Trigger Warning: This short film is about the grief after losing a child to gun violence.
If Anything Happens I Love You was written by Will McCormack and Michael Govier. It is available to watch on Netflix.
I finally watched the short film If Anything Happens, I Love You. I had seen this film on my suggestions on Netflix, and I was curious. I heard nothing about the plot or characters or anything beforehand except that it was sad.
The film begins with two adults sitting across a table from one another. They are silent, but their shadows are on top of the table in an argument with the other person. Meanwhile, they sit in silence.
The woman picks at her spaghetti, and the man sips a soda. He glances at her, and he looks like he wants to reach out to her, to say something. You can see the lines on his face. But he’s too filled with hurt.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this short film. All I heard before watching was that it was sad. It is difficult to tell a story in less than twelve minutes, especially with as little details as this one includes. In almost thirteen minutes there is no sound and very little color. The art style looks like sketches that someone would make in a notebook. At first, we only see the blue paint on the back of the house and a shirt. This story wrecked me. It just gets sadder the more that you watch.
The shadows are confusing at first. They sort of do their own thing and act on their own. They are clearly metaphors. It seems like they want to comfort their characters. One shadow holds a flower out to the wife. The first piece of clothing we see is a blue shirt.
The one odd part is the song 1950 by King Princess turns on. The song is an upbeat one about unrequited love, and it oddly fits. These parents long for their child, whose shadow still lives in the background. We see flashbacks of her life, her birth, of her playing soccer with her family, and on her tenth birthday. Her life was just beginning. These drawings are more detailed. A blue balloon flies up into the sky after their daughter takes a selfie of the three of them. Her time is so short.
We see her go into a school. Her shadows don’t want her to go. They chase after her and then fade into each other. Her mom sends that fateful text “if anything happens I love you.” It comes from that instinct that we all have that something awful is going to happen. She walks into the school and we don’t see her go into a classroom. We see the hallway and an American flag in the hallway. It is bright red, white, and blue. Eventually, the couple is pushed into each others arms by their daughter’s shadow.
I remember hearing about school shootings in middle school and high school. These were kids my age and kids much younger. I can’t imagine begin to imagine the grief those parents went through. But this story provided a window into their grief. In such a short film, the story is incredibly complicated while maintaining a minimalist style. The characters’ facial expressions show their sadness and joy with their daughter. The music is light piano, and it just fits. The music isn’t upbeat like it used to be, it is minimal and lacking.
The light isn’t there like it used to be. The daughter is hopeful, confident, and happy. They cannot get over her death. Their grief stays with them for a lifetime. The writers interviewed parents who had lost their children to school shootings for this movie. I haven’t seen any film like this, and it feels bold to talk about their pain. School shootings are so tragic that we try to shy away from them.
At the end, there is a ray of light of the sunshine. The sun is bigger than the parents and watches over them as they stand on the hill. I’m not sure what the film was trying to say about life after death, but I like that there is hope. There is hope that there is more than this life. Hope that she is okay, and that she is at peace. There is hope for the parents to go on in their daughter’s memory and their love for each other. Grief doesn’t exist in a timeline, and it doesn’t go away even if you know they’re not truly gone.
I would recommend watching this one, even if you read through my review and saw all these spoilers.
Have you seen “If Anything Happens I Love You”? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments below.
We watched Encanto together over Scener this January. Disney movies lately haven’t been great, but this one had great reviews, so we decided to check it out. This was a good decision. Encanto has stunning animation, a great soundtrack, well developed and likable characters, and portrays Columbian culture with accuracy. The writers also weren’t afraid to dive into serious issues like the effect of generational trauma. Encanto is available to watch on Disney+.
The story of the Madrigal family began when Abuela Alma and Abuelo Pedro were forced to leave their homes due to violence in their area. The conflict depicted in the film is likely based on the Thousand Days War in Columbia. Pedro sacrifices his life to save Alma and their triplets. A miracle manifested in a magical candle that builds them a gorgeous house and all her children and grandchildren–except Mirabel–are given magical powers. Their powers provide for the town around them and Alma puts pressure on the kids to use their powers to take care of everyone.
Abuela lost her husband to violence, and then this magic candle granted her family magical powers. They don’t know how the candle became magic, but they do know their powers can provide for the entire town. The town flourishes with Luisa’s strength, Pepa’s weather controlling abilities, Julieta’s healing, Dolores’ hearing, and Isabela’s beautiful flowers that decorate the town. Their powers provide safety and security to their community. Alma believes that through hard work and determination, they can keep this town flourishing. Because the children’s abilities help everyone survive, Alma values her children’s and grandchildren’s powers more than the kids. She holds high expectations because she is afraid of losing everything. The miracle is unknown and she desperately wants to keep the miracle going. Alma insists on perfection and is hard on Mirabel in particular, who didn’t receive magical powers. Alma repeats that her children and grandchildren must “Make your family proud,” but treats their efforts as unsatisfactory no matter how hard they try–especially with Mirabel.
The music from Encanto is fantastic and it is topping the charts. The movie’s songs were composed by Germaine Franco and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Franco said that she read Columbian history, music, and literature to prepare to get inspiration. Both writers are of Latin American descent, and so are all the actors playing the characters. In addition, the songs “Colombia, Mi Encanto” and “Dos Oroguitas” were sung by two of Colombia’s current biggest artists, Carlos Vives and Sebastian Yatra.
We Don’t Talk about Bruno
We Don’t Talk About Bruno was #1 on the music charts, and it is the first Disney movie since Aladdin to do so. Remember when Let it Go was all the rage and felt super popular? Encanto‘s music tops Frozen, and for a good reason. The song begins with Pepa and Felix singing and then the song flashes to Dolores and then Camilo. The story of Bruno’s disappearance is told through the perspective of the Madrigal family and also the townspeople. People are also talking about Bruno when they say they don’t talk about him. The irony! Then the family gets ready for Mariano to come.
Dolores’ part makes Bruno sound mysterious, and we learn that she does hear Bruno. She says, “I always hear him muttering and mumbling, I associate him with the sound of falling sand.” Dolores clearly knows where Bruno is and can hear him, but the family doesn’t listen. It is also worth noting that sounds like footsteps are louder in Dolores’ part, emphasizing her hearing power.
Bruno is seen through the eyes of the family, and he’s basically a myth to the kids. “Seven foot frame, rats along his back, when he calls your name it all fades to black. Yeah he sees your dreams and feasts on your screams” is obviously exaggeration. The song is a hit, it makes you want to listen again. It also builds mystery about Bruno. The more we hear about Bruno, the more the myth builds and the suspense grows as Mirabel starts to regret bringing him up in the first place.
This song is relatable for many people, especially older siblings and those who feel like they are under a lot of pressure from their family. I love how the donkeys Luisa was carrying are incorporated into the scenes as spectators, dancers, or as part of the weight she has to carry. There are references to Hercules, who fought Cerberus, as well as Atlas, who held the weight of the world on his shoulders. Another familiar reference is one to the Titanic, as she imagines her family not swerving from danger even when they “heard how big the iceberg is.” This sense of impending doom weighs on her a lot. “I’m pretty sure I’m worthless, if I can’t be of service” is a line that hits so hard. People often measure themselves by how much they have accomplished for others, but for Luisa, this amount of service is never enough even if it is constant. I wonder if the donkeys are included because Luisa’s family treats her like some sort of beast of burden–or at least Abuela Alma does. This may not be at the top of the charts like We Don’t Talk About Bruno, but it is still remarkable as an anthem of the stressed.
What Else Can I Do?
Isabela is supposed to be the perfect sibling. Abuela adores her and she has a power to grow gorgeous flowers. One youtuber noted that Abuela actually smiles in the portrait of her and Isabela. She is the golden child, so she has to be perfect. Isabela previously thought that she could only create pretty, perfect flowers. But she lives under her grandmother’s expectations and any deviation from that plan is a failure. She’s also suppressing her emotions other than total joy, “I’m so sick of pretty, I want something true, don’t you?” Isabela creates a cactus and carnivorous plants. She isn’t allowed to be angry, but here she can finally express herself. The line “I wonder how far these roots go down” seems to hint at the family trauma. How far do the roots of their problems lie? But just as Isabella talks about roots, she grows a giant palm tree over the roof of the house. It shows her potential, and Mirabel is amazed at first. She is jealous of her sister because her grandmother favors her the most, but really, she feels trapped under the weight of her expectations. She realizes that imperfect things are even more beautiful. Her powers are also fun when she doesn’t have to be perfect. Isabela discovers the joy of creating, of using her powers for her and for the first time, she can escape those expectations and truly live in the moment. With her powers growing so much, perhaps she could change the world.
The animation in this film is colorful. Everything is incredibly detailed and just gorgeous. It brings you into the magical world of the Madrigal family and the audience shares Mirabel’s excitement and wonder.
There are representations of the character’s powers on each of their clothes.
Bruno has an hourglass pattern that represents his ability to see the future.
Camilo has chameleons on his clothes that represent his ability to shapeshift.
There are sound waves for Dolores, representing her ability to hear well.
Louisa has barbells representing her strength.
Mirabel has representations of all her family members embroidered on her dress. A chameleon for Camilo, animals for Antonio, flowers for Isabela, weights for Luisa, a sun for Pepa, etc. Butterflies on her dress connect her to the candle and Abuela Alma also has them on her dress.
The line “Coffee is for grownups” isn’t accurate. Colombian coffee is super popular, and it is pretty common for kids to drink coffee there. Although the coffee the children drink is weaker, they still frequently drink coffee.
The film was partially inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude. In that book, a village is secluded from the rest of the world and gradually gets more contact with the outside. The family home sometimes behaves in mysterious ways. The book is about the downfall of a family. These are all aspects that One Hundred Years of Solitude has in common with Encanto.
Every time Pepa had storm clouds above her on numerous occasions. Abuela Alma was always telling her that they were there, as if she didn’t know. It’s frustrating, kind of like when someone just says to relax to someone who is chronically stressed–not only is it annoying, it is also ignorant. The first time Pepa had a storm cloud above her head and Abuela did not scold her was at the end.
Pepa and her husband Félix are really cute together. Their relationship is sweet, and this was especially evident during the song We Don’t Talk About Bruno, where Félix played a supporting role to Pepa’s part. Their son Camilo is really nice to Pepa–he brought her a drink and tried to comfort her.
One parallel in the film is how Mirabel holds Antonio’s hand as he approaches his door in the beginning, and Antonio holds her hand to approach her door at the end.
Note: About Time is rated R and contains swearing and sexual content/partial nudity.
On the day after Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d write about a love story that I watched recently, but not necessarily a traditional romance. It could be called a love story between a man and Charles Dickens novels, and I’m only exaggerating a little bit.
Have you ever wanted to time travel? I wish for time travel several times a week. I wish I could go back and undo some moments and particularly the socially awkward moments. I’m not sure I would undo anything major, after all, I wouldn’t want to mess with the space-time continuum or anything. Stories like this always seem to contain a major error on someone’s part.
Out of all the time travel stories I’ve heard, they usually consist of a character who messes up and undoes everything because time travel is bad. Time travel once and you will mess up the entire universe. Saving your friend from an early death will wage war with Russia. Blowing on one extra dandelion turns the world on its head. We get it, we get it, it’s a huge risk. You can’t undo that time you told the waiter to enjoy their meal too, or the time you slipped on ice and bruised your knee.
I’m currently undecided whether or not I agree that small events can change the world in such big ways–such a decision might require me to read more time-travel stores–but it is nice to see a story that isn’t so dramatic. About Time, compared to Stephen King’s 1776 for example, was a refreshing and beautiful story of a young man who learns he can travel back in time. This movie wasn’t exactly what I expected in a good way, and I was pleasantly surprised with this one.
About Time begins with the protagonist, twenty-one-year-old Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), who is awkwardly hanging out at his family’s New Year’s Eve party. Like all awkward introverted people, this party isn’t as romantic as he hopes–he fails to kiss a girl at midnight and bumps her head while everyone else seals a smooch with someone. Sounds painful for a few reasons. Luckily for Tim, he doesn’t have to live with that moment ingrained in his mind forever.
That’s right. We’re about to time travel. The next day, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells him that all the men in his family have the ability to travel back–but not forward–in time. He has no idea why they can do this, but he does know that this is amazing. To time travel, all Tim has to do is stand in a dark room and make two fists. He doesn’t have to worry about being stuck in the past either; Tim can also easily travel back to real time afterward by doing the same thing.
So, what do all these men do with time travel? Well, his father says that he reads every single book he can. He is a huge Dickens fan and he reads and rereads Charles Dickens novels during his free time. Not a bad way to spend your time. I just want to say that I love his father. Having all the time in the world to read and reread books sounds like a dream; it is a pretty harmless way to use time travel yet it is brilliant. His father also has an impressive bookshelf, and he’s just a cool dude overall. I’m not sure if he is a professor or anything–but if he was, that skill would be super useful.
There are so many possibilities and I wonder if Tim even realizes how much potential time travel has for like simple stuff. He could spend the day relaxing and then go back in time and work all day. We learn later that Tim becomes a lawyer. Time Travel would be fantastic help while studying law law school. He could practically memorize all the laws and wouldn’t even miss any time studying. He could spend infinite hours growing familiarity with the material. In real time, he could hang out with friends at a pub or something. We don’t hear anything about Tim’s time in law school, but showing this could be pretty cool. I wouldn’t say it is a missed opportunity though given Tim’s goals and the story’s message. When he hears about time travel, Tim is super excited and a little overwhelmed, and he asks for his dad’s advice.
Tim’s father tells him that he should use his powers to do what he finds most important. And what Tim wants most of all is to meet the woman of his dreams and fall in love. This takes about five seconds, well, actually it happens more like six months later. We go through a time jump.
When his sister’s friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie) comes to stay with his family for two months of the summer, Tim instantly falls for her. He is too shy to reveal his feelings until the last day. She tells him that he should have said something earlier. Of course, he realizes that he doesn’t have to miss his chance. Tim can go back in time, do things right, have a great summer romance–if Charlotte has feelings for him too. Of course, life doesn’t always work out how we like.
Tim leaves the roaring hills and outdoors for the city. He wants to go into corporate life, he becomes a lawyer, and he lives with a family friend who wants to be an actor. He also meets another girl, Mary. Tim really likes Mary and he wants to do everything right–which of course might require a little time travel. The movie starts to get dramatic. It gets even more interesting when he sees Charlotte in the city and she is interested in him.
If you look at the movie cover, About Time looks like a typical love story, and it is a love story. But it doesn’t waste time with a ton of will-they-won’t-they drama. The creators let time pass and they don’t keep the protagonist stuck in his singlehood. Even though he can time travel, Tim doesn’t stay twenty-one forever. Aging is a natural part of life. This makes the story feels realistic and grounded, even with the supernatural parts. It feels like an ordinary supernaturalism.
About Time is also isn’t great because it’s a story about a couple falling in love. It is a story of the love between a father and son. His relationship with his father stuck out the most, the way they cared for each other, the way they made time for each other. Tim doesn’t ever go away and not think of home. He cares about his sister, Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) a ton. He also loves his grandparents and his best friend.
The scenery is also very beautiful. Tim’s family lives by the lake and it is absolutely stunning. We get scenes of him and his father walking on the beach and we also get scenes of Tim with his love interest in a city apartment. We get the best of both worlds.
I liked how this story presented choices. Even a world with time travel requires Tim to make choices, and each choice has consequences. Some choices don’t have major consequences or have an exact direct correlation, but sometimes they do. One little decision can make everything different, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, we end up in the same place either way.
The story also shows how we can’t make decisions for others or choose their story. Our actions can affect them, but we are ultimately responsible for our own decisions. We can only control the choices that we make. We can help others. We can support them and spend time with them. We can’t really fix their mistakes for them. We can’t, and aren’t supposed to, save other people from their decisions or change everything for them. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t help or provide a voice of reason when someone needs to hear it. But sometimes the best way to help in hard times is just to be there for someone. We see this with Tim’s family. Tim has a big heart and wants to help them, but it doesn’t always go the way he imagines.
I liked how the story felt so ordinary. This isn’t a tale of super-talented celebrities with powers, it is about a normal guy who finds out he and his dad have an ability no one else does. He just wants to enjoy life, find love, spend time with people he cares about, and learns that with great power comes great responsibility. The movie is also pretty funny. Tim is pretty socially awkward and time travel just makes things even more awkward.
Tim’s love story was very sweet. He and his love interest had great chemistry and they just fit together. I won’t say too much about the romance to avoid spoilers, but it was really sweet and genuine. The life the build together is beautiful to watch. All of the characters just had great chemistry with each other. It felt like they were really family, friends, and couples. The the music and filming of this movie make it so beautiful. The scenes were stunning and I was just blown away how much the directors, producers, and actors put into this film. The storytelling is just amazing.
It is lovely, tragic, and memorable. Even with time travel, we cannot escape time. We have to make and accept our choices and realize that to spend our time on one thing is to disregard another. In college, I’ve heard a lot about this. The story begins with Tim at twenty-one, and the world feels full of choice and hope for the future, but after that, the choices start to narrow and also open as he grows up. Each part of adulthood provides more certainty and beauty. Tim falls in love with the life that he created, and it is truly beautiful. But of course, the story deals with real life on this earth.
We don’t live forever either. Our lives are short, and we have to decide, like Tim’s father says, what is most important to us. While we have limited time, we should appreciate the time we do have and the people in it. It is a movie that makes you want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in your life.
This movie might make you cry– it made me tear up a bit. I liked how About Time focused a little, but not too much on decision-making and Tim’s time traveling to change things. We change what we can and accept the decisions that we’ve made. Then we make the best of them and find the beauty in the little moments, in the everyday. We also never should give up, even when we mess up. With or without time travel, it is also never too late to move forward and make better decisions.
But this isn’t a huge focus of the story. After all, making choices and preventing mistakes isn’t the whole of life. Life is living with our choices, with where we are in time. For instance, we see Tim working at the law firm, which feels pretty normal. We see him working with partners in meetings and he doesn’t do any of the romanticized court stuff we usually see on TV. Work is a way to provide for himself and his family and be happy. It is great to find a job that gives you meaning, but work is in no way everything. Tim enjoys being a lawyer, but it is a very small part of the movie because there is more to life. Perhaps the film was a little romanticized. Tim’s life is pretty perfect and amazing. He does have hard times, but his day-to-day life is mostly great.
But, it is still a great movie, and it shows perhaps, humanity at our best. There is a lot we can learn from that; we can learn to hope for a great life for ourselves and for others. Time travel or not, life can be pretty great, especially with great people. I liked how this movie, above all, stressed the necessity of caring for those around us.
About Time is full of people, family and friends, who care about each other and look after each other. Their story–not romance, not time travel itself–is what makes this movie so awesome and beautiful.
Have you seen About Time or other time travel movies? Do you like them? What would you do if you could time travel? Let me know down in the comments below.
“I mean, when I was sixteen, all I cared about was smashing the patriarchy, and burning it all down”
Amy Poehler, Moxie
*Most of this review is spoiler-free. After that, I included a few extra critiques and parts I liked that include spoilers*
On New Year’s Day, all I wanted to do was watch Netflix movies and relax. I chose this movie for the same reason I chose to watch Don’t Look Up. I watched the trailer Moxie that Amy Poehler was in it and that it was a fun feminist movie and decided to give it a try.
Moxie is a movie about a girl named Vivian who decides to start a feminist club at her high school.
Moxie is more than just a high schoolers’ club invented by Hollywood; the group Moxie takes inspiration from the Riott Grrrl movement of the 1990s and early 2000s. The movement started in Olympia, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest to address sexism in the punk industry. I had never heard of the Riott Grrrl movement before and I thought it was cool the movie talked about a historical feminist movement. Supporters hosted undercover concerts, printed out zines (self-published text and images that resembled a magazine), and hung up copies to spread the word.
Though the movement has fallen in popularity since the early 2000s, it inspired writer Jennifer Mathieu’s enough to make a movie out of it. Rebel Grrrlalso took place duringAmy Poulmer’s teen years. The movie uses the aesthetics and music from the Rebel Grrrl movement. That’s pretty cool. The group Bikini Kill was prominent in the movement, and their song “Rebel Girl” is a battle cry in Moxie.
So, how does one start a feminist group in high school? Well, it takes a few experiences with sexism to encourage the girls to start and that’s where our should-be protagonist comes in. First, Lucy, the new girl (Alycia Pascal-Peña), gets bullied by school quarterback Mitchell (Patrick Schwartzenegger). Lucy and Alycia is Afro-Latina (African American and Latin American). Mitchell is a terrible person from his first moments; he spits in Lucy’s drink and tries to intimidate her. When she tells Vivian, she says Lucy should just tolerate Mitchell’s behavior and let him be a jerk, but Lucy won’t let his behavior slide.
Note that Mitchell never talks to or approaches Vivian, so she gives advice for a problem she doesn’t have. Throughout the movie, Vivian doesn’t experience sexism like her peers do. Meanwhile, Mitchell targets Lucy on her first day. From a new student’s perspective, Lucy notes that the guys’ behavior and the school’s complacency are deeply concerning.
The second big problematic thing Lucy notices is the list. Her first day of school is the day that the guys post a list that ranks girls based on their physical attractiveness. The list is crude and the guys talk about it openly, but the girls usually go along with it because that is just the way things are at this school.
Lucy refuses to accept everyone else’s excuses for the boys’ behavior. She stands up for herself and others, and she doesn’t just shrug it off. Vivian is the one to start Moxie, but without Lucy’s influence–I can’t see the group succeeding the way it does. It isn’t until Lucy calls Vivian out and the guys put out this year’s list that Vivian snaps.
Vivian goes through her mom’s old high school zines and discovers that Amy Poehler was once part of a feminist group at her school and handed out cool flyers. Vivian then decides to start a club at school by creating and printing out own her zines at the local print shop. She puts the flyers in the girls’ bathroom to spread awareness about a club she calls Moxie.
When we look back in history, it is notable that Riot Grrrl movements also had some problems. For starters, Riott Grrrl was a group of primarily white middle-class, cisgender women. Some Rebel Grrrl groups participated at Michigan’s Womyn’s Music Festival, which explicitly banned trans women from attending. Vivian’s mother admits that the group was not very intersectional; it seems like white women made up a majority. The new Moxie group is more diverse.
The writers do acknowledge that the Riot Grrrl group was not as inclusive as it could have been via Vivian’s mom and she says it has its flaws. Moxie attempts to fix the problems with the Rebel Grrrl movement by including People of Color. Several of the girls are black, and Vivian’s best friend Claudia is Chinese American. Josie Totah, a transgender actor, plays a minor character CJ, a trans girl.
Vivian has a love interest, a fellow feminist boy named Seth (Nico Hagaria), who supports her and Moxie. Seth is a kind skateboarder who Vivian has a crush on. It was nice seeing a guy feminist, and the movie doesn’t exclude men or hate on all men. Seth is a pretty great guy. Both are awkward around each other at the beginning like typical teen protagonists are, and their development is sweet to watch. They are a gem in this movie.
The movie is also fun, filled with a punk soundtrack, including the iconic hit “Bikini Kill.” Moxie occasionally made me laugh. It is upbeat and tackles serious issues at the same time. I also enjoyed the banter between Amy Poehler and Vivian; they made me chuckle and felt like a real mother and daughter. They poke fun of each other and also made me ask deep questions like is milk “bad” for you? As a milk fan, I’m on Amy’s side, it is not bad.
The side characters were so great; Lucy, who everyone thinks started the group, is confident and brave. Claudia’s story was compelling too. She and Vivian have been best friends forever, but the group causes a rift between the two. It isn’t realistic that every girl would be into Moxie or have the family support to join. The movie doesn’t divide the characters into completely black and white categories. They are sensitive to Claudia’s situation and their friendship. I wish there was more of Claudia though.
Honestly, the side characters were so much better than the main character.
I have to agree with critics on this one. Moxie could have done more. Vivian watches her friends face sexism, but she never has to deal with it personally. Quiet people can certainly start revolutions, but she seemed reluctant at first. A story where Lucy starts Moxie and leads would have been so much more compelling.
Overall, it was a decent movie. I enjoyed watching it. It is a fun movie, but it is also a piece of feminist media that intends to teach and inspire teens. It doesn’t tell a story we haven’t heard before. If the writers want to do homage to the Rebel Grrrl movement and also become more inclusive everyone’s stories, this film could have done more. Why not make Lucy the main character?
The movie was an opportunity to correct feminist media’s promotion of white, upper-middle-class narratives over women of color and LGBTQ+ people. Moxie could have been an opportunity for us to listen to the voice of an LGBTQ+ Afro-Latina character. Lucy could have been a great main character, and it is a shame she was reduced to the background when she clearly outshone the lead.
A Way to Improve Moxie
I would make Lucy the main character and Vivian her friend. Seth could still be Vivian’s love interest and a Moxie supporter. Maybe he could get guys to join as well. I would also give Lucy a love interest, maybe Amaya, and develop their love story.
Amy Poehmer would replace the English teacher guy. Maybe she could be the club’s advisor and a teacher that the girls went to for guidance. She could still have run her own group in high school. Maybe she tells the girls about the group she created as a teen.
I was also thinking if she was the English teacher, maybe she has the class read The Great Gatsby every year and the girls encourage her to put more diverse books on the forefront of her curriculum. Books have great power and reading perspectives other than one’s own is helpful in starting conversations about race and gender.
With Lucy as a main character, the movie could have thrived. Everyone thought she started the group, after all. We could have learned about her experiences, her old school, her home life. Has she always been so confident? Did she always stand up for herself and her friends or did she quiet before and have a moment when she realized something had to be done? Does she have a cool feminist parent? I’d watch another movie about her or any one of the girls.
Too many movies aimed at teens portray adults as stuck in their ways and unable to understand them, listen to their experiences, and learn from them. So, if Amy was a teacher, rather than the guy who somewhat supported them could have been better. Also, Having the teacher realize the problems of the group and listening to the girls suggestions would have been cool to see.
If you haven’t seen the movie and want no spoilers, that’s the end of my review. From now on, this review includes spoilers.
As a fan of The Great Gatsby, I couldn’t resist talking about the reference in the movie. It seems like everyone reads The Great Gatsby in high school, and the characters of Moxie are no exception. I’m going to give my opinion because why not. Lucy complains that TGG is not that great because it tells the story of a rich, white guy. Are we supposed to feel bad for him? Mitchell defends TGG and says that since it was studied and beloved for more than a hundred years…it must have something worth saying. Mitchell is the scum of the earth, but I agree with both points. As someone who has read The Great Gatsby in high school and college, I agree that The Great Gatsby is worth reading and studying. The book is about how the American Dream is a lie even for those it appears to benefit. There are also so many other stories that need to be studied and heard.
We need stories by people who are not just rich and white, and Lucy is right here. Schools should promote these stories and give them our attention and time just as much as Gatsby. Perhaps that is the problem with Moxie. The key message isn’t a bad one. It is good–so is reading it in a classroom and watching a movie about intersectional feminism. However, more good stories by people of color, lgbtq+ people, and people of different social backgrounds aren’t being shared and appreciated to the level of TGG. The school puts Gatsby on a pedestal, and it is a problem, and Lucy rightfully calls the professor out.
Mediocre LGBTQ+ Represention
The big romance in the movie is between Vivian and Seth. None of the other girls get a love story–at least it isn’t shown. Lucy and Amaya kiss at the pep rally, but after that–nothing. We never see them interact or start to like each other. We don’t see them acknowledge the kiss or become a couple afterward. The movie seemed to want to include an LGBTQ+ couple, but they do so half-heartedly. Viewers could easily miss the kiss since it is so short.
Seth and Vivian and even Amy Poehler and her boyfriend get screentime. They could have easily included scenes showing Lucy and Amaya starting to like each other and getting to know each other better.
CJ is also a pretty minor character. She says a few things about the transphobia that she faces from her peers, but she doesn’t get many more lines.
Lackluster Disability Representation
There was a girl in a wheelchair, and she isn’t ever a part of Moxie, but she is interested in joining. That was disappointing, especially since the group is supposed to include anyone who wants to join.
Unfortunate Realistic Tropes
The way they showed the teachers felt realistic. Along with Mitchell, the principal is the most sexist character. She has no sympathy for the girls or the movement. Unfortunately, this is true of real life. Their male English teacher also tries to “keep his hands clean” and subtly supports the girls, but he seldom takes action to help when Mitchell bullies Lucy.
The football team gets more recognition than everyone else. The teachers, administration, and popular kids worship the quarterback. The school assumes that he is the only one who wants a sports scholarship and they do not care about their other students. Football players are terrible people here, and not one of them is good. That’s kind of an annoying cliché.
Vivian gets into an argument with her mom not because she stole her mom’s ice cream, but over her mon’s new boyfriend. Her mom brings a guy home for dinner, one that flirted with her at the grocery store, and Vivian thinks she’s settling. Despite calling herself a feminist, her mom makes a salad for dinner and dresses up when she usually eats pizza and chills in pajamas or sweats. Vivian is also annoyed the guy asked her boyfriend about physics and not her. Vivian has a point, but she also assumes the worst and runs with it.
Is there anything wrong with making a salad to impress a new person you’re dating? No. Lots of people do. You could also argue that she’s right. Her mom is acting differently to impress a guy. Vivian is unapologetically herself, and Seth loves her for it. One should be kind to and respect others, but serving pizza dinner is not evil if her mom likes pizza. So, I get that. Why pretend to be someone you’re not? If he became her boyfriend, he would learn these things soon enough.
But on the other hand, I mostly side with her mother. It is nice that she considers what her date likes to eat. Vivian really knows nothing of their situation. Her mom’s date could have had dietary restrictions and been unable to eat pizza. Vivian assumes why her mom acts that way, and goes off. Of course, Vivian is a teen and figuring herself out, and will just have to learn.
Anger isn’t always the answer to suspected internalized misogyny. Don’t take your anger out on others who mean well and are not doing harmful things.
Claudia’s storyline was nice to see. Not everyone has a feminist mom or feels like feminism is accessible to them. Claudia’s Chinese American immigrant mother tells her that she needs to keep her head down so that she can succeed in life. Claudia isn’t just a bratty teen who feels like her friend is neglecting her. She grew up in an environment different than Vivian; she deserved better treatment than her friend gave her. Claudia risks her mother finding out about Moxie and then takes the blame and gets suspended when the group is under fire. She rightfully calls Vivian out for her privilege. Vivian has it easy. Her mom supports her and so do all her friends. She doesn’t experience or understand her friends who don’t have it as easy as her.
So yeah, much of this review has me noting the flaws of making Vivian the main character. I genuinely liked her, but the side characters are just more compelling.
I could have called out the evil characters, but I don’t see much of a point. Mitchell is literal trash. He isn’t just annoying, and the show shows that he’s awful. I haven’t met a Mitchell, and I wouldn’t want to. He did feel realistic, unfortunately. On the bright side, most characters are good. None of the girls hate each other for no reason. They all work together for a common goal.
But Lucy should have been the main character. We never got to know anything about her backstory, old school, or home life. Amy Poehler, I loved you in Parks and Rec and have not seen the film you also directed (Wine Country), but Moxie had promise and cool characters that I wish had been given more screen time.
Have you seen Moxie? If you have, what do you think? If not, do you plan to watch it? Let me know down in the comments below.
Honest, memorable message about social media and loneliness
Realistic legal scenes
Quick, witty dialogue and cuts
overall, this movie is about the importance of friendship and not just on social media
Female characters are poorly developed: they are either crazy, objectified, or just there to call men out for their bad behavior
“You betrayed me and I know that you’ll never feel sorry for the way I hurt.” Olivia Rodrigo sings in her song Traitor. Our culture is fascinated by betrayal. From Judas to Brutus to Benedict Arnold, betrayal sticks out as one of the worst things that a person can do to another. That’s because we never betray our enemies. It’s always our friends, the people we are supposed to love and care about us. Friends are supposed to be on our side, and we need to be there for them.
Even if we’re not always in contact, friendship is a bond, a statement of connection and promise of loyalty, an idea that we will look out for each other and each other’s best interests even if we’re not physically present. Betrayal fascinates us because it feels so horrible. It is used and discussed in fiction so often, and whether it is written well or poorly. It is no wonder that the top 10 anime betrayals have become a meme.
The words of hurt and betrayal are what captivates so many of us when we watch The Social Network. The movie contains one of the biggest betrayals of all movie history. When we think of betrayal, it is usually between two people: the betrayer and the victim. Betrayal often isn’t thought of as a group, or by a corporation. Even Ceasar addresses Brutus with “et tu Brute” and doesn’t even talk about the rest of the Romans who joined him.
I wanted to watch The Social Network because it talks about Facebook; I have a like-hate relationship with Facebook and social media in general. I have an account, and it helps me stay in touch with family and friends who live far away, but it is also involved in politics, data collection controversies, and more. When this movie came out, no one was fully aware of what Facebook was fully capable of, and impact it has on our mental health, our relationships with others, and about our view of facts and information. It seems like Facebook users are a victim more Eduardo the billionaire. Even though it missed quite a few critiques of Facebook, The Social Network is regarded as a good movie in 2022. I would agree. It has a fantastic beginning.
It all begins with a conversation between Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, and his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) about final clubs. He is obsessed with joining a college group associated with college elites. When she asks why he wants to join, he says:
“Because they’re exclusive, and fun and lead to a better life”
So, what exactly is this “better life” that Mark wants so badly? Well, we see a Phoenix club meeting occur shortly after. The film shows a group of women getting out of a bus to go to this party. The party gets started, and we see women dancing on tables in underwear, 2 girls kissing, and playing poker with guys. I wonder if these women enjoy this. Personally, this scene makes me uncomfortable. The Phoenix club is all about men’s desires and it gives them a sense of power, of enjoying the pleasure that would not be possible without their wealth. The whole scene feels over the top.
Throughout the movie, students are in the background and most people are drinking and stuff. Women are there. It seems that a “better life” is being part of a group that only the rich can join. He also wants fun, at least, he says he does, he only has one friend and doesn’t get out much. Fair enough. But overall, Mark’s life at the Phoenix club is status-based and the status is determined by wealth and privilege. He also isn’t concerned with building relationships within the group. He just wants to be on the inside and not standing alone.
But Mark doesn’t realize what he has already. He has a best friend that cares about him and a girlfriend who wanted to get dinner with him—until he lets desire for these clubs take over his life.
Overall, Mark’s desires feel shallow. His angry blog post about Erica talks about her looks because all he cares about is appearances. He might prefer a Harvard girlfriend to a girl who goes to BU, simply because Harvard sounds better. He demands her attention because, to him, he is more important because he is a Harvard student. Mark also never really cares for Erica as an individual, and she can’t take it anymore. I can’t blame her. Mark sucks, almost as much as the guys on the bus.
After Erica dumps him, Mark doesn’t admit to doing anything wrong in the relationship, gets drunk, and impulsively creates a site ranking women based on their school profile pictures. I just want to say that school profile pictures are some of the most awkward photos ever. They take a picture of their day 1 bewildered freshman self, and the guys take less than five seconds to decide who is “hotter.” So, right away, Mark’s first project refuses to dive below the surface, creates a judgmental atmosphere, violates the privacy of others, and encourages people to compare each other to their peers. Sounds familiar.
So, what about these networks are actually good? Throughout the film, the movie questions his ideals of a “better life” based on status. Zuckerberg hangs out with Sean and has people over to drink, but these things never seem to make Mark happy. He barely ever pays attention either, he’s always on his laptop. Still, he ends up choosing all this over the one friend that truly cares about him.
Mark also gives up on the Phoenix Clubs when he realizes that he can control the social system and create his own network. He loves feeling control, which he lost when his girlfriend dumped him. If he can’t get what he wants through groups in real life, he will create a digital one.
The network is meant to connect college students together, and it gives people who aren’t outgoing and aren’t in the loop an opportunity to join. Zuckerberg in particular talks about how Facebook’s relationship status feature can tell a guy if a girl is single. This social network allows us to have knowledge of others without ever talking to them or building a relationship.
By giving away our relationship status, we are giving up privacy, of allowing strangers to reach us that we may or may not want to hear from. We can talk to people and send requests to those we’re too scared to reach out to in real life. We are given a false notion that we know someone; it feels like a breach of privacy, even if we willingly tell them our personal information. Yet, today, we do it all the time. I do it. But looking on the outside, it is scary. The movie shows it all started with someone who felt like an outsider and wanted to get in.
Zuckerberg, with his technical talent and ruthless business sense, is determined he can make his own success. He can do it, and he can do it himself, well . . . almost. Zuckerberg can’t afford to pay for everything, so he asks his friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) to be his chief financial officer. He is Eduardo’s best friend. They say this several times. He seems like he cares for Eduardo, even if he doesn’t always show it.
Out of the two, Eduardo is emotionally supportive and kind. He doesn’t see his friendship with Zuckerberg as a purely business arrangement. He wants to make sure he’s doing okay too.
“If there’s something wrong, you can tell me. I’m here for you.”
I would argue that Mark’s relationship with Eduardo is the most heartbreaking part of this movie. Despite his desire to fit in with the Phoenix Club, Mark is quiet and introverted. Even when Sean has people over while they work on Facebook, Mark is on his computer rather than socializing. The Winklevoss brothers see him as a means to an end, and Sean only talks about business and parties with Mark. His parents and family aren’t even mentioned, and we don’t know anything about his home life. Eduardo is one friend who truly cares for him and his well-being. Erica might have cared for him in the past, but he lost her.
Mark is naturally disconnected from others, and when he does interact with others he rarely sees his friendships as options for emotional support. I think that he ignores Eduardo’s “I’m here for you” because he doesn’t realize that he has emotional needs that can’t be solved with money, power, and material success. In Mark’s mind, the way to fix his insecurities and difficulties connecting with other people is to be in the Phoenix Club. The club is later replaced by Facebook, which he can control better. He doesn’t need to rely on anyone for validation with Facebook.
Mark seems to be chasing the American Dream. He believes that with enough work, he can achieve his dreams. He doesn’t just want to join a club in Harvard, he wants to join the best one. He doesn’t fit into a group-fine–he’ll create his own. He just needs to prove himself, and all will be good.
The environment he lives in provides little opportunity to grow. The Social Network looks at a certain group the Harvard elites. These people only care about partying and money. He rarely, if ever, gets a outside perspective Even Eduardo mostly goes along with Harvard culture.
When he is talking to Erica earlier, it is clear he thinks the world works through these social power dynamics. He tells Erica she can meet people she wouldn’t normally meet through the Phoenix clubs. He genuinely thinks he’s doing her a favor. When he accuses her of sleeping with the doorman Bubby, it seems like he honestly believes that she did, and that’s why they’re allowed at the club. His comments are incredibly sexist, and Mark seems to genuinely believe them. The movie seems to say that that’s just the way he and the people who started Facebook were. The screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, defended claims that the movie was misogynistic.
“I was writing about a very angry and deeply misogynistic group of people. These aren’t the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the 80’s. They’re very angry that the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback instead of the men (boys) who are running the universe right now. The women they surround themselves with aren’t women who challenge them (and frankly, no woman who could challenge them would be interested in being anywhere near them.)”
Mark never considers that Erica could meet elites on her own merit. If a woman does have any power in this movie, it is presumed that it is because of her sexual appeal to men. So, they are left out of the business. Throughout the movie, women are either background characters or characters who exist to call out the men’s behavior. Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) appears intelligent and witty, but Mark doesn’t seem to care about her. He doesn’t listen. Even after she argues with him, he never apologizes.
The writers achieve what they’re trying to do. We, the audiance, rarely escape the Harvard perspective, except with Erica. She calls him out in one of the most iconic movie openings of all time. Mara is a fantastic actress and her acting carries this scene and Eisenberg is great at playing a self-centered and clearly oblivious Mark. One of my favorite lines is:
“Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster”
It sure seems like it. Although I’m not getting any endorphins from this guy. He is painful to watch.
Mark genuinely believes these false notions of success, and they are almost his downfall, but they’re actually not. While he loses his best friend and the only one who cared about him, Mark is making billions of dollars from Facebook. He is the youngest billionaire in the world. But is he happy?
The final scene of The Social Network shows Mark requesting Erica Albright as his Facebook friend and waiting for the results. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I wondered why Mark wants to reach out to Erica. She is his ex-girlfriend and he seems to still have feelings for her. The creators intentionally never show Mark approach any other girls. Even in the scene where he and Eduardo meet Chrissy and her friend in the bathroom, we only see Eduardo and Chrissy together.
I have a few theories why. While much of the movie relies on male relationships to drive the plot forward, it is the female characters, rather than the female characters that call Mark for his selfishness. He comes to appreciate them a little, in the end. He likes Erica because she “had a nice face.” Still, of course, his feelings for him are focused on himself. She is a presence that makes him feel good and perhaps makes him feel like a better person than he is. But he never actually tries to ask for forgiveness or tries to be better himself. The same with Rashida Jones’ Marylin Delpy. She calls him out and rejects him when he asks her out, but she also has pity for him.
But, I’m not sure it is fair to say that Mark likes women who call him out on his bad behavior. I’m not sure he possesses enough self-awareness, but he does care for her. Erica is perhaps the only person left in his life, and he wants to hold onto someone familiar. He also puts a desire for self-improvement onto a woman. At least, the movie shows that it is not Erica’s job to make him better, as she never responds to his request. The ending also sums up Facebook. It is a program where people can send messages to people they recognize. A familiar face makes us feel less alone.
Is The Social Network a good criticism for Facebook?
I would argue that The Social Network isn’t a great criticism of Facebook. The loneliness that the app creates is accurate, but I would argue that it is more harmful to its users than to Zuckerberg. While Mark is staring at his computer alone, he is also alone and a billionaire.
Does it matter if he’s happy right now? He is rich. He could maybe date or interact with “women who don’t really challenge him”, like the writers say. I also feel like that statement is a bit sexist. He is still in power. He isn’t a powerless guy begging for his ex. I feel like the movie missed something here. They seem to ignore the consequences of Mark’s power on the general public.
He can start over. Mark can get a new girlfriend, and make other friends. I’ve always found it a weak argument when movie says “all the billionaires and rich people are secretly miserable and lonely inside because they have no true friends.” Plenty of millionaires and billionaires have friends, marry and have kids, and do not spend their nights alone.
And even if perhaps Zuckerberg is missing out, he still likes the power of owning his own company and creating a program that millions of people use. I also do wonder why the film ends with Zuckerberg himself alone. He is the only one who appears to suffer from Facebook. Erica Albright, it seems, is doing fine. The movie ignores the problems that Facebook creates for anyone else.
I looked at the screenplay for this scene, and I found a few lines that drew my attention:
“Mark smiles. She’s on Facebook”
“Mark is settling into his chair. He’ll wait all night if he has to.”
Mark’s actions don’t make sense; Erica clearly doesn’t want to talk to him. She has told him in real life, but he doesn’t listen. He thinks somehow she will be more attainable online, perhaps because she joined his app, but he is not the center of her universe. Facebook is a vast network and just because you can reach out to someone doesn’t mean you should.
If we want to criticize the real Mark Zuckerberg, it is difficult to do so in this movie, because the last scene portrays him as a sad, friendless, victim of his own creation. The story is beautiful in that way. It fits as a villain origin story, but what about everyone else? The movie ignores that Zuckerberg still wields a great amount of power. He owns this company– he makes everyone else see the world the way he does–as a social club. He also holds that he deserves what he has, the company rights, Erica’s attention, and the most shares in his company.
The Social Network‘s betrayal isn’t just about Eduardo. The company of Facebook betrayed its users when they gave away their data. It also leaves us with “co-comparison” to quote Olivia Rodrigo again.
Gender and The Social Network
Women are usually decorations. They exist at parties and drink. Sean lets girls into his and Mark’s house to drink alcohol and women are constantly just hanging around. The first scene of the Phoenix Club–the club Mark desperately wants to join–objectifies and sexualizes women for the men around them. Mark, however, doesn’t have a ton of women he knows in real life.
Erica is the first woman to criticize Mark (that we know of) but after that, she only appears when Mark chases after her. Her lack of development makes sense to the storyline– Erica is living her own life– and Mark is no longer a part of it. Neither Mark nor the audience know much about her. We at least, recognize that fact.
Another character is Brenda Song’s Chrissy, Eduardo’s girlfriend for some of the movie. She is the one to set a scarf Eduardo gave her on fire. I don’t particularly like scarves, but it is still a nice gift. It’s not necessarily a reason to be angry, it is not a bad gift. She is portrayed as the crazy girlfriend. She does whatever she wants, and she gets jealous easily. But Eduardo also deserves the blame for their relationship.
Should he have changed his status to-in-a-relationship on Facebook? Probably. I feel like this is a case of bad communication. If Facebook relationship status was important to her, perhaps they could’ve talked about it before. If he really didn’t know, he could have asked Mark of all things. And if Eduardo doesn’t like the relationship, why does he stay?
He tells Mark Chrissy is a “psycho” but stays with her, but never tries to work on the relationship. He almost detaches himself from the relationship, and he ignores her like she’s a problem rather than a person. I also found an article from The Business Insider that talks about women in The Social Network. The movie’s treatment of women feels disappointing, to say in the least.
I wasn’t that surprised that Sorkin defended the movie’s sexism years later. The men are meant to be misogynists, and we see it from their point of view, it isn’t nice to see, but it is what it is under their logic. Christy herself also seems like an exaggerated character. If women are more sexual, they are judged in this movie, but women who “know better” and break up with these guys like Erica are seen as wise and witty. Both of them are pawns in these men’s power plays. Eduardo just has better social skills than Mark. It doesn’t make Eduardo a better person or mean he respects women or cares about them more.
And the thing is, in a real-life story Zuckerberg didn’t go about setting the pieces for a revenge fantasy ploy. He was dating Priscilla Chan, who is now his wife. What about problematic men who are married and in power. Is their power only worthy of critique if they are overtly and obviously misogynistic.
Sexist nerds in media aren’t anything new. I just wonder how the movie would have gone if they ventured to explore Zuckerberg’s relationship with Chan. How does one balance a girlfriend and working long hours for what the movie showed as a primarily male-dominated industry? And why did the movie portray the industry all men? Women worked for the founding of Facebook. Why not include them as well? How did his friendship with Eduardo play out when he had his wife by his side? I’m not sure how the movie could have conveyed this, but it is important to remember that powerful men get married. Women are a part of these stories, and it feels lazy, and frankly, offensive not to not include them.
To reduce Mark to a revengeful, sexist nerd is to diminish real-life men in power. To reduce them to unlikable nerds is to pity them. And by focusing on pity, we miss how much power they hold, and thus avoid valid critiques of their actions. I’m not sure the movie goes that far. It clearly shows Mark is in the wrong not just because of his sexism, but because he is a betrayer. To harm your friend while working with them is one of the worst parts.
Mark betrays Eduardo not because of anger or a desire to get even. Eduardo asks Mark:
“Is it because I got into the Phoenix?”
Though Eduardo was kind to Mark and a good friend, Mark just feels jealous of him. The biggest tragedy of the movie is Mark’s misunderstanding of human relationships. He isn’t open to connecting emotionally with others, to him it is all business. But as we see at the end with the friend request to Erica–connection is something Mark desperately craves–even if he doesn’t know how.
He thinks that these groups will bring him a better life than he has, but it is there–right in front of him. If you watch the scene, you hear Eduardo’s voice as he says he dressed for both a business meeting and a party. Eduardo cared about Mark. There is an idea in life that if we earn things, if we work hard for what we want we’ll finally get somewhere better, but there are people right in front of us.
Social media creates a fake-closeness. If you have someone on social media, you might see them in a group and feel unhappy that you’re are not part of the in-crowd. Social possibilities seem to extend, but instead, they bend inward. Mark sticks with us at the end, because he represents all of us, reaching for connection. I just wish Mark had realized he had two people that cared about him.
Overall, The Social Network is still iconic and hits hard more than ten years later. The messages of social media and isolation felt too real. I also read that the law stuff was pretty accurate to real life. A current critique of Facebook would no doubt look differently, but the way the movie showed the harms of status and power stay with us. Also, it holds a message is helpful for all time: don’t stab your friends in the back–if that wasn’t obvious.
Other than that though, this movie played out like a lawsuit between people with far more money than most of us can imagine. In the end, Eduardo turned out okay. But Facebook? I’m not so sure.
The entire last scene is so iconic, and I could include it all, but I’ll add a few favorite lines.
“Sorry, my Prada’s at the cleaners along with my hoodie and my ******* flip flops you pretentious douchebag…”
Apparently, Zuckerberg did dress like movie Mark in college: in gap hoodies and flip flops.
“I was drunk, angry, and stupid.”
Mark and Marilyn
Life tip: Never blog drunk or else you may eventually become a lonely billionaire who accuses their best friend of animal cruelty for keeping a chicken in their room for a week to get into a club that rejected you.
Have you seen The Social Network? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
I feel like I’ve been watching a reality show for the past 6 years. Life is dramatic and outlandish. The news feels like something from a sci-fi movie or from a teen dystopia. Reality TV is unrealistic; it asks why any rational person would act or believe the things they do. I question the notion that people really want to know the truth when I see how certain reality tv actors are; they believe their story is correct, no matter how many times the rest of the cast proves that they are wrong. What people really want is a truth that benefits their self-interest. The answer to that question is that people are inherently irrational. Our irrationality has been with us long before the pandemic and long before the movies.
I’ve heard quite often that 2021 wasn’t the best year, though I wonder, when did we have a good year? Our world has always had irrational people and people have been satirizing life forever. The drama of the satire is pointing out the vices and flaws of society and the best satire, in my opinion, points out flaws that we can find not just in the higher-ups, but in ourselves. The best satire can call out the people who need to be called out, as well as ourselves and our complicity.
The movie Don’t Look Up begins when Ph.D. student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a meteor in a telescope that will crash to Earth in six months. All human life will end when the meteor hits. This is guaranteed. She and her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), head to Washington DC to tell the President about this incoming doom. The midterm elections are coming soon, and let’s just say–this will not be good.
Are you hooked yet? For this review, I am going to talk about both reasons to watch Don’t Look Up and some reasons the movie might not be for you.
Reasons to Watch
Relevant Political Satire
Don’t Look Up takes place in America and addresses the current political climate using dark humor. Don’t Look Up portrays the press, tv news, and big tech companies as utterly selfish and shallow. Light and fluffy sells, and drama make a fascinating story as long as it does not personally hurt us or challenge the comfortable ideologies and lifestyles we have settled into. We want shallowness and to feel placated, and this film shies away from nothing. The movie criticizes our selfishness, and it doesn’t just blame one group of people. The US government, owners of corporations, and media are responsible for the most damage, and they are called out rightfully. However, as the film depicts, all of America is afflicted by ignorance and self-interest, not just the higher-ups.
The film’s president (played by Meryl Streep) is a self-centered politician who cares more about maintaining her position of power over public needs. Trump is never referenced outright, but she shares obvious similarities with him. The movie also jokes about how immoral politicians try to incorporate God, human values, and love in speeches all the while having affairs and lying out of self-interest. The film mixes exaggeration with realism well. For instance, the president wears a hat that says “Don’t Look Up” and stands behind a giant American flag. They also go to great lengths to downplay the numbers of the meteor. The president requests the scientists if she can tell the public the percentage that the meteor will hit the earth is 70% rather than nearly 100%. Lower numbers will not alarm the public before the midterm election. These jokes are based on Trump’s MAGA hat and his use of the phrase ‘” alternative facts.” It is one of those comedies where I didn’t laugh out loud a ton, but I appreciated the humor.
The movie idea existed before the pandemic, but it bears many similarities. The movie is meant to be a metaphor for climate change, and it feels relevant to both issues. In general, science is treated the same way about both issues.
2. Realistic Portrayal of Scientists and Human Nature
I read a few reviews online, and scientists have applauded this movie for its portrayal of their experiences. They share Randall and Kate’s frustration with the public, politicians, and media when they ignore, belittle, and undermine the research they have carefully compiled to present to them. Scientists try to tell people about climate change and vaccines, but their words are politicized, minimized, and altered in favor of answers that don’t disrupt or challenge their way of living. When a challenging but clear answer is in front of people, they take any opportunity to avoid it.
The movie also shows how people are intuitively self-seeking. Everyone is more focused on their image over the impending end of all life. We also see tech leaders claiming the values of science, to improve life for humans and all forms of life while ignoring real scientists.
The film also addresses human failures and accepts that some events are beyond our control. It also shows how power corrupts and we try to control the wrong things. The movie is also unapologetically tragic. Death is not romanticized and it is interesting watching what the characters choose to do on their final days.
3. Good Acting
Many of the characters represent ideologies, but they are people first. Kate and Randall are not perfect people, but I can empathize with them easily. They have been through the unthinkable. Meryl Streep plays an awful, self-serving president of the United States. Jonah Hill plays Jason Orlean, the president’s son: an annoying, shockingly accurate, and hilarious example of privilege and nepotism in politics.
Some of the celebrities feel like they are randomly thrown in the film for no reason, but they were all good. Ariana Grande plays a celebrity much like herself and she adds some much-needed comic relief. She makes fun of herself and the media coverage of her, which I found fantastic. Apparently, she ad-libbed some lines too. Timothee Chalamet ended up in a pretty unexpected role, and he surprisingly adds heart to a terrifying story.
4. Surprising Inclusion of a Christian Characterand a Positive Portrayal of Faith
I wasn’t sure how this movie would address religion, if at all, and I was surprised to find an Evangelical Christian character. Sure, they are not completely traditional, but the engagement was nice. Religion is respected by the main characters, even if they don’t agree. The movie primarily focuses on science and the importance of listening to and understanding the truth scientists discover about life, but Christianity does not always have to conflict with science. It was a small part, but I found it cool to see in a movie like this.
A Few Things to Note
These aren’t exactly cons, but if you’re considering watching this movie, it might be useful to be aware of these issues beforehand.
The film is rated R, so that comes with some things. Don’t Look Up could easily have earned a PG-13 rating if they took out the swearing and the bit of nudity. I do think an R rating makes sense for the catastrophe and satire. The movie explores political themes and social issues in a way that wouldn’t succeed as a family film. I wouldn’t recommend the movie to anyone other than older teens and adults for the following reasons.
Language: The film is rated R and it swears quite a bit. According to IMDB, the word “fuck” is used 42 times. Other swear words are also occasionally used. Much of the swearing takes place when the characters feel intense anger or frustration with their situation. While understandable in the context, the cursing did not do much for the film. Maybe we needed to be yelled at, but it is painful to watch. The message could have been addressed without as much language and it feels redundant at times during a big speech. If you don’t like a lot of swearing, the movie might not be enjoyable.
Nudity: the nudity isn’t graphic and it is very brief. The film includes back nudity and partial frontal nudity. Overall, I wouldn’t say that nudity is necessary to tell the story; it is kind of just thrown in there.
2. One-dimensional portrayal of people who disagree
The public was all oblivious and ignorant to the events of the world around them. Despite the threat of all human life, no one cared except the scientist characters. People only listened when the politicians and celebrities told them to care either in support of or against evidence that the meteor was going to kill them. People who support Trump-like politicians and their policies were utterly one-dimensional. That is to be expected in satire, of course. I do think if the film is trying to convince people of a message, it excludes some people. If this is something that bothers you, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. Most of the focus is on the higher-ups, and the public is merged into one. The movie requires us to know how to laugh at ourselves, and if you don’t mind satire, it shouldn’t be a problem.
I suppose this was the point, but for an event like this, there’s no way other countries would not get involved. There are brief snippets of scenes from other countries, but they don’t really land well. The snippets felt like something the film had to include instead of an attempt at diversity. I was disappointed that the movie did not address the world as a whole, especially since everyone is going to die. Seeing how foreign relations interact with each other and understanding the meteor could have been fascinating. The film is very concerned with the USA, but the message and criticism of political power and media can apply everywhere. The focus on the US isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The movie wanted to focus on satirizing America in particular, and specific satire is better than general. I just wish the rest of the world’s response was included a little more. The United States of America, thankfully, is not responsible for the entire world and it would have felt more real if they said that.
I enjoyed this movie. I wouldn’t call it a powerful piece that will stay with us forever, nor is it the best film I’ve seen this year. It was engaging, but not laugh-out-loud hilarious. The message was a good one, and It tried to mix satire and some inspiration, and it kind of works. I’m glad I watched it. I enjoyed watching actors I like and checking out a genre I don’t typically watch, and it is pretty good. Even with the few things I mentioned, I would recommend this movie and it is not 2+ hours I regret spending on Netflix.
I wouldn’t make it out to be more than it is. It can be enjoyed regardless of political viewpoint. The movie points out the importance of science and calls people out through comedy and slight exaggeration. If you appreciate dark comedy, you should enjoy this film. It is a satire, but it also was pretty heartwarming. The movie made me want to be more aware of the world around me and take steps to help, but it wasn’t something that will change the world. It also isn’t too cynical. Though the movie was sad, I didn’t feel worse about the world than I already do. We are entering a new year. There is time to do good and spread awareness and learn about climate change, injustice, poverty, and find ways to help others. Maybe I’m being idealistic, but the movie seems to inspire hope rather than anything. We can listen, we can learn, and we can do better. We can ask more of our leaders and ourselves.
Don’t Look Up is so similar to the political sphere, but it felt oddly comforting rather than distressing. The film never minimizes the horrors of what is happening to the audience. The humor balances well.
If you like any of the actors, I think you will like this film. The cast plays roles that fit them perfectly. Don’t LookUp is bleak but its satire of celebrities, politicians, and social media help distract us from the tragedy. I would recommend it if you’re in the mood for a dramatic film that addresses the age, we live in. I also found the movie a little long, it is a little less than two and a half hours, and it seemed longer than it needed to be. It is still worth watching. They drag at parts, but so does life. Back during COVID, I remember waiting all afternoon for an email from our college president detailing whether or not we would go home. Sometimes, even in movies, it’s good to show the slowness, the anxiety of waiting and not knowing. Also, the ending is good, so watch the whole thing.
Have you seen or heard of Don’t LookUp? What do you think? Let me know down in the comments below!
Check out my Spoiler Review!
Also, after you’ve watched the movie, check out my spoiler review! I’m going to be discussing criticisms that I didn’t mention here, including surprising things I enjoyed and analyzing the character development and the overall message.
Don’t Look Up. Three words create a giant controversy. If you watch even a few seconds of attention to the news, this is pretty obvious. I will start by saying this movie is satire, it is dangerously true to life. It is also hilarious and true and beautiful. I don’t typically watch movies about political satire, but after these past 2 years, I felt interested. I heard this movie addresses our modern age and includes some famous people and was like, I gotta watch that. You know, sometimes, it’s not that deep. I see Meryl Streep and Timothee Chalamet and I click.
Don’t Look Up begins when Kate Dibasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, discovers a comment that will hit the earth and destroy the world. She then must, along with her professor Randall Mindy (Leonardo Decaprio) inform the president of the United States.
The film has got a ton of celebrities: Meryl Street plays the self-interested president. Timothee Chalumet plays a young Evangelical hippie guy and Ariana Grande plays a famous singer nearly identical to herself.
I enjoyed this movie more than I thought. The film was written to address climate change and politics, but the themes of denial and politicization of a threat to human lives fit the pandemic pretty well too. That is partially why the movie is so big. Other than knowing that Don’t Look Down is a satire of American politics and features celebrities, I really didn’t know what to expect.
In this review, I’ll be talking about 5 main ideas I thought of watching this movie. I was pleasantly surprised by what the movie decided to cover. Some characters—Leonardo DiCaprio—are downright unlikeable at times, but somehow, I made it through, partially due to Jennifer Lawrence and Timothee Chalamet.
l. Leonardo DiCaprio is unlikable
It is very hard to like Randall Mindy ( Leonardo Decaprio). Randall is introduced as a camera-shy scientist who views life as a series of facts. We quickly learn, however, that the minute the awkward scientist gets recognition, he falls in with the crowd. He starts off insisting on science and I imagine he’s going to be the voice of reason.
But I, perhaps idealistically, turned out to be wrong about Mindy. Peter Isherwille, the (evil) tech guru understands him. Randall’s fatal flaw is that he is shy and insecure and wants people to like him. Unlike most of the population, he accepts the fact that his life will end in six months. To avoid that horrifying truth, he allows fame to distract him.
“I know what you are, you are a lifestyle idealist. You’re just thrown towards pleasure and away from pain like a field mouse.”
It also seems like Mindy has an anxiety disorder. He mentions that he takes Xanax and Zoloft. The audience isn’t told any specifics, but he gets visibly anxious before going on TV. Overall, medications (and alcohol) are tools that the characters use to numb the pain of the events happening to them. Randall shares his medications with Kate, which is clearly problematic, after they find out about the meteor.
Both characters pursue or at least accept momentary pleasure when it is offered to them, but DeCaprio is the one who annoyed me.
Kate takes medication and gets high with Yule, but she doesn’t harm anyone else.
Randall is a married man, and his wife cares for several teenage sons mostly by herself. One of his sons takes medication, but he is pretty oblivious about how to be a good father. He has responsibilities as a father, husband, and scientist, and he neglects them all.
The haircut is the start of his ruin. Before he goes on the news to talk about the meteor, the studio cuts Randall’s hair and shapes his beard. The news crew won’t listen what he is going to say, even if he is literally telling them the world will end soon, but they do want him to look hot. The media grooms him like a golden retriever and he falls into their trap so easily. Talk show reporter Brie Evantee (Kate Blanchett) flirts with Randall on set, and after a few interviews, he begins an affair with her as his wife struggles to raise their sons alone. In addition to getting with a reporter, Randall personally recieves almost no backlash for his behavior and he is just the pretty face. Randall is dubbed the hottest scientist by the media, and he rides safely in the limousine of privilege as the truth as society crumbles around him.
While the impending damage of the meteor is downplayed in interviews, and Randall is featured on Elmo, Kate is mocked and reduced to a meltdown meme. Randal is her teacher and he is supposed to be supporting her, but he leaves her in the dust. I wonder if the film was making a point about sexism in the media. Kate is horrified by the public’s attempts to downplay the imminent death of the world and she is honest and upset. Everyone should be upset. But the media portrays her as overly emotional and a joke. No one takes her seriously.
People don’t take Randall seriously, but he never suffers the amount of vitriol that Kate receives. Even when he finally breaks down and screams and swears at the public, no one judges him. In a traumatic situation like this, there is no one way to react or process, but Kate is the only one who is insulted for her grief.
In turn, Randall doesn’t protect Kate and slowly allows the media to take the narrative from him. Randall becomes a shallow, morally bankrupt version of his former self. He was once a man who loved science and facts. He saw life as a series of truths and put facts and honesty above all.
He then settles into an extremely shallow relationship with reporter Brie Evantee. From what we know about her, Bre was born into a wealthy family and has been taught to be very shallow. Brie never broaches a conversation topic below the surface. Her banter with her co-star Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) is marketed as light and fun. They jump from death to celebrity drama with little care.
I almost felt bad for Bre at first but then she turned out to be a terrible person. She is the one to pursue him even though she knows he’s married. She is clearly capable of being blunt too. She is honest with Randall and his wife about the affair. She is capable of honesty on TV, but she only is honest when it can get her what she wants. Their relationship also mirrors Randall’s relationship with the press. He exchanges integrity for sex appeal and a shallow relationship with the media, where he occasionally spits out facts to an uninterested population.
Randall sucks for the affair. I was disappointed there wasn’t more of a downfall to his character. His wife loves him and takes care of their sons. She gets mad at him rightfully, but then she just forgives him–with the excuse that she cheated on him in college. I get that it is the end of the world, but this guy gets so much slack, and it annoys me when shows ignore the results of cheating. They just sort of blow it off with a joke. Instead, I wish she had genuinely forgiven him if she ever wanted to and that the cheating wasn’t trivialized.
I also hated how he let Kate get made fun of while he was a hero. He never apologizes to Kate. He also gets the best lines at the end and is still the good guy, but Kate has been nothing but kind, honest, and considerate. Kate deals with the worst of the press. She is the true star of this film, but this guy gets the closing lines. I get it, he had everything and lost it all. He also gets a great ending. At least Kate gets Timothee Calumet.
As much as I complain, I appreciate his character arch from honest scientist to a shallow famous face.
It is an eternal truth that power and influence corrupt. For that reason, I liked that Mindy was morally grey. The movie could have made the scientists always act with good intentions and exist as paragons of virtue. I’m glad they didn’t. It would feel too preachy.
Everyone is guilty of ignoring pain and seeking pleasure. No one is completely innocent and pure, even if they believe and say the right things. Our values don’t stop us from screwing up. We are all capable of committing the evils we claim to abhor.
2. Don’t Look Up Makes fun of current politics with wonderful accuracy
The president and her son felt like they were genuinely related. She feels like Donald Trump and he feels like one of Trump’s children. The hairstyle and clothing designers knew how to dress the actors for the parts. The nepotism feels so realistic, unfortunately and Jason Orlean is a spoiled brat and Jonah Hill plays that so well and I loved to hate him and president Orlean. The jokes are direct parallels to the real Trump presidency. There is a scene where Jason says his mother is a smoke show or something similar and that he would date her if she was not his mom. That reminds me of what Trump has said about Ivanka.
The scenes showing her supporters and her choice of the cabinet mirrored Trump. Her hat and flag match him to a T. The movie also shows how our media excuses the racist and sexist behavior of others. The old man the president chooses to fly into space makes racist remarks but the media excuses the things he said because he is from “a different time.” This is classic lampshading. No one is held to any moral standard, and the politicians just don’t care because they have power.
The politician’s ignorance of meteor don’t harm themselves, but their supporters. If the president of the United States is telling you that something is true, you should expect honesty. Especially it involves your health or the fact that something could kill you.
Near the beginning, Kate is charged $20 for snacks and water from a member of the staff, only to find out later that food in the White House is free. She wonders why he would scam her like that. Sometimes people do jerky things for kicks and it is so annoying. Political office and power allow humans to do unreasonable things, and I liked the ongoing conversation. In situations where people do bad things, sometimes we remember the simple stuff the most.
3. Engagement with Political Activism/Issues and shallownessof Media
The movie shows how the reporters, politicians, and everyone else preferred a shallow existence to one that recognizes the facts of life. We would rather pretend problems don’t exist and that we live in a perfect world. We’d rather pretend the news doesn’t apply to us and won’t affect us personally. The media we consume caters to our human desire for comfort, safety, and ignorance.
The scene with Ariana Grande still bugs me. She wanted to talk about her charity, saving the manatees, but the press only cares about her breakup. This is one time where a non-scientist wants to do something good for the environment, and no one lets her. She cares about the climate and help others become more aware of the problems around her, but what about Pete Davidson? The apathy of these people was heartbreaking.
Instead, people escape into her relationship drama. Her drama doesn’t affect their lives, but people like the escape into someone else’s false feelings rather than acknowledge their own. They want drama, as long as it doesn’t affect them, and a happy ending is always enjoyable, even if it is fake. It isn’t until she performs a song to look up that fans and the media listen. But by then, there is nothing else they can do.
4.The Film Mocks Big Tech and Its Flirtation with Science
Peter Isherwell plays a good villain, he acts with an awkward certainty that just feels like a powerful tech billionaire. He is supposed to parody Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and all those rich tech people. The dude is so obsessed with wealth. He saw a literal meteor that will kill all people and the first thing the man thinks of was to let it hit the earth and then mine it for gold.
He also uses science and causes like ending world hunger and restoration of biodiversity to justify taking a risk in pursuit of profit. His tech ads are promoted to help people, but they also are supposed to cater to our every desire and need. Science is really an excuse to cater to our individual needs and make money off those needs rather than improve the world around us. We become self-centered and dependent on our devices. We go to them when we are sad and want to be happy. Then they follow an algorithm and give us what we think we need. The tech company BASH argues that phones can predict all.
Technology is also described using religious language. Drones are mankind’s savior. “You’re gonna be a god in the sky,” he says. Technology is a new means of understanding the world. It is religion, it is science, it is philosophy. When he talks about his phone company, Peter says:
“This is evolution, the evolution of the human species.”
Is it? Is it really? Technology is idealized so much. It is supposed to solve all our problems and make our lives perfect apparently. This film laughs at that idea. The media spreads sparky, empty news. Phones distract people and make them happy when they should panic. Technology only serves to dissuade people, rather than encourage them to care about humanity. It is only when people let go of tech and focus on each other that they’re able to be real and have honest conversations. Tech paints a false promise of utopia, but that is wrong. Isherwell calls the age of tech the Golden Age, which was a time of prosperity in Greece, but the characters are their best when they are together, sitting down at a meal with no screens in sight.
“Isherwell calls the age of tech the Golden Age, which was a time of prosperity in Greece, but the characters are their best when they are together, sitting down at a meal with no screens in sight.”
I liked how he was wrong about Randall’s death. Technology can’t control and predict the world; data does not capture an entire person. He didn’t surrender to impulse and momentary pleasure and returned to his wife and sons. He brings his friends along. He chose to invest in the people around him. He didn’t die alone.
I do wonder what will happen next. The tech lord won and I’m not sure his new society will be a better one. Will the naked people be addicted to their phones for happiness? Will they stage a revolt? Hopefully, we never have to find out. Maybe they’ll all die, after all, the scientist guy is the type to start a war. I’m kind of hoping for a sequel.
5. Engagement with Evangelical Christianity
I’ve seen quite a few movies where characters are asked if they believe in God, but this movie portrays Christianity a lot more than many. Timothee Chalemet plays Yule, a young man who was raised by Evangelical parents. He grew up in the countryside and wears a camo baseball hat. He is one of my favorite characters.
Don’t Look Up portrays religion pretty satirically at first. The politicians invoke God and Jesus but only as a means to accomplish their political aims. Their level of pandering is so obvious and hilarious, and this sadly occurs in real life–to people of all groups. Politicians use language to make people think they care about interests greater than themselves. News flash–they don’t. The people who support the president parody Trump supporters. They are one-dimensional charicatures. In a satire, and the film aims to call out politicians. The film accomplishes its message, while stereotypes aren’t ideal, it fits the film’s purpose well. It feels more honest than offensive, and pandering by politicians should be called out way, way more than it currently is.
So, back to Timothee, his parents are Evangelical Christians and he disagrees with what they stand for and says he doesn’t like them. If we look at stereotypes, his parents are likely conservative Evangelical Christians. They likely voted for this president who claimed to support them and their values. He could easily have rejected the faith he grew up in as a nonsense but he doesn’t. He says he figured out how to believe in God in his own way, but it is somewhat unclear at first what he means. Yule is a young guy who is learning about life outside of the one he grew up in for the first time.
I liked how Yule skeptical of the meteor. He doesn’t believe in it initially because he hasn’t heard anything else from his environment, but he’s open to listening to Kate when she tells him the truth. He can listen to others with respect without their words threatening him.
We see Yule pray on the roof with Kate, and his faith feels learned, but genuine. He isn’t repeating a family prayer in a sense of desperation. His faith is real and his own. Is he a perfect person, of course not, but that’s what makes him a good character. For a movie about science that partly mocks Evangelical people, his character could have been a quirky stoner stereotype, but instead, the writes decided to create a Christian character with respect. I would argue he and Kate as well is a moral center to the film. While the people around him worry and are filled with fear, he is a calm presence.
At the end of the most, we see Yule praying for everyone by their request. June and Dr. Randall Mindy are not particularly religious, they have no idea how to pray and only know that saying amen is part of the process. Still, they ask Yule to pray for them because it feels important.
“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator… …we ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride. Your forgiveness, despite our doubt. Most of all, Lord… We ask for Your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come… …in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance. Amen.”
At this point, everyone has given up any sense of control, they know they will die within minutes. June asked Yule to pray because she was scared. They all are; they fear death and what is to come and are looking for peace and acceptance.
Pride is a big force in this movie. Randall enjoys media attention and does not try to help stop the events around him out of pride. He likes feeling good about himself over fear. Tech billionaire Peter Isherwell denies the need to peer-review his plan to combat the meteor because of pride. He thinks he can fix it himself. The same goes for the president.
At this moment, the characters have a choice. They can fight and they can get angry. They can cry or isolate themselves or go into denial. Instead, they accept their fate. They understand their lack of power and they come together to give their attention to something greater than themselves. Relief doesn’t rely on them alone, and they accept that. Though all the characters are not openly religious, the moment is beautiful and unites all of them. They are accepting what they can’t change and Timothee prays for their fate in God’s hands. They are also holding each other’s hands, they are connected, unified in this terrifying situation, but they are not afraid.
The themes of acceptance and forgiveness are at the heart of this movie. So many characters try to change the world to fit their own perception of reality and hold grudges and false perceptions about others. The reporters try to distort the facts and put on false cheer. The president and tech leader aim for their own success instead of pursuing and accepting the truth. As much as we disagree with Randall’s cheating, he comes back to his wife and asks for forgiveness and she accepts him into her home. She chooses to forgive instead of getting angry and he is honest about his mistake. He doesn’t excuse his behavior or alter the facts.
So much of this movie is full of people altering facts. The ending itself is just beautiful. Timothee’s prayer, acceptance, humility, and connection between the group are powerful. Even though they barely know each other, they face this terrifying event together. That scene redeems the hopeless tragedy that humans have created.
If you’ve seen this movie, what do you think? What do you think of the things I pointed out? Let me know down in the comments below.
Are you sick of Hallmark movies? Is Deck the Halls a little too much? I personally just want a good holiday story where the family isn’t all tinsel and hot chocolate. I love this season, and Christmas, but it just feels like false cheer. Holidays are stressful and awkward and hanging out with your family for days on end isn’t the magical dream that you see in the movies.
Just like The Office isn’t a story about a people working in glamorous careers and meeting equally put-together people, media about real people is so much better than perfect humans. We also see the beauty and awkwardness in relationships between people. Jim and Pam’s story is beautiful because they are so imperfect and awkward. Meanwhile, Hallmark actors are always cheerful, always get along with their friends, and the attractive love interest instantly falls for them. They are awkward at times, it is always charming, and their love never feels real or painful. We know who will end up together, and that no true obstacles will come that a little holiday magic can’t fix.
I’d much prefer seeing normal people just being awkward but look for love in all the wrong places. If there is one person who fits this ideal best, it is Steve Carell. Michael Scott is the most uncomfortably awkward human on television, but he is also one of the most likable. In this movie, luckily, we don’t have to deal with the cringe factor.
If you like Steve Carell being serious, and pining after someone he can’t date, this movie is a good watch. Dan is just living in real life, trying to find love, but turns out life isn’t that easy. Dan in Real Life is available to watch on Disney Plus and Amazon Prime.
Ever dream of meeting the love of your life in a bookstore? Dan in Real Life turns a classic trope on its side when she shows up at their family weekend as his brother’s new girlfriend.
If you’re not quite sold yet, I get it. I saw this movie on Amazon and to be honest I wasn’t sure if it’d be that good. I love Steve Carell in The Office, but I wasn’t sure how he would be as a romantic lead. He’s just so silly to be a pining lover, to my surprise, it worked. He was a great actor in this movie and the romance is really sweet and realistic.
Note: the movie references Emily Dickinson Poetry and Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. Both authors are fantastic, and Dan picks these books up when he is looking for recommendations for Marie.
It doesn’t hurt that he and Marie (Juliette Binoche) have amazing chemistry. The story begins by establishing Dan as a widow with three daughters. He writes for a newspaper as an advice columnist and lives a pretty normal life. Dan is known for giving great advice to others, but he’s not so great at following it himself. He is a caring dad, but he can be a bit overprotective.
The love in this movie is very dramatic; Dan and Marie are attracted to each other, but Marie likes his brother as well and wants to see where it goes with him. She is also attracted to Dan and wishes they had met under different circumstances. The tension is intense when they are together and often funny.
The problem is they can’t tell anyone. Dan’s brother Mitch was a bit of a player in the past and isn’t the best with words, but he’s not too bad of a guy. He’s one of those gym-goers, and I can understand why the two get together at the beginning. I definitely rooting for Dan over Mitch, but Mitch wasn’t one of those jerks who the sweet lead would never think of interacting with in the first place.
Dan’s daughter Cara (Britt Robertson) is also in love with a boy named Marty. It was funny seeing the contrast between their young love and Dan’s hidden feelings for Marie. His other daughters are pretty funny too. They are sweet and not overly cutesy.
Their relationship with their father is pretty normal, the two oldest daughters are often annoyed with him and his youngest daughter still likes him. The actresses playing his daughters were pretty good. Dan is a good dad too, with Steve Carell, I expected him to be overly awkward or incompetent, but he was actually really sweet. There are some stereotypical family bonding activities like playing football in the backyard and charades, and they are fun, if a little cheesy.
Steve Carell’s acting is amazing in this film, he goes from sweet and romantic to grumpy and heartbroken and he’s never unbelievable. He is understandably heartbroken, but he keeps it to himself mostly. He’s never mad at Marie for no reason and he doesn’t take his anger out on his brother. He’s a decent person, but like all romantic protagonists, he makes a few mistakes. Yes, he pines a bit and is overdramatic, but it’s all part of the fun in a romantic comedy. I laughed out loud and almost shed a tear at the romantic scenes.
The movie shows that sometimes you have to be open to surprises. The timing isn’t always right, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. I could predict what would happen at the end, but I enjoyed the ride. It works out in the end, but I feel like it could happen in real life. It’s not totally unbelievable. There are no Christmas miracles or anything like that, and for that reason, I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in a heartfelt romance who could use a break from the Hallmark movies.
If you’re curious about the pancakes, there is a reason for them. Hint: its sweet.