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Zac Efron

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.

‘That Awkward Moment’ Another Dishonest Rom-Com

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

CHICAGO – “That Awkward Moment” posits its cheeky hashtag of a title concept as one relating to when Friday night flings yield from becoming Saturday daytime couplings (to paraphrase Woody Harrelson’s wisdom in “Friends with Benefits”).

‘Parkland’ Starkly Recreates November 22, 1963

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

CHICAGO – It’s been close to 50 years since 11/22/1963, the day when a certain American innocence was lost with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In time for that anniversary, is the excellent film overview entitled “Parkland.”

Frustrating ‘At Any Price’ with Dennis Quaid

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

CHICAGO – Writer/director Ramin Bahrani is interested not in agendas, special effects, or broad statements. He makes films about characters, including the widely acclaimed “Chop Shop,” “Man Push Cart,” and “Goodbye Solo.” For his latest drama, “At Any Price,” Bahrani expands his canvas, using more household names in his effort to tell a story of the heartland and the corruption and greed that can infiltrate even the most seemingly pure aspects of American life.

Nicole Kidman is Unique in Fluttery ‘The Paperboy’

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

CHICAGO – With all the steamy heat, and the thick, gluey southern accents from mostly non-southern actors, the audience for “The Paperboy” might need to wear lawyer-like suspenders and flap a funeral home fan to take it all in. The sweaty new film features Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and John Cusack, all chewing the scenery.

Josh Radnor’s ‘Liberal Arts’ Takes Uncommonly Thoughtful Look at Growing Up

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

CHICAGO – Josh Radnor may be one of the most good natured humanists in modern American film. His perspective contrasts sharply with that of comedic auteurs intent on depicting a cynical view of the modern world clouded with nostalgia. Radnor may not yet be up to par with the filmmakers that have inspired him, namely Woody Allen, but his sophomore directorial effort, “Liberal Arts,” is practically bursting with promise.

‘The Lucky One’ Suffers From Emotionally Constipated Performances

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

CHICAGO – I’m of two minds about the work of Nicholas Sparks. On one hand, I admire his sensitive portrayals of good-hearted people, particularly young lovers, which serve as comfort food for teenagers overwhelmed by peer pressure. On the other hand, I’m also the guy who said the following about his last book-to-screen adaptation, “The Last Song”: “You may need a lump in your head before you can get one in your throat.”

‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ Boasts Strong Voice Cast But Weak Storytelling

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

CHICAGO – “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” certainly isn’t an awful film by any stretch of the imagination. It features some solid voice work, a few lessons worth learning by the iGeneration, and some nifty visuals. It’s also pretty damn boring. Even the little ones at the family screening I attended seemed to lose interest in how this timeless story has been stretched to the demands of a modern family film. It just never quite connects in the way fans of this legendary character hope it would.

Spirituality, Zac Efron Overcome Plot Holes in ‘Charlie St. Cloud’

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

CHICAGO – The rise of Zac Efron has been one of the more interesting movie stories of the past year. Fresh from his notable role in “Me and Orson Welles,’ Efron takes the lead in “Charlie St. Cloud,” with veteran actors Ray Liotta and Kim Basinger. This journey into afterlife issues highlights some nice acting chops from Efron.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

    CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

  • HoliDaze Front

    CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

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