REVIEW: I Used to Go Here [2020]

You’re like our forefather. This was the week when Kate’s (Gillian Jacobs) dreams were supposed to come true. Her debut novel was releasing, her wedding was on the horizon, and a nationwide book tour was about to commence. Everything she worked for since college had finally bore fruit and you couldn’t blame her if she smiled with relief at a job well done. Except she never gets that chance. She receives a call from her publisher weeks after her engagement was cancelled to hear the tour has been too. Kate’s…

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REVIEW: An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn [2018]

That man ain’t dead. There’s an unforgettable scene from “Twin Peaks” season two that can be a make-it or break-it point for viewers due to how far David Lynch and company were willing to go with the cringe factor of their off-kilter comedic tone. It’s the one where Agent Cooper is lying on the floor of his hotel room after being shot by an unknown assailant. He’s bleeding out when the lovingly coined Señor Droolcup comes to the door with a glass of milk and obliviousness for the ages. Instead…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Brad’s Status [2017]

“Why are you competing at all?” Brad’s (Ben Stiller) son is about to embark on college. It’s the type of auspicious life marker to make anyone look back and question the journey they’ve taken thus far. Has Brad done enough? Lived up to the potential he felt he possessed? Or was he passed by? All of his old Tufts friends are rich, famous, successful, and/or happy—pure happiness unencumbered by the seemingly trivial struggles Brad faces daily. He isn’t poor, though. Nor destitute. If anything he’s on the cusp of breaking…

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REVIEW: Moana [2016]

“Beat the drum” It’s tough to give two white guys the benefit of the doubt when it comes to spearheading a blockbuster feature-length animated film about Ancient Polynesian mythology, but you cannot deny that Disney stalwarts Ron Clements and John Musker did what they could to ensure Moana stayed true to their subject’s traditions and culture. The pair conducted extensive research in the South Pacific and recruited a local “brain-trust” to keep them honest. Taika Waititi wrote a first draft, a laundry list of writers listed above took over, and…

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REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows [2014]

“Get up and stand on the ceiling like a man” In great mockumentary fashion, What We Do in the Shadows bears to mind the work of Christopher Guest. It has eccentric characters, constant mugging for the camera, and a perfectly dry delivery ensuring those watching will laugh even harder at each joke—if that’s their cup of tea. This is a New Zealand produced work and therefore filled to the brim with a British comic sensibility. That means you won’t get the over-the-top nonsense from a John Michael Higgins or a…

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REVIEW: Muppets Most Wanted [2014]

“It’s not easy being … mean” Is it a coincidence the Muppet renaissance follows the same trajectory as its subjects’ original cinematic saga? 2011’s The Muppets was enjoyable if not a tad overrated due to its story mirroring many of the beats that made 1979’s The Muppet Movie a classic. Revamping its road movie trope perfectly suited the need to reintroduce these iconic figures to a new audience ready to realize the troupe’s potential as they reunited for the common goal of putting on the greatest show in their history.…

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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: Rio [2011]

“Sing it, Lionel” Always playing third fiddle to the powerhouses of Pixar and Dreamworks, Sony Pictures’ Blue Sky Studios has held their own with the Ice Age franchise and a couple supporters. Their newest endeavor, Rio, looks to try and recreate a bit of the magic from their competitor’s Madagascar, setting the tale in an exotic locale—Brazil—and populating it with a blend of random humor, violin playing sentimentality, and an eccentric hoard of hive-mind beasts for slapstick entertainment. The music is unfortunately not up to snuff, giving a film aimed…

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REVIEW: Dinner for Schmucks [2010]

“You can eat my pudding” When reading the synopsis for 1998s French film Le dîner de cons, I was surprised at how close to the new Americanized version, Dinner for Schmucks, it actually was. Both titles allude to the fact a dinner is involved—one hinging on the invitation of guests with high levels of idiocy. After all, the one to make company owner Fender (Bruce Greenwood) laugh most is awarded a trophy for his/her trouble; a chalice designating the winner as “Most Extraordinary” to his face, but “Biggest Loser” behind…

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