Tag Archives: Dennis Haysbert

Breakthrough

Contrary to popular opinion, I do not see every single movie in the world, but usually I do at least know about them. Not much sneaks by me. So when this particular movie managed to snag an Oscar nomination (for original song), I was like: huh? Sean thought it might be “one of those religion ones” but it wasn’t until I saw the poster that I remembered it at all, indeed a religion one, starring Chrissy Metz from This Is Us (Randolph & Beth forever!). I’m glad to see her branching out but it wasn’t for that pesky Oscar nom, this one would 110% have passed me by,

Chrissy Metz stars as Joyce, a Christian mother who offers up the kind of teasing prayers during dinner that make husband Brian (Josh Lucas) smirk. But her son John (Marcel Ruiz) is a teenager, determined not to crack a smile. He’s in an eye-rolling phase. An avid basket ball player at school, John is also struggling with his origin story, having been adopted from Guatemala while Joyce and Brian were there on a church mission. Meanwhile, Joyce is at odds with the new “cool” young pastor at her church, Jason (Topher Grace). Jason has a spiky haircut and references The Bachelor during sermons and says things like “Dope!” He wears the same kind of headset microphone that Britney Spears wears and has rock bands with auto-tuned rappers sing “hymns.” Oh he’s shaking things up.

Meanwhile, the movie is determined to establish itself as not just a Christian movie, shelling out for pop songs by Bruno Mars and Macklemore; John is a kid like any other, saving a pristine pair of Jordans for an occasion so special that only he will know it when he sees it.

I happened to notice a Stephen Curry listed as a producer and wondered if it could be THAT Curry. I wondered even more when the all-star was mentioned by name – the Warriors would be in town to face Kevin Durant and the Thunder. This places the film for me immediately, in the season just before Durant joined Curry on Golden State, the very same season when Sean and I traveled to OKC to see Durant face Lebron, then playing for Cleveland, and then we drove down to Dallas to see them play the Warriors. We were traveling in December, for Sean’s birthday, and a snowstorm here in Ottawa meant we almost didn’t make it, touching down in Oklahoma with just minutes to spare. I remember the valet at our hotel apologizing for their unseasonably cool weather but of course it felt downright tropical to us. But in St Louis, MI, it was cold enough for a lake to have frozen, but warm enough that a trio of teenage boys were out playing on it when the ice gave way and John went down.

After an hour with no breath and no pulse, the doctors draw the logical conclusion; they’ve only worked this long to keep him decent for his mother to arrive and say goodbye. Her frantic prayer is heard, or else this movie wouldn’t be much of a movie, and a pulse reappears from nowhere. But his brain was starved of oxygen for far too long. In an induced-coma, his parents are prepped for his inevitable vegetative state. But you know that Joyce isn’t about to let that happen. She badgers his doctors just as much as she badgers the lord.

He recovers of course. That’s a foregone conclusion in a Christian film. Religion isn’t my thing and neither is an entirely predictable plot. But I will begrudgingly admit that Breakthrough has a whole mess of admirable performances. And interestingly for a movie that attributes John’s recover to god’s miracle, it dares to ask why god saves some and not others, which is one of religion’s great quandaries. Of course Breakthrough doesn’t have an answer, but I give it credit for even voicing the question.

And push come to shove, it’s now an Oscar-nominated film, for a song called I’m Standing With You, performed by the esteemed Chrissy Metz and written by Diane Warren. And Diane Warren is not to be messed with. She’s got 11 nominations under her belt, including for chart-busting songs like Because You Loved me, from Up Close and Personal, performed by Celine Dion, and How Do I Live from Con Air performed by Trisha Yearwood and I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing from Armageddon and performed of course by Aerosmith. The woman is a songwriting powerhouse. Will this be her year? Check it out:

Undeniably beautiful, but her competition is fierce:

Stand Up, written by Joshuah Brian Campbell & Cynthia Erivo, performed by Erivo for the movie Harriet

From Toy Story 4, I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away, written and performed Randy Newman, a man with 20 Oscar nominations and 2 wins under his belt (Toy Story 3‘s “We Belong Together” and “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc.)

Also from Disney, Into the Unknown, performed by Idina Menzel and AURORA, written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez who have two previous Oscar wins for “Let It Go” from Frozen and “Remember Me” from Coco.

And of course (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again from the Elton John biopic Rocketman. Written by John (who has a previous win for The Lion King’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight) and Bernie Taupin, performed by both Elton and Taron Egerton. It took the Globe – will it take the Oscar as well?

Who do you think will win??

Naked

Naked is Groundhog Day for people who hate themselves.

Rob ¬†(Marlon Wayans) is about to get married to a woman (Regina Hall) who’s maybe a little out of his league and maybe he’s a little nervous about it. Her dad (Dennis Haysbert, aka, the Allstate Guy) is a vocal skeptic and would rather see his baby girl marry someone a little more worthy – like her ex-boyfriend Cody (Scott Foley) who is inexplicably invited to this wedding.

One small wrinkle: he keeps waking up naked in an elevator and he’s got an hour to make it to the wedding. But he keeps not quite getting there, so when the church bells MV5BOTIyYjBhYjMtYzgzYy00NWQ4LWI3ZDUtOTU1M2NmMGQ2ZmQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDQ0MTYzMDA@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_ring without him exchanging vows, the day resets and he has to do it all over again. It’s the premise of Groundhog Day, only without self-respect or any laughter whatsoever. Bill Murray had to learn to be a better person, and while the script eventually decides that Rob’s goal is be a worthy husband, his real daily achievement is just covering up his nudity in a series of wacky outfits. Oh, and sometimes chilling with Brian McKnight – because that’s totally how I’d prioritize my time if I had an hour to escape a horrifying time loop: 90s slow jams.

This is a Netflix original movie that will make you question whether movies should be made at all. If you’ve seen it, I’m sorry. Take some time. Pet a dog. Drink some tea out of an inordinately cute cup. Maybe make a dent in your reading stack. But do come back. For every bad movie on Netflix, there’s a good one. One day I will crack the exact ratio, but until I do, know this: on our site, the category ‘Netflix and chill’ simply means the movie is found on Netflix, it is not an endorsement; good movies are categorized as ‘what to watch on Netflix.’ Netflix is a black hole of movies and finding something watchable takes some mining, but don’t despair, they do exist.

Naked tries to be Groundhog’s twin and winds up its antithesis. Hard pass.

 

Christmas Everlasting

Lucy (Tatyana Ali), like 80% of Hallmark holiday movie characters, is a big city lawyer working long hours on the junior partner track. But all that comes to a screeching halt when a phone call from her uncle Barney (Dennis Haysbert) reveals that her big sister Alice has unexpected passed away.

Lucy and Alice were quite close as kids but guilt over an accident that derailed Alice’s golden life and left her with special needs has kept Lucy away. Returning home to Wisconsin, however, dispels the myth that Alice has led a small life. The whole town seems to be grieving along with Lucy, everyone eager to share some special way that Alice touched their lives. Moving back into their childhood home, Lucy is reminded that she no longer knew her sister as she once did. Alice led a full if slightly eccentric life, leaving behind excellent of proof of such when her will stipulates that for Lucy to inherit the house, she must first live there for 4 weeks – which just happen to be over the holidays.

In a coincidence only Hallmark would have the balls to suggest, Lucy’s high school sweetheart Peter (Dondr√© Whitfield) is acting as Alice’s attorney, but as a small town lawyer, he’s an excellent example of working to live, not living to work.

Will Lucy risk her career to inherit a house she doesn’t even want? Will she ever make friends with Alice’s snobby cat? And what the heck is up with the piles of quilts for the mysterious Maeve all over the house? Check out Christmas Everlasting, starring the Fresh Prince’s little sister, Mr. Allstate insurance, and honest to god Ms. Patti Labelle if you’d like to find out – and honestly, how can you resist?