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Thomas Haden Church

‘Max’ is a Step Beyond the Heroic Dog Movie Genre

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – From Rin-Tin-Tin to Lassie to Benji, American movie goers have loved the heroic dog. As the film “Max” throws its leash into the ring, the expectation was a dull family drama just about Max the dog himself. What a surprise to learn it was also a poignant meditation on people.

Spirituality Over Dogma Uplifts ‘Heaven Is for Real’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – It would be easy to dismiss “Heaven Is for Real,” given that it is based on the visions of the afterlife by a child, that just happens to coincide perfectly with Christian doctrine (Jesus, Angels, etc.). But there is more to this film in the sincerity of its spirituality, and it succeeds with that inspiration.

Matthew McConaughey Delivers in Searing ‘Killer Joe’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – William Friedkin’s film of Tracy Letts’ “Killer Joe” takes no prisoners. One of the central characters is introduced from the waist down and to say that the film climaxes in violent, sexual oddity would be like saying “The Avengers” features a few superheroes. However, it would be a mistake to allow the controversy or the shock value to become the story of this excellent noir comedy that takes black humor to a new level of darkness.

‘John Carter’ is Poor Man’s ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avatar’ With Kitschy Taylor Kitsch, Soft-Porn Lynn Collins

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Usually it’s critics critically flogging a film when we say it weakly lacks originality and borrows too heavily from others. Disney’s “John Carter” attacks that classic grumble by promotionally comparing itself to “Star Wars” and “Avatar” before critics even had a chance to deduct points for it.

Matt Damon Closes Deal in ‘We Bought a Zoo’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo” is an undeniably manipulative crowd-pleaser but there’s something about being manipulated in such an expert manner that makes the tugging on the heartstrings easier to take. We know what we’re in for when we buy a ticket for a movie about children grieving the loss of their mother, endangered animals, and the healing process through talking to tigers. Most movie goers are smart enough not to expect a deep dose of subtlety.

Low Grade on Report Card For ‘Easy A’ With Emma Stone

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO - “Easy A” is simply a hard film to swallow. Set in a high school on another planet, it wants everything and ends up giving very little. The cast is game - Emma Stone, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow - but with few exceptions the players cannot handle the lead balloon banter that passes for jokey dialogue. It wants also to be a grand statement on gossip and those who get hurt by it, but perky Stone doesn’t seem that affected.

‘Imagine That’: Eddie Murphy’s Family Fare Predictable as Sunrise

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Nobody expects an actor to maintain the ambitions of their early career. The manic energy of Eddie Murphy from “Raw” or “48 Hours” is as gone as an ‘80s hairdo. But the numbing sameness of family-friendly Eddie is a direction that is stultifying, and does no favors for him or the audience.

Ellen Page’s ‘Smart People’ Only as Scholarly as Zealous Senior in High School

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5CHICAGO – I’m flummoxed. I know “Smart People” was supposed to be comedic drama with a splash of romance. Instead, I have been misled. It’s not a comedy. It’s not a tragedy. It’s not even a tragicomedy.

Tobey Maguire ‘Black’ in Action in Venomously Conflicted ‘Spider-Man 3’

Rating: 3.5/5CHICAGO – At the heart of every great film is a good conflict. In Spidey’s third advent, his heart is venomously conflicted and so is the film.

The film gets gargantuan props on its special effects. Of course, the entertaining visual acuity is expected and is no surprise.

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