The Craft: Legacy

Posted on October 28, 2020 at 5:54 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief drug material, language, and crude and sexual content
Profanity: Strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Brief drug material
Violence/ Scariness: Extended fantasy peril and violence, references to suicide, abuse, and murder, disturbing images
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: October 30, 2020

Copyright Blumhouse 2020
I’m a big fan of the 1996 original “The Craft” with Neve Campbell as one of four teenage witches who get up to mischief and then get into trouble, and then turn on each other. With “The Craft: Legacy,” writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones (“Band Aid”) has given us a smart and witty update that pays tribute to the original but is very much its own take on the subject, with a couple of delicious twists along the way.

Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan) are driving with a sense of fun and adventure, singing along to Alanis Morrisette’s “One Hand in My Pocket.” But they are not entirely carefree. We can see right away that they are very close but more pals than mother and daughter. When they tear up over some melancholy thought, is is the mother who turns to the daughter for reassurance and a touch-up of her make-up. They are starting something new, a new house, a new town, a new school, and a new family. Helen has a new love, Adam (David Duchovney), and they are moving in with him and his three sons. He welcomes them warmly. Lily is doing her best to be supportive, but she is startled by a striped snake, or perhaps it is just her imagination.

As she gets ready for school, Lily’s mother asks if she is looking forward to making new friends, and Lily answers, “That would imply I had old friends.” Her mother assures her, as she clearly has many times, that “your difference is your power.”

Things do not get off to a good start at school. Lily’s period bleeds through her jeans in class and boys jeer and hoot at her. When she is crying in the restroom, three girls enter to provide some sympathy and support and a change of pants. They are Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna), three girls who have been experimenting with witchcraft. They need a fourth to call the corners, so they will represent all of the elements and directions, and they sense Lily may be the one they’ve been waiting for, especially after a boy named Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine) who taunts her with a vulgar whisper in her ear somehow gets slammed into the lockers.

Unlike the 20-something actresses in the original, these girls look like they are in high school and Lister-Jones skillfully and believably mixes their witchcraft with the other concerns of adolescence. They talk about telepathy, shape-shifting, and telekinesis and about boys and parties. When they get dressed up, they don’t need or resort to magic to look their best. But they aren’t above casting a spell on the boy who harassed Lily. In the original film, the girls used magic to make the boy who treated them badly fall in love, and to deceive him. In this one, they use their magic to make him…well, after the spell he talks about reading an interview with Janet Mock, loving singer/activist Princess Nokia, and identifying himself as cisgender male. He is nicknamed “woke Timmy.” His vulnerability makes him attractive to Lily and her acceptance attracts him as well.

But things go wrong and the girls blame Lily, believing she abandoned their rules by acting carelessly and selfishly. They abandon her and bind her powers just as she needs both the most.

It is not as intense or dramatic at the original and spends less time on the girls and their lives and motivations. But it has a strong grounding in the essential power of friendship and loyalty, some revelations that add suspense, a sly take on toxic masculinity, and strong performances by Spaney and Monaghan. It deftly borrows from haunted house films and from scary neighbor films as well. Most important, it gives the girls agency and a sense of responsibility and a much appreciated sweetness.

NOTE: My daughter worked briefly in the costume department on this film. Needless to say, the costumes are outstanding. I don’t always give her films good ratings, so it was an added pleasure to enjoy this one as much as I did.

Parents should know that this film includes bodily functions and sexual references, brief drug content, and extended fantasy peril and violence. There are references to abuse, suicide, and murder.

Family discussion: What rules should a group like this adopt and how should they be enforced? Should Helen have told Lily the truth? Why is Lily’s birth name Lilith?

If you like this, try: “The Craft”

Related Tags:

 

Fantasy movie review Movies -- format Movies -- Reviews Series/Sequel Stories about Teens Thriller

Eagle Eye

Posted on December 23, 2008 at 8:02 am

A promising premise, some intense action, and a lively appearance by Billy Bob Thornton might have been enough to squeak this one by as a summer movie but when the days grow shorter and the wind blows chill we ask for a little more in our movies and this one does not make it.

The always-appealing Shia LaBeouf plays Jerry Shaw, whose job as a “copy associate” requires him to greet customers, “Welcome to Copy Cabana; how can I help you?” He is behind on his rent and gets an “insufficient funds” notice when he visits the ATM. After his brother’s funeral, he suddenly has three-quarters of a million dollars and an apartment full of weapons. And then he gets a cell phone call telling him that the FBI will arrive in 30 seconds to arrest him and he needs to run. He stays put, the FBI arrives, and he finds himself being interrogated by Agent Tom Morgan (Thornton). He gets another call with instructions to escape and this time, there is no alternative. Meanwhile, Rachel, a young single mother (Michele Monaghan) who has just put her little boy on a train trip to Washington with his school band, gets a call with instructions, too, threatening to kill her son unless she goes along. They meet (“Who are you and why are people shooting at us?”).

Pretty soon, they’re on the road together, doing that bickering/personal revelation/impressing each other/building trust dance amidst chases, explosions, and shoot-outs, with Agent Morgan and an investigator from the Air Force (Rosario Dawson) on the trail.

I’m always up for a good paranoid thriller, and these days the incursions on privacy from both increased technological capability and Patriot Act-era transparency provide some plausible and nicely creepy possibilities to explore. What if someone could track all of our conversations, even when our phones were off and process all of the data stored about us, our families, and our friends, at work, at the bank, at the insurance company, in the IRS files. It turns the enemy into something between Hannibal Lecter, the Borg, and the Terminator, with resistance futile in the face of such an implacable and all-knowing foe.

So far, so good. There are some inventively staged moments, especially one that looks like a live-action variation of the climax from “Monsters Inc” with a chase scene in an airport cargo conveyor system. Thornton brings some twisty humor (and, given the variation in quality, his skill as a writer to his own dialogue) to the story. But the thinness of the premise and the even greater thinness of the characterizations kick in and it all begins to fall apart. I can’t really explain how dumb the resolution is without spoilers, so I am invoking the legendary “Gothika Rule” and will give away the surprise ending to anyone who sends me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com. Let me just say that it doesn’t take an eagle eye to figure it all out.

Related Tags:

 

“Gothika Rule” Action/Adventure

Made of Honor

Posted on September 16, 2008 at 8:00 am

“Made of Honor” has gloss and bounce and some of the core elements of a mainstream chick flick/date movie. Sexiest Man Alive runner-up in lead role? Yep, Dr. McDreamy himself. I’ve been a Patrick Dempsey fan since he did the African anteater dance in Can’t Buy Me Love. Does he get his comeuppance? In a romantic comedy, it’s always a good thing if someone gets a comeuppance. Yes, that’s here, too. And much of the movie concerns wedding plans, usually a reliable plot line. Consistent with wedding custom, it has something old (boy meets girl, boy loses girl…), something new (we’ll get back to that later), something borrowed (the plots of “The Wedding Planner,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” half a dozen “Friends” episodes featuring Ross and Rachel, etc. etc.), and something blue (some of the humor pushes the PG-13 limits to the edge). But it leaves out a few other essentials.

Ten years after college, Tom still sleeps with as many beautiful women as possible, not-so-gently informing each of them that he has “rules” — no one gets him two nights in a row, no one gets to visit his apartment, no one meets his family, etc. etc. The one constant in his life is his weekly time with college pal Hannah (Michelle Monaghan of “Gone Baby Gone”), his best friend. When she returns from a six-week business trip to Scotland engaged to a bonny broth of a Mr. Right (think the Laird of Right), Tom suddenly realizes that it is Hannah he truly loves. She wants him to be her Maid of Honor and he accepts because he thinks it will help him stop the wedding and prove to Hannah that he’s the one.

Despite Dempsey’s charm and charisma, the character he plays is hard to root for, more a male fantasy than a female one. The screenwriters and director seem mystified by women and sometimes even downright misogynistic, never a good thing in a chick flick. Women all take one look at tom and sigh, endlessly willing to do anything from write their phone numbers on Starbucks coffee cups to jump into (or back into) bed with him, one even yelling “Service me!” Three different times, the movie makes fun of an elderly lady who mistakes a sex toy (glow in the dark!) for a necklace. Not funny even once. Tom is immature and self-centered. He has no job, no interest in anything but hanging out with his basketball-playing buddies, having sex with many different girls, and his weekly date with Hannah, which is primarily about making him feel good. Even when she gets engaged, it never occurs to him to think about what would make her happy. The movie avoids the usual formula of making the designated loser in the marriage sweepstakes obviously wrong for Hannah but forgets to substitute some other reason to root for Tom. As happens too often these days, the movie relies on vulgarity instead of wit, insults instead of banter, and recycled ideas instead of anything fresh. It is so sloppy it does not know the difference between a blog and a post or between a museum conservator and a curator and has homophobic (literally) locker-room humor that would be considered childish by 14-year-olds. When the highlights of the movie are seeing Dempsey juggle china and a wedding video featuring Elizabeth Hasselbeck, you know the script is a couple of bridesmaids short of a wedding party.

Related Tags:

 

Comedy Romance
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik