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Not Okay Review | Zoey Deutch Plays the Literal Worst Person in the World in Social Media Satire

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Has any film before Not Okay started by warning you that the female protagonist of the film is an awful person? This was definitely a first for me, and while Not Okay surely won’t be the last swing at mocking influencer culture, and while the film suffers from an identity crisis at times, it’s a unique take on a very timely subject. Zoey Deutch gives a great performance as someone who tells one white lie that becomes a Jenga tower that can tip over at any moment and Mia Isaac continues her star-making summer with another great performance as a teenage activist.

Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) is just not like other girls and is living the NY dream: Eating ramen in her (absurdly large) NYC apartment and working a staff writer job at a Buzzfeed-like outlet with an office space akin to the one in Jexi. Anyways, Danni meets the newly-recruited influencer, Colin (Dylan O’Brien), and suddenly feels the urge to impress him after running into him outside of a matcha cafe that is free for influencers. To accomplish this, Danni does what any logical Gen Z’er would and fakes her trip to Paris by Photoshopping images of her in New York to appear as though she was in the City of Light. This backfires when a terrorist attack occurs while she is supposedly there and Danni now has to begin living the lie that she created but is also praised as a hero and gains notoriety.

Zoey Deutch in the film NOT OKAY. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century All Rights Reserved

On top of all that, when Danni needs help recollecting her perspective of the attacks that she did not witness, she thinks of the brilliant idea of going to a support group for survivors of trauma that I suppose she was going to use for the inspiration of her op-ed that she was commissioned for? It doesn’t really matter, but at that support group, she meets a young teenage activist and trauma survivor, Rowan (Mia Isaac), who Danni befriends and grows a close relationship with whilst growing closer to her support group and volunteering at rallies alongside Rowan. But even for Danni’s good intentions, she begins using Rowan to get more clicks to her op-ed and grow her own platform.

(From L-R): Kirk White, Zoey Deutch, and Mia Isaac in the film NOT OKAY. Photo by Nicole Rivelli. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Perhaps Danni chose the wrong field because her editing skills far exceed her writing skills. Maybe Not Okay isn’t the film to focus on the finer details with, but there are quite a few things like Danni’s absurdly big apartment despite a low-paying job that are enough to take you out of the film. Yes, the film makes it clear that she has rich parents, but if Danni has to hesitate about going to them for funding over her Paris trip — before she decided in favor of the Photoshop plan — is it really believable that they would pay for a ridiculously big NYC apartment?

Like Avengers: Endgame, the plot of Not Okay can be attributed to a rodent. his time, instead of a rat saving the universe, a hamster is to thank for Danni’s whole plan to Photoshop her way into becoming an influencer. Said hamster happens to walk across Danni’s keyboard and open Photoshop. That’s not even the most unbelievable part of the plot; especially as a former cat owner who has had my fair share of documents messed up due to a cat walking across my keyboard. One of Danni’s co-workers makes a comment about the fact that no one fact checks, but did the editor-in-chief of the outlet really approve an indefinite leave for a writer’s retreat that no one’s heard of? And did Danni just live under a rock for the time that she was “gone”? I know that New York is a huge place, but I find it extremely hard to believe that Danni never ran into a single soul that would recognize her during this time; even if it was the person working the counter of the grocery store she buys her ramen at. My last big gripe comes with the way the film handles internet trolls. Yes, there are some really nasty people, but would Danni’s entire facade really mend the bridge between conservatives and liberals? You see both sides agree upon hating Danni, telling her to “choke on her own piss,” and listing her death as the “most-anticipated.” Of course, Danni’s actions are shitty, but the MCU fandom apparently displays more division on Twitter than political parties in this film, which is saying something.

For as much as the character of Danni is irritating, Zoey Deutch deserves credit for not only taking on such a hatable role but actually nailing it. Deutch exceeds in the scenes where Danni says really out-of-pocket or slightly racist/homophobic things whilst remaining unaware of how it comes off. There’s also something to be said about the self-righteous influencers that only make statements for their own gain, which Deutch does well as Danni at times appears as though she is trying to change, but her actions are still wrong and you’re waiting for the tower of cards to finally collapse. It’s a far different role than her one in The Outfit — a film everyone should see — and one that allows her to show off her range.

Speaking of The Outfit, Deutch’s co-star, Dylan O’Brien, plays the influencer Colin — whose Instagram handle is also that of the randoms I encounter on NBA 2K, @weedboicolin, and has the personality of what I envision those guys from the YouTube video game clans being like and the appearance of one of the Paul brothers. He’s not in the film a whole lot, but it’ll take a few scenes before you realize that it’s Dylan O’Brien under the neck tattoos, shades, and ridiculous dialect.

Mia Isaac and Zoey Deutch in the film NOT OKAY. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century All Rights Reserved

The real star of the show is Mia Isaac. She’s the best part of both Not Okay and Don’t Make Me Go, and the world is her oyster. She’s the emotional core of the film and Isaac brings tenacity to all of her scenes; especially in the scenes with rallies, spoken word performances, and confrontation of another character. You’ll believe every word that she speaks to the point that you’ll wonder if she is an actual political activist.

Director Quinn Shephard does a fine job as a director, Not Okay is directed well and Shephard has a good handle on what influencer culture looks like. I think her writing is even better, as Not Okay‘s dialogue is usually sharp. The biggest issue with the film is that it’s slightly overstuffed with ideas — some that are worth tackling — and some of that fluff could have been trimmed to make for a more concise film.

At its best, Not Okay is a sharp commentary on the influencer culture that we live in where YouTubers pop up on WWE programming and misguided activism. At its worst, Not Okay leans too heavily into burlesque satire to the point that the characters become caricatures. And I know that this film isn’t too focused on the finer details, but some of the plot holes/conveniences are hard to overlook. So while Not Okay is attempting to make a statement worth trending, it results in a film that would classify as #mid, as the kids would say.


Searchlight Pictures will release Not Okay on Hulu on July 29.

FILM RATING

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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Netflix

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 Review: Have They Lost Their Spark?

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Sam Phillips as Lord Debling, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Dearest gentle reader, Lady Whistledown is back for another Bridgerton season, and this time for her own love story (the ton doesn’t need to know). Classy as ever, Bridgerton Season 3 focuses primarily on Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton’s characters Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton as they take their friendship to another level.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

What is Bridgerton Season 3 About?

After focusing on Daphne and Anthony Bridgerton in the first and second seasons, the story is now following Colin Bridgerton’s story with the girl next door. Penelope was many things for Colin but never a love interest. She was his sister’s best friend, a girl next door, a friend, and someone who had a crush on him. It’s no secret for the viewers that Penelope had a huge crush on Colin for years, but our girl finally feels ready to move on and get her life together. She is now in search of a husband after getting her heart broken in the last season.

What Stole the Show?

Apart from Nicola Coughlan getting the most deserving highlight, Netflix did their fan service and gave more screen time to now-extremely popular Benedict Bridgerton. Benedict Bridgerton has always been one of the fan favorite characters but after this season he has certainly got a huge following. Luke Thompson’s charms deserve to be studied in a university. He seems to be people’s new crush and I don’t blame them! The beautifully written dialogues are as usual top notch.

Bridgerton is famous for many reasons, including its orchestral remix of popular songs. This season Pitbull’s ‘Give Me Everything’ is in the limelight as one doesn’t expect such an iconic party song to sound so classy. Huge kudos to the makeup and costume department for carrying the show with its theme gracefully. They certainly grasped the attention and enhanced the characters of the show.

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

What’s Bothering Us in The Show?

The scripting of the show seems rushed. It lacks the spice, passion, and the slow burn romance that defines a Bridgerton story. Colin’s character has been poorly developed this time. After being sidelined for the last two seasons this one was supposed to make him the knight in shining armor, but he rather lacks the character. He tries to help Penelope only because he feels guilty for insulting and hurting her. Later on, he ruins her chance with a great suitor only because he feels jealous for not having her. He acts like a child who wants his toy back as soon as some other child starts playing with it. He misses Penelope’s attention after seeing her happy with someone else who wants to marry her. Some may call it ‘true love’ but I believe it’s too immature and childish thing to do for a Bridgerton character. Nothing against Luke Newton but his character development is not helping the show.

Apart from lacking the slow-build and passionate love story, the show seems to have forgotten about Daphne and Simon Basset (played by Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page) completely. Anthony and Kate Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley) appear in one episode and are not even mentioned in the rest.

Nicola Coughlan – The Show’s Star

Nicola Coughlan is shining brighter than any star in the sky. Both Nicola and Penelope are role models for body positivity. Young girls and women across the globe highly relate to Penelope and seeing her accepting herself, being comfortable in her own skin, and getting a complete makeover to feel more like herself is bound to create a positive wave among the fans. Unlike the last two Seasons, the Third Season is also focusing on other characters of the show as well, as it creates branches and stories for potential upcoming seasons. Yet, no one and nothing shines in front of Nicola Coughlan as she wears her crown with grace.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Is It Better Than Last Two Seasons?

Each Bridgerton story has its unique charm that keeps our eyes glued to the screens. Some love Season 1, others like Season 2, and the rest prefer Season 3 but is it better than the last two? Probably not. Nothing can beat Season 1! As much as the show focuses on the ‘Friends to Lovers’ storyline, it lacks the true essence of romance and no, I’m not talking about the spiciness even though they severely lack to give us butterflies. Polin’s storyline sometimes gives us butterflies but not as much as previous seasons did. The groundwork for the couple was laid since the first season yet they are not coming as strong and passionate as expected.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is currently available to stream on Netflix. Part 2 will be released on June 13.

FILM RATING
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Entertainment

‘IF’ Review | The Most Meaningful and Heartfelt Movie of The Year, Delights With Pure Imagination

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This review was made possible by watching an advanced screening

The most meaningful and heartfelt movie of the year. “IF” enchants with delight and wonder as John Krasinski crafts a love letter to our childhood, making us experience emotions that ultimately hit me right in the feels as he reminds us to never lose sight of our imagination! 

In a cinematic landscape often dominated by cynicism and darkness, John Krasinski’s “IF” is a breath of fresh air, a heartwarming and endearing tale that will leave you beaming with joy as it expertly balances the magic, wonder, and adventure of childhood with the poignancy, trials, and tribulations of adulthood, creating a narrative that is at once both nostalgic and universally relatable. The real magic of “IF” lies in its ability to tap into the collective shared childhood experience by evoking memories of our imaginary friends & the adventures we’ve shared with them. 

“IF,” is a whimsical fantasy family adventure that explores the concept of abandoned imaginary friends or IFs as they call themselves. In this heartwarming tale, Bea, a young girl played beautifully by Cailey Fleming discovers her unique ability to see these unwanted characters and reconnect the forgotten IFs with their original creators who have now fully grown up as she embarks on a magical journey through this imaginative, colourful, and creative world. As one girl learns the power of imagination and friendship. Bea thinks she must be hallucinating – until the man in the apartment upstairs reveals he can also see the IFs. 

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Several years ago, Krasinski, known for his work on “A Quiet Place,” penned a script intending to uplift his children who were struggling with feelings of depression amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Krasinski not only wrote the script but also took on the role of director for the film. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Cailey Fleming, Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., and Fiona Shaw, among many other A-listers lending their voices to the characters, “IF” was inspired by the impact of the pandemic on Krasinski’s daughters, Hazel and Violet.

Having long harboured the desire to create a film for his children, Krasinski found inspiration in the imaginative worlds his daughters would delve into. Witnessing the genuine joy and authenticity with which they played, he was motivated to capture this magic on screen. Through “IF,” Krasinski aimed to show his daughters that this world of imagination and make-believe is always within reach, a place where they can be anything they desire. This magical world is ever-present and waiting for them to explore.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Imaginary friends, these elusive entities existing solely in a child’s vivid imagination, serve as a comforting beacon amidst the chaos of adulthood. In this whimsical tale, away from the foreboding presence of sightless extraterrestrials, audiences are treated to a cascade of endearing characters and a wave of nostalgic charm that instils a heartwarming sense of joy and wonder. “IF” is a delightful escapade that celebrates the virtues of curiosity, creativity, and innocence, rekindling the essence of childhood wonder, and reminding us that the magic is always within reach.

Featuring a star-studded lineup of IFs including Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Keegan-Michael Key, and more, the film introduces a mix of charismatic imaginary beings brought to life through the distinct voices of these esteemed actors. Each character, with its unique backstory and quirks, adds a human touch to the ethereal world, resonating with both younger viewers and their older counterparts.

The film’s exploration of imaginary friends serves as a poignant reminder that our childhood aspirations and dreams are not just fleeting fantasies, but rather tangible time capsules that hold the power to shape our future. These creations, born from our imagination, are a manifestation of our hopes, desires, and innermost ambitions – a reflection of who we wanted to be and what we wanted to achieve. As we grow up and face the harsh realities of adulthood, it’s easy to lose sight of these childhood ideals, but the film suggests that we don’t have to let go of that spark. By tapping into the imagination and embracing the spirit of our youthful selves, we can reignite our passions, rediscover our sense of purpose, and continue to evolve into the best versions of ourselves. In this way, imaginary friends become a powerful tool for self-reflection, creativity, and personal growth, reminding us that even as we age, we can still hold onto the essence of our childhood dreams.”

Through the vibrant personalities of figures like Blue, Unicorn, Sunny, Spaceman, and Ally, the movie explores the boundless bounds of a child’s imagination. A blend of conventional and eccentric companions, such as Blossom, Ice, Cosmo, and Marshmallow creates a tapestry of humour and charm that engages viewers in a realm where the fantastical meets the mundane in delightful ways. Most significantly Lewis, an old teddy bear voiced by Louis Gossett Jr sadly passed away and the film is lovingly dedicated to him with such a touching tribute after the credits rolled.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

To render the unseen into vision, director John Krasinski enlisted the expertise of VFX supervisor Chris Lawrence and the revered effects studio Framestore, weaving together around 800 meticulously crafted shots featuring a diverse ensemble of 42 CGI characters. Within this narrative realm, a poignant blend of fantasy and magical realism flourishes, engendering a profound sense of belief in the audience as they witness these ethereal beings coalesce on screen. Employing a blend of physical puppets and digital animation, the film sought to honour the sanctity of space and performance, poised on the precipice of seamlessly integrating these otherworldly entities within the tangible fabric of the film universe.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Through this meticulous fusion of technical prowess and artistic vision, the film emerges as a testament to the transformative power of storytelling, poised to captivate audiences with its charm and artistry.

With a captivating blend of computer-generated CGI forms seamlessly integrating into the real world, expertly led by the dynamic duo of Fleming and Reynolds, As the live-action leads, they exhibit effortless chemistry on-screen, commanding attention and drawing the audience in. The initial wariness between Bea and Cal gives way to a warm and engaging rapport, characterised by witty banter and exasperation.

As Bea navigates the challenges of transitioning through her teenage years, she finds solace in these quirky and unique imaginary friends, embracing the comfort and security of childhood delights. Meanwhile, the film’s relationships take centre stage, led by the charismatic performance of Ryan Reynolds and standout Cailey Fleming, alongside Fiona Shaw. The movie’s greatest strength lies in its nuanced balance between lighthearted moments and emotional depth, evoking a sense of warmth and family, particularly during poignant reunion scenes.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

One of the film’s most endearing relationships is that between Bea and her father, played by Krasinski, which is charmingly tender and heartfelt.

Michael Giacchino’s music score for the movie “If” is a masterclass in emotional depth and thematic complexity. The composer delivers one of the best scores of his career, weaving a sonic tapestry that perfectly captures the film’s poignant exploration of connection whether that’s from human or imaginary. Giacchino’s themes are creative, heartfelt, and sincere, expertly conveying the emotional highs and lows of the characters’ journeys. From the tender warmth to the soaring grandeur of the score’s more uplifting moments, every note feels carefully crafted to elevate the film’s emotional impact. Giacchino’s score is a stunning achievement, showcasing his remarkable composer skill and ability to tap into the heart of a story.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In essence, “IF” is a cinematic celebration of the power of imagination, brought to life through a tapestry of endearing characters and heartfelt moments that left me feeling nostalgic and uplifted. With its colourful jumble of personalities and whimsical storytelling, the film is a captivating journey into the enchanting world of make-believe that will warm the hearts of viewers of all ages. 

IF” hits theatres on May 17. 

FILM RATING
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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)

FILM RATING
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