A Beginner’s Guide To Office Christmas Party

Everything you need to know before Office Christmas Party comes out tomorrow.

What is it?
Office Christmas Party is a festive comedy film about – you guessed it – an office Christmas party.

That doesn’t sound very funny.
Yeah… but there’s this growing trend in comedy where boring, middle class people are put into “extreme” situations and in the end they decide that their lives are actually pretty great and they return to them. I’m not saying that that’s what happens here, but I’m guessing it’s pretty close.

What is it actually about?

When Zenotek CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close the branch of her hard-partying brother Clay (T. J. Miller), he and his Chief Technical Officer must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs.

Not that that doesn’t sound great but are there any other Christmas movies?
There’s this and Bad Santa 2. Take your pick.

Who’s in this movie?
Oooh, the cast is pretty great: Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, and Kate McKinnon are just a few of the huge ensemble cast. It was directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck.

The guys who did The Switch?
Well, yeah but they also did Blades of Glory so this film could go either way.

Finally, is it any good?
The reviews aren’t in yet so I have nothing to base my opinion on except for the trailer. Personally, I think that it could be a fun watch but the trailer is below – see what you think.


A Beginner’s Guide To Moana

Everything you need to know before Moana comes out tomorrow.

What is it?
Moana is the latest animated Disney feature film and more specifically it is their latest Disney princess film.

So, like Sleeping Beauty?
Technically the same family but it’s more Tangled than Sleeping Beauty. Disney has been really good at updating their princess narratives so that women aren’t just waiting to be saved by a man and then married off. Just look at Brave: the Disney princess series has become about empowerment.

Female empowerment sounds great and all but… are there still songs?
Totally. In fact, the music in this movie has been getting more attention than is normal for an animated feature because one of the composer’s happens to be Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda.

What’s the film about?
The official synopsis is as follows:

The film tells the story of Moana, the strong-willed daughter of the chief of a Polynesian tribe, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess. When a blight strikes her island, Moana sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demigod, in hopes to save her people.

This movie has gods?
You’d think it would have been a controversial topic but everybody seems really calm about it – I’m assuming because it’s all been handled respectfully and sensitively but that’s not even the best part. The demigod, Maui? Voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Nice. Who else is in it?
Moana herself is voiced by newcomer, and Hawaiian native, Auli’i Cravalho. Other cast members include  Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzingerand Alan Tudyk.

Is it any good?
According to the critics, and the people that have watched it, and my instincts about this film. Yup. It actually seems amazing. People are saying that it marks a new, better, course for Disney.

A Beginner’s Guide To The Edge of Seventeen

Everything you need to know before Edge of Seventeen hits cinemas tomorrow.

What is The Edge of Seventeen?
The Edge of Seventeen is a coming-of-age comedy drama movie.

So a little bit like Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club?
Funny you should say that – the writer-director-producer of the film, Kelly Fremon Craig, said that John Hughes was one of the film-makers that she took inspiration from in the making of this film.

What’s it about?
Well, if you’re looking for an official synopsis then:

A precocious, narcissistic high-schooler named Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is horrified when her best friend (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her impossibly perfect brother (Blake Jenner). Soon, she falls into a downward spiral that forces her to reflect on her cruel, self-centered behavior.

That… actually sounds kind of dark.
No, no, no. It’s like normal teen angst – as long as you’re personally not sixteen, it should be pretty funny. Plus Woody Harrelson’s in it so I’m sure it’s laughs all around.

I do like Woody… Who else is in it?
This film has a pretty fresh, young cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto, Blake Jenner, and Kyra Sedgwick amongst others.

Is it any good?
Based on the trailer and reviews? Absolutely – it closed the Toronto International Film Festival this year. Based on the box office? Not at all. The film had the misfortune of coming up against giant movies like Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them and Bleed for This so its success in the US was limited.

Would you recommend it?
Whole-heartedly. Although if you want to see it, the distribution in the UK is limited and it is only showing at big cinemas.

A Beginner’s Guide To Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them

Everything you need to know before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits cinemas tomorrow.

What is it?
Fantastic Beasts is the latest movie foray into J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding world.

It’s another Harry Potter movie?
Definitely not. The film is set in 1926 before The Boy Who Lived was ever even born. Maybe even before his grandparents were born.

Now I’m confused: what’s it about?
It’s about-

Don’t do the thing.
-fantastic beasts and where to find them.

I hate you more every single time we do this.
You just make it so easy. I’m sorry. Okay, so the official synopsis:

The story revolves around Newton Scamander, a Magizoologist who arrives in New York in 1926, to stay for a brief time following a journey around the world to research creatures for his book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Newt owns a magically-expanded suitcase containing many creatures which No-Maj, Jacob Kowalski inadvertently opens. When the creatures escape, the situation threatens the secrecy of the Wizarding world and the relationship between the magical and non-magical societies in America which is already in danger due to the New Salem Philanthropic Society. Newt battles to find the creatures with the help of Jacob and Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein before it’s too late, with Percival Graves searching for him.

No Hogwarts?
That’s all you took from that? Dude… Anyway, no. There’s no Hogwarts although the main character, Newt Scamander, is English and did attend Hogwarts until he was expelled.

So, there are no other Harry Potter characters?
Wow, you’re really caught up on this Harry Potter stuff. Let me reiterate: same Wizarding world, set in the past and in a different country. However, we should see a younger Dumbledore in the second movie.

What second movie?
Oh right: this is a franchise. This is set to be the first in a series of five films.

But how do they know that this one will even do well?
It’s the Wizarding world. It’s going to do just fine. Besides, J. K. Rowling penned the script for this film and is set to do the next four so at least it will be in the same voice and hopefully have the same magic to it.

Who else is involved?
David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter movies, is in the director’s seat. The cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, and Colin Farrell.

Finally, should I watch it?
In my very biased opinion as a massive Potterhead, I would say yes. This movie seems amazing and everybody should see it.

A Beginner’s Guide To Doctor Strange

Everything you need to know before Doctor Strange hits cinemas tomorrow.

What is it?
Doctor Strange is the fourteenth movie in the MCU and the second one in Phase 3 of the MCU.

Wait. I have to watch thirteen other films before this one?
What? No, of course not. I mean, I would whole-heartedly recommend that you do watch all thirteen other films in the MCU if you haven’t already but you don’t need to. You should be able to understand this movie with no prior knowledge.

What’s it about?
Well, this is a bit wild so stay with me. The movie Doctor Strange is about the character Doctor Strange from the comic book Doctor Strange.

I hate you.
I know. Anyway, serious answer:

The character, Doctor Strange (a.k.a. Dr. Stephen Strange) first appeared in Marvel’s Strange Tales #110 in July 1963 and was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.

Dr. Stephen Strange was an amazing surgeon until a car accident destroyed his hands, taking away his ability to perform surgery. He then travels the world looking for a way to repair them and finds the Ancient One who starts him on and guides him in his study of mystic arts. Also, there’s bad guys and stuff.

Who’s in it?
It’s another typically amazing MCU movie line-up: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, and Benjamin Bratt amongst others. Fingers crossed there are also a couple of wider MCU cameos. Oh, and Stan Lee will pop up somewhere.

What about the creative team?
That’s very interesting: Scott Derrickson is the director and co-writer of this film and if you are familiar with his work then you’ll know that this is a departure. His films include Sinister, Devil’s Knot and Deliver Us From Evil. I don’t think that Marvel are venturing into the horror genre but I have no idea what to expect of this film with Derrickson at the helm.

Are the reviews out?
Indeed and overall they are very positive. Reviewers are going crazy for the special effects and it sounds like it may be worth watching in 3D.

A Beginner’s Guide To Storks

All you need to know before Storks hits cinemas tomorrow.

What is it?
Great first question: Storks is an animated adventure comedy, produced by Warner Bros. Animation Group – the people behind Space Jam and The Iron Giant.

As great as those movies are, they’re really old. Have they done anything in this century?
Yes! You’re right, the company had an 11 year hiatus (2003-2014), but then they came back with one of the strongest animated movies that I’ve seen in a long time, The Lego Movie.

You really should have led with that…
I’m sorry, who’s in charge here?

I don’t know why I keep agreeing to do this with you. What’s the movie about?

It’s no fun if you don’t get mad. Fine, the official synopsis:

Storks deliver babies — or at least they used to. Now, they deliver packages for a global internet retail giant. Junior (Andy Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, lands in hot water when the Baby Factory produces an adorable but wholly unauthorized girl. Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble, Junior and his friend Tulip (Katie Crown), the only human on Stork Mountain, race against time to make their first baby drop before the boss (Kelsey Grammer) finds out.

I recognise all of those names except Katie Crown.
That’s because Katie Crown is actually a voice actress – it’s amazing how few voice actors actually get jobs on feature films but she’s worked on some cool shows including Adventure Time, Sanjay and Craig, and Bob’s Burgers.

Anybody else that I know in the film?
Definitely. Animated features may not hire voice actors but they make sure to fill up their cast lists with big on-screen names. In this case: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, and Danny Trejo.

Do you have any interesting trivia about this movie?
How fortuitous that you should ask. Warner Bros. are following in Pixar’s footsteps (and more recently, Illumination’s) and are screening a short film before the feature. The short is called The Master and it is about the Lego Ninjago line.

Finally, is the film any good?
Reviews are mixed which means I have no idea if you’ll like it. In my experience that means it could depend on your sense of humour, your mood, if somebody’s head is blocking one corner of the screen and it bugs you for the first half hour of the film but eventually you get used to it and then THEY MOVE and start blocking a different portion of the screen and you’re left angrily crunching your popcorn in an attempt to conceal your rage. Ahem, that’s just… an example. Really, maybe give the trailer a watch and see what you think.

A Beginner’s Guide To The Girl On The Train

All you need to know before The Girl On The Train hits cinemas tomorrow.

What is it?
Really? That’s your first question? You’d think that title would tell you everything you needed to know: it’s a girl on a train.

I hate you so much.
Okay, I’m sorry. This is the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ 2015 novel, The Girl on the Train.

2015? They didn’t waste any time making it into a movie.
No, they did not. Unsurprising, considering it debuted at no.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and stayed there for 13 consecutive weeks. People were calling it the new Gone Girl.

Is it the new Gone Girl?
I haven’t read it myself but the author doesn’t seem to think so. In an interview with The Guardian she said:

 “I think people draw parallels because you’ve got an unlikable or difficult female protagonist, the breakdown of a marriage and a missing woman, and also the unreliable narrator.”

What’s it about?
Do you really want me to say it again?

I swear to-
Fine, fine: a real answer. Here’s what I know about the plot…

On her morning commute, the train always stops at the same signal and Rachel starts to become obsessed with the couple whose garden backs on to the train tracks. They have – in her fantasy – a perfect life, while Rachel is being sucked under by alcoholism and the heartbreak of her failed marriage. But then she is shocked by something she sees in their garden one day and when, shortly afterwards, the woman goes missing, Rachel becomes entangled in their lives for real – only it’s complicated by the fact that she suffers from blackouts and memory loss, and is such a mess that nobody (the police, the woman’s husband, herself even) can trust her.

It sounds interesting: anybody that I like starring in it?
It’s likely considering the star level in this movie: Emily Blunt, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Rebecca Ferguson, Lisa Kudrow, Laura Prepon, and the list goes on and on and on. In case you were wondering, it was also directed by Tate Taylor (The Help) and written by Erin Cressida Wilson (Chloe).

Final question: is it any good?
That’s tricky. I’m still excited about this movie but the initial reviews haven’t been great. In fact, you could describe them as poor. Critics have called it one-dimensional and Gone Girl comparisons have been made again but not in a good way (at least not good for The Girl on the Train).