August 11, 2017, - 6:27 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Glass Castle, Annabelle: Creation, Step

By Debbie Schlussel

Every summer since I began reviewing movies in 2004, the movies get worse. And this summer is the worst so far. There have been no movies I can remember really liking, and this weekend is no exception (next week does have a good movie debuting–stay tuned!).

* The Glass Castle – Rated PG-13: I expected this movie to be as positive and uplifting as the life of Jeannette Walls, on whose memoir of the same name that this movie is based. But it isn’t. Instead, it’s a herky-jerky, repetitive melodrama that goes on a little too long and focuses too much on the negative, rather than the success of Walls, who overcame a life of poverty in West Virginia to become a writer and columnist at various high-profile media outlets in New York.

I love a great American success story, and her life is that. This movie barely shows it. In America, we all believe that, no matter where you come from, you can pick yourself up by the bootstraps and make something of yourself, as Wells did. I wish this movie would have shown more of that. The real-life Wells hid her previous life and was embarrassed when she–already a successful Manhattan gossip columnist and Barnard graduate–saw her homeless parents looking through trash on New York’s streets. She came to terms with it by writing her memoir.

Jeannette (played here by Brie Larson) is the daughter of parents who are free spirits and also not very good at or conscientious about providing for their four children or giving them a stable environment. Instead, they roamed the country, constantly running away from bill collectors, as Walls alcoholic father (Woody Harrelson, of whom I’m not a fan) drank away their money, left them hungry and with little to eat, and skipped out on unpaid rent. He was also unable to hold a job. Eventually, they settled in a complete dump–a ramshackle house–in West Virginia. There, Jeannette and her siblings plotted their getaway to a better life in New York. (The mother is played by Naomi Watts, who, in this movie, eerily resembles Mary Kay LeTourneau.)

I usually hate Hollywood movies in which the father is the bad guy, a loser, absent, incompetent, a drunk, and some combination thereof. There are no shortages of those, and so I had mixed feelings about this because the destructive, horrible behavior of the father here, is central and constant. It is a true story, though, and Walls also portrays her love of her father, which she realized after he died. He taught her to dream big dreams and accept no limits, and that contributed in no small part to her success. He also brought her money so Walls wouldn’t have to drop out of college and was able to pay tuition.

I just wish we could have seen more of the more uplifting, second part of her life: her drive to succeed, how she made it in journalism, her struggle earlier in her career, and so on. These are the kinds of things that inspire others to succeed despite their upbringings, rather than encouraging them to wallow in despair.

But, it seems, there is a bigger market for despair and woe-is-me politics in this country today–and certainly in Hollywood–than for the depiction of hard work and resulting success.

Full disclosure: I like the real-life Jeannette Walls, who communicated with me via e-mail a few times, years ago, when she wrote about me several times on the MSNBC website (she was MSNBC’s gossip and celebrity columnist before the network became a liberal hack haven). She wrote about a boycott I called for against actors who appeared in an anti-Semitic movie, and she credited me for coining the term “Dearbornistan” (which I did, in fact, coin). She was very nice to me. (She also must have good genes. Today, at age 57, she looks terrific exactly the same as she did 15 years ago.)


Watch the trailer . . .

* Annabelle: Creation – Rated R: This is the latest movie in what is known as the “The Conjuring universe”–the scary movies connected to the work of the real-life Ed and Lorraine Warren, Catholic “demonologists” (similar to exorcists).

I’ve reviewed several of these movies, including “The Conjuring” (read my review) and “Annabelle” (read my review). This movie is the “prequel to “Annabelle,” and tells us the story of how the scary, possessed doll came to be so. Although I’ve liked all of the Warren-related movies, this is my least favorite. That’s because this wasn’t that scary (not even close) and it went on way too long. At least 20 minutes could have been edited out of this repetitive film. Also, I thought the movie was kind of bloody and graphic. The best scary movies are psychologically scary, rather than relying on blood and gore.

The story: A married couple includes a father who makes dolls for a living, and they have a happy life with a large home. But, one day, their young daughter dies in a horrible car accident. For 12 years, the couple has been living with sadness and grief in their home. They decide to invite the girls from a Catholic orphanage to live in their huge home, and the girls–accompanied by the best-looking nun ever (Stephanie Sigman) and an old priest–move in. At first, the girls are delighted by their new, spacious accommodations. But, soon, they notice creepy and eerie occurrences there. The father tells them that they cannot go into a locked room, which, he says, must stay locked. Of course, kids do everything they’re told they cannot, and, soon, two of the girls enter the room, where they encounter the doll, Annabelle.

Although I found this movie to be mostly slow and not that thrilling, I did like the ending, which comes full circle to the beginning of the original “Annabelle” movie and explains what happened. If you are a Conjuring universe fan, you should probably sit through the credits, as there are two “stingers”–one mid-way through the credits and another at the very end.

This is probably the best new movie out, this weekend, but all things are relative. There isn’t much to choose from.

By the way, the original Annabelle doll isn’t the creepy ceramic doll in this and the original Annabelle movie. The real-life Annabelle doll that was allegedly possessed, was a Raggedy Ann doll, but I guess Raggedy Ann doesn’t look that creepy in comparison.


Watch the trailer . . .

* Step – Rated PG: Mainstream a/k/a liberal movie critics are gushing–very excessively–over this crummy, boring Black Lives Matter-style documentary focusing on three high school girls who are members of a “Step” dance troupe at their Black female charter school in Baltimore. And it won an award at the Sundance Film Festival.

But the title of the movie and the type of “dance” they do is more like Stomp than Step. And it’s mostly talentless hackery mixed with trash-talking and “Stand up, don’t shoot” baloney. Their award-winning step routine is full of bragging and the alleged statements of Michael Brown that he never uttered because he didn’t have his hands up and was trying to get police officer Darren Wilson’s gun, probably to kill him. Also, there is no shortage of undue self-esteem in this movie. These girls all think they’re the greatest, with little–no, absolutely nothing!–to back it up.

The most annoying girl in this movie is its main star, Blessin Giraldo. The woman, in her senior year of high school, has a 1.7 grade point average for her secondary school career. And, yet, she is rewarded with a full college scholarship and all expenses, including housing. We are supposed to applaud this, when it’s yet another absurd example of affirmative action racism. Do you think a White chick from Appalachia with a 1.7 GPA would get a full ride and all expenses paid to college? Uh, no. Skin complexion is the only thing that mattered here. And here’s a tip: skin complexion isn’t an achievement. It’s a coincidence of birth.

Blessin lives in a home with her formerly militant mother, her grandmother, and her babymama sister with multiple kids. There are no men or fathers around. Blessin whines and cries that there isn’t any food in the house, not enough money from food stamps, and the kids are going hungry. Yet, in every other scene, Blessin has a new wig, new hair extensions, and new outfits in various fashions. She’s also shown shopping at the hair extension store. Um, here’s a tip: hair extensions cost thousands of dollars, which could buy a lotta milk and cereal. Priorities.

Blessin also gets in fights with stupid fights with another girl in the Step troupe. So she’s a behavioral problem, too.

Then, there is the “education” these girls are getting at this Black charter school. It seems to be made up of lessons about how racist America was and is. They give presentations on the racist laws in various states in America in the ’50s. Yeah, that’ll help ’em read, write, and add in the real world. NOT.

The only sympathetic person in the movie is the valedictorian, who earns a full ride to Johns Hopkins. But given the alleged “education” given to students at this school and given the girl’s skin color, you wonder how this woman would stack up against a White male who was valedicatorian of his high school and actually had an education that didn’t consist of the Black Lives Matter/Michael Brown race-baiting playbook.

This propaganda film parading as a documentary is released from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Searchlight studio.


Watch the trailer . . .

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4 Responses

Regarding Step, this formula for a movie plays over and over and will not go away. I am surprised that black people are not outraged by these types of movies, modern shukin’ and jivin’ skits that portray black people on a simplistic levels. And yet, black people love these movies, along with white people who long to be black (it helps them practice their urban accents and mannerisms).

Why aren’t Spike Lee and Oprah protestin’?

I was hoping Debbie would review Detroit.

King David on August 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm

They are permanently stuck in child-like pretend mode.

Hillel on August 13, 2017 at 1:27 am

The reason movies suck so much is that Hollywood itself sucks. It’s because of liberals and liberalism. Liberalism does not create, it destroys. Liberalism is unimaginative, bereft of any creativity or original thought. THAT’S why they had to remake Ben Hur and it bombed. That’s why they are remaking Death Wish, and it will probably stink too. No new ideas, not ever. Liberalism destroys, it does not create and never will.

Tommy Thomas on August 16, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Obama did not even know that Oscar Hamerstein in South Pacific was the real basis for “No one is born hating another person” not Nelson Mandela

madman on August 16, 2017 at 7:53 pm

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