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Rose Byrne

Fresh Blast of Funny From Melissa McCarthy in ‘Spy’

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

CHICAGO – It can be argued that Melissa McCarthy, with a film a year and a TV sitcom still running, is topping out on exposure. But as long as she teams with writer/director Paul Feig, as she did on “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” she will continue to be an original comic force. Their latest is “Spy.”

Uneven ‘Annie’ Makes Some Very Bad Decisions

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

CHICAGO – The diabetes-inducing Broadway musical “Annie” does not deserve two film versions – including the newest release – especially since both are tortuous and somewhat dark. The “modern” version even eliminates most of the strength that “Annie” possessed on stage, its chipper songs.

Unoriginal, Unfunny ‘This is Where I Leave You’ a Poor Man’s ‘August: Osage County’

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

CHICAGO – Jason Bateman and an all-star cast got me there. The unfunny copycat story left me regretting it. If you don’t start with a solid plot that’s at least somewhat new, it doesn’t matter how many “A”-listers you throw into an ensemble. They’re just individuals doing the best they can with weak material. But the film’s fatal flaw is it can’t figure out who it is – a comedy, drama or dramedy? – and it didn’t do just one thing well.

Funny But Familiar Trip to Frat House in ‘Neighbors’

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

CHICAGO – I have a high tolerance for Seth Rogen, but he begins to show some signs of creative exhaustion in “Neighbors,” a raunchy frat house comedy that’s never quite as funny as it should be. Rogen’s onscreen persona here comes dangerously close to schtick.

‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ is Mere Ghost of Original

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

CHICAGO – Writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan reunite for “Insidious: Chapter 2,” a repetitive, cluttered, just silly variation on the first movie that will feel like a step back for anyone who admired Wan’s notable advancement as a filmmaker in this summer’s stellar “The Conjuring.”

Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson Lack Brass in ‘The Internship’

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

CHICAGO – Dang, dang, dang. C’mon, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, how about a little anarchy? “The Internship” is a perfectly nice little comedy about old dudes trying to break into the new world of Google employment. But this new world is just another empire, and nobody wants to topple it.

Crime, Fatherhood Intersect in ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’

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

CHICAGO – Derek Cianfrance’s masterful “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a complex, epic piece of storytelling about the ripple effect of crime through families and across generations. Drastic action does not exist in a vacuum. It influences generations below and those impacted by their parent’s decisions.

Matthew Vaughn’s Entertaining, Stylish ‘X-Men: First Class’ Rocks

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

CHICAGO – Matthew Vaughn rights the ship of mediocre superhero movies with the incredibly accomplished “X-Men: First Class,” the best Marvel Movie since “Spider-Man 2” and a film that proves that big blockbuster summer entertainment can be both commercially crowd-pleasing and intellectually complex at the same time. “X-Men: First Class” features a spectacular mix of well-choreographed action, revisionist history, themes of tolerance, and great performances. This will be one of the best movies of this season.

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.

‘Saw’ Creators Fall Just Short of True Scares With ‘Insidious’

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

CHICAGO – I have written over a thousand reviews and have rarely been as conflicted as I am about my response to James Wan’s “Insidious.” It comes down to this question — do you judge the effort or the execution?

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  • Punk Punk

    CHICAGO – For theater that is audaciously in-the-now and generates a sparkle of life, there are few better storefront (garage, gothic gathering place) groups than “Nothing Without a Company.” Their latest, eclectic kick-in-the-head production is the intensely diverting and weirdly fun “Punk Punk.”

  • Assassination Theater

    CHICAGO – There are two dates in modern American History that ring in the heads of certain generations. Of course, there is September 11th, 2001, but the granddaddy of that date is November 22nd, 1963. That is when an American president, John F. Kennedy, was shot point blank in the head and killed on the street of an American city. The official proclamation from the government is that a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, fired those shots. In a new Chicago play, “Assassination Theater,” subtitled “Chicago’s Role in the Crime of the Century,” the jury is still decidedly out.


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