REVIEW: Shoplifters of the World [2021]

No one can ever take it away from us. The Smiths are dead. That’s the news Cleo (Helena Howard) punctuates with a scream loud enough to wake everyone in Denver, Colorado but her own passed out drunk mother on the couch. So she drives to the one place she knows she’ll find a kindred spirit: the record store. Dean (Ellar Coltrane) is reading the news behind the counter as she walks in, the obvious air of depression looming above him before his boss (Thomas Lennon) stomps in to say that…

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REVIEW: Cherry [2021]

You don’t have to ever be sorry for the way you feel. There’s a heavy scene towards the beginning of Anthony and Joe Russo‘s Cherry wherein an obviously traumatized Emily (Ciara Bravo) subconsciously botches an attempt at saying goodbye for good to her boyfriend (Tom Holland‘s nameless protagonist). The script (written by Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg) very quickly glossed over the young woman’s domestic abuse-created PTSD that has her ready to flee after he tells her he loves her (treating it more as a catalyst for why he joins…

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REVIEW: Knife Skills [2017]

What I see is a tremendous amount of desire. One of the students at Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute explains how ex-convicts wear the stigma of that label as a badge. It tells potential employers that they are willing to work harder and prove their loyalty because anyone who gives them a chance at a second life is someone they’d do anything to repay. There’s a lot of truth to this sentiment even if it isn’t a guarantee. Those who do leave prison with a desire to better him/herself and…

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REVIEW: Knight of Cups [2016]

“You’re still the love of my life. Should I tell you that?” The evolution of Terrence Malick is a fascinating one. From regular narrative structure to voiceover-driven epics to visual poems, his style has been stripped down to beautiful imagery and pithily obtuse dialogue sending us on journeys as much about ourselves as they are about the characters onscreen. Many believed his last film To the Wonder was a sign of decline—hours of improvised footage cobbled together during post-production into something wholly different than how it began—but I still held…

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REVIEW: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb [2014]

“They’ll burn up like tiny scarabs in Sinai” It appears director Shawn Levy and new screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman have thrown the jokey nature of Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant‘s Battle of the Smithsonian away to bring the Night at the Museum series back to what first made it a success. Secret of the Tomb reminded me a lot of the original installment with a thinly veiled metaphor once again providing the dramatic arc for Larry Daley’s (Ben Stiller) adventure, this time showing a need to say…

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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: Night at the Museum [2006]

“Keep a lid on it, Butterscotch” While based on a 1993 children’s book by Milan Trenc portraying a museum security guard discovering how he must protect the people outside from the dinosaur skeletons that come to life inside, Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon‘s cinematic adaptation of Night at the Museum bears more of a resemblance to another family friendly fantasy franchise ending its trilogy the same year as theirs began. I’m talking about The Santa Clause, an enjoyable holiday journey of the heart wherein a divorced dad hoping to…

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REVIEW: Mr. Peabody & Sherman [2014]

“But that’s not fair! All my friends are fighting the Trojan War!” It’s been a decade in the making but director Rob Minkoff has finally brought Mr. Peabody and Sherman to theaters. He tried with Sony in 2003, got the ball rolling again with Dreamworks in 2006, and saw the latter studio’s purchase of the Classic Media library in 2012 as the clincher to guarantee it’d come to fruition. With characters known from segments of the 60s television series “The Bullwinkle Show”, they’re virtually a brand new property for today’s…

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REVIEW: We’re the Millers [2013]

“That’s my credo, ‘No Ragrets’” An R-rated comedy shouldn’t possess a PG-rated heart. This is We’re the Millers’ main problem in my mind because while the profanity-laced adventure has a ton of laughs, one can’t help shake the feeling that it’s targeted to a 13-16 age group who won’t be allowed to buy a ticket. Overt sexual innuendo and f-bombs don’t make up for a lack of anything else that would render screenwriting teams Bob Fisher and Steve Faber or Sean Anders and John Morris to need an R for…

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REVIEW: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [2005]

“So long and thanks for all the fish” It took a quarter century for Douglas Adams‘ seminal work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to hit the big screen, but it was worth the wait. Well, I’m probably not the authoritative word on such a statement considering the book series has rested unread on my shelf for the better part of ten years. As someone with no frame of reference to either it or the original radio play, though, I can say it’s a ton of British satirical fun showcasing…

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REVIEW: Balls of Fury [2007]

“I’m going to Disneyland!” With the appropriately titled book Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! under their belts, one could easily make the case for Balls of Fury being Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon‘s cornerstone in screenwriting profiteering. A sports redemption tale set inside the seedy underbelly of elite ping-pong, the premise is laughable as a comedy skit let alone a feature length film. But this is what Garant and Lennon—comedians and creators of “The…

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