This week Hollywood brings us a comedy sequel, a video game movie, an old-school buddy picture and an indie romantic comedy.
1. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – Fresh at 63%
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dave Franco
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
Having vanquished the fraternity next door, Mac & Kelly (Rogen & Byrne) now have their house in escrow, and are planning to move to a quieter neighborhood. But when a new sorority moves in next door, the Radners may end up with their new buyers getting spooked, and unable to see their home.
Critics are mostly happy with this one. It’s not an essential sequel, and definitely mining a lot of the same material as the first film, but it delivers on enough laughs that you don’t mind going down this path again. I liked this more than the first film. The points around the sorority experience were really fun, and I’m impressed by Zac Efron.
2. The Angry Birds Movie – Rotten at 48%
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn
Directed by: Clay Kaytis & Fergal Reilly
On a tropical island paradise, one bird stands out from the rest: Red. The rest of the island’s flightless population is pretty happy, but Red’s constant anger gets him sentenced to anger management classes. And if that weren’t bad enough, the recent arrival of seemingly friendly pigs that no one else is suspicious of only makes Red angrier…
Critics are split. There’s a long, sad history of attempts to adapt video games into movies, but this one is at the higher end of those attempts (although it’s still not great). I didn’t hate it, but can’t really recommend it unless you have kids. The kids will love it, it looks good, moves fast, plenty of silliness, plus it works the game mechanics into the film. That being said, the jokes aren’t very clever if your age is in the double-digits, and there’s not much else here for adults.
3. The Nice Guys – Certified Fresh at 90%
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Kim Basinger, Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers), Matt Bomer, Angourie Rice
Directed by: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, writer of Lethal Weapon)
In late-70’s Los Angeles, Hollywood is still sleazy, and smog is so bad you can’t see through it. While smog alerts blare through the radio, a private eye joins forces with a hired enforcer to track down a missing girl and investigate the death of a porn star, and they discover that larger forces are at work.
Critics like it. If you know Shane Black’s work, you’ll know what to expect; a gritty, two-fisted pulp-style detective story, but with lots of laughs. The plot may get more than a little confusing by the end, but the chemistry between the two leads is so good that you’ll find yourself wanting to see more of them in the future. I liked it, but I thought it was uneven in place.
4. Maggie’s Plan – Fresh at 77%
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel
Directed by: Rebecca Miller (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee)
Maggie works at The New School in New York and is planning to have a child on her own. But her plans get more than a little sidetracked when she falls in love with a professor that’s already married. They get married, but as they settle down, Maggie cooks up another plan involving the professor’s ex-wife.
Critics like it. The actors are really charming here, and bring a level of depth that sometimes surpasses what’s in the script (especially Moore). The movie zeroes in on a particular type of intellectual New Yorker, but it’s a little too soft on the characters. I enjoyed it, but I think it may play better in NY.
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