Movie Review: "The Gallows" D July 9, 2015
"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).
Movie Review: "Self/less" C+ July 9, 2015
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.
Movie Review: "Ted 2" C July 2, 2015
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.
Movie Review: "Magic Mike XXL" C June 30, 2015
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.
Movie Review: "Dope" B- June 19, 2015
In "Dope," Shameik Moore gives a winning, sympathetic performance as Malcolm, a black teenage nerd in Inglewood, Calif., who runs afoul of gang-affiliated drug dealers and must outsmart them with a clever plan. In this he is aided by his geeky friends, black lesbian Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and white-ish horndog Jib (Tony Revolori).
Movie Review: "Inside Out" B+ June 19, 2015
When the Pixar wizards are at their best, they create films that are complex and thoughtful yet also, magically, hilarious and kid-friendly. We've stopped being amazed at how deftly they weave mature ideas into their candy-colored fantasies, simply because it keeps on happening, film after film.
Movie Review: "Balls Out" B- June 18, 2015
[In theaters and Video on Demand.]
Movie Review: "The Overnight" B June 18, 2015
If there's any message or insight to be gained from "The Overnight," anything that the characters learned about themselves or that might lead us to our own personal epiphanies, I failed to grasp it. This is not necessarily a criticism, merely an observation. Even as sex comedies go, this one is slight, an 80-minute, four-character lark about a normal married couple who meet an eccentric married couple and are unsettled by their eccentricity. That's basically it.
Movie Review: "Madame Bovary" B June 12, 2015
There have been many film versions of Gustave Flaubert's 1856 novel "Madame Bovary," but this is the first one directed by a woman, French-born Sophie Barthes ("Cold Souls"), who wrote the adaptation with Rose Barreneche. Perhaps fittingly, and certainly to the movie's advantage, Barthes and Barreneche excised the parts of the book that focused on the husband, making Madame Bovary the exclusive heroine and telling her story with a certain feminine sympathy.
Movie Review: "Heaven Knows What" B June 12, 2015
When the opening credits roll in "Heaven Knows What," the main character, a New York City street junkie named Harley (Arielle Holmes), has already slit her wrists. Things get better for her after that, but not much.