Based on Something That Came Before

bohemian

What to Watch in the Theater:
Bohemian Rhapsody (PG13) is in theaters now. True Queen fans will find this film takes a lot of poetic license with the details (especially dates), but that doesn’t take away from the overall celebration of the artistry of this band and its lead singer, Freddie Mercury. The music is a character in itself, gleefully carrying this film back to the 70s and into the 80s, as the story is bookended by Queen’s triumphant Live Aid performance of 1985. It’s not your typical rock ‘n’ roll biopic, with a PG13 rating, but then there was nothing typical about this band. Freddie kept his private life just that, and this movie stays true to that aspect, reveling in the creativity of this legendary group, without revealing too much.
Our rating: 5 out of 5

grinch

The Grinch (PG) opens today. This movie returns the beloved Dr. Seuss story to animation, with a glimpse behind the self-imposed isolation of the Grinch. There’s more of his daily life shown, including a shopping trip into Whoville and his interactions with the citizens, who surprisingly don’t regard him with any fear or disdain. We see more of his relationship with dog, Max, and the devotion they have to each other. This is a much more relatable Grinch than we got in the very dark Jim Carrey live action version – we’re actually rooting for him – and Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect voice talent for the job. For us, Dr. Seuss’ work just translates better to animation than live action. This is a new family classic we’d be happy to add to our shelf, right next to the original 1966 version.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Forever My Girl (PG) is available on DVD. This romance is about an aspiring country singer who leaves his love at the alter, and makes it big on the road. Eight years later, he returns for a friend’s funeral, only to discover he has a daughter. Everything about this movie is predictable, but it’s a pleasant watch, if you like that kind of thing.
Our rating: 2.83 out of 5

Outlaw King (R) is a Netflix original about Scottish king Robert the Bruce. This story takes place shortly after the events of Braveheart, at the turn of the 14th century. As Scotland bows to England, Robert is momentarily in favor with the king, and settles into life with his young daughter and new bride. He organizes a new rebellion, which separates him from his family. The torture and battle scenes are long and graphic – these are incredibly brutal times! There’s some good acting here, but if you’re not into medieval history and/or war movies, this may not be your cup of tea. Warning: Chris Pine’s naughty bits are on display, and there’s some female nudity as well.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Some Things are More Compelling Than Others

bad

What to Watch in the Theater:
Bad Times at the El Royale (R) is in theaters now. This thriller follows a group of individuals, all staying at an unusual lodge during the off season in the late 1960s. We learn about the occupants of each room, as disturbing events unfold, and see how the guests (and the only staff member on premises) interact and become connected. The story is compelling, as it’s told from different perspectives, with backstories intertwined. There’s quite a bit of violence, but that didn’t detract from the gripping story, which kept us engaged to the very end.
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5

gun

The Old Man & the Gun (PG13) opens today. This movie is based on a true story, about a charming bank robber with no intention of changing his ways. Robert Redford plays the likable older thief, with Casey Affleck as the cop who makes it his mission to find and arrest him. Sissy Spacek plays the later in life love interest. Reminiscent of other recent heist movies starring older actors, this one doesn’t provide many plot twists, but it’s still a pleasant watch.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell (TVPG) is a Netflix original series. This show features elaborate confections produced by the owner of a quirky household that includes unusual (somewhat creepy) animal characters. It’s part sitcom, part cooking show, and full of Henson creations. Food AND puppets?!? We’re on board for the long haul with this one!
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (TV14) is a Netflix original series. Based on the darker, more recent comic book iteration, this is not at all the Sabrina we know and love. And boy, do we love us some Sabrina – watched every episode. This one is much creepier and more violent than the sitcom version, and we’re having trouble getting past the first episode.
Not rating until we watch more, if we do.

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

Give and Take

hate

What to Watch in the Theater:
The Hate U Give (PG13) is in theaters now. This story follows Starr, who finds herself between two worlds, where she feels like she’s two different people at her mostly white prep school and her mostly black, poor neighborhood. When she’s the only witness to  the killing of her childhood friend by a white police officer, Starr must figure out not only what’s best for her, but how to honor her slain friend and try to make a difference for the entire neighborhood. It’s a powerful movie that should be seen, no matter what your demographic.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

johnny

Johnny English Strikes Again (PG) opens today. Watching the original and first sequel helps a bit with the backstory of this bumbling spy, but it’s not required to enjoy the antics. Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English is like a British Inspector Clouseau (from the Pink Panther movies). He screws everything up along the way, and it’s a wonder he makes it out alive. In this installment, English goes old school with the car and gadgets, and stays off the grid so he can’t be tracked by whomever is hacking the government. It’s a fun ride, as always!
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Little Monsters (PG) is available on Netflix. This “kids” movie was made in 1989, before PG13, and it’s quite obvious. The main issue is the language and one violent scene. Otherwise, it’s a fun story about Brian (played by a very young Fred Savage), who discovers there really are monsters under the bed, and Maurice (Howie Mandell), the monster he traps, who takes him to the under-the-bed world. Lots of pranks and less than stellar special effects, as you’d expect for the time period. Definitely not a Halloween movie for the youngest kids, but older ones might enjoy it, and parents will like the 80s nostalgia.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

Gnome Alone (PG) is a Netflix original. This animated film is about a girl named Chloe who discovers her spooky new house is filled with gnomes, who are trying to save the world. Chloe unknowingly makes their job harder, when she tries to impress the mean girl at school. There’s some great voice talent at work here, and although the gnomes could’ve just as well been some other type of creature, it’s an interesting premise with some fun action and good messages.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5

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Spooky Stuff for Kids & Adults

gb2

What to Watch in the Theater:
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (PG) is in theaters now. Friends Sonny and Sam accidentally bring to life Slappy, a creepy ventriloquial figure from one of Stine’s books. This sequel focuses on ONE of R.L. Stine’s creations, but he helps plenty of other frights come alive as Slappy takes control of Halloween night. It’s up to the kids to save their town, with some help from big sis, Sarah. This fun family adventure also features great comic relief by Ken Jeong.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

halloween

Halloween (R) opens today. We watched the original 1978 film in preparation for this one, and it turns out that was exactly the right thing to do. This direct sequel to that film takes place 40 years after the events of the original, with Laurie Strode still obsessing over Michael Myers and preparing for his eventual escape. Turns out she’s one smart lady, and not the kook everyone makes her out to be, when Michael DOES escape and another killing spree begins. Much more gory than the original, this movie does NOT disappoint in the scares and twists department.
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Thoroughbreds (R) is available on DVD. This story about two entitled teen girls who rekindle an old friendship after one euthanizes her horse in a very graphic way, would be better left untold. It was both boring and disturbing, and there was nothing to evoke sympathy to the plight of either of the main characters, who were just each incredibly annoying and uninteresting in their own ways. Solid acting from promising young actresses, and even Anton Yelchin’s final performance couldn’t save this one.
Our rating: Skip this one 

Maniac (TVMA) is a Netflix original miniseries. This sci-fi story takes place in the not-too-distant future, with Emma Stone and Jonah Hill as the lead characters. They each have their reasons for joining a dangerous pharmaceutical trial which taps into their dreams – he for money (and some sort of delusional quest?) and she to satisfy an addiction to one of the three drugs in the trial. We learn more about each of their lives (and how they become connected) as the episodes progress, and look forward to watching the rest of the series.
Not rating until we’ve finished all the episodes.

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