REVIEW: It Chapter Two [2019]

We all need to remember. When last we left Derry, Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård) had fallen to his presumed death after a brawl with the Losers Club in his sewer lair. What we didn’t see as he slipped out of view were the Deadlights extinguishing—those bright beacons of insanity that caused countless children to “float” as this centuries old evil fed upon their fear. In the moment, however, these seven brave kids couldn’t think that far. To them this victory meant survival and the final time they’d be…

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REVIEW: Ralph Breaks the Internet [2018]

You said I was trenching! I knew things weren’t going to go as hoped when the lack of a short film before Ralph Breaks the Internet brought a filmed introduction by three of its middle-aged, male creators instead. They pretend as though they’re personally beaming themselves into our theater to share their gratitude with fake buffering circles freezing frames every now and then as one tells us the hardest part of making this sequel was fitting everything they love about the internet in. It’s spoken with a transparent insecurity boomers…

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REVIEW: Finding Dory [2016]

“Just follow the shells” Even though Pixar’s first sequel Toy Story 2 equaled one of its best movies (many say both sequels did, although I’d argue Toy Story 3 pales in comparison to its predecessors), not even they could keep up appearances with Cars 2 and Monsters University. It’s impossible to hit as many homeruns as they have let alone go back to the well with an idea to hope lightning strikes twice. So after the aforementioned forgettable attempts at continuing fan favorites, anticipation wasn’t high for their return to…

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REVIEW: Maggie’s Plan [2016]

“‘Like’ is a language condom. Trust me.” The character of John (Ethan Hawke) within Rebecca Miller‘s Maggie’s Plan is writing his first fiction novel not-so-loosely based upon his life—a loveless marriage with a bigger narcissist (Julianne Moore‘s Georgette) than he that’s up-ended by a hopeful affair with a control freak (Greta Gerwig‘s titular Maggie) just narcissistic enough to allow him to fully embrace his ego. This novel starts out promising. It’s stripped down, funny, and possesses a surrealist bent that tickles Maggie into falling in love. But after three years…

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REVIEW: They Came Together [2014]

“I admire your spirit” It’s one thing to satirize the romantic comedy genre and a whole other to literally break it down into its myriad tropes to build a story around them without transforming their generic designations into fully formed characters. But that’s exactly what David Wain (co-writer/director) and Michael Showalter (co-writer) did with They Came Together. It’s so transparent in its commentary that I was surprised they gave leading male Joel’s (Paul Rudd) brother (Max Greenfield‘s Jake) a name. The two men are so invested in calling each other…

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REVIEW: Trainwreck [2015]

“Monogamy isn’t realistic” Here I thought I could blame the editor for why Judd Apatow‘s films have been lackluster and overlong since The 40-Year-Old Virgin only to discover his latest Trainwreck is the first of his theatrical quintet not in part handled by Brent White. Instead we have William Kerr, Peck Prior, and Paul Zucker: three people who either failed to explain that a scene shouldn’t remain in the final cut just because it’s funny or three people who ultimately were ignored and/or sequentially replaced by one another. Don’t get…

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REVIEW: Inside Out [2015]

“I call it the Happy Core Memory Development Program” The simplest ideas really are the greatest and Pixar’s made a legacy built on just such an ideal. They brought toys to life as living companions caring for our children. They humanized the monsters in our closets, conjured a spark of love in the circuitry of a tiny robot, and gave an old curmudgeon tired of too much loss the opportunity to rediscover the joy of living. So it wasn’t a surprise when the germination of Inside Out was announced on…

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REVIEW: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian [2009]

“Like a Golden Fleece” While Night at the Museum is by no means a great film above family friendly theatrics, it did have heart. There was a story at its back—one steeped in magic that dealt with redemption and self-worth against insurmountable odds. A cool premise too wherein the exhibits at the Natural Museum of History come to life each night thanks to the golden tablet of Egyptian Akmenrah (Rami Malek), there was enough to entertain viewers of all ages with an eccentric stable of characters engaged in an exciting…

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REVIEW: Men in Black 3 [2012]

“He didn’t say please” While strange for a Men in Black film to open with something other than a crashing spaceship, I’ll admit to being ecstatic for the alternative. Having the sexy Nicole Scherzinger lead us into the maximum-security prison housing one of the universe’s most notorious criminals definitely didn’t hurt either. What I really enjoyed about the pre-credit sequence to Men in Black 3, however, was that our introduction to Bogladite destroyer Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) seemed to get the series back on track as far as giving…

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REVIEW: Paul [2011]

“And that’s Jenga!” If I hadn’t already realized this fact last year after loving Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I knew it following my screening of Paul—Edgar Wright is the lynchpin of success for the quartet of he, Nira Park, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. It began on British television with the hilarious homage-driven “Spaced” and continued onto the big screen in two very funny, very over-the-top, and very British films. Replacement director Greg Mottola is no slouch—he brought us Superbad and Adventureland after all—he just can’t fill Wright’s shoes…

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REVIEW: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs [2009]

“A film by a lot of people” I knew right after the above review title quote flashed across the screen that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was going to be a fun time. Sony Pictures Animation did not let me down, keeping me enthralled and smiling for the entire duration. Based on a children’s book from 1978, the film follows the exploits of a young scientist and his dreams of changing the world with his inventions. Up to adulthood, however, he has achieved little more that a ‘menace to…

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