Diversity on Big and Small Screens

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What to Watch in the Theater:
The Darkest Minds (PG13) is in theaters now. This dystopian film, based on a YA book series, features a good assortment of characters, led by talented teen Amanda Stenberg. There’s a virus that wipes out the majority of children. Those who survive have varying degrees of powers, which adults feel is threatening, so the kids are either executed or confined to camps, depending on their power level. The story follows a group of children trying to find a place to live freely, never knowing who to trust. It’s an entertaining film, but the theme seems a little played out, as evidenced by its lack of interest at the box office.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

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Crazy Rich Asians (PG13) is in theaters now. This fish out of water comedy features an all-Asian cast, portraying the insanely rich family and friends of lead Nick Young, and his girlfriend, Rachel, who’s meeting them for the first time, after just learning that Nick’s family is wealthy. It’s a fun romp, including some standout comedic moments from Awkwafina and Ken Jeong. It’s interesting to see how the different family members deal with each other, and feel threatened by a level-headed, non-wealthy outsider. It’s great to see so much talent from the Asian community dominate in this highly entertaining film.
Our rating: 4.83 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
To the Beat! (TVPG) is streaming on Netflix. This is director Jillian Claire’s debut, with a story about twin sisters vying against their neighbor/arch nemesis, to be backup dancers in a pop star’s music video. It’s a sweet teen story about family and integrity. Although flawed, it isn’t a bad first effort, and we’re glad to see Netflix is giving lower budget indie films a chance.
Our rating: 3.17 out of 5

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (TV14) is a Netflix original, based on the recent novel of the same name. Teen Lara Jean is horrified to learn that the private love letters she penned to a handful of boys as a sort of diary, were actually mailed to the boys. The aftermath has her entering into a fake relationship with one of the guys, while she tries to figure out her feelings for another. While it may be a bit predictable, the journey is enjoyable, and sure to get teen hearts fluttering. Lara Jean’s family is Asian-American, highlighting again that talented acting community that we don’t see often enough.
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5

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Remembering What’s Important

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What to Watch in the Theater:
Disney’s Christopher Robin (PG) is in theaters now. This story, about a boy who grows into a man who forgets how to play, will pull on your heartstrings. It’s a cautionary tale we should all heed, with all our fuzzy Hundred Acre Woods friends along for the amusing and emotional ride. Anyone who grew up with these characters will realize just how wise a “bear of very little brain” really is. Here come the tears…
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5

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The Spy Who Dumped Me (R) is in theaters now. This comedy, about a pair of besties who get caught up in international espionage, stars the incredibly funny Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. The comedy chemistry is gold, and there are some great supporting players along for this incredibly raucous journey. Lots of inappropriate jokes and some violence, but a wonderful plot full of twists and turns, and it’s just so funny! Would love to see more from this pair!
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Like Father (TVMA) is a Netflix original. Rachel, played by Kristen Bell, gets dumped at the alter for being a workaholic. She then discovers her dad (played by Kelsey Grammer), who left when she was young, showed up to the wedding. They get drunk and end up going on her honeymoon cruise together. Their cruise mates are a great bunch who add fun to the story. It’s a sweet tale of a father attempting to mend fences, and a daughter resisting him at every turn.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5

Father of the Year (TV14) is a Netflix original. If this is part of Adam Sandler’s longterm deal with Netflix, then we know why it was made. If not, it’s a mystery to us. Two childhood friends wonder which of their dads would win in a fight, and then the dads actually start a fight. David Spade plays an alcoholic screw-up of a dad, with a come and go Boston accent, who continues to mess up his son’s life. Some former Disney child stars and a good soundtrack save the movie from a pretty pointless plot.
Our rating: 3 out of 5

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From Indies to Blockbusters

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What to Watch in the Theater:
Sorry to Bother You (R) is in theaters now. This indie film takes place in a slightly dystopian near future, where the economy is not doing well, and people are opting to go “Worry Free” in a live/work environment that’s being touted as the next best thing. Lead character, Cassius Green, learns a telemarketing secret that leads him to become a member of the elite. He stumbles upon some disturbing information and struggles with the choice between money and doing the right thing. There’s some bizarre stuff here, so we were split on this one.
Our rating: 3.33 out of 5

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Mission Impossible: Fallout (PG13) is in theaters now. This blockbuster, the sixth in the franchise, escalates the Tom Cruise stunts, but also adds some emotional connection, by bringing back characters from previous storylines. The beauty of these spy stories is that you never know who can be trusted, and there will ALWAYS be something you didn’t expect. Even though this is the longest movie in the series, it moves at a relatively quick pace, with a lot of thrilling action. And then there’s Henry Cavill’s mustache…
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Status Update (PG13) is on Hulu. This movie features lots of former Disney teens, in a high school setting. The plot revolves around an app that grants wishes. Kyle, played by Ross Lynch, just wants to fit in at his new school and impress Dani, played by Olivia Holt. It’s a fun new take on the “be careful what you wish for” theme. The comedy is in the details, or lack thereof. Did these kids learn nothing from Aladdin? There’s a more adult song as a big number in the middle of the movie, so you may want to watch for yourself before sharing with younger kids.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

Small Town Crime (R) is on Netflix. An alcoholic ex-cop is looking for redemption, when he stumbles upon a series of crimes with young girls as the victims. As he searches for clues and a way to redeem himself, he soon learns the case is more complicated than he thought. There are some interesting twists and unlikely partners involved in bringing the story to fruition.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

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Keep Your Friends Close…

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What to Watch in the Theater:
Unfriended: Dark Web (R) is in theaters now. This is one of those movies that’s incredibly creepy because you don’t need to suspend your disbelief to imagine this could happen in real life. The film takes place entirely on computer and phone screens, and shows how susceptible we are to dark forces lurking on the internet. A group of friends is in serious danger when one of them acquires a new laptop and discovers the previous owner was into some nasty stuff. They’re now being watched, and have been pulled into a world they never even knew existed. The reality of it all is quite frightening.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

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Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (PG13) is in theaters now. This movie serves as both prequel AND sequel, although the present day timeline is a little out of whack. The bulk of the action takes place in 1979, giving us the story of how Donna met Sophie’s three dads and ended up staying on the island. The prequel cast is a fun bunch, and Lily James shines as young Donna. The original cast is back for the “present day” scenes, where Sophie is hosting the grand opening of her mom’s dream hotel. There are some questions left unanswered, but with good comedy, great musical numbers, a bunch of less familiar Abba songs (and some favorites from the first film), this is a fun summer feel-good movie.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Cover Versions (R) is on Hulu. The mystery unfolds as we hear different stories from four bandmates, about one deadly night. StarFoxy is set to play their first big festival the next day, when fans come to party and wind up dead. As the story builds, the deception escalates, and our allegiance for the characters changes with every turn. This film starts a bit slow, but has great twists and turns, with a familiar cast we know from much lighter fare.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5

Angie Tribeca (TV14) is on Hulu. This comedy series started on TBS, but will be airing the upcoming 4th season exclusively on Hulu before heading to cable. With a great cast and amazing guest stars, this cop spoof show is a throwback to  Police Squad, The Naked Gun, Airplane, Hot Shots and more. Nothing is sacred and everything is a pun – pay close attention or you might miss a good joke. This is the kind of LOL funny we didn’t know we really needed. Kudos to creators Steve and Nancy Carell! We’ll give you a heads-up when there’s a premiere date for season 4.
Our rating: 5 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s leaving Netflix, what’s out on DVD & Blu-Ray and more!