Promising Young Woman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/16/21;
Universal;
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Dark Comedy;
Box Office $5.5 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence including sexual assault, language throughout, some sexual material and drug use.
Stars Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Sam Richardson, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Adam Brody.

Striking right at the core of gender relations brought to the fore by the #MeToo movement, Promising Young Woman is a relentless revenge thriller that expertly walks a line between dark comedy, tragedy and drama led by a beautifully nuanced performance from Carey Mulligan, who just received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for it.

Emerald Fennell (who served as showrunner on “Killing Eve” and plays Camilla on “The Crown”) received three well-deserved Academy Award nominations for her directorial debut (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay) for this story than broaches a wrenching subject while keeping the audience laughing and gasping on a roller coaster journey through one woman’s pathos and secret fury. (The film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing for a total of five noms.)

Promising Young Woman follows Cassie (Mulligan), a former medical student who was headed for success until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. By day a young woman going nowhere as a barista, by night Cassie lives a secret double life. An unexpected encounter with an old classmate gives her a chance to avenge the wrongs of the past.

At turns a horror story, a romantic comedy and a tragedy, the film plays with familiar tropes in the narrative and film history of male-female relations and power dynamics. With a hot score and vibrant, eye-popping art direction, set design, costumes and makeup, it’s a truly unique film that defies categorization. Dark comedy elements provide levity, but the film also takes a deep dive into the characters’ multiple facets. As noted in the bonus features, the film portrays men who think of themselves as “good guys,” while doing morally questionable, even horrible things. Then there’s Cassie, an engaging, attractive and smart avenging angel/devil who leaves emotional turmoil in her wake. This tension between the light and dark side of humanity allows the actors to explore a layer cake of emotions and elicits some truly great performances.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Bonus features include three featurettes: “A Promising Vision,” in which Fennell discusses her inspirations for creating the film; “Two-Sided Transformation,” a look at Mulligan in the role of Cassie and how filmmakers used wardrobe, hair and makeup to express the balance between light and dark; and “Balancing Act,” in which cast members discuss their unexpected reactions to the careful balance of levity and tragedy in Fennell’s take on female revenge.

There’s also a commentary with Fennell, who provides a detailed explanation of key elements in the film, including set design, framing, and makeup and costume choices. As do the best commentaries, Fennell’s leaves viewers with a greater appreciation for the artistry and thought process behind this complicated film and makes a second pass through Promising Young Woman with commentary well worth the time.

Good Boys

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/12/19;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $83.08 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout — all involving tweens.
Stars Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Josh Caras, Will Forte, Sam Richardson, Stephen Merchant.

As Master Yoda once said, “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” But what happens when you make them wonder about sex, drugs and random debauchery?

And that’s where Good Boys comes in, and the fact that it comes from Seth Rogen’s production team pretty much explains exactly what to expect from the film.

It’s Stand by Me meets American Pie, a satire of the simplistic perspective kids tend to have of things. As such, it mines the intersection of the innocence of children and the seediness of the adult world for great laughs.

The question of whether how appropriate it is for such a young cast to form the basis of a film like this is not lost on the filmmakers and comes up several times in the bonus materials. Before the film had come out they had already hit upon the audacious marketing hook that the film was too raunchy for its young stars to even see it. Nowhere is this concept more prominent than on the film’s own Blu-ray box art, which comes emblazoned with an oversized graphic of the MPAA ‘R’ rating and the three main characters glancing upward at a line proclaiming “You Must Be This Tall to See This Movie.”

The film stars up-and-comer Jacob Tremblay as 12-year-old Max, who gets invited to a kissing party and freaks out because he doesn’t want his inexperience to scare off the girl that he likes. So he enlists his best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) to help him research how to kiss. Eventually, the group, who call themselves the Bean Bag Boys, decide to use an expensive drone that is the prized possession of Max’s father (Will Forte) to spy on some local teenagers making out.

But when the drone gets destroyed, the Bean Bag Boys must scheme to come up with the funds to replace it, skip school and embark on a trek to the local mall (a distant journey of at least four miles) to replace it before Max’s dad gets home and grounds him so that he can’t go to the party. Along the way, they must deal with the teenagers they were spying on hunting them down for drugs they accidentally stole, not to mention cops, frat boys, sex toys and the peer pressure of drinking more than three sips of beer.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray includes a fun, laid-back commentary from the film’s co-writers — director Gene Stupnitsky and producer Lee Eisenberg — that covers many of the inspirations for the film and the specific jokes involved.

There’s a two-minute alternate ending and more than 10 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, many of which are alluded to in the commentary.

Also included is a two-minute gag reel and six featurettes that provide about 14 minutes of behind-the-scenes material. These offer the usual tidbits about the cast and filmmaking process, including the interesting nugget that the school used in the film was Tremblay’s actual school in Vancouver.

But it all comes back to the filthy language used by the young stars, and some hilarious discussions about how they have no idea what the dialogue they’ve been given to say actually means.

The mind of a child, indeed.