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Entertaining ‘A Simple Favor’ Can’t Maintain Its Mojo

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

CHICAGO – As the secrets are revealed in “A Simple Favor,” filtered through the witty and entertaining directorial style of Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”), the story moves with charm and energy for three-quarters of its running time. But as the mystery gets solved, the conclusion doesn’t live up to the promising beginning.

‘Kin’ Overcomes Early Portrayal Issues to Score Big

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

CHICAGO – The concept of “family” has been romanticized to death in the movies in the last generation, coinciding with the increasing decline of actual togetherness. The new film “Kin” is essentially about family, but it also is about otherworldly weaponry, gritty crime lords and the old on-the-road story.

A Bit of Pop/Rock Magic Spins in ‘Juliet, Naked’

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

CHICAGO – The story of a drop-out rock and roll star… usually disappearing at the height of their fame… has fascinated the movies in both fiction (“Eddie and the Cruisers”) and documentary (“Waiting for Sugarman”). “Juliet, Naked” takes the premise and creates a charming, romantic story about fandom and redemptive decisions.

‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ Didn’t Need the Spy Part

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

CHICAGO – It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film completely stolen by a supporting character, but Kate McKinnon in “The Spy Who Dumped Me” managed to do just that… which was fortunate because the “spy” part of the story is a seen-it-before kill and gun fest that felt like the first draft of a James Bond knock-off.

‘Uncle Drew’ Scores Points as a Feel Good Film

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

CHICAGO – Sometimes, you just want to escape to the surreal “Land of The Feel Good,” where all relationships work themselves out and all results are victorious. “Uncle Drew” is that film for this pre-holiday weekend, and although this basketball comedy is not a slam dunk, it certainly hits several heart-and-soul points.

Remake of ‘Overboard’ a Fun & Unexpected Treat

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

CHICAGO – When the movie remake of the 1987 charmer “Overboard” was announced last year, immediately my thought was “it will stink.” But the creators of this remake didn’t listen, and produced a charmer of their own, twisting the premise and adding the hope of America. If that ain’t heart, I don’t know what is.

‘The Commuter’ is a Fun, Butt-Kicking Good Time

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

CHICAGO – Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a good old Liam Neeson ass-kicker… and “The Commuter” fits that bill. It asks, damn near requires, you to leave your brain safely at the station, but it moves too fast that you don’t have much time to think about it. It’s ludicrous, dumb and fun entertainment for January.

Gunplay & Violence Fuel Heroics in ‘American Assassin’

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

CHICAGO – There was another mass shooting (eight dead) in Texas this week, but it was underreported because it didn’t involve “undesirables” and just seemed like another week in America. This blithe attitude towards guns, gunplay and violence continues in the movies, this week with the overindulgent release “American Assassin.”

‘Power Rangers’ Reboot is a Stunning Bore

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

CHICAGO – The big budget “Power Rangers” reboot tests the limits of just how pedestrian a supposed $100 million dollar blockbuster can be. Part of that is due to the fact that superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, and a movie has to have something more than just silver screen quality special effects to set it apart. But looking at the finished project – with its flat performances, sluggish pace, and ho-hum-yet-costly effects, it’s hard to see who was exactly asking for this anyway?

‘The Shack’ is About Spirituality, Not Filmmaking

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

CHICAGO – To create spirituality from tragedy is like shooting the proverbial fish – a prominent symbol for Christianity – in a barrel. “The Shack” is based on a popular novel, and doesn’t try to do anything different or cinematic with a man encountering the Holy Trinity after a horrific incident.

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