Some Things Don’t Live Up to the Hype

whatmen

What to Watch in the Theater:
What Men Want (R) is in theaters now. This story is about Ali, the only female sports agent at her firm. She’s worked hard to be part of this boy’s club, but still can’t relate to men, and it costs her the partnership she’s been expecting. After some weird tea at a psychic reading, followed by a bump on the head, she can magically hear men’s thoughts. She uses this to her advantage, but also hurt some people in the process. Although Taraji does a great job in the role, we didn’t see enough character development in Ali. Overall we were disappointed in this gender-flip remake of What Women Want (from 2000), and it wasn’t even as funny as the trailer led us to believe.
Our rating: 2.83 out of 5

alita

Alita: Battle Angel (PG13) is in theaters now. This dystopian science fiction, set 300 years in the future, is the brainchild of James Cameron, who partnered with Robert Rodriguez to finally bring it to life. It’s a fantastical story about a world where people routinely have cyborg implants, but Alita is different. She’s patched together and brought to life by a doctor/father figure who cares for her as if she were his own daughter. She tries to learn more about her identity and past life, while becoming involved in the dangerous sport of Motorball and and even bounty hunting. It’s a thrilling adventure with heart, as we watch Alita’s humanity take control of her high-tech body.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
mid90s (R) is available on DVD. We applaud Jonah Hill for getting into writing and directing, but this just wasn’t our cup of tea. The story, about a young boy who joins a group of older teen skateboarders in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, was difficult to watch, and we’re not sure who the intended audience is. Thirteen-year-old Stevie has an abusive older brother, and admires this group, but their influence on him is destructive, and we only get a glimmer of improvement later in the film.
Our rating: 1.67 out of 5

The Goonies (PG) is available on DVD. This 1985 adventure film about a group of kids is rated a 1980’s PG, which means there is swearing and some adult references. So parents be cautioned, this is a solid PG13 in today’s market. They call themselves The Goonies, and they’re looking for one last adventure before they’ll all be forced to move out of their homes. While looking for treasure, they encounter a hideout full of bad characters, so they’re also running for their lives. Some of the characters are annoying, it’s silly and somewhat dated, but there’s a lot of good fun too. And Josh Brolin as a teenager!
We recommend this movie.

Plus box office results, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray, Jen’s pink carpet report for Isn’t It Romantic & more!

Watch the video from the Isn’t It Romantic premiere here.

A Whole Slew of Female Protagonists

missbala

What to Watch in the Theater:
Miss Bala (PG13) is in theaters now. This story is about Gloria, an American of Mexican descent, who travels to Tijuana to help her best friend with a pageant. She ends up being kidnapped by a gang of drug and arms dealers, and learns that even the DEA and local police can’t (or won’t) help her. The syndicate leader, Lino, takes a liking to her, and she reluctantly works to gain his trust, so he will help her find her friend. In the process, she learns things like gun skills and just how far she’s willing to go to survive. Gloria is an empowering female protagonist, and although there is some violence, keeping it PG13 was appreciated, and allows this cautionary tale a wider audience.
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

lego2

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (PG) opens today. The Bricksburg gang is back, but the years have not been kind to them, with an alien invasion causing destruction and distrust. Everything is NOT awesome, but plucky Emmet is still optimistic, much to Lucy’s chagrin. We get more glimpses into the human world, as invaders from the Sistar System kidnap many of the characters, and Emmet journeys to save them. Along the way, we meet Rex Dangervest and find a happy, colorful world full of fun new characters, including their ruler, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi. We feel we need to watch again, for the jokes we missed when the audience was laughing so hard, but we’re looking forward to it, as this sequel is just as much fun as the original.
Our rating: 4.83 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Peppermint (R) is on DVD. Jennifer Garner goes back to her action roots (and then some), as Riley North, a mom turned vigilante. She returns from hiding (and training) five years after the murder of her family, to exact vengeance on every criminal and corrupt official responsible for the crime and lack of punishment for the murderers. Though extremely violent, it’s inspiring to see how much planning and training she’s put in to getting justice for her husband and daughter. There are some twists, and she’s an avenging angel for more than just her lost loved ones. Although somewhat predictable, it was a thrilling ride with a seriously butt-kicking female lead.
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

IO (TV14) is a Netlix original movie. This story takes place in the not too distant future, where most of earth’s inhabitants have died or fled to space colonies. The planet’s air is almost gone, and Sam lives on a hill overlooking a dead city, where she does science experiments, continuing her father’s work, and raises her own vegetables. She refuses to join her beau on a colony, keeping up hope for a better future on earth, and then a stranger shows up. The movie is very slow, sometimes confusing, and has some scientific inaccuracies. There are some interesting parts and a determined, though very flawed, female lead.
Our rating: 3 out of 5

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

Updating Historical Stories Sometimes Works

maryqueen

What to Watch in the Theater:
Mary Queen of Scots (R) is in theaters now. This movie is based on the true story of two strong female rulers. Performances by Saoirse Ronan (in the title role) and Margot Robbie (as Queen Elizabeth I) are the best things about this movie. For a modern retelling, the film delves  more deeply into the personal lives of the queens than any film has before. Interest in the subject matter depends upon the level of fascination (or lack thereof) for the time period or historical films in general. Interestingly, this movie shows that while females were allowed to rule (based solely on birthright), patriarchal government and society did their best to control every aspect of women’s lives, and often pit them against each other.
Our rating: 2.67 out of 5

kidking

The Kid Who Would Be King (PG) is in theaters now. Here’s a modern story, based on the Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Twelve-year-old Alex is able to pull a sword from a stone, and learns it could be the real Excalibur. He meets Merlin and learns that Morgana and her evil minions will be trying to take over the world in just four days. It’s up to Alex to assemble his modern-day knights and journey to the underworld, to save the world. This film combines elements of magic with messages about perseverance and hope, rallying unlikely heroes to overcome their differences and unite against a common foe. It’s a fun family movie, that deserves more attention at the box office.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (NR) is on DVD. This movie, which takes place in 1993 details how teen Cameron (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) is sent to a religious treatment center to overcome her same sex attraction. As Cam deals with therapy and her own feelings and dreams, she bonds with other kids whose lives are in turmoil.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

Angie Tribeca season 4 (TV14) is now airing on TBS and On Demand. This spoofy detective comedy returns, and 20 years have passed since the end of season 3. The squad (including newcomers Bobby Cannavale and Kiersey Clemons) now works for the Special Division Force, which is run by the Vice President. As always, everything is a pun, with pop culture references and making light of serious issues as the norm. Although the general plot is even more far-fetched because of the time shift, and we miss some key former cast members, the new format allows them to delve more into spy plots and feature some full-episode movie homages. We find we’re not enjoying this season quite as much as the first three, but it’s still fun.
We recommend this show.

Future Man season 2 (TVMA) is a Hulu exclusive series. One of the things we loved about season 1 was all the time travel, with Josh/Joosh (Josh Hutcherson) as a janitor who bonds with rebels from the future, and becomes a hero/terrorist. The time jumps are less frequent this season, but the adult fun (mature themes, violence, language) continues, as our heroes find themselves living very different separate lives in a dystopian future. They have to figure who to trust, what kind of life they each want, and whether it’s worth re-grouping to once again try to save the world from an egomaniac scientist.
We recommend this show.

Plus box office results, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray, SAG Awards and more!

High Marks All Around

upside

What to Watch in the Theater:
The Upside (PG13) is in theaters now. This movie, about a rich quadriplegic and his reluctant caregiver, is based on a true story. Dell (Kevin Hart), an ex-con, wants the easy way out. Phillip (Bryan Cranston) gives him a chance, creating an interesting challenge for both of them. It’s a journey full of comedy, drama and heart, as the two learn from each other and develop an unlikely bond.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

glass

Glass (PG13) is in theaters now. We recommend you see both Unbreakable and Split before finishing the trilogy with this one. M. Night Shyamalan pulls off the extraordinary feat of combining Disney and Universal properties for this sequel, featuring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy in their original roles. The plot is complicated, with each man specially contained in the same institution, to treat their individual superhero delusions (with Sarah Paulson as their doctor).
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
BlacKkKlansman (R) is on DVD. This movie is based on the true story of the first black officer on the Colorado Springs police department, and how he managed to become the first black member of the KKK (unbeknownst to the organization). It’s an interesting story about a very serious topic, told with enough humor to drive home its points, while still being entertaining. Spike Lee has a knack for that, with great cast performances all around.
Our rating: 4.75 out of 5

Carmen Sandiego (TVG) is a Netflix exclusive series. Yes, Carmen’s  been around since video games and educational software, beginning in the mid-1980s. The first couple of Netflix episodes share her backstory, which was very interesting but had us concerned about advocating a life of crime. By episode 3 we’re into the normal swing of things, learning about the geography and culture of each place Carmen visits, while STEALING BACK treasures that were previously pilfered. The great animation and voice cast make this series about a modern-day Robin Hood entertaining, in addition to the educational aspects of the show.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Plus box office results, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray, Oscar nominations and more!