Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Vacation

Judging from the trailer, and fond memories of the 1983 comedy-adventure classic National Lampoon’s Vacation, one might logically surmise that the new Vacation movie is a must-see for first-generation Griswold family followers and their offspring. But one would be very, very wrong. This movie tanks, in a horrifically comical way.

I laughed – a bit. I groaned – a lot. I checked my watch – often.

Ant-Man

Ant-Man is Iron Man light. Right down to the teeny tiny suit. And since I’m a huge fan of Iron Man (due mostly to Robert Downey Jr.), I couldn’t help but like Ant-Man. It’s rather weak on the grand scale of Marvel comic superhero movies (i.e. those featuring the various “Avengers” including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc.) but Paul Rudd is still fun to watch as Scott Lang, a smart, sarcastic and kind-hearted master thief looking for redemption.

Trainwreck

Trainwreck cruises along at a raunchy but entertaining clip for a solid hour or so. Then – about two-thirds of the way through – it veers off track. Not catastrophically. But enough to derail what might otherwise be a more enthusiastic review. Fans of the suddenly-everywhere Amy Schumer will likely get a kick out of her first foray into leading actress territory. After all, she wrote the movie. So it’s pure Schumer shtick, guided by the direction of Judd Apatow, known for movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, This is 40, and Pineapple Express. If those titles don’t ring a bell – or ring the wrong one – then you should probably skip Trainwreck. If you’re in the mood for a bawdy romantic dramedy that reverses the conventional gender roles but is otherwise quite formulaic, then punch your ticket for Trainwreck. Or wait for the rental. It doesn’t really need to be seen on the big screen.

Minions

Within the context of the Despicable Me movies, minions are a breath of fresh air – entertaining, silly, musical misfits. But give them a movie of their own, and the yellow thingamajigs obsessed with ‘bananas’ simply lose much of their appeal. Kids will still be moderately entertained by the gibberish-speaking blobs, but older kids and adults may find the Minions movie a bit of a bore.

Magic Mike XXL

In brief… so to speak… Magic Mike XXL is pure guy candy – a sort of Hangover with male strippers. Unlike the 2012 surprise hit, the sequel doesn’t take a dark turn. It stays fairly fun throughout – despite having virtually zero plot, and dialogue so cheesy you may need to stock up on Lactaid. But c’mon, what did you expect? Have you SEEN the trailer?! (Scroll down. You’re welcome.)

XXL picks up the story three years after stripper extraordinaire Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) leaves his beefy ‘Kings of Tampa’ stage buddies to pursue his true passion – making furniture. Life isn’t going quite according to plan. Business is slow. His girlfriend has bolted (for some inexplicable reason). And Mike is feeling kinda sorry for himself. And then: his buddies show up to lure Mike back in the fold for one last hurrah at a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. And off they go! They make a few stops along the way, learn some new moves, shake off some demons, get involved in various mishaps, and um, dance – a lot – for an interesting array of women.

Jurassic World

I came really late to the Jurassic party, finally catching the original in re-release in 2013 — 20 years after its theatrical debut. So it’s kind of a big deal that I sat through a screening of the fourth installment, pre-release, despite recovering from shingles (note to all: if you have a chance to get the shingles vaccine, do it!). Anyway, Jurassic World is frighteningly entertaining, though like the original, not for the very young or faint of heart. If you’re into dinosaurs and a fan of Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Rec), then JW is a fun ride. However if you’re a purist or over-analyzing type, you should probably skip it. The crowd I saw it with seemed quite divided between indifference, disappointment, and elation.

San Andreas

It’s really not my fault that I cracked up a few times while the ground was shaking and buildings were collapsing out the wazoo. San Andreas is totally cheesy – and knows it. And that sort of makes it okay. It doesn’t have the same guilty-pleasure appeal as Furious 7 (that other recently-released action-adventure movie with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), but it is what it claims to be: a formulaic disaster movie that showcases the Rock’s ‘sensitive’ side.

Tomorrowland

Oh George, you’re killin’ me! I really wanted to love this movie, or at least like it a lot. Instead, I liked it a little. It’s certainly a fine choice for a family flick this long holiday weekend; It has a commendable message, and a decent shot of girl power. But the two-hour journey borders on bland and boring, despite the appearance of flying saucers, jet packs, magical pins, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and glimpses of a Disney-utopia-esque place known as “Tomorrowland” that exists somewhere in time and space.

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 is a perfectly entertaining movie. From a plot perspective, it doesn’t measure up to its 2012 surprise-hit predecessor Pitch Perfect, but what it lacks in story, it makes up for in gleeful fun. Here’s the gist: the Bellas of Barden University are riding high as three-time national a capella champions. But an embarrassing faux pas and wardrobe malfunction during a performance at the Kennedy Center (for the POTUS no less) results in the school suspending the all-girl singing group, now comprised mostly of seniors who really need to be thinking about life after college anyway. The gals strike a deal with the school – and the a capella governing body – that if they can pull off an upset victory at an International competition that no American group has ever won, then the Bellas will be reinstated, and all will be forgiven. Ready, set, cue the music! What follows is pure fun, with informal sing-offs, bonding exercises, surprise cameos, and the return of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins in all their satirical glory as professional commentators for the singing competitions. They are hysterically inappropriate.

Hot Pursuit

Hot Pursuit is a lukewarm comedy that tries to be funny – but isn’t – despite the star power of Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon and Modern Family sexpot, Sofia Vergara. The acting isn’t nearly as bad as the script, but it’s a moot point. The movie is simply lame – and couldn’t come at a worse time for the nation’s men and women in blue.