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Film Review: Crawl

“Grab Your Families, Your Loved Ones, And Get Out. We Won’t Be Able To Come For You…”

With a related trailer which highlights Sam Raimi as a “producer” on Evil Dead and Alexandre Aja as “director” of The Hills Have Eyes, it’s fair to say that whilst such claims from the spin merchants of Crawl are indeed factually accurate, it also reinstates how fundamentally messed up the genre of horror has become thanks to the way in which every classic horror movie has been chopped up and churned out thanks to the wonderful notion of remakes and spin-offs in recent years. With Raimi of course being the mastermind and director of the original, and better, The Evil Dead in 1981and producer on the 2013 Fede Álvarez directed remake, a film of which I can admit to actually enjoying, to say that Aja is best known for his work on the rehash of The Hills Have Eyes in 2006 is generally rather aggravating, when the mighty Wes Craven, director of the 1977 grindhouse original classic, seems to be the subject of a Stalinesque mind-wipe towards younger audiences who may not even be aware of Craven or his impact on the genre of horror. Moan aside, Aja and Raimi this week team up for a rather familiar B-movie creature-feature in the form of Crawl, an overly generic work of nonsense which in some ways is quite enjoyable due to the sheer fact that it’s the type of movie which seems to be released at least thirty years too late.

With a very basic, genre-literate set-up, Crawl sees Kaya Scodelario (Extremely Wicked…) as Haley, a swimming obsessed student athlete who stupidly returns to her hometown in the heart of Florida in order to check on the welfare of her father after a Category five hurricane begins to make its’ way towards the mainland. Upon arriving at her deserted childhood home, Haley finds father Dave, as played by Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan), unconscious within the crawl space of their home for no immediate apparent reason until soon discovering the amidst decaying childhood homes, a ridiculously overblown natural threat and unnecessary daddy issues, ravenous alligators have decided to take over the house and are happy to eat anything that gets in their way. With Aja beginning his career with the enjoyably nonsensical, Switchblade Romance, and making his way into Hollywood with unnecessary remakes, Crawl does seem like an attempt to appease as mass an audience as possible, and whilst the exploitation violence within the movie is highly enjoyable in places, the screenplay isn’t exactly one to be desired as it attempts to blend into the carnage meaningless narrative tangents such as reserved family issues without any real point to it whatsoever. When it comes to a film such as Crawl, the violence and the silliness should always be the primary focus and be capped off within a harmless eighty minutes, but with Aja’s latest so predictable and lifeless, the lack of threat and lack of bite, pun intended, means Crawl is a glorified bargain bucket B-movie which just happens to be allowed on the big screen for no real apparent reason whatsoever.

Overall Score: 5/10

Film Review: Ma

“What You Did To Me, It Never Goes Away…”

With Blumhouse Productions essentially proclaiming themselves as the second reincarnation of Hammer Horror Studios, the likes of the excellent, Get Out, and the financially successful, Happy Death Day, have allowed the company to pretty much make anything they want with a guaranteed box office reward. Enter Ma, a completely barmy, over-the-top stalker horror which takes hints from pretty much every single B-movie ever, one which sees Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water, Instant Family) as the titular mother figure, Sue Ann, a lonely veterinary technician who soon begins a middling friendship with town newcomer, Maggie Thompson, as played by rising star, Diane Silvers,(Booksmart) and her own freshly found group of friends who quickly become attracted to Sue Ann’s willingness to both provide an abundance of alcohol and a safe place to party. Directed by the steady hand of Tate Taylor, a filmmaker who reunites with Spencer after their work together on the Academy Award winning, The Help, Ma is a solid and well made addition into the Blumhouse repertoire which just happens to have a particularly talented actress in the lead role of a genuinely unnerving and creepy genuine psychopath.

Bearing a very similar narrative to that of Greta earlier this year, a stalker movie which too featured a prominent and well regarded actor/actress in the lead role of a movie which was undoubtedly too schlocky and mad for mainstream audiences, Ma basically swaps Isabelle Huppert for Spencer and Chloe Grace Moretz for Silvers whilst adding a slightly more audience-friendly filmic texture. Whilst the movie never really evokes any sense of longing dread or threat to our laddish, alcohol and sex obsessed leading group of rebellious teenages, Ma instead balances nicely the absurdity of its’ narrative with a hefty streak of black comedy as you giggle your way through a ninety minute picture which allows Spencer to not only chew the scenery, but devour it. With the most menacing on-screen haircut since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men and a personality which mixes Annie Wilkes from Misery with Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Spencer is undoubtedly the star turn within the movie, and with a couple of truly nasty, sadistic and memorable set pieces, Ma is not exactly groundbreaking, but with enough positive elements to make genre fans happy, the latest Blumhouse chapter is cheap, giggle-inducing fun.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: Vox Lux

“One For The Money, Two For The Show, Three To Get Ready, And Four We Go…”

Directed and written by actor-turned-director, Brady Corbet, Vox Lux sees the American return to the big screen after the critical success of 2015’s, The Childhood of a Leader, for a bizarre, sometimes masterful, ideas-heavy drama which blends a whole catalogue of themes and satirical subtexts around a central narrative which focuses entirely upon the character of Celeste Montgomery, the survivor of a brutal mass shooting at her school at the turn of the twentieth century who soon finds worldwide fame and fortune in the musical industry after the song she writes for her fellow fallen students goes viral. Boldly coined by the marketing team as Black Swan meets A Star is Born, Corbet’s movie does indeed have incidental flashes of familiarity from both, but with its’ own individual identity and a strange and overly knowing holier-than-thou, art-house sensibility, Vox Lux is that type of auterish, pretentious work of boldness which tends to divide both audiences and critics alike, and whilst Corbet’s movie does indeed suffer at times from choosing to rely more on it’s very flashy and expertly designed surface over meaningful plot or characterisation, the American’s second big screen venture is a highly original and memorable work of nonsense which grabbed my attention from the offset and never let go.

Split into two very different narrative halves, the first act of Vox Lux begins with a Sunset Boulevard style voiceover, helmed of course by the dulcet and very familiar tones of Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) as we are dropped into the early life of Celeste, as played in younger form by the excellent Raffey Cassidy (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) as we see her attempt to reason with her fellow student who goes through with his plan to carry out a mass school shooting, an opening set piece so expertly and horrifically orchestrated I sat jaw-dropped for a good five minutes through the opening credit roll. As we progress through Celeste’s sudden rise to fame in the pop world, we are introduced to Jude Law’s (Captain Marvel) passionate music manager and Celeste’s close relationship with her older sister, Ellie, as played by Stacey Martin (High Rise) who both play a part in the doe-eyed victim slowly becoming less and less innocent as she opens her eyes to the wider and more glamorous side of the world in which she lives. Cue a significant time jump and the second act of the movie sees Natalie Portman (Black Swan) take on the role as the elder Celeste, a now world famous, significant figurehead in the music industry suffering from a steady blend of alcoholism, narcissism and broken relationships including that of her sister and young daughter, Albertine, also played in excellent fashion once again by the impressive Cassidy. Whilst I understand the commentary regarding the effects of fame and social pressures wholly evident in the film’s second act, Portman’s performance is so vile and infuriating (in a good sense) that come the final act, Corbet’s movie becomes more and more agitating, and whilst I expect that this is undoubtedly the effect Vox Lux attempts to evoke upon the audience, it’s jarring sensibility is both intriguing and detracting, resulting in a movie which is one of the more original works of the year so far, but boy, is it hard work.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Long Shot

“I’m Going To Try And Conduct Myself In Such A Way That Does Not Risk Global Humiliation…”

Mixing together the almighty and Oscar winning talent of Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) with erm, Seth Rogen, (The InterviewLong Shot is the latest from American filmmaker, Jonathan Levine, who reunites with Rogen after their work together on the 2011 comedy drama, 50/50, for a romantic comedy which attempts to balance political and social satire with a well-worn tale of unlikely and improbable love. Based around a screenplay from the double-act of Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling, famous for their individual work on the likes of The Post and The Interview respectively, Long Shot is that rare sight in contemporary cinema, an American comedy which actually works, and whilst the central romance at the heart of the story does indeed venture into gargantuan levels of cliche come the end of the almost two hour runtime, Levine’s movie works predominantly elsewhere, with a mix of knowing, and at times, strikingly unintentional, modern-day satire, pleasantly supplementing a likeable and utterly charming core relationship, one which gleefully bursts with volcanic levels of chemistry and pushes the final product into something which although might not be at all memorable, is rather enjoyable.

Coined in the trailer by one of the film’s supporting actors, the one and only, O’Shea Jackson Jr., (Straight Outta Compton) as having a very familiar central narrative to that of Garry Marshall’s 1990 classic, Pretty Woman, Levine’s movie at least jumbles up the profession of the leading characters, with Seth Rogen’s Fred Flarsky not exactly the first person to come to mind when it comes to the prostitution business, with him instead being landed with the role of an idealistic, rough-edged journalist with a penchant for thinking out loud, a character trait of which soon finds him unemployed and penniless. Enter Theron’s Charlotte Field, the highly popular Secretary of State with eyes for the presidency who in her earlier teenage years used to babysit a young and lovestruck Flarsky, and the two suddenly reconnect after Field utilises Flarsky’s innovative written word to boost her appeal to the American public. With worldwide trips on the menu, the two suddenly become attached to each other by the hip, resulting in the film’s central and heartwarming romance, and with an abundance of hilarious set pieces, including one of the best inverted sex scenes in cinema history and a heavy night on the town which results in a majorly mistimed hostage negotiation, Long Shot goes along way to make you care for the film’s characters, and even with a runtime which does slightly drag come the final act, Levine’s movie is a solid slice of American comedy cheese with added Charlize Theron.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: Mid90s

“A Lot Of The Time We Feel That Our Lives The Worst, But I Think That If You Looked In Anybody Else’s Closet, You Wouldn’t Trade Your Shit For Their Shit…”

Acting as the first of two independently released coming-of-age dramas this month under the umbrella of the increasingly impressive A24 Films, a film company responsible for backing recent cinematic classics including Moonlight, Under the Skin and Hereditary to name a few, Mid90s sees Hollywood star, Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street, The Wolf of Wall Street) move from in front of the camera to behind it, working off of his own personalised script which sees Sunny Suljic (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) as thirteen year old, Stevie, a repressed, overly quiet teenage inbetweener who finds solace away from his violent and complex home-life in a group of skateboard loving misfits with a tendency for underage parties, drinking and other anti-social discrepancies. With Greta Gerwig’s masterful, Lady Bird, a film also released under the banner of A24 Films, the contemporary benchmark for the modern coming-of-age story on film, Mid90s takes a very familiar if surprisingly low-key approach to the age-old tale of troubled youth, but with a convincing sense of grungy realism and a superb central performance from one of Hollywood’s rising stars, Hill’s movie is a thoroughly engaging and emotionally stimulating ninety minute character piece which acts as an excellent kickstarter to Hill’s career as a director.

Shot entirely with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and on 16mm film, a cinematic technique used also on Darren Aronofsky’s, mother!, Hill’s movie takes the bold approach to come across as the most nineties inflicted movie ever, at least on an aesthetic level, with the letterbox framing and grainy cinematography actually quite startling and jarringly retro when it first appears on screen, but once the fancy gimmicks are taken in their stride, the drama takes its time to expand Stevie’s character, offering glimpses into his abusive relationship with both his fitness obsessed older brother and emotionally complex and very young single mother, with the only way out in the form of his newly found band of slackish outsiders led by the charming and morally conflicted figure of Na-Kel Smith’s Ray. With a variety of set pieces which tap into the self-destructive nature of a young boy’s journey into adulthood, Hill ultimately chooses to portray his own coming-of-age tale as one of extreme hardship and cruelty, tackling a variety of issues including loneliness, jealousy and despair, and whilst the script does feature elements of seething darkness, the optimism and sentiment you would expect from this sort of movie does eventually fall into place come the final act, and with added excellent supporting performances from the likes of Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts) and the A24 acting staple, Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird), Mid90s is a realist portrayal of youth in crisis with enough dedication from its’ creator to win me over completely. Plus, the soundtrack is freakin’ awesome.

Overall Score: 8/10

Film Review: Hellboy

“We Faced Every Threat There Is, And Yet You Take Me In. You Made Me A Goddamn Weapon…”

Adding itself onto the esteemed list of cinematic remakes which not one single person in the entire galaxy ever asked for, the “re-imagining” of the stump-headed, Hellboy, hits the big screen this week, offering a fresh interpretation of the charismatic, blood-red superhero famously first seen on film thanks to the now Academy Award winning, Guillermo Del Toro, back in 2004 and again in its respective sequel four years later. With the project beginning life back in 2014 and first propositioned once again to Del Toro who ultimately turned the chance down to return to directorial duties, the reigns have been handed down to Newcastle-born, Neil Marshall, whose early excellent exploits in the form of Dog Soldiers and The Descent, both interesting and memorable B-movie splatterthons, resulting in the Geordie moving onto the likes of Game of Thrones among other high-profile projects. With a new director comes too, a new leading star, with the magnanimous Ron Perlman being replaced with Stranger Things star, David Harbour, who gleefully takes up the chance to embrace the lead role, and whilst Hellboy circa 2019 takes a more bloodthirsty and radically adult approach to the infamous spawn of hell, Marshall’s movie is not just one of the worst remakes ever to be plunged into existence, it is undoubtedly one of the tackiest, cringe-laden so-called “blockbusters” I have ever had the displeasure of fidgeting through in recent memory.

With an opening monologue which attempts to add a semblance of backstory as we are introduced to Milla Jovovich’s (Resident Evil) poorly designed and not so threatening Blood Queen, the deep-voiced dulcet tones of Ian McShane (John Wick) actually made me wonder whether what I had voluntary walked into was actually a massive Hollywood April fools joke which just happened to be just over a week old. Unfortunately this clearly was not the case, with the sudden appearance of Harbour’s hairy Hellboy proving that instead, what Marshall has created is an cinematic abomination of scarily hilarious proportions which can only be described as Pan’s Labyrinth meets Gods of Egypt as directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. With awfully timed humour, bare-bones level digital effects and a sense of immature rankness which takes pleasure in needless levels of exploitation gore, Hellboy in other, sensible hands may actually have been a semi-decent R-rated, nerdgasm-esque guilty pleasure in the ilk of Deadpool or the more serious and memorable, Logan, but with a central script featuring pig-headed demons with terrible scouse accents, zero sense of threat and attempts at characterisation which hit new, unprecedented levels of awfulness, Marshall’s decision to remake a well regarded supernatural superhero franchise clearly should have been prevented from the offset, and with an ending which points at the possibility of a sequel, the fact that Hellboy was the closest I have ever come to completely walking out of the cinema means that such a dream will most definitely not be coming true anytime soon. Absolutely dreadful.

Overall Score: 2/10

Film Review: Shazam!

“Billy Batson, I Choose You. Say My Name So My Powers Will Become Yours…”

With Marvel managing to sneak in the release of the rather excellent, Captain Marvel, earlier on last month, the originally titled superhero of the same name hits cinemas this week under the mantra of Shazam!, an alias which DC’s most colorful character yet has been burdened with since the early 1970’s after a drawn-out legal battle regarding copyright issues and other boring nonsense. Acting as the next chapter in the slightly improved re-invention of the DC Extended Universe, Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation director, David F. Sandberg, helms a superhero movie which carries on the silly and enjoyable sensibility of 2018’s Aquaman as we are introduced to the character of Asher Angel’s Billy Batson, a troublesome orphan who amidst attempting to locate his long lost family who abandoned him as a child, is quickly handed down the magical and mystical powers belonging to Djimon Hounsou’s (Serenity) titular aging wizard in an attempt to locate his long awaited successor and battle against the evil spirits of the seven deadly sins. With Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman setting the high benchmark for entries into the DC Universe, Sandberg’s movie doesn’t exactly hit such lofty superhero heights, but with a charming, lighter tone and a shorter sense of scale which trades the end of the universe for much quieter stakes, Shazam! is slapstick fun with the added stern baldness of Mark Strong, an element which every film should include.

Coined by myself as Man of Steel meets Instant Family, Sandberg’s journey into the world of comic book heroes does seem like the first entry into the DC universe to actively evoke the joyous family-friendly nature of Marvel’s equivalent gargantuan franchise, a movie which trades gloomy impending doom for a more down-to-earth tale of a hero who after being blessed with such enormous power, does not have the slightest idea in how to use them properly. With the central role shared between Angel and the excellently cast, Zachary Levi, (Thor: Ragnarok) the film’s biggest strength is the relationship between both the reluctant hero and the superhero obsessed, Freddy, as played by Jack Dylan Grazer of It- Chapter One fame, and whilst it would have nicer for the film to indulge ever so slightly more on the relatable elements of the piece, the film does work best when left in the company of the leading duo as they find out the best ways in which to make the most out of such awesome power. Whilst it’s unfortunate for most of the top-end comedic gags to be wasted in the film’s trailers alongside a concluding fight scene which seems to go on for the same length as the Brexit negotiations, Shazam! is the lightest and most Easter egg ridden entry into its’ respective universe so far, and with DC somehow not managing to produce a stinker with its’ last two releases, it seems to fair to say the DCEU is finally heading on the straight and narrow path after all this time.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: The Prodigy

“Miles Isn’t Like Other Kids. His Intelligence Is Off The Charts. I Don’t Have An Exact Score, But It’ll Be Very High…”

Following on from The Hole in the Ground this month by being yet another horror movie fascinated with the eeriness of creepy children, The Prodigy, is the third big screen release from American filmmaker, Nicholas McCarthy, who returns to cinemas after the horror one-two of The Pact and At the Devil’s Door. Featuring a screenplay from Jeff Buhler, a writer behind both the upcoming Pet Sematary and Nicolas Pesce’s remake of The Grudge due to be released in 2020, The Prodigy sees Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) as Sarah Blume, a middle class wife and mother to Jackson Robert Scott’s (It – Chapter One) Miles, a talented and extraordinarily smart eight year old boy who soon begins to show violent tendencies and strange desires, resulting in Sarah attempting to find a cure or a reason for her son’s sudden change in temperament and spirit which may or may not have anything to do with the death of a local deranged serial killer. Blending a narrative mix of The Omen and Lynne Ramsay’s excellent, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Prodigy is a film which has an awful amount of interesting ideas but slightly fails as a whole due to cliche after cliche and an overarching sense that we’ve definitely seen this all before.

Beginning in a very interesting fashion as we open up with a The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque prisoner escape as we cut back and forth between the discovery and subsequent death of Paul Fauteux’s Ted Bundy inspired mass murderer and the birth of Miles, the opening act shifts through eight years of early life development as we see the heterochromia laden offspring of Schilling’s Sarah progress from eerily silent baby to first school genius. With Scott making waves as the softly spoken Georgie in Andy Muschietti’s outstanding It from 2017, McCarthy clearly sees The Prodigy as his own re-imagining of The Omen, with Scott’s bowl shaped haircut and sudden behavioural changes making me sort of hoping someone would have checked the back of his neck to see if both the numbers 666 and a copyright symbol were burned into it. Whilst the film lacks in abundance any sort of originality, the tonal shifts between knowing horror and cattle-prod jump scares are actually rather well done, with one dream sequence in particular managing to make me shout a rather expletive heavy sentence loud enough for the entire cinema to hear, and whilst McCarthy’s latest is neither terrifying or memorable, for the time it was on, it did the job and left without harming anyone whatsoever.

Overall Score: 5/10

Film Review: On the Basis of Sex

“The Law Says Women Stay Home, Men Go To Work, But All People Must Be Treated Equally…”

Based on the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Brooklyn born and highly inspirational lawyer who during the late twentieth century spent a considerable amount of her career advocating the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality, On the Basis of Sex sees the return of Mimi Leder (The Peacemaker, Deep Impact) to the big screen after her success on television through the likes of The Leftovers. Featuring a screenplay from screenwriting debutante, Daniel Stiepleman, Leder’s movie sees Felicity Jones (Rogue One) take the leading role as the highly intellectual, if slightly sanctimonious Ginsburg, as we see her venture through the masculine dominated society of the late 1950’s and well into the radically different and more open-minded 1970’s, all the time supported by her loving husband, Martin Ginsburg, as played by the safe pair of cinematic hands which is Armie Hammer (Sorry to Bother You). With an abundance of important statements at the heart of the drama, Leder’s latest is an enjoyable and interesting gentle breeze through the politics of the era in which the narrative is set, and whilst On the Basis of Sex does indeed benefit from a excellent central performance, the substance and depth you would expect from a film tackling so many issues is inherently lacking, resulting in a popcorn piece which although is enjoyable enough, fails to hit as hard as the central character’s effect on the world today.

Beginning with an almost The Social Network sensibility as we witness Jones’ Ginsburg become enrolled in the male dominated halls of the Harvard Law School, we immediately cotton on to her stubbornness to conform to the sexist mannerisms of the school’s hierarchy, all the while attempting to balance her education with her home life as the stresses of a newborn baby and her husband’s recent cancer diagnosis threaten to derail her completely. With the opening act of the film managing to develop Ginsburg with a likeable degree of depth, the narrative then steams ahead to the 1970’s as we now see a fully rounded family unit featuring the added inclusion of the outspoken, idealist figure of Cailee Spaeny (Bad Times at the El Royale) as Jane Ginsburg, who comes across as the ideal inspiration to her mother to finally battle against a fundamental sexist brand of political ideals. With the first ninety minutes of the movie essentially semi-effective characterisation with a side plate of knowing build-up to the final act, the concluding thirty minute court drama set pieces is actually rather well handled, even with a degree of dramatic licensing which makes Jones’ standout acting moment more pantomime than To Kill a Mockingbird, a story of which is crucially mentioned at one point in the drama. As a whole therefore, On the Basis of Sex is too low-key and safely played to be classed as a true representation to match the importance of its’ central figure, but with committed central performances and a likeable central feel to it, Leder’s return to the big screen is more than satisfactory.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: Instant Family

“People Who Take In Foster Kids Are Really Special. The Kind Of People Who Volunteer When It’s Not Even A Holiday…”

When it comes to the chiseled figure of Marky Mark Wahlberg within a cinematic capacity, the American seems to have made peace with a strange trajectory which sees him on the one hand perform brilliantly on a dramatic level, with the likes of The Departed, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day some of the many standouts from his more serious body of work, and then choose to completely sink himself into the world of American comedies, which for the majority of the time, absolutely suck. Reuniting with Daddy’s Home director, Sean Anders, for Instant Family thereforeyou can understand my predisposed prejudice at a movie which judging by the rather soppy and cringe-laden trailers, would be yet another painstakingly awful addition to Mr. Wahlberg’s bipolar back catalogue. However, much like seeing England win at a major tournament or finding a twenty pound note floating upon the pavement, miracles do indeed happen, and whilst I ventured into Instant Family with a frightful expression and a warm cup of coffee in order to keep myself awake, the latest collaboration between Wahlberg and Anders is surprisingly a well made, touching, and most importantly, a genuinely hilarious family drama, one which balances saccharin sweetness with poignant notions of contemporary societal issues amidst a screenplay which does a pretty good job of getting the tone just right for an idea which had all the tell-tell signs for going drastically wrong.

Beginning by introducing the immediately good natured and optimistic pairing of Wahlberg’s Pete and Rose Byrne’s (Insidious) Ellie, the film sees the married couple attempt to bring youthful joy into their lives through the adoption programme, much to the dissatisfaction of both their close friends and family, and after failing to successfully adhere to their wishes of believing that the younger the child is, the better, they soon agree to care for Isabela Moner’s (Sicario 2: Soldado) fifteen year old Lizzy and her two younger, and rather strenuous, siblings. Cue dinner time disasters, countless lengths of sleep cut short and the ultimate fear of sassy teenage angst, Instant Family does indeed take a slight while to get going as it puts all the pieces in place before the adoption takes place, but once the family unit come together, their home life soon becomes akin to a ketchup covered war zone as Ellie and Pete soon believe such a decision may be slightly out of their inexperienced depth. With the screenplay from Anders and John Morris managing to blend rib-tickling comedic set pieces with elements of humane, emotional drama, the story succeeds in making you care for each and every character as we observe the connections and relationships that are built, and with dedicated performances, particularly from Moner who follows on from her scene-stealing role in Sicario 2: Soldado with an equally impressive portrayal of a complex character, Instant Family is an utter delight which although nearly derails everything thanks to an awfully cheesy final act, gets away with it completely and lets you leave with a good old fashioned grin glanced across your chops.

Overall Score: 7/10