Tuesday, December 19, 2017

LADY BIRD -- my review

As we approach the end of the year I'll be catching up on movies and posting more reviews.  I don't always agree with the critics but I give my honest opinion (popular or otherwise).   You've been warned.  I'm not a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic.  I'm a schmuck with a blog. 

LADY BIRD is a lovely little movie but does not live up to the hype. The critics are falling all over themselves proclaiming writer/director Greta Gerwig’s genius and brilliance, and it would lead you to believe you’re about to see a masterpiece.

It’s merely a very sweet, well-observed, adolescent coming-of-age movie. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t go in expecting your life to change.

Performances are outstanding. Laurie Metcalf is Meryl Streep without the Oscars. And Saoirse Ronan is this year’s Ellen Page soon-to-be Jennifer Lawrence. Everyone in this film is real and layered and much credit goes to Gerwig but also Allison Jones, who is a superb casting director. The minute any project is greenlit usually the first call is to see if Allison Jones is available.

SPOILER ALERT for the paragraph ahead:

Critics are saying it’s so original when in fact, most standard coming-of-age high school tropes are included. Angst-ridden teenage girl who clashes with her mother and finds her brother annoying but ultimately appreciates everyone in the family. Check. Has social outcast best friend who she abandons for the popular girl. Check. Falls in love with and gives herself to the wrong boy for her. Check.  Is in the school show (for comic relief). There are prom scenes, party scenes where kids get drunk, status issues, some authority figure on her side, applying for college, and deciding whether to go away for college or stay home.

The movie is set in 2002 in Sacramento and Greta Gerwig hails from Sacramento. So I’m guessing a lot of this movie is autobiographical.

Every generation seems to have their version of this movie, from JUNO to THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN. LADY BIRD is one of the better ones. Go in expecting only that and you should be in for an enjoyable 93 minutes. And again, there’s nothing wrong with “enjoyable” unless you think you’re seeing the one motion picture that can stop Global Warming and bring peace to the Middle East.


Max said...

" I'll be catching up on movies and posting more reviews." ---- Finally 🙌

"I'm not a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic." - that's why we love you.

Next Dunkirk? If not, please rip apart Spielberg's crap. It's releasing next week.

Only a month left for nominations announcement.

Sheila said...

Here's an idea for a blog Ken. Matt Damon says - we aren't talking enough about all the men in Hollywood who aren't sexual predators.

Your take Ken?


Anonymous said...

Saw Lady Bird entirely by accident (when I dropped off my daughter & friend at it and it turned out to be rated R). I completely agree with your review, and I appreciate it, because I really didn't see what all the fuss was about.

Peter said...

Hope you'll be reviewing The Post and The Last Jedi!

VincentS said...

Can't wait for you review of THE LAST JEDI.

Noel said...

Seeing the requests in comments, one gets the feeling that more than reading a review, people want their most hated moviemakers being lampooned by Ken.

And Ken's snarky take on Spielberg in the past, seems to be a rallying point for many to ask for the review of The Post.

Well... whatever makes people happy :)

By Ken Levine said...

I intend to see THE POST, but warning: I might just like it. As for DUNKIRK, if I get a screener I'll see it. I'm at a point in my life where I only see movies I think I might like. There are directors like Nancy Meyers I just like so I don't see any of her films. But if Spielberg or Nolan turn out a great movie I'm more than happy to praise it.

Yes, I'm snarky but try to be objective.

Jahn Ghalt said...

I'm a schmuck with a blog

OK, but you're OUR SCHMUCK!

I intend to see THE POST

Me, too.

I'm at a point in my life where I only see movies I think I might like.

Here's hoping you'll get to make a movie WE might like.

About the review - not bad, for a SCHMUCK!

Grace said...


Are you a member of the Oscar Academy? Do you get Screeners? Please guide me to the relevant post where you have spoken about this. Or if not, please share details about screeners and other stuff these studios send to you for your vote.

I have never got anything like that in my life (not that I belong to the entertainment field). But I love to hear the pampering of others. I feel happy too. I watch a lot of YouTube videos of these travellers who fly first class. The way they are treated royally. I would love to hear how they treat you and what promotional materials you get during awards season.

I make it a point to read articles of this swag bag given to nominees every year. So many expensive gifts. Those nominees are indeed lucky.

You are closest to a celebrity we can ask. So what do you get during awards season? Please tell us.

Phil said...

The no. of blogs this year is high. By the time Dec 31 arrives - with more reviews, podcast and wishing readers - you will cross 450, I guess. Only 2010 and 2012 have been higher than this year.

Great year Ken!!!

Joseph Scarbrough said...

The thought of Disney now owning M*A*S*H makes me cringe. . . .


And to think, Walt himself was the innovative pioneer who advised other producers and creators to never sell out to other companies who are willing to take your properties away from you without leaving any credit for you . . . and that's exactly what the company he left behind has been doing for years.

And don't worry people, I'm still not back.

slgc said...

I enjoyed Lady Bird but I agree with you that it's not a great film. But as a good film in an overall weak year it's garnering more attention and praise than it normally might receive.

The Post aside, which almost nobody has seen yet, which of this year's films do you think is better?

John in NE Ohio said...

Overall from a movie review, that's all I care about - It is what it is supposed to be? If it supposed to be a tear jerker, make em cry. If it is supposed to be a teen sex comedy, have teen sex and be funny. If it supposed to be a movie for pre-teens, be a movie that pre-teens like. Doesn't matter if the parents like it unless it is supposed to be one that they like also.
Whatever you are trying to be, be good at it. There is nothing wrong with being mindless entertainment as long as you know that is what you are, and you stick with it.
That is part of the problem with awards - they only value people doing well what they view as "important".
Chariots of Fire won awards, but my god it is unwatchable. Weekend at Bernie's didn't win awards, but put one on TBS and one on TNT and compare ratings. W@B knew what it was, and did it well enough.

Bob Sharp said...

I can't believe you didn't review "A Christmas Story Live."

Unknown said...

I know I'm a little biased, but as a native Sacramentoan, it was wonderful to see this film. It managed to bring out a lot of the beauty of the city that you forget in the day-to-day. It was like the Manhattan of Sacramento.

Plus, it was fun to see Tower Theater on-screen when I was actually watching the movie at Tower Theater.

Mitchell Hundred said...

For the most part it was just themes I recognized from other films, albeit a rather well-realized version of those. That said, the scene at the end when she discovers the envelope in her luggage destroyed me when I saw it in the theatre.

Also, as someone who graduated from high school only a few years after when this movie takes place, it was seriously jarring to see this time period depicted on film as something other than the present.

I guess both of these things (getting better at picking out recurring themes in film and seeing something similar to my childhood in film) are both signs of me getting older.

YEKIMI said...

From what everyone is saying it sounds to me that it should have been called "Lady Turd" instead of "Lady Bird"

Dixon Steele said...


I hope you're not thinking of going into comedy...

VP81955 said...

Speaking of Matt Damon (as someone did earlier), hope you'll review "Downsizing," Ken. (Are you an Alexander Payne fan?)

Peter said...

Joseph, I hope you'll stay. If you didn't read it back then, I apologized after my rant that made you want to leave. I was out of line and I felt bad afterwards.

Re. people wanting snark about The Post, isn't it possible Spielberg's made a good movie? I know he has a thing for making historical movies and releasing them during awards season, but it might turn out to be good.

sanford said...

I don't think this movie was meant to change anyone's life. I doubt that many movies do. Can't wait to see your review of 3 bill boards

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Peter I appreciate that, thank you. If I have anything to add to any of Ken's posts, I may resume commenting.

Unknown said...

I was not a fan of Chariots of Fire when it first came out in 1982, especially when it beat out Reds and Raiders of the Lost Ark, two masterpieces, for Best Picture. However now that I'm 35 years older, an atheist, and an avid runner, I like it a lot better. We all bring our own history to a work of art

cadavra said...

My friends think I summed it up best this way: "It's a Lifetime movie with swearing."

AndrewJ said...

I liked LADY BIRD more than Ken did. At the end of the showing I attended, two female college students sitting in front of me were openly sobbing. Never underestimate the popularity of a movie that gives its audience a good cry.

And LADY BIRD is set in a parochial school and DOESN'T mock Catholicism. For a lot of filmgoers, that's refreshing.