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The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

The Spectator takes on new movie releases

The poster for All of Us Strangers.


Wonka is, without a doubt, a sugary delight. Wonka follows Willy Wonka before the events of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as he gets duped into servitude at a boardhouse. Wonka finds friends quickly, and together, they plan to both escape their captors at the boardhouse, and overthrow the “Chocolate Cartel” (three competing chocolate makers). Wonka has much more charm than the character’s predecessors, and brings an incredible sense of buoyancy and life into the role. Otherwise, the character seems to have been scrubbed clean of all the notable characteristics from earlier incarnations. This Willy Wonka doesn’t have a habit of harming children to an incredible extent, and it seems that the Oompa Loompas work for free out of a sense of loyalty, rather than the forced servitude that was implied in the 1971 version. This is somewhat of a blessing, but the film does toe the line of becoming too syrupy otherwise. The plot feels overstuffed at points, and the ending drags, but the story is so full of innovation that you find yourself being drawn in anyway. The big surprise of Wonka was the songs, which were not advertised in any marketing for the film. The songs fluctuate between forgettable (“For a Moment and Sorry, Noodle both suffer from this affliction”) to begrudgingly ear-wormy (“You’ve Never Had Chocolate Like This”), but they never strike a good balance. However, the real shining star is the cast and the energy of the story. The villains are campy but endearing, and the performance from Chalamet feels both reminiscent of its predecessors and remarkably new. Wonka has so much charm you are practically drowning in it, and while your feet may touch the bottom sometimes, you are still in for a sweet experience. 



Many films, especially in science fiction, explore themes of grief, loneliness, and destitution. However, the scenery, characterization, and creation of All of Us Strangers use this well-trodden topic in something entirely different; it’s both down-to-earth and idealistic, full of sadness and full of love. Starring Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers follows Adam as he reconnects with his dead parents, who exist in the liminal space of Adam’s childhood house. At the same time, Adam meets Harry (Paul Mescal), and begins a relationship with him. While based on a Japanese novel with a similar name, Strangers, All of Us Strangers strays from the novel by using a queer lens to show the ostracizing loneliness that Adam feels. The film has many conversations about the rejection, as both Adam and Harry express the different times in their lives they have been outsiders because of their sexuality – and Adam experiences it once again when coming out to his mother, who is permanently (and literally) stuck in a 1980s mindset. With only five characters appearing in the film (six if you count Young Adam), it allows the main cast to deliver some beautiful performances, with Andrew Scott’s being one of the best of his career. However, this can make the film a little too bare-boned, and though Scott shines, the emotional intensity of the film, combined with the spaciousness of the setting, can feel overwhelming. All of Us Strangers requires the audience to fully surrender to its concept, and to not try to understand it further than what it wants to tell you. When you do, it’s a beautifully put-together piece of cinema that explores the concept of solitude to an extreme. 



It’s been a while since a romantic comedy has made a theatrical debut instead of driving straight to streaming, and Anyone but You, a tropical enemies-to-lovers and fake-dating romance stationed in Australia, appears to be a new holiday favorite. With recognized actors, Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell starring as the leads, they certainly have chemistry– but whether or not one perceives it to be flat as a rock or electrifying is the true question. Even back in October when the teaser trailer was released, many were left unsatisfied. The line delivery felt stale and rehearsed, the background music would’ve better accommodated a psychological thriller, and for all the hype, the two stars didn’t seem to hold the fiery connection their daring tabloid rumors hinted at. Upon watching, it’s safe to say however, that though this movie is certainly not of the thrilling nature, the acting does not seem to have elevated. The respective families of Bea (Sweeney) and Ben (Powell) showcase some exciting monologues pulled directly from the acclaimed Shakespeare comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, but the rest of their performances are comparably unremarkable and contrived. However, there are some positives: the families’ glaringly apparent one-dimensionality allows Bea and Ben to shine a bit more. Their banter rescues the audience. And as with any romcom, there’s a degree of impossibility: Anyone But You boasts its fair share of scenes with questionable realism and concludes with the best one – a full cast cover of Natasha Bedingfield’s hit song “Unwritten.” The setup is nothing innovative, and perhaps numerous rewatches wouldn’t be the most delightful, but Anyone But You still elicits a comforting watch for a cold winter day.



From producer and writer Tina Fey (the original screenwriter of the beloved 2000’s Mean Girls) now arises a movie adaption of Broadway’s Mean Girls. And a musical it was– despite failing to mention this rather self-defining fact in its multi-million dollar advertising campaign. Mean Girls 2024 is undoubtedly brainless, but pulling up with a carload of friends and a Burn Book shaped tub of popcorn may be key to just enjoying it. In it, students are seen physically prowling, mimicking beasts and channeling their inner animal, or breaking out into a synchronized waltz with a melodic harmony that sounds obviously recorded. The abrupt transitions to singing occasionally detract from the authenticity of the moment (Gretchen serenades a jewelry box impromptu in a moment of self-reflection, and Cady stands there, seemingly befuddled just like the audience), making it clear at times that the movie is uncertain whether it wanted actual singers or actors. “Sexy” the song is a personal favorite, as Avantika Vandanpu (who plays Karen) does a phenomenal job even with a limited singing background. But, the depth of our beloved side characters is at times unexplored and sacrificed in favor of comedy– which can be enriching or disappointing depending on your preference. Overall, the dancing is fun, the lines are fun, and it embodies an overall spirit quite similar to the Mean Girls your mom watched regardless of what the trailer touts.

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