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Maya Rudolph

Film Review: ‘Big Hero 6’ is Sorely Lacking the Charm Component

CHICAGO – “Big Hero 6” is a dark revenge thriller masquerading as a kids movie. Walt Disney Studios takes a few pages from its corporate cousin Marvel, while creating this new animated adventure. It has its moments, but not quite enough of them to make this anything more than a minor entry in the Disney legacy.  

Film Review: B-Level Story Sinks Finely Animated ‘The Nut Job’

CHICAGO – It feels like when any studio besides Walt Disney or Pixar does an animated film with celebrity voices, there is a little less lacquer on it. What the other two remember, and others forget, is that it starts with a script. All the toon landscapes in the world can’t fix a dull story.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 10 Family 4-Packs to ‘The Nut Job’ with Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl

CHICAGOFamily 4-packs! In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 10 family 4-packs (40 seats in total) up for grabs to the new animated 3D film “The Nut Job” with Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl!

Blu-ray Review: Sweet, Sentimental ‘The Way, Way Back’

The Way, Way Back

CHICAGO – “The Way, Way Back” made a solid $21 million domestically but I kind of expected it to be an even bigger hit when I saw it back in January at the Sundance Film Festival. I saw several dozen films at this year’s fest and nothing produced a response like Nat Faxon & Jim Rash’s sweet, sentimental comedy. The audience I saw it with LOVED it. And now that it’s on Blu-ray and DVD, I expect it to reach an even bigger audience through word-of-mouth recommendations. It’s a fun, clever movie with some great performances, including a supporting turn by Sam Rockwell that stands with the best of the year.

Film Review: Light, Speedy ‘Turbo’ is a Great Race for Kids

CHICAGO – Summer vacation means summer animated movies, and nothing will give the kids more of a break than rooting for a snail that becomes as fast as an Indy race car. Why not put him in the Indianapolis 500? Ryan Reynolds is the voice of that miracle mollusk named “Turbo.”

Film Review: For a Real Summer Movie, Go ‘The Way, Way Back’

CHICAGO – Nothing evokes the time, sights and smells of summer like the getaway resort. The long days, the mystery of night, the first crush and the summer job are all brought back in the soapy yet fun “The Way, Way Back,” featuring Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney.

Blu-ray Review: Great Ensemble Can’t Save ‘Friends with Kids’

Friends with Kids

CHICAGO – The cover of “Friends with Kids” sells it as a fun ensemble comedy with three cast members from “Bridesmaids,” one of the stars of “Parks and Recreation,” and the super-talented Jon Hamm looking particularly cheery. It’s false advertising. In truth, the movie belongs to Adam Scott and co-star/writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt and even the small roles by the rest of the cast are often more dramatic than comedic. Even without the false bill of goods, “Friends with Kids” is a disappointing. It’s a strong vehicle for Scott and Hamm has a few good scenes but it’s ultimately less than the sum of its talented parts.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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