CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.
CHICAGO – Jason Segel is one of the most genuine people in show business, and he also makes very funny movies and TV shows. He was in Chicagoland recently, making an appearance on behalf of his first novel, “Nightmares.” He greeted admirers and signed the book at the historic Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove, Ill.
CHICAGO – Jason Segel is usually fun to watch in just about anything, but he sure isn’t fun in “Sex Tape,” a big studio summer comedy with a fatal flaw - it doesn’t seem to know what’s funny. So like a stand-up comedian on a bad night, it feverishly and desperately throws anything it can think of at the screen in the vague hope that it might be funny even incidentally.
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CHICAGO – Judd Apatow’s “This is 40” is a true disappointment, a comedy that purports to say something honest and insightful about approaching middle age in the ‘10s but blurs truth by smothering it in contrivance and cliché.
CHICAGO – There’s a great movie buried in the bloated “The Five-Year Engagement,” a comedy that nearly feels like a rough cut at a ridiculous 125 minutes in its theatrical form or 132 minutes in its unrated version. The stars are incredibly charismatic and I like a lot of what Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller are trying to do with their tale of how life sometimes gets in the way of love but the movie is just too long, making it merely good despite having greatness within.
CHICAGO – While the man-child archetype has been cheerfully skewered and celebrated by Apatowian comedies ranging from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” to “Step Brothers,” this year has so far produced two intriguing indie comedies that take a somewhat more serious look at a developmentally arrested psyche. Neither film is flawless, but they sure would make a superb double feature.
CHICAGO – “Think Like a Man” – starring Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union – held its own, securing the top spot for a second week in a row with a weekend gross of $17.6 million ($60.4 million total). “The Five-Year Engagement” written by and starring Jason Segel was expected to top the box office this past weekend but came in at a disappointing fifth place with a weekend gross of $10.6 million. The second and third spots were held respectively by new release family animated movie “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” ($11.1 million total) and “The Hunger Games” ($372 million total).
CHICAGO – There are some major laughs in “The Five-Year Engagement,” good old fashion you-can’t-breathe laughs. But is it also dark and serious at times, and makes some surprising contemporary statements regarding coupling. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt portray the engaged couple.
CHICAGO – God, I love “The Muppets.” It’s such a wonderful, joyful, fun movie. As someone who is forced to see dozens of family films a year, I can tell you that most of them are not full of joy. They are full of pop culture references and gross-out jokes but they are nowhere near as smart, fun, or fantastic as “The Muppets,” a great movie with a great Blu-ray set that will stand the test of time.
CHICAGO – Writer/directors Jay and Mark Duplass clearly love their characters. Whether it’s the awkward man-child at the center of “Cyrus” or the title character in their new dramedy “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” there’s a charming affection for these people. I really enjoyed spending time with the quartet of well-drawn, well-acted people in “Jeff,” which makes the fact that their story is less-structured and sloppier than it should be to be effective all the more frustrating. I SO want to love “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” but this dude is too often stuck in the creative basement.