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Theater, TV, DVD & Blu-Ray

Theater Review: ‘The Book of Merman’ Should Satisfy Both Sets of Fans

Book of Merman, The

CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

Blu-ray Review: Stale Screen Culture Drama ‘Men, Women & Children’

Men, Women & Children with Kaitlyn Dever

CHICAGO – In “Men, Women & Children,” director Jason Reitman not-so-audaciously reflects onto viewers their world of silent screens and awkward impersonal interactions. As many stories (“Don Jon,” “Disconnect”) have taken on the torch of showing how we are, gasp! — connected to the world yet disconnected from those close to us — Reitman’s tale is just another one for the batch.

DVD Review: William H. Macy’s Sappy Directorial Debut ‘Rudderless’

Rudderless, Billy Crudup Anton Yelchin

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only showing them.

Blu-ray Review: James Brown Biopic ‘Get on Up’ Has No Soul

Get On Up

CHICAGO – When people yawn about the dullness of movies based on life stories, they are certainly referring to films like “Get On Up,” an absurdly uninteresting portrait of a key figure of music, or so this movie claims. From the “The Help’s” vanilla visionary Tate Taylor, this 140-minute ode to James Brown is a half-assed argument about his nonpareil greatness, and full evidence that the biopic may be the weakest genre in film.

Blu-ray Review: Richard Linklater’s 2014 Classic ‘Boyhood’

Boyhood

CHICAGO – I remember when Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” was just a rare credit on IMDb, a project listed as “in production” for many years, while the director’s other completed work passed through. The curiosity of Linklater’s unparalleled experiment was certainly fulfilled by its release, which comes full circle today as it hits home video, an award season epilogue in sight.

Blu-ray Review: Cult-Ready Thriller ‘The Guest’ Comes Home

The Guest with Dan Stevens

CHICAGO – As the classification of “cult hit” becomes a progressively mainstream notion considering the multitude of “The Room” screenings across our great nation every weekend or the universal quotability of “Troll 2,” “The Guest” arrives. It is a movie made with the degree of madness often found only at midnight, usually at film festivals, or during special events at indie movie houses like Chicago’s Music Box Theater.

Blu-ray Review: Slices of Solid Action in Surprising ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

Theater Review: Step Up Productions Gives the Gift of ‘HoliDaze’

CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

DVD Review: Comedy Central’s ‘Broad City: Season 1,’ ‘Kroll Show: Seasons 1 & 2’

Broad City: Season 1

CHICAGO – December has seen the release of two different Comedy Central shows finally arriving to DVD, “Broad City” and “Kroll Show.” Expressing their comedy in different formats, these shows from rising comedians Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”) and Nick Kroll (“Kroll Show”) introduce a cable channel’s audience to new talent, while nonetheless presenting a distinct contrast in creativity.

DVD Review: Historical Figures Cheersed in Brilliant ‘Drunk History: Seasons 1 & 2’

Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Not One Batu

    CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

  • Cher Show, The

    CHICAGO – Has anybody in show business had more “comebacks” than Cher… or if you added her many last names Cher Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman? All of the triumphs and downturns are shoehorned into “The Cher Show,” now in Chicago in a pre-Broadway run through July 15, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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