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Ellie Kemper

‘The Secret Life of Pets’ Neuters Promising Cast

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – A promising voice cast of comedy greats is effectively neutered in the blasé animated family film “The Secret Life Of Pets.” It doesn’t have the multi-layered story of the best Pixar movies – or even the “Despicable Me” films – to satisfy both kids and grownups. The bigger it tries to be, the more exhausted it seems.

‘Sex Tape’ a Comedy Sorely Lacking in Laughs

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Jason Segel is usually fun to watch in just about anything, but he sure isn’t fun in “Sex Tape,” a big studio summer comedy with a fatal flaw - it doesn’t seem to know what’s funny. So like a stand-up comedian on a bad night, it feverishly and desperately throws anything it can think of at the screen in the vague hope that it might be funny even incidentally.

‘They Came Together’ Sharply Skewers the Rom-Com

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

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.

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

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

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.

Kristen Wiig Carries Charming Comedy of ‘Bridesmaids’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – With an incredibly talented ensemble, heartfelt script, and honest characterizations, “Bridesmaids” has been touted as a revolutionary re-examination of what one should expect from the phrase “chick flick.” Having never been much of a fan of genre labels, the idea that this film should be judged differently because it has female stars irks me a bit, but if that gets more people into theatre seats and away from the junk that typically qualifies as “entertainment for women,” I’ll happily embrace it. For whatever reason you see it, the most important thing to know is this simple – “Bridesmaids” is funny. Damn funny.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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