"Cha Cha Real Smooth" was one of the breakout hits from this year's Sundance Film Festival, and it lands on Apple TV+ today (as well as a limited theatrical run). It's not hard to see why: There seems to be some real, polished talent at work here from star, writer and director - 24-year-old Cooper Raiff - but it's a hard movie to love due to the unlikability of one major character.
The story of a man creating life is a classic tale, and has been done hundreds of times...sometimes done as horror (think "Frankenstein") and sometimes done for laughs. "Brian and Charles" is a small British comedy about a lonely man who creates and then becomes best friends with his robot creation, and it's done with such sweetness, that it becomes hard to resist.
HULU Review: Emma Thompson has never been better than in 'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' a sex-positive rom-com
Yes, Emma Thompson has won two Oscars. But her performance in "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" (streaming on Hulu on 6/17), is perhaps her best performance yet.
It's also the sort of role that "women of a certain age" have been clamoring for over the years, and with good reason. It has always been said that there are not enough roles for older women in Hollywood, that don't cast them as grandmothers, maids or cougars. We rarely - if ever - see roles this juicy, this compelling or this real. Or this sexually-honest. Thompson sinks her teeth into this one and gives us one of the most freeing performances of the year, opposite a relatively unknown actor who absolutely rises up to meet Thompson's authenticity.
It will take a bit of nuance to understand my take on the new "Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers" movie (coming to Disney+ on Friday, May 20th).
Is this new movie funny? Oh absolutely (my wife and I actually had to stop the screener at one point during a "terrible rap" that the characters were doing, because we were laughing so hard). So if you're looking for laughs and laughs alone, this one might be for you.
But whatever it is, this is not a "Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers" movie, even if it proclaims to be. Those are not the characters that many 90s kids fell in love with, and in fact, there is nothing at all recognizable from the TV show's spirit or overall vibe. And if you were a fan of Chip n Dale prior to the "Rescue Rangers," (the characters appeared in just 23 animated shorts, debuting in 1943 and continuing into the mid 1950s), well, that history is completely and utterly discarded.
No, this version is a satire aimed squarely at adults, albeit adults that grew up watching the TV show (debuting back in 1989, its three-season run from 1990-1993 as part of Disney's afternoon line-up was how most Gen-Xers came to know of it). At it's core, it's a generic buddy-comedy, with story beats so worn-out that its almost shocking that this was the direction the filmmakers decided to go in. It's dressed up WONDERFULLY with Easter Eggs galore, which make the time spent in this world a fun-filled trip down memory lane for those with eagle-eyes or access to a pause button...
...and yet, it's as hollow as some of the uncanny-valley characters that we're introduced to.
And call it what you will, but it's DEFINITELY not a movie about the Rescue Rangers, not the ones that we've come to know and love, nor is it about those two cuddly and fast-talking anamorphic chipmunk brothers that many of us grew up with.
That makes it a disappointment.
"The Duke" is the sort of British comedy that we used to get more of over here stateside. There is a difference between an American comedy with British actors and a British comedy, with this film being the latter. It possesses the same tone and charm of films like "The Full Monty" (minus the strippers), and features two gems of the British acting crown, with Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren lifting up an otherwise mediocre script, about a seemingly normal old man who once stole a prized Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.
Squandering a premise that seems ripe for fun and laughter, "The Bad Guys" is about as bad as you can get.
Yes, kids for the most part will watch anything. But don't they - and we adults - deserve more than uninspired, generic dreck?
To say that the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" film is the best video game movie of all-time might seem slight...after all, movies based on video games have not exactly had a great track record (only five of the 49 video game films ranked on RottenTomatoes have a "Fresh" rating, and even those are questionable choices). But it actually was a surprisingly delightful film, made even more saleable with the pitch-perfect casting choice of Jim Carrey as the evil Dr. Robotnik.
We all went into the first Sonic film with the lowest of low expectations...not just because it was another video game movie, but there was the whole backlash over how the original version of Sonic was rendered (when an image was released, fans revolted, and Paramount Pictures went back and redesigned Sonic as the version we have now). But it not only was a - dare I say - GOOD family adventure, with some heart to boot, it was a tremendous box office success, grossing nearly 320 million bucks worldwide and setting up the inevitable sequel, which we are getting now.
Sadly, all momentum that the first film created comes to a screeching, disappointing halt in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." Instead of feeling like a real box office underdog - "the little hedgehog that could" - the sequel comes in full of itself, with an unearned confidence, and dying on the hill that somehow "more is more." At an incredibly baffling 2 hours and 2 minutes, a bevy of new, uninteresting characters and a some unfathomably lame subplots, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" carries the weight of the franchise on its shoulders, and is crushed beneath the burden.
The totality of the new pandemic comedy, "The Bubble," reminded me of a scene from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." When Clark Griswold excitedly goes to plug in the electric cord that will turn his home into a spectacle of lights, nothing happens. The switch is off, and he can't seem to figure out why all of his hard work wasn't paying off, and why the lights weren't firing on.
That's "The Bubble" in a nutshell: All the lights are in place, there seems to be an impressive display on the horizon, but just nothing turns on. Nothing works. There are jokes, a fantastic ensemble and clever set-ups, yet the laugh switch rests firmly in the "off" position.
"The Lost City" is the sort of romantic-adventure-comedy that seems to have been missing from the movie landscape in recent years. Movies like "Romancing the Stone," "Jewel of the Nile" and the "Allan Quatermain" films of the 1980s are channeled for "The Lost City," a movie that just barely works, powered by a star firing on all of her charismatic cylinders.
Time travel films invite scrutiny, perhaps more than any other genre of film. One staple that nearly EVERY time-travel story always adheres to is that you are not to run into your past self. We all know this is a HUGE time-travelling no-no. To do so throws things way out of whack and could in fact fold the time-space continuum into itself, creating a paradoxical implosion that would end the universe as we know it. Or something like that, typically.
"The Adam Project" has a clever take: What if we just don't think so hard about all that time-travel logic? What if we just went on an adventure? It seems simple (and perhaps blasphemous to the diehard sci-fi geek), but throwing logic out the window would allow a person to not only run into their former self, but actually talk, chat, hang-out and even save the world together along with their mini-me.
That's the underlying premise of "The Adam Project," a film that by no means is a "good film," yet it has enough clever dialogue and meaningful moments buried within it to qualify as a passable, family-friendly time-travelling adventure...one that I'd bet will land successfully with kids and adults alike.
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