CHICAGO – Cinemax’s ominous new series “The Knick” is a hospital drama that’s very much in the voice of its director, Steven Soderbergh. Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, the series presents the medical world as it inches closer and closer to modernity, while making contemporary parallels to the desperate hustle by surgery room clients and their doctors alike regarding treatment of the human body. What has changed in the politics of medicine? What hasn’t?
CHICAGO – There is a comfort, like a favorite drink in a childhood mug, about Jim Henson’s legendary Muppets and their standard of entertainment and humor. It’s brilliant that Walt Disney Studios continues to understand what makes them work, producing their latest, “Muppets Most Wanted.”
CHICAGO – With a lazy, over-plotted story, and a cast that are desperately going through the motions, “The Hangover Part III” is the latest example of a contract obligation disguising itself as a movie. Writer/director Todd Phillips sluggishly pounds out another one, with simply no originality.
CHICAGO – Jay Roach’s “The Campaign” should have been a slam dunk. A political comedy during an intense Presidential campaign with two of the funniest actors in movies today from a director who knows how politics can make for bizarre behavior after helming HBO’s stellar “Campaign Change” about Sarah Palin & John McCain. How could it fail? While “The Campaign” isn’t an outright disaster, it’s ultimately a disappointment, taking easy shots at physical humor and sex jokes instead of the clever satire it could have been.
CHICAGO – Will Ferrell makes several new proclamations loud and clear: he’s a comic dream-team duo with Zach Galifianakis in “The Campaign,” punching a baby and then a dog are seriously funny and real-life politics should take a lesson from this over-the-top smear campaign.
CHICAGO – Todd Phillips has huge balls. Never before has a sequel hit SO many of the exact same beats as its predecessor. More of a remake of the film that came before than most slasher franchises, “The Hangover Part II” is the definition of more of the same. You can see Phillips going through the motions — they liked the first one, let’s give it to ‘em again with a bit of Thai flavor and more Ken Jeong. The result is a film that feels remarkably familiar with a few laughs, some decent comedic chemistry, and some daring humor, but a work that just reeks of lazy filmmaking.
CHICAGO – Animated family films have made a pact with their audience. For our participation – and extra 3D glasses fee – they deliver the latest in computer generated eye candy, familiar voice talent and heroes that always win while making pop culture references. Antonio Banderas is “Puss in Boots.”
CHICAGO – A media and admirer frenzy took place last week at the Kerasotes ICON theater in Chicago, where Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek walked the red carpet at the sneak preview for the upcoming film “Puss in Boots.” Both lent their voices to characters that are a spin-off from the “Shrek” series of animated films.
CHICAGO – Business and creative people go together as well as fine wine at a burger joint. Riding on the heels of the monumentally profitable “The Hangover,” the brass win out over the artists in “The Hangover Part II”.
CHICAGO – Todd Phillips followed up his mega-hit and award-winning comedy “The Hangover” with a decidedly lesser affair, a traditional road movie that simply isn’t funny enough to warrant a look except for die hard fans of its stars. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis don’t do anything particularly wrong in “Due Date,” but the lackluster script and pedestrian direction lets them down.
CHICAGO – I’m conflicted about Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” a good movie that I think a lot of people wanted to be great. After Fleck & Boden’s spectacular one-two punch of “Half Nelson” and “Sugar,” I think we started to expect that they would hit a home run every time. So, this one’s just a single. It’s still a creative hit despite its flaws.