- Movie Rating -

Marvelous and the Black Hole (2022)

| April 22, 2022

Marvelous and the Black Hole is the most harmless movie that I’ve seen in a while.  I was in a good mood watching it, and maybe that helped.  Were I in a sour mood, it’s cuteness might have been galling.  Given the right mood, it is one of those little movies that you just want to hug, like a kid in little league when he or she fails.  You hug them and wish them well.  It is one of those movies that will find the right audiences, charm the pants off of them and then they’ll move on with their day,.  That’s a nice way of saying, it is not anything of great significance.

If I sound like I’m being dismissive, that’s only because I find it hard to put my heart and soul into a story of a teenage badass who is brought out of her mournful funk by a teacher who has created a small community of people who perform magic tricks.  That sounds like something out of a children’s book – something that Judy Blume might have written.

As a matter of fact, this often has the feels of a Judy Blume book.  We have a teenager named Sammy (Miva Cech) wrestling with grief – her mother died – and her family has no real idea how to deal with it.  Her father Angus (Leonardo Nam) is bulldozing the grief process so that the family can move on and her sister Patricia (Kannon) hides inside an online role-playing game.

Sammy’s method is to lash out.  She has manifested all of the tenets of a rebellious teenager: sneaking out of the house, smoking, and getting into trouble at school including the latest, a prank that ended with her getting a black eye that she wears with some measure of pride.  I can almost see the cover of the Judy Blume book with a proud and smiling Sammy staring at us with arms folded while sporting that shiner.  Angus’ response to this behavior is not understanding, counseling or even love, it’s the threat of a military school, which Sammy imagines through a montage of stock footage of a WWII POW camp.

Up to this point, we have a very touching movie that is also very funny.  Something about Cech’s screen presence made me laugh.  She is but a child, but there is something about her attempts to look tough that I found very funny.  Looking up from beneath her brow like the killer in a Stanley Kubrick movie, she is merely a kitten with claws.  She might have fit right in in the movie Ghost World.

Her toughness is transparent, especially to a birthday party magician named Margot (Rhea Perlman) who catches her smoking in the girl’s room at the community college where Angus is forcing her to take a class in business.  Sammy is defensive and rude to this woman but Margot has seen it all before.  But, of course, Margot will give her a sense of something other than her home-life, a small community of stage magicians who will brighten her troubled soul and give her a space in which she is not being looked down upon.

What happens next is very sweet and appropriately dramatic although I must admit that my defenses were up the whole time.  I knew exactly what was to happen.  I knew that the furrow in Sammy’s brow was going to be cleared away by the wonder of card tricks and the presence of a cute widdle bunny wabbit.  I knew that eventually the ruse would be broke and that Angus was going to stomp into this safe space and demand that she is going to that military school whether you like it or NOT!  And I knew that Margot would help mend whatever was pulling Sammy and her father apart,  This is screenwriting 101.

But what helped me through all the predictability is the performance of Miva Chec.  She is so charming and so funny, especially early on.  She has a poise and a snappy comic delivery that made me laugh on their own.  Early in the movie when she is simply staring from beneath that brow with the black eye, it was an image that was funnier than the last five comedies that I’ve seen.  And yet, she is also able to project that pain that is making her into a wannabe badass.  She has and internal fragility that doesn’t feel manufactured.  You can believe that she is in pain, and that she is sensitive enough that her touch exterior can be broken with magic tricks.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy, Drama