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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’ Too Thin to be Completely Winning

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

CHICAGO – As far as TV shows that fans wish could be movies, the cult hit “Absolutely Fabulous” was high on the list. The adventures of Patsy and Edina, two middle age Brits with an appetite for self medication, has had a dedicated following since it premiered in 1992. Even though there were six full TV seasons, and various reunions, “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” has emerged.

Old Hollywood Glamour in Woody Allen’s ‘Café Society’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – In the 1930s, the contrast between the world of Hollywood movie sparkle and the rest of a Depression-era America was as different as peasants and kings. Writer/director Woody Allen captures this dichotomy with an East Coast/West Coast tale of one family in “Café Society.”

‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a Blast of Starship Adventure

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – In the equation of the Star Trek universe, what works best is the emotional connection to the iconic crew. Co-screenwriter Simon Pegg – also portraying Scotty – knew this, and saved the rebooted series from its bloated second film. A magnificent adventure awaits with ‘Star Trek Beyond.’

Realistic, Difficult Lives Are Exposed in ‘Wiener-Dog’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO –Director Todd Solondz has made a career out of not shying away from the most uncomfortable negativities of life. From extreme disconnection (“Happiness”) to pedophilia (“Life During Wartime”) to the sad rejection of pre-teen years (“Welcome to the Dollhouse”), Solondz pulls no punches. He achieves that harsh intent yet again in “Wiener-Dog.”

‘Ghostbusters’ Entertains, But Lacks the Paul Feig Edge

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

CHICAGO –Throughout the reboot of “Ghostbusters,” it becomes obvious that co-writer/director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat”) is just going to do a straight re-do of the 1984 film, because the film lacks his sardonic touch, even though it does entertain and has the requisite big special effects.

‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ is Hilarious Joy

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In these difficult times, we flat out need a belly laugh. The timing of “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” couldn’t be better, because this group of comic actors and this movie provides a respite of hilarious joy. By simply exploiting the truth of the based-on-a-real-story premise, “Mike and Dave” is the type of farce that anybody can relate to, and laugh at gratefully.

‘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.

Spotty ‘Swiss Army Man’ Has Just Enough Gas

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

CHICAGO – It’s a simple concept. A man is stuck on an island, and has run out of hope. A dead corpse washes ashore and starts farting. The farts are so frequent that the man rides the corpse like a jet ski. The man is “saved”? Oh yes, and the corpse is portrayed by Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe.

Sweetness & Light is the Character of ‘The BFG’

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

CHICAGO – One observation…when ‘The BFG” was written in 1982 by iconic children’s author Roald Dahl, little did he know that acronyms would become the way we talk. When I first saw that title, I wondered what that “F” stood for. It’s “Friendly,” by the way, which is perfect for this film.

Beauty Becomes Beastly in Uneven ‘The Neon Demon’

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

CHICAGO – “The Neon Demon” is definitely worth seeing, if only to create an understanding as to what you think beauty is, but the film suffers in its last quarter by taking a turn towards horror. This mix of decisions by director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”) is audacious and maddening.

Social History is Revitalized in ‘Free State of Jones’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The United States is still fighting the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The rebellious South has never completely given away its anger and sorrow for the changes the war has wrought on them. These larger themes are examined historically in the new film, “Free State of Jones.”

‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Life in 2016 is Famous in ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Had you told a person 50 years ago that someday we would be able to personally record television and broadcast it to the whole world, they might have laughed and said maybe on the futuristic cartoon “The Jetsons.” But the future is now, and it lives in “Presenting Princess Shaw.”

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  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

  • 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.

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