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Jennifer Garner

Film Review: ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green’ Misses Emotional Connection

CHICAGO – Peter Hedges’ “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” has a warm, gooey center that’s admirable in a family movie way but what’s around it can’t hold together as the lack of focus in the narrative and the rather grating performance from the young man playing its title character causes it to annoy more than entertain.

Film News: ‘The Descendants,’ ‘Butter’ Added to 2011 Chicago International Film Festival

The Descendants

CHICAGO – Two highly anticipated films have been added to the 47th Chicago International Film Festival lineup: “The Descendants” and “Butter.” The two new films, both having their Chicago premiere at the festival, will play on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 and Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 respectively.

Blu-Ray Review: Noxious ‘Arthur’ Highlights Bad Decisions

Arthur

CHICAGO – Have we reached such a politically-correct place in our culture that drinking excessively can’t be seen as humorous even in a dumb comedy? How else to explain the boneheaded decision to basically make the legendary character of Arthur Bach (played by Dudley Moore in the Oscar-winning original and Russell Brand in the potential-Razzie-winning remake) into a man-child instead of an actual drunk? That decision (along with a few others) sunk “Arthur,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, before it even shot a frame. Although the actual production didn’t help.

Blu-Ray Review: Original ‘Arthur’ Movies Available to Compare to Russell Brand Remake

Arthur (original)

CHICAGO – Critics were pretty hard on the remake of “Arthur” starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig (including our very own Patrick McDonald, who gave the film 2 stars out of five) and the film relatively bombed at the box office, opening in 2nd place to “Hop” and making only $12.7 million in its first frame with a lower per-screen average than “Hanna” or “Soul Surfer.” Now you can compare the new version to the award-winning original and its dreadful sequel in a 2-movie collection, now on Blu-ray.

Film Review: Russell Brand Tries Too Hard in Lame ‘Arthur’

CHICAGO – There are many problems inherent in film remakes, starting with comparisons to the original source. The first “Arthur,” while not a classic, did have a warm, funny story and Dudley Moore’s title performance. The current remake has none of that.

Blu-Ray Review: Romantic Comedy Fans Deserve Better Than ‘Valentine’s Day’

Valentine's Day

CHICAGO – Clearly conceived as something like an American version of “Love Actually,” Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day” is an unqualified disaster, a film that’s only interesting in that it may hold the record for the most household names sucked into one horrible film.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Invention of Lying’ Has Killer Concept

The Invention of Lying

CHICAGO – There are so many concepts and clever ideas in “The Invention of Lying,” now available on Blu-ray and DVD, thanks to Ricky Gervais’ skills as a writer that his abilities as an actor and director don’t really know what to do with them. The script for this witty comedy is interesting enough to make it worth a rental but it sometimes moves at an awkward pace and never builds like it might have with a more experienced director.

Blu-Ray Review: Phony ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’ Deserves to Be Dumped

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

CHICAGO – Here’s a perfect example of Hollywood filmmaking at its laziest. It’s difficult to imagine anyone in front of the camera or behind it breaking much of a sweat in their half-hearted attempt to satisfy a mainstream audience equipped with the lowest possible expectations.

Matthew McConaughey’s ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’ Overdone, But Relatable

CHICAGO – “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” is the cinematic blending of two familiar formulas: the “love, lose and then love again” framework of most romantic comedies with the idea of transforming ghosts from the classic “A Christmas Carol”.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Spike Heels Stage Play

    CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

  • Book of Merman, The

    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.

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