Dolittle (2020)

Dolittle
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writer: Stephen Gaghan, Dan Gregor, Doug Mand, Chris McKay
Based on: Hugh Lofting‘s books
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Harry Collett, Carmel Laniado, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Kasia Smutniak, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour, Jason Mantzoukas
Seen on: 13.2.2020
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Plot:
Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) has a gift: he’s a veterinarian who can talk to the animals directly. But every since his wife (Kasia Smutniak) was lost at sea, he hasn’t worked anymore. This changes quickly, when he gets two visitors in a day: the first one is Tommy (Harry Collett) who brings in a hurt squirrel, and the second is Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) who brings the news that the Queen (Jessie Buckley) may well be dying if Dolittle doesn’t help – and that would mean that he’d lose his entire estate. Forced from his isolation, Dolittle takes on the case – and Tommy makes sure to be part of it.

Dolittle has potential – Downey Jr. surrounded by animals voiced by a whole lot of excellent people? What can go wrong? A lot, apparently. Maybe this film should serve as a case study for that.

The film poster showing Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) surrounded by various animals.
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Bumblebee (2018)

Bumblebee
Director: Travis Knight
Writer: Christina Hodson
Part of: the Transformers movies
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Ricardo Hoyos, John Ortiz, Dylan O’Brien, Peter Cullen, Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux
Seen on: 14.1.2019
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Plot:
The war between the Autobots and the Decepticons on Cybertron is starting to look very dire for the Autobots. So Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) sends one of his scouts (Dylan O’Brien) to Earth to find a place where they can regroup. But the scout crashes, gets attacked by the military led by Burns (John Cena) and is finally found by one of the Decepticons who damages his voice box. In a last effort, he hides in the shape of a Beetle and ends up on a junkyard. Many years later Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finds him, calling him Bumblbee for his yellow color. As she is a gifted mechanic, she gets to work – and can hardly believe her eyes when he transforms into a huge, but obviously traumatized robot. But the Decepticons are still out there and so is Burns, both hoping to find him.

Without having seen all (or even most) of the Transformers movies, I feel confident saying that Bumblebee is probably the best of them. It was entertaining all the way through.

The film poster showing Bumblebee in humanoid form, Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), Agent Burns (John Cena) and Bumblebee in car form surrounded by sparks from an explosion in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Ferdinand (2017)

Ferdinand
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Writer: Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, Brad Copeland
Based on: Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson‘s children’s book The Story of Ferdinand
Cast: John CenaKate McKinnon, Jeremy Sisto, Bobby Cannavale, Raúl Esparza, David Tennant, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, Flula Borg, Sally Phillips [I saw the German language version, so I can’t speak to their performances.]
Seen on: 27.12.2017
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Plot:
Ferdinand (Colin H. Murphy) is the son of a famous fighting bull and is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. Or rather hoofsteps. But nothing could be further from Ferdinand’s mind: he is more interested in smelling the flowers, bringing him the scorn from the other young bulls. Ferdinand grows up (John Cena) into a formidable bull and as luck would have it, he gets stung by a bee, causing him to go on a rampage that brings him directly to the matador academy to train as a fighting bull.

Ferdinand is a sweet film that works hard to dismantle toxic masculinity in a way that makes sense for kids – and it does so quite admirably.

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Trainwreck (2015)

Trainwreck
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Amy Schumer
Cast: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie LarsonLeBron James, John CenaVanessa Bayer, Randall ParkMike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, Tilda Swinton, Daniel RadcliffeMarisa Tomei, Method Man, Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert, Chris Evert
Seen on: 18.8.2015

Plot:
Amy (Amy Schumer) doesn’t believe in relationships. She’d rather have sex with random guys while dating Steven (John Cena) who is nice to look at but not exactly a rocket in bed. But then Amy has to do a story on sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader) for the magazine she works at. Amy has as little interest in sports as she has in monogamy, but Aaron is actually a nice guy. And he likes Amy. He even asks her out, forcing Amy to take a long hard look at her life and to decide whether it’s really the life she wants to lead.

I’m not a huge fan of Apatow (though I did love Freaks and Geeks), so I usually give his movies a wide pass. But I had heard good things about Amy Schumer, and since Trainwreck is also written by her, I decided to give it a try. And I have to admit that the movie worked pretty well for me.

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