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Mother/Android Review | This Terminator Meets The Walking Dead Hybrid Sure Is Dull

Chloë Grace Moretz gives an impactful performance in Mattson Tomlin’s “Mother/Android”, but the rest of this sci-fi hybrid picture is quite dull.

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Whether you like it or not, 2022 is off to a start (it’s too early to tell whether or not it’s a good or bad start, give it about a week or two), and I won’t wait until theatres reopen (yeah…) to write about film and TV. Kicking off my adventures in moviegoing for the year is Mattson Tomlin’s Mother/Android, a movie that came out on December 17th in the United States on Hulu but is gearing up for an International release on Netflix this week. Chloë Grace Moretz leads this sci-fi movie as Georgia Olsen, who finds out she is pregnant to Sam (Algee Smith)’s child on Christmas Eve, sometime in the near future where Androids are now part of human life.

During a party, a technical glitch causes the Androids, who are, in this world, acting as servants for humans, to become erratic and violent, causing death to anyone that comes in contact with them. Nine months have passed (for some odd reason). Georgia’s water can break at any moment, while Sam is looking for a path to Boston, where they can seek refuge in Korea, escape the post-apocalyptic hell doom of the United States and start a new life there. We’ve all seen this movie before. A survival sci-fi/horror film where characters have a plan to leave a dystopia to a promised utopia, and nothing goes according to plan.

Mother/Android follows that plot trope in the most unengaging way possible. Tomlin tries to visually explain, to the best of his ability, how the Androids were created and became part of everyday life, but the visual exposition is so minimal it becomes a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” moment. We have no idea how to what purpose the Androids were created, but we do recognize their visual inspirations from The Walking Dead and Terminator. When they don’t get shot in the face and have their face peeled like a T-800, they sure do run like brainless Zombies with the intent to kill people.

We never know what drives them to kill humans, or why they suddenly become violent. Sure, a blackout, but what caused the blackout and why did the blackout suddenly transform calm Androids into Zombie-like killing machines? These are important questions the movie never takes time to answer and instead spends most of its time with Grace Moretz’s Georgia on the cusp of giving birth inside cyclical and boring situations. Georgia and Sam go to a military base, potentially to help Olsen give birth. For the most bewildering reason, they get kicked off the base and must learn to fend for themselves. The same situation happens with their next objective. Every individual they meet, or place they visit has the same structure.

Tomlin begins by giving the audience a glimmer of hope, either through the movie’s decent-looking cinematography from Patrick Scola or through its minimalist, but emotionally-driven music from Kevin Henthorn and Michelle Birsky. Then, some lines of dialogue begin to swell hopium, until this “hope” is constantly crushed by:

a) The character’s own idiocy of not realizing the most obvious and/or never making the right decisions.

b) Androids show up. When in doubt, android it up.

c) The reality of the situation. Tomlin sets up Mother/Android‘s world as pessimistic by design. Therefore, the characters’ expectations of the promised utopia will be undoubtedly crushed. This isn’t a spoiler, but the reality of ANY post-apocalyptic sci-fi or horror film. It’s always the same, without exception.

Because of this, audience investment is at its minimum. Even if the movie does contain a few cool action sequences, including a rather exciting motorcycle chase filled with high-speed drones and, dare I say, scary-looking androids, Tomlin never gives us a reason to care about any character we spend time with, let alone care about the world they inhabit. Post-apocalyptic films are always enjoyable if the writer/filmmaker establishes the world first, before thwarting the characters in the action. Of course, they can thwart the characters first, to then establish the world, but that’s a riskier bet than the former. Tomlin decides to do the latter, but he never wants to establish the world further than “Androids evil. Georgia and Sam need to leave the USA.” Cool. But neat-looking action sequences and pretty images aren’t enough to hook people in.

Chloë Grace Moretz in Mother/Android.

Thankfully, Chloë Grace Moretz’s performance is impassioned enough that she carries the entire movie for herself. The final scene between her, Sam, and Korean officials is an absolute heartbreaker to watch, solely due to Moretz’s performance. Tomlin consistently relies on her for raw emotion, because he knows his script can’t carry the entire movie for itself. Sure, she does get trapped in a few “damsel in distress” situations, but when the movie needs her to shine, she always comes through and likely gives the best performance of her career. Her filmography isn’t filled with some of the best movies ever made, but her performance in Mother/Android almost puts hers in Suspiria and Clouds of Sills Maria to shame. She’s that good.

It’s an absolute disappointment that virtually anyone (or anything) else doesn’t work as hard as Moretz does here. She seems to have a deep affection for the material, and so does Tomlin, who infused some of his personal life in the script. But an affection for the material doesn’t necessarily equate to good material. If you’re not giving any reason to care about anything that’s going on in the movie, then the audience will check out quicker than the movie will ultimately “get going.” The truth of the matter is, this movie never gets going and gives a chance for us to care. If you want a great post-apocalyptic movie, 28 Days Later is the quintessential example of how it’s done.

FILM RATING

Mother/Android is now streaming exclusively on Hulu and will release on January 7th for International audiences on Netflix.

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Comedy

Sex Appeal Review | An Interesting Enough Premise Gets Squandered in Predictable Platitudes

A quasi-R-rated version of “The Kissing Booth” surprisingly works? Color me shocked.

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In a world filled with horrible teen coming-of-age comedies which re-tread John Hughes and other popular 80s comedies, Hulu’s Sex Appeal probably wouldn’t have worked. As it stands, the movie is interesting enough to make a distracting impression upon ourselves, but it’s nowhere near as sharply written as any of the mid-1980s/late-1990s coming-of-age comedies it keeps referencing. 

In any case, the best comparison I can give you is that its plot feels eerily (though not completely) similar to Netflix’s The Kissing Booth trilogy, though without any of the cringe and a legitimately compelling “best-friends” relationship. The “best friends” in question are Avery (Mika Abdalla) and Larson (Jake Short), who have had a close-knit relationship since childhood…until Larson decided to “make a move” at the age of 14, immediately rejected by Avery. Our female protagonist narrates the entire story like Joey King’s Elle Evans in The Kissing Booth and has a pretty narrow-minded view of everyone and everything. Basically, she only cares about herself. Avery will register for STEMCON, an annual youth scientist (?) convention, to which attendees will have to build an app that responds to their personal problems. 

Sex Appeal (2022) - IMDb

Avery’s “problem” is that she can’t have fulfilling sex with anyone and forcefully takes Larson as her Guinea Pig to experiment with diverse types of sex on him and her, to which we metaphorically see what happens inside IMAX-like dream sequences. A plot as preposterous as this shouldn’t work, but it kinda does. Of course, it’s a story we’ve all seen before, with the egotistical female character going on a journey of self-discovery and finally realizing that life doesn’t solely revolve around her, and that humans have feelings. By developing the app, she fails to realize the most important human element of all, love, because Avery is incapable of feeling love…until her experiment gets her to realize what love is and how it feels. 

Yes, director Talia Osteen and co-writer Tate Hanyok use sex as the driving force for Avery’s realization that her app should be all about love, and not all about sex. And she’ll learn this by having sex with someone she genuinely cares about but doesn’t want to admit that she has feelings for. Why? Because she had to focus on her studies? That feels like such a BS excuse, but the plot warrants it anyways. So yeah, once you get a gist of Avery and Larson’s “friendship that morphs into a quasi-relationship”, you can tell exactly where this movie is going, without fail. She has a non-existent relationship with her boyfriend (Mason Versaw), and can’t even feel love even if she also uses the app with him as they do it. Doesn’t she know what love is, or is she incapable of feeling it because she doesn’t want to? This is the central question Sex Appeal asks, and it surprisingly works twofold. 

Sex Appeal (2022) - IMDb

Firstly, the chemistry between Abdalla and Short is insanely palpable. In The Kissing Booth, the movie already doesn’t work because the chemistry between Joey King/Jacob Elordi/Joel Courtney feels unbelievable like they all belong in different movies (the writing is also a problem, but whatever). You can relate to Avery and Larson because their relationship feels real. And so it’s easier to get on board with an insanely predictable story if the acting holds the fort, to which it does greatly. Even the smallest supporting roles can bring surprising laughs to the mix, and genuine heart, which this movie has tons of. Its heart is in the right place, and the acting is decent enough for you to care about the characters’ plight, even if we’ve seen it all before. 

Secondly, the film’s aesthetic is original enough for the movie to rise above the platitudes it presents in its script for metaphorical sex sequences that are way more interesting than, say, if Avery and Larson solely had sex. Osteen prefers to open up the 2.39:1 frame to 1.90:1 during these dreamlike sequences to represent how Avery feels during the time she “experiments” on Larson, which ultimately makes her realize all the love she has for him, especially when she tries to do the same thing with Casper (Versaw) and, lo and behold, it doesn’t work. I appreciate the work of filmmakers who try different things than the usual paint-by-numbers coming-of-age sex comedy, without an ounce of creativity in its filmic representation of a protagonist’s state of mind, especially when it works, even if it may be on the nose for some. Sure it is, but it works nonetheless. 

So it’s surprising to see how engaging the movie is when the acting and the aesthetic work together and actually deliver a pretty good time at the movies, even if it’s a movie that we’ve seen before, done better. Where Sex Appeal fails in its story, it more than makes up for it through its creative aesthetics and terrific performances from Mika Abdalla and Jake Short, which in turn makes it a rather transfixing watch. It’s not the greatest movie in the world, sure, but it does its job right and the film’s heart is in the right place. What more can you ask for?

FILM RATING

Sex Appeal is now streaming on Hulu.

FILM RATING
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Drama

Nine Perfect Strangers Episode 5 Review

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Nine Perfect Strangers episode 5 titled Sweet Surender definitely answers some of the questions that were posed in previous episodes of the Hulu/Amazon series. It also shows the aftermath of Masha (Kidman) who’s moving to the next stage in her mysterious plan. 

The guests are also now struggling to tell the difference between reality and their hallucinations, thanks to the higher dosages in their smoothies, some of these sequences were hilarious but also some were truly heartbreaking. 



Birthdays are a time to celebrate and in this episode Zoe Marconi (Grace Van Patten) celebrates her 21st birthday. It’s bittersweet as she shares her birthday with her late brother, however Zach (Hal Cumpston) appears during this episode thanks to Zoe hallucinating. They talk, mainly about her lying and saying to the other guests that she and Zach were not close.

It’s the first time that Zoe truly has expressed her grief, she’s constantly in denial so it was emotional and heartbreaking watching her admit how lonely she’s been. 

In the morning, Napoleon enters the room and puts on a John Travolta performance from Grease. He starts dancing in his underwear as Smoothies are being prepared. The family are getting more along at their stay in Tranquillum but is it a facade or not. 

Vince Valitutti/Hulu

The gang of strangers all join together and discuss their odd dreams with each other. Napoleon discusses how he dreamed of being a member of the Beatles though Carmel is triggered by the song and forcefully plunges her fork straight into the table. 

Lars also confesses that he dreamed of giving birth whilst all the residents were there to see it all happen. Lars remembers the dream so vividly that he remembers that Tony happened to be the father and was uncontrollably crying. 

Vince Valitutti/Hulu

Frances also has a visitor, Paul arrives too apologise. However this is all one big dream sequence as Frances collapses into her oatmeal and passes out. This provides such an intimate moment later on between Frances and Tony as he’s the only one she feels able to share the most with. Tony encourages her to keep writing.

Vince Valitutti/Hulu

Masha also has some moments, as the episode begins with a flashback when she lost one of her residents at Tranquillum. Still on the the hunt for her mysterious stalker she confides in Deliah and apologises for what happened in the past. Unexpectedly Delilah leans forward and kisses Masha.

The episode then takes a trippy and psychedelic turn as both Yao and Delilah share some intimate moments together.

The day goes ahead with cliff dives for the Marconi couple as they get their shot of adrenaline by jumping straight into the water. While this is going on Lars heads to a secret spot and phones his contact letting them know that he’s been drugged. 



Regina Hall does some phenomenal acting in this episode especially as she sees Benjamin and Jessica make love in the hot springs. This unfortunately sends her to the boiling point as she becomes erratic. that moment reminded her of her ex husband and his new woman, as it’s discovered that Carmel hid all her anger and rage by putting on a brave face for her children. 

Overall Nine Perfect Strangers episode 5 has me questioning what is real and what is imaginary. The cast are also compelling to watch as they go further into treatment. That night as they all join back at Tranquillum to celebrate Zoe’s birthday, Zoe notices Zack standing by the pool as she stares in his direction. Masha notices surprised and hurries over to only whisper in Zoe’s ear that she is the key to what’s happening. But what exactly does she mean and will we eventually get to figure this mystery out. 

Vince Valitutti/Hulu

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Comedy

Only Murders In The Building Episodes 1-2 Review

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Only Murders in the Building is a hilarious and sharp Murder mystery that will have you on the edges of your seats laughing and shocked with plenty of reveals and surprises. It embarks on exactly what viewers are looking for in a suspenseful, comical mystery, which makes it more compelling to watch, especially with It’s star studded cast of characters. 

Neighbours Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short) and Mabel (Selena Gomez) live at the Arconia, an Upper West Side apartment building. However after being evacuated from their apartments they bond over dinner and discover each have a shared love of true crime, especially the podcast “All Is Not Ok In Oklahoma”. So when a fellow resident named Tim Kono (Julian Cihi) dies in their building a seismic shift occurs and the trio are determined to solve the mystery whilst recording an accompanying podcast (also named Only Murders In The Building). 

still courtesy of Hulu

This Podcast is truly an integral part of the overall storyline as it seems to shape directions of their investigation in unexpected ways. This Murder mystery feels like a vehicle which is moving more towards a character-driven story, especially when there’s plenty of residents keeping secrets. Though deep down the first two episodes that are available on Disney Plus Star in the UK show that Charles, Oliver and especially Mabel are hiding secrets themselves. 

The show reunites beloved iconic comedians Steve Martin, Martin Short, who team up with Selena Gomez as the three neighbours brought together by the murder of their fellow tenant. Each brought different skillsets to the case and the series gives a good look into their backstories. 

I especially loved that each characters apartment reflected their personalities, the interior of the Arconia building is absolutely gorgeous. Steve Martin’s character Charles is a former television star, so his apartment seems to be stuck in the past. He made lots of money and has consistently updated his apartment with modern art pieces. Oliver’s (Martin short) apartment truly displays a career of glory but also failure as a theatre director. His apartment is a little overdone and lavishly luxurious. The apartment even included a grand dining room.

There is a real sweetness to these character interactions, especially with Charles and Mabel. Who is a twenty something with plenty of dry wit and a home renovation on her hands. Martin and Short are absolutely fantastic and it was great to see Selena’s return to tv in a great way. Her opening scene definitely foreshadows the unexpected but thrilling direction the series is taking as we get to know Mabel a bit more including her close circle of friends. 

Especially in episode two when these three neighbours begin to research more about the victim, especially when Mabel’s secret past starts to unravel.

still courtesy of Hulu

In the End, ‘Only Murders In The Building’ episodes one and two take the idea of a whodunnit? and reinvent the mystery in a thrilling, suspenseful comical way. All these aspects add to the appeal of the show and will certainly make you get your detective cap on and join in this Manhattan Murder Mystery. I can’t wait to see where Episode three takes us next week. 

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