Magic Mike was a movie about strippers trying to make ends meet in the midst of the Great Recession, the difficulty of modern romance, and the dangers of drug use. Magic Mike XXL is a movie about strippers stripping. And not a whole lot else.
Max is a movie about a dog who returns home from the War in Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. It made me cry. A lot.
Amy Schumer has built a sizable fan base thanks to her Comedy Central series, which showcases her specific brand of honest and often subversive sense of humor. There’s no denying her intense relatability — and it’s that quality that serves her well in her debut film, Trainwreck. Written and produced by Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow, the film centers on a fictional version of Schumer. We’ll never know how fictional this Amy is (and we shouldn’t), which makes her cinematic alter ego all the more appealing.
If you want to understand modern Hollywood and how it’s evolved over the last 30 years, all you need to do is look at the contrast between 1984’s The Terminator and 2015’s Terminator Genisys.
It’s funny that the poster for Ted 2 features the title character with his back to the camera and his hands suggestively poised near his crotch above the tagline “Ted is coming, again” because the whole movie revolves around the fact that Ted can’t come, not even once. Ted doesn’t have any genitals or a reproductive system, so he can’t have a baby with his wife. His search for a sperm donor eventually spills into the legal system, where a court case will decide a surprisingly complex question: Is Ted a person?
Second bananas should not become first bananas — even if they enjoy eating bananas and saying “Banana!” and kind of look like bananas. That is the lesson of Minions, which takes the lovably inept sidekicks from the Despicable Me series and thrusts them into the spotlight to punishing effect. In the right context, the Minions can be amusing. But the right context is definitely not a rambling 90-minute feature.
It’s been at least five years since the last great Pixar film (or more, depending on your feelings about Toy Story 3). In the interim, they produced a series of sequels — some quite entertaining, but few as transcendently beautiful as the original concepts that turned the studio into the most dependable brand in all of Hollywood. Their latest effort, Inside Out, isn’t just a return to form; it surpasses almost all of their previous classics. It is, from start to finish, one of the best films Pixar has ever made.
When all you care about is money, bad things happen. That’s the message of Jurassic World, where greedy theme-park executives hoping to spike attendance engineer the “Indominus Rex,” a genetically-modified dinosaur that immediately turns on its creators and runs amok. Designed as a cautionary tale about the dangers of building a meaner, badder monster purely for the sake of profits, Jurassic World works equally well as a cautionary tale about doing the same thing in movies. All of the rationalizations provided by Jurassic World’s employees — “Consumers want them bigger, louder, more teeth.” “Somebody’s gotta make sure this company has a future!” — could have been taken directly out of the mouths of the studio executives who approved this gene splice of a reboot and a sequel. Their creation — the Indominus or the movie, there’s basically no difference — is as advertised; huge, mean, and visually striking. But this experiment is not without consequences.
Paul Feig’s The Heat took a genre that has traditionally belonged to men — the buddy cop movie — and gave it a female twist. Feig’s new movie, Spy, does much the same thing, this time for spy films, a world that has long been by, about, and for dudes and their power fantasies. Spy explicitly subverts the genre’s typical gender dynamics by casting Melissa McCarthy as a lowly, desk-bound CIA analyst named Susan Cooper, who has spent her entire career in the shadow of a glamorous James Bond-esque spy (Jude Law) and then finally gets her opportunity to step into the spotlight and become a full-fledged field agent.
That’s Entourage in a nutshell. Whenever things threaten to get too serious, the show (and now the film) would just trot out a celebrity cameo or two, distract the audience for a couple minutes, and then carry on as if nothing ever happened. For better or worse, the Entourage movie is an extremely faithful adaptation of the Entourage television show. All the main characters and most of the key supporting players from the show’s eight seasons are back, along with series creator Doug Ellin (who co-wrote and directed the movie). Even though the TV show ended with its lovable bad boys making their first tentative steps toward maturity and monogamy — Vince gets engaged, his manager Eric (Kevin Connolly) finally settles down with his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and Ari decides to retire to spend more time from his family — all of that gets instantly erased before the movie’s opening credits roll. Status quo restored, Vince, Eric, Ari, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) return to their luxurious, lascivious ways with R-rated abandon. Shouldn’t these characters have grown up by now?