“How to Build a Girl” is a movie based on a novel by the same name by Caitlin Moran. The story is about a teenaged girl named Johanna who has a knack for writing. Johann lives in a working class town with her parents and four younger siblings. Her mother is suffering from postpartum depression after having twins at thirty eight. Her father is suffering from middle aged disillusionment.
After sending a sample of her writing to a music magazine Johanna lands a job reviewing bands. Her column becomes very popular and a star is born. Her success goes to her head and she changes from a bubbly girl to an arrogant and at times mean woman. The negative characteristics are what helped her to become a success.
This movie is OK. Just OK. At times I found it to be a bit unrealistic. Johanna was given a lot of freedom to only be sixteen. The story took place in the 90s in the UK so perhaps that was realistic for that place and time. But I have a hard time believing that many parents would allow their teenage daughter to travel alone to big cities to interview rock musicians.
I also found it to be far fetched how easily success came to Johanna. She became a writer after sending in one sample story and one interview. Again, that may be realistic for that era and place. It also may be realistic for a White person. However, I can not relate.
The best part about this film is the actress that plays Johanna. Her name is Beanie Feldstein and she carried the film with ease. Her role called for her to cover a wide range. She had to play innocent, awkward, and confused as well as confident mature and sexy. Beanie did all of this convincingly.
I would recommend this film if you have time to kill and you don’t mind teenage chick flicks. It’s not bad. The lead actress is charming and effective. But the plot seems a bit far fetched at times and the ending feels like an After School Special. “How to Build a Girl” is merely OK.
Over the weekend I watched the 2019 release of the musical “Cats”. This is a difficult film to review because at this point it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of “Cats”. It’s a Broadway juggernaut that ran for eighteen years, has made over $3.5 billion globally since its 1981 release and has won three Tony Awards. You can’t argue with that kind of success.
You can however question it and people’s taste and sanity. I thought “Cats” 2019 was very odd. Human cat hybrids roam the streets of London in the middle of the night in a cat cult called the Jellicle Cats. They hope to receive a blessing from their matriarch Old Deuteronomy. She grants cult members a better life off of the streets.
It’s hard to critique this movie because it’s about humanoid felines that sing and dance in the completely empty streets of London, England in the middle of the night without anyone hearing them. So it would be very silly to point out that the cats weren’t to scale with home furnishings and common kitchen appliances. There’s no reason to be disgusted that they had human feet and walked around without shoes in an urban area. It’s futile to be offended by the chorus line of cockroaches in the film that danced across a kitchen table.
All musicals call on the viewer to suspend belief and we just have to remind ourselves to do that while watching “Cats”. This film reminds us that sometimes you just need to throw your hands up and go with the flow.
The bright spots of the film is the performance of Judi Dench who played Old Deuteronomy and Jennifer Hudson who played Grizabella. Judi Dench provided the film with it’s most lucid and quiet moments. Jennifer Hudson played Grizabella and she sings the show stopper “Memories”. It was actually a little touching.
Overall, I can’t recommend “Cats”. I have a hard time believing that many people can enjoy such a movie. But then again it’s been a wild success. I’m going to guess that people that enjoy “Cats” watched it over and over again and made Andrew Lloyd Webber a legend. I’m also thinking the are people that really like cats. If that’s you I recommend you watch “Cats” 2019.