Chang Can Dunk has a heart but is lacking in the script.

Chang, a 16-year-old Asian American high school student in band, bets the school basketball star that he can dunk by homecoming. But before he can rise up, he’ll have to reexamine everything he knows about himself, his friendships and his family.

Why does anyone care if Chang can or cannot dunk? Jokes aside I was definitely expecting the worst with Chang Can Dunk, in some ways it’s a bit better than I thought and in others well it’s exactly what I expected it to be. 

The performances are fine enough, particularly Bloom Li who’s given a script that is on the level of a bad Disney Channel Original Movie. He does what he can with it and I definitely respect him for that, Dexter Darden is decently fun as well and I actually liked Zoe Renee despite her ultimately just being the love interest and that’s it. It’s definitely one of the better made Disney+ movies, it goes for this bigger in scale type of feel which I will admit is kind of surprising to see from this sort of movie. 

Unfortunately just about everything else is either terrible or falls into the forgettable category, the writing as I said earlier is not that much different from a Disney Channel movie it’s just a bit more mature with it’s tone and that’s pretty much it, the movie is very predictable to the point where you can guess what is going to happen within the first 10 minutes. The movie attempts to go for a coming of age sort of feel which doesn’t work nearly as well as they thought it did, which again comes down to the writing. 

We aren’t given a whole lot of character moments with any of the characters even with Chang himself, we are given very surface level information that a lot of these Disney+ movies tend to give and then the movie decides to move on to the next scene. Part of what makes a good coming of age movie is character development and character moments, where we learn about the character, how they feel, what their goals are, who they are as a person and much more. 

I can definitely respect that Chang Can Dunk at the very least attempted to try and be a coming of age movie (something you really done often see in modern Disney movies) but it doesn’t do it well here unfortunately, I definitely think with a much more focused and better written script there could have been something really great here. 

Chang Can Dunk is available on Disney+

4/10 D+


The Amazing Maurice is not so amazing.

Maurice is a streetwise ginger cat who comes up with a money-making scam by befriending a group of self-taught talking rats. When Maurice and the rodents meet a bookworm called Malicia, their little con soon goes down the drain.

Would you believe if I told you that The Amazing Maurice was at the Sundance Film Festival? I didn’t see it at the festival mainly due to two things, one the movie looked horrible and two it was coming out very soon anyway. And I don’t think I needed bragging rights for The Amazing Maurice of all movies. 

Anyway the movie itself is quite honestly about what you would expect, while it’s definitely not as bad as I thought it was going to be. As it does have some genuinely interesting ideas floating around, the rest of the movie is just more on the bland side. Perhaps the most baffling thing about it is Hugh Laurie voicing Maurice, there’s some unintentional funny moments that really make Laurie quite fitting for the role plus he honestly does not do a half bad job. He works with what he has with the script and actually makes the most of it, in fact the same applies quite well to the rest of the cast. Particularly David Thewlis as The Rat King. 

The animation while not anything good could have been a lot worse, does it look like one of those mobile game ads you frequently see? Yes but here it’s not as bad or very obvious, as they do try to change it up at times and some darker tones or get creative with the animation. 

Honestly what really hurts the movie mostly is the narration, the fourth-wall breaks and the writing, the movie attempts to be a bit darker which I guess makes sense since the movie is based off of a book that was a twist on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Pied Piper.” Which may seem a bit off putting to some since the movie sort of marketed itself as this cute cat movie, which I’m all for the movie being a bit darker. In fact that was the movie’s strongest elements by far, it’s just when they mixed with fourth-wall breaking jokes and some very forgettable writing it became sort of an identity crisis. 

The fourth-wall jokes really don’t land and as said before really don’t match the tone that some of the movie is going for, the characters are just sort of there. None of them are particularly memorable outside of Maurice himself and The Rat King everyone else doesn’t get a whole lot to do. 

Overall The Amazing Maurice is definitely not as bad as expected, there is definitely some level of wanting to make the movie itself work. But is dragged down from bland writing and unfunny fourth-wall breaking. 

The Amazing Maurice is available in theaters. 

4/10 D+

Dog Gone is a forgettable dog movie.

When his beloved dog goes missing, a young man embarks on an incredible search with his parents to find him and give him life-saving medication.

Dog movies have always been a small but fun little genre that audiences can easily get into, some dog movies are definitely better than others with a lot of modern ones being on the weaker side. Dog Gone is based on the book Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home by Paul Toutonghi, which is based off of a true story who lost their dog named Gonker back in 1998. An interesting true story but how well does the movie do? Well let’s find out! 

Dog Gone is directed by Stephen Herek who has directed quite a few recognizable movies such as Critters, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Mighty Ducks, 101 Dalmatians (1996) and a few others. Which is admittedly why the movie does pretty well during the first half of the movie, there’s plenty of charming moments that really match a lot of the charm Herek puts into his work. It’s obviously not as effective since it does have the Netflix Lifetime movie feel a lot of the time. But at the very least it has some level of charm that does add to the movie, having that said a huge amount of the movie has the dog go missing which is where the movie starts to show it’s cracks. A lot of the movie is focused on family issues that while could have been interesting to explore ultimately really do not add very much and are very surface level at best, there’s even an almost bar brawl that was definitely a choice to put in a dog movie. 

The main problem here with Dog Gone is the acting and writing just don’t back up the movie at all, while there isn’t anything horrible there certainly isn’t anything good here either. Nobody really gives a performance that is particularly rememberable, Rob Lowe has a few moments that are unintentionally hilarious but that’s really about it. 

Dog Gone is unfortunate case of a movie that could have been a cute little dog movie and while it is just that during the first act of the movie, the rest of it drags and is very tedious. I definitely get what they were trying to go for here but as I said before the family elements are just not well developed and the rest of the movie is very dull unfortunately. 

Dog Gone is available on Netflix. 

4/10 D+

Matilda: The Musical is a fun little movie.

Matilda, an extraordinary girl armed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination, dares to take a stand against her oppressive parents and head teacher to change her story with miraculous results.

Honestly the more I thought about Matilda: The Musical the more I actually thought it wasn’t too bad. There really isn’t a whole lot to say here as it does play out as expected, but I will say between the performances that are actually pretty decent particularly Lashana Lynch and Emma Thompson who both give really fun and very strong performances. Emma Thompson really captures what made Miss Trenchbull so terrible from the original film really well, there’s also the music that’s actually quite great. The music isn’t really my cup of tea but I absolutely won’t deny that it’s very enjoyable and did get me to sing-along at times (outside of the baffling opening), the movie does run for a bit too long it clocks in for nearly 2 hours where at times you really do feel like the movie has run for a bit too long. Having that said the music, performances and some of the jokes are enough to keep the viewer entertained, this isn’t going to be something I’ll ever come back to but it’s an overall decent watch.

Matilda: The Musical is available on Netflix.

7/10 B

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules…somehow worse than it’s predecessor.

A new school year, his brother Rodrick teases him over and over and over and over again. Will Greg manage to get along with him? Or will a secret ruin everything?

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is the second of the animated Diary Of A Wimpy Kid movies and much like last years animated installment it lacks the charm of the live action trilogy (once again we don’t talk about The Long Haul). In fact somehow Rodrick Rules ends up being worse than the last one that came out last year, the only positive is Ed Asner this is one of his final performances and he did manage to get a chuckle out of me. But good lord they cut so much out of the book and the live action adaption, I get they wanted to focus on the bond between Greg and Rodrick but the live action movie managed to do that just fine with other very entertaining scenes as well. The animation is very ugly combined with very phoned in voice acting (outside of Ed Asner) the movie completely falls flat almost immediately after starting, Rodrick Rules is actually longer than the first movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid being 58 minutes and Rodrick Rules being 1 hour and 14 minutes. However the longer time does not help the movie, in fact it makes a lot of the flaws much more noticeable particularly the animation that is just very lifeless. There’s no charm here and really fails to capture the entertainment value of the books, overall Rodrick Rules is basically a retread of the live action movie except with a lot of scenes cut and lacking both in charm and entertainment.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is available on Disney+

1/10 F

Blue’s Big City Adventure brings back all the hosts in a fun and entertaining film!

Josh and Blue travel to New York City to attend an audition, hoping to star in a major Broadway musical while being a part of the cast.

Blue’s Big City Adventure is basically the Blue’s Clues version of Spider-Man: No Way Home! Joking aside this was genuinely really charming, I grew up watching Blue’s Clues as a kid so this really brought back a ton of memories. All three of the hosts throughout the show’s life are here Joshua Dela Cruz who plays Josh, Donovan Patten who plays Joe and Steve Burns who plays Steve. All three of which do really solid job in their roles capturing each of the characters and what made the show so iconic in the first place, the movie itself is a musical a very entertaining too. The songs are very catchy and actually well choreographed from the dancers and filled to the brim with energy, there’s a huge level of charm here that is absolutely appealing to the viewer and makes it known the movie hasn’t forgotten the spirit of the show. The story being simple as Josh and Blue traveling to New York City in order to get to in audition to be in a musical is exactly the type of thing you would want in a Blue’s Clues movie, combining Blue’s Clues with the musical genre is like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They both blend together incredibly well and end with very entertaining results which is exactly what you get here.

Blue’s Big City Adventure is available on Paramount+

7/10 B

Fantasy Football has cute moments but is ultimately bland in execution.

A daughter discovers she can magically control the performance of her football-playing father through her gaming console.

Fantasy Football just sort of exists, this is something you would have saw back in the early 2000s, with a premise like a daughter finds out she can magically control her dad who plays football through a video game console just oozes early 2000s family movie antics. And to this movie’s credit at times it is a lot of fun, Marsai Martin and Omari Hardwick are very fun in the leading roles and actually have father and daughter bonding moments that are genuinely very cute. Kelly Rowland isn’t too bad either so there’s a lot of family moments that are genuinely sweet, everything else however is very stale. The rest of the movie really doesn’t take advantage of how bizarre the plot really is and the it remains in the “play it way too safe” area which is a bit unfortunate, as there was a lot of potential to be very creative here but the movie spends a little too much time on family drama that ultimately does feel a bit more of the same from other movies.

Fantasy Football is available on Paramount+

4/10 D+

A Christmas Mystery and Holiday Harmony (2022)

When her best friend’s dad is falsely accused of stealing the town’s prized jingle bells, a young amateur sleuth and her friends must find the real thief before Christmas.

I definitely think A Christmas Mystery is a lot better than it could have been, as there are a few things to like about it the standout being Violet McGraw who gives a very delightful performance. She easily steals every single scene she’s in and is even able to carry the movie on her own pretty well, the rest of the cast do a fine enough job, unfortunately what does hold this movie back is it’s way too predictable. While yes it is a kids movie and does play out like a kids mystery movie that really doesn’t change how it’s very predictable and the viewer could easily figure out who stole the bells within the first 20 minutes or so, there just isn’t enough mystery to it and the cast of characters truly make it a bit too obvious who did the crime. Having that said it’s a very non-offensive kids movie that I think kids will enjoy, it’s forgettable but it’s definitely one of the better Christmas movies to come out so far this year (although that’s not saying much).

A Christmas Mystery is available on HBO Max

4/10 D+

With just two weeks to get to the iHeartRadio Christmas Eve performance of her dreams, singer/songwriter Gail takes on a group of misfit kids hoping to perform in a Christmas Eve gala of their own.

Holiday Harmony is like if you took any Hallmark Christmas movie and mixed it with a bad fanfiction on Wattpad, outside of Annelise Cepero who gives a decent enough performance and actually has a decent singing voice. The rest of the movie is way too predictable and is the very definition of a Hallmark Christmas movie, including bad writing, terrible pacing, nonsensical story beats and way too drawn out. I think the most surprising thing about this is it’s a HBO Max original, before this I can’t really think of an original from HBO Max that felt like something from the Hallmark channel but I guess nobody is safe. The movie is also a huge product placement for iHeart Radio even when it hurts Gail’s (Annelise Cepero) music label the movie still remains positive to iHeart Radio which completely takes the viewer out of the movie. The movie ends exactly how you expect it to, there’s definitely some cute moments but those appear during the third act which is around the time someone might turn this off. It’s definitely not the worst Christmas movie out there but it is one of the most forgettable.

Holiday Harmony is available on HBO Max

3/10 D-

A Christmas Story Christmas is a solid sequel that captures the magic of the first movie.

Ralphie returns to give his kids a magical Christmas like the one he had as a child.

A Christmas Story Christmas is a sequel to the 1983 film A Christmas Story, meaning this film completely ignores the events of A Christmas Story 2 which released in 2012 and was just a dreadful experience so it’s not a surprise they want to forget about that. Because surprisingly enough A Christmas Story Christmas is surprisingly pretty decent, first off the original cast returns which is great and they all do a pretty solid job here. They capture the spirits of the original characters and actually have fun with them as well, the most noticeable one that doesn’t return however is Darren McGavin because he passed away in 2006, what the film does is pretty interesting rather than recast they decided to have Old Man Parker pass away as well. They did a pretty solid job of working it into the story and actually led to some emotional moments, so I definitely give credit where credit is due. The main flaw mostly stems from the story being a bit too familiar, there’s some nice callbacks and nostalgic moments to help the movie run smoothly, but a lot of what happens ends up being traditional Christmas movie shenanigans such as the parents losing the Christmas presents so now they have to find other ways to celebrate Christmas. However there is absolutely no denying that the movie has a lot of heart as well as a lot of entertainment to it, it’s a genuinely fun movie that compliments the first film very well and uses the characters quite well. A Christmas Story Christmas isn’t going to have the impact like the first movie did, but it is a solid sequel to the original.

A Christmas Story Christmas is available on HBO Max!

7/10 B

Gigi & Nate a huge baffling switch in tone.

A young man’s life gets turned upside down when he suffers a near-fatal illness and is left a quadriplegic. Moving forward seems nearly impossible — until he gets an unlikely service animal named Gigi, a curious and intelligent capuchin monkey. Although it’s trained to assist Nate with his basic needs, Gigi gives him what he needs most of all — hope.

Gigi & Nate isn’t as bad as anticipated however it has a baffling switch in tone during midway through the movie. The first part is about a man who ends up in a wheelchair needs a service animal so he bonds with this monkey named Gigi. There’s plenty of cute moments here that you would expect from these types of movies, Charlie Rowe gives a fine enough performance. Although it’s worth mentioning that he doesn’t use a wheelchair, which it’s a bit irritating since the movie does pride itself in that it casted extras who have disabilities. So it’s very questionable as to why they didn’t do the same for the lead, but as I said before Rowe does give a decent performance which mostly comes from his interactions with the rest of the cast and the monkey. The real show stealer however is Diane Ladd you would think with how funny and charming her performance is that somebody’s grandma walked on set and started making jokes. It’s a genuine performance that really puts a smile on your face. Then the second half rolls around and turns into a animal rights activists Vs the Gibson family even to the point where there’s a courtroom scene. The main problem here is the movie doesn’t have anyway of nuance, it portrays the animal rights activists as cartoony villains. The movie is supposedly based on a true story however a lot of it feels very dramatized, particularly the courtroom stuff that has this made for tv feel to it that wants the audience to get up and clap. The message of the movie is fine enough but by the end I’m not 100% sure the movie even knows what it’s trying to say anymore.

Gigi & Nate is available on all VOD platforms.

3/10 D-