63 Movies Like Wonka (2023) (Page 4)

Staff & contributors

Proof that even the most tired tropes (which the holiday genre is arguably entirely made up of at this point) can still be warm and enjoyable with above-average craft and a fun cast, Candy Cane Lane avoids the monotony that tends to plague other Christmas movies. Which isn't to say that the film is a new classic—it still concludes too easily and doesn't give its more emotional side the space to breathe. But with an entertaining fantasy premise (specifically, a sort of scavenger hunt based on The Twelve Days of Christmas) bolstered by strong visual effects and supporting actors who have been given free rein to improvise, the movie stays dynamic and lightly humorous, if a little lacking in substance.

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Aidan Kennedy, Ali Astin, Amanda Schoonover, Amy Johnston, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Catherine Dent, Chris Redd, D.C. Young Fly, Danielle Pinnock, David Alan Grier, Eddie Murphy, Genneya Walton, Iman Benson, James DuMont, Jenly Crespo, Jillian Bell, Kelly Younger, Ken Marino, Kevin Olusola, Kimberly Christian, Kirstin Maldonado, Lombardo Boyar, Madison Thomas, Matthew Sallee, Mitch Grassi, Nick Offerman, Preston Galli, Reginald Hudlin, Riki Lindhome, Robin Thede, Scott Hoying, Stephen Tobolowsky, Tallie Brinson, Thaddeus J. Mixson, Tiago Roberts, Timothy Simons, Tracee Ellis Ross, Trevante Rhodes

Director: Reginald Hudlin

Rating: PG

With plenty of films disavowing romance, sometimes, at the end of the day, you just want to curl up in bed to a cheesy romcom that earnestly believes in the power of true love. Wedding Games is one such romcom coming from Brazil, where the two lovers try to make their destination beach wedding perfect, despite multiple logistical mishaps along the way. It’s a totally generic wedding day story. It’s lighthearted fluff that doesn’t dive deep and contains all the familiar plot twists and comedic shenanigans, but it looks good and it’s done well. Wedding Games might not be particularly groundbreaking, but it’s not bad.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Ana Carbatti, Andre Mattos, Antônio Pitanga, Bruno Jablonski, Cristina Pereira, Dan Ferreira, Dandara Mariana, Estevam Nabote, Evaldo Macarrão, Gabriela Dias, Grace Gianoukas, Jean Pedro, Katiuscia Canoro, Leandro Léo, Lellê, Luellem de Castro, Marcello Melo, Maureen Miranda, Negra Li, Paulo Miklos, Raissa Chaddad, Roney Villela, Serjão Loroza, Stepan Nercessian, Tatiana Tiburcio, Thelmo Fernandes, Vilma Melo, Yuri Marçal, Zeze Motta

Director: Sílvio Guindane

With its release coming so close to that of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster treatment of the same subject, To End All War has clearly been designed as a companion piece for that fictional film. Though it mostly performs its function in a by-the-numbers fashion, this rather unexceptional adaptation of Oppenheimer’s Wikipedia page is somewhat livened up by fascinating archival footage and a few compelling talking heads. Among these is Nolan himself, whose contributions provide interesting insight into the structure of his own Oppenheimer movie. 

As its title suggests, To End All War hinges on Oppenheimer’s rationalization for developing the atomic bomb — namely, that, by creating such a catastrophically destructive weapon, he was, in effect, helping to deter future aggression. The film provides a counterpoint by suggesting that the scientists may have been somewhat swept up in egotistical fervor, though this is only gently touched on so as not to require the film to grapple too seriously with the ethics of its subject. This combination of ultimately non-threatening treatment with some genuinely compelling nuggets of perspective makes To End All War a quick, largely un-challenging way to brush up on history before or after tackling fictional exploration of its subject.

Genre: Documentary, History

Actor: Adolf Hitler, Alan B. Carr, Albert Einstein, Bill Nye, Charles Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan, David Eisenbach, Edward Teller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ellen Bradbury Reid, Hideko Tamura, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Jon Else, Judy Woodruff, Kai Bird, Leslie Groves, Martin J. Sherwin, Michio Kaku, Richard Rhodes, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping

Director: Christopher Cassel

If you love archeology and prehistory, you’ll love that this documentary is packed with mesmerizing footage of the infamous caves, as well as close-ups of the 130,000 year old skeletal remains that are in pristine condition. If you don’t, you might appreciate discoveries like how neanderthals held burials for their dead and things of that nature, but with a cold open that couldn’t pack any less heat if it tried, I wouldn’t blame you if you just dipped. This documentary is de-energizing and plodding, and that pace can make for a soothing portrayal of archeology at times, but other times it makes for a very run-of-the-mill broadcast.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Caroline Colomei, Gabriel Andreu, Ibbi El Hani, Kareem Alexander, Patrick Stewart, Paula Parunov

Director: Ashley Gething

Rating: PG

Centered on a unique marriage, Satyaprem Ki Katha could have reinvented the romance genre with its depiction of women’s trauma. The film does care about the issue, as it sides with the victim in this regard, and there’s a certain sweetness in the relationship being portrayed. Kiara Advani’s performance feels believable and she clearly makes the best of her existing scenes. However, the film is too afraid to be critical of the men in this film, especially as it’s too concerned with Sattu as a savior. On top of this, it relies too much on the standard Indian song-and-dance, which, while spectacular, takes away too much time from the issue at hand. Because of this, Satyaprem Ki Katha feels like a missed opportunity.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Anuradha Patel, Gajraj Rao, Kartik Aaryan, Kiara Advani, Nirmiti Sawant, Rajpal Yadav, Shikha Talsania, Siddharth Randeria, Supriya Pathak

Director: Sameer Vidwans

For those familiar with the movie In Time, this German Netflix thriller has a similar premise, but with a few changes. Time is exchanged for money, instead of entirely replacing it. Time donation also acts more like blood donation – there needs some DNA compatibility to do so and more prominent individuals are prioritized for these exchanges. Paradise’s world also hasn’t figured out how to completely stop aging. These changes come with a side of more overt anti-capitalist commentary, so the movie could have had a more focused and critical approach to the time donation. However, like In Time, Paradise quickly devolves into the sci-fi thriller shenanigans we’re all familiar with, but without any of the spectacle.

Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Aistė Diržiūtė, Aleyna Cara, Alina Levshin, Andreas Windhuis, Clovis Kasanda, Corinna Kirchhoff, Dalila Abdallah, Eglė Lekstutytė, Gizem Emre, Haley Louise Jones, Iris Berben, Kostja Ullmann, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Lisa-Marie Koroll, Lorna Ishema, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Lukas von Horbatschewsky, Marlene Tanczik, Matthias Ziesing, Numan Acar, Simon Amberger, Tom Böttcher

Director: Boris Kunz

Rating: R

In Love and Deep Water is torn between multiple concepts. There’s a murder, sure, and a butler trying to figure out who’s the killer, but there also happens to be a romance plot where the same butler falls in love with the passenger that informs him of their partners’ infidelity. The film also tries to squeeze in comedy with the way the killers try to hide the dead body, the ridiculousness of some passengers, and cheeky but contextless commentary. While the romance is lovely, In Love and Deep Water isn’t the fun and chaotic murder mystery promised, as it drowns itself with interesting ideas that never really fully pans out.

Genre: Comedy, Mystery, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Airi Matsui, Aju Makita, Amane Okayama, Aoi Miyazaki, Hatsunori Hasegawa, Hidekazu Mashima, Ken Mitsuishi, Ken Yasuda, Kento Nagayama, Michiko Tomura, Miyu Hayashida, Nahana, Rinko Kikuchi, Ryo Yoshizawa, Saki Takaoka, Takashi Okabe, Tomu Miyazaki, Yasuomi Sano, Yoh Yoshida, Yoshimasa Kondô, Yuki Izumisawa

Director: Yusuke Taki

Rating: R, TV-MA

With a boring wedding, attended by a guarded woman and a spontaneous man, starting a series of shared recollections of past heartbreak, Which Brings Me to You has all the elements needed for an early aughts romcom, releasing at a time when Y2K is trending. The original novel’s epistolary format is interestingly translated into flashbacks told in one whole day, with Will and Jane visually popping within the sequences as the two get to know each other through their past heartbreaks. It’s a unique idea, but the execution feels lackluster, with the dialogue and direction that can’t be saved through Lucy Hale’s or Nat Wolff’s efforts. There’s certainly something here about romance being a possible avenue to open up, but Which Brings Me to You doesn’t build the chemistry to get there.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alexander Hodge, Avery Cole, Britne Oldford, Chase Liefeld, Genevieve Angelson, Jamie McRae, John Gallagher Jr., Laura Kai Chen, Lucy Hale, Marceline Hugot, Michael Mulheren, Mitzi Akaha, Nat Wolff, Reilly Walters, Ward Horton

Director: Peter Hutchings

Rating: PG-13

It’s surreal to watch Congrats My Ex, because the Thai production feels inspired by Indian romance films, with its musical numbers, elaborate dance sequences, and maximalist sets and costumes. With both India and Thailand culturally linked for centuries, it’s interesting to see how this film celebrates their commonalities. That being said, this film isn’t too focused on this, on the difficulties of having an intercultural, long distance relationship– it knows that it wants to be an over-the-top wedding rom com. It does overly rely on the standard rom-com tropes, with a dash of slapstick shenanigans, over-the-top wedding dramatics, and one too many reckless driving accidents. It’s still a fun watch for fans of Bella and Bright though, but it’s nothing new.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Anahita Bhooshan, Anjana Ghogar, Darina Boonchu, Mahir Pandhi, Passakorn Ponlaboon, Ranee Campen, Thongchai Thongkanthom, Vachirawit Chivaaree

Director: Prueksa Amaruji

Less homage to Star Wars than it is a pastiche of that cultural juggernaut, a strong sense of déjà vu hangs over Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon. Unfortunately, in plainly appealing to the memory of its vastly superior inspiration so many times, it inadvertently reminds viewers of how much better its muse is. There are far too many direct copycat scenes here for Rebel Moon to craft anything like an identity of its own, but its derivativeness might be forgivable were it not so self-consciously, humorlessly straining for epicness.

Rebel Moon rises with narration from Anthony Hopkins and an operatic score — a promise of grandness it never lives up to. At two-hours-plus, this dreadnought announces its lofty ambitions for future franchise status at every turn, but never once earns it: the dialogue is creakingly expository and the acting is spotty, ultimately making it feel like the film has lazily assumed it's already secured all the interest it needs to justify a potential two further sequels and a galaxy of tie-in media. Though there are bright spots that suggest an actual movie lurks somewhere deep within its 134 minutes, Rebel Moon instead feels like a laborious couple of hours of scene-setting that arrogantly banks on you returning for more, despite doing little to deserve any more of your time.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Adam J. Smith, Alexander Ward, Alfonso Herrera, Anthony Hopkins, Bae Doona, Ben Geurens, Bonnie Morgan, Brandon Auret, Brett Robert Culbert, Caden Dragomer, Carolyne Chen, Cary Elwes, Charity Witt, Charlie Hunnam, Charlotte Maggi, Christine Kellogg-Darrin, Christopher Matthew Cook, Cleopatra Coleman, Cody Banta, Colby Lemmo, Corey Stoll, Danielle Burgio, Derek Mears, Djimon Hounsou, Dominic Burgess, Douglas Tait, Dustin Ceithamer, E. Duffy, Ed Skrein, Elise Duffy, Elizabeth Martinez, Fra Fee, Francis Ngannou, Gary Nohealii, Giovanni Lopes, Greg Kriek, Ingvar E. Sigurðsson, Isabella Brenza, James William O'Halloran, Jena Malone, Jordan Coleman, Josefine Lindegaard, Kayden Alexander Koshelev, Kendall Wells, Kingston Foster, Mark Steger, Matt Nolan, Max Pescherine, Michael James Bell, Michiel Huisman, Mingus Johnston, Napoleon Ryan, Patrick Luwis, Raphael Corkhill, Ray Fisher, Ray Porter, Rhian Rees, Richard Cetrone, Robbie Jarvis, Rory Gibson, Sam Bass, Sam Stinson, Samantha Win, Savanna Gann, Scott Subiono, Simon Potter, Sisse Marie, Sky Yang, Sofia Boutella, Staz Nair, Stella Grace Fitzgerald, Steven Allen, Stuart Martin, Thomas Ohrstrom, Tony Amendola

Director: Zack Snyder

Rating: PG-13

, 2024

Sometimes, after a demanding work week, you want to watch a low-stakes, enjoyable movie with just enough plot to enjoy. Heist comedy Lift tries to be that film, with Kevin Hart as a smooth criminal who steals art in order to keep art from undeserving owners and improve the artist’s revenue from their work. It’s an interesting twist to the Robin Hood stereotype, one that could have hinted at concerns of screen artists last year when its release date was originally scheduled for. That being said, the film throws this idea away when Kevin Hart and his team are now forced to participate in a risky heist due to the Interpol. The events that play out amount to a fairly generic caper, but there are far better heist films to spend your weekend watching, with far better plots and stunts.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Actor: Amit Dhut, Andrew Wilson, Billy Magnussen, Burn Gorman, Caroline Loncq, David Proud, Erol Ismail, Gary Fannin, Gerard Monaco, Gordon Alexander, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jacob Batalon, Jean Reno, Jess Liaudin, Kevin Hart, Kim Yun-jee, Oli Green, Paul Anderson, Ross Anderson, Roy McCrerey, Russ Bain, Sam Worthington, Úrsula Corberó, Vincent D'Onofrio, Viveik Kalra

Director: F. Gary Gray

Rating: PG-13

Family Switch is a film clearly built to give its ensemble fun acting opportunities, with Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms being given excuses to loosen up more than expected, and Brady Noon and Emma Myers (arguably the movie's MVP) moving beyond mere imitation into more full-bodied performances as adults seeing through their kids' eyes. Unfortunately, the rest of the film saddles them with uninteresting situations that never take the body-switching aspect to more clever territory. Whatever mutual understanding that's learned by the end feels contrived, with the Christmas setting feeling especially tacked on—leaving these otherwise talented actors little to anchor their performances on.

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Adam Lustick, Andrew Bachelor, Anwar Jibawi, Austin Boyce, Bashir Salahuddin, Benjamin Flores Jr., Bob Stephenson, Brady Noon, Carl McDowell, Chloé Wepper, Connor Finnerty, Cyrus Arnold, Dan Finnerty, Ed Helms, Emma Myers, Fortune Feimster, Hannah Stocking, Helen Hong, Howie Mandel, Ilia Isorelýs Paulino, Jason Rogel, Jennifer Garner, Lauren Ash, Mark McGrath, Matthias Schweighöfer, Naomi Ekperigin, Ned Bellamy, Paul Scheer, Pete Holmes, Preston Galli, Punam Patel, Ravi Kapoor, Rita Moreno, Rivers Cuomo, Ryan James, Scott Shriner, Sebastian Quinn, Vanessa Carrasco, Xosha Roquemore

Director: McG

Rating: PG

Playing the lead in an addiction drama has long been shorthand for “I’m a serious actor,” but that’s not something Florence Pugh needs to convince us of, especially not when the drama is as contrived as A Good Person is. Though it has a solid foundation from which to explore worthy subjects — Pugh’s character Allison begins abusing painkillers after accidentally causing the death of two people in a car accident —  writer-director Zach Braff overstuffs the film with too many distractingly histrionic happenings for a compelling reflection on guilt and forgiveness to really emerge.

What’s more, any potential A Good Person has is squandered by the film’s frequent and bizarre tonal swerves from tearjerking sincerity to generational comedy, a jarring effect mimicked by the soundtrack’s wild veering from moody melodies to bright piano music in a single cut. Though Pugh does her customary excellent work here, she’s ultimately undermined by all the overlong, transparently manufactured, and downright whiplash-inducing melodrama around her.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alex Wolff, Brian Rojas, Celeste O'Connor, Chinaza Uche, Drew Gehling, Florence Pugh, Ignacio Diaz-Silverio, Jackie Hoffman, Jessie Mueller, Lauren Yaffe, Molly Shannon, Morgan Freeman, Nichelle Hines, Oli Green, Ryann Redmond, Sydney Morton, Toby Onwumere, Victor Cruz, Zoe Lister-Jones

Director: Zach Braff

It isn't even just because it's a sequel, but every bit of Your Christmas or Mine 2 seems like it was sourced from other films with more personality, resulting in a stew of holiday tropes driven entirely by contrivances and conflicts that should be more easily resolved. And yet there's something that keeps the film far more tolerable than insufferable, as both Asa Butterfield and Cora Kirk compensate for the artificiality of the drama with authentic emotion. There are funny moments throughout and a decent supporting cast (who are given precious little to do), but all this adds up to a film that still feels like it was meant to be played in the background.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alex Jennings, Angela Griffin, Anna Behne, Asa Butterfield, Christopher Sherwood, Cora Kirk, Daniel Mays, David Bradley, Jane Krakowski, Karl Markovics, Natalie Gumede, Ram John Holder, Rhea Norwood, Simon Hatzl

Director: Jim O'Hanlon

Rating: PG-13

As documentaries go, They Called Him Mostly Harmless is pretty standard, if not forgettable, fare. There isn’t a lot of information regarding the case it focuses on, so it relies heavily on interviews with related persons and “internet sleuths” who have taken it upon themselves to solve the mystery of this hiker’s identity. It moves slowly, bogged even further down by unnecessary backstories that do nothing to get us closer to cracking the case. To be sure, it’s impressive that the missing man in question was able to scrub all evidence of his existence in this digital age, but the documentary fails to build on that intrigue and instead gives us something that sputters till the end.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Patricia E. Gillespie