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Zac Efron

Film Review: ‘That Awkward Moment’ Another Dishonest Rom-Com

CHICAGO – “That Awkward Moment” posits its cheeky hashtag of a title concept as one relating to when Friday night flings yield from becoming Saturday daytime couplings (to paraphrase Woody Harrelson’s wisdom in “Friends with Benefits”).

Film Review: ‘Parkland’ Starkly Recreates November 22, 1963

CHICAGO – It’s been close to 50 years since 11/22/1963, the day when a certain American innocence was lost with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In time for that anniversary, is the excellent film overview entitled “Parkland.”

Film Review: Frustrating ‘At Any Price’ with Dennis Quaid

CHICAGO – Writer/director Ramin Bahrani is interested not in agendas, special effects, or broad statements. He makes films about characters, including the widely acclaimed “Chop Shop,” “Man Push Cart,” and “Goodbye Solo.”

Interview: Dennis Quaid, Ramin Bahrani of ‘At Any Price’

CHICAGO – Writer/director Ramin Bahrani delivers his most mainstream film this weekend with the Chicago release of “At Any Price,” an old-fashioned melodrama starring Dennis Quaid as a grain farmer caught in some awful situations in order to protect his family.

Blu-ray Review: Horrendous ‘The Paperboy’ Wastes Talented Cast

Paperboy, The

CHICAGO – Some have embraced Lee Daniels’ super-weird “The Paperboy,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, as pure pulp entertainment, the kind of sexy, sweaty, ridiculous B-movie that they don’t make enough of any more. Others have called it absolute trash with The Onion A.V. Club going as far as to name it the worst movie of the year. I’m much closer to The Onion in this case. As hard as I tried to get on the wavelength of this film’s growing cult movie reputation, I couldn’t shake the fact that it’s just a piece of junk.

Film Review: Nicole Kidman is Unique in Fluttery ‘The Paperboy’

Paperboy, The

CHICAGO – With all the steamy heat, and the thick, gluey southern accents from mostly non-southern actors, the audience for “The Paperboy” might need to wear lawyer-like suspenders and flap a funeral home fan to take it all in. The sweaty new film features Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and John Cusack, all chewing the scenery.

Film Review: Josh Radnor’s ‘Liberal Arts’ Takes Uncommonly Thoughtful Look at Growing Up

Liberal Arts Review

CHICAGO – Josh Radnor may be one of the most good natured humanists in modern American film. His perspective contrasts sharply with that of comedic auteurs intent on depicting a cynical view of the modern world clouded with nostalgia. Radnor may not yet be up to par with the filmmakers that have inspired him, namely Woody Allen, but his sophomore directorial effort, “Liberal Arts,” is practically bursting with promise.

Blu-ray Review: Awful ‘The Lucky One’ Makes Other Romantic Melodrama Look Better

The Lucky One

CHICAGO – The Blu-ray of Scott Hicks’ horrendous “The Lucky One” includes special features called “Zac Efron Becomes a Marine,” “Watch the Sparks Fly - The Romantic World of The Lucky One,” and “Zac and Taylor’s Amazing Chemistry.” This is false advertising. Because it implies that Mr. Efron believably becomes a Marine, the film is even slightly romantic, or that its two stars have an ounce of chemistry. This is the bottom of the Nicholas Sparks barrel, an inert romantic drama that fails on every level.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ Comes Packed With Extras But Still Falls Short

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

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.

Film Review: ‘The Lucky One’ Suffers From Emotionally Constipated Performances

CHICAGO – I’m of two minds about the work of Nicholas Sparks. On one hand, I admire his sensitive portrayals of good-hearted people, particularly young lovers, which serve as comfort food for teenagers overwhelmed by peer pressure.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Ride Along with Ice Cube

    CHICAGO – Few figures have had less of an exciting domination of the world than Kevin Hart. In the past few years, the comedian has skyrocketed to leading fixture in the comedy scene, creating hit scripts out of films like “Think Like A Man” and “About Last Night,” while taking victory laps in his lacking stand-up features like “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”. The big problem is that these projects don’t justify his comic potential.

  • The King of Comedy

    Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.

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