Game Night (2018)

I feel like this film has been a bit underappreciated and gone under the radar more than it should have been. It doesn’t feel as highly advertised as some films at the minute, and even though I really did enjoy this film, I liked the less advertisement. It made it feel like I wasn’t watching a film that was everywhere telling me to watch it, it had more mystery to it, it wasn’t widely talked about and I could enjoy a film I didn’t know everything about. This is a film of a real-life murder mystery. What is real, what is a game? You don’t know.

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I absolutely loved the stardom of this film. Firstly, the two main protagonists, the brilliant Rachel McAdams as Annie, who is great in everything she does; and her husband, Max, the very comical Jason Bateman. These two, personally, carried a lot of the comedy and were brilliant as a pair together, they were truly great. But there is actually more to the story, the couples have their own backgrounds and own lives, this couple is trying to start a family. Then there’s the other couples of the game night. Billy Magnussen played Ryan, the stupid comment guy, but his hilarious quips constantly made the audience giggle. His partner, although not his partner per se, is Sharon Horgan who plays Sarah, she is also great. She gets wrapped up into the whole night, not actually knowing these people very well. Her sarcasm, her intelligence constantly confusing Ryan, and her dedication to a bunch of unknown competitive game night players, evolves her into a character to really like. Then there’s the married couple who have been dating since they were in middle school, married at eighteen, childhood sweethearts. ‘New Girl’s Winston, Lamorne Morris playing Kevin, I absolutely love ‘New Girl’ and I absolutely love Winston, and he’s fab in this too. His wife, Michelle, is played by Kylie Bunbury. Game night is distracted by this couple, as Kevin comes to realisation of his wife’s life during a drinking game of Never Have I Ever. Finally, the head of the game night. The one who kicks things up a notch to a murder mystery, Max’s brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler). The players are all brilliant and hilarious as they begin a game night not to be forgotten.

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We cannot forget some of the stars that also rise throughout the film. A pregnant Gina from ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ appears, of course I love her. Also, Dexter of his own show, the show of the secret murderer killing criminals. But he looks extremely different, took a few seconds to realise it was him! I have to mention Gary (Jesse Plemons) the police officer, otherwise known as the creepy next-door neighbour. Hilarious though. He’s also the owner of the adorable dog in the trailer, the bloody dog, a hilarious scene. The characters and stars are really great in this film, all comical and enjoyable.

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As I’ve already stated the film is hilarious. But there is actually more to this film than the comedy element. ‘Game Night’ also has a lot of action and there are many thrilling moments, some that made me jump and actually built up tension in the film. There’s action, comedy, and many moments that leaves the audience confused at what is real and what is not. There are fast car chases, gun fights, sibling rivalry, kidnappers and a criminal network real or fake. I would highly recommend this film, it has a lot of action and a lot of comedy, and the stars and their back stories are also great. Fall into this game night, one not to be forgotten.

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The Perfect Man (2005)

Everybody knows whether they’ve grown up through the Hilary Duff era, and if you have then I’m sure you’ve already seen this film. This is one the classics of Hilary Duff and one of the best, although she does have many. If you’ve seen any Hilary Duff film, you can be sure that this one is pretty much on the same genre line and is definitely of preference. But this is a great chickflick, and that is what it is, but it definitely has to be one of the top chickflicks of the early 2000s. And personally, the early 2000s has the best chickflicks, it seems ones being released now don’t have anything on these old classics!

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So, to be honest, if you’ve seen ‘John Tucker Must Die’ (which by the way, is amazing and if you haven’t seen it you can read my view by clicking on the title) anyway, if you’ve seen this film, you can get the drift of the starter story and the emotions of the main character in ‘The Perfect Man’. I do have to mention though, ‘The Perfect Man’ was released a year before ‘John Tucker Must Die’, so it’s actually the other way around. Differing to ‘John Tucker Must Die’, however, the daughter of this story does something completely different… So, if you’ve seen neither, here’s ‘The Perfect Man’ plot: Daughter, Holly (Hilary Duff), has finally had enough of moving around every single time her mother’s heart is broken by some man. When she moves to Brooklyn for another “adventure”, she decides it’s time to take action and stay at school longer than a couple of months. Her plan? She’s quick to make friends with one girl at her new school, Amy (Vanessa Lengies – recognisable to me as Sugar from ‘Glee’); it’s Amy’s uncle, Ben (Chris North) that indirectly and unknowingly gives Holly the idea. Basically, her plan is to catfish her mum, by pretending there is the perfect man as a secret admirer. It all starts with sending flowers, but soon she falls in too deep, and of course turns to desperate cringey moments.

The Perfect Man - Hilary Duff

There’s a lot of off-screen narration in this film, a lot of the plot is through emails or letters, or Holly’s blog ‘Girl on the Move’ which introduces us to her story. Therefore, the audience are read letters and emails that are being read or written at that time. This is cleverly done and easily accessible to not miss anything that is necessary. This just adds to the film being an easy but enjoyable watch. Although it’s definitely a throwback to IM on the computer and some questionable fashion choices.

The Perfect Man - family

I do love this film, there are moments of romance and comedy. Even through Holly lies she’s a great character, and there are also many other characters to appreciate. Kurt’s father from ‘Glee’ makes an appearance as the desperate for love hilarious man. Holly’s mother, Jean (Heather Locklear) is of course great, even if desperate for love herself but creative in baking and trying as hard as she can as a single mother. Another great contribution is comic-drawer student Adam (Ben Feldman) who finds a new inspiration to draw on. Finally, the youngest daughter, Zoe (Aria Wallace), who sadly sometimes gets a bit lost in this film, and I feel she should be appreciated more as she’s having to move around schools just as much as her big sister Holly is. They’ve chosen the actors brilliantly to make this flawed, but loving family. It’s just a feel-good chickflick with of course many morals, the main one being that you can’t run away from problems. If you appreciate the classic chickflicks, then go ahead and watch ‘Girl on the Move’ as she dives deeper and deeper into lies to create the perfect man for her mother.

The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants (2005)

I love this film. You could say it’s a chickflick, but I think there is so much more to it than the simple ‘chickflick’ phrase that tends to be stereotypically stemmed with films ‘girly’ or cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love chickflicks, but this film is on a different level with some great moving moments and some hard-hitting realities. It’s not just a film of best friend teenagers being separated, although this element definitely does make it chick-flicky, but that’s not a bad thing!

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The plot is a story of four best friends experiencing their first summer away from each other since birth. While shopping, they find a pair of jeans that happens to fit all of them perfectly. They then make a pact to send the jeans to each other wherever they are in the summer and write what they did while wearing them, this was their way to stay in contact and share something over summer, even if they weren’t together. It might sound cheesy, and it is a little, but stick with it because there is so much more than a pair of jeans, or pants if you’re American. We follow their stories, that become so real and the audience does become invested. These four characters couldn’t be further opposites if they tried, and that’s what makes this film great. They are all different and they all tell their own summer story, throwing in a variety of things to watch for. Firstly, the one who mostly narrates at the start and the end, even though the others do chip in, is Carmen (America Ferrera). Carmen’s story is travelling to South Carolina to visit her absentee father. Her summer with her father doesn’t go to plan when his life isn’t what she assumed. Next is my favourite character, Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), she’s the rebel of the group. Her summer is staying at home working in a store and trying to create her own documentary as her passion is film. On the way, she ends up, not of her own decision, gaining an assistant, who participates in a major role of her summer. Then there’s ‘Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively as Bridget. Bridget’s summer is heading off to Football Camp in Mexico. Bridget is competitive and at front with who she is, but deep down there is so much more to her. I do have to admit, some of her scenes are extremely cringey. Finally, ‘Gilmore Girl’s Alexis Bledel as Lena, she’s the innocent, secretive one of the group. Lena travels to Greece to visit her grandparents, but instead ends up in a forbidden summer romance.

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‘The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants’ is a great film, it has comedy, meaningful moments, and reality struggles. Ok, ok it is quite chick-flicky, but it’s great either way! All the stories have some meaningful moral to them in which the characters learn from. Stories such as life being precious; stories where you should accept your emotions; stories where you can’t run away from problems; and stories of being able to be more confident in yourself. I do laugh in parts of this film, but I’m not going to lie to you all, there are also parts I cry in this film. It has drama, comedy and romance all wrapped up in one. Plus all the actresses are superb, but I do love Blake Lively and Rory from ‘Gilmore Girls’. It is quite a long film, but there is so much in it, that you don’t really notice time passing. I do think this is a fab film and would recommend if you would like this sort of film, but I completely understand that it probably is a film of particular genre.

Red Sparrow (2018)

I’ve actually been struggling on what to say with this film, because with the mystery of it all it’s hard to explain the story without giving anything away. There’s also a lot going on in this film, which adds so much depth. But I think I’ve finally sussed an opinion on it to explain to you all. You may think the trailer says a lot, but it’s quite the opposite, it does say some things, obviously as it wouldn’t be a trailer, but it also kept many things a secret, which just embedded with the mystery of the film.

‘Red Sparrow’ is a film of Russian spies. The organisation declares tensions between Russia and America have come to an all time high. The Red Sparrow programme teaches young adults to use their bodies to extract information from anyone. In particular, to use sex to decipher what’s happening over in America. Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in this programme when she has no other option, one mission, she’s told, one mission and she’ll be free, but once she’s in she discovers more than she’s supposed to, becoming even more entrapped in this hostile, emotionless scheme. Dominika’s mission is one to discover the mole in the government, she has one lead, an American CIA agent (Joel Edgerton).

Red Sparrow - Dominika

There are some hard scenes to watch, the extremity of limits this programme goes to can be hard to process, although I think it is supposed to test your limits on the horrific things happening in Dominika’s life. There are some horrible scenes. Additionally, it is a very complex film, it’s not an easy watch and not something you can watch just in the background. You do have to pay attention and follow everything that’s happening. Furthermore, there are some awkward sex scenes, some of them felt a bit unnecessary and rigid, but happily there wasn’t many. The whole sex element of the film was very strongly driven and it didn’t seem that necessary, it just created a very negative view throughout the whole film. Ultimately, I do think the threat of rape was one too dominant, but I guess that was to add to the tension, but instead just tested the audience in something so horrific to happen repeatedly. While on this topic, this is a film for older ages if you hadn’t of guessed, some of the difficult moments to watch are sex-related or gory, there is also swearing and nakedness. I would say this should be an 18, rather than a 15 in my opinion.

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The stand out of this film does has to be the acting of Jennifer Lawrence, she is amazing. I don’t understand the negative views on her in this film, because I think she played the haunted role extremely well. ‘Red Sparrow’ presents Jennifer Lawrence in such a completely different role from anything else I’ve seen her in, a Russian spy with a complex mind in a hideous position. We all know she can do a variety of films, from ‘The Hunger Games’ to ‘X-Men’ to ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, or ‘House at the End of the Street’ and ‘Passengers’; ‘Red Sparrow’ just adds to the colossal of films she’s in. Summing up, she is definitely an actress of more serious films, rather than comical or romance to say the least. Jennifer Lawrence’s character in ‘Red Sparrow’ is one of difficult judgement, what I mean by this is that she becomes a very untrustworthy main protagonist. I spent the whole film having no idea what was going on in her mind and what she was thinking, instead you follow her in the film, knowing she is a victim and trying to do everything to survive in her situation, but never knowing her next unpredictable move. She would say one thing to someone and something else to another, but who was she telling the truth to? I had some inklings of what she was thinking, but her irrational behaviour made me doubt everything. Dominika does become a character of constant torture and a body of sadistic violence, she couldn’t suffer more in this film, so don’t expect a Jennifer Lawrence like in other films, because this one is physically and psychologically damaged in so many dark ways. I really believe Jennifer Lawrence was brilliant in this film, she played the character amazingly. The acting of everyone else in the film was also brilliant, all the characters carry some darkness and bring more depth to the film. Flawed, real characters played extremely well, I could not fault the acting at all!

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The Sparrow programme is extremely negative, one which extended to horrific limits to serve the country, one very demeaning and brutal. The thrilling tension in the film is very well done because the audience is unknown to so much. The film does become much more talky than action, and brutality in violence is dominant, but that’s the sort of film it is. It is also quite a long film, but it all builds up tension and discovery of the mission itself. This is definitely a film of certain preference. To say I enjoyed the film seems a bit overestimated as there were so many moments I was worried for the characters on screen. I thought it was a good thrilling mystery with discovery points I didn’t expect. Overall, it wasn’t a dreadful film, it wasn’t one awful in all it’s rights, it’s far from that, it’s challenging in areas, but I thought acted well and intriguing from the beginning as you just want to know what is going on. It builds up tension well and definitely becomes a film to try to come to grips with everything that is going on. Dominika becomes a character, even if unpredictable, strong in so many ways, tortured yet all that is wanted is for her to be safe and not in the situation she has fallen into. The ending also becomes one of discussion and brilliance. It is definitely a different thrilling film, good in its own ways.

Pretty in Pink (1986)

One of the 80s teen movies and it felt time to finally watch it. Written by John Hughes, also one of the writers of teen movies. Furthermore, starring Molly Ringwald, an 80s teen star. And got to love a teen movie, what’s better than going back to the classics of when they first came about, when the teens became dominant in society and they opened up a new audience for the teenager. Sounds stupid, but you can tell this is an 80s film and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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‘Pretty in Pink’ is one quite simple to grasp, but actually has a meaningful concept behind it all. The film’s theme is revolved around the differences between poor and rich: one girl from a low-income family struggles as she’s bullied and diminished to nothing; one boy born into money and wealth struggles as he likes someone his family and friends would not approve of. Molly Ringwald plays Andie, the girl seen as poor and worthless by the richer students in her school. She’s a great character, full of hatred at how’s treated, understandably, and stands up for herself, but she’s also creative and clever, she makes her own clothes and excels in school academically. She lives with her father (Harry Dean Stanton), a man stuck in the past and struggling with work. Andie’s relationship with her father really is something to be admired, even if there’s a small moment there could be a different side of her father, this is immediately destroyed and the real reason behind his laziness shines through, making his character more complex. Where Andie becomes most vulnerable is when she meets Blane (Andrew McCarthy), it’s through this rich boy that Andie becomes a character to route for, but Blane also becomes a complicated character, just making mistakes and realising that his friends see Andie as “trash” for having no money. Next character for me to introduce, Andie’s childhood best friend, Duckie, played by a much younger Alan from ‘Two and a Half Men’, Jon Cryer. Straight from the beginning we know much more than Andie does, because secretly, well not that secretly, Duckie is in love with his best friend, to Andie’s unknown knowledge, that’s until his heart breaks when she likes someone from the wrong side. Duckie is actually an amazing character, he’s funny, he’s adorable. He becomes outraged at Andie’s new interest as he’s always been there.

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The school is divided, and this is one of those Romeo and Juliet films of whether the relationship between Andie and Blane can actually work. Or whether the best friend would be in for a chance, as he sings to himself in agony of how much he loves her. Or even lip syncs to her, because that scene is just great! Ultimately, this is a film that’s just leading to prom, but I think it’s a great teen film. My first knowledge of this film, was actually Shawn Spencer’s 80s constant mentioning of it, and that just made me want to watch it more and I’m glad I did, so thanks to that character from ‘Psych’. What I find great about this film is that I couldn’t actually predict it, it might have been an obvious ending, but either endings could be argued that way. Watch it and you’ll understand what I mean. Looking for a classic romcom, and I mean a classic? I would recommend this one. A teen romcom of a complicated forbidden love, it might be overdone now, but this one is one of the originals!

The Middle (2009 – 2018)

Not going to lie to you all, I love my television programmes. Sometimes nothing is better than to have some easy watch 30 minutes programme on in the background, and ‘The Middle’ qualifies under this category. It’s a great show, easy to watch and real life. It tells the day-to-day life of a family living in the middle, in Orson, Indiana. The family struggles of mother and father of three, Frankie and Mike of Axl, Sue and Brick, introducing the Heck family! All of the characters couldn’t be more different, they all bring something new to the house and they’re all equally as great.

CHARLIE MCDERMOTT, EDEN SHER, ATTICUS SHAFFER, NEIL FLYNN, PATRICIA HEATON

Starting with the mother, Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton). Frankie actually narrates the programme as well, she brings the audience in at the beginning and doesn’t leave as she fills out the programme what is needed to know, she talks as from the present and we’re watching her past life. Frankie might be seen as a nagging mother by her children, but she becomes a character who just wants to improve her life by trying out wacky new ideas each day to her children’s despair. She loves the Bachelor and Oprah is gospel to her. She’s a great mother, who constantly ends programmes admitting that her and Mike are “lazy parents”, but in truth she tries as much as she can to make it better for her family, even if that means getting a second job. Frankie is constantly searching for affection from her eldest, and she’s accepted her blunt husband as he is, but they have a loving relationship. In work, Frankie usually falls at the bottom as she works as a car saleswoman and cannot sell a car. She’s hectic and shouts a lot of the time, but when it comes down to it, all she wants is her children back young again. You can always expect her to get out a tub of frosting to make everything better.

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Next, father of the household, Mike Heck (Neil Flynn). A recognisable actor, mostly for me as the revengeful Janitor in ‘Scrubs’. The man of the household, the man who cannot show true emotions, he’s blunt and practical in everything he does. He sees showing emotions and being soft as a weakness. When things break in the house, he comes up with creative ways to keep them going, as they don’t have enough money to replace them, practical down to a T. He’s the manager at the quarry in Orson. Watch him as he’s always in a plaid, flannel shirts, and all that’s on his mind is sports, hence his strong connection with Axl being a football player, however not so much with Brick as they don’t have much in common, other than not being sociable. But deep down, family is everything to him. To say the least, Mike’s not much of a talker.

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The oldest of the three is Axl (Charlie McDermott). The charismatic older brother, the big-headed oldest son. Axl is a great character, truly loved. The American football player of the family, who makes his father most proud. But to everyone else, he’s full of insults, particularly to Sue. This is a common theme of the show, where Axl can’t show gratitude to his family, however this becomes a comical element. Although, I do have to admit there are moments where he does show love to his sister, and those rare moments just build to his character that much more. Axl is the son who doesn’t think before he does things, his stupid ideas are hilarious. He also lives the boxer life, which if you don’t know, means when he comes home he strips down to his boxers and lies on the sofa, something you see a lot in this programme. He’s not academic, although sporty and sociable.

The Middle - Axl

Next, the only daughter, Sue (Eden Sher). Sue is the optimistic, loveable, never giving up daughter of the family. A common theme for Sue is her trying out in every club she possibly can at school, however never making anything. She’s the traditional good girl, can’t keep secrets and cannot lie, she would never do anything to hurt her parents or disobey them. She tends to be forgotten and constantly not noticed in school. She’s the awkward teen struggling to fit in, but a brilliant optimistic ball of light in the show. She becomes the punchline to most of Axl’s jokes as they are constantly arguing, but all she wants is affection and love from her family. Sue Sue Heck, yes that’s her name, is the happiness of the show, the one who would do anything to please people or to achieve something in life. Her life is controlled by teenstyle.com as she believes it speaks the truth. Additionally, Sue’s character brings in the singing Reverend Tim Tom as she holds onto every word he sings to the teen group.

The Middle - Sue

Finally, the youngest, Brick (Atticus Shaffer). Brick’s the reader, I say this because books are his life. He is constantly seen in this show with a book reading, ignoring what’s around because nothing is more important to him than books. If he’s not reading a book, he’s either going to the library or talking about the library and his extensive library fees. Brick is a great youngest son, just like his quirky name he has many quirks. His quirks entail whispering to himself after talking and then he adapts to whooping to the sky. He also has a fascination with fonts, yes fonts. All this adds to Brick not being the most sociable of the family, this is a constant theme of the programme as Frankie is desperate for him to get a friend, when in reality all his friends are books, the most important friend of all is ‘Planet Nowhere’. Saddest of all, Brick is usually the child that’s forgotten, left behind in many places, but regardless he’s not forgotten in the show, he’s a great addition.

The Middle - Brick

‘The Middle’ definitely deals with real life aspects. The constant struggle of a low income family is a dominant theme of the programme. All characters are flawed, but all characters are loved. It is a programme with reality throughout it all, the struggles of a mother realising her children are growing up too fast, the messy house that never gets clean with three children, siblings who are constantly squabbling and arguing, and so much more. The whole aesthetic of the programme is fun and enjoyable. It’s comical and there are moments of truth, every episode has some meaning behind it. I would definitely recommend this programme as an easy watch and not regrettable one at that. It does become addictive to just watch episode after episode. Furthermore, you don’t need to watch them in order, ‘The Middle’ is episodic where each episode has a different plot line, however there is a story arc throughout the series, but that’s easy to catch on without watching episodes before. Sadly, I’ve read it is coming to an end with series nine, but it’s so worth a watch anyway! Watch the Heck family live a life of junk food and watching TV on the sofa as Frankie desperately tries to change the habits, but never succeeds. Just go ahead and watch the Heck family with day-to-day struggles because they are fab.

Barely Lethal (2015)

Another high school cheesy film, because why not? Hailee Steinfeld from ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ and ‘3’, Sophie Turner from ‘Game of Thrones’. Most importantly, Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Alba. But there’s a spin on this high school comedy, because chuck in a bit of action and you get the story of the young orphaned girl turned killing machine, but oh she doesn’t want to be this assassin, she had no choice in this life, she wants the ‘normal’ life, the life of high school.

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So, Prescott School for orphaned girls, a school teaching young girls to be assassins. Which means, no attachments, no friends, no family. But this separation never sat right with the one student who carries our plot, Hailee Steinfeld’s character, Agent 83, or otherwise known as, when she renames herself, Megan from Canada. I say this because when she gets an opportunity to leave the school, she fakes herself as a foreign exchange student from Canada and applies into the Larson family to live in Newton, USA. In which, this kicks off what she calls, “Mission High School”. The Larson family? Divorced mother of two (Rachael Harris), daughter, Liz (Dove Cameron) and son, Parker (Jason Drucker). To be honest, I really did like this family, and they seemed a great family to move into. Liz, in particular, is a great character, she envies the fact that her mother has taken in a new daughter, however she becomes a character to really like.

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The problem this film had, other than the blatant cheesiness and predictability level… But what else would you expect? Anyway… The problem was the narration had so much potential, there were elements that could have gone so much further, but they didn’t. It remained in the predictable light of a high school, throw in assassin, film. The enemy of the film wasn’t actually explained at all, it was someone called Victoria Knox, played by the brilliant Jessica Alba, but why was she even the villain? I don’t know! She could have brought so much potential to the film. Her character could have been so complex and her reveal they thought would be a twist in the film was expected and obvious. It could have gone so much further to bring her hatred of Prescott to reason, maybe even brought a better plot line that Prescott wasn’t the school it was. Regardless, it remained a teen movie, when it could have been so much more. Additionally, they really could have made Hailee Steinfeld’s character more badass, I mean seriously, she was a trained assassin, and there are hardly any moments this was even shown, plus she was supposed to be best in her class, but still, there wasn’t many great, fun action scenes.

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Overall, ‘Barely Lethal’ had a lot of potential, I really wanted to like it. But to be honest, it just wasn’t that great. I mean it wasn’t awful, far from the worst film I’ve ever seen. When it comes down to it, however, I won’t be watching it again and I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Which is really a shame, I just so wanted this plot to be a fab teen action comedy. But truth be told, I didn’t do much laughing, instead it was actually awkward in places and quite cringey. And like I’ve already said there wasn’t much action, the action there was was a bit pathetic, and some of it, odd. So there you go, ‘Barely Lethal’ doesn’t jump to one of the best teen films. Potential was definitely there though.