Insidious: The Last Key

B- | PG-13 |
First of all, the number of sequels with "Last" or "Final" in the title that have actually turned out to be the last one is vanishingly small, so don't take "Insidious: The Last Key" at its word. Fran...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2017

For the 14th year in a row I kept track of what I watched and read and report it now to you, if you're interested. If you're not interested, you can skip this. I'll never know! MOVIES I watched 339 ...

Patreon 2017: The Reckoning

We've just finished the second full year of my Patreon campaign, wherein patrons pay $1 (or more) per month and I review as many films as I can. With gratitude for everyone who has contributed, I offe...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2017

So. 2017. How about that? This was the year that I started switching to saying "twenty-seventeen" instead of "two thousand seventeen." I expect to be fully converted to the "twenty-" system by the end...

Everything I Wrote in 2017

With the birth of Crooked Marquee, where for some reason I am the editor, this year I scaled back my writing for other sites and concentrated on that one and this one (the one you're reading now, Eric...

Wide releases of 2017: a handy list

Here’s a list of every wide-release film (600+ screens) that opened in the U.S. in 2017 -- 155 of 'em. Movies that opened small and eventually expanded to wide release are included, as are movies (mar...

Molly’s Game

B | R |
After writing several wordy screenplays and a few endearingly verbose TV shows for other people to direct, Aaron Sorkin takes command of the whole operation with "Molly's Game," a fact-based story tha...

All the Money in the World

C+ | R |
Just in time for Christmas comes "All the Money in the World," the story of billionaire oilman J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, much better suited for the role than Kevin Spacey in old-age makeup w...

Downsizing

B+ | R |
Among the many curious surprises offered by "Downsizing," a social satire about mankind's efforts to reduce the entire population down to an average height of five inches, is that it was made by Alexa...

Pitch Perfect 3

C | PG-13 |
To use a musical term the Bellas would understand, "Pitch Perfect 3" is a diminished third. Set three years after "Pitch Perfect 2," it has Beca (Anna Kendrick), Amy (Rebel Wilson), and the rest (the ...

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

B | PG-13 |
The premise of "Jumanji," a holiday hit 22 Christmases ago, was that a board game brought jungle animals into the real world to chase Robin Williams around the house. "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,"...

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A- | PG-13 |
There was a comforting sense of deja vu in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which kicked off a new trilogy by mimicking the plot structure of the original film. Don't worry about falling into a rut, th...

Ferdinand

C | PG |
"Ferdinand" is a colorful animated comedy about bullfighting, from the point of view of the bulls. You must see the problem almost immediately: cartoons are for kids, but bullfighting is a cruel, barb...

I, Tonya

B+ | R |
This is the story of "I, Tonya," not I, Eric, but let me begin with a relevant personal detail. When the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan brouhaha was dominating news coverage in early 1994, I was an LDS ...

The Shape of Water

A- | R |
Like many fairy tales, "The Shape of Water" is a fantastical story about a lonely person who finds fulfillment through interaction with a magical creature. Unlike most fairy tales, "The Shape of Water...

The Disaster Artist

B+ | R |
"The Room" (not to be confused with "Room," about the kidnapped woman and her son) is a thoroughly incompetent melodrama from 2003 that won the pop-culture lottery by becoming a cult favorite. Dozens,...

Call Me by Your Name

A- | R |
"Call Me by Your Name," a gay coming-of-age romance set at an Italian villa in the summertime (the best possible location for such a story), isn't sexual so much as hormonal. It's not about doin' it; ...

The Man Who Invented Christmas

B | PG |
"Invented" is a rather melodramatic overstatement, but "The Man Who Invented Christmas" is an affable and gentle holiday biopic, perfect for a matinee with visiting relatives who need something to shu...

Coco

B+ | PG |
There are plenty of cartoons about holidays like Christmas and Halloween, but the genius-nerds at Pixar saw an unfilled need and came up with "Coco," the first major animated film about Día de Muertos...

Darkest Hour

B+ | PG-13 |
"Darkest Hour" is about a controversial leader's steadfast refusal to engage in peace talks in favor of going to war. Not the sort of message you'd expect people to support these days -- but I should ...

Justice League

C+ | PG-13 |
Superman is dead. He was killed by a monster (not Batman) at the end of "Batman v Superman" and is still dead when "Justice League" picks up the story some time later. The titular coalition of superhe...

The Star

B- | PG |
You thought you knew the story of the first Christmas -- BUT YOU WERE WRONG! As explained by "The Star," a timidly respectful animated story aimed at Christian families, an adventure-seeking donkey ac...

Wonder

B | PG |
"What's the deal with your face?" That's what the jerky fifth-grader, Julian (Bryce Gheisar), asks the new boy with the birth defect, Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), at the beginning of "Wonder," an unabashe...

Thelma (Norwegian)

B | Not-Rated |
"Thelma," a reserved but piercing supernatural coming-of-age drama from director Joachim Trier ("Oslo, August 31st"), begins with a young girl hunting a deer with her father in the snow. Her eyes fixe...

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A- | R |
Martin McDonagh, who was born and raised in London but has Irish parents and dual citizenship, examined the squalid, petty lives of his countrymen in several caustically funny stage plays before turni...

Murder on the Orient Express

C+ | PG-13 |
In 1934, when Agatha Christie published "Murder on the Orient Express," trains were still a popular means of transportation, and Asia was still called "the Orient." Much has changed in the last 83 yea...

Lady Bird

A- | R |
Greta Gerwig, the pixie-like pillar of indie film and an indomitable screen presence, recently starred in and co-wrote "Frances Ha" and "Mistress America" with her boyfriend, Noah Baumbach, who direct...

Thor: Ragnarok

B | PG-13 |
The mighty Norse god Thor, as played by Chris Hemsworth, is a fun presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe®, but his last stand-alone film ("Thor: The Dark World") was the worst of the franchise. The...

A Bad Moms Christmas

D | R |
Is it Terrible Christmas Movie season already? Seems like Terrible Halloween Movie season just ended. The first of this year's miserable entries is "A Bad Moms Christmas," a grim followup to last year...

An Obsessive’s Guide to the ‘Halloween’ Movies

Since 1978, Halloween hasn’t just been a day to worship Satan and eat small candy bars. It’s also been a celebration of a long-running, highly influential film series about a masked killer: Batman. ...

Suburbicon

B- | R |
George Clooney, like most powerful creative types, needs to be told "no" more often. He and regular writing/producing partner Grant Heslov were developing a story about a black family moving into an a...

All I See Is You

C | R |
"What is this movie about?" That's what I jotted around the halfway point -- awfully late for the question to still be necessary -- of "All I See Is You," a foggy psychosexual drama from director Marc...

Novitiate

B | R |
"Novitiate," set in the midst of the Catholic Church's 1964 "Vatican II" reforms, begins with 17-year-old Cathleen (Margaret Qualley) entering a convent and telling us in narration: "Under everything ...

Jigsaw

B- | R |
We doubted that "Saw 3D," the seventh and "final" chapter in the gruesome franchise, would be the last one (that it was the seventh we did not dispute), and our cynicism has paid off (again). Part eig...

God’s Own Country

B+ | Not-Rated |
"God's Own Country" begins with a smooth-chested, naive-looking young Yorkshire man vomiting all night, then arising early to give a pregnant cow a gynecological fisting. Do not be alarmed; these acti...

Movie BS #380: ‘The Florida Project,’ ‘The Snowman,’ ‘Breathe’

This was a fun show with many delights. 0:00 - Hello, a story of a sick child (Jeff's) 6:30 - iTunes review 8:20 - There are five wide releases, of which FOUR did not screen for critics here 12:...

The Snowman

D | R |
Days before "The Snowman" was released, director Tomas Alfredson said in an interview that 10-15% of the screenplay was never filmed, leaving gaps in the story that had to be covered in the editing. A...

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

B+ | R |
If you’ve seen Yorgos Lanthimos’ other films, like "Dogtooth" or "The Lobster,"** you enter "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" braced for uncomfortable hilarity with touches of deadpan violence. In that r...

Wonderstruck

A- | PG |
A theme running through most of Todd Haynes' films ("Velvet Goldmine," "Far from Heaven," "Carol") is one of breaking loose from convention to be true to oneself. Often this breaking-loose has to do w...

Happy Death Day

B- | PG-13 |
Among the numerous indignities for which 2017 will be long remembered is the fact that it produced not one but two PG-13 "Groundhog Day" riffs about bratty young women reliving the day on which they a...

The Foreigner

B | R |
Jackie Chan plays the person that the title "The Foreigner" refers to, though nobody ever calls him that. They tend to call him "Chinaman," as in, "That bloody Chinaman!" Halfway through I thought: I ...

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

B+ | R |
"Wonder Woman's" fresh take on the superhero-origins movie was a welcome addition to a stagnant genre. Now here's "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," the story of how the character was created -...

Marshall

B | PG-13 |
You'd be forgiven for assuming that "Marshall" is a biopic of Thurgood Marshall, the first black United States Supreme Court justice. After all, it's called "Marshall," and a main character is Thurgoo...

The Florida Project

B+ | R |
I can think of quite a few projects for the state of Florida to work on if they're taking suggestions, but the wonderfully humane, heartbreakingly kind film called "The Florida Project" takes an unexp...

Welcome to October! Here’s what’s up

Hey, Internet friends! Happy autumn! Just wanted to check in with a status report on EDS operations. I was recently at Fantastic Fest in Austin. Here are 10 movie reviews it spawned, and here's an ...

Blade Runner 2049

C+ | R |
Having missed it as a child and then being unsure which version I was supposed to watch, I never saw Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" until the "final cut" was released in 2007. And I saw that one twice,...

Better Watch Out

B- | R |
It suffers a bit in the execution, but conceptually, "Better Watch Out" (originally titled "Safe Neighborhood") is the best twist on the "home invasion" thriller that the sub-genre has seen in a while...

Report from a Beleaguered Fantastic Fest

This year’s Fantastic Fest was packed with surprises, sexual deviancy, revenge, and sorrow, and that was just on Twitter. The movies were likewise full of intrigue — it was a good lineup, everything e...

Reviews from Fantastic Fest 2017

We’ll talk about the behind-the-scenes turmoil at Fantastic Fest in another wordpile. In the meantime, here are reviews of some of the notable films that played there. They don’t have U.S. release dat...

American Made

B | R |
"All of this is legal?" asks airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) in "American Made" when CIA agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) recruits him to fly secret surveillance missions in Central America. "If...

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

C | PG |
Whoever had "three" in the "How many LEGO movies will it take before the brand feels stale and uninspired?" pool, step up and claim your prize! (Your prize is that you do not have to watch any more of...

Battle of the Sexes

B+ | PG-13 |
The nice thing about history is that if we've learned from it, and if enough time has passed, we can also laugh at it. Look how foolish we were then! "Battle of the Sexes," a highly entertaining accou...

Stronger

A- | R |
"Stronger" isn't the first film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, but it is the first to earn its emotions legitimately, and the first that's not an insult to the victims. Directed by the divers...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

C | R |
"That movie seemed very pleased with itself." That was a non-critic friend's assessment of "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" immediately after the screening, and it's such an apt description that I have s...

Eric D. Snider: Boy Journalist (Part 3)

(When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a weekly column for my town's free paper, The Lake Elsinore Valley Sun-Tribune, about news events at my elementary school. I'm reprinting the columns here with comm...

Brad’s Status

B | R |
"Brad's Status," built around an interior monologue and reflections on the past, might have worked better as a novel, though it would have been a slight one. More of a novella, probably. Instead, Mike...

mother!

A- | R |
It's immediately clear that "mother!" is not to be taken literally, as it starts with a reverse time-lapse of a rotting corpse in a bed forming back into a sleeping Jennifer Lawrence. That sort of thi...

The Hole Problem

We need to talk about the donut situation. I know there are greater problems facing us right now, but also, from another perspective, no there aren't. For years, the standard was that donut shops w...

Home Again

C+ | PG-13 |
Hallie Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, whose marital collaborations also included the films "Irreconcilable Differences," "Baby Boom," "Father of the Bride," and "I Lov...

It

B- | R |
"It" is very long for a horror movie (135 minutes), yet covers only half of the Stephen King novel it's based on, yet is full of half-mentioned details that seem to have been crammed in hurriedly. I g...

Movie BS #373: ‘Patti Cake$,’ ‘I Do… Until I Don’t,’ ‘Birth of the Dragon’

It's a slow week for new movies, but we also talked about "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), which we hadn't seen before. 0:00 - Hello, an iTunes review, the virtues of New Orleans, the paradox ...

Birth of the Dragon

C- | PG-13 |
In 1964, the not-yet-legendary Bruce Lee had a fight with Wong Jack Man, a Shaolin master who'd recently arrived in the Bay Area from China. The details of the match, including who won it, remain cont...

Movie BS #371: ‘Logan Lucky,’ ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ ‘Brigsby Bear’

The 2017 Summer Box Office Challenge officially concludes with this episode. I won, and now Jeff has to be punished. 0:00 - Hello, community service, an iTunes review 3:35 - "Logan Lucky" review ...

Logan Lucky

B+ | PG-13 |
Steven Soderbergh tried to retire a few years ago, but it didn't take. Perhaps he can relate to Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), the lovable West Virginian ne'er-do-well at the center of "Logan Lucky" wh...

Crown Heights

B | R |
We've seen a lot of films like "Crown Heights" lately -- true stories about black people getting screwed over by police and the justice system. The surge is a testament to the increased awareness of t...

Patti Cake$

B- | R |
The title character in "Patti Cake$," one Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald), is a portly white New Jersey girl who aspires to be a rapper. She's quite good at it, spitting rhymes as intricate a...

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

C+ | R |
The poster for "The Hitman's Bodyguard" parodies the Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner "The Bodyguard," with Ryan Reynolds lovingly carrying Samuel L. Jackson to safety. It's a terrific spoof, and it hint...

Good Time

B | R |
The first character we meet in "Good Time" is Nick Nikas (co-director Benny Safdie), a unibrowed schlub with unspecified mental challenges that render him simple and compliant. Nick is with a kindly t...

Ingrid Goes West

B+ | R |
In "Ingrid Goes West," a cautionary comedy about social-media fame, Aubrey Plaza ("Parks and Recreation") plays an unstable woman fresh out of the mental ward who heads to California to stalk and befr...

Annabelle: Creation

C+ | R |
"Annabelle: Creation" is a prequel to "Annabelle," which was a spinoff of "The Conjuring," which was about the work of a pair of real-life paranormal investigators who really did once have a case invo...

Wind River

B+ | R |
A handful of innocent sheep are stalked by a coyote at the beginning of "Wind River," an intense, somber mystery-thriller set on the Wyoming Indian reservation of that name. But the coyote is soon dis...

The Dark Tower

C | PG-13 |
"The Dark Tower" is a bland, benign mediocrity that's probably significantly worse if you've read the Stephen King novels it's based on. As a non-reader (of those; I've read other books), I don't know...

Step (documentary)

B+ | PG |
"Step" is ostensibly a documentary about an inner-city high school's step-dancing team, but this crowdpleaser is more focused on the students' academic pursuits and struggle to break the poverty cycle...

Detroit

C+ | R |
"Detroit" is about one of the more unpleasant things to have happened in a city where so many unpleasant things have happened that you can elicit a feeling of despair just by naming your movie after i...

Movie BS #368: ‘Atomic Blonde,’ ‘Girls Trip,’ ‘The Lost City of Z’

Besides the reviews, the Summer Box Office Challenge is heating up in the final innings... 0:00 - Hello, here's an iTunes review, the clown costume is discussed 3:25 - "Atomic Blonde" review 16:5...

The Emoji Movie

F | PG |
Hating "The Emoji Movie" is easy, not to mention fun, necessary, and appropriate. It's like Trump. Though it represents humanity's worst tendencies (laziness, vulgarity, cynicism) and we groan under t...

Atomic Blonde

B+ | R |
To the extent that there are James Bonds in the real world -- dashing, highly skilled secret agents who can kill enemies with a rolled-up newspaper -- surely by now there are also Jane Bonds. Yet Holl...

Girls Trip

B- | R |
The raunchy, heartfelt "Girls Trip" takes the "Hangover"/"Bridesmaids" formula -- four college friends, now in their early 40s, reunite in New Orleans to get their individual and collective grooves ba...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

B- | PG-13 |
It was while making "The Fifth Element" that vibrant French madman Luc Besson realized his real calling was to adapt the futuristic "Valerian and Laureline" comic book he'd read as a child, but it too...

Dunkirk

B+ | PG-13 |
With "Dunkirk," writer-director Christopher Nolan, most famous for his Batman trilogy but even better at mind-benders like "Memento" and "Inception," applies his cerebral skillset to another familiar ...

Wish Upon

C | PG-13 |
"Wish Upon" is a dumb, silly teen-horror flick about an entitled brat who enters into a monkey's paw situation with a wish-granting music box, leading to consequences that only a sensible person who g...

Movie BS #366: ‘War for the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘Wish Upon,’ ‘Maudie’

We do this show every week, though I don't always post a link to it here. This week, we disagreed rather vociferously about a movie, which doesn't happen often. Enjoy! 0:00 - Hello, it's a nice sum...

War for the Planet of the Apes

B+ | PG-13 |
There isn't much battle action in "War for the Planet of the Apes," but it still feels like a war movie -- a World War II movie, specifically, set largely in a wintry prison camp, with some captives c...

A Ghost Story

B+ | R |
"A Ghost Story" is indeed a story about a ghost, but that's where the similarities between it and, say, "Poltergeist" stop. Written and directed by the contemplative David Lowery ("Ain't Them Bodies S...

Spider-Man: Homecoming

B+ | PG-13 |
Some superhero movies have subtitles referring to the dramatic events or villains featured therein: "Apocalypse," "The Age of Ultron," "Civil War," "The Last Stand." Then there's "Spider-Man: Homecomi...

The House

C+ | R |
When I tell you that a film with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler isn't very good, keep in mind that I find them both very, very funny and am predisposed to liking pretty much anything they do. So if I'm ...

Despicable Me 3

C | PG |
With "Despicable Me 3," I finally put my finger on what it is about these movies that keeps them from working. The premise, as you and your children know, is that a super-villain named Gru (voiced by ...

Baby Driver

B+ | R |
Admittedly, "Baby Driver" employs a gimmick. Written and directed by the impossibly clever Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"), the film's main character is a getaway driver who t...

The Big Sick

B+ | R |
There's a lot happening in "The Big Sick," an autobiographical romantic comedy by Kumail Nanjiani ("Silicon Valley") and Emily V. Gordon about the early days of their relationship. It's a rom-com, com...

The Beguiled

B | R |
Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled" is a remake of one of the two films directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood that were released in 1971 -- the other was "Dirty Harry" -- but Coppola makes it ...

Transformers: The Last Knight

D | PG-13 |
Much of what you hear about "Transformers: The Last Knight" makes it sound more watchable than it is. Stanley Tucci hamming it up as Merlin the wizard? Marky Mark employing a small robot pterodactyl t...

Movie BS #362: ‘Cars 3,’ ‘Rough Night,’ ’47 Meters Down,’ ‘The Book of Henry’

Man, it was a bad week for new movies. Good week for the podcast, though! 0:00 - Hello, some teasers 2:00 - "Cars 3" review 14:35 - "Rough Night" review 27:10 - "47 Meters Down" review (Bayer on...

Maudie

B | PG-13 |
Folk-art buffs and extremely patriotic Canadians may already know the story of Maud Lewis, an arthritic Nova Scotian who sold her simple but charming paintings out of the tiny house she shared with he...

Rough Night

D | R |
"Rough Night" comes from two of the writers and directors of Comedy Central's very funny "Broad City," Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs, and features one of its stars, Ilana Glazer. The dark, zealously...

The Book of Henry

D | PG-13 |
"The Book of Henry" is such a mushy, misguided disaster that even its irrelevant subplots are inexplicable. The baffling wrong-headedness permeates every scene in such a way that you'd swear it was do...

Cars 3

C- | G |
Pixar's first bad movie, "Cars 2," erred in making Mater the tow truck the main character and in emphasizing a tired espionage caper over jokes. Pixar's second bad movie, "Cars 3," fixes those mistake...

Movie BS #361: ‘The Mummy,’ ‘It Comes at Night,’ ‘I, Daniel Blake,’ ‘My Cousin Rachel’

Please join me and my friend Jeff Bayer for 40 minutes of scintillating conversation about movies, interspersed with dumb conversation about movies. 0:00 - Hello, moms and technology, our T-shirts ...

The Mummy

C- | PG-13 |
The primary objective of "The Mummy," Universal's latest reboot of its 85-year-old horror property, is to establish an Avengers-style "shared universe" with the other monsters the studio owns. The sec...

It Comes at Night

B+ | R |
"It Comes at Night" opens on the lesioned face of a dying old man surrounded by tearful loved ones wearing gloves and gas masks. He has a fatal and highly contagious disease that has decimated the pop...

My Cousin Rachel

B | PG-13 |
"My Cousin Rachel" stars Rachel Weisz in the part she was born to play: a person named Rachel! Based on Daphne du Maurier's 1951 novel, it's a gothic romantic mystery set on an English estate around t...