Ready or Not is Full of Horror Comedy Riches

Often,”marrying up” carries a set of consequences that you must adhere to for acceptance into the fold.  Proper etiquette, dressing to impress and a background that isn’t too sullied by scandal lest you be judged harshly is all very important in this superficial world. But what if marrying up means marrying into something more sinister than you could ever imagine? In Ready or Not, V/H/S alumni Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett give us a run for our money as a new bride gets acquainted with her sadistic in-laws. 

Grace (Samara Weaving) is about to marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), one of the heirs to the Le Domas game dynasty. Surrounded by old money in a massive mansion, Grace is filled with emotions and nerves as she comes from a meager, foster home background and is about to join the world of the very rich. The family members are eccentric, with Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni), who looks like Nosferatu’s stylish ex-wife, Daniel (Adam Brody), Alex’s surly and sauced brother, and Becky (Andie MacDowell), their beautiful Southern mother. Their father Tony (Henry Czerny), is the picture of a patriarchal figurehead with loads of family history and a commanding presence. It’s tradition for the family to play a game at midnight when someone gets married; using a special box passed down from ancestors to choose a game at random for the newest member. Instead of checkers, Grace gets the dreaded Hide and Seek, which means she must hide and the family seeks, however things get deadly when she realizes she must be caught and dealt with in a very unpleasant way, because the rich never want to lose. 

The Le Domas clan ready to play. Source: IMDb

I was not ready for Ready or Not, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised. The film was all action, all suspense, gorier than you’d think, and a lot of fun. Writers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy managed to keep the banter funny, clever and extremely dark without going for cheap gags, and I was thrilled to see a mostly Canadian cast.  Along with Czerny and Cube’s Guadagni, we were also treated to  Melanie Scrofano of Wynonna Earp as Alex’s high-strung and strung out sister Emile, Orphan Black’s Kristian Bruun as her husband Fitch, and John Ralston as Stevens, the evil butler. They were all in fine form as the psychotic family members bent on catching their prey regardless of the cost. Weaving was stellar as the determined new bride fighting for her life, and I also have to give kudos to Andie MacDowell, who was deceivingly sweet and just gets more stunning with age.

Grace (Weaving) means business on her wedding night. Source: IMDb

With many a clever spin on a classic cat and mouse chase, spot on performances and an evil family you’ll actually kind of love, Ready or Not is destined to be a horror fan’s go-to for fun. 

Men In Black International Keeps Things Safe

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were the first to make Men in Black a fun, alien-filled comedy with gags galore.  As a franchise, the stories in subsequent films gave us more of the secret agency ready to protect the universe as we know it from invading extraterrestrials vying for galaxies to intergalactic doo-dads filled to the brim with power. The fourth installment, Men in Black International, crosses the pond to London and Paris where new agents fight a new alien threat.

As a child, Molly (Tessa Thompson) witnessed MIB agents neuralyze her parents after a pesky little alien invades her home. With the knowledge that there is life beyond the stars, she grows up to become a brilliant young woman with the goal to become a MIB agent. She soon learns she has to get creative to get into the top-secret headquarters, only to be discovered by Agent O (Emma Thompson). Her one-mindedness gets her a crack at being an agent in London governed by the stoic Agent High T (Liam Neeson), and her quick thinking gets her teamed up with the legendary Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), a once revered agent who has become careless.  When the double threat of powerful amorphous alien twins (Les Twins dancing duo Larry and Laurent Bourgeois) try to assassinate alien royalty, Agent H and M must figure out the who, when, and whys before there is irreparable damage done to the universe.

Agent H (Hemsworth) and Agent M (Thompson) on the job.
(ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC.) 

This colorful world of aliens has endless potential for high stakes and adventure. In this newest chapter, there seems to be a tried and true approach where if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Director F. Gary Gray who directed 90s classic Set It Off, the acclaimed Straight Outta Compton and the hit Fate of the Furious, kept the same feel to the MIB universe with a touch of slickness, making the film a safe bet for a family night out at the movies.  

Thompson and Hemsworth will fill seats due to their superhero Thor: Ragnarok past together; and there’s quite a bit of fun to be had, including a tiny alien called Pawny voiced by The Big Sick’s Kumail Nanjiani who gets most of the laughs. It was also exciting to see Les Twins, with their hugely successful dancing career leading them to a big budget movie. The film falls short however, with the formulaic and predictable galaxy in danger storyline, especially when there are two great talents as headliners who could give much more.  Thompson, who can play a superhero, artsy girlfriend and sultry executive, is charming if a bit over the top as the determined and ambitious Molly or Agent M, but more importantly, kids see a woman of color excelling at S.T.E.M.  She’s a role-model for little girls who also have their heads in the stars.  It’s also nice to note that the character Molly comes from a two-parent family in a nice home in Brooklyn. Not an unfathomable thing and an important representation of people of color in a big budget film.

Take the kids to see Men In Black International for a bit of fun, but they haven’t reinvented the galactic wheel with this one.