Too many Hollywood comedies, Office Christmas Party included, seem to expend all their creativity in the casting office. Filmmakers assemble these impressive lineups acting talent — and Office Christmas Party has as good a collection of actors as any comedy this year — and then sets them adrift in dumb stories with no jokes, hoping their evident charisma and endless improvisations will deliver enough laughs to fill out a decent trailer. The people in this movie are funny, but the movie would be a lot funnier if it gave those people some clever material to perform.
A meal at McDonald calls to mind words like “processed,” “synthetic,” “safe,” and “familiar.” The Founder, the story of the man that transformed McDonald’s from a regional burger chain into a fast-food juggernaut, is not a particularly compelling biopic, but it’s not a bad cinematic translation of what it feels like to eat at Mickey D’s. Every beat comes straight out of the great-but-complicated man movie biography playbook. Each element seems selected to fulfill the audience’s expectations for this kind of film. In one scene, the title character screams at a McDonald’s franchisee for deviating from the company’s strictly mandated burger toppings: two pickles, a sprinkle of onions, and a squirt of ketchup and mustard. This particular owner dared to break the rules and put lettuce on their burger. Lettuce! The Founder is a movie with no lettuce.
It doesn’t hurt that Natalie Portman looks a lot like Jackie Kennedy. Dressed in pearls and a classic 1960s suit with a perfect bouffant hairstyle, she’s the splitting image of the former First Lady. But in Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s ‘Jackie,’ Portman’s performance goes beyond looks. As the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Portman flourishes in one of the best and most deeply human roles of her career.
A Howard Hughes biopic by Warren Beatty sounds pretty interesting. Any portrayal of the eccentric recluse and his ventures into Hollywood are enough to pique my interest. But Rules Don’t Apply is hardly a biopic on the billionaire; instead Beatty’s first directorial effort since 1998’s Bulworth is an uninteresting love story about an aspiring actress and a young driver. Toss in some uneven comedy, a creepy sex scene, some premature ejaculation, and a song Lily Collins never stops singing and you’ve got yourself one very strange movie about Howard Hughes.
The opening of Bad Santa 2 feels exactly right The first movie gave its degenerate, safe-cracking mall Santa a glimmer of a happy ending, an absurd outcome for a man who had screwed and robbed and drank and cursed his way across a large swath of the Phoenix metro area. 12 years later, Bad Santa 2 finds its antihero back at rock bottom; alone, drunk, and broke. In a despairing voiceover, Billy Bob Thornton croaks out a treatise on the absence of happy endings in life — or any endings at all. Life, his Willie Soke muses, just goes on and on, consistently sucking forever. Then he writes a suicide note on an old pizza box and sticks his head in an oven.
Like many of the shorts that play before Disney and Pixar’s latest animated films, the one attached to Moana — Inner Workings — shares some similarities with the feature it precedes. Both are stories that explore the familiar conflict between head and heart; between pursuing one’s passions and begrudgingly submitting to practicality. Oh, and they both feature the ocean. Moana also shares a few similarities with other Disney films (like Finding Dory, it also has a hilariously stupid bird), but it could benefit from having a little more in common with Frozen.
J.K. Rowling‘s wizarding world has finally returned. Now that you’ve seen the new Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and read our spoiler-free review, it’s time discuss all the spoilers, criticisms, and theories for what’s next in the five-film franchise. Take out your wands, fill up a nice cold mug of Butterbeer, and get ready to go back in time to the 1920s.
Ever since Tina Fey blessed us with Mean Girls, we’ve been hopelessly waiting for a worthy successor — a film just as hilariously honest and cleverly perceptive about the teenage girl coming-of-age experience, or something like it. The Edge of Seventeen is that film, a gloriously real story that feels as timeless as the great teen comedies of John Hughes, and as blissfully painful as My So-Called Life. It’s the kind of movie that only comes around once every decade or so, but it’s well worth the wait.
If you tried to describe Manchester by the Sea to someone else it would sound an awful lot like many other indie dramas. Trouble white guy returns to his hometown to care for a relative. But that does not do justice to Kenneth Lonergan’s third...
Ang Lee is am ambitious filmmaker, but ambition doesn’t always pay off. With Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he fused emotional relationships with the dazzle of wuxia action, and in Life of Pi he told a story about spirituality and survival through an innovative use of CG and motion-capture performance. In Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Lee is once again pushing the boundaries of filmmaking shooting the film in 120 frames per second (five times the normal rate of your average movie). What results is a stunning and unique viewing experience, but ultimately a failed experiment.