The Film Buffa reviews sequels to ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Puss in Boots’

Expectations can derail a movie. There are times when you can enter a theater without them, but it’s harder than you think. A sequel doubles down on this theory. A sequel to a beloved movie is essentially going ALL IN from the jump.

“Knives Out” was a spectacular hit because of a whodunit concept crafted to perfection, and a very good cast, led by Daniel Craig. Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, and Chris Evans played fine parts in the mystery. Stacked cast, a dry wit sense of humor, and Rian Johnson unplugging after pissing in the cheerios of “Star Wars” fans.

It was a beautiful, perfectly paced dark comedy thriller. Plummer’s rich novelist dies, leaving behind a mystery for his greedy family to unfold and solve–one designed by the departed soul. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” takes that setup and spins it a bit. It’s Edward Norton’s uber rich Elon Musk-type dipshit who invites all of his oldest friends to solve his murder mystery.

Craig’s famous Benoit Blanc also attends, bringing along his amazing slow-burn detective instincts to the fray of greed. Katie Hudson, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, and Kathryn Hahn sub in here for the intrigued party members who get to play a real life game of “C.L.U.E.” The concept of that game is sewn into Johnson’s films, and that gets you through the first half of the movie.

But this sequel lacks the overall spark of the original. Losing some speed on the fastball is standard practice for this arena, but I left the film satisfied with what was received. However, I wasn’t jumping out of his pants wanting to talk about it, hence the three week wait until this review. What gets set up and revealed midway is ingenious. What follows afterwards is the softball part of the equation.

Craig and Monae have the most fun and give easily the best performances. When they’re together on screen, it’s as if they are aloof to the rest of the movie and cast. Norton can’t give a bad performance, but he recycles his asshat from “The Italian Job” here, and it’s not as appealing. The rest of the cast goes through the motions of film personas they created before this movie.

At times, I was very entertained. Other times, I wanted more out of what I was watching. Expectations can do that to a film, for better or worse. I’ll give “Glass Onion” a 2/4 rating.

The world wasn’t exactly screaming for a sequel to “Puss in Boots.” Granted, the furry little fella stole a good chunk of the “Shrek” film, and the solo film made $555 million while scoring an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Eleven years after the 2011 film, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” attempts the impossible: hitting the net on your third trip through the order.

Overall, “The Last Wish” is a success. Coming in at a brisk 100 minutes and carrying enough pop culture humor to fill two movies, this sequel gives you the goods. It’s a ticket to the Antonio Banderas show. He puts in wonderful voice work, infusing the animated sword-savvy feline with charisma and passion. It’s not one of those “phone it in” voice performances; you can really tell Banderas loves this character.

The story revolves around Puss running out of eight of his nine lives, finding himself on the run feuding off attackers. Along the way, he teams up with Kitty Softpaws (the lovely Selma Hayek) to help stretch out the clock. A supporting cast of Florence Pugh (pugh-pugh), Olivia Colman, Harvey Guillen, and John Mulaney doesn’t hurt at all.

I would slot this in as a movie that keeps the adult’s attention while giving the kids a good eye candy session. It’s impossible not to root for Puss to run the gauntlet and get the girl, even if watching him sweat (and adjust facial hair on the fly) is a fun time. Let’s go 3/4 for PUSSSSSS IN BOOTS… 2!

If I had to choose between the two, I would punch your pass to Puss and leave the onion in the kitchen. I’m more of a donut hole guy anyway.

“Puss In Boots: The Last Wish” hit theaters on Dec. 21, and “Glass Onion” started streaming on Netflix yesterday.

Since it’s Christmas Eve, I want to say one more thing. First, hey Meme. No, it’s not pronounced how you think. Before words on a picture went viral, young Lebanese boys called their grandmothers “Meme,” or May-May. She was a tiny ball of fire. Henrietta Bulus mastered at least five languages, spoke with Mother Teresa, threw more dinner parties than anyone on Blue Jay Cove, and loved her grandsons more than life itself.

A lady who weighed less than 100 pounds could grab your forearm, and give you the impression that a bodybuilder was sitting next to you. She outwalked people half her age, and lived a long life. It just wasn’t long enough. Pardon me, but I am greedy when it comes to great family members. Meme passed away eleven years ago today, succumbing to an injury she suffered about two weeks earlier.

Meme passed away on the same day, Christmas Eve, that she was married on to my late grandfather, Lawrence. It’s Larry who supplied me with my middle name, and most likely the writing gene. Pepe left us in 1989. Meme passed in 2011, around six weeks after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

A cruel yet bittersweet reminder that life can supply you with the most incredible people, but they won’t be here forever. Movies, thankfully, will be. Have some fun with the next one you choose. If it happens to be a French film, think of my Meme when watching it.

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