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Aubrey Plaza

Film Review: ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ is Hilarious Joy

Mike and Dave

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.

Interview: Adam Devine, Director Jake Szymanski Realize ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’

CHICAGO – The funniest movie of the summer describes its whole situation through the title – “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” This hilarious farce features a killer cast, led by Adam Devine and Zac Efron, and brilliant comic direction by Jake Szymanski.

DVD Review: Historical Figures Cheersed in Brilliant ‘Drunk History: Seasons 1 & 2’

Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

Exclusive Portrait: ‘Grumpy Cat’ Gains a Voice in Lifetime TV Movie

Grumpy Cat, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – What began as an internet meme has become a celebrity sensation. “Grumpy Cat,” AKA Tardar Sauce the cat, has built a career for herself and her owners as a magazine cover girl and brand name. Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) has just been named as the voice of Grumpy Cat for an upcoming Lifetime TV Movie, “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.” The famous feline recently appeared at Barnes & Noble Old Orchard in Skokie, Illinois, to promote her new book “The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat.”

Film Review: Studio Ghibli Gives Fans Sweet ‘From Up on Poppy Hill’

CHICAGO – The torch is being passed at Studio Ghibli from the great Hayao Miyazaki (“Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away”) to his son Goro, who directs this week’s tender “From Up on Poppy Hill,” certainly not one of the best in the Ghibli canon but a well-made, enjoyable melodrama nonetheless. A full awareness that it’s kind of a cheap melodrama (one of the characters even says so) doesn’t change the fact that it is but the young Miyazaki’s visual palette is notably beautiful and the voice work is strong throughout.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ Embraces Quirky Characters

Safety Not Guaranteed

CHICAGO – Colin Treverrow’s “Safety Not Guaranteed” is one of the most consistently enjoyable and clever films of 2012. With a script that walks a tonal tightrope and a spectacular ensemble, this is the kind of smart, quirky, unexpected comedy that one hopes for when they stray from the beaten path of the Hollywood movie. It was a wonderful Summer movie alternative that should have an even-bigger life on Blu-ray.

Film Review: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ with Aubrey Plaza is Delightful Journey

Safety Not Guaranteed
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – I love “Safety Not Guaranteed.” It reminds me of films of my youth – the sci-fi/dramedy hits of directors like Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, and Steven Spielberg – that gifted viewers with wonderful characters with which we could identify. The set-up may be ridiculous but as long as we feel grounded with the people within it, we’ll go along with anything. This is something that’s been lost over the years and writer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow have found in their delicate, lovely film.

Interview: Director Colin Trevorrow Warns ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’

CHICAGO – Colin Trevorrow’s “Safety Not Guaranteed” is a fantastic blend of sci-fi, romance, and comedy. In other words, it’s the kind of movie they don’t make that often any more but they virtually mastered back in the ’80s with the films of Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg (both clear influences on this work). It’s smart, delicate, and one of the best directorial debuts of 2012. Trevorrow sat down with us in downtown Chicago recently and proved to be as interesting an interview as his clever film would suggest that he would be.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • [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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