hopscotchee: ann dowd score: 55 rating: pg-13 time: 103 minutes
what a bipolar hop, right?! probably not the movie you were expecting to hop to next, after such an intense showpiece as american animals, but why not throw in a little light-hearted, morally sophisticated comedy/drama to end batch one. touching upon the struggles of single-parenthood and the sincerity of a youthful-eye, st. vincent takes on the classic tale of an unlikely friendship and bonds it with unconventional characters, humorous situations, and, at the end of the day, good heart that uplifts your mind with its appropriately tender ending.
the most notably thing about this sincere drama was the major plot twist-a-roski that it took. like, hashtag keanu, woah!! we definitely didn't see the (spoiler) stroke-to-hospital spin coming!! we mean, yes, there were some clearly evident choices being made on his part (his smoking, drinking, unhealthy lifestyle, etc.), but rarely in movies do you get to see theses actual consequences followed through. you were just going along with the film, wondering what's going to happen next, in what you think is going to be a boringly basic storyline (vincent cares for oliver and vice versa but not much meaningful content), but then - woah - totally off guard. because of this, though, the switch may have been a bit jumpy or out of the blue for some viewers, but yay for including this and representing the real-life ramifications for his actions!! that's what we call responsible storytelling there.
unfortunately, though this surprise in the story quickened the pace of the movie, giving it edge and interest for a more picante (spicy) plot, the writers over-focused in on it, leaving other storylines unaddressed or buried beneath it. the best evidence towards this is with (spoiler) zucko's storyline. from the beginning of the movie, his character serves as a conflict and potential threat to vincent, adding a more serious note to the story. the film alludes to this right up until the moment of vincent's heart attack, but the severity is seemed to be forgotten when his storyline abruptly dies out, not being brought up after the hospitalization. not that there was an isswa (issue) focusing more on vincent and oliver's bonding, but it just felt too convenient.
similarly, another under-developed storyline was maggie's. melissa mccarthy does a great job in her role. she really shines in more 'serious' performances, delivering an impactful amount of emotion and realism -in this instance, the rawness of a struggling, single mother trying to make both ends meet - yet because of her amazingly frequent screen-time, it would've felt more fitting to give her plot more exploration. her character brought a lot to the movie as a whole, setting up and explaining great backstory for maggie and oliver's appearance and point, but, nevertheless there was more of a focus around oliver. which, yes, we know that her character was easily a side character against oliver (oliver providing a closer relation to the main, main character vincent), but when it came around to her confessional crying-in-the-principal's-office-scene, there was sort of a hard shift in the sidelines where her backstory-bring-up was suppose to be more of a focus. and the isswa with this is that, since the writers kept her character aside, this made her monologue info-packet-y and oddly blunt, again disrupting the fluidity of the piece as a whole.
however, with that said, we wouldn't close on that point or without mentioning one of the first honorary hopscotchees here!! jaeden is back - again - and hecka adorable as ever. he brings so much joy and innocence into the story and really embraces the social-naivety and youthful-wisdom behind oliver's character. especially for (basically) making his debut performance in this role, you can see his talent just beaming!! (with that said sidenote: if anyone reading hasn't watched defending jacob, we highly, highly recommend it).
-- thanks, ann xo