Thursday, December 14, 2017

This year's Star Wars appetizer

I’m groggy as hell today and probably shouldn’t be writing a blog post at all, but then again, that’s easier than working. I slept less than four hours, in case you’re wondering. I got home around 3:15 a.m. and then stayed up for another ten minutes beyond that, because whenever you get home, you can’t go to bed immediately -- even if it’s 3:15.

And though I won’t tell you about Star Wars: The Last Jedi – even whether I liked it – I did think I could spend a few minutes on what I watched as an appetizer.

Because I have to take advantage of any nights out of the house I get to watch movies, especially as my year-end list closes a little more than a month from now, I’ve seen it fit to catch a movie before my midnight Star Wars viewing each of the past two years, letting me out in plenty of time to queue up for the midnight screening. But because December is weirdly kind of a dead zone for new releases in Australia – many of the prestige awards movies don’t hit here until January or February, informally kicked off by Boxing Day – I am usually stuck with something a bit less than award-worthy. Making it a true cinematic appetizer, an amuse bouche maybe, rather than a film of equivalent stature to Star Wars.

As it happens, both of those films have been sequels to Christmas comedies.

I could have called this post “Daddy’s Home and daddy’s not home,” if I wanted to make a reference to absentee father Han Solo from The Force Awakens. But I’ve gone with what I’ve gone with, and that is that.

I did indeed see Daddy’s Home 2 – or Daddy’s Home Two, as it is written in the credits – in the slot in which I saw Bad Santa 2 last year. The similarities extend beyond their status as Christmas comedy sequels. Even as I viewed myself to be sort of “stuck” with these movies, when I would rather be ticking off awards contenders, I did like the first movie in both series, after a bit of an initial bad taste. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the original Bad Santa after my first viewing, but came to really like it after my second. That trajectory was significantly compacted for the first Daddy’s Home. That movie has a really bad, really broad first half, before bringing it home with a very satisfying second half.

This is where the similarities end.

I really disliked Bad Santa 2. I mean, intensely. Looking back on my star rating on Letterboxd, I gave it only a single star. It was difficult to find even any rancid delights in that movie. I’m not sure I smiled or chuckled even once.

Oddly, and somewhat shamefully, I am willing to go as high as 3.5 stars on Daddy’s Home 2/Two. That’s a half star higher than I gave the first (a bad first half and a good second half averages out to a three, in case you’re interested). What can I say, I really enjoyed it. Oddly, it does have a similar structure to the first movie in terms of having a second half that’s better than its first – odd because that’s a fairly rare thing to find in movies in general. But in this case the first half was not as bad as the first half of Daddy’s Home, so when it brought it home again, it brought it to that higher star-rating plane.

That puts me wildly at odds with its score of 30 on Metacritic, but what can I say – it’s something I’m getting accustomed to with 2017 films.

But did I like it better or worse than Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

That’s something I will reveal to you, once a few more days have passed and some of you have actually seen it.

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