Another semester is here. Another school year is upon us. Football season is here. Baseball season is almost over. I don’t know how we got here so fast but it’s almost full-on fall. And that means that all of the serious Oscar movies are going to start showing up in theaters.
But we aren’t going to talk about anything like that this month. Oh no! This month, I’ve got two movies for you that I’m going to bet most of you haven’t seen because you thought, “These just sound like silly pieces of fluff.” And maybe they are. But who says fluff is bad?
Dave Made A Maze (2017) [Unrated (but probably PG-13 for language)]
Every once in a while, I will see a movie preview and think “Man, I have to see that!” This was one of those movies. However, I am going to suggest that you don’t watch the preview. I’ll give you the plot and tell you what I think, but if you are going to go in to this, go with fresh eyes and an open mind.
The title, Dave Made A Maze, is essentially the whole plot of the movie. Dave is a frustrated artist who can’t seem to finish or accomplish much in life. The wonderful title credits give us this back story and show a few of Dave’s failed attempts to create something of substance in his life. His girlfriend, Annie, played by Meera Rohit Kumbhani, comes home and discovers that Dave has built a cardboard box maze in their living room. She tries to coax him out but he tells her that he is lost and not to come in to try to find him.
Eventually, Annie and a group of Dave’s friends decide not to heed Dave’s warning and venture into the cardboard labyrinth. Once inside, they find that Dave was more right than they thought, as the maze is significantly larger than they imagined and full of traps.
Now, if the setup sounds a little silly, well, it is. And some of the dialogue is, well, a bunch of whining. But it’s the sense of fun and play that keep the movie going. That and the incredible set design.
There’s the real reason I don’t want you to watch the trailer. The cardboard sets are amazing. Throw in the fact that the crew only had room to build two sets at a time and 20 days to shoot the whole movie and it is frankly mind-boggling how they were able to create such a magical and enjoyable world for the story to take place in.
Most of the credit there goes to the Cardboard Institute of Technology. No, you read that right. It’s a real thing. Here, check out their website. You’ll be glad you did. The production designers for the film, John Sumner and Trisha Gum, leaned heavily on the expertise of the CIT and honestly, you haven’t seen a movie that looks like this. And you really need to.
It’s a little bit Indiana Jones. It’s a little bit ’80s horror. There’s definitely a bit of ’90s slacker philosophical meandering. But it all ends up feeling a bit like a more grown up version of The Goonies and I thought it was really fun. Just let some of the moping slide and I think you’ll really enjoy the 80 minutes of Dave Made A Maze.
6.5 paws out of 10
Baywatch (2017) [R]
I’d like to start by saying that I had absolutely no intention of seeing Baywatch. I assumed it was going to be horrible. But sometimes it’s Saturday afternoon and your buddy stops by with a DVD from Redbox and, well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
So, let’s talk plot. Mitch Buchannon, played by Dwayne Johnson, is the storied leader of the life guards of Emerald Bay. There are openings for new lifeguards and two new recruits, played by Alexandra Daddario and Jon Bass, join the squad. Also joining the squad is Matt Brody, a former Olympic swimmer who’s antics have cost him everything, played by Zac Efron. There’s some stuff in there about drugs washing up on the beach and Mitch and his crew tracking down the folks bringing them in but that is mostly secondary to watching the team bond and seeing Brody mature under the tutelage of Mitch.
Look, I’m not going to lie to you and say that Baywatch is anything more than some good time-wasting fluff. This is about watching a bunch of pretty men and women run around in various states of undress making crude jokes to one another. But you know, maybe a little something mindless at the start of the new school year isn’t such a bad idea. Keep your expectations low and you may just end up enjoying Baywatch more than you thought.
5.5 paws out of 10