CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.
CHICAGO – It’s unlikely that you’ll see a more visually striking American animated film in 2013 than Fox and Blue Sky Studios’ “Epic,” a film that was written off by many critics and audience members in its May release but that has more going for it than your average family fare. Now available on Blu-ray and DVD, “Epic” frustrates in the way that it too often falls back on storytelling crutches that we’ve seen before but the movie looks great at every turn. It’s the kind of animated flick that’s designed to show off your new Blu-ray player and accompanying HD TV. The special features are disappointingly thin but the movie deserved a bigger audience that it is likely to find on Blu-ray.
“Epic” is the best-looking 3D animated film since “How to Train Your Dragon”. From the very first scenes, it has a mesmerizing visual palette as the natural world comes to life in a way reminiscent of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar.” It’s gorgeous. Sadly, the lurching, generic script doesn’t live up to the look of the film but it’s worth seeing just for the memorable visuals.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 30 family movie 4-packs (a total of 120 tickets!) up for grabs to the advance screening of the highly anticipated new film “Epic”!
CHICAGO – The families who get suckered into the truly horrendous “Ice Age: Continental Drift” should be angry. Not only does it fail when compared to the best animation of the year (“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” “The Pirates! A Band of Misfits,” “The Secret World of Arrietty,” “Brave”) but it’s less entertaining than most children’s television.
CHICAGO – “30 Minutes or Less” isn’t a complete disaster but it definitely falls into the sophomore slump category given the general awesomeness of Ruben Fleischer’s incredible comedy/horror/action hybrid “Zombieland.” This follow-up would barely be noticed if it didn’t involve so many talented people taking a step down from previous work. Jesse Eisenberg rules in “The Social Network”; Aziz Ansari rules in “Parks and Recreation”; Danny McBride rules in “Eastbound & Down”. There’s really nothing about “30 Minutes or Less” that comes close to ruling.
CHICAGO – “Modern Family” may have just won the Emmy and “Louie” & “Curb Your Enthusiasm” both had very strong summer outings, but the fourth-season premiere of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” (and the equally-hysterical episode that follows it) makes the case that the Amy Poehler vehicle is the best comedy on television right now. With incredibly smart writing and increasingly impressive performances from the entire ensemble, “Parks and Rec” just keeps getting funnier.
CHICAGO – There’s quite a race for the best comedy of the year and I suspect that “Modern Family” will take the Emmy at Sunday’s awards (which we’ll get into more in-depth with a predictions feature later in the week), but the winner by a nose for this critic is NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” a show that just got better episode by episode as its brilliant third season progressed. See for yourself with the recently-released DVD from Universal.
CHICAGO – Following our low-grade review of the new Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari comedy “30 Minutes or less,” what we find most interesting is why these talented stars think it’s much funnier than it actually is.
CHICAGO – The new half-unfunny comedy “30 Minutes or Less” stands as a destructive come down for newly minted star Jesse Eisenberg following his high-profile role as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in David Fincher’s “The Social Network”.
CHICAGO – The midseason premiere of season three of “Parks & Recreation” starts by catching us up on what we’ve missed. It details the arrivals of auditors, the “black hats,” played by the non-descript Adam Scott and a goofily-exuberant Rob Lowe, and features a tongue-and-cheek detailing of the budget crisis facing the parks department.