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‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Delivers the Usual Laughs

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

CHICAGO – “The LEGO Batman Movie” is more of a parody than the laugh-out-loud hijinks of the surprising “The LEGO Movie,” but the legend of The Bats is ripe for a good skewering, and the movie has a lot of fun doing it. Will Arnett reprises the voice as the title character, with Zach Galifianakis taking on the antics of The Joker.

Surprisingly Weird, Wacky ‘Puerto Ricans in Paris’

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

CHICAGO – Occasionally, a film breaks through the miasma of images, and proclaims its uniqueness by just being weird. Case in point, the strange and wacky “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” which may have been created after two rich film producers made a one dollar bet (ala “Trading Places”) that they could come up with a movie simply based on the title.

Schizophrenic ‘Top Five’ is Evolution for Chris Rock

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

CHICAGO – Chris Rock wants you to take him seriously, so he has made a comedy with inconsistent laughs, and a nod towards the weird fishbowl lives that today’s celebrities endure. It’s a rare film where the last part is stronger than the first few acts, a mishmash that is “Top Five.”

More Risqué ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Doesn’t Dare to Trailblaze Again

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

CHICAGO – Sex sells, sure, but the film-noir sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” makes you feel dirty if you’re left thinking that’s enough.

Nine years since the visually groundbreaking, avant-garde hit “Sin City,” Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s biggest mistake with their next incarnation is replacing the first film’s bloodthirsty impact with too much nudity.

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Breaks No New Ground

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

CHICAGO – When the first “Sin City” (2005) was released – based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller – the conversion of a film to a noir-like comic book atmosphere was pioneering. The sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has heightened that look, but this time has much less to say.

‘Cesar Chavez’ is Stiff History of a Heroic Man

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

CHICAGO – How can one man bring down a ruthless industry? By building a union that never backs down, because he never backed down. ‘Cesar Chavez’ depicts the United Farm Workers union organizer in the 1960s who sought justice against virtual slave conditions for immigrant labor, assuring his place in history.

Earnest ‘Gimme Shelter’ Needs More Truth

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

CHICAGO – The balancing act between reality and drama in based-on-truth narratives is as delicate as walking the high wire. Pour in too much drama, and a story can feel like a soap opera. “Gimme Shelter,” although earnestly and achingly performed, has that sudsy protocol.

Danny Boyle Nearly Mesmerizes with ‘Trance’

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

CHICAGO – Danny Boyle’s “Trance” is an undeniably well-made thriller that works back in on itself a few too many times for disbelief to stay suspended but delivers enough escapist entertainment to be considered a success. It’s totally ridiculous and yet never boring, propelled by the quick-cut style of the man who brought similar momentum to “Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting,” and “28 Days Later.”

Channing Tatum’s ‘10 Years’ Resuscitates High School For 50 Worthwhile Minutes

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

CHICAGO – “10 Years” unintentionally backfires by proving that a real-life Hollywood couple – Channing Tatum and his actual spouse of three years Jenna Dewan-Tatum – has less on-screen chemistry than two actors who’ve practically never met.

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.

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  • Asylum, The Logo

    CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

  • Baltimore Waltz, The

    CHICAGO – During the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, at its height in the late 1980s, a playwright lost her brother to the condition. Inspired by him, Paula Vogel wrote “The Baltimore Waltz,” a story about her and her brother’s travels through Europe – and filtered through the prism of fantasy and the movies. The Brown Paper Box Company presents a re-staging of the play in Chicago through February 19th, 2017.

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