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Review: Thunder Force

The latest action-adventure comedy from celebrity couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy is not exactly a Thunder Force to be reckoned with. It’s barely watchable. So don’t be fooled by its cute trailer and impressive roster of actors. Thunder Force is a dud that takes way too long to get to what might be considered the good stuff if you’re in a forgiving mood… and happen to have a Netflix account… and managed to find some escapist value in critical bombs like Superintelligence, Tammy, Life of the Party, and the The Boss — all starring McCarthy and co-written and/or directed by Falcone. Seems their talents are far better served by other people’s material. And Octavia Spencer? The Academy-Award winner seemed to have far more fun playing super bad in the 2019 creepy horror movie Ma, and that wasn’t exactly a film to write home about.  Here, she’s a newly-minted superhero out to save the world — or at least Chicago — from genetically-altered supervillains known as “miscreants”.

Review: Nobody

Don’t mess with ‘nobody’. He’s got skills – in a John Wick meets Taken sort of way. Nobody stars Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul,” The Post, Nebraska) as Hutch Mansell, a seemingly mundane, anti-confrontational dad stuck in a routine: go for a morning run, make breakfast for the family, punch a clock at work, eat dinner, make small talk with the wife and kids, go to bed. Repeat. Every day. No muss. No fuss. Living life under the radar…

Review: Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal

We’re all familiar with the celebrity-driven headlines: “Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Busted for Paying Beaucoup Bucks to get their Kids into Prestige Colleges!” But they weren’t alone. Dozens of rich parents whose names you’ve never heard of were doing the same. All aided by a sleazebag named Rick Singer who built a lucrative career as an expert manipulator of a college admissions system all too eager to make exceptions and turn a blind eye – if the price was right. There’s plenty of blame and shame to go around.

Quickie Review: YES DAY

Who can say no to a YES DAY? This movie is as simple as its premise, and that’s okay. It’s family-friendly entertainment that gives adults and kids alike pause – and cause – to ponder the boundaries of responsibility, and the joys of embracing a ‘can-do’ mindset. Within reason.

Review: Coming 2 America

Hard to believe it’s been more than 30 years since Crown Prince Akeem Jaffer (Eddie Murphy) and his sidekick Semmi (Arsenio Hall) fled the palace – and an arranged marriage – in the wealthy African nation of Zamunda, and landed in Queens, New York, on a comical quest for true love. The 1988 comedy classic Coming to America was a real gem. Its sequel, Coming 2 America, is more like cubic zirconia. It has a bit of sparkle but pales against the original.

The trip is still worth taking, for nostalgia’s sake and a few good laughs. Just keep the expectations in check.

Quickie Review: Raya and the Last Dragon

The only opinion that really matters here would be that of a kid who likes animated movies. Especially Disney animated movies. And for that particular demographic, Raya and the Last Dragon is a pretty safe bet. The movie stays true to the conventional Disney formula with a story, animation and voices that kids can embrace and parents can easily tolerate. It’s not top-tier classic Disney, but it’s a pleasant enough family-friendly diversion if you have Disney+ with Premier Access (i.e. it’ll cost ya extra). It’s also being released in select theaters, but I still can’t suggest anyone of any age go that route before we reach something close to herd immunity.

Quickie Review: Silk Road

Silk Road starts with a disclaimer. “This story is true. Except for what we made up or changed.” In other words, creative and dramatic license was required to turn this cyber crime story into something resembling a crime thriller. We’ve got the suspect’s IP address!! Woo-hoo!

Quickie Review: Disney’s Flora & Ulysses

I’m not exactly the target demo, but I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Flora & Ulysses. It’s a family adventure comedy based on the Newbery Award-winning book “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” by Kate DiCamillo (whose novel “Because of Winn-Dixie” was turned into a movie in 2005). Flora & Ulysses stars Matilda Lawler as 10-year-old Flora, a highly-imaginative, self-professed cynic who saves a squirrel (CGI) from a tragic accident involving a vacuum cleaner. The squirrel is “born anew” as a rodent superhero with powers that include strength, flight, poetry, and a knack for antics that will unite Flora’s fractured family and inspire a message of hope.

Review: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is an extremely campy comedy that plays like an overlong skit on Saturday Night Live. It stars SNL alum Kristen Wiig (Wonder Woman 1984), and Annie Mumolo as longtime friends who embark on the adventure of a lifetime when their dream jobs at Jennifer Convertibles go belly-up. They decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time ever, to “find their shimmer” at a cheesy resort in (fictional) Vista Del Mar, Florida – a hot spot for singles in their “middle years.” There they meet the hunky sad sack Edgar Pagét (Jamie Dornan, Wild Mountain Thyme, Synchronic, Fifty Shades), who’s been sent by an evil villainess to unleash killer mosquitos on Vista Del Mar, as part of a nonsensical revenge plot. Did I mention this movie is really quite silly? I’d venture to call it silly bordering on stupid, if not for the flashes of funny and splashes of heart that offer escapist redemption.

Review: Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah is one of those movies you should watch, even if you don’t really want to. It’s another stark reminder of how the FBI operated under a racist and reactionary J. Edgar Hoover during the 1960s, and a stark reminder of why it’s never a good idea to 100% trust government spin. File those FOIAs! Judas and the Black Messiah tells the true story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out, Queen & Slim), the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was gunned down by law enforcement during an overnight raid in 1969, after a fateful betrayal by FBI informant Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You). The movie is filled with excellent performances – even if the material itself is far from entertaining