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Maya Rudolph

Beyond Being Trippy, ‘Inherent Vice’ is a Difficult Trip

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

CHICAGO – Interpreting the ambling and sonic prose of author Thomas Pynchon has eluded filmmakers until now. Director Paul Thomas Anderson takes a whack at “Inherent Vice,” and although much of the film has his usual eminent vision, as a whole it makes for difficult sledding.

‘Big Hero 6’ is Sorely Lacking the Charm Component

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

CHICAGO – “Big Hero 6” is a dark revenge thriller masquerading as a kids movie. Walt Disney Studios takes a few pages from its corporate cousin Marvel, while creating this new animated adventure. It has its moments, but not quite enough of them to make this anything more than a minor entry in the Disney legacy.  

B-Level Story Sinks Finely Animated ‘The Nut Job’

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

CHICAGO – It feels like when any studio besides Disney or Pixar does an animated film with celebrity voices, there is a little less lacquer on it. What the other two remember, and others forget, is that it starts with a script. All the toon landscapes in the world can’t fix a dull story.

Light, Speedy ‘Turbo’ is a Great Race for Kids

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

CHICAGO – Summer vacation means summer animated movies, and nothing will give the kids more of a break than rooting for a snail that becomes as fast as an Indy race car. Why not put him in the Indianapolis 500? Ryan Reynolds is the voice of that miracle mollusk named “Turbo.”

‘Grown Ups 2’ is the Worst Comedy Since 2010’s Loathed ‘Grown Ups’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 0.0/5.0
Rating: 0.0/5.0

CHICAGO – There’s a time and a place where overacting is acceptable – musicals, children’s plays, Broadway – but there’s nothing worse than using it all the time in every wrong place.

For a Real Summer Movie, Go ‘The Way, Way Back’

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

CHICAGO – Nothing evokes the time, sights and smells of summer like the getaway resort. The long days, the mystery of night, the first crush and the summer job are all brought back in the soapy yet fun “The Way, Way Back,” featuring Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney.

Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm Consider ‘Friends with Kids’

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

CHICAGO – Jennifer Westfeldt created a distinct movie persona in her debut in 2001 in “Kissing Jessica Stein,” but she has been generally off the radar since then. Her choice for a major film re-emergence is as a nebbish career woman with less memorable character traits. She also directs Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox and Maya Rudolph in “Friends with Kids.”

Kevin James in ‘Zookeeper’ is Zany Family Fun

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

CHICAGO – Not being familiar with the Kevin James filmography really helped in assessing his latest, “Zookeeper.” His appeal is very evident, and the filmmakers do some funny bits with the old “talking animal” routine.

Kristen Wiig Carries Charming Comedy of ‘Bridesmaids’

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

CHICAGO – With an incredibly talented ensemble, heartfelt script, and honest characterizations, “Bridesmaids” has been touted as a revolutionary re-examination of what one should expect from the phrase “chick flick.” Having never been much of a fan of genre labels, the idea that this film should be judged differently because it has female stars irks me a bit, but if that gets more people into theatre seats and away from the junk that typically qualifies as “entertainment for women,” I’ll happily embrace it. For whatever reason you see it, the most important thing to know is this simple – “Bridesmaids” is funny. Damn funny.

Adam Sandler, Kevin James Act Like Children in ‘Grown Ups’

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

CHICAGO – It may be called “Grown Ups,” but too much of the new Adam Sandler ensemble comedy feels like it was written by an eight-year-old boy. The believable friendship chemistry that Sandler has with co-stars Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider significantly ups the entertainment value, but “Grown Ups” could have and should have been much better.

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  • Spike Heels Stage Play

    CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

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