“Tall Girl 2” is a Disaster in Platform Heels

By Gigi L.

Ladies and gentlemen, they did it again. After the catastrophe that was “Tall Girl” came out in 2019, Netflix thought it would be a brilliant idea to make a sequel. Did anyone ask for this? No. Did anyone want this? Also no. In fact, the audience was not too happy about this continuation considering it received 2 stars and a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. But, they did it anyway because Netflix is on a roll with these trashy rom-coms. So, without further ado, let’s unpack this mess. (Spoilers are to come.)

For those of you who do not know, the first “Tall Girl” movie is basically about an outcast girl named Jodi who has had to deal with the struggles and oppression of being a tall, pretty, blonde girl all throughout her life. She has two friends, Fareeda and Jack (Jack is madly in love with her because why not?) One day, a Swedish exchange student named Stig shows up and Jodi falls head over heels for him for the sole reason that he is taller than her. I find it impossible to believe that Jodi has never met a guy who is taller than her because she is only 6’1”, but that is beside the point. Jack obviously hates Stig because he stole the heart of his woman, but to add fuel to the fire, Stig is going to be living with Jack’s family for the duration of his time in good ol’ ‘Merica. After 1 hour and 42 minutes of classic high-school-rom-com nonsense, Jodi ends up with Jack. Cute.

Movie poster for “Tall Girl 2,” 202

The second movie is even worse. This is mainly because of the fact that there is no storyline whatsoever. The whole plot is that Jodi and Jack break up because Jodi is busy with the school play. There is so much random information that is just thrown in that does not tie into the basic plot. For example, Stig’s sister comes to stay with them, Fareeda designs these ugly zipper-hoodie things, Stig and Fareeda fall in love; I could go on. None of this information adds anything to the plot, mind you, because the plot is so stupid. The writers could have woven these plot points into a much better sequence to make them all work together and relate to one message, but why would they ever do that?

A scene from “Tall Girl 2,” 2022

Another thing I want to focus on is the love-triangle potential this movie had. At the beginning of “Tall Girl 2,” Jodi meets a guy named Tommy. Tommy and Jodi kind of flirt, there’s a little chemistry, you know? Then, after Jack and Jodi break up, Jodi and Tommy have a moment and they KISS. Now, this would have been the perfect opportunity for some “Kissing Booth 2”-esque action. They could have had a love triangle between Jodi, Tommy, and Jack. They could have had tension between Jack and Tommy. They could have had suspense with Jodi deciding who to give the final rose to. But no, of course not, why would Netflix ever make a conscious decision? Instead, Jodi and Tommy kiss, Jodi tells Jack, Jack pouts for a bit, Jodi and Tommy decide to forget it ever happened, and that useless plot point is done. A missed opportunity, I believe.

One more thing to complain about is the theme of the movie, a problem that was also seen in the first film. The message is not very relatable. The whole premise of the movie is Jodi breaking down barriers and proving to the world that she is more than just a tall girl. However, it is hard for people to resonate with this message because, in real life, Jodi would not even be considered that tall. It is not as pressing of an issue in the real world as the movie makes it seem. Plus, being tall is basically this girl’s whole personality. Rolling with the tall thing is fine, I guess, but it is way too exaggerated for viewers to identify with it.

All in all, I think this movie could have been fine. If the writers just constructed the story more articulately and somehow made all the random plot points contribute to one message, it would have been a much better movie. I am not saying that it is terrible, especially considering that it is supposed to be a little dumb and air-headed, but from a creative standpoint, this one goes in the trash. Although, it might not fit…


“Cats” Is My Sleep Paralysis Demon

By Gigi L.

It has been over two years since the horrific monstrosity known as “Cats” first invaded theaters. It received a not-so-surprising 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the New York Times said it “wasn’t even an epic hairball.” So, in honor of the anniversary, it would be most fitting to discuss what an appalling mess this film is, don’t you think? (As always, spoilers ahead.)

The “Cats” movie is an adaptation of the famous Broadway musical. “Cats” is kind of notorious for being very confusing, so let’s break it down. The musical follows a group of cats called the Jellicle Cats who just hang out in sewers or whatever. Every year, the Jellicle Cats come together to decide who gets to go to the “heaviside layer,” or who gets to be reborn into a new life. The whole musical is just a bunch of songs about the cats leading up to who gets to be chosen. 

Now, “Cats” is a very unique show. This is mainly because, unlike many other classic theater plays, “Cats” does not have a protagonist. Therefore, the traditional musical construct is warped. Allow me to explain. The average musical begins with an establishing song, a song about the setting and sometimes the conflict(s). “Cats” has this. The next song is usually a song that the main character sings. “Cats” does not have this. In theater and musical film, this song that the main character sings is most commonly called the “I Want” song because it is about what the protagonist wants. For example, “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” or “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid.” Villains, on the other hand, have their own special songs. The antagonist typically gets an “I Am” song. This song is not about what they want, just what they are, like “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space” from “Little Shop of Horrors” or “Shiny” from “Moana.” It was mentioned twice, so let’s use “Moana” as our example. “How Far I’ll Go” is about how much Moana wants to leave the island and explore the ocean, making it her “I Want” song. This sets up the main conflict of the movie and introduces Moana as the protagonist. “Shiny,” on the other hand, is not about what Tamatoa WANTS, it is only about what he IS. And that is very, very shiny. This is why “Cats” is so different. Since Cats does not have a protagonist, there is no “I Want” song. Instead, the whole musical is basically just two hours of “I Am” songs. Cats singing about other cats…until the end. 

Towards the end of the musical, one of the characters, Grizabella, sings a little tune called “Memory.” For context, Grizabella was once a Jellicle Cat but got the boot for some reason. “Memory” is about how much Grizabella misses the Jellicle Cats and wants to rejoin the club. So, after hours of “I Am” songs, we finally get an “I Want” song. Is Grizabella the hidden protagonist? Not really. This is what makes “Cats” so special, though. It goes against the traditional format of a musical and creates something completely new.

Why do you need to know all of this? It is so you can understand the main problem with the “Cats” movie. They took the musical that is literally famous for not having a protagonist, and guess what they did? They added a protagonist. Not only that, but she is probably the most useless character in the entire movie. 

Say hello to Victoria. Victoria is a cat who just kind of showed up one day and now wants to be a part of the Jellicle Cats. Victoria’s whole spiel is basically: “Oh, you think your life is hard, Grizabella? Well at least you got to be part of the Jellicle Cats for a little while.” This truth is particularly evident in the song “Beautiful Ghosts,” which Victoria sings to Grizabella as she is pouting. The chorus of the song is literally “but at least you have beautiful ghosts,” which says Victoria is more deserving of being a part of the Jellicle Cats because Grizabella already had a chance. Because both of them want to be a part of the Jellicle Cats, you would think this would cause some tension between the two, right? Wrong. At the end of the movie, Victoria literally HELPS Grizabella become a part of the Jellicle Cats again AND go to the heaviside layer. Does this make sense? Absolutely not. Why did they decide to do it? Beats me, bro.

Another thing wrong with creating a protagonist is that Victoria literally does not do anything. At the end of a movie or play, something is supposed to happen to the main character; they are supposed to get something or change in some way, but nothing happens to Victoria. She does not become a Jellicle Cat, and she does not get to go to the heaviside layer. If they wanted a protagonist so badly, why not make it Grizabella? After all, she is the one who gets all the action. SHE gets to be a Jellicle Cat, and SHE gets to go to the heaviside layer.

Movie poster for “Cats,” 2019

One more thing. I know this is a bit off-topic, but it just has to be said. The animation in this movie is absolutely terrifying. I woke up in the middle of the night screaming several times because I had a nightmare that one of these digital rats was going to rip my limbs off.

All in all, “Cats” is just awful. If they had just stuck with the original plot, maybe I wouldn’t be here. Maybe I could spend my Saturday doing something fun instead of writing about dancing furballs. Sorry, but this one’s got to go in the litterbox.


“Encanto” es Para la Papelera

By Gigi L.

I’m really sorry. I’m probably risking my life writing this article because “Encanto” got such rave reviews, but I feel like I need to explain why this movie was just not that good. Please don’t kill me.

In case you have been living under a rock, “Encanto” is Disney’s latest film project and everyone is talking about it. It got a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes for audience review, and the New York Times described it as having “stunning animation, a beautifully composed story and spellbinding songs…” This is where my opinion clashes with millions of fans and reviewers. The idea behind “Encanto” was golden, but the execution was the issue. (Before we start, there will be spoilers in this article, so do not read any further if you do not want to read about the plot.)

“Encanto” is about a magical family called the Madrigals living in a magical house in Colombia. Each member of the family receives a “gift,” or magical power, when they are a young child, like super strength or shape-shifting. However, one of the Madrigal children never got a gift. Meet our protagonist, Mirabel. Mirabel always felt degraded and unloved by her abuela, aka the head of the house and a horrible grandmother, because she is not magical like her siblings or cousins. 

Mirabel then finds out that their house, their Casita, is losing its magic. She seeks out her uncle, Bruno, who was exiled from the family or something. Bruno’s gift is telling the future, so when he predicted something the family didn’t like, I guess they just kind of threw him out. Anyway, Bruno predicts the future and tells Mirabel that the only way to save the family’s magic is to… hug her sister. Wow. 

Mirabel’s sister, Isabela, has the gift to grow plants and flowers. She was always the golden child of the family and Abuela’s favorite because she is so perfect. Naturally, Mirabel absolutely hates her. So, she goes to Isabela’s room and they sing a song about how Isabela does not have to be perfect, and she could do so much more if she was not controlled by Abuela. Then, at the end of the song, they hug. Yay, the magic is saved. But wait, you’ll never guess, the house falls apart anyway. Why? I have no earthly idea. 

In the ruins, Mirabel tells Abuela that she’s always wanted her approval and she feels like she was never loved by Abuela. They hug and make up and all that dumb family stuff. Whoo hoo. Then, they rebuild their house. That is pretty much the end of the movie, at least all the important parts.

Now for my one issue… the plot. The whole movie felt like the beginning of the movie. There was no journey or climax; it just fell flat. The movie would have been much stronger if there was more build-up to the main point. In most successful films, the protagonist has to go through trials, or it takes them a little longer to find out what they have to do to save whatever. Mirabel knew from the start. She saw she had to hug her sister, so she hugged her sister. Done and done. 

Also, the whole point of a movie like this is to show that Mirabel is just as good as the rest of her family because she saved the house. But the thing is, she didn’t. Even after Mirabel and Isabela made up, the house still fell apart. Even after Mirabel and Abuela made up, the house didn’t come back together. Do you see where I’m coming from? There was no real conclusion or overall message.

Never pause this movie... Also caption this.. : r/Encanto
A scene from Encanto, 2021

“Encanto” had the potential to be a fantastic movie, but the plot was just not put together well. It would have been so much better if there was some sort of actual journey or growth, but I guess the writers were just lazy and wanted to get this thing done with. You know, I’m starting to think the movie was written by Bruno’s rats, but maybe that’s just me…


The Percy Jackson Movie Is a Flaming Dumpster Fire

By Gigi L.

I know that I am VERY late to this party. The movie came out in 2010. Although it has seemingly disappeared from the media spotlight, I still want to express my deep concern for the writers of this movie. Seriously, are they okay?

Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief is a movie adaptation of the first Percy Jackson book written by Rick Riordan. Desperately trying to make a successful franchise, Disney began working on the project with Logan Lerman as the main character, Percy Jackson. On Feb. 12, 2010, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief was released, and fans were not too pleased. One viewer posted a Google review saying, “I would rather play poker with Gabe himself than watch this movie. I would go to Tartarus for 24 hrs. I would be Hades’ personal assistant. Because they really messed up this movie.” Another angry fan wrote, “This movie… is the WORST book-to-movie adaptation ever. It’s disappointing in every way.” It was so terrible that the film received a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes and just 3 out of 5 stars on an average audience review. Ok, the movie is bad. But why is it bad? Let’s break down exactly why Percy Jackson fans were hitting their heads against the wall when this atrocity came out.

Movie poster for Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, 2010

There are a lot of things that contribute to making a “bad” movie: the acting, the effects, the costumes, etc. With this movie, however, I really question the writers. I am genuinely astonished that this movie actually exists. Films have to go through rows and rows of executives and producers before they get the corporate thumbs-up. The fact that hundreds of people looked at the script and said, “Yeah, this is great,” really says a lot about human intelligence. In no way, shape, or form am I trying to say the writers are untalented; they are just more talented than this movie demonstrates. 

First of all, there is almost nothing even remotely similar between the book and the movie. It is true that when you are making a movie adaptation of a book, you have to change some stuff. Take 2001’s Harry Potter, for example. The writers altered a few things, but overall, it was not terrible. They kept all the main points and wrote the script in a clever and articulate way. The Percy Jackson writers just did not care. I will bet you ten thousand dollars that his movie was written at 2:00 in the morning when everyone was sleep deprived and the only thing keeping their bodies functioning was a room-temperature frappuccino. Nothing makes sense.

The very first scene in the movie starts out with Poseidon getting out of the ocean and walking to meet his brother, Zeus. Zeus is a bit cranky because his big, fancy lightning bolt was stolen. Naturally, Zeus suspects Poseidon’s son, Percy Jackson. Because, why not? The movie does not do a very good job of explaining why, so if you want to know, read the book. Zeus tells Poseidon that Percy has until the summer solstice (June 21) to return the bolt to him or else he will, like, destroy the world or something. Then, Zeus blows up a wall and storms out like a twelve-year-old girl. Already, there are some problems. In the first few minutes of a film, there is usually a scene that sets up the story, the characters, and sometimes the main problem. While the scene did all of this, it was done very sloppily. 

Moving on to a later scene, Percy and his class are at what seems to be a history museum with their teacher, Mr. Brunner. Mr. Brunner is babbling about Greek mythology. Then, in the middle of the lesson, a teacher named Mrs. Dodds pulls Percy out to “speak with him.” Then, they go into some sort of storage room. You’ll never guess what happens next. Really, it’s a doozy. Mrs. Dodds jumps on top of a shelf and transforms into a shriveled, raisin-looking bat creature called a Fury. She keeps asking Percy to give her the lightning bolt, but Percy obviously does not know what she’s talking about. Then, Mr. Brunner and Grover come in and Mrs. Dodds/raisin-bat-thing smashes a window and flies away. This scene is EXTREMELY poorly done. First off, it is very confusing. Why did she turn into a bat creature? Why is she asking for the lightning bolt? Also, why should we care? Mrs. Dodds is not really an important character. She was only seen in one scene previous to this one, so it’s not like her sudden transformation into an ugly hairless rat is a huge, ground-breaking twist. It would be kind of like if a random professor that nobody cares about from Harry Potter turned into a monster ten minutes into the movie. Weird.

   A Fury from Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, 2010

I am not going to go through every scene because that would take ten thousand years, but I do want to talk about one more thing. Spoiler warning, so if you have not read the book and/or want to watch the movie, the following information will ruin some plot points for you. 

So, the main villain in the book is Ares, the god of war. He is a twist villain, meaning he is not revealed to be the actual bad guy until the end where the big fight scene takes place. At the very end of the book, there is another giant twist. One of Percy’s friends, Luke, is revealed to be working with Ares and to have stolen Zeus’ special lightning bolt. However, in the movie, Ares does not even exist, and Luke is the big boss bad guy. This decision was probably the worst choice the writers made. Luke was an awful main villain; his motive was weak, and he sounded like a little kid playing supervillain. I could understand if they wanted to switch up some things, but there are other ways to do that than take out the MAIN VILLAIN. That would be as if they took Voldemort out of Harry Potter and just made Professor Quirrel the criminal mastermind. Overall, the Percy Jackson movie is an embarrassment to the film industry. It was sloppy, rushed, and the plot made no sense. Why this movie got the “okay” will probably forever be a mystery. In the meantime, I think we should just offer up some goat sacrifices and pray to the gods that the 2023 Disney+ series will not be as bad.


Don’t Eat It: The Peculiar Profession of Food Styling

By Gigi L.

We’ve all seen it. Don’t lie to me. That banquet scene in Harry Potter. It’s so mesmerizing, so mouth-watering that you just want to crawl through the screen and shove that glorious turkey in your mouth. Except… you probably shouldn’t take a bite. All that delicious, delectable, lucious, enticing, pungent food is fake. “What? No way!” Yep. There is a whole profession dedicated to creating fake food for movies and swindling hungry viewers. Meet the evil crusher of all your dreams, the food stylist.

A scene from the 2009 film, Julie & Julia

You are probably wondering why your beloved Harry Potter would do such a thing. Well, the answer is simple. Filmmaking is a long process. It can take days to shoot one 2-minute scene. Directors and cinematographers definitely cannot afford to have food melting on the job. Fake food lasts a lot longer and can stand the heat of those big studio lights. It is also a lot less wasteful and less expensive to just buy a feast made out of plastic. Food stylists have a very important job. As a reporter from Insider said, “They’re the movies’ biggest problem solvers you never think about.”

So, what does it take to be a food stylist? Turns out, it is a lot of work. The head chef at Fake Food Factory, Lisa Friedman, did a video interview with Insider in 2018. She walked us through the excruciating process of creating fake food for movie clients. Typically, the production company will place the order and then send Lisa a real version of the food they want created. For instance, the Harry Potter crew would have sent Lisa a real turkey for her to use as a model when making their deliciously deceptive fake dinner. After that, Lisa makes a mold of the item to get the size and shape right. Most of the time, fake food is made of rubber or foam. She pours the material into the mold to set. After the pieces come out, she sands down the excess. Once the pieces dry, they are painted and decorated to look like real food. There are not really any rules or regulations for making fake food, so artists have to get creative with materials. Brenda Chapman, food stylist and owner of Just Dough It!, told Insider, “You just kind of have to look at things a little differently, and think, okay it’s not made for this but it does look like this. We use a lot of Styrofoams, a lot of stuff from the local hardware store, you know, caulking, and drywall patching, and sheet rock mud.” For example, to replicate granola and ground beef, Lisa Friedman uses crushed corkboard. 

Fake food is popular in the movie business, but sometimes, real food is used. Production companies will try to use real food whenever they can, so artists can cover real cereal, popcorn, or candy in special resin to preserve it. This method might be more convenient for studios due to time-sensitive projects.

Fake donuts created by Brenda Chapman for The Muppets, 2011

Food styling may not be a well known profession, but it certainly plays a key role in keeping movie studios up and running to produce your favorite films. But if you’re ever on set and you see that delicious, fat, juicy turkey, whatever you do, DON’T EAT IT.