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‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’ Does Their Take on ‘Chi-Raq’

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

CHICAGO – The Barbershop series of films have always prided themselves on following the “Seinfeld Rule” – they are essentially about nothing. But with this go-around – like the recent “Chi-Raq” – the gang at the shop takes on the Chicago neighborhood violence around them, in “Barbershop: The Next Cut.”

‘Ride Along 2’ Takes a Bumpy Trip to a Dead End

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

CHICAGO – Kevin Hart’s license to riff should be revoked. “Ride Along 2” is an aimless, pointless and seemingly endless sequel to the bafflingly successful action comedy from a couple years back. Hart hijacks nearly every scene with his incessant hyperactive schtick.

N.W.A. Influences an Era in ‘Straight Outta Compton’

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

CHICAGO – Gangsta rap, like all the revolutionary and society bending genres before it, was formulated from dire frustration and a need to shake up the surroundings that encased their creators. The prime movers of gangsta was the group N.W.A., and their story is told in “Straight Outta Compton.”

‘The Book of Life’ Has Uninspired Tale to Tell

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Unfortunately you can’t judge “The Book Of Life” by its cover. The movie draws on the fertile imagery of the Mexican “Day Of The Dead” to create its own animated world. The animation is excellent and the wooden characters seem to spring to life – but those performances are as wooden as a board. Which also describes my feelings for most of this uninspired journey…bored.

‘22 Jump Street’ is a Proud Bargain Bin Blockbuster

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

CHICAGO – “22 Jump Street” is a big budget Hollywood sequel that actively comments on the diminishing returns of sequels. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller know that for every “Lethal Weapon 2,” that manages to surpass the original, there are a dozen “Another 48 Hours” that try and fail to give audiences an approximation of what they enjoyed before.

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.

Sirens Flash Red For Woody Harrelson in ‘Rampart’

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

CHICAGO – The “thin blue line” is a police term. It represents the designation between the protection the police provides and the anarchy that is on the other side of that protection. The cop that Woody Harrelson portrays in “Rampart” crosses that line repeatably, formulating his own retribution.

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  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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