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Quickie Reviews: The Hitman’s Bodyguard; Logan Lucky; Patti Cake$

The Hitman’s Bodyguard falls into the bucket of mindless summer entertainment that offers a decent-enough cinematic escape for anyone willing to accept the movie for what it is and not over-analyze its foibles. Ryan Reynolds channels his Deadpool sarcasm to play Michael Bryce, a down-on-his-luck “protection agent” (i.e. bodyguard) who is called upon to safely transport his nemesis, notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel “Snakes on a Plane” L. Jackson) to the Hague so he can testify against brutal East European dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). It’s a familiar formula: The clock is ticking. If the witness doesn’t get to the Hague before a 24-hour deadline, the evil dictator will surely walk free. Cue the overlong gun battles, myriad car and motorcycle chases, and outlandish boat escapes as Dukhovich’s cronies take aim at Bryce and Kincaid.

The LEGO Batman Movie

“You can’t be a hero if you only care about yourself.” – Gotham City Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon to the self-absorbed, caped-crusading loner, [LEGO] Batman.

That sentiment forms the foundation – the building bricks as it were– of the new LEGO Batman Movie, a spin-off of the 2014 animated gem in which Batman delivered some of the greatest zingers in toy superhero movie history. This time around, Batman aka Bruce Wayne is front and center, voiced once again by Will Arnett (Arrested Development) with a perfect blend of snark, self-awareness, and vulnerability. The LEGO Batman Movie doesn’t quite rise to the level of its predecessor, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining – especially for the grown-ups.

Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers are prolific filmmakers, but for me their films are hit or miss. I loved No Country for Old Men, and Fargo was amazing. But then there are those utterly forgettable flicks – The Lady Killers, or Burn After Reading. I’d put Hail, Caesar! somewhere in between. It’s plenty entertaining but it isn’t going on the shelf with The Big Lebowski. It’s a lovely walk around 50s era Hollywood with a star-studded cast having a lot of fun. And if for nothing else, you should see it for Channing Tatum’s dance number.

Magic Mike XXL

In brief… so to speak… Magic Mike XXL is pure guy candy – a sort of Hangover with male strippers. Unlike the 2012 surprise hit, the sequel doesn’t take a dark turn. It stays fairly fun throughout – despite having virtually zero plot, and dialogue so cheesy you may need to stock up on Lactaid. But c’mon, what did you expect? Have you SEEN the trailer?! (Scroll down. You’re welcome.)

XXL picks up the story three years after stripper extraordinaire Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) leaves his beefy ‘Kings of Tampa’ stage buddies to pursue his true passion – making furniture. Life isn’t going quite according to plan. Business is slow. His girlfriend has bolted (for some inexplicable reason). And Mike is feeling kinda sorry for himself. And then: his buddies show up to lure Mike back in the fold for one last hurrah at a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. And off they go! They make a few stops along the way, learn some new moves, shake off some demons, get involved in various mishaps, and um, dance – a lot – for an interesting array of women.

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending has a couple of hot leads in wide-eyed beauty Mila Kunis and the often-shirtless Channing Tatum (sporting too much eye-liner). But the movie itself is a hot mess, of inter-galactic proportions. Picture a confusing mish-mash of sci-fi and superhero flicks, with a bit of Princess Diaries thrown into the mix.

22 Jump Street

There’s a running joke in 22 Jump Street that unabashedly acknowledges that the sequel is basically the exact same movie as 21 Jump Street, except with a bigger budget. No joke. It’s basically the exact same movie, except it takes place on a local college campus instead of a local high school and employs the kinds of special effects and car chases employed by bigger-budget films. The plot is basically the same. The jokes are basically the same. The entertainment value is basically the same. And if you recall (or choose to read) my original review of 21 Jump Street, then you’ll understand why 22 Jump Street works quite well – for what it is.

White House Down

White House Down is, quite simply, a guilty pleasure that transcends critical analysis. The plot is preposterous. The dialogue is cheesy. And if you saw Olympus Has Fallen, then you’ll surely find yourself in a constant state of déjà vu. No matter. It is what it is… a mindless opportunity to put a little Channing in your Tatum (you can blame Jimmy Kimmel’s viral video for that reference!). White House Down won’t win any awards outside the MTV variety, but it can satisfy a craving for a fun, chick-flicky action movie with guy and gal appeal. It’ll stick with you about as long as a bag of popcorn. But once in a while, that’s okay. Here’s the gist:

Side Effects

Here’s how the studio pitches it: “SIDE EFFECTS is a provocative thriller about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law) – intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects.” On the surface, that description seemed like a prescription for box office boredom (to me). But now, having seen the movie, I understand the struggle to come up with a better way to spin this movie without giving too much away. The less you know, the better. But know this: Side Effects is an absorbing, thought-provoking, and unpredictable drama. In other words, it’s quite good.

Magic Mike

Magic Mike is a movie with a split personality. It’s raucous fun that morphs into something surprisingly non-superficial (relatively speaking). Of course, if you’re in it strictly for the eye candy, that’s okay too. Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey do not disappoint. And neither do the rest of their cohorts at the fictional Xquisite male revue. It’s raining men – hallelujah, and all that jazz.

21 Jump Street

Okay, this one is really quite simple. 21 Jump Street is cheesy, dorky and crude. But it’s also kinda funny. So if you’re a fan of Harold and Kumar-type humor, then chances are you’ll enjoy this campy, satirical reboot of the ’80 TV show that put Johnny Depp on the map. If you’ve never heard of Jump Street – or you can’t stand H&K – then skip this one for sure. And if you’re thinking of taking the kids on a nostalgic trip down memory lane ’cause the tv show represented mostly good, clean drama (at least in the early years), then be advised: this movie is an action-comedy that more than earns its R rating. In other words- it’s definitely not for the pre-teen crowd.