It was so refreshing to see Adam Sandler in a capable comedy of The Meyrowitz Stories that something as tedious as The Week Of is a depressing return to form. It’s back to basics for Sandler’s Happy Madison production template, pursuing family-centric comedy that outdoes itself to be as obnoxious as possible for replicating Father of the Bride. The shift in stories that an older Sandler can relate to proves that the aged comedian is maturing in premise but still stuck in the low-brow mud.
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If the abundance of superheroes at the cinema has fatigued audiences, Avengers: Infinity War may be the most exhausting of the subgenre, albeit the most satisfying of the Avengers films. There are well over 30 heroes present, multiple arcs that splinter and crossover, and the grandest of action scenes in a superhero ensemble to end all superhero ensembles. It’s a mighty ambitious project with a budget as monstrous as its casting, but it’s a relief to report that directors Anthony and Joe Russo have proven once again they can juggle dozens of characters and twice as many plotlines. There isn’t much time for the audience or the characters to catch their breath in this mad dash of an event picture, but the amount of chemistry and pathos weaved into this oversized action picture is an amazing enough feat in itself, daring enough to dizzy even the most astute of Marvel fans.
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The return for the raunchy highway patrolmen that functioned more like a fraternity doesn’t come roaring back with a timely new story to tell. It doesn’t even return with an original premise, adopting the same simple staging of a drug conspiracy to keep the boys busy. Clearly, the Broken Lizard troupe wanted to return to their most notable theatrical comedy because they had a new batch of Canadian and sex jokes they wanted to sling on the big screen. Despite a handful of duds, there’s some clever comedy of mustaches and Canadians that hits high enough to improve the troupe’s laugh average.
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Psychopaths is a pointless display of cruelty and violence that cakes on artful cinematography and relentless savagery in place of plot and purpose. But it’s a script that seems somewhat aware of its toxic nihilism, where a death-row killer admits in an interview that evil is evil, not needing a purpose to exist. The same sentiments can be applied to this film. Writer/director Mickey Keating perhaps wasn’t seeking to make a film that had some theme or characterization to a series of serial killer murders. He probably just wanted to film very vile acts for the sheer pleasure of watching people suffer. Evil is evil after all.
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If my 8-year-old self knew there’d be a movie adaptation of the city-destroying monster video game Rampage, I’d probably be in a state of perpetual glee until it was released in theaters. Of course, my 8-year-old self had yet to indulge in the campy cinema candy of the Godzilla franchise or the King Kong movies. Your taste in giant monster movies grows a little broader as you get older and it’s sad to admit that the big-screen depiction of a giant ape slamming a giant wolf into giant buildings doesn’t hold as much excitement as I thought it would. It’s still a pleasing treat for the eyes and will probably be held up by many as one of the few solid video game movie adaptations, even if the destructive scenes seem like mild hurricanes compared to the stellar treatments for Godzilla and King Kong.
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There are some horror movies where I enjoy watching the audience reactions more than the movie itself. And then there are ones like John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, where I turn into the reactive horror movie viewer I usually smirk at for being won over by jump-scares. I found myself doing things I don’t normally do while watching horror films; edging on my seat, my mouth agape, and my finger lodged between my teeth with intensity. It’s a rare exception of a film that manages to merge the artfulness of a slow-building dread with the rollercoaster effect of grinding anticipation.
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It’s refreshing to see Wes Anderson bring his dark, dry, and gorgeous gift for comedy to the realm of animation. In a medium that seems to favor the two tones of family-friendly romps and festival-friendly art pieces, Isle of Dogs finds that sweet spot in the middle of the fantastical and the absurd. It’s a parable strong enough to sell its lore and weirdness of a dog-centric adventure in the retro-future, but not above having a laugh with the very concept itself. The consistent surrealness places it alongside the likes of Watership Down and Plague Dogs, films that may leave you baffled at how they were approved, but all the more pleased that they were.
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Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One reads like a geeky ode of a fanfiction, crossing over several properties into his dream of a limitless cyber adventure. Steven Spielberg is the perfect director to make that dream come true, having enough pull to round up all the toys they love to play with and letting them loose on the big screen. Their combination results in one of the dorkiest fangasms of a movie that visually, narratively, and verbally rattles off pop-culture appreciation like the ultimate machine gun of geek. This aspect may rob the film of being little more than a glorified monument to cool, but as someone who gets a kick out of Gundam, Back to the Future, and Buckaroo Banzai all being present in the same film, I couldn’t help but be delighted by such a boundless trip through a nostalgic wonderland.
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As someone who grew up adoring the giant robot anime of Gundam and Robotech, Pacific Rim made my inner geek explode with joy. Uprising continues to ride that high with a similar story and familiar formula for the first-time director Steven S. DeKnight to slide comfortably into the mecha masterpiece Guillermo del Toro started. Yes, this is very much more of the same, but as someone who dug the tongue-in-cheek silliness and robot-fist-in-monster-jaw action of the previous film, I’m all for a second helping.
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As the third attempt at adapting Ben Edmund’s cult classic comic book for the small screen, Amazon Studio’s take on The Tick is perhaps the most liberating. Unshackled from the binds of network television, the superhero show can venture into any territory it feels free; from dark pathos to bloody action, to more blatant adult situations. It’s this freedom that gives the latest interpretation of the big blue hero’s world a plethora of potential, even if it has yet to fully tap all it’s worth.
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