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Nick Offerman

DVD Review: Great Performances Anchor Smart Drama of ‘Smashed’

Smashed

CHICAGO – I’m upset I didn’t see “Smashed” in time to produce my year-end lists for 2012 (Sony Pictures Classics inexplicably never sent a screener and I missed it in theaters). Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s stellar lead performance and Aaron Paul’s pitch-perfect support would have been included in both of my performance pieces. They’re so good here, balancing the truth of youthful addiction in ways that we rarely see in film.

Film Review: Nick Offerman Stars in Episodic ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’

CHICAGO – At the start, I’ll admit to kind of hating Bob Byington’s truly unusual “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” playing this weekend at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago with local actor and “Parks and Recreation” scene-stealer Nick Offerman in attendance. It’s such a mannered, unique piece that it verges on grating.

Film Review: Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Emotionally Wrecked in ‘Smashed’

Smashed

CHICAGO – “Young Drunks in Love” could be the subtitle of the new film “Smashed,’ or maybe “Recovery Can’t Recover All.” Regardless, Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a career-defining performance as a young adult facing up to that adulthood, and leaving behind everything she has known for a life that’s healthier, but less familiar.

Interview: Director James Ponsoldt, Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead on ‘Smashed’

CHICAGO – The recovery of an alcoholic is rarely told honestly in film, and by making it about the relationships, writer/director James Ponsoldt has achieved that truth. It helps that his lead actor is the illustrious Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”).

Blu-ray Review: Extended One-Joke of ‘Casa de mi Padre’ Gets Old Fast

Casa de mi Padre

CHICAGO – You have to admire the commitment to a goofy concept that allowed “Casa de mi Padre” to exist in the first place. The idea that Will Ferrell would star in a Spanish-language film about drug dealers and land control in Mexico and that the result would not only be subtitled but often remarkably straight-faced in its melodrama is conceptually hilarious. The actual product? Not quite as funny.

Film Review: Will Ferrell Experiments with Surreal ‘Casa de mi Padre’

CHICAGO – Will Ferrell can never be accused of sitting on his comic laurels, nor repeating himself. “Casa de mi Padre” is a complete set-in-Mexico Spanish language film, including Ferrell’s dialogue. Although uneven, it delivers such a peculiar vibe that it can’t help but be admired, at least for the effort.

Film Review: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum Have Fun on ‘21 Jump Street’

CHICAGO – There are various opinions about TV-to-movie remakes, mostly negative. That is why “21 Jump Street,” based on a 1980s TV show, manages some grudging respect. Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman and Ellie Kemper create some goofy laughs in this farce.

TV Review: ‘Parks and Recreation’ Makes Case For Best Comedy

Parks and Recreation

CHICAGO – “Modern Family” may have just won the Emmy and “Louie” & “Curb Your Enthusiasm” both had very strong summer outings, but the fourth-season premiere of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” (and the equally-hysterical episode that follows it) makes the case that the Amy Poehler vehicle is the best comedy on television right now. With incredibly smart writing and increasingly impressive performances from the entire ensemble, “Parks and Rec” just keeps getting funnier.

DVD Review: NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ is Best Comedy of 2011

Parks and Recreation

CHICAGO – There’s quite a race for the best comedy of the year and I suspect that “Modern Family” will take the Emmy at Sunday’s awards (which we’ll get into more in-depth with a predictions feature later in the week), but the winner by a nose for this critic is NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” a show that just got better episode by episode as its brilliant third season progressed. See for yourself with the recently-released DVD from Universal.

TV Review: Save This Show! ‘Parks and Recreation’ Seeks a Second Chance

Parks and Recreation

CHICAGO – The midseason premiere of season three of “Parks & Recreation” starts by catching us up on what we’ve missed. It details the arrivals of auditors, the “black hats,” played by the non-descript Adam Scott and a goofily-exuberant Rob Lowe, and features a tongue-and-cheek detailing of the budget crisis facing the parks department.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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