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‘STUBER’ Hails Nanjiani and Bautista for Violently Funny Masculinity Workshop

In Stuber, a rogue detective (Dave Bautista) hot on the case of the heroine dealer who killed his partner has just undergone Lasik eye surgery. Functionally blind, Bautista’s Vic not-so-serendipitously gets an urgent break in the case but can barely walk two paces without running into a wall or down a flight of stairs. Wanting to avenge his fallen partner before the case is handed off to the feds, Vic finds salvation in ride share technology, hailing Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) to unwittingly save the day as a kind of seeing-eye-Prius-driver. Read More

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‘THE LION KING’ Doesn’t Have An Original Bone in its Stunningly Photorealistic Body

Not a lot of films have found success at the multiplexes this summer with franchise entries like Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Dark Phoenix and Men in Black: International crashing and burning at the global box office. What with their iron grip over Marvel (Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home), Pixar (Toy Story 4) and a catalogue of classic animated films like Aladdin and Dumbo ripe for live action remakes at their disposal, Disney has kept their head above flood waters, saving the AMCs and Regals of the world from becoming desolate, sticky wastelands of stale popcorn kernels and cola syrup. Disney is a king of their domain. And that domain is business. And business is good. Read More

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Thematic ‘Toy Story 4’ Puts Big Radical Ideas Over Big Radical Plot 

At the height of Pixar’s creative boon, Toy Story 3 threatened the impossible: a sequel would be the animation studio’s best movie to date. This on the heels of the triple-threat punch of Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up, to this day the finest consecutive output Pixar would manage. Toy Story, to this point in the studio’s history, was Pixar’s only ongoing franchise – Cars 2 would come along and bust their Fresh streak just one year later – but its sequels managed to keep pace with their starkly original one-off creations by diving deeper into the pathos of its collection of anthropomorphic toys and achieving an even greater sense of world-building. Woody, Buzz and the gang discovered things about themselves by exploring larger sandboxes and, accompanying them, we too saw the world with eyes renewed.  Read More

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Punishingly Bland ‘MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL’ Left Me Wanting Neuralization

I know I’ll never get the two hours I just spent watching Men in Black: International back, ’tis part of the great contract us movie critics sign with the devil of Hollywood. But if only there was a way to zap myself with some kind of bright glwoy contraption, to erase that grueling 120-minutes sat in a popcorn-fueled daze,  watching the swashbuckling Chris Hemsworth and charming Tessa Thompson flail in a dead fish revival that was never meant to be. If only some people in black suits could trot up and zap away those banal 7200 seconds, rewriting my history by telling me I just watched John Wick 3 again or just “something really cute” really. But alas, neutralizers don’t exist. And watch Men in Black: International I have. Read More

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SIFF ’19: ‘YESTERDAY’ Part Sunny Beatles Musical, Part Terrible Rom-Com

With Yesterday, a rom-com Trojan-horsed in a concept comedy that imagines a world where Paul, John, George and Ringo never formed The Beatles, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) has allowed the musical catalog of that formative group to do most of the dramatic heavy lifting. If you’re up for a poppy movie about Beatles music that co-stars Ed Sheeran, this is the movie for you. Otherwise – yeah, probably best to not pay it much mind. Using just enough of Boyle’s trademark flair behind the camera to simulate a modicum of visual intrigue, Yesterday deeply fails its quasi-sci-fi conceit by treating the intriguing parallel universe concept as mere window dressings for a lukewarm romance between struggling artist Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) who strikes it big exploiting his knowledge of Beatles music, and his DIY manager Ellie (Lily James). The movie earns good graces when its blazing through the band’s discography and seeing the world at large react to their music for the first time but the rom-com-heavy second half drags it all off the rails with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Richard Curtis (Love Actually) succumbing to one tired, obnoxious cliché after another in increasingly painful manner. (C) Read More

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Mo’ Monsters, Mo’ Problems in Moronic ‘GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS’

One of the chief complaints regarding the 2014 Gareth Evans-directed Godzilla reboot was the lack of screen time for the titular monster. The character for which the film was named famously only appeared on screen for about 8 minutes and some fans felt they got the short end of the stick when they plopped in their theater seats expecting all-out-monster mayhem. In the timeless tradition of cinematic call and response, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as directed by Michael Dougherty of Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus fame, takes that complaint baton and sprints blindly the other direction, delivering a movie that is packed to the gills with fussy monsters and cityscape destruction porn but remains an exhausting and brain-numbing eyesore nonetheless.  Read More

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Sporadically Gruesome ‘BRIGHTBURN’ Could Burn More Brightly

Man of Steel meets We Need to Talk About Kevin in Brightburn, the James Gunn-produced “What if Superman bad?” movie that’s had folks buzzing since its mysterious announcement last year. Gunn, who cut his teeth in the Troma movie scene – a disruptive production company infamous for splatter and farce-fueled horror movies like Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and The Toxic Avenger – before becoming a big shot with The Guardians of the Galaxy series, has his gore-tastic fingerprints scattered throughout Brightburn, though the superhero script-flipper’s signature touch is decisively missing, Brightburn lacking the mark of a seasoned filmmaker with keen editorial prowess, a knack for subjective horror, and Gunn’s dark, cruel wit. Read More

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Disney’s Lifeless ’ALADDIN’ Remake is the Opposite of Art

As far as I’m concerned, Aladdin is the worst movie of the year. There is not one ounce of artistic value in this soiled remake ostensibly from director Guy Ritchie (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), not one element that was not a clunky and borderline offensive down step from the original 1992 animated film, no attempt to refurbish the material and put any semblance of fresh spin on it. This is “filmmaking” as black magic – the result of someone burying the original Aladdin V/H/S in a Pet Sematary, its shambling resurrected corpse showing up on marquees pretending to be a real movie.   Read More

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‘BOOKSMART’ a Sincere (And Sincerely Funny) Ode to High School Ride or Dies 

In August of 2007, Superbad hit theaters and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I had graduated from high school three months earlier and though I’d never sat in a ride along with infantile po-po, or forced to sing karaoke to a room full of coke heads, the theme of life’s defining crossroads and their inevitable effect on friendship struck a nerve. Underneath the playful sheen of a raunchy teen comedy, Superbad spoke to the challenges of an unknowable future and the tectonic shifts that crackle in the multitudinous friendships you’ve curated over the years. A few days after Superbad, I left for college.  Read More

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 ’JOHN WICK 3 – PARABELLUM’ Is Like Dipping Your Eyes in Pop Rocks

When you buy your ticket for John Wick 3, prepare for war. The third (and evidently not final) installment in Keanu Reeves’ increasingly trendy no-fuss no-frills action franchise is an idyllic distillation of the draw of the series, amped up to the Nth degree, slurping down a snifter of brandy, armed with Schubert on vinyl, locked, stocked, loaded, ready to tango. There’s someone to kill around every corner, alongside a brain cell or two, if you fancy buying into all the bloody mayhem. The weapons are more plentiful, the armor is thicker, the violence is more violent. Hell, even the blood is bloodier. As the criminal underworld puts the titular invincible assassin squarely in its seemingly ubiquitous crosshairs, it’s John Wick versus the world. The odds are less than even.  Read More