Aspiration & Inspiration


What to Watch in the Theater:
A Simple Favor (R) is in theaters now. Director Paul Feig is known for his comedies (especially with frequent collaborator Melissa McCarthy), rather than thrillers, but this dark turn works well. The story is compelling, full of plot twists and excellent performances by Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick and Henry Golding. Overachieving mommy vlogger, Stephanie (Kendrick), eagerly bonds with glamorous free spirit, Emily, who mysteriously disappears just a few weeks into the new friendship. Stephanie steps in to comfort grieving husband, Sean (Golding), and his son, Nicky, but finds herself entangled in more than just a new relationship.
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5


Venom (PG13) opens today. This origin story follows investigative journalist Eddie Brock as he loses his job (and girl) and gains a symbiote, which is like a very big parasite that takes over his entire body and talks to him inside his head. This creature was brought to earth by biotech CEO Carlton Drake, who experiments on homeless people in an attempt to find the right human host for the powerful aliens – but his isn’t the only nefarious plan in action. Eddie and Venom (the symbiote) form a bond, as Eddie gains superhuman abilities and Venom gains an element of humanity. There’s some great anti-hero stuff here, with a lot of action sequences, San Francisco scenery, and the best part – humor! We could see this guy getting along with Deadpool – only this is a Sony property, so there’s no attachment to any other Marvel realm (MCU or X-Men), except for the possibility of a Spider-Man crossover, which is why this film stayed in PG13 territory.
Our rating: 4.75 out of 5


The Samuel Project (PG13) opens today. This independent film stars Ryan Ochoa as teenager, Eli, who wants a career as an artist and has a big media project due. After he learns a bit about his grandfather, Samuel (Hal Linden), Eli decides to focus on his family’s story for the project. We see the two bond, as Samuel begrudgingly shares his history, not realizing how much inspiration he’s providing to the younger generation. It’s a story of connection, not only between the two main characters, but supporting ones as well, with some great comedic relief from Mateo Arias. There are important messages here about sharing your story, to ensure it lives on and can continue to impact others.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Hilda (TVY7) is streaming on Netflix. This animated series follows Hilda, a blue-haired girl who lives in a magical world full of amazing creatures. We see Hilda deal with issues like respecting others, peer pressure, and making friends. The fact that her interactions may be with humans, or magical creatures, just adds to the fun of learning some important lessons. The animation style includes some homages to Miyazaki’s fantastic beasts, and the stories (at least in initial episodes) are taken directly from the popular graphic novel series they’re based on.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

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