And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys… aint so bad. And neither is their movie. The film is basically an animated animal version of Oceans 11. A heist movie for the under 12 set, paced to keep both kids and adults at least moderately entertained. The plot revolves around a menagerie of outlaws who get a kick out of grand larceny. Their lifestyle choice is more about the camaraderie than the crime. They just happen to be very good at being bad. Until the law finally catches up with them and they are forced to rethink what they do, who they are, and what they want to be. Good? Bad? A little of both perhaps?

Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once

At the center of this wild ride of an action/sci-fi flick is Chinese immigrant mom Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi) whose life definitely took a wrong turn somewhere. Stuck in a boring marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy QuanGoonies), running a coin-op laundry, regularly tangling with her lesbian daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) who disappoints her again and again, and on her way to an audit by an unforgiving IRS agent (Jamie Lee Curtis), she’s woefully unprepared for the role suddenly thrust upon her as the savior of the universe. But she really has no choice in the matter.

Review: Better NATE than Ever

The DUMBO in the room with Disney’s family-friendly musical dramedy Better NATE Than Ever is the irony of timing–as the film’s release just happens to coincide with the passage of Florida’s ridiculous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Nate is a charming little message movie that draws from the likes of Billy Elliott, Adventures in Babysitting, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off— if Ferris were in middle school, and a musical theater geek struggling to find his place and his people. That place is Broadway baby!

Review: I Want You Back

While the just-released Marry Me boasts some major global starpower, the just-released I Want You Back is the smarter choice for a circa Valentine’s Day romantic comedy. It’s quirky, engaging and refreshingly clever. And you can watch it on Amazon Prime Video! I Want You Back is a post-breakup meet cute about 30-somethings Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (Jenny Slate) — two strangers who find each other crying in the stairwell of their Atlanta office building just after being dumped by their significant others. The two quickly bond over their grief, declare themselves “Sadness Sisters,” engage in some drunken karaoke, and then hatch a plan to break up their exes’ new relationships and win back the former love of their lives. Theirs is a tale of desperation fueled by social media envy.

Review: Marry Me

If you’ve never seen Notting Hill (1999), I strongly advise you watch that particular romcom before stepping into a theater– or onto a Peacock (network)– to see Marry Me. The premise is similar but the execution of the Julia Roberts-Hugh Grant classic is sooooo much better. If you’ve already seen Notting Hill (a few dozen times), then you will be forgiven if drawn into the fluffy imitation starring the likeable duo of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson.

Review: Licorice Pizza

This quirky coming-of-age rom-com was one of my favorite films of the year. The leads, Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, are unknowns, but there are some fabulous cameos from A-listers, particularly Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper. It’s a quietly unfolding love story with an older woman that takes place as a young man hustles his way around town and into her heart. 

Review: Red Rocket

Director Sean Baker (The Florida Project, Tangerine) loves stories and characters that Hollywood regularly ignores. And his newest dark comedy Red Rocket continues to plumb the depths of America’s underclass. It’s the story of Mikey Saber, a once high flying porn star whose life has taken a downward turn and ends up back in Texas City begging his ex-wife to take him in while he figures out his next move. Simon Rex who was once a MTV V.J. and went on to act in a series of forgettable films steals the show as Mikey, a charming and self-centered hustler, proud of his porn awards and planning a return to California and his place in the biz. And that plan includes Strawberry (Suzanna Son in a breakout role), a 17-year-old girl he falls for at the local donut shop. Unfortunately, Mikey is not half as brilliant is he believes himself to be.

Review: Being the Ricardos

Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago Seven, The Social Network) is the undisputed master of clever, snappy dialogue.  And here he turns his gift to telling the story of the It Couple of the 50s — Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. He focuses the narrative on one particular week in 1953 when their world came close to crashing down because of a couple of media stories. Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star as the power couple prepping for their weekly “I Love Lucy” episode while scrambling to make one huge (and one small) scandal disappear. And while that story is unfolding the backstory of their relationship comes out in flashbacks. Sadly though it should be a lot more satisfying that it ends up being. 

Review: Don’t Look Up

In this apocalyptic satire from Oscar-winning writer/director Adam McCay (Vice, The Big Short) astronomy PhD student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a comet hurtling straight towards the earth. She and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) try to alert the powers that be of the impending danger, but of course it’s not that easy to get people to listen. After all, it’s just too much of a downer and all that sciency stuff isn’t sexy. And the President of the US (Meryl Streep) can’t see how panicking the public can help in her train wreck of a reelection bid. Meanwhile there’s a tech billionaire (Mark Rylance) in the wings trying to see how it can make him even richer. Can anyone save the earth from the earthlings?

Review: The Hand of God

This coming of age drama from Academy Award-winning writer/director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) tells the story of Fabietto (Filippo Scotti). Set in Naples in the 1980s, it’s clearly a nostalgic look back for the director to a time that was filled with adolescent awakening, family joys and tragedies, and the beginnings of his love affair with cinema. It’s bursting with big characters seen through a many-years-removed lens. Told in a series of vignettes,  it’s by turns hilarious and warm and sad and violent, and serves as a love letter to the Naples of a certain time.