Film Review: Missing Link (dir by Chris Butler)


The year is 1886 and Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is the world’s greatest adventurer.

Or, at least, that’s what he says.  Actually, Sir Lionel may have made a name for himself and gained some popularity as a result of his many adventures but his fellow explorers and adventurers don’t take him seriously.  They view Sir Lionel as being little more than a self-promoter and they’re largely unimpressed with the all the time that he’s devoted to searching for mythical beasts like The Loch Ness Monster and lost lands like El Dorado.  Sir Lionel desperately wants to join the London-based Society of Great Men but the snobbish Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry) refuses to accept his application.

When Sir Lionel receives a letter from someone in America who claims to have tracked down the legendary Sasquatch, Sir Lionel and Lord Piggot-Duncey make a bet.  If Sir Lionel can prove that the Sasquatch exists, he will be allowed to join the Society.  Sir Lionel heads off to America while Lord Piggot-Dunceby promptly hires an evil bounty hunter named Willard Stenk (Timothy Olyphant) to prevent him from accomplishing his mission.  As Lord Piggot-Dunceby explains to his assistant, Mr. Collick (Matt Lucas), the world is changing too quickly.  If Sir Lionel isn’t stopped, people might start to believe in things like evolution or women’s rights.

When Sir Lionel arrives in America, he promptly starts searching for the Sasquatch and, amazingly enough, it doesn’t take him very long to find him.  It turns out that the Sasquatch — who Sir Lionel names Mr. Link — not only speaks remarkably good English but he’s also the one who wrote to Sir Lionel in the first place.  As played by Zach Galifianakis, Mr. Link is a rather laid back and good-natured Sasquatch.  In some ways, Mr. Link is surprisingly worldly and, in other ways, he’s rather naive.  He takes everything that he hears literally, which poses a problem since Sir Lionel has a tendency towards sarcasm.  It also turns out that Mr. Link is lonely but he thinks that he might be related to the Himalayan Yetis.  And Mr. Link thinks that Sir Lionel is just the man to help him get from America to Asia!

Sir Lionel reluctantly agrees.  Accompanying them on their journey is Sir Lionel’s former girlfriend, Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana).  And pursuing them, every step of the way, is Lord Piggot-Dunceby and Willard Stenk.

Missing Link is an enjoyable and undeniably cute stop-motion animated film.  It was produced by Laika, the same animation outfit that previously gave us Kubo and The Two Strings.  While Missing Link is never as memorable or emotionally resonant as Kubo, it’s still a good-hearted film and entertaining enough that an adult can watch it without wanting to tear their hair out.  Blessed with impressively detailed animation and the comedic vocal talents of Hugh Jackman, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant, and Zach Galifianikis, Missing Link has enough funny moments and clever lines that most audiences should be able to overlook the fact that the story itself sometimes feels a bit haphazard in its construction.  Much like the Sasquatch at the center of its story, Missing Link is a rather laid back film.  If Kubo was a carefully-constructed work of art, Missing Link feels like it was almost thrown together at random.  The film is at its best once it reaches the Himalayas, where the humor becomes very barbed and Emma Thompson steals the show in a sharp-witted cameo.

I enjoyed Missing Link.  It’s just too sweet-nartured not to like.

Film Review: Nightmare Nurse (dir by Craig Moss)


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Earlier tonight, I watched Nightmare Nurse, the latest thriller to make its premiere on Lifetime.

Let’s just start with an obvious point.  Nightmare Nurse is a great title.  It’s a title that screams melodrama and danger.  It’s a title that says, “You must watch, you must watch!”  If there was a TV series called Nightmare Nurse, I would watch and review every episode.  If a character named Nightmare Nurse ever shows up in a Marvel comic book movie, I guarantee that she will become the most popular character since that talking raccoon.  Nightmare Nurse is a title that epitomizes everything that we love about Lifetime movies.

The other point I would like to make is that, according to the imdb, Nightmare Nurse was filmed in Los Angeles.  I was actually shocked to discover this because everything about it screamed, “Canada!”  As I watched the movie, I just naturally assumed that it was filmed in either Montreal or Toronto, like so many other Lifetime films.  But no, Nightmare Nurse was actually filmed in the U.S.

As for what the film is about … well, this is an odd one.  It starts out like a normal Lifetime film and, for the first 75 minutes or so, it plays out like a normal Lifetime film.  And then suddenly, things get really weird and, for the final 15 minutes, it’s like you’re watching an entirely different movie.  This is one of those Lifetime films that has a big out-of-nowhere twist that really doesn’t make much sense.  After you find out about the twist, you find yourself obsessing on how little sense it makes.  In order for the plot of Nightmare Nurse to work, you have to believe that someone would come up with the most needlessly complicated plan necessary to accomplish a relatively simply goal.

But look, I’m not going to spoil things.  If you want to talk about the ending, do so in the comments.  But for this review, I will stay try to stay true to the no spoiler rule.

Nightmare Nurse tells the story of Brooke (Sarah Butler) and her boyfriend, Lance (Steve Good).  One night, Lance is driving Brooke home from her job as a sous chef when, suddenly, a man wanders out into the middle of the street.  Lance loses control of the car.  The man is killed and Lance ends up with a broken leg.  At the hospital, both Brooke and Lance are taken care of by Nurse Barb (Traci Lords).  But, since Barb can’t go home with them, they have to hire a home nurse once they’re discharged from the hospital.

Brooke ends up hiring Chloe (Lindsay Hartley) and, as soon as Chloe showed up at the house, I was just like, “No!  Stop!  No way would I ever hire someone who looks like Chloe to take care of my boyfriend!”  Seriously, if I’m hiring a nurse to spend all day with my boyfriend while I’m at work, you better believe that I am going to hire the ugliest nurse that I possibly can.

And you know what else I would probably do?  I would probably run a background check or at least ask for references.  Brooke doesn’t do any of this so should she really be all that surprised when Chloe turns out to be totally batshit crazy?  Soon, Chloe is flirting with Lance and subtly suggesting that he and Brooke really aren’t that compatible.  Meanwhile, Brooke is stuck working for a British chef.  (Julian Stone does an okay job in the role but I would have loved to have seen a Gordon Ramsay cameo here.)  Seriously, people — do a background check.

So, Chloe’s crazy, right?  Well, yes but that’s not all!  There’s a whole other layer of conspiracy going on.  It’s all revealed during the final 15 minutes of the movie and it pretty much comes out of nowhere.  This is one of those films where the mystery is solved largely through coincidence and luck as opposed to any use of intelligence on the part of anyone in the film.

I never though I’d say this about a Lifetime film but Nightmare Nurse is almost too implausible for its own good.  On the positive side, Lindsay Hartley is properly unhinged as Chloe and Steve Good is likable as couch-bound Lance.  Nightmare Nurse may not be the best Lifetime film that I’ve ever seen but I would definitely watch Nightmare Nurse II because a good title is a good title.