focus on the physical horrors of his superpower: a body that stubbornly refuses to die. If you generously squint at Deadpool 2 from a flattering angle in just the right light, it almost resembles a mildly amusing, ZAZ-style action spoof. Deadpool himself is always on hand to deflate that balloon, though, ruining any and all good will he can with as many child molestation quips or referrals to Cable as Thanos as necessary to spoil the mood (or bust a gut, depending on your POV).

I should probably be grateful for the minor details that break up Deadpool 2’s oppressive stench of Gen-X comic book bro humor, like the years-late inclusion of a (barely onscreen) same-sex couple in a major Marvel release or the fact that is a macho superhero who isn’t afraid of high heels or pegging. Fixating on those touches or the welcome presence of Domino & Super Ricky Baker feel like sifting though the scraps for momentary joys, however, an exercise that’s only occasionally rewarding in the few blissful moments when Deadpool himself is not cracking wise. The most the Deadpool franchise offers me, personally, is the experience of sitting in a room full of people from an entirely different planet, cowering from the deafening horror of their baffling laughter. Deadpool 2 is a slight improvement on its predecessor, but I almost wish it were much, much worse, so I could get as much out of that alienating experience as possible. The movie isn’t quite decent enough to earn genuine enthusiasm, so I’d almost prefer if I didn’t see anything of value in it at all. That way the absurdity of sitting quietly in a cinema packed with guffawing space aliens might hold more novelty for me as a cultural experience. A worse Deadpool 2 might even deter me from tuning back in for the inevitable Deadpool 3, where I’m sure to relive this comedic alienation all over again—confused, scared, and alone in a crowd.

-Brandon Ledet

 

Life (2017)

I know in my heart that it’s reductive to discuss a film solely in terms of genre, but that kind of categorization & attention to tropes is all the mental energy I can really afford the recent sci-fi horror Life. With characters & dialogue that linger with you for about as long as a fart and insipid, free-floating camera work stylization that distracts more than it enhances, Life has little to offer anyone not already on the hook for its basic genre thrills. It’s a decent enough spaceship horror with creature attacks that delight in their novelty & brutality just enough to excuse the waste of space human drama they interrupt. If you’re looking to Life for ambitious, heartfelt cinema you’re going to leave dejected. As a genre exercise, however, it’s a mild success that more or less pulls its own weight.

A spaceship packed with near-future scientists discover the first sign of extraterrestrial life. Initially the size of a microbe, this alien species grows exponentially in dimension, strength, and intelligence throughout the film until it ultimately poses a threat to humanity at large. When the size of a tiny translucent mushroom, the little Baby Genius bastard is strong enough to break every bone in a scientist’s hand. It grows from there to some kind of flying killer starfish to resembling an evil translucent Creech, making this more believable as a Monster Trucks prequel than the Venom prequel it was idiotically rumored to be upon initial release. Nicknamed Calvin, this evil little bugger is the obvious star of the show, as his wet blanket victims have nothing compelling to do or say between his shockingly violent attacks. Ryan Reynolds does his usual “lovable” asshole schtick & Jake Gyllenhaal reprises his stoic blue collar caricature from Southpaw, but for the most part our cosmonauts are a boring wash of measured British whispers, all interchangeable & instantly forgettable. I even had a difficult time differentiating the two female leads despite one of them being played by Noomi Rapace, who I’ve seen in several films before. Calvin was an interesting enough design & enough of a killer brute to hold my attention throughout Life on his own, but it is a shame he didn’t have more interesting people to kill.

As far as Alien retreads go, Life isn’t even the most interesting one to be released this year, not while Michael Fassbender is making out with himself in Alien: Covenant. The one interesting idea the film brings to that formula is in having the idiot scientist who first prods the monster with his finger actually being verbally chastised by his coworkers for acting like an unprofessional fool, when in other examples of the genre they’d all act that way. Beyond that, the film can only deliver thrilling monster attacks & an interesting creature design, unless you think an overly dramatic reading of Goodnight Moon is enough to carry an emotional climax on its own. Luckily for me, I’m already a huge sucker for space horror as a genre and found Calvin both charming & nastily brutal enough for the film to feel worthwhile. It’s reductive to say so, but your own interest level in that genre’s minor chills & thrills will likely dictate your experience with this one as well.

-Brandon Ledet

Deadpool (2016)

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Every year or so there seems to be a Ryan Reynolds vehicle waiting to test my resolve to stop trying to fall in love with the dude’s work. Last year it was the horror comedy The Voices, which pulled me in with an amusing premise & a candy-coated color palette only to waste it all on Reynolds’ unlovable smugness. This year Deadpool fits the bill. I was once again fooled that this was the Ryan Reynolds vehicle for me, because this time there was a Ryan Reynolds vehicle for everyone. Hell, I could even repeat my opening screed from my review of The Voices to cover a lot of how I felt watching Deadpool in the theater: “Comedy is risky. If you fail to connect with your audience the time you spend together can be brutal. Just ask any stand-up who’s bombed a set. That disconnect between audience & performer can be even more punishing if the material is aggressive.” Deadpool is both aggressive & aggressively unfunny. It’s making tons of money & most of the people in the theater where I watched it were howling at every gag, so there’s certainly an audience for what it’s selling, but I was left stone cold. Reynolds can play a perfectly good cad when you’re not supposed to like him (as with his turns in Adventureland & Waiting), but I find his shtick much harder to stomach when you’re supposed to cheer for his assholery. I’m still having a difficult time buying him as a leading man and an anti-hero.

Deadpool is, more or less, the Family Guy of superhero media. It’s a crass, hopelessly juvenile comedy that believes “adult content” means decades-old pop culture references & an onslaught of abrasive language. The thing is that a lot of people really like Family Guy & I’m not one to begrudge anyone from enjoying themselves at the movies, so I’m honestly glad the film has found a satisfied audience. For me, though, the pop culture-referencing, Gen-X snark that that properties like Deadpool & Family Guy seem determined to keep alive feels hopelessly outdated, a relic of the 90s. Watching the MCU films for the first time with Boomer for our Agents of S.W.A.M.P.F.L.I.X. recaps, I’ve noticed that the earnest side of the superhero spectrum is what plays much more fresh & endearing in a modern context. Properties like Thor & Captain America (especially Captain America) are much more readily enjoyable to me than the bloated ego snark of properties like Iron Man (speaking of films that made tons of money & did nothing for me). Deadpool is firmly on that snarky, self-satisfied Iron Man end of the spectrum, always willing to poke fun at itself or detract from its run-of-the-mill Origin Story Formula by tossing out a name like Bernadette Peters or Wham! as if its detached irreverence was more of a game-changer than it would be to actually try a new idea in earnest. At the very least it could’ve gone further in the irreverent direction & functioned as a full-blown ZAZ-style spoof of superhero conventions instead of trying to have it both ways all while appearing not to genuinely care about anything at all (à la Seth MacFarlane). Deadpool is willing to wholeheartedly participate in the most generic tropes of its genre, but it wants you to know the entire time that it’s totally above it all & doesn’t give a shit. It’s not an endearing attitude.

From what I gather from comic book aficionados (both friends & internet commenters who’ve been viciously picking at the small list of critics who’ve dared to give this film a negative review), it’s the exact qualities I loathed about this film that made Ryan Reynolds & Deadpool as a character such a perfect match. From the outside looking in I have no reason to disagree with that idea. Deadpool’s 4th wall-breaking, winking at the camera, “Ain’t I a stinker?” meta snark is custom made for a comedy style Ryan Reynolds has been perfecting since the late-90s. In effect, both Deadpool & Ryan Reynolds have been working in the realm of Gen-X sardonic humor since it was actually in its heyday two decades ago. The movie wastes no time in setting that tone either. The opening scroll forgoes telling you who actually worked on the film to include credits for “A Hot Chick”, “A CGI Character”, “A British Villain”, “A Gratuitous Cameo”, etc. One of Deadpool’s first memorable lines is “I know, right? Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my own movie?” It’s pretty much a steady course from there. There’s a nonstop onslaught of “witty” jokes about death, poop, genitals, sexual orientation, babes with bangin’ bods, and things going up dudes’ butts (including a pegging gag that threatened to be playfully progressive for a half-second before falling back in line with the film’s bro-pleasing sensibilities) that eats up the film’s runtime, just barely distracting you from the fact that you’re watching yet another by-the-numbers superhero origin story. Personally, the biggest laugh I got out of the film is when the “British Villain” asked Mr. Pool, “You’re so relentlessly annoying. Why don’t you do us all a favor & shut the fuck up?” but those more in tune with Deadpool & Reynolds as personalities are a lot more likely to find humor that lands. Jokes are certainly in no short supply, since the film has zero interest in taking anything seriously (except maybe in a couple ten minute stretches when it pretends to be a cancer drama or a romance of the ages).

As much as the humor failed to connect with me, I did appreciate the way Deadpool staged its action sequences. Deadpool himself has a cool look to him, especially the way he totes both guns and swords into battle & it’s nice to watch a superhero film where the protagonist actually keeps his mask on for most of the runtime (especially since it saved me from Reynold’s eternally smug grin in this case). While I found most of its “adult” humor about as charming as Ben Kingsley’s potty mouth brute in Sexy Beast, the film’s R-rating worked wonders for its gore. The decapitations & blood-soaked torture upped the stakes to grindhouse horror levels that I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing in a more worthy superhero property. The rating also made room for a lot of naked Ryan Reynolds footage, which I know is sure to please plenty of folks who like to treat him as what Liz Lemon would describe a “sex idiot.” It was also cool to see X-Men characters Colossus & Negasonic Teenage Warhead in action if not only because X-Men is one of the few superhero comics I’m actually familiar with. Even the bloody, well-choreographed action sequences can be botched in their own way, though. Particularly, the opening sequence involving a fight-to-the-death on a freeway is really fun to watch, but is broken into frustratingly small pieces by elongated flashbacks that create a dual timeline structure, making the film feel like an incoherent mess on top of being painfully unfunny. The main goal of Deadpool is sarcastic humor & the genuinely awesome action sequences are often swept aside to serve that purpose, probably because they feel too sincere to fit the character’s M.O.

Like I said, I was never the target audience for Deadpool. I gave it an honest shot, but it was just never meant to be. The film never really tries to win over an outside audience, either, which I’d count as a huge positive. I didn’t need to be included here for the film to be successful. There’s a specific brand of mainline Nerd Culture™ that I always fail to connect with and although the definitions of what falls under that umbrella are intangible, Deadpool is firmly Nerd Culture™-friendly in a way that feels authentic even when it’s not funny or enjoyable or especially well-made. It’d be difficult to boil the film’s Nerd™ aesthetic down to a specific image or two, but I can at least point to its insistence that the meme-ification of unicorns & Ugly Christmas Sweaters is still verifiable as comedy gold. The thing is that unicorns & Ugly Christmas Sweaters are the exact kind of quirk you’d find crawling all over Facebook timelines or Target store fashion racks, so they’re not nearly as “weird” or “subversive” as Nerds™ believe them to be. Deadpool is a film that broke all kinds of box-office records for an R-rated property’s opening weekend, so the Nerdy™ gatekeeping that usually accompanies products like this is more than a little silly considering how many people loved what the movie was selling. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing that this movie was a widely-loved Nerd Culture™ property that made tons of money (I just spent most of the last two months singing The Force Awakens’ praises after all). I just got the distinct feeling that I was on the outside looking in with this film, which is fine. There were a lot more people in on the joke than I expected and I’m glad they had a good time where I failed to.

Side note: One thing that struck me as odd about this film’s sense of humor is that it felt compelled to repeat minor jokes as if they were callbacks to gut-busting one-liners. Off the top of my head, there were references to unicorns, shit-stained pants, and Agent Smith from The Matrix that were repeated twice apiece with little to no effect or change in their second occurrence. If they had occurred more often they might’ve played like a running gag, but just hitting the same note twice felt awkward at best, hopelessly lazy at worst.

-Brandon Ledet

The Voices (2015)

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Comedy is risky. If you fail to connect with your audience the time you spend together can be brutal. Just ask any stand-up who’s bombed a set. That disconnect between audience & performer can be even more punishing if the material is aggressive. To succeed, a horror comedy has to find humor in sadism & cruelty and it takes a well-balanced, lighthearted tone to pull that off properly. Curiously enough, The Voices fails even though it nails that balance. There’s a playful party vibe to the movie (complete with a conga line) that counteracts its homicidal maniac narrative very well, achieving the exact kind of tonal balance a horror comedy typically needs to succeed. That makes it all the more frustrating that I just didn’t find it funny and, by extension, didn’t enjoy the movie outside of an occasional chuckle.

The main problem for me personally might just be an over-saturation of Ryan Reynolds. There is just so much Reynolds in the movie. He not only plays the central serial killer protagonist, but also provides the voices that the killer hears in his head, voices he attributes to his cat & dog. The idea of a talking cat & dog inspiring the crimes of a crazed killer sound like it could be played laughs rather well, but it just fails to reach anything approaching humor in The Voices. It’s not that I have anything particular against Ryan Reynolds in general. He has a natural smarm to his charisma that makes him an effective cad in films like Adventureland & Waiting, but whenever he’s supposed to be a likeable protagonist I fail to connect. That connection is made even more difficult here by the hurdles of him playing both a murderer of women and house cat with a Scottish accent. There’s some backstory to his killer protagonist’s childhood, which was plagued by an abusive father & a mother who also heard voices (attributed to angels instead of pets in her case), but it does little to make him likeable or his murderous antics amusing. Much of the film plays as if in Tucker & Dale Vs Evil Tucker & Dale turned out to be coldblooded, homicidal bullies but you were supposed to root for them anyway.

The English-language debut of Persepolis-director Marjane Satrapi, The Voices has so much going for it. Saptari provides the film a delicious living-cartoon setting, a playful atmosphere, and Disney-esque hallucinations that made the tonally similar (but much more amusing & less “on the nose”) Miss Meadows enjoyable, but here it’s all for naught. Even the adorably dorky charisma of Anna Kendrick couldn’t save the film from its core problem of being a failed comedy with an unlikeable ham protagonist. When comedies don’t work there’s just no way for an audience to enjoy themselves. I wish I could’ve laughed at the dialogue coming from Reynolds’ talking pets; I wanted to find them hilarious. Instead I was blankly staring at their stupid, little CGI mouths and hoping for the run time to be over quickly. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will be laughing right along with The Voices’ admirable brand of goofy, black humor, but it’ll be a total chore for whoever finds themselves watching in silence, unamused. Trust me.

-Brandon Ledet