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Maya Rudolph

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.

TV News: NBC Renews ‘Parks & Recreation,’ ‘The Office,’ ‘Up All Night’

Up All Night

CHICAGO – Now this is getting interesting. NBC has officially renewed three comedies — “Parks & Recreation,” “The Office,” and the very on-the-bubble “Up All Night.” Rumors of “Parks” only getting a 13-episode commitment have proven to be true but there has been no official confirmation that this means that the fifth season will be the program’s last.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

  • A Field in England (teaser)

    CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.

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