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Joan Cusack

TV Review: Clever, Fun ‘Toy Story of Terror’ Makes ABC Debut

CHICAGO – Was “Toy Story 3” the last great Pixar production? With the modest critical reaction to “Cars 2,” “Brave,” and “Monsters University,” it seems an entirely defensible position to take. In fact, one could easily argue that “Small Fry,” the “Toy Story” short that premiered with “The Muppets,” and “Partysaurus Rex,” which played with “Finding Nemo 3D,” should be considered higher on the Pixar hierarchy than “Cars 2” and maybe even “Brave.”

Blu-Ray Review: Horrible ‘Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil’

Hoodwinked Too

CHICAGO – Rarely has a theatrical kids movie been more of a complete disaster than “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. The film was such a train wreck that it sat on the shelf for years and was unceremoniously dumped in theaters in early 2011 with nearly no marketing and no promotion. The film barely crested $10 million at the domestic box office (only 20% of the original’s take) and I feel sorry for those paying customers. This is a truly soulless, horrendous piece of animated filmmaking, one of the worst films of 2011.

Blu-Ray Review: Disney’s ‘Mars Needs Moms’ Surprises, Delights

Mars Needs Moms Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – Sometimes all a film needs is a bad title to repel audiences. “Mars Needs Moms” is based on the Berkeley Breathed picture book of the same name, which derived its own title from the 1966 film, “Mars Needs Women.” Even as an obscure homage, the title falls flat, and most certainly could’ve been replaced. Yet that’s not the only reason why this woefully overlooked film became one of the biggest box office bombs in history.

Film Review: Spectacle, Emotion Propel Animation in ‘Mars Needs Moms’

CHICAGO – “Mars Needs Moms” is an animated epic that takes its time to build toward the message, but the path to that real emotion is decorated with spectacular imagery and sprightly comedy. It’s Mom, apple pie and motion capture technology.

Blu-Ray Review: Brilliant ‘Broadcast News’ Joins Criterion Collection

CHICAGO – James L. Brooks “Broadcast News” should serve as a stark reminder of how far the romantic comedy has fallen. Believe it or not, young readers, there was a time, not that long ago, when rom-coms weren’t mostly horrendous dreck. There have even been a few nominated for Oscars, including even Best Picture.

TV Review: William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum Save Troubled ‘Shameless’

CHICAGO – Showtime has built a critical and award-winning reputation around strong lead characters for some of our most best TV actors: Michael C. Hall in “Dexter,” Edie Falco in “Nurse Jackie,” Mary-Louise Parker in “Weeds,” Laura Linney in “The Big C,” and Toni Collette in “United States of Tara” are only a few examples.

Blu-Ray Review: Pixar’s Spectacular ‘Toy Story 3’ With Tom Hanks Given Amazing Blu-Ray Release

CHICAGO – It’s always wonderful to see Blu-ray karma turn out the way it should. Blu-ray critics often see great releases with perfect HD and interesting special features for awful movies. Conversely, it’s not uncommon for great films to be given lackluster home releases. “Toy Story 3” is not only one of the best films of 2010, it’s one of the best Blu-rays as well.

Slideshow: Joan Cusack Introduces ‘Toy Story’ Jessie Doll in Chicago

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Joan Cusack at the Disney Store, Chicago, June 16th, 2010

CHICAGO – “Toy Story 3” has held onto the top spot at the box office for two straight weekends, and Joan Cusack – the voice of Jessie in the film – lent her star power to the debut of the doll based on her character. She appeared at the Disney Store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and was photographed by HollywoodChicago.com’s Joe Arce.

‘Toy Story 3’ is a Perfect Play Date For the Entire Family

CHICAGO – Very few recent films are as purely entertaining or thematically satisfying as Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” not only one of the best films of the year but one of the best in the history of animation. Brilliantly tying up the two films that came before in a way that so many sequels fail to do, the geniuses at Pixar have done it again. It’s another masterpiece.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

    CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

  • HoliDaze Front

    CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

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