Every Netflix Movie Released in May 2020, Reviewed

While Netflix did not equal its total of 20 film releases in April, it still put out quite a few: 14 in total actually. Chris Meir from Netflix Original Movies Reviewed is here with ratings of all the good, the bad, and the just plain crazy.

There are also lots of Original films to watch throughout June.


English-Language Films

All Day and a Night

Director: Joe Robert Cole
Genre: Drama | Runtime: 121 Minutes
Cast: Ashton Sanders, Jeffrey Wright, Isaiah John, Kelly Jenrette, Shakira Ja’nai Paye

Jahkor (Ashton Sanders) looks back on his life and upbringing as he begins a life sentence for a double murder. Prominent in his memories is his abusive, drug-addicted father (played by Jeffrey Wright), who is also serving a life sentence in the same prison. While we need more representations of the cycles of poverty and violence that entrap African-American youth, this particular one is mired in melodramatic clichés, miserabilism, and some poor acting, beyond Ashton Sanders’s turn as Jahkor that is.

Star Rating: ★★


The Half of It

Director: Alice Wu
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance | Runtime: 104 Minutes
Cast: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire, Wolfgang Novogratz, Colling Chou

Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) makes extra money writing essays for her classmates in a small-town high school when Paul (Daniel Diemer) approaches her to write a love letter for him to send to glamorous popular girl Aster (Alexxis Lemire). This supposedly one-off letter ironically sparks an epistolary romance between Ellen and Aster, with Aster thinking she is actually writing to Paul. This is probably the best of Netflix’s teen romcoms to date as it boasts a fresh-faced cast and a lot of heart. These positive aspects help it overcome some screenwriting clichés (yet another Cyrano by text storyline) and some rather obnoxious product placement (kids dream of going to Grinnell College, really?).

Star Rating: ★★★★


The Lovebirds

Director: Michael Showalter
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime | Runtime: 86 Minutes
Cast: Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Sparks, Anna Camp, Nicholas X. Parsons

A car accident leads a couple (played by Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae) in the midst of a break up to get involved in a complex conspiracy when the two spend one crazy night avoiding a hitman covering up the conspiracy on one hand, and the police who think the couple are involved in a murder on the other. A very disappointing union of two great comedic talents. The plot is paper-thin, the characters are shallow, there is no romantic chemistry between Nanjiani and Rae, and worse of all there are few laughs to be found.

Star Rating: ★★


The Wrong Missy

Director: Tyler Spindel
Genre: Comedy, Romance | Runtime: 90 Minutes
Cast: David Spade, Lauren Lapkus, Nick Swardson, Geoff Pierson, Jackie Sandler

Boring middle manager Tim (David Spade) meets the woman of his dreams and texts her an invitation to his company’s corporate retreat in Hawaii. Unfortunately for him, he sends that text to Missy (Lauren Lapkus), a woman he met on a nightmarish blind date. That Missy shows up for the retreat and hijinks ensue. A show-stealing performance from Lauren Lapkus saves this movie from being just another David Spade movie. The star himself phones it in but Lapkus lights things up with a hilariously unhinged take on the nightmare date/manic pixie girl archetypes.

Star Rating: ★★★


Non-English Language Films

18 Presents (Italy)

Director: Francesco Amato
Genre: Drama | Runtime: 115 Minutes
Cast: Vittoria Puccini, Benedetta Porcaroli, Edoardo Leo, Marco Messeri

Elisa (Vittoria Puccini) is far into a pregnancy when she discovers that she has terminal cancer and decides to leave the eponymous 18 presents for her unborn daughter to open on her birthdays throughout her childhood. Her daughter Anna (Benedetta Porcaroli), ironically, grows up resenting the presents until an accident sends her back in time to meet the mother she never knew. While this is a shamelessly sentimental movie, it is also a pretty good one. The central mother-daughter relationship is complex and compelling while the melodramatic moments really hit you in the gut and the tear glands.

Star Rating: ★★★★


Get In (France)

Director: Olivier Abbou
Genre: Horror, Thriller | Runtime: 97 Minutes
Cast: Adama Niane, Stéphane Caillard, Paul Hamy, Eddy Leduc,Hubert Delattre

A family comes home from a long vacation to find that their nanny has taken legal control of the house, making them homeless while fighting to evict the squatters. What could have been a very interesting Parasite-Esque meditation on class or race (a la Get Out, its near-namesake) instead becomes a bizarre, unpleasant ode to toxic masculinity, evoking a world in which being a “man” means fighting and killing others. Artistically disappointing and shockingly backward from an ideological point-of-view.

Star Rating: ★


I Love You, Stupid (Spain)

Director: Laura Mañá
Genre: Comedy | Runtime: 87 Minutes
Cast: Quim Gutiérrez, Natalia Tena, Alfonso Bassave, Ernesto Alterio, Alba Ribas

Marcos (Quim Gutiérrez) must rebuild his life after being dumped by his long-term girlfriend. In doing so, he is helped by an old crush, Raquel (Natalia Tena), and it isn’t long before sparks start to fly between them. The movie starts well and features a funny running gag involving an Argentine male self-help guru (played by Ernesto Alterio, against type), but runs out of steam and gets mired in the romcom genre clichés.

Star Rating: ★★


I’m No Longer Here (Mexico and the US)

Director: Fernando Frias
Genre: Drama | Runtime: 105 Minutes
Cast: Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño, Xueming Angelina Chen, Coral Puente, Brandon Stanton, Jonathan Espinoza

Ulises (Juan Daniel García Treviño) and his friends are fanatics of cumbia music and dance and part of a larger culture of “Kolombianos” in Monterrey, Mexico. When he gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and is involved in a gangland slaying, Ulises must flee Monterrey for New York City where he is haunted by his longing to return home. Working with non-professional actors who are part of the subculture depicted in the film, writer/director Fernando Frias blends documentary and fiction to tell a timeless story of youth in revolt, forging their own communities while negotiating the complexities of the adult world. I personally would rate it higher than 4 stars, but some viewers will have trouble with arty conventions, including its slow pace and complex narrative structure.

Star Rating: ★★★★


Intuition (Argentina)

Director: Alejandro Montiel
Genre: Crime, Thriller | Runtime: 116 Minutes
Cast: Luisana Lopilato, Joaquín Furriel, Rafael Ferro, Maite Lanata, Juan Manuel Guilera

Pipa (Luisana Lopilato) is promoted from patrol to detective to help solve two interrelated murders; one of a rich young woman and one of the murderers of her partner Francisco’s (Joaquín Furriel) late wife. While Franciso leads the investigation of the woman’s murder, Pipa must secretly investigate him for the latter. This is a prequel to the Netflix original film Perdida and thus retains that film’s strong, complex central character with its accompanying strong central performance from Luisana Lopilato. What it lacks, however, is the pulpy fun of the first film. The tone of this film is more somber and there is just no villain who can replace Amaia Salamanca’s campy Sirena in Perdida. Still, Intuition does enough to be watchable detective fiction.

Star Rating: ★★★


Mrs. Serial Killer (India)

Director: Shirish Kunder
Genre: Crime, Drama | Runtime: 106 Minutes
Cast: Jacqueline Fernandez, Manoj Bajpayee, Mohit Raina, Zayn Marie Khan, Darshan Jariwala

When her husband is framed by a jealous ex-boyfriend for a series of murders, dutiful wife Sona (Jacqueline Fernandez) sets out to clear his name by killing someone using the actual killer’s modus operandi. This sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the revelation of the real killer. If this premise alone wasn’t crazy enough, it won’t take you long to realize that this is one of the most outlandishly bad movies Netflix has ever released. Attempted murder played for laughs, flying karate kicks and expert knife-throwing all feature in a movie that is so baroquely awful that in a way it is admirable, or at the very least needs to be seen to be believed.

Star Rating: ★


The Mutiny of the Worker Bees (Mexico)

Director: Carlos Morett
Genre: Comedy | Runtime: 93 Minutes
Cast: Gustavo Egelhaaf, Alejandro Suárez, Bárbara de Regil, Mauricio Argüelles, Cesar Rodriguez

When his grandfather’s shop closes, Omar (Gustavo Englehaaf) tries to find work in the tech industry. Soon he is climbing the corporate ladder at a big company while falling for his boss’s PA and overcoming some nefarious corporate spies. While it is nice to see more modern images of Latin America, this movie is poorly acted, features a silly plot, and is just plain cheesy. The humor just doesn’t translate either, making for a fairly monotonous viewing experience.

Star Rating: ★½


Documentary Features

Becoming

Director: Nadia Hallgren
Genre: Biographic | Runtime: 89 Minutes

In the latest film produced by the Obamas, cameras follow former First Lady Michelle Obama on her cross-country tour promoting the release of her autobiography Becoming. The film is not as revealing as you’d like, showing precious little of its subject’s personal life and doing nothing to push her beyond the safe platitudes she rehearses at all her speaking engagements. That said, in the context of the contemporary political climate, the film still feels like an escape to a better time when even if they didn’t say anything of substance, politicians at least tried to act with dignity and promote positivity.

Star Rating: ★★★


Have a Good Trip

Director: Donick Cary
Genre: Drugs | Runtime: 85 Minutes

Celebrities including musicians, actors, celebrity chefs, and comedians talk about their most memorable experiences taking hallucinogens while some are recreated using animation or live-action re-enactment. An irritatingly pointless and unfunny film that evokes the feeling of sitting in a dorm room sober on a Tuesday night listening to your stoned friends tell stories that they think are hilarious but which are mildly amusing at best. If those nights felt to you like a complete waste of time, at least you didn’t have to pay a subscription fee for the privilege of sitting there.

Star Rating: ★


Monthly Awards

Best Overall Film and Hidden Gem: I’m Not Here Anymore

Worst Overall Film: Mrs. Serial Killer and Have a Good Trip (Tie) – This is a tough decision. Mrs. Serial Killer was objectively a worse film, but it least it was trying to do something interesting, even if those ambitions lead it to crazy artistic decisions. Have a Good Trip doesn’t go nearly as awry, but that is because it is a supremely lazy, half-thought out film.

Biggest Disappointment: The Lovebirds

Best Documentary: Becoming


If you enjoyed any of the Original films released throughout May let us know in the comments below!

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