Jack Black

Film Review: ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’ is Movie Magic

CHICAGO – “The House With The Clock In Its Walls” is a surprisingly restrained and endearing haunted house pic for kids just getting rid of their training wheels. It’s all a spooky atmosphere with cobwebs galore, creaking doors, a stained glass window which changes on its own, and a library of books which at times resemble the avifauna predators from the Hitchcock classic “The Birds.”

Video Game Review: ‘Broken Age’ is Tricky, Whimsical & Outstanding

Broken Age

CHICAGO – Double Fine Productions delves into the deepest, most repressed parts of the imagination and brings the wonders it finds into our reality. I took a long while to play and review “Broken Age,” the company’s Kickstarter darling, not because it was long or overly difficult, but because I was left thinking about the game constantly once I finished.

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.

Slideshow: Weird Al Yankovic Releases New Parody Song ‘Tacky’

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The new single from Weird Al Yankovic is ‘Tacky.’

CHICAGO – Cyberspace has been all abuzz in the last couple of days as “Weird Al” Yankovic released his newest parody song, “Tacky,” which skewers Pharrell William’s “Happy.” The video for “Tacky” features Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal and Jack Black, and is part of Weird Al’s new album, “Mandatory Fun.”

Blu-ray Review: Jack Black in Richard Linklater’s Clever ‘Bernie’

Bernie

CHICAGO – Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” is one of those unusual stories that is so bizarre that it has to be true. It is the saga of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a closeted, affable mortician who befriended an irascible, cranky woman named Majorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). After years of psychological abuse, he shot her in the back and stored her in the freezer in their garage. As he does with all of his projects, Linklater approaches this true story from a unique, entertaining angle. He’s simply one of our best living filmmakers and “Bernie” is merely further proof.

Film Review: Tour de Force for Jack Black in Fact-Based ‘Bernie’

CHICAGO – Jack Black is a smart and interesting actor. Not content to ride on the modern day John Belushi-type roles that might have pigeonholed him, Black portrays “Bernie,” a convincing conniver in Texas, based on a true story. Veterans Matthew McConaughhey and Shirley MacLaine add spice to the brew.

Blu-ray Review: Fantastic Release For Joyful, Fun ‘The Muppets’

The Muppets

CHICAGO – God, I love “The Muppets.” It’s such a wonderful, joyful, fun movie. As someone who is forced to see dozens of family films a year, I can tell you that most of them are not full of joy. They are full of pop culture references and gross-out jokes but they are nowhere near as smart, fun, or fantastic as “The Muppets,” a great movie with a great Blu-ray set that will stand the test of time.

Blu-ray Review: Remarkably Talented Ensemble Gets Small in ‘The Big Year’

The Big Year

CHICAGO – Given the wacky nature of Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin in their family comedies and the tendency of all three talented actors to over-act, people will probably be surprised at how generally-subdued their collaboration on “The Big Year” ended up. In fact, while the movie is genial and good-natured, it’s also surprisingly dull. The characters never resonate beyond their descriptions - rookie, veteran, and the jerk in between. So, while the filmmakers deserve credit for not injecting the proceedings with gross-out humor, they needed to inject it with something to bring it to life.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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