Movie Monday: Did You See and Agree?
It’s Monday! I saw a movie! Was it drama? Comedy? Something else? Forget the genre… was it good, nay… was it great? In remembrance of my movie soulmate Roger Ebert (we most often agreed), let’s discuss.
It’s been seven months since my last review (I don’t say the series is infrequent for nothing), so I offer you then not one, but two. These moving pictures are different as they can be, but still they’re the same, featuring: courage, dynamic / realistic / flawed characters, drama, comedy, good acting, nostalgia, and entertainment!
They’re also sporty: the first, viewing the world and relationships through karate and the second, a bull in a china shop battling the perfectionistic ballerina-like world of figure skating.
Wax on, wax off, wax nostalgic with Cobra Kai
Starring Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence
The story: … tells the story (at least at first) from Johnny’s point of view (whereas The Karate Kid was all Daniel). It picks up where the first The Karate Kid movie left off — Johnny’s a grown-up version of the bully he was as a kid, now with a drinking problem and a mad case of nostalgia for the 1980s. Daniel is a successful car dealer — an homage to all the cars he waxed on and waxed off — who gives every purchaser a bonsai tree. Awwww. Johnny’s struggling to learn the lessons that didn’t apparently stick with young Daniel’s kick to the head all while re-opening the Cobra Kai dojo. Daniel’s learning that he can be smug and out of balance and still ridiculously human sometimes. And the new Cobra Kai kids are learning how to stand up to bullies, but some end up taking it too far (as the Cobra Kai mandate demands).
The show, on YouTubeRed, features: 10 episodes; a new bunch of Cobra Kai kiddies (mostly kids bullied at school); a new love triangle between the best Cobra Kai kid, Daniel’s daughter, and Johnny’s son (who’s training with Daniel!); some rockin’ 80s music and Johnny not knowing what some 21st century tech is; humor; and, of course, a karate rematch between Daniel’s best student (his only student right now) and Johnny’s best student.
The good: The nostalgic winks to the past were perfect and just enough that you didn’t get sick of them. Macchio and Zabka are good, especially in Episode 9 featuring the two of them hanging out, talking about the past (especially Ali with an i), and singing REO Speedwagon. Priceless.
The not-as-good: It probably could have been less episodes — how many times can we watch Johnny pick himself off the floor?
Grade: 2.75 stars out of four.
I watched the first two episodes for free, then Daniel-san offered me a free trial of YouTubeRed (no bonsai tree, though). THEN I spent 7 hours binging the entire series (I took two breaks for food and all). I highly recommend that.
Lace up your skates (but watch your knees) with I, Tonya
Starring Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding
The story: The based-on-a-true-story tale of figure skater and all-around tough cookie Tonya Harding and her goons and the kneecap crack heard ’round the world.
In addition to being a history lesson for millennials (who were too little or NOT YET BORN when this happened!), it’s also the story of how a girl grew up in rough circumstances and how the figure skating world tried to keep her out because she didn’t fit the image they were looking for (she skated to Tone Loc’s Wild Thing one year — that was back when classical music was the *only* real choice for skaters).
The good: The movie gave some insight into Tonya’s life, which helps to understand (but not excuse) her behavior. Did she know about the attack beforehand? I’m still not sure. But the other thing the movie demonstrates is just how stupid the people she surrounded herself were. Allison Janney plays a mean mommy really well, and Margot Robbie’s hand and body positions as Tonya skating were impeccable. I know Margot nor her skate double did Tonya’s triple axel, though — only Midori Ito and Mao Asada of Japan and Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. also have landed that jump in competition and Margot’s skating double was none of those ladies. The movie was fast-paced. The characters broke the fourth wall, talking to the audience several times. I especially enjoyed a sequence in which Tonya and her husband tell the same story, side by side (split-screen), obviously with different points of view.
The not-as-good: Twas a wee bit long. I’m sure, too, that liberties were taken to make things more cinematic.
Grade: 3 stars out of four.
Maybe this will give you a karate kick in the pants to see these flicks. Maybe not. Don’t worry — I’d never baton your knee if you choose not to watch.
Thoughts? Oh, do share in the comments below.
Movie Monday is my extremely infrequent movie/TV show review series. Click here to read more reviews.