My Month in Movies (March 2022)

Here we are again!

I know I said I wasn’t going to do another one of these for a while, but I changed my mind, I guess. Another “My Month in Movies” bit. It gave me another opportunity to praise Turning Red some more. In the illustrious words of Doctor Emmett Brown, “what the hell?”

I didn’t watch a whole lot of movies this month. Only eight. On the plus side, that gives me all the more reason to try to make this edition of My Month in Movies a bit shorter. Allow me to pull myself away from Elden Ring and Kirby and the Forgotten Land for a few minutes and let’s hop to it!

I watched the following eight movies during March 2022 (movies with asterisks are ones I watched for the very first time).

Sleepless in Seattle

You’ve Got Mail

When Harry Met Sally

The Kid (1921)*

Free Guy

Finding Nemo

Turning Red*

The Batman*

No real theme this month. Though the first three films share some DNA, and two of them are Pixar films.

Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally were all romantic comedies written by the late Nora Ephron, while the first two were also directed by her (When Harry Met Sally was of course directed by Rob Reiner). All three of which have Meg Ryan as the female lead, while the first two have Tom Hanks as the male lead (When Harry Met Sally has Billy Crystal instead, which seems really weird for a romantic comedy, but it’s considered one of the most influential examples of the genre so, hey, what do I know?).

Although this type of movie definitely differs from my usual interest (there’s no wizards in this movie?!), I actually genuinely enjoy all three of them. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have great chemistry, and Billy Crystal adds some sharp wit and adlibbed humor to When Harry Met Sally (although at times the character’s know-it-all attitude can be a bit much). Call them cheesy all you want, they’re entertaining movies. I do have to laugh at You’ve Got Mail’s dated computer/internet references though (hey, it was 1998).

After that I watched the classic 1921 silent film, The Kid, starring Charlie Chaplin in his iconic role of “the Tramp” (it meant something different back then!), one of the most influential characters in cinema history. The entertainment value has held up really well (Charlie Chaplin was basically a living cartoon character), as has some of the film’s more poignant scenes, though there are some uncomfortable moments early on when the Tramp finds an abandoned baby boy and contemplates leaving him on the street or in a sewer grate for a brief moment. Yikes…

Overall, a really good movie though. The Tramp ends up raising the kid, but because he’s poor he’s looked down on as being unfit to do so. So there’s some commentary in there as well. But it’s the genius slapstick that really makes it standout.

Entering more modern territory, I watched Free Guy again! I already reviewed this one, but it’s the 2021 film where Ryan Reynolds plays a video game NPC who becomes self-aware and begins to realize he’s in a video game. To my pleasant surprise, I found I enjoyed it even more this second time around. It was probably the funniest movie I saw last year, except maybe The Mitchells Vs. the Machines. It’s a lot of fun. Though I still wish it gave its references to real games like Mega Man, Portal and Half-Life the same pomp and circumstance it gives its movie shoutouts…

Next up was Finding Nemo, one of the most important movies to come out of the 2000s. I like to think of Finding Nemo as the movie that made Pixar, well, Pixar. Sure, Toy Story was revolutionary, Toy Story 2 was basically perfect, and Monsters, Inc. was charming to high heaven (also, A Bug’s Life was there), but I think Finding Nemo solidified Pixar’s place in animation history. It – and later, The Incredibles – were the Pixar movies that became pop culture phenomenon, and that everyone could quote by heart (I remember people making plenty of references to them in online games back in the day). Although it may not be my favorite Pixar movie, I do feel very grateful to Finding Nemo. I think its influence came at a time when most animation studios were banking off the cynicism and dated parodies spawned by Shrek (it was a dark time). Thankfully, Finding Nemo’s influence ultimately won the war, resulting in the far more thoughtful, sincere and insightful animated films we’ve seen in the 2010s to today.

Pixar’s classic about a clownfish searching the entire ocean for his son remains a classic. Its (strangely underrated) sequel is almost just as good.

Now we get to Pixar’s most recent feature, Turning Red! I also reviewed this one recently, and suffice to say, I loved it! I think it’s the best movie Pixar has made in the past few years. And the best Pixar movie that wasn’t helmed by one of the studio’s original team of filmmakers. That’s actually a pretty big feat, since it seems like animation studios in particular can have a hard time finding the right new blood to carry their mantle (even Studio Ghibli hit some road bumps with their younger directors… although now with that said, Whisper of the Heart – the first theatrical Ghibli film not by Miyazaki or Takahata – is pretty amazing. But now I’m getting sidetracked).

What makes Turning Red work so well is that it has a voice of its own, while still retaining the heart that Pixar is renowned for. It doesn’t simply try to mimic Pixar’s past but does something new with the Pixar legacy. And it’s great fun!

Finally, I managed to see The Batman in theaters. Like The Suicide Squad last year, The Batman continues the weird, modern trend of throwing the word “the” into the title of a previous movie for a sequel/reboot. I don’t get it. But the movie itself was surprisingly good.

I know it’s become popular on the internet to claim Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are “overrated” or whatever, but I still hold them as the benchmark for Batman/DC films (the first two, anyway, although I think The Dark Knight Rises is better than it often gets credit for). Although I don’t think The Batman reaches those heights, it probably is the best non-Nolan Batman film. For one thing, Batman doesn’t blatantly kill people like he did in Batman V. Superman, so right away that’s a bonus.

Robert Pattinson made a great Batman (and Bruce Wayne, for the five-ish minutes he appeared as the Dark Knight’s alter ego), and he was complimented by Zoë Kravitz Catwoman. I also like how the film really emphasized the detective aspect of Batman more so than past films, and that it went the route of Batman Begins by having a small handful of different villains, the best of which was an unrecognizable Colin Farrell as the Penguin.

I do, however, have mixed feelings about its version of the Riddler. He just doesn’t really seem like the Riddler. I get that they wanted a more gritty and less ridiculous movie (so no Jim Carrey), and in some respects the character worked. But I don’t know, something felt off. Maybe it was the fact that he was a conspiracy theorist who was somehow actually right about things, or maybe it was the weird way he was dead serious for much of the film, and then delivers an out-of-nowhere joke late in the movie. Or maybe it was that he was basically the Joker. But I have mixed feelings on this Riddler. Maybe I’ll actually review The Batman soon and delve into it more.

Also, I do have to say (minor spoiler, but I think we all saw this coming), I’m actually kind of bummed that the film teases the Joker as the next villain. I know, he’s Batman’s archnemesis and one of the most iconic villains of all time, yadda yadda yadda. But given that we just had an entire movie dedicated to the Joker in 2019, as well as Heath Ledger’s acclaimed take on the character in The Dark Knight, it kind of feels like we should start giving other Batman villains the time to shine. Sure, this film has Riddler, but a Riddler who is suspiciously Joker-esque. And it hypes up Joker for the sequel in the end anyway (which Batman Begins already did). Wouldn’t it be cool if Scarecrow or Two-Face could get that kind of hype for once? I don’t know, maybe it’s just the ludicrous amount of Batman continuities we have going on in movies and TV over the past few years, but I kind of want to see another villain in the role of big bad for once. You can only reboot a franchise so many times in a few short years before certain characters start to lose their mystique and, well, there it is.

But, overall, I actually thought The Batman was very good. Again, let’s wait for a proper review before I delve deeper.

Anyway, on to the awards!

Best Movie I Watched All Month *AND* Best Movie I Watched for the First Time This Month: Turning Red

This is the first time since I’ve written these things that the same movie won my “Movie of the Month” and “Best Movie I Watched for the First Time” honors. So I figured I’d lump ’em together, rather than writing this twice. Or something.

Turning Red is simply an utter delight. It’s the funniest movie Pixar has ever made, and their most delightfully weird as well. It’s basically a reimagined coming-of-age story, about a weird, awkward kid entering puberty and facing the changes that come with it. But in the case of Meilin Lee, that also means transforming into a giant red panda when she gets too excited.

There’s also a delightful (and rare) specificity to it: It’s set during 2002, when the boy band craze was still strong. It’s about a Chinese family living in Toronto, and the culture shock that comes with it. It just feels so unique to see an animated film that’s this specific with the story and setting.

On the surface, Turning Red is the most chaotic and hyperactive Pixar movie (and it’s funny as hell for it). But look deeper and you’ll find an incredibly smart, witty, insightful movie about growing up and embracing change. It’s a beautiful story, brought to equally beautiful life with some of Pixar’s best, most stylized animation to date.

If Turning Red (and director Domee Shi) represent the future of Pixar, well then Pixar’s future is in safe and secure hands.

Seriously, don’t be surprised if I bring this movie up a lot going forward. I can’t get enough of it.

Worst Movie I Watched All Month: N/A

Sorry folks, nothing to really hate on this month. True, not all the movies I watched were equals, but I still think they’re all good movies. As such, it would feel wrong to label any of them as the “worst” and give them the same dishonor I’ve given to such schlock as Netflix’s Bright and Jaws: The Revenge. Sorry.

The Guilty Pleasure Award: You’ve Got Mail (I guess)

I mean, I feel guilty about calling this a guilty pleasure. But I guess there are some cheesy moments, and as previously mentioned, the 1998 “computer talk” definitely dates the movie. But I think it’s a sweet rom-com. So sue me. And don’t tell me you don’t get just a little choked up at the end. Excuse me, I have something in my eye!

That’s all folks! Like I said, not a whole lot of movies this month, and I had been wanting to make these My Month in Movies shorter anyway. But as usual, I hope you had a fun read, that you were maybe mildly entertained, or gained interest in any of these movies.

As usual, take care, stay safe, and may we all have a good month ahead of us.

Author: themancalledscott

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, the man called Scott is an ancient sorcerer from a long-forgotten realm. He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Or, you know, he could just be some guy who loves video games, animations and cinema who just wanted to write about such things.

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