Jack McBrayer

Film Review: 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' is a Bittersweet Heart-breaker

CHICAGO – The internet we know today is a fairly young invention full of some of the greatest conveniences known to man, but also some of the greatest distractions and nuisances currently in our lives. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” embodies just that, and while it doesn’t quite reach the high score of its predecessor, the maturity and wisdom displayed in it more than makes up for it.

Podtalk: Co-Directors Explain How ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’

CHICAGO – The visual density of today’s animation reaches a new height in a rare Walt Disney Studio sequel, “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” This is a follow-up to “Wreck-It Ralph,” a huge animated hit film. Returning to guide the sequel, which has Wreck-It Ralph “inside” the internet, are co-directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore.

Film Review: ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ Should Have Remained Undiscovered

CHICAGO – There are only a few times that I have left a film mentally shouting, “Won’t someone think of the children?” Not through some self-righteous religious fit, of course, but through a general concern for the animated films created for our young. “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is either made for a specific crowd in mind or made for a crowd without a mind.

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.

Film Review: ‘They Came Together’ Sharply Skewers the Rom-Com

CHICAGO – If there is any genre of film that needs a good blasting, it is the romantic comedy. These silly fantasies practically seem like satires anyway, so when the comic genius of writer/director David Wain ponders them, and casts Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler as the “couple,” the funny will fly.

2014 Sundance Diary, Day 3: Comedies with an Edge

I’ve only seen three movies since my last dispatch — Sundance is about finding the time to write whenever you have it and it just comes earlier today than it did yesterday — but one was a true gem. So I’ll be brief.

Blu-ray Review: Solid Release For Entertaining ‘Wreck-It Ralph’

Wreck It Ralph

CHICAGO – Disney’s hit “Wreck-It Ralph,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, fits one of the most important criteria for a parent considering picking up a kid’s movie to own — replay value. As anyone with kids can tell you, if you buy something, you best be ready to watch it over and over and over again. And “Ralph” holds up surprisingly well. I’m still a little surprised it received the level of acclaim it did with some even suggesting it should win the Oscar (we all know that should have been “ParaNorman”) but it’s a good movie to throw on if your kids need a distraction with a good message. And the Blu-ray includes the Oscar winner for Best Animated Short, the great “Paperman.”

Film Review: Voice Cast Delights in Wonderful ‘Wreck-It Ralph’

CHICAGO – The nostalgia of the old video game arcade comes to life in a charming and fun way in the new Disney film, “Wreck-It Ralph.” One of the strengths is the precise selection of celebrity voices used to animate the rollicking characters. John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch are part of the familiar voice cast.

Film Review: Nothing Nice to Say About Eddie Murphy’s Awful Comedy ‘A Thousand Words’

CHICAGO – The movie business is a funny thing in that EVERYONE involved with “A Thousand Words” has moved on and yet there are studio executives who still want you to care enough to open your wallet.

DVD Review: NBC’s ‘30 Rock’ Still Hilarious In Fourth Season

30 Rock

CHICAGO – Time flies quickly in the world of television. Look no further than the fact that NBC’s “30 Rock” has become one of the elder statesmen of the sitcom. As new shows like “Glee” and “Modern Family” stole headlines, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin’s brilliant creation kept knocking them out of the park. It never set the ratings on fire, but there’s no denying that this is still one of the best comedies on television.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Grace, Or the Art of Climbing

    CHICAGO – What is life but a constant climb? The Brown Paper Box Co., one of the most vital storefront theater groups in Chicago, asks that question and more in the significant “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing.” Using a woman’s journey through some difficult situations, the parallels of “the climb” become a artfully performed story that is all inspiration and uplift. The play runs through July 7th, 2019, at Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District in Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Elizabeth Laidlaw

    CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

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