‘C’Mon C’Mon’ R’view R’view

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C’Mon C’Mon (CREDIT: A24)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Norman, Gaby Hoffman, Scoot McNairy, Molly Webster, Jaboukie Young-White

Director: Mike Mills

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: R for Language (But I Say “Come On!” to the MPA! There’s Only One Scene of Really Bad Profanity!)

Release Date: November 19, 2021 (Theaters)

When you go see a movie with a title like “C’Mon C’Mon,” you can’t help but wonder if it’ll have you yourself yelling “C’Mon C’Mon!” back at the screen. Well, at least I can’t help but wonder that. Your mileage may vary. There are various reasons why one might have this reaction: cheering along, frustration, or maybe you just have to go to the bathroom and it’s a mantra to help you hold it in until the credits start rolling. If I counted correctly, there was precisely one time when I in fact yelled that “C’Mon C’Mon.” And it was merely an internal yell. (It would’ve been a little rude to my fellow moviegoers to scream in the middle of the theater, after all.) But that paucity is actually appropriate, because despite the title, this is a movie designed to be nodded along to as it gently washes over you.

Joaquin Phoenix plays radio journalist Johnny, who pops in for a rare visit to his sister Viv (Gaby Hoffman) and then suddenly finds himself babysitting his energetic nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) while Viv goes off to help Jesse’s father Paul (Scoot McNairy), who’s living with bipolar disorder. Johnny’s currently working on a project in which he and his colleagues are going around to various locales to interview teenagers about what it’s like to be a kid in their home cities in today’s world. That’s not exactly an ideal situation for a nine-year-old to be tagging along, but Johnny’s happy to actually get the opportunity to be an uncle, and he and Jesse develop a quick rapport.

Ultimately, C’Mon C’Mon is a gentle how-to guide about raising a kid. Much of the running time consists of Johnny and Viv texting or chatting on the phone to hash out all the child-rearing stresses that arise on a daily basis. Jesse’s a bit of a handful, though he’s hardly a demon child. The worst things he does are on the level of forgetting to pack his toothbrush or scaring his uncle half to death by wandering off. None of these moments lead to a full-blown emergency; instead, Johnny freaks out and Jesse gets upset, but things settle down soon enough. Then Johnny and Viv discuss the best way to talk to a child after these sorts of things happen. If you’re a new parent, or a new aunt or uncle who’s babysitting for the first time, this is a helpful movie to watch. I’m not quite there yet myself, but I might be relatively soon, so I feel like I must say thank you to everyone involved with making this movie.

C’Mon C’Mon is Recommended If You Like: Mike Mills’ gentle filmography, Texting conversations popping up on screen, Reading parenting blogs and magazines

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Boom Mics

This Is a Movie Review: 20th Century Women

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20th-century-women-cast

This review was originally published on News Cult in December 2016.

Starring: Annette Bening, Lucas Jade Zumann, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup

Director: Mike Mills

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Rating: R for Frankness When It Comes to Sexuality and Drug Use

Release Date: December 28, 2016 (Limited)

In this semi-autobiographical effort from writer/director Mike Mills (Beginners, Thumbsucker), Dorothea (Annette Bening) is a single mom struggling to raise her son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) by herself in 1970s Southern California. The idea that she is struggling mostly comes from her own neurotic self. But regardless of how accurate her worries are, she decides to enlist the help of some of the women in her life in the making of Jamie into a man. Her cadre includes Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a wayward boarder at Dorothea’s house, and Julie (Elle Fanning), a plainly independent teenager prone to sneaking into Jamie’s bedroom (but not doing much else once she gets there). Also on hand is the rugged and sensitive William (Billy Crudup), another boarder.

Your appreciation of 20th Century Women will likely depend on how much you can relate to this living situation, whether via experience or imagination. For me personally, I could not connect with it too deeply because I found the relationships between the main characters ever-so-slightly off-putting. They do not lack for affection, and they are thoroughly observed, but they are uncomfortable in a way that makes this film easier to merely appreciate rather than embrace.

There are a couple elements that I do want to praise without qualification. The film often evokes a dreamy, hazy quality that evokes the liberal atmosphere of the time. Splashes of vibrant color are strewn across the screen, and montages of major incidents ramp up the intensity via manipulation-of-time editing techniques. Then there is the dinner scene, in which everyone in attendance suddenly finds themselves tasked with teaching Jamie the proper way to sexually please a woman. Crudup delivers a soon-to-be-classic line of sage wisdom on that topic (don’t watch the trailer if you don’t want to be spoiled), and those who see 20th Century Women will never be the same again.

20th Century Women is Recommended If You Like: Beginners, The Kids Are All Right

Grade: 3 out of 5 Billowy Shirts