Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Weekend Movie Guide

Rory Scovel & Amy Schumer (r) star in I Feel Pretty

Black Panther - 3½ Stars. Chadwick Boseman breathes life into a new and exciting super hero. As king of a little known African nation, he can bring peace and power to the world; but first, he must settle a family score.

The Death of Stalin - 3½ Stars. Funny but painful history lesson of the dance for power to replace the Soviet dictator, with outstanding performances by Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, and Simon Russell Beale.

A Quiet Place - 3½ Stars. Wildly creative horror story. A family must stay quiet, lest they get eaten by blind, sound-sensitive space monsters.

Foxtrot - 3½ Stars. Israeli family, whose son dies while serving in the Army finds their life profoundly changed. Fascinating.

Lean on Pete - 3½ Stars. Charlie Plummer gives an outstanding performance as a homeless teen, searching for a family.

Game Night - 3 Stars. Jason Bateman and Rachael McAdams get more than they bargain for, on a murder mystery night hosted by Kyle Chandler.

Borg vs. McEnroe - 3 Stars. Shia LaBeouf turns in a great performance as tennis brat John McEnroe in the classic 1980 final with Bjorn Borg.

The Shape of Water - 3 Stars. Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning woman, who comes to the aid of a sea creature captured during the Cold War.

Blockers - 2½ Stars. Parents vow to prevent their daughters from losing their virginity on prom night. Wickedly funny.

Ready Player One - 2½ Stars. Steven Spielberg's very commercial take on the world of virtual reality.

I Feel Pretty - 1 Star. A good idea, poorly executed. Amy Schumer hits her head and suddenly believes she is extraordinarily beautiful.

Super Troopers 2 - 1 Star. Sequel to 18-year-old comedy arrives too late.

You Were Never Really Here - Zero Stars. Almost unwatchable Joaquin Phoenix hitman bloodfest.

Borg vs. McEnroe Review - 3 Stars

In 1980, tennis stars Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe turned the Wimbledon men's final into the stuff of legend. In the climactic match, neither player could close the deal, turning the playoff into a fight to the finish. "Borg vs. McEnroe" provides a character study of the two players, and finds they had more in common than fans knew. Borg had been a hot head, whose coach trained him to keep his emotions in check. The tennis world considered McEnroe a brat for his outbursts during various matches. Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason turns the icy Borg into a fascinating character. The McEnroe role fits Shia LaBeouf. Even if you don't remember the outcome, this recreation's worth your time. "Borg vs. McEnroe," 3 stars, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Exciting sports story and character study. Is it entertaining? Great tension. Is it worth the price of admission? Especially for tennis fans, and those who remember this legendary match.

Friday, April 20, 2018

I Feel Pretty Review - 1 Star

Amy Schumer almost makes her point in "I Feel Pretty." This comedy begins with the ancient plot point of a character hitting his or her head and changing. In "I Feel Pretty," Amy falls off her Soul Cycle bike. Instead of getting a concussion, she wakes up believing she has the looks of a super model. She now behaves confidently. That is, until she doesn't; but by then, learns her lesson about inner beauty. I laughed a few times, but those laughs felt like work. The cast includes a nice turn by Michelle Williams as the granddaughter of the founder of a cosmetics company, headed by Lauren Hutton. Schumer impressed a lot of viewers with her comedy "Trainwreck," in which she learned to make better life choices. "I Feel Pretty" feels derivative and not as good. Confidence is one thing: Better material is another. "I Feel Pretty," rated PG-13, 1 star. Does it deliver what it promises? Not very funny. Is it entertaining? Fitfully. Is it worth the price of admission? No thanks.

Super Troopers 2 Review - 1 Star

Some might remember the original "Super Troopers," a 2001 vintage comedy about a bunch of stoned highway patrolmen who pull jokes on each other as well as hapless drivers. Now comes the sequel, once again created by the Broken Lizard comedy team. The plot sends the lawmen to Canada, where a mistake in the original border will be solved by turning over a Canadian town to America. As part of the hand-off, the Super Troopers replace Canadian Mounties, who aren't thrilled. Rob Lowe contributes a cameo as mayor of a small Canadian town. Lynda Carter plays the governor of Vermont (by the way she looks smashing.) Most of the humor concerns body parts and functions, punctuated with a little gratuitous nudity. I laughed every now and then, although it seemed like a lot of work.  "Super Troopers 2," 1 star, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Not as funny as advertised. Is it entertaining? Occasional laughs. Is it worth the price of admission? Skip it. In fact, not even free on cable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lean on Pete Review - 3½ Stars

You can't take your eyes off Charlie Plummer in "Lean on Pete." He plays a suddenly orphaned teen who drifts from Oregon to Wyoming, looking for a sympathetic aunt. Plummer spends much of this story with a racehorse named "Lean On Pete," owned by Steve Buscemi, a no-nonsense horse racer/trader. When it appears "Pete" will go to the glue factory, Plummer and the horse take flight. Their road trip leads to a series of mean streets. "Lean on Pete" avoids the cliche of the bond between a boy and his horse. Instead, a good kid leading a grim life looks for someone to lean on, and in turn, to lean on him. "Lean on Pete" avoids sentiment, a bare bones film showcasing a brilliant performance. "Lean on Pete," rated "R," 3½ stars. Does it deliver what it promises? A kid on a quest. Is it entertaining? Great performance. Is it worth the price of admission? You bet.

You Were Never Really Here Review - Zero Stars

Joaquin Phoenix grows a shaggy beard and adds dozens of pounds to his frame as a stressed veteran turned hitman, specializing in rescuing missing children. The movie aims for outsider status, laying on the indie techniques, including jump cuts, blurry close-ups and mind-numbing violence. Phoenix must find a young teen, who's been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. Sometimes "You Were Never Really Here" has echoes of Phoenix's far superior "Inherent Vice." But most of the time, this is unwatchable. "You Were Never Really Here," rated "R," zero stars. Does it deliver what it promises? A misfire. Is it entertaining? I started to leave several times, and by the end, I wish I had. Is it worth the price of admission? No, and not worth your time either.