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Don’t Make Me Go Review | A Touching Father-Daughter Roadtrip That Hits a Flat in its Third Act

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I was really pulling for Don’t Make Me Go as the third act approached. I had seen some gripes with the cute father-daughter road trip drama prior to watching it myself, and while I go into every film with an open mind, Don’t Make Me Go does away with a really solid hour and a half before crumbling in its third act. Stellar, and I mean stellar performances from both John Cho and Mia Isaac are a good enough reason to watch the film, but it’s a film that tries to do too much in its third act, resulting in a film that tries to have it both ways with a twist and a nice, Hollywood ending. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really succeed in either.

Max Park (John Cho) is a single father with a teenage daughter named Wally (Mia Wallace). The latter is at the age where she is keener on sending spicy pictures to her boyfriend Glenn (Otis Dhanji) than taking pictures with her own father; going to high school “hangouts” which are basically three guys and their “dates” sitting on a couch, eating pizza, and playing Super Smash Bros. But while there are serious matters happening with Max, Wally is caught up in her world, dealing with all of the typical teenage problems like drinking, pimples, and sex.

MIA ISAAC and JOHN CHO star in DON’T MAKE ME GO. Photo: GEOFFREY SHORT © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

After Max discovers he has a terminal disease, he attempts to take Wally on a road trip to find her estranged mother, only he frames it as a trip to his college reunion which I guess is a means to an end of finding her. As you’d expect from a teenager that wants to hang out with her 5’4″ boyfriend, Wally responds with a perfect line that encapsulates teenage angst: “As long as you’ll accept that I’ll be miserable the whole time.” So, the two embark on their cross-country road tripwhere Max does his best to prepare his daughter for a potential future without him and enjoy what could be some of their final memories together. Some of these memories include letting Wally drive on a road filled with drivers that have the emerging skills of a Pennsylvania driver and going to a casino, teaching Wally to bet on herself; a theme typically reserved for the latest Hallmark schlock that is critical to making the ending make any sort of sense. But my biggest concern was how Max was able to not only bring Wally into a casino but have her play the games.

It’d be a great disservice to start anywhere other than Mia Wallace; who’s having quite the summer. With scene-stealing performances in Don’t Make Me Go and Searchlight’s Not Okay — out later this month — Wallace has proved herself to be a name to keep a close eye on. For some parents, Wallace’s performance as Wally could be seen as grating, and I’d understand that. Wally is a teenage girl going through troubles that seem so trivial like the boyfriend who only cares about receiving attention and not having her license. Worst of all, Wally is still at the point in her life where the world still revolves around her and she is unable to see the perspectives of others. But being that I”m closer to being a teenager than a 40-year-old parent, Wallace’s performance is one that I can digest and appreciate as I’ve also dragged my feet while my parents tried to get me on a trip or was embarrassed to no end by them in public.

JOHN CHO and MIA ISAAC star in DON’T MAKE ME GO. Photo: GEOFFREY SHORT © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

John Cho stars opposite Wallace as Max, Wally’s father. Even if he’s not a perfect parent — the more you learn about him, the more the cracks show — he’s doing his best. It’s clear that Max is trying, but he’s left making tough choices that anyone would struggle with. Do you get the surgery that could potentially kill you mid-procedure? Or do you just live out the year (or less) that you have? Neither choice is particularly exciting, and Max spends a lot of time preemptively preparing his daughter for life after him without blatantly telling her. Can you imagine having to face that while keeping a brave face?

But while that choice is excruciatingly tough, that’s where the film stumbles. The first hour and a half or so are nearly perfect; it’s a poignant road trip film that connects the father and daughter with a backdrop of mortality. Don’t Make Me Go takes a quick turn that goes for a twist that is poorly executed. A character even gives a monologue where it feels like the director’s attempt at lessening the blow by acknowledging the anger the twist may leave you with, “I said you weren’t going to like the way this story ends,” and that is exactly right; I hated how this story ended.

It’s not as if the twist had no previous precedent to happen; it’s just such a curveball that is too jarring to throw in with the amount of time remaining. Now, director Hannah Marks and screenwriter Vera Herbert take a big swing, and I can applaud them for that. But not every hit is a home run, and this film would’ve been far more satisfying with a safe single.

JOHN CHO and MIA ISAAC star in DON’T MAKE ME GO. Photo: GEOFFREY SHORT © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

80% of Don’t Make Me Go works, it really does, but that ending just drops the ball and will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth like the gas station nachos I used to get when I would go on a road trip. Simply put, the twist lessens the emotional impact that the rest of the film had. Plenty of the film will have you ready to take the tissues out; but then that happens and you’ll be so distracted by your confusion and disappointment that you’ll forget what had previously happened that was oh so good. It truly separated Don’t Make Me Go from being up there with some of my favorite films of the year even despite the best efforts of John Cho and Mia Wallace who have impeccable chemistry. If you read this and are still searching for a reason to watch the film, I’d bet my chips on those two.


Don’t Make Me Go will be available to stream on Prime Video on July 15.

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Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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