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Rose Byrne

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is a Marvel Entertainment Gem


Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In doing “comic book” movies right, Marvel Entertainment has established a formula of decent back stories, complex villainy and probable scenarios. In continuing to tell a history of the second half of the 20th Century in “X-Men Apocalypse,” they also add a historical parallel universe that works.

Pointless Trip Back to ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’

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

CHICAGO – The original “Neighbors” was a funny enough movie, that still boasted at least a couple of big laughs. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” only manages the occasional chuckle here and there. As far as big budget studio comedy sequels go, it’s not as bad as “The Hangover 2.” It’s more in line with “Ghostbusters 2”.

Susan Sarandon Plays Smother Mother in ‘The Meddler’

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

CHICAGO – Some mothers are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them. The Mom of “The Meddler” – portrayed with precise intuition by Susan Sarandon – is of the greatness-of-the-future variety, by simply evolving to be herself. Rose Byrne as daughter Lori tags along.

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.

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  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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