Currently browsing the "Emma Thompson" tag.

Quickie Review: Dolittle

I often skip the “kids movies” since my nieces and nephews have aged out of them. But I will generally make an exception for animation, musicals and anything with Robert Downey Jr. Dolittle has the latter. After years of playing Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and other PG-13 and R-rated characters, Downey wanted to make something his younger kids could see. Thus, we have Dolittle – a sweet, harmless, sometimes goofy film reminiscent of the family-friendly comedy adventure films of my youth. It won’t displace the 1967 Rex Harrison version (with music!), or Eddie Murphy’s 1998 take on the classic tale; but for a new generation, this re-imagining of the doctor who can communicate with animals is superficially satisfactory. It’s got enough heart and animal shenanigans to entertain the kids and placate most of the adults in tow.

Review: Last Christmas

Romantic comedies and dramas are few and far between these days, so when a decent one does come along, it’s generally worth celebrating, even if it’s just so-so. Such is the case with Last Christmas. Will it become an instant Christmas classic, ala Love Actually, Elf, or It’s a Wonderful Life? Extremely doubtful. Will it satisfy a minor craving for holiday heartache and cheer, with a splash of meet-cute? Absolutely. It’s a step above Hallmark and Lifetime (and straight-to-Netflix) fare, though not a giant leap.

Review: Late Night

Late Night is a solid workplace comedy that fluctuates between really smart and funny, and just okay. That unevenness may limit its success at a crowded box office, though it does have all the key ingredients for a second chance at life in the streaming and rental market. Emma Thompson plays Katherine Newbury, a legendary late night talk show host in danger of losing her show after 30 years. She’s brilliant and witty, but also harsh, demanding and stuck in her ways. As a boss, she’s like a hybrid of intimidating editor Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada and the prickly genius diagnostician from House. In a last-ditch effort to shake things up and become more relevant, Katherine decides to finally add a woman to her all-male writing staff, and that opens the door for Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), an efficiency expert at a chemical plant who has a flair for comedy. Molly happens to be in the right place at the right time to get the kind of big break we all dream about. But she’s going to have to overcome a lot of obstacles and resentment to prove she’s more than just some “diversity hire”… all while staying true to her enthusiastic and idealistic self.

Review: Men In Black: International

Does Men In Black: International break new ground? No, not really. Does it need to? Would have been nice; but no, not really. It’s good enough to serve as an amusing diversion at the start of the summer movie season, and sustain the sci-fi adventure comedy franchise that kicked off with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones back in 1997. It’s a popcorn movie. Over-think it, and you may be disappointed. Embrace it for what it is, and you’ll have a good time watching a new crop of super-secret agents tasked with protecting Earth from the scum of the universe. The plot is a tad superficial and the globe-trotting a bit excessive and unnecessary (except for lending credence to the subtitle), but a solid cast helps keep it afloat.

Review: The Children Act

The Children Act is a quiet and thoughtful drama starring two of the most versatile actors of our time: Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, Saving Mr. Banks, Harry Potter) and Stanley Tucci (Big Night, Spotlight, The Hunger Games). Thompson plays Fiona Maye, a British High Court judge tasked with making difficult, time-sensitive decisions involving the health and welfare of children. Her job is all-consuming, and her devotion to it has taken a heavy toll on her 20-year marriage – to the point where her loving but frustrated husband Jack (Tucci) tells her he is going to have an affair. The pronouncement sends Fiona into an emotional tailspin just as she’s getting swept up in the high-profile case of a teenage boy dying of leukemia.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast represented near-perfection for an animated musical when it competed for Best Picture honors in 1991. So it’s hard to imagine that any reimagining of the “tale as old as time” could possibly hold a candle – or a lumiere – to that instant classic. But Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast does what it set out to do, and that’s bring a strong cast, a contemporary vibe, and a few new songs to audiences old and new. And while it’s not perfect, it is quite enchanting.

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is a thoroughly enjoyable film that doesn’t fit into any particular genre. It’s a ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ blend of drama, wit and biopic, inspired by true events. The film sheds light on a years-long effort by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) to convince a difficult and cynical British author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to let him bring her iconic “Mary Poppins” children’s book to the big screen. It was not an easy sell.

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures is based on a popular novel for the ‘YA’ (young adult) crowd. And while I pride myself on being hip to such trends (Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc.), I’d never actually heard of it. So I went into the movie with zero expectations. And in the end – I thought it was okay. Nothing extraordinary. But it didn’t suck. I actually found it more interesting and romantically engaging than that other popular-novel-turned-movie released for Valentine’s Day, Safe Haven. Both movies feature a supernatural element, but Beautiful Creatures takes it to the max. If you hear pop culture rumblings about “being claimed” – Beautiful Creatures is to blame.

Pirate Radio aka The Boat that Rocked

Pirate Radio aka The Boat that Rocked is a very, very funny movie with a kick ass soundtrack. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed the music in a film as much. And the cast — this is ensemble acting at its best, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, (Emma Thompson and January Jones in cameos) and lots of other people who should be a lot better known than they are.