Bros is too preachy, Blonde too exploitive, Good House is solid

Bros preaching almost undoes comedy
I wanted to like Bros more than I did. Don't get me wrong - it is funny, it is timely and it effectively hits all the expected rom-com beats. Yet, there's a preachy tone to it that's a bit off putting, a finger-wagging approach that kept me from fully enjoying this smart modern romance. And while the complaints as put forth by co-writer and star Billy Eichner are valid, his constant harping on the slights that have occurred towards the gay and trans communities throughout history ultimately prove tiresome.

Bobby (Eichner) has come to terms with being single and is not looking for a relationship. Yet, when he crosses paths with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), he experiences an uncommon attraction to him. Both dealing with commitment issues, the pair have a one-step-forward-two-steps-back situation that eventually develops into something meaningful...or so Bobby hopes. There are plenty of laughs as the couple try to figure out where they are at, awkward situations abounding, while gay icons are skewered left and right, Debra Messing's cameo being the most effective. Eichner and Macfarlane are appealing and have a chemistry that, like with the most effective rom-coms, has us hoping they'll end up together. The relationship, I liked. The preaching, not so much. In theaters.

Exploitive Blonde not worthy of Marilyn
I've often joked as a film critic that I suffer through bad movies so that you don't have to. Rarely have I felt that statement was truer than while watching Andrew Domink's Blonde, a fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's life. Based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, this is a sleazy piece of exploitation masquerading as high art. Purposely repellant, Domink goes out of his way to traumatize the audience, wanting the viewer to vicariously experience the abuse Monroe experienced throughout her life. The film is unrelenting as it progresses from one horrific scene to the next, Monroe nearly being drowned by her mother as a child, Monroe being raped by Daryl F. Zanuck, Monroe being physically abused by her husband Joe DiMaggio, Monroe being sexually assaulted by JFK...

It simply doesn't end. There is no indication there was a semblance of joy in Monroe's entire life. It's a merciless slog that serves no purpose. The only thing that kept me hanging on was Ana da Armas, who gives an astonishing, sympathetic performance. I kept hoping the film would elevate itself to be worthy of her efforts, yet it fails to do so, Domink content to wallow in crass sensationalism. Streaming on Netflix.

Weaver and Kline give House a solid foundation
An unreliable narrator drives The Good House, an approach that, while obvious, works thanks to the efforts of the actor playing the role. That would be Sigourney Weaver as Hildy Good, a realtor in Wendover, Massachusetts, who's seen better days. Not that you would know it, as most of what she tells the viewer – Hildy has a habit of breaking the fourth wall – is that she's fine. Yet, as the story progresses, indications begin to creep in that not all is well. It's been a while since she's sold a house, she's having a hard time paying bills and she's drinking a bit more than she should.

Though it may move a bit slow for some, House proves to be an effective portrayal of a woman in denial who comes to the realization she needs some help. Weaver is more than capable of carrying the movie, effectively portraying this woman's disintegration. She receives solid support from the always reliable Kevin Kline as Good's friend and sometimes lover who struggles to help her while remaining in her corner. There's some light humor sprinkled throughout, and the drama never veers into pathos. Though it won't garner any awards, House never makes the mistake of overplaying its hand. In theaters.

About The Author

Chuck Koplinski

Writing for Illinois Times since 1998, Chuck Koplinski is a member of the Critic's Choice Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association and a contributor to Rotten Tomatoes. He appears on WCIA-TV twice a week to review current releases and, no matter what anyone says, thinks Tom Cruise's version of The Mummy...

Illinois Times has provided readers with independent journalism for more than 40 years, from news and politics to arts and culture.

Now more than ever, we’re asking for your support to continue providing our community with real news that everyone can access, free of charge.

We’re also offering a home delivery option as an added convenience for friends of the paper.

Click here to subscribe, or simply show your support for Illinois Times.

Got something to say?
Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment