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Free Guy (PG-13) Queen of the Beach

By August 22, 2021August 24th, 2021Backstage Pass

Hi Carl, and hello to all of our listeners out there! Tonight, I’m going to talk about two excellent movies that have recently opened.

First up, “Free Guy,” rated PG-13, stars Ryan Reynolds and British actress Jodie Comer. It’s playing now in theaters.

Blue Shirt Guy Ryan Reynolds is a bank teller in an open-world video game, his life changes when he decides to break away from his scripted actions. Here’s a comedic satire of gaming with the added bonus of a fun romantic comedy by an engaging actress named Jodie Comer.

Similar in theme to the “Truman Show” and “Ready Player One,” the movie’s fast video game pace keeps the audience captivated. The chemistry between both leads is charming. The strong female role is appreciated, as is sharing the limelight with Reynolds is always a plus.

Be prepared if you are taking children under 13, the f-bomb is said, vulgar language, gun violence, and bloody explosions.

The catchy song “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey sprinkled throughout creates a nostalgic tone with hints of romance. In addition, both actors, Taika Waititi (the villain), the better known, and Lil Rey Howery (bank security guard), display their over-the-top acting chops. The entertaining ensemble cast help create a popcorn-munching good time—in my case, the best time I’ve had at the movies all summer!

Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn
Production Company:
Run-time: 1 hour 55 minutes

Next Up, an inspiring documentary “Queen of the Beach,” by writer/director Christopher “Cleetche” McDonell—Cleetche is a nickname given to him by his high school friends that incidentally rhymes with beach.

This is an important and, at times frustrating documentary centering on a man’s desire to help an impoverished 9-year-old girl, Shilpa Pooja, who works on the beach in Goa, India. As the sole breadwinner for her family, her title is that of a “Beach-Hawker.”

While traveling in India, filmmaker McDonell met 9-year-Shilpa Pooja, and he began an eight-year journey of filming her poverty and living conditions. He asks her if she’d like to go to school, she answers, “Yes, but it costs too much money, and my brother will go instead of me.” Sadly, if Shilpa doesn’t earn enough money throughout the day, her shop owner beats her.

McDonell doesn’t sugar-coat Shilpa’s life, and he discusses the realities of her conditions while reminding us of his delicate situation of an older white man helping an underage Indian girl. He walks a fine line, although his heart seems to be in the right place in all appearances. Clearly, his goal is to have the vivacious and language savvy Shilpa attend school.

I applaud anyone in this world that steps up to help children in vulnerable situations to receive an education. I do believe they were true friends and that he did make a difference in her world. I also think that he helped her community by shedding light on the problems; in the end, her parent’s home was rebuild to an inhabitable condition.

Are there gaps in the narrative and questions about the years they spent apart? Yes, those were puzzling, yet does it really matter to the end result of Shilpa’s life? Not really. I received a pitch email to review this film while in Cannes, France covering the Cannes Film Festival, the very day, I was relaxing at the beach. I couldn’t help notice the Beach Hawkers, no young children, yet late teens, early 20s men, and women selling hair braiding, henna tattooing, handbags, and jewelry. I can’t help but ask, “What is their story?”

Director/Writer: Christopher “Cleetche” McDonell

Streaming now on: Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Microsoft, and Rakuten.

Sarah Knight Adamson© August 22, 2021