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Elizabeth Banks

Moving On in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1’

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

CHICAGO – The über popular “The Hunger Games” series is back, splitting the final novel into two movie parts, Harry Potter style. Subtitled “Mockingjay - Part 1,” this is the beginning of the end of the story, setting up rather than knocking down.

Big Laughs Await in Sly, Fun ‘The LEGO Movie’

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

CHICAGO – The funniest movie in a long while features no human beings, just animated bland faces among interlocking plastic bricks, the toys which inspired the film. “The LEGO Movie” never takes itself seriously, which means huge laughs for the audience.

Entertaining, Complex ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

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

CHICAGO – Second acts to incredibly popular and entertaining mainstream fare can be a tough prospect. For every “The Dark Knight,” there are too many films like “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” – works that essentially just repeat what audiences fell in love with instead of trying to expand on the world of their predecessors.

‘Pitch Perfect’ Succeeds By Making Fun of Itself

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

CHICAGO – When we last saw Anna Kendrick, she was the mid-twentysomething girlfriend of cop Jake Gyllenhaal in “End of Watch.” This week, she reverts back to freshman year in college, portraying a rebellious D.J. and songstress in the not-taking-themselves-seriously “Pitch Perfect.”

Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks in Moving ‘People Like Us’

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

CHICAGO – “People Like Us” is an old-fashioned tearjerker with everything that phrase implies. It’s undeniably manipulative and sentimental but it’s also somewhat refreshing to see a drama that isn’t laced with irony, cynicism, or some form of postmodern commentary on the genre. “People Like Us” is a film that wants you to be moved; it wants you to cry; it wants you to feel something.

Boredom Awaits During ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Battleship” is getting a lot of flack this week for having little to do with its alleged source. I would argue that the awful “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is even more dishonest when it comes to its inspiration. Working from an instructional book that’s designed to prepare adults for impending parenthood, the film that steals its title turns truth into cliché.

Jennifer Lawrence in ‘The Hunger Games’ Delivers for Fans

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

CHICAGO – What is remarkable about the book phenomenon known as “The Hunger Games” is how rich, literary and symbolic the series is, considering they are for a “young adult” audience. Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and Josh Hutcherson bring the characters to life.

Spectacular ‘The Hunger Games’ Lives Up to High Expectations

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

CHICAGO – Gary Ross’ “The Hunger Games” is a spectacular piece of blockbuster entertainment, a movie that should connect across all demographics from those who have never heard of the book to those who have shrines to Katniss and Peeta in their closets. It is more than mere Hollywood adaptation, it is a work of art on multiple levels with fantastic technical elements and some of the best performances in a work of science fiction in years.

Elizabeth Banks Teeters With the ‘Man on a Ledge’

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

CHICAGO – New York City. Mid-day. A man steps outside the window on the edge of the Roosevelt Hotel. Is he jumping? That’s the question that street level onlookers and moviegoers want answered from Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell and Ed Harris in “Man on a Ledge”

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.

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  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

  • reno 911 front.png

    CHICAGO – The oughts was the era of the workplace mock-doc comedy, with shows like “The Office” and “Reno 911!” born into a time where TV viewers were excited to see see fake realities about the crumminess of a job. While this series has been available in separate season collections previously, “Reno 911!” is now available in a complete series set, one that boasts a grand amount of special features content in spite of some lacking comedy in the actual show.

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