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Allison Janney

Nothing of Substance in Cute, Fluffy ‘Minions’

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

CHICAGO – They’re cute, they talk like babies, and they already have “brand recognition.” In what feels like a product exercise rather than a movie, “Minions” extends its story from the dawn of time to 1968. Did we need that much back story? The voices of Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm star.

Fresh Blast of Funny From Melissa McCarthy in ‘Spy’

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

CHICAGO – It can be argued that Melissa McCarthy, with a film a year and a TV sitcom still running, is topping out on exposure. But as long as she teams with writer/director Paul Feig, as she did on “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” she will continue to be an original comic force. Their latest is “Spy.”

Unfunny ‘Tammy’ is a Melissa McCarthy Misfire

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

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy has jumped the shark. Or if she hasn’t, she’s strapped on the skis and is contemplating the ramp. Going once more to the same character well – this time with a script co-written with her husband Ben Falcone and directed by him – McCarthy shows little originality or gumption as the title character in “Tammy..”

Cussing Doesn’t Spell Out Comedy in ‘Bad Words’

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

CHICAGO – In his directorial debut “Bad Words”, Jason Bateman plays Guy Trilby, a foulmouthed 40 year old man who aggressively competes in local youth spelling bees. The children are confused, and their parents are furious. However, the isolated Guy has no fear, with all of the rule loopholes in his back pocket (specifically that he never graduated eighth grade).

‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ Hindered by Extra Sidekick

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

CHICAGO – Talking dogs have been around for decades in animated movies and television shows, especially the anthropomorphized kind. From the superhero antics of Underdog to the biting sarcasm from the likes of Brian from “Family Guy” - take your pick and you can find a dog to your liking. I always took a shine to Mr. Peabody, the intelligent and resourceful beagle with a penchant for puns.

For a Real Summer Movie, Go ‘The Way, Way Back’

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

CHICAGO – Nothing evokes the time, sights and smells of summer like the getaway resort. The long days, the mystery of night, the first crush and the summer job are all brought back in the soapy yet fun “The Way, Way Back,” featuring Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney.

Josh Radnor’s ‘Liberal Arts’ Takes Uncommonly Thoughtful Look at Growing Up

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

CHICAGO – Josh Radnor may be one of the most good natured humanists in modern American film. His perspective contrasts sharply with that of comedic auteurs intent on depicting a cynical view of the modern world clouded with nostalgia. Radnor may not yet be up to par with the filmmakers that have inspired him, namely Woody Allen, but his sophomore directorial effort, “Liberal Arts,” is practically bursting with promise.

Nothing Nice to Say About Eddie Murphy’s ‘A Thousand Words’

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

CHICAGO – The movie business is a funny thing in that EVERYONE involved with “A Thousand Words” has moved on and yet there are studio executives who still want you to care enough to open your wallet. Who didn’t care before you? The writers who delivered once of the worst scripts in years, the director who proved that his pedestrian work on “Norbit” and “Meet Dave” was the pinnacle of his abilities, and the producers who let this cinematic crime get even more stale than when it was shot.

Emma Stone, Viola Davis Lend a Hand to ‘The Help’

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

CHICAGO – Using fiction to express the importance of real historical events is seductive and sometimes disingenuous. The new film “The Help” manages to counteract that notion through high level, emotional performances.

‘Life During Wartime’ Provides Haunting Coda to ‘Happiness’

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

CHICAGO – Todd Solondz’s 1998 masterpiece, “Happiness,” is the darkest American comedy ever made. It’s so brutal and uncompromising that it calls into question the very definition of comedy. When one character explains to her sister that she isn’t laughing at her, but with her, the sister responds, “But I’m not laughing.” Solondz isn’t laughing either.

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  • King and I, The

    CHICAGO – The venerable musical “The King and I,” by the legendary team of (Richard) Rodgers and (Oscar) Hammerstein, is now 65 years old. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is injecting fresh life into this senior aged play, with a sumptuous new production that is top drawer at every level.

  • New Country

    CHICAGO – The Country Music industry has become as huge as any category of music entertainment. So Mark Roberts, the creator of the TV sitcom “Mike & Molly,” has fashioned a boisterous new play about the machinations of that genre of music industry, and gave it the plaintive title of “New Country.”

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