Not Much to Joke About


What to Watch in the Theater:
The Wedding Year (R) is in theaters now. This comedy follows Mara (played by Sarah Hyland) as she tries to figure out what to do with her life. She’s in a new relationship, and suddenly their life is full of other people’s weddings. Can their love stand the test of meeting family, making toasts, and getting carried away to the next level? This is a funny/sad movie about people finding themselves and each other. It wasn’t a bad watch, with likable characters and a lot of close to real-life situations.
Our rating: 3.75 out of 5


Joker (R) opens today. People are going to love or hate this one. This villain origin story is definitely a dark and violent tale, following Arthur Fleck through his dismal life. He lives with and takes care of his mother, and works for an agency that hires out clowns, but he really wants a career as a stand-up comic. He’s frequently bullied (even as an adult) and beat up, and one day he cracks and kills his attackers. His actions spur a violent upheaval in Gotham. We have a little trouble with the Joker’s age and timeline of this story, as it relates to the Batman versions we know. Perhaps the Joker, through the movement he inspires, is more of a concept than a character that just one man inhabits.
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself (TVMA) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. Jeff is now billing himself as a comedian, rather than a ventriloquist, and his material has gotten a bit edgier. Sure, the cast of characters (puppets) is the same, with one new addition, but their vocabulary has take a turn for the adult, and the jokes seem dirtier. Maybe he feels the family-friendly puppetry entertainment field is too crowded. We used to be big fans, but not so much anymore.
Our rating: ? out of 5

Perfect Harmony (TV14) is available on NBC and Hulu. This weekly comedy series is about a struggling church choir that lucks into a new director entirely by accident. He’s a retired music professor who ends up stuck in the small town after his wife dies. This show includes one of our favorite actors, Geno Segers, who has a phenomenally booming voice. He usually plays the heavy, so it’s fun to see him in a more shy role, testing his voice in the choir. This looks like a fun one.
Our rating: ? out of 5

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High marks for Multi-Genre Entertainment


What to Watch in the Theater:
Hustlers (R) is in theaters now. This movie follows Destiny (Constance Wu) as she learns the ropes (and pole) at a strip club, bonds with her fellow dancers, and gets involved in a plan to make some great money off their Wall Street clients, by engaging in some pretty shady operations. Jennifer Lopez has no trouble convincing us she’s a mid-30s dancer named Ramona, and she plays the mama/mama bear to the hilt. It’s a sometimes shocking, but very entertaining ride. This is bsed on a true story, with a lot of extra details added, and the names changed to protect the admittedly not-so-innocent.
Our rating: 4 out of 5


Abominable (PG) opens today. Although it seems like we had an animated movie about Yeti not too long ago (this time last year, Smallfoot), this story is a bit different. We follow Yi and her friends Peng and Jin, as they go on a journey to return Everest the young Yeti to his family in the Himalayas. As they travel from Shanghai, Yi is also on a voyage of self discovery, as she mourns her father’s death and develops a special bond with Everest. They’re being pursued by a rich collector and the zoologist in his employ, and there may be even more evil afoot! Oh, and the Yetis have magical powers. There’s a lot to unpack here, which makes the story a bit less predictable, and adds some emotional elements as well. It’s a sweet family adventure with a lot of heart.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (TVMA) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This mockumentary is based on a series of Funny or Die videos starring Zach Galifianakis. Zach takes his public access TV crew on the road, to capture celebrity interviews and prove himself to Will Ferrell. It feels mean to laugh at the awkwardness of it all, but that was the intention. The humor definitely isn’t for everyone, but for others there are a lot of laugh out loud moments. Make sure you watch the outtakes at the end.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

The Prisoner (TVPG) is streaming on Amazon Prime. This TV series from 1967-68 follows Patrick McGoohan as a spy who has just given notice that he’s retiring, only to be kidnapped and taken to “The Village” and renamed Number 6. It’s a pleasant place full of people with numbers for names, although Number 2 is always being replaced because he can’t get any info out of Number 6. There are many escapes attempted, seemingly successfully, but then… This series set the standard for all the SciFi and fantasy programming that came after it, and established a cult following. It still holds up, even 50+ years later.
Our rating: 5 out of 5

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No Big Stand Outs


What to Watch in the Theater:
The Goldfinch (R) is in theaters now. This coming of age drama/thriller is a puzzle with many pieces. It follows lead character, Theo, both as an adult (Ansel Elgort) and through flashbacks to his younger self (Oakes Fegley). Theo’s mother was killed in a bombing at an art museum, and not only is his life turned upside down, but he also blames himself for her being there. He has a secret he carries through the good and bad circumstances that define him, which determines his destiny. This is truly an artsy film, given how much of it is about the art world and different levels of culture (or lack thereof) in New York and other places. It’s an interesting movie, but at 2.5 hours it’s a bit too long.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5


Ad Astra (PG13) opens today. At just over 2 hours, this film seems much longer, because of all that space. Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who takes on an assignment to find his missing dad and possibly save the world in the process. There’s lots of solitude in space, though thankfully more dialog than there was in The Revenant. This is definitely an Oscar contender for Brad, just like the R-movie was for Leo. The premise is interesting, with a handful of characters and beautiful cinematography.
Our rating: 4 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Tall Girl (TVPG) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. The point of this film is that anyone can be bullied, although you don’t normally think of tall white girls being the object of ridicule. Jodi and her friends are likable, and you’re rooting for her to feel more confident, even if you can’t directly relate to her problems. The plot is predictable, and there’s a sweet, very predictable, romantic element as well, but it’s a fun watch.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

The Con is On (R) is available for rental. The cast for this movie includes Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Stephen Fry, Maggie Q, Crispin Glover, Alice Eve and Parker Posey. The latter is the only one whose performance we enjoyed. This is one mess of movie, about a couple of grifters who are on the run after stealing from a mobster. They are not smart or even a little bit crafty, and spend their time doing stupid things, but not in a comedic way. The con is definitely OFF.
Our rating: skip this one

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Inspired by Love and Loss


What to Watch in the Theater:
Overcomer (PG) is in theaters now. This faith-based film has inspiring messages about finding your place in this world, as you (obviously) overcome issues in your past. The story follows young Hannah, a runner with asthma, who lost her parents at an early age. Her new coach, John, has issues of his own, as he transitions from coaching a basketball team to a single runner. When a stranger with serious health problems enters their lives, their lives are changed forever. Full of heart, plot twists and a lot of prayer, this film is not as subtle with its preaching as other recent ones in this genre.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5


It: Chapter Two (R) is in theaters now. This sequel brings the Losers Club back to Derry, only they’re all grown up. It’s 27 years after the events of the first movie, and bad things are happening to children again. Yes, Pennywise is back, and the group must be strong enough to resist his evil shenanigans and put an end to his reign of terror. That’s tough to do, when you can’t tell what’s real. We get flashbacks with the original kid cast, to fill in any plot holes. The adult cast is pretty compelling, especially since we get to peek into each of their psyches, and see how they transitioned from children to adults, with their individual issues carried along.  The effects are just as scary as in the first one, with some more adult drama thrown in. Perhaps the first was a bit more terrifying because they were a group of kids dealing with a whole lot of evil.
Our rating: 4.75 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Falling Inn Love (TVPG) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This is one of those romcoms that could’ve been made for Lifetime or Hallmark. American architect Gabby is looking for a fresh start. She wins a New Zealand inn, and embarks on an adventure away from home. As she renovates the inn, to become her dream eco project, she bonds with the townsfolk and – of course, it’s in the title – falls in love. The story is completely predictable, with the requisite fish out of water element and bumps along the road to romance – but it’s a fun journey nonetheless. Plus it was actually filmed in New Zealand with Kiwis rounding out the cast nicely.
Our rating: 3.33 out of 5

The Professor (R) is available for rental. This is a depressing Johnny Depp vehicle, about a college professor who finds out he has stage 4 cancer and decides to hide that fact from almost everyone and just live his live as best he can. He goes off the rails at first – all that practice acting drunk in the Pirates movies pays off here – before making some realizations about what his legacy could be. It’s nice to see Depp in a variety of roles, and although this one was a bit of a downer, he did take us on an interesting journey.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, and what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray.