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How well you like the movie Joy depends considerably on how much you remain committed to rooting for Joy Mongano because Jennifer Lawrence IS the film. This isn't the story of the woman who invented the Miracle Mop (the product name only gets mentioned once) and 100 other inventions. This is a Horatio Alger rags to riches story about a smart, but struggling woman who develops the idea of the self-wringing Miracle Mop and struggles through success and heartache and near financial ruin to make her dream a success. Lawrence is much more successful than her material that seem heavy handed at times. But I felt like I was riding the Joy Mangano roller coster and felt her triumphs and failures even knowing this is is biopic where Joy ends up succeeding beyond her wildest dreams in the end.
The Big Short is designated as a comedy by the Golden Globes. Indeed, there are some scathingly funny scenes. I particularly enjoyed how they used celebrities to explain impossibly difficult financial concepts (Margot Robbie in a bubble bath with champaign. Selena Gomez playing poker. But in reality it seems more like a financial horror story of how both the big investment banks built up the house of cards that led to the financial meltdown and how the government helped hide and protect the system. And it is happening again.
There are some real inspired scenes here: The opening arc that tells the history of the Minions and there work as henchmen for several baddies, the minions playing polo on corgis, and the minions becoming parts of various historical events. But what makes the minions so funny is playing off the wonderful super villain Gru voiced by Steve Carrell. Sandra Bullock's Scarlett Overkill is just that, overkill.. Jon Hamm is amusing as her inventor husband Herb, but the real "human" star is Jennifer Saunders as the arm-wrestling prankster Queen Elizabeth and there needed to be more of her. The Minions are meant to be enjoyed in wonderfully chaotic small doses. Full-length movies mean there are several scenes featuring just the minions talking gibberish with one another. It isn't always easy to laugh at the punchline when you can't understand the joke. There are enough funny bits (the writer also does a wonderful job making fun of the British) to make this worthwhile, but you are better off rewatching Despicable Me or one of the many hilarious Minion shorts.
World War Z, where you come for the zombies and you stay, well, for the zombies. And the fast, relentless zombies are pretty awesome as a group, particularly when they form a human ladder to scale a large wall in Jerusalem. But individually they kind of look like twitchy, rabid squirrels. The movie is much more Contagion than 28 Days later, with a focus on one man's journey to try to find a cure for the zombie apocalypse. It becomes a pretty conventional, although often tense and exciting action movie, largely abandoning the book's focus on the political, social and economic implications of a zombie apocalypse (which is only really shown in one scene in a grocery/pharmacy where clearly social order has been abandoned). But it is still a more adult zombie thriller with a minimum of gore. The best moments, outside the zombie mayhem, are the quieter ones such as Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) making pancakes and enjoying conversation with his family. Not a great movie, but less dumb and loud than most summer blockbusters.