Eric D. Snider

Movie Review: "Unexpected" B July 24, 2015

Without coming across as a "message" movie or appearing to have any agenda at all, "Unexpected" underscores the vastly different experiences that a middle-class white woman and an inner-city black teen might have being pregnant in America. So light is the film's touch, though, that you could miss its observations on class disparity and enjoy it as nothing more than a good-natured, uncluttered comedy about life's happy surprises.

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Movie Review: "The Stanford Prison Experiment" C July 17, 2015

How mean will people be if you let them?

It's almost too fitting that "The Stanford Prison Experiment," just like the 1971 scenario it recreates, starts out well, then gets progressively out of control before dissolving into chaos. The real events offered chilling insight into how people conform to the roles assigned to them; the movie comes across as implausible and hysterical, even though it depicts things that actually happened.

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Movie Review: "Ant-Man" B July 17, 2015

Action on a small scale, in every way

Even though no large cities get destroyed in it, "Ant-Man" is a Marvel movie. (You can tell by the stop-the-movie-dead-in-its-tracks Stan Lee cameo.) The perpetually adorable Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a felon who has a master's degree in electrical engineering and just spent three years in San Quentin, though you will not believe that he spent even five minutes there. He is manipulated by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a righteous old scientist, into donning a special suit that shrinks him down to the size of an insect, all in the service of getting the shrinkifying serum out of the hands of bad guy industrialist Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Pym's scientist daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), bitter about her mother's sketchy death some years back, works for Cross now, but agrees that he's gotten out of control.

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Movie Review: "Infinitely Polar Bear" C July 16, 2015

Going off your meds is totes endearing!

Surely you'll agree that it is very adorable when a man with bipolar disorder refuses to take his medication or stop drinking, thus jeopardizing his own health and the well-being of his children. If you're not charmed by that scenario, then "Infinitely Polar Bear" is not for you.

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Movie Review: "Trainwreck" B- July 16, 2015

Amy Schumer gets her starring vehicle

Amy Schumer, our current favorite potty-mouthed comedienne, is striking while the iron is hot with "Trainwreck," a rambunctious, hard-R-rated romantic comedy that showcases her sweetly poisonous manner. Schumer wrote the screenplay, which is rambling and overlong, and Judd Apatow directed it, which explains why it didn't get tightened up.

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Movie Review: "Strangerland" C July 10, 2015

A family wilts in the Australian desert

Why can't all bad movies be ugly to look at and pitifully acted? Why must there be movies like the sluggish Australian melodrama "Strangerland" -- overlong, ambiguous, and unsatisfying, yet marked by beautiful cinematography and a few terrific performances? Such duality makes it hard to reduce movies into a simple Fresh or Rotten.

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Movie Review: "The Gallows" D July 9, 2015

From the high school trauma department

"The Gallows" is a "found footage" movie (strike 1) that begins with a title card assuring us that what we're about to see is REAL (strike 2). Then it delivers 81 minutes of screaming nonsense filmed by characters who have no reason to continue filming and whose deaths cannot come fast enough (strikes 3-10).

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Movie Review: "Self/less" C+ July 9, 2015

Who did I used to be before I was me?

You know how sometimes you're an old, cancer-ridden millionaire, and you don't want to die, so you pay a cryptic Englishman a lot of money to transfer your consciousness to a new body? Did I mention that you are Sir Ben Kingsley doing a thick Long Island accent, the kind where "call" is a two-syllable word, and that the new body belongs to Ryan Reynolds? Sure. You know what I'm talking about.

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Movie Review: "Ted 2" C July 2, 2015

Unfocused, undisciplined, random laffs

As "Ted" demonstrated and "A Million Ways to Die in the West" verified, the comedy stylings of Seth MacFarlane are best enjoyed in a carefully controlled environment -- say, an episode of "Family Guy," which is animated (making the absurdities easier to swallow), and which can never be more than 22 minutes long (forcing MacFarlane and company to follow a structure). In "Ted 2," the sequel to the 2012 hit about a living teddy bear, director MacFarlane and co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild are once again given free rein to stretch a small, satirical story into nearly two hours, padding it with sketches, bits, and diversions that have nothing to do with the main action. (How forced is this stretching? The four-hour drive from Boston to New York City becomes a two-day, overnight road trip, just to kill time.) There are several good laughs here -- but they all come not from the characters or the situations, but from random jokes that could just as easily have been inserted into a "Family Guy" episode or a sketch-comedy show.

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Movie Review: "Magic Mike XXL" C June 30, 2015

Ugh, just put your clothes on and get out

True to its title, "Magic Mike XXL" is indeed bigger than "Magic Mike," in the sense that it's five minutes longer. Everything else about it is smaller. It's not as funny or engaging as its predecessor, it has almost no storyline, no character development, and it features less nudity (not usually a point worth mentioning, but these are movies about strippers). It alternates between pandering to its target audience of straight women, and just boring them.

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