CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
Film Feature: 10 Worst Films of 2016, by HollywoodChicago.com
CHICAGO – Film reviewing can be a blood sport – not everything is a highfalutin art night at the cinema. The three reviewers of HollywoodChicago.com – Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino – did spend some time wasting energy on some really bad movies in 2016, and lived to tell about it.
There are no rankings, because they are all rank. The ten are listed in descending levels of dread, with stars like Bobby De Niro and George Clooney representing, as well as superheroes and overwrought CGI epics making the “grade.” The persons responsible for the descriptive honors are marked accordingly, PM for for Patrick, SW for Spike and JE for Jon. Cover your eyes and gird your loins, these are the 10 Worst Films of 2016, by HollywoodChicago.com.
Photo credit: Lionsgate
To this day, even while writing this, I get a stomach ache recalling how prodigiously disgusting “Dirty Grandpa” turned out to be. It is morally bankrupt, casually racist, blatantly homophobic and proudly sexist. This film is basically an embodiment of the Republican dream. The few reprieves this film does offer come at the expense of sexually objectifying its lead, Zac Efron. Any person who has seen an Efron film in the last decade already knows that his physique is his greatest contribution to whatever role he is saddled with. The repugnant surprise comes from veteran actor Robert DeNiro, who too effortlessly falls into the role of despicable human being. I could almost appreciate the message about how undervalued and discarded our elderly are if the poster “child” for the film wasn’t a piece of human garbage. Wisdom doesn’t always come with age, especially when your development was arrested as a teenager. (JE)
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Some comedy directors who long to be taken seriously can pull off satire. Others like “Old School’ and “Hangover” alum Todd Phillips cannot. Philipps fancies himself a Scorsese in the making with this tale of young gun runners exploiting quirks in government contracts to make themselves rich in Iraq, during the years of President George W. Bush. But Phillips has a tin ear for satire and the script’s jokes land with the resounding thud you’d expect from the screenwriter of “The Hangover Part II.” This is a movie that isn’t half as smart as it thinks it is, and bears a slime of smugness as heavy as a 15 year old trying on his first cologne. (SW)
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics
This “comedy” had an odd but telling history. It was picked up for distribution at the Sundance film festival two years ago, but lingered on the shelf as it went from one distributor to another (Sony Pictures Classics), finally seeing the light of day in March of 2016. Experiencing the film tells you why, is it a misguided satire?…er raunch comedy?…feel-good picture? It involves a self absorbed Olympic gymnast (Melissa Rauch of “The Big Bang Theory”) who won a Bronze medal and wants that honor to serve her forever in the small town where she lives. When a promising rival (Haley Lu Richardson) appears, all heck breaks loose. Not knowing what it wanted to be was only half the problem of the film, the other is that is just ain’t funny, and created some really weird scenes (gymnast sex scene with body doubles anyone? anyone?). I didn’t review at the time because I interviewed Melissa Rauch in association with it, and she was so gracious I knew I couldn’t do a hatchet job. But don’t waste your time. (PM)
Independence Day: Resurgence
Independence Day: Resurgence
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox
Is a summer filled with less than stellar blockbusters, “Independence Day: Resurgence” had all the hype and potential to save the day. Even finding out Will Smith, one of the major reasons for the film’s success, would not be part of it didn’t completely hamper my excitement. It wasn’t until I was actually sitting through the film that I knew I was doomed. Aside from a completely convoluted story, the film’s tone had changed. The first film’s tone has its slightly grave moments, but for the most remains humorous. How else can you play up such a campy popcorn flick? “Resurgence” tries to hard to be taken seriously, which is not what fans paid to see. We also didn’t pay to basically have Liam Hemsworth forced on us the entire film, overshadowing every other character in the film…and basically replacing the role that once belonged to an African American (Will Smith). There are few films where I hope the aliens win, that way we humans can just be put out of our misery. (JE)
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures
This video game adaptation is like “The Lord Of The Rings” except it’s been drained of all life, wit, character, and entertainment. The normally reliable Duncan Jones is overwhelmed by the digital armies of second hand fantasy characters he must shephard. When an Ork knockoff is supposed to be your hero, you know you’re in trouble. Even though it clocked in at just barely over 2 hours, This film certainly feels a lot longer than any of Peter Jackson’s trips to Middle Earth – and I’m counting “The Hobbit.” (SW)