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Film Review: ‘Get Hard’ is Less Than the Sum of Its Parts

CHICAGO – Will Ferrell is a funny guy. Kevin Hart can be a funny guy. But the prison buddy comedy “Get Hard” is woefully less than the sum of its comedic parts. It fires buckshot of lame jokes at its audience, but precious few come anywhere near their targets as it squanders nearly every comic opportunity that comes its way.

Film Review: Imagine What Could Have Been for ‘Danny Collins’

Danny Collins

CHICAGO – “Danny Collins” is a shoulda-woulda-coulda film. It was inspired by the true story of a John Lennon letter acquired by a musician 40 years after he was suppose to to have received it, and then re-imagined as a cheap soap opera, punctuated by far superior John Lennon songs.

Film Review: ‘Home’ Continues Trend of So-So Animated Films

CHICAGO – What was once an “event” – even the the most medium level animated film was a rare movie occasion – has now become commonplace in the film market. Once that tipping point was reached, suddenly the event became just another weekend, with just another film like “Home.”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 100 Pairs of Advance TV Premiere Passes to NBC’s ‘American Odyssey’

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: TV, we have 100 pairs of advance TV premiere tickets up for grabs to the new NBC drama “American Odyssey” starring Anna Friel and Peter Facinelli! This will be a special event honoring women in the military for their services.

Interview: Director Dan Fogelman on Nurturing ‘Danny Collins’

CHICAGO – Dan Fogelman is a familiar behind-the-scenes creator, having wrote scripts and screenplays for “Cars,” “Fred Claus,” “Tangled,” “The Guilt Trip” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” He takes on his first directorial effort, the story of “Danny Collins,” a faded rock star who finds redemption through a lost letter from John Lennon.

Film Review: Tense Creepy Factor Along the Way for ‘It Follows’

CHICAGO – There is a particular atmosphere in “It Follows,” that stalks a viewer long after the credits recede. That is a fine legacy for a horror film, which contains symbolic elements of life itself, and some graveyard humor that breaks the agitation. Yet it also relies on the same old, same old.

Film Review: Lack of Cohesiveness, Intrigue Stymies ‘The Gunman’

CHICAGO – If you’re going to see a Sean Penn action movie, I guess “The Gunman” would be appropriate. As he and the filmmakers inject some reality in the usual motivations, the puzzle pieces don’t connect well and in the end are not that interesting. That is not to say that the film is bad.

Interview: Director Pierre Morel on Sean Penn, Liam Neeson & His Latest ‘The Gunman’

Pierre Morel of 'The Gunman,' photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – There were basically two careers for Pierre Morel, before he directed the mega-hit “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, and afterward. The French-born cinematographer, camera operator and now director is releasing “The Gunman,” an action film that stars Sean Penn. Like “Taken,” the motivations for the action are based in the real world, and “The Gunman” travels to Africa, London and Barcelona on his way to redeeming his soul.

Film Review: Shortage of Spark Makes ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ a Second-String Effort

CHICAGO – “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” does nothing to change the “Divergent” series status as an off-brand Young Adult epic. As we’ve seen with “The Hunger Games,” these Young Adult franchises can be lots of fun and be faithful to their source material. But “Insurgent” has the same problem as the first two “Harry Potter” films – it’s too faithful, coupled with a dearth of inspiration behind the camera.

Film Review: A Magician Debunks the Paranormal in Beguiling Doc ‘An Honest Liar’

An Honest Liar, 2015

CHICAGO – Magician James Randi, or “The Amazing Randi,” has a made a legacy in using his love of magic to show audiences how they’re being tricked by evangelists, spoon-benders, psychics, etc. A ruthlessly charming Houdini-wannabe with instant showman charisma, he exists as the humbling gravity to a world that can convince itself that unattainable answers are to be found in ideas beyond science.

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