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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Tartan Prancer – Yes, a Fictional Albanian Car – Steals the Otherwise Borrowed Show in ‘Vacation’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Retreads from classics are often as weary as having to write that they are almost never as good as the original. And here we go again with the Ed Helms-led “Vacation,” which fails to capitalize on the beloved Chevy Chase film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” from 1983.

Two Women Create a Human Connection in ‘Unexpected’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Providing human life to this planet is the dominion of women, given that they gestate new existence through to birth. It was refreshing to see that gender point of view carried to expressive terms in “Unexpected,” the latest film by Chicagoan Kris Swanberg, and featuring Cobie Smulders.

Deep Thoughts, Shallow Characters in ‘Irrational Man’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – At this point in his stellar career, what is fascinating about Woody Allen is basically what he thinks about. He is a successful, family-stable, millionaire filmmaker with mortality issues. In “Irrational Man,” he ponders the existential question of “what lights the spark of life?”

Instead of Geeky Greatness, Adam Sandler Sucks the Soul Out of a Badly Miscast ‘Pixels’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The epitome of an idea that far outweighs its execution, “Pixels” is a bittersweet blunder that had all of the elements to be geeky great but ends up being cheesy mediocre. I could literally feel its potential for 105 minutes, but the $88 million film ultimately fails to realize it.

Amy Schumer Way Too Conventional in ‘Trainwreck’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In one of the most anticipated comedies of the summer, Amy Schumer breaks out of her edgy role as a stand-up and sketch artist to put her spin on the film universe in “Trainwreck.” She plays the lead role, is directed by the comic-reputable Judd Apatow, and she wrote the script. Why is it so “meh”?

A Perfect Paul Rudd, Michael Peña Bring Often-Overlooked Humor to ‘Ant-Man’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – In 1989, Rick Moranis played a scientist father in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” who accidentally shrinks kids to the size of insects. But dating back to a first appearance in 1962, Marvel Comics first published the Ant-Man character. His persona was the superhero alias of the scientist Hank Pym after inventing a substance that allowed him to shrink himself.

Elegy for a Different Superhero in ‘Mr. Holmes’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Sherlock Holmes is the most famous fictional detective in literary history, and his character adaptation into movies, TV and other media shows no sign of slowing down. But what if Holmes were real, and lived as an old man past World War II? This scenario is explored in “Mr. Holmes.”

Despite Same Stale Producer, ‘The Gallows’ a Refreshing Horror Original From New Filmmakers

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – We all know dramatic films win most of the awards, comedies are hit or miss and horrors often don’t deliver the scares they promise. The problem with the horror genre lately is Hollywood is afraid to go against a “proven” formula (for financial reasons) and really think outside the box.

Miraculous ‘Batkid Begins’ Can Save Us All

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Sometimes, a simple will of the heart is like a drop of water in the ocean, which ripples so profoundly that it affects the tides. That will is illustrated in the heartbeat of “Batkid Begins,” the story of Miles Scott, a little boy fighting an illness, who wished to be The Batman.

Nothing of Substance in Cute, Fluffy ‘Minions’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – They’re cute, they talk like babies, and they already have “brand recognition.” In what feels like a product exercise rather than a movie, “Minions” extends its story from the dawn of time to 1968. Did we need that much back story? The voices of Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm star.

Familiarity of ‘Terminator Genisys’ Also its Flaw

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The “Terminator” series means so much to so many film fans. What began as a modest sci-fi “what if?” morphed into now four sequels, billions of box office dollars, and the cementing of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an action film titan. It’s all mixed together again in “Terminator Genisys.”

Nichely Entertaining ‘Magic Mike XXL’ a Substanceless Soft Porn

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – You know those amateur porns with no-name actors that use cheesy dialogue in between the sex scenes those viewers simply want? You never expect a real story or actually developed characters because it’s a collection of sex scenes. It’s not a real, you know, movie.

‘Max’ is a Step Beyond the Heroic Dog Movie Genre

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – From Rin-Tin-Tin to Lassie to Benji, American movie goers have loved the heroic dog. As the film “Max” throws its leash into the ring, the expectation was a dull family drama just about Max the dog himself. What a surprise to learn it was also a poignant meditation on people.

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  • Lori Petty, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Lori Petty will never be predictable, nor put into some show business box. The free-wheelin’ Ms. P applies her expansive performance skills to the role of Lolly – a guest spot that turned into a recurring character – on Netflix’s hot series “Orange is the New Black,” which released its third season on June 12th, 2015.

  • The Projects

    CHICAGO – The legacy of public housing is one of the strangest forces of karma in the City of Chicago. For example, sites that were once some of the roughest and most neglected housing for the poor now contain luxury condos. It is the people of those former hellholes that still remember the sorrowful history of what they once called home. The American Theater Company (ATC) have gathered these stories for the poignant and extraordinary “The Projects.”

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