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Movie Review

The first time she was caught in a time loop, Tree Gelbman thought it was probably a cosmic comeuppance. You know, the universe was getting back at her for being such a rotten person.

There she was, living, dying and restarting the same day over and over again, each time trying to thwart a masked killer. Thankfully, though, she found a way of beating the odds, beating her old nasty habits, beating the death loop and beating her totally mental roommate who kept killing her repeatedly!

But just when she thought she was done with all that, something has dragged her back into the same crazy repeating loop once more. Argh! Well, OK, it's not exactly the same. Things may sound the same and look the same, but somehow it's different this time around.

Some people are nicer, some are worse. Relationships are tweaked a half turn. I mean, her formerly psycho roommate is now a real sweetie. And her Mom … her Mom is alive again somehow! It's all insane. And maybe that's the real answer, Tree thinks: She's the crazy one.

But then a geeky science guy named Samar tries to clear things up—after he and his fellow nerds realize that they have something more in common with Tree than being able to walk upright.

"Think of it like this," he says while folding a napkin in half, and in half again, several times. "Instead of just one universe, there are a number of them, each identical, each laying on top of each other like this. It's called the Multiverse Theory."

Tree nods, letting Samar prattle on.

He proclaims that his and a friend's school science project—an experimental quantum reactor—is the cause of all the discord. And not only has it shoehorned Tree back into her murderously mysterious and unexplained time loop, but it must have also punched her into a completely different universe this time. Samar illustrates by shoving a pen through the stack of napkin folds, leaving a hole in eight identical unfolded napkin squares.

Tree's brow knits. She's mad now. These dweebs are the reason this all has happened to her? Really? Now, not only does she have to work with them to solve a stupefying quantum riddle, but she also has to keep dying in bloody ways while they do so!

Positive Elements

In the midst of its many content issues, this horror/sci-fi/comedy mash-up does take some time for a few surprisingly poignant moments between Tree and her mother. Realizing that her mom is alive in this particular universe, unlike her own, Tree says things to her mom that she never got the chance to say before: She embraces Mom tearfully and talks of her love. "People say 'I love you' all the time," she says. "But it's when you realize that you can't say it to someone that you really mean it."

Mom misinterprets her daughter's emotions. But she returns her embraces and talks lovingly of the trials and choices of life, stressing that Tree will always be loved and supported by those who care for her most. She tells her daughter of the life-changing moment when she first held her as a baby. She also encourages Tree to make wise choices day by day. "Each day is a chance to be a better person," she tells her daughter.

Tree takes her mother's advice to heart and begins to repair some damaged relationships. She also reconfirms her emotional commitments to her new boyfriend, Carter. At one point in her repeated loops, Tree decides to walk away from a deadly situation and let a killer take down several innocents. Carter, however, suggests that even though it's natural to want to avoid painful things, it's the difficult moments of life that positively shape us into good people. "It's that pain, that loss, that makes you, you!" he declares. Ultimately, he can't bring himself to turn away from those in need and he rushes in to help on his own.

Spiritual Content

None.

Sexual Content

As a holdover gag from the first film, Tree tells a guy that he's actually gay. We see him in another timeline holding hands with his boyfriend. One of Tree's sorority sisters, Danielle, has a tendency to wear revealing, low-cut tops. Samar is mesmerized by Danielle's skimpy tops and can't keep from staring at her displayed skin.

In another universe, Danielle and Carter are a couple, and the two kiss on numerous occasions. However, Danielle is also secretly bedding other guys, too, it's implied. Tree catches one of those buff guys stepping out of Danielle's shower dressed in only a towel.

In one suicide scene, Tree jumps out of a plane dressed in a skimpy bikini. She also runs around in a very short hospital gown. Samar admits that he downloaded porn on a school computer. Tree and Carter kiss a few times. Various sexual gags are tossed about.

Violent Content

There are several killers running around in Bayfield University mascot masks in this sequel. And we see those men and women stabbing a number of people with a large butcher knife. Sometimes the victims are leapt upon and stabbed with repeated, vicious strikes; other times the blades are driven up to the hilt in backs, stomachs and chests. The victims sometimes bleed from the mouth and tumble over. A number of people are shot as well.

The messier deaths belong to Tree. And in one of the movie's seriously problematic turns, she realizes that it's easier to kill herself to reset the time loop than it is to wait for her murderer to do that grisly job. And so she beings taking matters into her own hands—something that the film plays for twisted humor.

In her ongoing suicide quest, Tree leaps head first into a wood chipper. We see her legs being ground up by the large blades and the chipping resulting in a gush of gore at the other end. She leaps out of a plane without a parachute and hits the ground in front of a smooching couple, spattering them with blood. She's electrocuted and crumpled in a brutal car crash. She drinks a jug of drain cleaner and runs off a rooftop. She detonates tanks of combustible gas and blows up an entire building. And the camera follows her as she falls from the top of a bell tower.

Tree is also thrown through a window and battered by a male killer. He slams her head down on the floor, and she impales him with a large screwdriver. A man shoots his wife and quips about wanting a divorce.

In the non-lethal violence category, a science-lab explosion tosses eight people back a good 10 feet or so, hurling two men through a large window. A guy gets thumped in the crotch. And a man has his nose bloodied and broken after being hit in the face with a cane.

Crude or Profane Language

Two f-words and nearly 30 s-words join multiple uses of "h---," "d--n," "b--ch," "a--" and "a--hole." We hear about half a dozen crude references to the male anatomy. God's and Jesus' names are both misused, about eight times total. Several people use crude hand gestures. A subtitled bit of foreign dialogue translates this exclamation, "Mother of a whore goat!"

Drug and Alcohol Content

When a quantum disturbance happens, someone who can't believe his eyes thinks he's been drugged.

Other Negative Elements

The film plays out a silly gag as a man stands urinating.

Conclusion

By the end of the first Happy Death Day film in 2017—which was something of a Groundhog Day-goes-to-college horror-comedy—boozy party gal Tree learned her lesson, found her way to becoming a better person and fell in love with a nice-guy college geek. And that movie's shadow-creeping masked murderer was as dead as a cratered ping pong ball after a frat party. A rainbow-sprinkled happy ending prevailed.

But that $5 million horror flick made a whopping $125 million at the box office worldwide. Which means that happy ending or not, a sequel was a foregone conclusion.

Here we are: Same day. Same college. Same girl dying. So how do you go about dramatically repeating a day that's already been revisited too many times already?

Science, dear reader, science.

By simply weaving in a dodgy science experiment, Happy Death Day 2U opens up a whole multiverse of possibilities: new dimensions, new killers, new heroes and deadly new situations.

This time, instead of watching a pretty teen get murdered repeatedly, we see her restart the time loop herself by committing suicide over and over in outlandish ways. (Jumping headfirst into a wood chipper is still considered outlandish, isn't it?) It's supposed to be funny, of course. And we know why she's doing it; Tree's not naturally suicidal apart from this crazy sequel's plot device.

Still, in a world where the teen suicide rate is skyrocketing, I can't help but wonder about the wisdom of turning such a troublesome trend into a grim punchline. This pic's sarcastic treatment of suicide, paired with its misogynistic deadliness, makes it even more disquieting than the original.

But violence isn't the only thing that gets the Groundhog Day treatment here. We also get a similar dose of foul language, bared skin and "comically" spurting bloody goop. Yep, that's all repeated, too.

So you won't be surprised that my less-than-cheery assessment of this goofy gore rerun … is a repeat performance as well.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Jessica Rothe as Tree Gelbman; Ruby Modine as Lori Spengler; Israel Broussard as Carter Davis; Suraj Sharma as Samar Ghosh; Rachel Matthews as Danielle Bouseman; Sarah Yarkin as Dre Morgan

Director

Christopher Landon ( )

Distributor

Universal Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

February 14, 2019

On Video

May 14, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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