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T.J. Miller

For Better or Worse, ‘Ready Player One’ is Nostalgia at its Purest

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

CHICAGO – Just in time for Easter, there’s a film filled with enough Easter eggs to drown a small country. “Ready Player One” is a “Where’s Waldo” of mostly 80’s pop culture references that are meant to trigger our (and especially filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s) sentimental, nostalgic cores by bombarding us with reminders of our childhood. These trips down memory lane are fun until they’re not.

‘Office Christmas Party’ is Just Ho-Hum Humbug

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

CHICAGO – “Office Christmas Party” summons up a few jolly ho-ho-ho’s, but can’t quite deliver even one decent belly laugh you’d expect, considering the talented cast chock full of funny folks. It’s halfway decent premise is drowned in a sea of unfulfilled potential and weak material that the ensemble can only do so much to save.

Anti-Heroism of ‘Deadpool’ Revels in Sass & Violence

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

CHICAGO – It was inevitable that we would get an “R-rated” superhero movie, and “Deadpool” fits the bill with its swears, violence and a little sex/nudity. It also has Ryan Reynolds as that hero, doing his “Van Wilder” smarmy act to the nth degree. How that all works will determine how you like the film.

‘Big Hero 6’ is Sorely Lacking the Charm Component

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

CHICAGO – “Big Hero 6” is a dark revenge thriller masquerading as a kids movie. Walt Disney Studios takes a few pages from its corporate cousin Marvel, while creating this new animated adventure. It has its moments, but not quite enough of them to make this anything more than a minor entry in the Disney legacy.  

‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ Most Tolerable of Series

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

CHICAGO – I’ll say this for “Transformers: Age Of Extinction,” it’s the most tolerable Transformers movie Michael Bay has ever made. The substitution of Mark Wahlberg for Shia LaBeouf is a big part of that – and for its first two hours at least, Bay realizes less is more.

Heroic, Visually Bold ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

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

CHICAGO – “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is spectacular in 3D, the filmmakers actually geared the film to enhance that much maligned vision. It also features a warm and heroic story about the coming-of-age for the character Hiccup, and his now fully trained dragon, Toothless.

‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ Can’t Find Honest Emotion

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Lorene Scafaria’s “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a manipulative mess that’s only slightly redeemed by yet-another engaging performance from one of the best actresses of her generation. Even the always-great Keira Knightley can’t hold back the deluge of clichés and false characters that drag this piece down into the kind of dreck that would be universally derided if it just had the name “Nicholas Sparks Presents” in front of it.

Paul Rudd Makes a Difference as ‘Our Idiot Brother’

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

CHICAGO – Advertised deceptively as a comedy, the new film “My Idiot Brother” has a Zen-like quality that is surprising, and oddly captivating, but cannot sustain itself and eventually runs out of steam. Paul Rudd plays the brother to three errant sisters, portrayed by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer.

Jack Black, Emily Blunt Think Big in ‘Gulliver’s Travels’

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

CHICAGO – Call it too much holiday eggnog, but the re-imagining of the immortal classic “Gulliver’s Travels,’ starring Jack Black, Emily Blunt and Jason Segal, has a little Yuletide fun and hurts no one. If you like Jack Black, you’ll enjoy the film. If you don’t, find another way to spend 93 minutes this tinsel time weekend.

Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake Sink in Horrible ‘Yogi Bear’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 0.5/5.0
Rating: 0.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “Yogi Bear,” the latest degradation in the cynical family film 3D marketing universe, has done the improbable. It has taken notable and nostalgic cartoon characters (Yogi and Boo Boo) and turned them into animatronic shills for a post modern bore of a story that wouldn’t work if Fellini were directing it. Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake sell out (I mean lend) their voice talents.

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  • Cornerstone, Nothing Without a Company

    CHICAGO – We all need some help. The stage play group Nothing Without a Company realizes that, and has collaborated with the organization “Cornerstone” to provide that assistance. Cornerstone is a seminar and a happening in downtown Chicago, facilitated by “experts” to generate your potential. The presentation has a Thursday-Sunday run at Michigan Avenue’s Artspace 8 through May 6th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Cold War

    CHICAGO – Local filmmaking is thriving, thanks to the many creators who choose to make independent movies in Chicago. Co-directors Stirling McLaughlin and J. Wilder Konschak (also writer) brought their cast and crew to the Windy City to make their comedy, “Cold War.” The film made its digital debut on April 6th, 2018, and will be available on iTunes, Google Play, FandangoNow, Amazon, Vudu and more.

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