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‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’: Party ’til we drop

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re tagging along with someone and their friend group, but everything suddenly becomes really awkward?

Well, add some murder mystery into the mix and you’ve got “Bodies Bodies Bodies.” This horror-comedy film centers on a group of friends and their romantic partners getting ready to party hard while they wait out a passing storm, but things suddenly go awry.

Even before the bodies start to drop, the tension establishes itself quickly. First, we get the impression that our main characters Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Maria Bakalova) weren’t necessarily invited through whispers and uncomfortable glances from other characters. The camera work also contributes to a growing sense of discomfort. Even in simple dialogue scenes, the camera rarely stays still. In a weird way, this added anticipation for me; whenever the camera remained still, I knew the other shoe was about to drop.

Back to the story: Party host David (Pete Davidson) gets heated at a children’s party game and storms off. The other shoe I mentioned earlier? It just dropped and so did the first victim. 

Here, the movie shows off its greatest strength: paranoia. The convenient plot device of the storm creates no way to see clearly, no way to escape and no way to call for help — throwing the cast and audience into a panic. With nowhere to go and nothing to lose, the cast attempts to deduce who the killer is, repeating the events that led to David’s departure. With this, the movie starts a vicious cycle that carries the rest of the film’s events: “We have to find the killer” to “We found the killer” to “The killer is dead” to “But what if they weren’t the killer?” This question is ever-present and feeds into the paranoia of the film. As the audience, the only character we rule out as the killer is Bee. Everyone else, even her girlfriend Sophie, is fair game. 

Every performance made for a memorable and distinct character and gave the movie’s death toll an emotional weight. Bakalova was a clear stand-out, embodying both the loneliness felt by being an outsider in the friend group and the growing distrust Bee felt towards everyone as the night progressed. 

I feel that some horror comedies lose the “comedy” after a while, but this movie kept the jokes coming through most of the movie, whether it be during a confrontation (Rachel Sennott’s portrayal of Alice is particularly notable) or through more physical gags like using a dead person’s face to unlock their phone. 

My only major gripe in the film was that some scenes had interchangeable dialogue. Some lines only serve as exposition; any character could be delivering them and not much would be lost. This, however, is made up for with the performances from the stars, imbuing the characters with a personality that the dialogue lacks.

The killer reveal puts the movie in a whole new light and elevates its recurring themes in a clever way that changes the entire film upon rewatching. “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is a fun horror comedy that completely reinvents itself in its last minutes. 

If you take anything away from this movie, just be glad most parties don’t end up this way.

Title: “Bodies Bodies Bodies”

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson

Director: Halina Reijn

If you like: “Scream,” “Jennifer’s Body”

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

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‘Guess why I smile a lot. Uh, cause it’s worth it.’

Propelled seemingly by some mechanism inside its rubber body, a tennis ball rolls, turns and erratically bounces down the stairs, eventually coming to rest near the couch. 

The ball is a little tattered, as if it has been rolled down these stairs many times before and the viewer is simply looking in on a daily habit, a moment of ordinary life. 

But then, a disembodied voice calls out over the silence and jars us to a different place entirely. The voice belongs to Dean Fleischer-Camp, director both actual and fictional, and the ball to Marcello “Marcel,” an animate shell that wears, yes, tiny tan and pink sneakers.

Fleischer-Camp’s unorthodox stop motion mockumentary, released this year by independent film juggernaut A24, is a favorite of audiences and critics alike for its wholesome simplicity and unique take on life, community and the meaning of family. 

The first thing that struck me about “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” was its ability to subvert the ordinary and familiar into a world equally imposing and magical. Fleischer-Camp’s perspective offers the human world: Airbnbs, YouTube, even a glimpse of Los Angeles’s Elysian Park. But telling the story only through a 5’10 lens would ignore the other world entirely, the universe existing only between sock drawer and apricot tree, colander and hot dog bun. Through the eyes of little Marcel, a slice of bread becomes a place to sleep, a stand mixer part of an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine and a shaggy dog a dangerous predator indeed. This construction builds Marcel’s more real-life issues — namely his lost family and aging grandmother — into monoliths of themselves, large for a human but insurmountable for an animate shell clad in tiny pink sneakers. 

I did feel some dissonance around halfway through “Marcel.” After all, it is a film about a shell with one googly eye and a high-pitched voice (done by the illustrious Jenny Slate, by the way). Marcel’s YouTube fame is punctuated by slightly obnoxious current trends — TikTok dances and the like — and around the point during which he scrolls through comment sections, I began to wonder what the creators of the movie were thinking, spending years and dollars on a film that seemed largely pointless. I shuffled that thought away and re-immersed myself in the film, searching for some point of relevance that would make the watch worthwhile.

Not long later, I found it. Marcel’s grandmother Connie, voiced by another icon, Isabella Rosselini, reads Philip Larkin’s poem “The Trees” in the background of Marcel’s interview with 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl: “The trees are coming into leaf/ Like something almost being said;/ The recent buds relax and spread,/ Their greenness is a kind of grief./ Is it that they are born again…/ Yet still the unresting castles thresh/ In fullgrown thickness every May./ Last year is dead, they seem to say,/ Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.”

All of a sudden, I understood. It was all relevant: sock drawer, apricot tree, colander, hot dog bun, bread slice, stand mixer, shaggy dog and tiny tan and pink sneakers. See, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, in the same vein as “Paddington 2from 2017 and even St. Exupéry’s novella “The Little Prince,” is a study in how we can wrestle with grown-up concepts in a landscape of childlike wonder and beauty. What’s compelling about “Marcel” is how it is both silly and incredible. A film about an animate shell becomes a testament to the act of storytelling itself, drawing us into this delightful little world and then flinging us back out again like tattered tennis balls on suburban staircases, ready, like Marcel himself, to begin afresh, afresh, afresh. 

Title: “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Starring: Jenny Slate, Dean Fleischer-Camp, Isabella Rosselini

Director(s): Dean Fleischer-Camp

If you like: “Paddington 2,” “Gnomeo and Juliet,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

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The nuances of ‘Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers’

Before reviewing Disney’s “Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers,” let’s take a look at one specific scene. At one point the titular duo gets cornered during an attempted locker room heist by a DJ, who also happens to be a snake. To distract from their theft, Chip and Dale freestyle rap about how they do not eat whales, what part of the whale they would hypothetically eat and how hard it is to break the pattern of rhyming “Dale” with “whale.” After laughing for five minutes straight, I asked myself, “how did the movie even get to this point?” 

Allow me to catch you up… In this reboot of Disney’s classic cartoon, Chip and Dale (voiced by John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, respectively) are not the rescue rangers we know and love, but actors who portray them on the screen. Decades after splitting up, due to creative differences, the two chipmunks investigate the disappearance of their friend and co-star. Over the course of their investigation, the rodents meet a colorful cast of characters ranging from a live-action police officer and super fan named Ellie Steckler (KiKi Layne) as well as a muppet gangster (Keegan Michael-Key), a clay-mation police captain (J.K. Simmons) and multiple characters voiced by Seth Rogen. I would be remiss to mention the cast and not the various cartoons making guest appearances within the movie; characters ranging as far as My Little Pony to South Park pop-in throughout the film.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film and found it hilarious. The film’s stars deliver incredible voice performances, but it was the writing that made their interactions shine. The screenwriting was the best part of the film. The writers never allowed any stand-alone pop-culture references to be used as a joke, instead, they added subtle (or not so subtle) jokes towards whatever they were referencing. Despite this, some references still felt a little nuanced for a casual audience, especially for children. While children may enjoy the silly chipmunk antics, the commentary on the inherent creepiness of realistic animation might be lost on them. 

However, half-way through the movie, I was rolling with the punches. I had grown used to the references; until the aforementioned rap scene. This is the moment when I accepted the movie for what it was: a goofy movie justifying its existence with its self-awareness. 

Multiple times through the movie, characters lament that nobody wants a Chip n’ Dale reboot, a sentiment the writers knew while creating the movie. For all intents and purposes, this is not a “Rescue Rangers” movie, but one that calls itself “Rescue Rangers” and delivers a great film about fame and the monotony of life. Months after release, I don’t remember the film for its plot, but more so for how fun of a movie it was, with the plot serving more as a conveyor belt that brings the audience from joke to joke. I enjoyed the movie greatly, but I still believe it had a required level of knowledge required to fully experience it, which I feel holds it back from its full potential.

Title: Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers

Starring: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, KiKi Layne, Will Arnett

Director: Akiva Schaefer

If You Like: “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5