And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Octavia Spencer" tag.

Review: Thunder Force

The latest action-adventure comedy from celebrity couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy is not exactly a Thunder Force to be reckoned with. It’s barely watchable. So don’t be fooled by its cute trailer and impressive roster of actors. Thunder Force is a dud that takes way too long to get to what might be considered the good stuff if you’re in a forgiving mood… and happen to have a Netflix account… and managed to find some escapist value in critical bombs like Superintelligence, Tammy, Life of the Party, and the The Boss — all starring McCarthy and co-written and/or directed by Falcone. Seems their talents are far better served by other people’s material. And Octavia Spencer? The Academy-Award winner seemed to have far more fun playing super bad in the 2019 creepy horror movie Ma, and that wasn’t exactly a film to write home about.  Here, she’s a newly-minted superhero out to save the world — or at least Chicago — from genetically-altered supervillains known as “miscreants”.

Review: Onward

I may be slightly out of step with the masses on this one. Time will tell. I liked Onward, but I didn’t love it, and I’m not so sure the majority of kids will either. Onward definitely scores points for sparking the imagination and conjuring up some magical messaging. But will kids grasp the concept of a half-dad depicted by a pair of khakis? I don’t know.

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: MA

My oh Ma! What a departure for Octavia Spencer, playing a lonely, twisted woman in a teen horror flick. The Oscar-winning actress (The Help, Hidden Figures) commands the screen – and the scream – as Sue Ann, a veterinary assistant in a quiet Ohio town who befriends a group of teenagers on a beer run. She agrees to buy the kids alcohol and invites them to hang out in her large secluded basement so they can have a safe place to party. What could possibly go wrong?

Review: Instant Family

Instant Family is an instant charmer. It’s a message movie that balances the funny with the feels and could very well raise critical awareness and interest in foster care and adoption. The film was written and directed by Sean Anders (Daddy’s Home) who drew on his own family story for inspiration. Just like the main characters in Instant Family, Anders and his wife took in three siblings born to a drug addict mom. Their journey was fraught with challenges – and laughter. So they decided to put that experience into the cinematic universe to help demystify the foster care and adoption process and celebrate the true meaning of family.

Review: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is shaping up to be an awards-season contender, though it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – or water. It’s a mesmerizing adult fairy tale co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth). In a nutshell: the film is about a lonely mute named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a fantastical sea creature (Doug Jones in a gilled wetsuit) being held prisoner in the high-security lab where she works as a cleaning lady. Sure, it all sounds kinds of weird, and it is – but it’s also a stunning film with some stellar acting.

Gifted

Gifted is admittedly schmaltzy and formulaic, but it fits a current void in our cinematic options for chick flick dramas. It plays a bit like a Nicholas Sparks movie – but with a smartass kid, a scene-stealing one-eyed cat, and the hunky Chris Evans (Captain America) as what one character describes as “the quiet damaged hot guy” at the bar. Evans plays Frank Adler, a single man raising his spirited young niece Mary (McKenna Grace) in a quiet coastal town in Florida. He’s been home-schooling the girl, but wants her to socialize more with other kids. So he sends her to public school, where her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) soon discovers that Mary is a math prodigy. That discovery sets in motion a debate over Mary’s education, and a custody battle between Frank and his domineering mother Evelyn (Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan).

Hidden Figures

How did we not know about this story before now?! That’s the biggest question I had after watching Hidden Figures, what I venture to call the best feel-good movie to hit theaters in recent weeks, months, or possibly even years. It’s based on the fascinating, true story of three African-American women who were part of a segregated ‘human computer’ division at NASA that ‘did the math’ that helped send astronaut John Glenn into orbit at the height of the space race in the early 1960s. Talk about the right stuff. These women had it.

Snowpiercer

I really wanted to like this movie. It has a top notch cast with Chris “Captain America” Evans, Tilda “Chameleon” Swinton, Octavia “Oscar” Spencer, John “Gravitas” Hurt and Ed “Reliable” Harris, and I LOVED director Bong Joon Ho’s last film, Mother. But dystopian future movies need to have an internal logic and this one just doesn’t. It is a two hour battle from one end of a train to the other without anyone I could give a damn about.

Fruitvale Station

You know from the opening of Fruitvale Station that it is going to end very badly. Based on a true story, it begins with what appears to be cellphone footage of a group of Bay Area transit cops abusing a bunch of young black men, and the scene escalates to the point where one of the men is shot, face down on the floor, in the back. The rest of the film flashes back to follow Oscar Grant III, the 22-year-old victim of this senseless crime, through what turns out to be the last day of his young life. It is impossible to watch without thinking of another unarmed young man who was killed recently, and one of the great strengths of this film is that it humanizes without sugarcoating the victim’s life; it gives a fleshed-out personality to what would otherwise just be another sad statistic.