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.
CHICAGO – Dang, dang, dang. C’mon, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, how about a little anarchy? “The Internship” is a perfectly nice little comedy about old dudes trying to break into the new world of Google employment. But this new world is just another empire, and nobody wants to topple it.
CHICAGO – There are some undeniable comic talents in Todd Rohal’s “Nature Calls,” including two of the best stand-up comedians of the last decade—Patton Oswalt and the late, great Patrice O’Neal. Rob Riggle and Johnny Knoxville can work in the right material. This wasn’t the right material for any of the four as it’s just a mediocre, generally unfunny comedy that leads one to question what the cast saw in it in the first place.
CHICAGO – After it made a relative fortune at the box office (its number six on the year in terms of domestic gross and has made more than $300 million worldwide), I was eager to revisit “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” on Blu-ray to se if I missed anything in my initial 2.5-star review. Maybe I was just in a bad mood that day. Nope. The movie just doesn’t hold up on a storytelling level and it’s even more deeply flawed on repeat viewing. It’s only entertaining to littlest ones in your family and even they would be better served by a reading of the great source material. A trio of mini-movies on the Blu-ray help make the package more enticing but can’t dismiss the film’s flaws.
CHICAGO – What a year Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have had. Tatum has starred in three $100-million-plus films — “The Vow,” “21 Jump Street,” and “Magic Mike” — along with another film directed by the great Steven Soderbergh (“Haywire”). He’s had one of the best years for a young actor in recent memory. And so has his “Jump” co-star who earned an Oscar nomination for his work in “Moneyball” and is set to appear in next year’s “The Watch.” These are likable, talented guys and they carry “21 Jump Street,” an inconsistent but often very funny comedy.
CHICAGO – There are various opinions about TV-to-movie remakes, mostly negative. That is why “21 Jump Street,” based on a 1980s TV show, manages some grudging respect. Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman and Ellie Kemper create some goofy laughs in this farce.
CHICAGO – A good comedy film lives and breathes through the right casting of character roles. In the new film “21 Jump Street,” Ice Cube is the angry police captain who guides his undercover recruits Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as they infiltrate high school. Rob Riggle pitches in as a wacky high school coach.
CHICAGO – Combining comedy and action is always a delicate balance, and Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum do it right in the upcoming movie remake of “21 Jump Street.” Goofing on the concept of two police officers undercover in high school, the story has fun with its two back-to-school characters.
CHICAGO – “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” certainly isn’t an awful film by any stretch of the imagination. It features some solid voice work, a few lessons worth learning by the iGeneration, and some nifty visuals. It’s also pretty damn boring. Even the little ones at the family screening I attended seemed to lose interest in how this timeless story has been stretched to the demands of a modern family film. It just never quite connects in the way fans of this legendary character hope it would.
CHICAGO – Whale of a tale (chuckle), no other headline writer has thought of that. “Big Miracle” is a family movie with Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson and the voice of Ronald Reagan, that will not have adults seeking the emergency exits. It’s about whales.
CHICAGO – Movie stars need certain types of films to keep their star power safe and audiences expect certain things from them, with limitations, to create summer movie comfort. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts fill the bill in “Larry Crowne.”