Irreplaceable You (2018)

Irreplaceable You

Abbie(Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman)

” I enjoy hanging with you. It’s interesting. You’re like a slow-moving car crash” – Myron (Christopher Walken) to Abbie.

No, this dialogue from Irreplaceable You is not between the main couple of Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman), which is all that can be said positive about the dialogue. It was at this point in the 1 hour and 36 minute film that I realized it was the best way I could describe this tear-jerker (a Netflix original) that does not generate any tears it so badly wishes we in the audience will supply them.

For the record, the movie does tell us what will happen at the end of the film in the first few minutes (even before the credits role). Therefore, a SPOILER WARNING  as we find out right away that Abbie will have died by the end of the film. END SPOILER.

The film is narrated by Abbie, who has been dating Sam since she sunk her teeth into him on a field trip to the aquarium when they were about 8 years old. So….love at first bite? We learn off the bat that Sam and Abbie plan to be married, since they are about to get the final word from the doctor of what is almost assuredly Abbie being pregnant. Turns out, it is not a pregnancy, but a cancerous tumor.

Ok, I understand that people can face cancer in many different ways (I have seen my share of this with friends and family in my life). I say this because Abbie tries to take it with a smile, still trying desperately to be optimistic. What confuses me is how almost everyone else in the movie is doing the same thing. One such person is the nurse (Timothy Simons)  Abbie talks to while getting chemotherapy. The support group (where she meets Myron) is not much better, as leader Mitch (Steve Coogan) is trying to make all seem relaxed yet allowing members to speak their minds (and a lot of crocheting.)

The movie really goes downhill, though, when we learn what Abbie’s coping mechanism is: Try to find a right girl for Sam to be with after Abbie has died. Again, I understand that a lot of people have their own ways of dealing with tragedy like this, but I could not help thinking that this just seems too wrong and out-of-place. While I felt bad for most of the talented cast, none got more sympathy from me than Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She is truly a talented actor, in dire need of better material than this.

Parents, there is not anything too terrible here for kids middle school and up (besides the obvious melodrama). No real sexual content (aside from kissing in bed, but the characters are clothed). There is a good amount of swearing, however, including a few F bombs.

It is always refreshing to have great movies about romance sooth the hopeless romantic in me. That being said, I am confident I can think of a dozen films off the top of my head that make Irreplaceable You completely replaceable.

 

Overall: One and a Half Stars 1 1/2 *

The Jungle Book (2016)

THE JUNGLE BOOK

Mowgli and Baloo on a relaxing river ride.

I grew up in the 1990s, so all the classic Disney movies I had were on VHS (much thanks to my wonderful parents). Therefore, I grew up on the animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, so I was not sure what I was really expecting. All I knew was that it had great potential with the cast, and that last year’s Cinderella was a very good remake.

Once again, Disney scores rather big with another live action version. Directed by Jon Favreau (who made Elf and the first two Iron Man films, among others), it is one of the very few remakes to not only pay tribute to the original, but stand on its own. When I heard it was all made in a studio in Los Angeles, my respect grew even more.

For those who don’t know the story (which is unlikely), The Jungle Book tells the tale of a “man-cub” named Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi, in a very fine debut). He is raised by wolves (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito and Lupita Nyong’o) and is also cared after by a panther named Bagheera (the always perfect Ben Kingsley). With Bagheera, Mowgli must go back to the man villiage before he is killed by the sadistic tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba). There is also Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray), who becomes Mowgli’s best friend, the giant serpent Kaa (seductivly played by Scarlett Johanson,) and King Louie the giant ape (that fantastic actor known as Christopher Walken).

I now look back at some of the casting from the 1967 animated film. King Louie was voiced by Louis Prima, and his song “I wanna be like you” is one I am not afraid to admit is still on my phone. Still, Walken had me cracking up, and his rendition was his own (including some new lyrics). Anyone who knows the animated film knows the theme song of “The Bare Necessities” which I am still convinced no one should sing except Phil Harris. Nevertheless, few actors can conjur charm like Bill Murray, and his singing of the song almosted reminded me of his days back on SNL.

Yet of all the casting done in the live action version, my favorite would be Idris Elba as Shere Khan. The animated version had that wonderful actor George Sanders as the tiger (his voice was like that of Jeremy Irons, who of course was Scar in The Lion King), but Sanders’ Khan had very little screen time. This is not the case with the live action version. Every time Shere Khan was on-screen, I had that feeling that my hair on my arms may stand on end. That is not something that happens often with me when I see a villain, be it a Disney villian or not.

While all the actors are great, the CGI was impeccable. It reminded me  of when I was a kid, and thought all the animals were real in the classic film Babe (1995). I may get in trouble for this, but I thought the CGI in The Jungle Book was better than it was in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. There I said it!

Parents, there is some scary parts, but it is the good type of scary parts for kids. They may hold on to your arms, but if your kids have seen at least one superhero flick before, they will be fine with this film.

The movie never says it out loud, but it does say how Mowgli has one thing no other animal in the jungle has: wit. That is what makes this film great. It has wit.

And fun. Lots of it.

Overall: Four Stars ****