Our movie critic Paul McGuire Grimes (Paul’s Trip to the Movies) gives us his take on the final season of The Kominsky Method on Netflix plus his review on A Quiet Place Part 2 and Cruella out in theaters now.
THE KOMINSKY METHOD Season 3 (Netflix)
The third and final season opens with Sandy Kominsky mourning the death of his best friend, Norman. He now faces the complications that come with aging without his best friend by his side. Norman leaves a $10 million trust for Sandy and Sandy’s daughter, Mindy. This shocks Norman’s own daughter and grandson. Marriage is in the cards for Mindy and her boyfriend, Martin, but their age difference starts to come into play. Mindy’s mom, Sandy’s ex-wife, moves back to Los Angeles with life-altering news.
Created by Chuck Lorre, the creator of massive hits The Big Bang Theory, Mom, and Two and a Half Men. His first series created for Netflix and isn’t filmed in front of a live studio audience. The platform allows Lorre to explore life a bit more honestly and grounded than you can with writing typically found with episodic television.
There’s a real ease and effortless chemistry with this cast. The banter and jokes work better than I would have expected given I don’t typically care for Lorre’s shows. Haley Joel Osment plays a Scientologist and Sandy isn’t afraid to poke fun at the cult at any chance he can get.
Season 3 suffers a bit without Alan Arkin on the show anymore. The show felt built around the friendship around Sandy and Norman and that bond is missing in the final season.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
A QUIET PLACE PART II (In theaters)
Funnyman John Krasinski shocked audiences with A Quiet Place, now he and wife Emily Blunt are back for another adrenaline ride with A Quiet Place Part II. Blunt’s Evelyn Abbott knows their family compound is no longer safe from the alien creatures that hunt by sound. Despite having just given birth, she along with her baby, son Marcus and daughter Regan venture out hoping to find new shelter and supplies. Their journey leads them to a family friend’s underground bunker, but it’s Regan who believes she’s found a way to stop these monsters once and for all.
A Quiet Place Part II is once again written and directed by John Krasinski. His opening sequence takes place back on Day 1 when the terror all began. It’s a completely unnerving beginning set against one of America’s most beloved pastimes, baseball.
Krasinski thrusts the audience right in the driver’s seat as you feel like you are right in the thick of the chaos. The whole film is shot impeccably well which makes the tension all the more unsettling. I was brought right back to that uneasy feeling knowing that any sound from the leaves crinkling to full throttle screams will summon the aliens whose speed and force cannot be matched.
Horror sequels are especially tricky when the terror comes from an original and specific place. Krasinski keeps A Quiet Place Part II a direct continuation of the story picking up right where the first film left off and manages not to treat it as a blatant re-hash of the first film.
The stakes are higher for the Abbott family after the loss of a loved one and we come to see how the game of survival affects humans very differently. This idea is equally as terrifying as the large alien creatures. Krasinski examines what kind of people we become in the name of survival as we witness a family unit come together, but we also see other characters act out of desperation, selfishness, and greed.
Krasinski makes the bold choice of making young deaf actress Millicent Simmonds as daughter Regan the brave hero of the story over the expected choice of Emily Blunt. Simmonds lives up to the challenge proving she’s a young actress on the rise.
Emily Blunt is equally captivating giving Evelyn this worn down and exhausted demeanor, but one that will keep fighting every step of the way to protect her children. It would be great to see Simmonds and Blunt recognized come award season to showcase how horror performances can be just as strong and emotionally rich as your traditional drama or period piece.
Krasinski has trained his audience to be on edge teeing us up at certain moments, only to pivot, and then pulls the rug out from under us when we least expect it. Get ready to quietly eat your popcorn and muffle your screams.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
CRUELLA (In theaters, Disney+ Premier Access)
Even as a young girl, Estella always came with a feisty side she named Cruella. Part of this was due to the teasing she received as she was born with half black hair and half white hair. She was always one to challenge the status quo fighting back at the world that has done her wrong. She became orphaned after watching her mother fall to her death after being attacked by three dalmatians. She befriends two grifters named Horace and Jasper and throughout the next decade they perform little pick pockets as she hones in on a passion for fashion design. Now played by Emma Stone, Estella gets noticed by the renowned designer The Baroness von Hellman, played by Emma Thompson, becoming her new protégé. Estella’s world is turned upside down and becomes a tale of revenge after realizing the connection between her later mother and The Baroness.
I’m not typically drawn to origin stories of villains, but there’s always an exception to the rule and Cruella proved me wrong.
Cruella is a tale of two Emmas, and one of the best of these Disney live action remakes thanks to the Oscar winning actresses.
The film starts off a little slow given a lengthy exposition for a movie that’s already an origin story. This could have been shortened or treated as quick flashbacks. It starts to pick up and be a fun ride once Emma Stone enters the scene as Estrella and reminds us of her fantastic comedic chops as a character actress. She easily taps into what it means to be a Disney villain while giving her redeeming qualities along the way. There’s a playful quality in her trio with Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser as her two henchmen.
Emma Thompson is pitch perfect as The Baroness, who is treated as the world class diva that she is. You can see how she was fashioned after Meryl Streep’s character Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada as everyone is afraid of her and nothing is good enough for her.
This villain vs villain angle is wickedly clever and the script gives both of the Emmas plenty to play around with as they take vastly different approaches to their characters in how they try to stake their claim in the fashion industry. What would a movie about fashion be without an exquisite costume design and Jenny Beavan knew the assignment as your jaw drops with all of the costumes from their textures and their sharp angles to Emma Thompson’s turbans.
Cruella excels at not being a straight carbon copy of the character we’ve come to know and love. Having the film set in the 1970s punk rock scene of London aids in giving it a lush and lavish flair from top to bottom with no design element ignored.
The pacing could be tightened up quite a bit as it’s a bit too long for a Disney film catered toward families. In the end, Disney should take a note from director Craig Gillespie’s film in how to present a fresh take with their live action remakes.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS