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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein deliver star-making performances in Booksmart as Amy and Molly, two super-smart high school students looking to get crazy on graduation eve after years of hitting the books and missing all of the fun.

Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is smart and funny; this is a film that feels like a relative of Superbad, which makes sense, considering Feldstein is Jonah Hill’s little sister. (They both have those those wide eyes while dryly delivering wise-ass asides.)

Besides this dynamic duo, the film is blessed with the presence of Skyler Gisondo (of Santa Clarita Diet) as Jared, the super-sweet and dorky rich kid; Jason Sudeikis (Wilde’s longtime partner) as the school principal; and Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte as Amy’s parents. However, the best member of the supporting cast would be Billie Lourd, daughter of Carrie Fisher, as the oddball student who keeps magically showing up at every party Amy and Molly visit.

The film is consistently funny—and just a little dark and nasty, with Wilde and cast navigating nicely from very funny to very awkward. Feldstein has comic chops that rival her brother’s, so here’s hoping this is the start of her headlining career.

Booksmart is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

A dying photographer (Ed Harris) coaxes his estranged son (Jason Sudeikis) into going on a road trip with him and his nurse (Elizabeth Olsen) to get some Kodachrome film developed before the world stops developing the brand in Netflix’s Kodachrome.

Yes, it’s yet another road movie, and yes, it has the “somebody’s dying” gimmick to go with it—but don’t write this one off based on the synopsis. The three stars are pretty good here, with Harris especially good as a miserable man trying, in a very strange and peculiar way, to make nice with his son before checking out.

Sudeikis is one of the more underrated actors out there, and he does a lot with a fairly stereotypical role. Olsen, one of my favorite actresses, puts the whole thing over the top as a nurse who’s more than just an extra passenger calling shotgun.

The movie falls into some of the typical trope potholes, but Harris and company consistently pull it out of the muck. There’s a music-business subplot involving Sudeikis’ character that is pretty good, too.

Kodachrome is not a great movie, but it is worth a shot late on a Saturday night.

Kodachrome is currently streaming on Netflix.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis gloriously upstage two kaiju monsters in Colossal, a science-fiction monster mash that features numerous twists—and a psychological/emotional river that runs mighty deep.

Hathaway outdoes herself as Gloria, a New York City writer who gets kicked out of the apartment of her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) because she is constantly partying and being somewhat “unmanageable.” She winds up in her hometown, sleeping on an inflatable mattress, where she bumps into Oscar (Sudeikis), a childhood friend.

Oscar, an overly sweet and generous guy at first glance, immediately tries to help out Gloria. He gives her a job at his bar and showers her with furniture for her sparse home. This seems to be the setup for a strange romantic comedy—with science fiction/horror as the background.

Writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, however, has something much different in mind.

Gloria awakens one morning after a night of drinking to discover that a giant, lizard-like creature is attacking Seoul, South Korea. After examining some YouTube videos and news reports, she realizes the monster seems to be mimicking her mostly drunk body movements. Yes, the monster is the manifestation of her self-loathing, out-of-control, alcoholic ways, and it’s taking lives in Korea. She feels more than a little bit guilty about this.

Things get weirder when an equally large monster robot shows up next to Gloria’s monster—and appears to be the manifestation of Oscar’s anxieties. Oscar is far more into the notion of having a monster under his control and starts playfully taunting Gloria. The monsters wrestle it out, and their battles become more intense as Oscar and Gloria begin to have ever-bigger problems in their newly reborn friendship.

While the movie has plenty of fun with giant monsters beating each other up, it has even more fun with the mystery that is Gloria and Oscar. It becomes an introspective film, and even a scary look at messed-up relationships—more specifically, severely messed up dudes and their manipulative ways.

Sudeikis is on fire, delivering easily the best performance of his post-Saturday Night Live career. Oscar is as clever and charming; many of his actions seem to be propelled by good-natured ribbing or tomfoolery. As the film goes on, however, Sudeikis and Vigalondo slyly reveal more and more about Oscar’s psyche. It turns into one of the more interesting, intricate character studies in a movie so far this year.

Then there is Hathaway, one of the more wonderful actresses to ever occupy the big screen. There’s been a strange Hathaway backlash since her incredible, Oscar-winning turn in Les Miserables. (Some of that blame is due to her straining attempt at hosting the Oscars while co-host James Franco mentally checked out mid-ceremony.) Colossal immediately re-establishes her as an actress to be reckoned with. She’s everything in this movie: hilarious, heartbreaking, sympathetic and sometimes full-blown crazy. Sure, the manifestation of her problems is killing helicopter pilots in Korea, but we can’t help but root for her. Many of us probably have buddies like Gloria—minus the kaiju shadow, of course.

Together, Hathaway and Sudeikis create fireworks that overshadow their clashing monsters. They prove that human beings going at each other’s throats can be more terrifying than King Kong vs. Godzilla.

By the time it plays out, you’ve seen what will surely stand as one of the year’s more clever, adventurous and experimental films. You’ve also seen the next step in Sudeikis’ career, as he proves he can be a true dramatic force. As for Hathaway, you’re seeing more of the same—an actress in full command of her every moment onscreen in a movie.

What a wonderful, weird, gonzo idea for a film. Colossal goes into the category of movies with Being John Malkovich, Barton Fink and Mulholland Dr. It’s bizarre—but it will have you thinking about it long after you’ve seen it.

Colossal is now playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033). It opens Friday, April 28, at Mary Pickford Is D’Place (36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City; 760-328-7100).

Published in Reviews

While the first Horrible Bosses got by on the charms of its three main stars, the second one falls a bit short.

Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have decided to go into business for themselves after the events of the first film. They wind up on TV pitching a stupid idea called the Shower Buddy, where they are seen by Rex (Chris Pine), the son of billionaire businessman Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz). This leads to that, and the boys wind up in a kidnapping scheme involving Rex trying to double-cross his dad.

The screenplay strains to bring back Jennifer Aniston as the naughty dentist and Kevin Spacey as the embittered ex-boss. It also doesn’t help that Day and Sudeikis are a bit overwrought this time out; their acts are getting a little tired.

Bateman is easily the funniest thing about this movie—effortlessly smarmy, as always. I laughed a fair amount of times, but these characters would be better-served with all-new material and a new premise. I like seeing them together, but they need a new place to play.

Horrible Bosses 2 is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

In We’re the Millers, Jason Sudeikis plays a small-time drug-dealer who gets in over his head and is forced by his boss (Ed Helms) to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico. Realizing that border agents seem to go easy on families, he hires a fake family to make the trip in an RV.

The family includes a wife (a stripper played by Jennifer Aniston), a daughter (a homeless girl played by Emma Roberts) and a son (a hapless neighbor played by Will Poulter).

The film has a Chevy Chase “Vacation” movie vibe; Sudeikis is charming in a way in which Chase was for a brief time in his career. Aniston plays a mighty-good stripper; she has another calling in case the whole acting thing doesn’t work out. Roberts gets perhaps her best role yet as Casey; she delivers some great eye-rolling moments. As for Poulter, he steals scenes nearly every time he speaks, and his encounter with a tarantula is priceless.

Sure, the movie gets a little gooey and sentimental by the time it plays out, but we’ve come to like the characters by then, so it’s OK. This is not a grand cinematic effort by any means, but it does provide some good laughs, with a fair share being quite shocking.

Special Features: The “extended cut” has an extra nine minutes or so of stuff. You also get a behind-the-scenes segment, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. 

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

I didn’t care all that much for Movie 43, a new-millennium attempt at something akin to Kentucky Fried Movie. But I won’t be trashing it, because it crosses many lines, is terribly offensive, and is often screamingly disgusting. I’m a little demented when it comes to comedy, so I say: Bring on the farts, excessive curse words and scrotum necks!

However, if you are going to do a gross sketch comedy, you had better do gross well. Your jokes better have the proper punch lines and kickers, and your sketches have to end strong.

Many of the sketches in Movie 43 end like bad Saturday Night Live sketches. Too many of the sketches, which are directed by various directors, just aren’t funny. They land with a thud.

First, I’ll talk about the good stuff. I must give props to real-life couple Naomi Watts (a current Oscar nominee) and Liev Schreiber for their funny turn as a couple proudly homeschooling their son. They want their kid to get the full high school experience, so they humiliate him, alienate him, nail him with dodge balls and ultimately try to make out with him. Yes, I laughed hard at this. Movie 43 would’ve been better if it had been 90 minutes with these nuts.

I must also praise Terrence Howard as a black basketball coach who gets fed up with his youngsters being afraid of a bullying white team. Yes, this joke has been done to death, but Howard sells it big-time. This is one of the sketches that ended badly, but not before Howard had me laughing out loud.

Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott kidnap a foul-mouthed leprechaun (Gerard Butler)—and excessive violence and obscenity ensue. Real-life couple Anna Faris and Chris Pratt deal with a desire to get pooped upon—yet they somehow make it romantic. Jason Sudeikis gives us a commentary on Kristen Bell's bush. There are some laughs to be had in these uneven segments.

Hugh Jackman (another current Oscar nominee) shows up for a blind date with Kate Winslet sporting testicles on his neck. This would be the first time in movie history where an Oscar nominee, mere weeks away from hearing whether he has won the golden boy, appears onscreen with hairy balls protruding from his neck. I’m thinking that this moment in movie history will cost Mr. Jackman a few votes. It’s also not funny.

Another sketch (directed by Elizabeth Banks) features Chloë Moretz and her Kick-Ass co-star Christopher Mintz-Plasse. It has, not surprisingly, a menstruation theme: Moretz gets her first period after her first kiss, and two brothers spaz out until their dad (Patrick Warburton) comes home—and doesn’t help the situation. Another dud.

Even worse would be Elizabeth Banks starring in a post-credits segment that has her getting peed on by a masturbating/animated cat. And even worse would be a truth-or-dare sketch in which Oscar-winner Halle Berry makes guacamole with surgically enhanced breasts. Far worse would be a skit in which Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin talk dirty at a supermarket, unwittingly broadcasting over the PA system.

Worst of all would be Richard Gere as an executive confused at the notion that young boys are trying to have sex with the iBabe, an MP3 player that looks like a supermodel but has a nasty, member-mangling exhaust fan in its nether regions.

The bad far outweighs the good, and that’s what makes Movie 43 a loser. I dare Hugh Jackman to wear his scrotum neck on the Oscar red carpet.

Movie 43 is playing in theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews