If you've seen one underdog team sports film, you've seen them all, but that doesn't stop Hollywood from churning out another two or three per year ad nauseam. Welcome "12 Mighty Orphans" to the mix, a period football film that does nothing to further the genre, but one that might satisfy those who find themselves suckers for this brand of melodrama.
Let's face it: It's Rita Moreno's world, and we're all just living in it.
The new documentary film about the legendary actress's life is proudly titled, "Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It," and it's a celebration of the now 89-year-old's journey...a true pioneer who somehow leaves us feeling like she has more amazing things to do left in front of her than she has already accomplished behind her. She provides a first-hand account of her experiences - the good, the bad and the ugly - over her stellar, unparalleled 78-year career in show business, and she reveals some shocking, intimate stories about herself and others that she's encountered along the way.
Whether this is your first brush with Rita Moreno or you've been a life-long fan, this documentary is a biopic done right. It's not all fluff and praise and the only knock on it is that it perhaps doesn't achieve the same level of spunk and glowing attitude as its subject. But then again, how do you possibly match Rita Moreno's energetic personality?
Pixar is the most prestigious and well-known animation studio of the past several decades. But it isn't always a sure-thing with them, as they've produced more than a few clunkers (like "Cars 2" or "Cars 3" for example) in-between being responsible for iconic gems like the "Toy Story" films, "WALL-E" or "Inside Out." Even their 2020 release, "Soul," was a profound achievement, if not quite rising to the level of a "classic" Pixar film.
Their latest effort is "Luca," a movie that touches on some deeply important and contemporary themes of inclusion, acceptance and identity, but that - in more ways than one - is all wet.
Indie films, above all others, are ones that I root for to succeed. But sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. "The Birthday Cake" is one of the oddest little films you'll come across, and not in a good way. It contains a mix of what seems like flavorful ingredients that when blended together, leaves a terrible taste in your mouth.
This is one course worth passing on altogether.
If you've never heard of the pop band Sparks, you're not alone. Heck, director Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead") is basically counting on that.
"The Sparks Brothers" is a loving, light trip down memory lane with two real-life brothers, Ron and Russell Mael, who just so happen to be the most influential musicians you've never heard of before.
If you were a fan of the original 2017 action-comedy, "The Hitman's Bodyguard," there is almost no way that you won't also like its sequel, "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard." That's because it's essentially the same movie, with the same primary cast, writer and director, but it's a lot leaner (shorter), tighter and funnier than its predecessor.
Did we need a sequel to "The Hitman's Bodyguard"? Nah. But in a world where Intellectual Properties reign supreme, there are worse universes to find yourself thrown back into.
A play like "Hamilton" is a one-in-a-million sort of production. From the original cast to the costumes and choreography, to the unprecedented word-play and unforgettable lyrics from the mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, to its cultural significance, "Hamilton" was lightning in a bottle...the stage play of our time and one of the few creations in the history of the stage or cinema that cannot be over-hyped regardless of how much praise is heaped upon it. It really is that good.
But before "Hamilton," there was "In the Heights," the debut production from Miranda that he originally wrote his sophomore year in college back in 1999. The play finally reached Broadway, from 2008 to 2011, scoring 13 Tony nominations (winning four, including Best Original Score for Miranda, the youngest recipient ever to win the category).
Now after a full year of postponements due to COVID-19, the big-screen adaptation of "In the Heights" reaches theaters (it is also available to stream on HBO Max). If you're familiar with "Hamilton," you know that "In the Heights" is a lesser overall production...how could it not be? But on its own it's a rich celebration of the immigrant experience in America, and one of the most joyous, unapologetic and optimistic films in quite some time.
"In the Heights" is no "Hamilton," but that is just fine.
It's just been a few weeks since the last horse feature hit theaters, the live-action "Dream Horse," and following somewhere behind is "Spirit Untamed." It's a spin-off of the 2002 animated film, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," but set in a different era, the Old West, somewhere in the wide-open frontier.
"Spirit Untamed" is harmless, and may be a good way to pass time, or get you and your children out of the Summer heat. But it's surprisingly tame for a movie about a wild animal, and inexplicably clunky-looking for an animated film seeing release in 2021.
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