Jillian Bell Shines As “Brittany Runs A Marathon”

Back at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, one of Amazon Studios’ biggest acquisitions to date was the dramedy Brittany Runs a Marathon. On the surface, it appears like the sort of movie that Sundance generates each year. A mixture of comedy and drama, with a comic actor or actress showing their range/finally being given a chance to shine. However, while all of that is true, the flick is so much more than just that. Not only is Jillian Bell absolutely aces in the film, every moment that could feel cliched here is handled in a fresh an unexpected way. This is one of the most satisfying works of the summer.

The film follows Brittany Forgler (Bell), a 27 year old woman who would charitably be described as a hot mess by those who know her, and even by those who don’t. She’s all about having a good time, but largely seems to just exist, making her friends laugh and partying. Even though she moved to New York for a career, she’s just killing time, with no goals. When she stops by a doctor’s office on a mission to score some Adderall, the physician actually opts to examine her, informing Brittany that she’s actually incredibly unhealthy and needs to fix this ASAP. Initially dismissive, she opts to start jogging, first by running one block. Then, she adds another. Soon, it becomes a passion, one she shares with two new running friends in Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and Seth (Micah Stock), while moving on from a toxic friendship with Gretchen (Alice Lee). Life is looking up for Brittany, especially as she grows closer to Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), but all this drive and direction is taking a toll on her. Could it be too much of a good thing? Paul Downs Colaizzo writes and directs, with Seamus Tierney handling the cinematography, and Duncan Thum composing the score. Supporting players include Patch Darragh, Lil Rel Howery, and more.

Jillian Bell shows some tremendous range here. She leans into all of Brittany’s character traits, both the good and the bad. This creates a three dimensional portrait that’s vividly realistic, grounding the movie. Bell invests you in the role, helping to make you care what happens to her. You cheer on her successes, mourn her failures, and are bothered when her bad side comes out. It’s truly an accomplished bit of acting from Bell, showing way more than just the funny side we all knew she had at her disposal. Look for the Golden Globes to potentially cite her with a Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy nomination.

What makes Brittany Runs a Marathon more than just another Sundance dramedy is the deftness with which the mix of heart and laughs are handled. It all really comes to a head during the climax. What should be simply a standard feel good ending actually becomes truly affecting and emotional. You realize how much you’ve invested in Brittany, her quest, and moreover, her actual efforts to better herself. Paul Downs Colaizzo’s writing quietly worms its way into your heart. Bell and Colaizzo do a wonderful job of presenting a real person as their protagonist. There’s no artifice here, even if there’s plenty of silliness. They’re more focused on Brittany’s rough edges, which fills the flick out as a full cinematic meal.

This weekend, audiences are in for a dramedy treat when Brittany Runs a Marathon opens up. If you’ve been a fan of Bell, prepare to see her in a whole new light. Colaizzo’s debut work is one that suggests he’s got a great future as a cinematic storyteller. There’s heart, humor, and pathos here. Give it a look and you’ll see why the raves began in Park City and haven’t stopped all year. This is just a high quality film, all around.

Be sure to check out Brittany Runs a Marathon, in theaters tomorrow!

In “Angel Has Fallen,” Gerard Butler Again Tries To Save A President

When Olympus Has Fallen was released back in 2013, I don’t think anyone assumed it was the start of a franchise. Meant more as a quick way to beat White House Down to theaters (that was the year Hollywood decided that attacks on The White House were the trend to drill down on), it managed to outgross its more polished competitor. Hence, a series was launched. London Has Fallen raised the stakes, and now this week, Angel Has Fallen concludes the story. An improvement over the first two, largely awful outings, this is still a rather mediocre action movie. There’s some fun to be had, but not nearly enough to warrant a recommendation.

Taking place after London Has Fallen, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) now protects a new President in Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), formerly the Vice President. Struggling with insomnia and physical issues after all of the hell he’s gone through in the series, Mike is seriously considering, at the urging of his wife (Piper Perabo), a promotion to Director of the Secret Service. While out on a fishing trip, a drone strike kills all of Mike’s fellow agents and attempts to kill the President, placing him in a coma. However, it leaves Mike unharmed, while shady characters frame him for the attempted assassination. Arrested and labeled a traitor, Mike must figure out a way to clear his name, while still protecting a comatose President Trumbull from danger. Along the way he’ll make new friends, deal with folks from his past, and even reconnect with his father, Clay Banning (Nick Nolte), who now lives alone in the woods. Ric Roman Waugh directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Matt Cook and Robert Mark Kamen. Story credit goes to series creators Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger. Cinematography is by Jules O’Loughlin, while David Buckley composed the score. The cast is rounded out by Danny Huston, Tim Blake Nelson, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Lance Reddick, among others.

Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman seem very bored here, but even so, this is admittedly the best of the franchise to date. That being said, it’s still dumb as rocks. Only occasionally fun, the film mostly is just a bland shoot em up. Much of the enjoyment here comes from Nick Nolte livening things up as Butler’s survivalist father. Scarred by Vietnam, Clay Banning left Mike when he was a kid, but is there when he needs him here. Portrayed as a killing machine, Nolte’s scenes with Butler also are largely played for laughs. It’s a real tonal disconnect, but at least it’s different.

Angel Has Fallen telegraphs every supposed twist in the plot, but one could make the case that it’s not really trying to hide anything from viewers. It’s all about immediate action and thrills. While reparative, the movie is reasonably effective at that. However, whenever you use your brain while watching, the film suffers greatly. Ric Roman Waugh’s direction is shaky and obfuscates much of the actual action in the, you know, action scenes, while the script he penned alongside Katrin Benedikt, Matt Cook, Robert Mark Kamen, and Creighton Rothenberger never once attempts to make sense. Whatever visceral thrills it employs, they’re limited and fall well short of where the flick would need to be in order to get a thumbs up from yours truly.

This week, fans of the franchise can see the latest film in the Mike Banning saga when Angel Has Fallen opens. Butler’s series is likely done, but with popcorn junk like this, you never know. While much better than London Has Fallen and Olympus Has Fallen, the movie still is below average and hardly worth heading out to cineplexes to see. It has the makings of something that will play on cable for a long time, so if you’re intrigued or someone who digs the previous flicks, wait until then. Your standards will be lower and you’ll only be wasting time, not money…

Angel Has Fallen hits theaters this weekend!

“American Factory” Is An Engaging Blue Collar Documentary

The heartland of America is not where you would initially think to go in order to find cooperation between American factory workers and a giant Chinese company. And yet, that’s exactly what is being depicted and explored in the new Netflix documentary American Factory, the first film to come out from former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama’s company Higher Ground. Partnered with the streaming service, they clearly have set out to showcase stories like this. The doc is occasionally on the dry side, but it’s an engaging look at how blue collar workers are finding a new way to survive in the middle of the country.

The documentary looks at a new factory that was opened in a small part of Ohio. Within an abandoned General Motors building, a Chinese billionaire has started a new plant, hiring a few thousand blue collar American workers to labor alongside his Chinese supervisors. Initially, the mixture of high tech and working class breeds positivity, with hope for the future all around. Then, as setbacks occur and minor culture clashes rear their head, the optimism wanes, as the Americans and the Chinese struggle to find common ground. All throughout, the uncertain future for all is never far from mind. Still, the desire to work hard and to make sure their jobs are done well connects the team, regardless of their background. In that regard, this is as much an inspirational look at blue collar labor as it is a study of a corporate experiment. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert direct, as well as co-produce, with music by Chris Cannon. Cinematography is by the team of Aubrey Keith, Jeff Reichert, and Erick Stoll, along with Bognar and Reichert.

There’s a lot going on here. American Factory presents an equally thoughtful and troubling look at our current economy. The doc uses a small focus to present a broad issue. The complicated dynamic between employers on a corporate level and workers on the factory floor is given a clear eyed look. Especially in the globalized 21st century economy, where automation seems to be the future, everyone is worried about what’s next. At the same time, the desire to do a good job and to make a quality product is paramount. The movie makes sure never to lose sight of that fact.

The first project shepherded by the Obamas is an engaging one, presenting a complicated issue with clarity, maturity, and without the need to spell out an answer. The most fascinating thing about this film is how open ended it feels. Automation looms large throughout, and especially at the end, seems like a monster waiting to devour the workers. Still, you also get the sense that these employees are determined not to go quietly into the night. Manual labor is disappearing in this country, but these men and women are going to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, right up until the final moments they can. The movie quietly leans into that point.

Tomorrow, documentary lovers have an interesting new one to check out when American Factory debuts on Netflix. It’s going to be interesting to see what else comes of this partnership between Netflix and the Obamas, but this is a solid start. It’s likely that further docs will also take aim at human stories with political undertones, but anything is possible. Mostly, they’ve just managed to get a small flick to a position where it will be seen by way more folks than otherwise. That alone is worthy of praise. Luckily, the film itself is pretty strong as well. Give it a shot and see what you think…

Be sure to check out American Factory, streaming on Netflix tomorrow!

“Ready Or Not” Is A Horror Comedy Riot

A little out of nowhere, Ready or Not has gotten on the radar of the film community. A few months ago, a trailer dropped and really caught some interest on the internet. Well, having seen the movie last month, I can vouch for it being worth all the presumed fuss. Not only is the flick a really fun little horror offering, it’s also arguably one of the funniest films of 2019. It’s literally a riot, with one of the best endings of the year, genre be damned. If you have a predilection for dark humor, this is going to be your jam in a big way.

The movie is a genre hybrid, set on what should be the happiest day in the life of our protagonist Grace (Samara Weaving). She’s marrying Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), the love of her life. Beyond that, she’s now entering into the Le Domas family (her fiancé and now husband calls it “the Le Domas dominion”), an eccentric clan of massively wealthy game designers. Both Alex as well as brother in law Daniel (Adam Brody) seem to jokingly warn her off, but soon, she’ll realize why. The family requires that any new member play a game at midnight after their wedding. For most, it’s chess or something normal. If the player pulls Hide and Seek, however, a much more dangerous game begins. Of course, Grace pulls that card, setting her off on a fight for survival, hunted by her new father in law Tony (Henry Czerny), mother in law Becky (Andie MacDowell), and other family members. As she attempts to stay alive, the Le Domas brood bickers amongst themselves, leading to some very fun surprises. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett direct a screenplay from Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, with cinematography from Brett Jutkiewicz, as well as a score by Brian Tyler. Supporting players include Kristian Bruun, Nicky Guadagni, Elyse Levesque, John Ralston, Melanie Scrofano, and more.

This is a black comedy, almost more so than it is a horror flick. So much of the comedy is rooted in how bad the family is at this game. They’re rich, the upper crust of society, heads of a massive gaming empire and owners of multiple sports franchises. What do they know about murder? They can’t handle their weapons, many of them don’t want to do this, and often they look for excuses. Two of the funniest parts of the movie are how they keep accidentally killing their help (it plays funnier than it reads), as well as a discussion of if that can count as the sacrifice they believe they need to make. It’s a riot.

Ready or Not is the kind of film that constantly surprises you. Especially…the ending. Without saying what happens, it’s not what you’d expect at all. Between that and the star making turn from Samara Weaving, the project does so much right. Scribes Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, along with co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, take a simple premise and find so many little ways to upend expectations. At the same time, they know how to give you exactly what you want from this story. It’s the sort of calling card work that should get them all bigger genre work in short order.

This week, anyone who likes their comedy and horror to be mixed will be in for a delightfully nasty treat when Ready or Not opens up. With a compelling lead turn, effective supporting work, and inspired filmmaking, it checks off all the boxes for a success. Weaving is going to be a star, mark my words, but even beyond her work, this is just a richly sick and twisted film that will thrill those in the right mindset. For me, it’s not only one of the most effective fright flicks of 2019 so far, it’s among the year’s best comedies. How often can you say that?

Be sure to check out Ready or Not, in theaters everywhere on Wednesday!

Box Office Report For August 16-18

Welcome back one and all to the weekly box office report! As always, each and every single Sunday you can expect a look at what made the most money in theaters, as well as just how all of the new releases fared. This week, the raunchy comedy Good Boys is one of the titles entering the fray, hoping to translates laughs into major dollars. Joining the fray as well was 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Blinded by the Light, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, making for a crowded field. How did all of the films in question do? Let us take a look right now at just that…

Taking the top spot this week and beating back Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw was Good Boys. An estimated $21 million not only was way higher than initial projections, but more than covers the film’s budget. Solid reviews and a dearth of raunchy R rated comedy helped propel this one to some strong numbers. Additionally, it’s only the third original movie to open at number one all year. Imagine that. The following weekends may not have strong holds, but for the moment, the comedy is a small hit for Universal, for which they are undeniably pleased.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw dropped down to number two, with another $14.1 million to its name. Another Universal title, the company had quite the weekend. As previously mentioned, this isn’t performing like a true Fast & Furious title, but it’s still making a pretty penny, regardless.

Debuting at number four for the second week in a row was a family flick, this one being the animated sequel The Angry Birds Movie 2. With only $10.5 million, this is less than a third of what the original opened to, which has to be a disappointment. One doesn’t have to be a genius to assume that The Lion King (third place with nearly $12 million) took away some of the eyeballs, but even so, this isn’t the opening that Sony had hoped for with this budding franchise.

Sixth place this weekend went to another sequel in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. Unable to match the conservative projections for the frame, or even what the original did, it only took in an estimated $9 million. Don’t expect to see a third installment anytime soon…

Managing only a ninth place finish, unable to translate phenomenal reviews (including yours truly calling it the best film of the year so far), was Blinded by the Light. Despite an A- CinemaScore and critical acclaim it couldn’t catch on. Falling short of $4.5 million after New Line / Warner Bros. paid about $15 million for it at the Sundance Film Festival isn’t ideal, to be sure. Still, with a crowdpleaser like this, maybe it finds its tribe in the weeks to come?

Opening up outside the top ten, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a definite misfire from Richard Linklater. A little over $3.4 million represents a poor start, making for another adult skewed title to struggle at the box office. Bad reviews didn’t help though, that’s for sure…

Nothing really of note opened in limited release this week. Maybe next time around?

Here now is what the top ten looked like at the box office for this weekend:

1. Good Boys – $21,000,000

2. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – $14,140,000

3. The Lion King – $11,900,000

4. The Angry Birds Movie 2 – $10,500,000

5. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – $10,050,000

6. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged – $9,000,000

7. Dora and the Lost City of Gold – $8,500,000

8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – $7,600,000

9. Blinded by the Light – $4,450,000

10. The Art of Racing in the Rain – $4,403,000

Beyond the top ten, here’s some further results at the box office:

11. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – $3,455,860

12. Spider-Man: Far from Home – $2,755,000

13. The Kitchen – $2,205,000

14. Toy Story 4 – $2,177,000

15. The Farewell – $1,501,792

16. Mission Mangal – $1,305,000

17. Brian Banks – $683,137

18. Yesterday – $560,000

19. Aladdin – $323,000

20. The Secret Life of Pets 2 – $259,000

21. Crawl – $205,000

22. Maiden – $186,319

23. Luce – $163,965

24. Rocketman – $100,000

25. Avengers: Endgame – $98,000

26. Midsommar – $93,923

27. After the Wedding – $86,957

28. Tel Aviv on Fire – $60,566

29. Honeyland – $56,997

30. One Child Nation – $49,569

Until next weekend folks!

The Top 25 Best Picture Winners To Date

Alas. All good things must come to an end at some point. Yes folks, this is the final installment of the second go-around of this series of mine, and as such, it’s (hopefully) a bit of a doozy…the Best Picture field. Without a doubt, this is the big one, so it’s the one where the list will be the most important and I hope interesting to look at as well. Hopefully you’ve all been looking forward to it as well. Obviously, I could go on and on in preparation right now, waxing poetic and teasing, but at this point I know how the game works here for everyone. You all just want to see the lists that I do anyhow, so I have no problem obliging you good people there in that particular regard one more time. All you have to do is just be patient over the next paragraph or so and you’ll get the goods front and center for your reading pleasure…

One last time, try not to bury the lead and I’ll jump right into discussing my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. The best romantic comedy of all time, Allen’s Best Picture winner is a perfect film to me, so it’s not even close between this one and all the rest. That being said, the next two runners up aren’t miles behind. They’re Steven Spielberg’s heartbreaking Schindler’s List and Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Two very different works, but also two basically perfect ones. Rounding out the top five I have Billy Wilder’s The Apartment and Sam Mendes’ American Beauty, the latter of which is likely too high for some, but hey…it’s my list, right? Exactly. That’s a strong top five in my eyes, and the top ten consists of Ben Affleck’s Argo, John G. Avildsen’s Rocky, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, and Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There’s not a weak one in that lot, and I’d especially say that Argo is still moving upwards for me. I could see it pushing towards the top five in the next decade, but again, that’s just me. There’s really no way to not come up with an amazing top ten, just like there’s no way not to leave off a ton of worthy contenders in a top 25. You could easily go 30 or 40 or even 50 deep without having to really run the well dry of quality winners. Not every Best Picture winner has been amazing, but plenty have, so it’s a pleasure to have to make these tough choices, without a doubt. Here’s hoping that the next few years will have plenty more winners that deserve inclusion on these lists.

Here now is how I’d rank the 25 top winners of the Best Picture Oscar:

25. Rain Man
24. Kramer vs Kramer
23. The Godfather
22. The Deer Hunter
21. The Godfather Part II
20. Forrest Gump
19. The French Connection
18. Midnight Cowboy
17. No Country for Old Men
16. On the Waterfront
15. Platoon
14. Moonlight
13. The Departed
12. Spotlight
11. Casablanca
10. Million Dollar Baby
9. Argo
8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
7. Rocky
6. The Hurt Locker
5. American Beauty
4. The Apartment
3. Schindler’s List
2. The Silence of the Lambs
1. Annie Hall

Honorable Mentions: 12 Years a Slave, All About Eve, All Quiet on the Western Front, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Bridge on the River Kwai, Marty, Ordinary People, Rebecca, Shakespeare in Love, and The Shape of Water

I hope you all enjoyed the return of this series as much as I did. Until next time!

You’ll Never Guess What Is Real In “The Amazing Johnathan Documentary”

Among cult magicians, The Amazing Johnathan stands out from the pack. His mix of magic and stand up comedy is truly unique. So, on the surface, his persona alone would make for a good documentary. However, The Amazing Johnathan Documentary has way more up its sleeve than that, no pun intended. Initially beginning as a simple portrait of the performer on the comeback/farewell trail after a medical diagnosis, the film evolves quickly into something utterly compelling and often bizarre. Much like The Amazing Johnathan himself, the movie contains deception after deception, though ultimately concluding on a surprise that’s even shocking to Johnathan himself.

The documentary begins life in a somewhat straightforward manner. For years, The Amazing Johnathan was a popular comedy/magic act, often trafficking in the seemingly grotesque. Then, he stopped touring, somewhat suddenly. It turns out, he had received a terminal diagnosis. However, a few years back, he opted to commit to one final farewell tour, which is documented here. That’s just the initial focus of the doc, as the focus shifts a great deal. You see, at one point Johnathan announces that an Oscar winning documentary crew will also be following him. Then, another one joins. Then, another one does. Before long, as much time is spent on the filmmaker himself struggling to separate truth from illusion. Has Johnathan pulled a fast one or is something else going on? Benjamin Berman directs (as well as ends up a co-star), with writing credits going not just to Berman himself but also to Clark Baker and Joshua Cohen. Zack Wright composed the score, while the cinematography is handled by Dan Adlerstein, in addition to Berman himself.

Where to begin here? How much is real in regards to The Amazing Johnathan remains a question mark up until the very end. Once the first act concludes and the subsequent documentary crews come into play, Berman is able to turn the camera on himself, ultimately setting up a third act that’s as much mystery as character study. When Johnathan fades into the background a bit, the doc initially suffers, but as more comes into play, it actually turns into a benefit. As the movie evolves, it actually grows into less of a gimmick and more of a true study of, not just a real character, but also the nature of what’s real and what isn’t.

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary ultimately has a lot to say, mainly when the focus moves away from Johnathan himself and centers on director Benjamin Berman. Johnathan is deliberately difficult, so while his quirks are initially interesting, they would have worn thin after a while. So, giving himself a starring role, Berman effectively brings you along for the ride. It was a definite gambit, but it pays off. Then, there’s the ending, which doesn’t quite answer all of your questions, but wasn’t really meant to in the first place. Some might take issue with that, but for me, I found it the perfect way to end this film.

Now in theaters and streaming on Hulu, The Amazing Johnathan Documentary is a very unique beast. The flick works as an introduction to the illusionist for sure, but also is just a compelling look at filmmaking. Why does someone make a documentary? What compels someone to perform? Can an artist ever truly turn it off? These are the concepts that the doc ends up fascinated by, and it comes across to audiences. However you choose to view it this weekend, this is a weird little movie to seek out for sure…

Be sure to check out The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, available on Hulu and in select theaters now!

“Driven” Has Fun With Part Of The John DeLorean Story

Who is more of a fascinating individual than John DeLorean? The maker of the automobile of the same name is just as well known for that car as being involved in shady drug dealings. Some remember him as a genius in the auto field, but most think of him either for flopping with his company or being put on trial. That intrigue helps fuel the new film Driven, which presents DeLorean as a side character to the life of Jim Hoffman, who befriended and then potentially betrayed him. If that sounds like the set up for a dark flick, you’d be mistaken. This is far more lighthearted than you might initially think, though the seriousness if the matters at hand are never too far from the spotlight.

The movie is a mix of comedy, crime, drama, and thriller. Taking place in San Diego in the early 1980’s, the story follows ex con and current FBI informant Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis), a man caught in the government’s web for smuggling cocaine. Sent to California to bring down the man who supplied the drugs, things take a turn as he comes into contact with his new neighbor, the legendary John DeLorean (Lee Pace). Meeting him at the onset of the rise of his iconic DeLorean Motor Company, Hoffman quickly befriends DeLorean. Hoffman’s wife Ellen (Judy Greer) has no idea about her husband’s shady past at the start, though that changes before long. Initially of no interest to his contact at the FBI Special Agent Benedict Tisa (Corey Stoll), that changes when DeLorean runs into money problems and asks for Hoffman’s help. Nick Hamm directs a script by Colin Bateman, with music by Geronimo Mercado and cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub. Supporting players include Isabel Arraiza, Justin Bartha, Michael Cudlitz, Erin Moriarty, Tara Summers, and more.

This is actually quite a fair amount of fun, due in no small part to the charms of Jason Sudeikis. While playing a more dramatic character than normal, Sudeikis and his comedic timing is still in full evidence. The way he handles chaos here is really enjoyable. Sudeikis makes Jim Hoffman a sympathetic character, which is no small task. Lee Pace is solid too as John DeLorean, though it’s somewhat of a surface level interpretation of the man. Unfortunately, Judy Greer and Corey Stoll are under utilized, which is a shame. Nick Hamm and Colin Bateman lean in towards Hoffman, making him the center of attention, a gambit which does actually pay off.

Though not a true DeLorean film, Driven presents him as a fascinating character, one who still could be owed his own full on biopic. A hybrid work at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in Framing John DeLorean also opted to not just tell his story straight, which is interesting to me. No one has fully cracked his code yet. Here, interestingly enough, the less he’s centralized into the story, the better. DeLorean works best when he’s popping up in Hoffman’s tale. Part of that is just due to Sudeikis being more compelling than Pace, but it also just helps keep the mystery of DeLorean intact.

Driven offers a fun little option for audiences this weekend. Don’t go in expecting to find the definitive work on John DeLorean, but if you want a romp centered on one of his most ridiculous moments, this will certainly do the trick. Mostly, the reason to see this is the performance from Sudeikis, who deserves juicier roles like this more often. He’s more than just a talented comic actor, that’s for sure. Give Driven a shot and you’ll see why…

Be sure to check out Driven, in theaters tomorrow!

Raunchy Humor Mixes With Tween Innocence In The Hilarious Comedy “Good Boys”

Sometimes, a slight bait and switch is a good thing. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Good Boys was going to be nothing but utter filth. Sure, it’s a clear raunch fest, but that’s not the true tale of this film. They’re actually peddling a message here. Filthy as the humor is, it’s all tinged with childhood innocence and, believe it or not, a heart of pure gold. Tweens exist right at the intersection of childhood and the onset of adulthood, so this always had the potential to be funny. Well, it’s damn funny stuff, but actually has a heartwarming message about friendship to help make this far more than just a one trick pony.

The film is a comedy about a trio of, you guessed it…good boys, even if they think they’re sometimes bad. Sixth graders Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and Thor (Brady Noon) have always been best friends, dubbing themselves the “Bean Bag Boys.” When Max is invited to a kissing party by the cool kids, he gets his buddies invited as well, though there’s one issue here, which is that none of them know how to kiss. Hoping to connect with his crush Brixlee (Millie Davis), drastic measures are needed to avoid embarrassment. Searching on the internet for porn leads them down a very different path, so they opt to spy on Max’s neighbor Hannah (Molly Gordon), with his dad’s drone. Of course, the drone gets taken by Hannah and her friend Lily (Midori Francis), setting them off on an adventure that will involve drugs, danger, and of course, the dreaded kissing party. Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky penned the script, while Stupnitsky helms. Jonathan Furmanski handles the cinematography, Lyle Workman composes the score, and the supporting players include Josh Caras, Will Forte, Lil Rel Howery, Chance Hurstfield, Macie Juiles, Sam Richardson, Izaac Wang, Michaela Watkins, and more. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen help produce.

The balance of sex-related humor and charming tween innocence is an irresistible combination. Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, and Brady Noon are incredibly effective as preteens at war with their emotions, hormones, and the world around them. The interactions between the three, notably when they’re arguing or debating what something sexual is, are a riot. So too are just the silly observations, like when they’re confused about health insurance and think they only have “deductibles.” That sort of humor is prevalent throughout the movie. The comparisons to Booksmart and Superbad are only superficial, as this is its own beast, for sure.

Good Boys is actually way more concerned with the trio’s friendship and what will become of that, as opposed to just doubling down on the filthy jokes. There’s plenty of the latter, don’t you worry, but the former takes precedence for Eisenberg and Stupnitsky. The duo get a lot of mileage out of their three leads, who each bring something unique to the table. Tremblay and his impossibly cherubic face just radiates kindness, even when he’s swearing up a storm. He’s also the best actor of the lot. Williams steals a number of scenes with the comedic potential of his need to tell the truth and respect authority. As for Noon, his character is closest to a stock one, but the intensity he brings to the table helps to set the role apart from lesser offerings in the raunchy teen comedy genre.

This Friday, audiences looking for some hearty laughs would do well to head out and see Good Boys. While the flick may not be on the level of the aforementioned Booksmart or Superbad, it’s still a wonderfully entertaining comedy, reveling in its low art status while being able to mix the silly with the smart. Give this one a shot and you’ll be sure to giggle all throughout…

Be sure to check out Good Boys, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

“Cold Case Hammarskjöld” Is A Riveting New Look At An Old Mystery

Conspiracy theories capture the imagination in a way that few other things can. Whether it engages a part of the brain that otherwise lays dormant or just excites those with overactive minds, they’ve been all the rage for as long as society has existed. Largely, they’re bonkers and have no basis in fact. Just look at the assertions that Jeffrey Epstein was killed by the Clintons for proof of that. However, every so often, something comes along that lends credence to a conspiracy. This week’s Cold Case Hammarskjöld is one such example. A riveting non fiction tale about a mysterious death and the global conspiracy that spools out from it, this is one of the better documentaries of 2019 so far.

The documentary follows the Danish director Mads Brügger, as well as the Swedish private investigator Göran Björkdahl, as they look into the death of former Secretary-General of the United States Dag Hammarskjöld. Initially, they’re just investigating his mysterious end in 1961. Hammarskjöld was elected to be a conservative Secretary-General, though he turned out to have a reformer streak in him. Then, as he was on a plane headed to the impoverished African nation Congo on September 18th, when the vehicle crashed in Zambia. Foul play has long been suspected. As their investigation begins to close in on some unsettling notions about Hammarskjöld’s end, they discover something horrific and earth shattering. Thus begins a spinoff from the Hammarskjöld mystery, which for all the money looks like murder. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. What can be a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations, you might wonder? Well, you’ll have to see the film in order to find out, but trust me when I say it concerns no less than a potential genocide. Brügger directs, as well as a plays a Michael Moore type central role. John Erik Kaada composed the score, while the cinematography is by Tore Vollan.

It’s hard not to be stunned by this movie. Even if the conspiracy isn’t as far reaching as Göran Brügger suggests, what he’s discovered is unnerving, unsettling, and an absolute horror. Without getting into the details of it all, which I want you to see for yourself, there are a few moments that are genuinely shocking. The presence of a playing card on the body of Hammarskjöld, the true activities of a group called the South African Institute for Maritime Research (or SAIMR for short), as well as one very dangerous man in white. The more that you learn about SAIMR, the more you realize that something was up. Maybe the conspiracy wasn’t as wide ranging and global as Brügger posits, but it’s almost impossible to watch this and not feel like Hammarskjöld was killed by forces who wanted him silenced.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld feels dangerous. This doc has the feel of something that could be the end for Brügger. At the same time, he represents what holds the film back from true greatness. His on screen moments are hit or miss, sometimes elevating the tale, while distracting at others. His investigative qualities seem to be on point, they’re just depicted in a less than fully effective manner. It’s a small issue, but one that keeps the movie from being something that arguably could run away with the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

This weekend, documentary lovers will find a conspiracy theory to sink their teeth into when Cold Case Hammarskjöld opens. The flick is constantly engaging, depicting the unraveling of a potentially true life scandal. At worse, it’s a compelling conspiracy. At best, Brügger has blown the lid off of a massive criminal enterprise. That’s up to you to make up your mind about, but the fact that independent investigations are currently ongoing suggests that there’s more than just smoke here. Regardless, it’s a must see, plain and simple…

Be sure to check out Cold Case Hammarskjöld, in theaters starting on Friday!