‘Sister of the Groom’ Cranks Up the Angst Way Past 11

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Sister of the Groom (CREDIT: Saban Films/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott, Jake Hoffman, Mathilde Ollivier, Mark Blum, Charlie Bewley

Director: Amy Miller Gross

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Rating: R for Language, Casual Nudity, and Molly in the Wedding Cake

Release Date: December 18, 2020 (Theaters/Digital/On Demand)

Alicia Silverstone is an immensely charming person, and yet somehow Sister of the Groom has the temerity to ask her to be immensely un-charming. She plays Audrey, the titular sister of the groom, and that’s not an individual who should be commanding attention on the wedding day. But typically a movie’s main character does indeed command the most attention, so we find ourselves at an impasse immediately. That’s not a place I like to find myself with Silverstone, but actors should certainly be allowed to stretch themselves beyond where they’ve been pegged. In this case, that stretch is quite the challenge, and the end result lays bare the difficulty of delivering on it.

Audrey has a lot of stressors in her life, perhaps more than most people do, but she also has a way of behaving, particularly during her brother’s matrimonial weekend, that mainly serves to amplify all that stress. She’s trying to get back into the swing of her architecture career, so she doesn’t appreciate that her bro Liam (Jake Hoffman) has hired her ex-boyfriend for a job she assumed was hers. She also is no big fan of his significantly younger French fiance Clemence (Mathilde Ollivier), but you kind of get the sense that she might not approve of any potential sisters-in-law. On top of all that, she’s viscerally insecure about her pregnancy-altered belly. At least she seems to be affectionate with her husband Ethan (Tom Everett Scott), although it’s not much of a surprise when it becomes clear that there’s actually a lot of strife bubbling barely beneath the surface there.

If you’re a fan of angsty cinematic family gatherings like The Family Stone or Home for the Holidays or (to keep it wedding-themed) Rachel Getting Married, Sister of the Groom might offer something to entertain you. But from my vantage point, it leans too hard into the unpleasantness and struggles to tease out any profundity. I’ve got to at least give Silverstone credit for so thoroughly stripping herself of any emotional vanity. Alas, though, she didn’t convince me that that was a good idea.

Sister of the Groom is Recommended If You Like: Unrelenting angst

Grade: 2 out of 5 Chuppahs

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Overlord’ is Evidence That the Nazi Mad Scientist Genre is Still Relevant

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CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

This review was originally published on News Cult in November 2018.

Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Pilou Asbæk, Gianny Tauffer, Iain De Caestecker, Jacob Anderson, Bokeem Woodbine

Director: Julius Avery

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Soldier Profanity, War Violence, and Bloody Disturbing Mad Science

Release Date: November 9, 2018

It turns out that Nazism was never fully obliterated from the planet. Indeed, it’s 2018, and there are still people who are willing to self-identify as Nazis out in the open. So why shouldn’t there still be movies about evil Nazi doctors experimenting on people? They could even be set in the present day without straying too far from reality. Overlord, for one, is set during World War II, and the combat setting certainly cranks up the terror, but I cannot help but wonder if it would be even scarier if its characters stumbled upon a still-functioning Nazi mad science bunker in the 21st century.

What is striking about Overlord is its hybrid nature. This isn’t a war movie that turns into a monster movie once the experiments are stumbled upon. Instead, it remains very much a war movie even after the monsters start stalking around. The mission that sets off the action is an American paratrooper squad flying in to destroy a German radio tower in a church on the eve of D-Day. When they discover the experiments taking place within the church’s attic, they are steely enough to not be overwhelmed. They are freaked out, sure, but they still have to complete the mission. If they can manage to blow up the lab and save a little French boy while they’re at it, then all the better!

The experimentation consists of little more than inserting a serum into recently deceased soldiers, but things get really weird when the wounded-but-not-quite-dead start using it as well. The results of these injections manage to be so disturbing because they do not exactly heal any wounds but instead just bypass them. Supersoldiers are created, but they have gaping holes in their bodies and faces, not to mention the side effects of thoroughly oily skin and violently protruding bones. It is a credit to the main characters’ courageousness that they are able to behold affronts to nature and still plow forward with their mission. The message is therefore: the Nazis may be formidable, but we can still defeat them! Monsters exist, and we all need to be prepared

Overlord is Recommended If You Like: Classic mad scientist creature features, with maximum blood and guts and bones

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Serums