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Celebrating the Ordinary Couple in ‘Love is Strange’

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

CHICAGO – It is a time, and the time is now. Leave it to filmmaker Ira Sachs to break a barrier simply by having the right timing. Exploring a longtime gay couple, right at the cusp of their now-legal marriage, opens the door to an odd series of ordinary circumstances in “Love is Strange.”

Pixar Scores Again With Delightful ‘Monsters University’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Let’s everybody say it together, “the key to great animation is a great story.” This has to be the motto for Pixar Animation – now part of Disney. Their latest, “Monsters University,” is a prequel with a heart, soul and attention to what makes this type of entertainment work.

Taylor Lautner Stars in Silly, Ineffective ‘Abduction’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – After the success of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” Taylor Lautner could have taken any number of paths to breakout with his own star vehicle. He chose to try and fashion himself into an action star, appearing in this weekend’s “Abduction” as a young man discovering he has a very special past. He gets to find love, kick some ass, and even kill some bad guys. And all of it is very, very silly.

Johnny Depp Spins Animation Gold in Hilarious ‘Rango’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – When we first see the chameleon named Lars (Johnny Depp), soon to be ‘Rango,’ he is doing acting voice exercises. He is basically warming up a film that is a real hoot, and has wonderful heart.

Forged in Myth, Nicolas Cage Shines in ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’

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

CHICAGO – The fantasy action epic has joined the animated film as the go-to genre for summer films. Disney joins the fray with “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” featuring magic, special effects action and a deep mythology, spiced with Nicolas Cage doing a slightly warped version of a King Arthur-era apprentice for Merlin the Magician.

‘The Little Traitor’ Succumbs to Shameless Manipulation

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

CHICAGO – “The Little Traitor” is a story so sweet and so well-intentioned that it practically dares you not to like it. It’s mighty tempting to give it a pass purely on the basis of its premise, which is vital, timely and quite moving. If this story were told by a filmmaker less intent on yanking audience’s heartstrings until they snapped, it may have provided the foundation for a great and important film.

‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ is Perfect Background Noise For Making Out

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

CHICAGO – Historically, video game adaptations are recipes for disaster when translated into film. While “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton has a blockbuster opportunity to buck the decades-old trend, we’re just subjected to more of the same soul-deadening time drain.

‘Nothing Like the Holidays’ Does Nothing to Stand Out From Christmas Movie Crowd

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

CHICAGO – When it was still called “Humboldt Park” and was probably more closely related to Chicago’s thriving Hispanic neighborhood, Alfredo De Villa’s “Nothing Like the Holidays” was probably a lot more interesting than the cookie-cutter dramedy that ended up on the big screen.

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  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

  • reno 911 front.png

    CHICAGO – The oughts was the era of the workplace mock-doc comedy, with shows like “The Office” and “Reno 911!” born into a time where TV viewers were excited to see see fake realities about the crumminess of a job. While this series has been available in separate season collections previously, “Reno 911!” is now available in a complete series set, one that boasts a grand amount of special features content in spite of some lacking comedy in the actual show.

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