Thursday Movie Picks #305: Girls’ Trip

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… GIRLS’ TRIP.

For this topic, the ones I pick isn’t necessarily about girls taking a trip together, but more about female friendships. Honestly I actually haven’t seen too many of movies about women taking a trip together, though I know there are a bunch of them. So I picked three that really resonated with me even from decades ago.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Five years after the events of Mamma Mia!, Sophie prepares for the grand reopening of the Hotel Bella Donna as she learns more about her mother’s past.

I have to admit I have a soft spot for these Mamma Mia! movies. I almost didn’t even want to see it, but when I visited my best friend in San Diego, she had this DVD and we decided to watch it together. Well, I ended up really enjoying it! I like the second movie even more as it traced back Donna’s past and how the relationships she forged in the past affects her, as well as her daughter Sophie’s, present. The three of them went on a trip to the Greek island and of course Donna ended up staying and built a hotel there. I love how in the sequel you see their friendship is still as strong as ever, and passed through generations.

I adore Lily James as young Donna (and this girl could sing!) and the other two actresses who played her two besties Rosie (Alexa Davies) and Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn). It helps a ton if you enjoy ABBA’s songs (which I do), and it also shows the friendships of Donna’s men (aka Sophie’s three dads) which is quite amusing also. Of course the island scenery (filmed in Croatia) is to die for!


Waiting to Exhale (1995)

Based on Terry McMillan’s novel, this film follows four very different African-American women and their relationships with the male gender.

I can’t remember when exactly I saw this movie but I still remember it fondly to this day. Even specific scenes still feels fresh in my mind, I mean who can forget Angela Bassett burning her husband’s car?

Based on Terry McMillan’s best-selling novel, it has such an amazing cast, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon, Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston, that work amazingly together. I’m actually a fan of Whitney as an actress, and she seems more comfortable here than in The Bodyguard.

As these women go through struggles in men, careers, and families that took them to different directions, it’s the bond and friendship that sustain them. Even the song Count On Me became an anthem for strong friendships… “When you are weak, I will be strong…Helping you to carry on.” 


Thelma & Louise (1991)

Two best friends set out on an adventure, but it soon turns around to a terrifying escape from being hunted by the police, as these two girls escape for the crimes they committed.

This movie has become an icon and perhaps still one of the most famous roles Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, and likely the most celebrated. I often forget it’s directed by Ridley Scott, where he’s nominated for Best Director at the Oscars.

The story of two friends who initially embarked on an adventure and ended up being on the run from police after an unexpected incident is certainly juicy. But it also features authentic and loyal friendship, as tragic and misguided they may be. I thought the ‘morning after’ scene when they both realized Thelma had been swindled by the seductive JD (still one of Brad Pitt‘s most memorable roles) was priceless! Many men think this movie is anti-men, well obviously that speaks more about themselves than about the filmmakers.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

Indie Review: Lake Bell’s debut film ‘In A World’

Two of the films I was impressed with at MSPfest happen to be directed by women. One was Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which is as far away from this one in terms of tone and subject matter, but I’d highly recommend both. I like the fact that this one is a comedy, it’s quite rare to see a well-written comedies these days that don’t contain overly foul language and/or crude sexual/bathroom humor. Thankfully, this debut film from Lake Bell contains neither, but it definitely delivers the laughs and then some.

In A World (2012)

InaWorld_LakeBell

An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice-overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voiceover star. Amidst pride, sexism and family dysfunction, she sets out to change the voice of a generation.

As someone who watch at least half a dozen movie trailers a week, the premise definitely appeals to me. In fact, earlier today I saw a trailer of Inescapable that pretty much had this cheesy VO narration that tells you the plot of the story. The protagonist of this movie, Carol (Lake Bell), lives under the shadow of her voice-over star dad Sam Solomon (Fred Melamed). After being kicked out of her dad’s house to accommodate for his new young wife — which Carol refers to as his groupie — she has to pack her bags and live with her sister.

As a vocal coach, Carol often has to coach certain celebrities when they have to adopt a certainly adopt a certain accent, but voicing a trailer is still pretty much an elite boys club. An opportunity suddenly presents itself when a big studio is looking for a voice over for a quadrilogy blockbuster sci-fi franchise and with the help of her friend Louis (Demetri Martin), she just might have a chance to break into the glass ceiling of that industry. The whole VO competition involving her dad and another VO star Gustav, an eccentric douche bag who takes a shine on Carol, provide most of the laughs. Ken Marino is a hoot as Gustav, a familiar face though I can’t quite put my finger on what movies I’ve seen him in. There’s also a comical side plot about Carol’s sister marital infidelity involving a seductive hunk in the form of Irish hunk Jason O’Mara. Seriously who could resist him with his natural Irish brogue 😉

InAWorld_still

This is the first time I’ve seen Lake Bell, though I’ve heard of her before this movie. She not only star in this but also wrote and directed her debut film, and I must say I’m impressed! She’s got excellent comic timing and a knack for accents, and the story is surprisingly engaging and downright hilarious. The tall and svelte Bell could make a living as a model but she really made herself to look very plain here as a perpetually-disheveled tomboy whose ‘signature look’ is a denim overall. But she’s instantly likable and she surround herself with equally affable and amusing characters.

It was fun to see cameos from Geena Davis, Eva Longoria and Cameron Diaz as well, the scene of Longoria struggling to say just one simple line with a British accent had me in stitches! This movie premiered in Sundance a few months ago and I hope it’ll get some decent distribution in the coming months. I’m glad I got to see this comedic gem, and it’s one I actually don’t mind seeing again.


Thoughts on IN A WORLD and/or Lake Bell?

Guest Post – Forgotten Box Office Misfires Part II

Ok, here’s the last part of the forgotten big-budgeted misfires. Just to reiterate, these were the films that had a huge budget for its time and their failure went so far as to bankrupt the studio that marketed them, and some even ruined the filmmakers’ career:

5. Cutthroat Island (1995): I think more people know about the other box office misfire from this year, Waterworld, than this movie. For sure Waterworld was huge box office bomb but at least it didn’t bankrupt the studio, but Cutthroat Island did. The studio behind the film was Carolco Pictures. They used to churn out a lot of big films in the mid-80s and early 90s, including Rambo 2 & 3, Terminator 2, Total Recall, Basic Instinct and Cliffhanger. By the mid-90s they were running out of money and decided to put all of their chips on this film. It’s listed on the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest box office flop of all time. Ge this, it cost the studio about $115 mil to make and it only earned back around $10 mil, ouch!

They should have pulled plug on this film from the beginning. Michael Douglas was attached to be the leading man, but decided to drop out a couple of months before the cameras started rolling. Then they went on a panic mode to look for his replacement, offering the lead role to pretty much all of the A-list actors around that time, but none of them took it. So finally they offered the role to Mathew Modine, who’s never starred in any big-budgeted films nor was he an A-list actor. Because director Renny Harlin was so busy trying to find a new male lead, he didn’t look over the script or set designs, so when he was finally ready to shoot the film, he didn’t like both the script and the set pieces.

Matthew Modine & Geena Davis on the set

The project underwent a script-rewrite and the sets also had to be rebuilt, which ballooned up the production budget and caused the film to be behind schedule. It was scheduled to open in the Summer of 1995 but didn’t make it to theaters until that December. Carolco Pictures filed for bankruptcy six weeks before the film open, so they didn’t have any money to market the film. The film was released by MGM Studios and it opened with a paltry $2 mil in one weekend.

As for Renny Harlin, a year later he came out with another big-budgeted film The Long Kiss Goodnight, which also starred his then-wife Geena Davis, and again, it failed at the box office. In 1999 and 2001 he made Deep Blue Sea and Driven, both had huge budget but again neither of them made a dent at the box office. His last few films were either small-budget or straight-to-DVD fares. Geena Davis’ career didn’t pan out well either, the last time I saw her was on a TV show where she played the President of the US, forgot the name of it.

6. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997): Keanu Reeves was smart enough to drop out of the Speed sequel a couple of months before the cameras started rolling. Unfortunately for Sandra Bullock, she was stuck because she said she was obligated to do the film because director Jan De Bont made her into a big star by casting her in the first film, so this was her way to to pay him back.

The film’s budget was around $160 mil and it only made around $48 mil back. The film didn’t ruin Bullock’s career but she was sort of in a slump after this film came out. Jan De Bont on the other hand, hasn’t had a big box office hit since 1996’s Twister. He was set to direct a lot of big action pictures after Speed 2, one was about a group of secret agents hunting down the world’s most ruthless terrorists and he was offered a chance to direct the American remake of Godzilla. Of course he never got to make those films because Speed 2 was such a huge failure that the studios didn’t want him to be in charge of their tent-pole pictures.

7. Town & Country (2001): I bet not many of you remember this film right? Well don’t worry, it’s not worth remembering. It’s one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. The film cost around $105 mil to make and earned about $10 mil back. The production started in 1998 but the film didn’t come out till 2001. The reason it took so long to finish was because Warren Beatty demanded to do a lot of takes and the screenplay be rewritten while they were shooting the film. I believe this was the last time Warren Beatty appeared on the big screen, there were rumors that Tarantino offered him the role of Bill in Kill Bill but he didn’t want to make another film again after the experience he had making this film.

8. Rollerball (2002): This remake of 1975 Norman Jewison’s film was so bad that I can’t even recommend it to my worst enemies. Its budget was round $70 to $90 mil and made back around $18 mil. What’s so unbelievable was that the film was directed by John McTiernan, the man who made three of my favorite action films, Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October. I don’t know what went wrong during the production of this film but wow, I just couldn’t believe it was made by the same person!

Back in 1999, McTiernan remade another of Norman Jewison’s film The Thomas Crown Affair, which was a good movie and it made some money at the box office. So I presumed MGM figured ‘hey, why not give him a lot of money to do another remake and we can make more money from it.’ Well of course it didn’t turn out that way. First, Keanu Reeves dropped out before the film started shooting (I’m starting to think Keanu is a lot smarter than he looks since he dropped out of two of the biggest box office bombs in history.) Then they cast a Keanu look alike, Chris Klein, to replace him. Klein’s got to be the worst actor I’ve ever seen.



The film was scheduled to come out in the summer of 2001 but because of negative word of mouth after early screenings, the studio finally dumped it in February of 2002. The studio knew that they had a stinker in their hands, so in order to spread some good word of mouth to the movie geeks out there, they contacted Harry Knowles, the owner of a very popular movie website aintitcool.com and flew him in a private jet for a private screening with director John McTiernan with the hope that he would give the film a good review and convince his readers to go see it. Well, after Knowles saw the film, he published a review of it by tearing it to pieces.

After the film came out, John McTiernan got into some legal troubles and I believe he’s currently serving time in prison. Chris Klein disappeared from the face of the earth; apparently he’ll reprise his role in another American Pie sequel. I’m sure he’s a got a lot of time on his hands now since never became the movie star the studio hope he would be.

Sources: imdb.com, boxofficemojo.com, youtube.com and Wikipedia.org


Well those are some of the not-so-well-known box office failures, let’s hope Hollywood studios will learn from their past failures and invest wisely in future films. Wait a minute, what I’m I smoking? Studios released crappy films with huge budget yearly, some made money and some didn’t. Ridley Scott said in an interview last year that studio presidents told him they don’t even read scripts, they just listened to their executives and would green light any script with potentials to make them a lot of money. No surprise there right?

Any thoughts about any of these films? Which of these films happen to be your favorite?