Sunday, December 1, 2019

Movie Review: Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Tyra Banks, a few things work
Cons: Most of the movie doesn’t work at all
The Bottom Line:
Twenty year sequel
Aimed at adults and not kids
Frustrating to watch

Unfocused Sequel Falls Way Short

So, I’ve never been a fan of the original Life-Size.  But thinking I might have missed something when I first watched it years ago lead me to record the original and the sequel, Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve when it premiered on TV last December.  Not only did I find the first movie as bland as I remembered it being, the sequel was even worse.

We first meet Grace (Francia Raisa) at a party she is throwing where she gets so drunk she can’t completely remember what she actually did.  Even worse, it makes her late to a board meeting the next morning.  Since her mother was the CEO of Marathon Toys, Grace inherited the position when her mother was arrested for fraud.  It’s seriously cutting into her partying lifestyle.  However, she finds herself accepting the recommendations to focus on the company’s apps and cut some of their traditional toys, including their iconic Eve doll.

That decision doesn’t sit well with Grace’s young neighbor Lex (Alison Fernandez).  In an effort to help Grace see the error of the decision, she gets Grace to agree to use a spell from a magic book that a young girl had sent to Grace’s mom years ago.  The result is that Grace’s old Eve doll comes to life (Tyra Banks).  Grace doesn’t believe it, of course.  Will Eve help Grace save the company and the Eve doll?  Will Eve ever adjust to the real world?

In sequels, you expect a certain amount of rehash.  I get it.  We watch them to recapture the magic we once loved, and the writers and producers know this.  However, this movie is too much of a rehash.  When I watched these movies a couple of weeks apart, I felt like this movie repeated too many of the same plot points.  Eve is going to be discontinued because no one is buying her any more.  Eve in the real world doesn’t get why things don’t work the same way they do back at home.  And she keeps expecting them to.  Too many of the scenes were just way too familiar.

Which is too bad because there was one sub-plot, introduced late in the movie, that could have been interesting.  However, the other stuff drowned it out and it was just a blip in the film.  If it had been woven into the movie better and been a bigger storyline, I think it would have helped things out.

It’s also a shame because I did find myself growing to like the characters, even Grace.  That’s saying something considering where she started out; I really had a hard time liking her.  I felt the ending was emotionally satisfying, even for someone who wasn’t that interested much of the way through.

Another strike against this film is the tone.  This is a movie about a doll that comes to life.  How many adults, even fans of the original, are going to sit down to watch it?  My guess is the audience is mostly going to be pre-teen girls.  However, I can’t recommend it for them at all.  There are way too many adult centered jokes about sex and hooking up, especially in the first hour.  And the innuendo just didn’t stop.  This is not a movie appropriate for kids in the slightest.  I was also bothered by some of the social justice preaching that we got, but I’m sure that was more me than something that will apply across the board.

Then there’s the continuity error.  They state in the movie that Eve first came out 20 years ago.  I’m sure that is supposed to be a nod to the original, which came out approximately that long ago.  However, in the first movie, it is obvious the doll isn’t new and has been around for a while.  How is that possible?

Tyra Banks is the only actor from the original to return.  Apparently, Lindsay Lohan was interested but had a scheduling conflict.  They do give her and her character some nice nods in the film, which I appreciated.  It may have been 20 years between films, but Tyra effortlessly falls back into the role of Eve.  She is a joy to watch.

The rest of the cast is just as much fun.  My issues with the film aren’t with their performances at all.  Okay, so there is some cheese, but I was expecting that.  I especially got a kick out of seeing Alison Fernandez.  I know her best from the final season of Once Upon a Time, and she was playing a very similar character here.  I was laughing hard as she was saying lines that would have fit that show as well.

Yes, the film is set around Christmas, and a major scene that shifts things for me takes full advantage of that.  I also loved the romance we got for Grace.

So there were some things I enjoyed about the film, but overall I was happy to see Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve end.  If they decide to make a third movie, I am definitely out, and I advise you to skip this one.

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