Having fun at those holiday parties? Yeah I didn’t think so 🙂 But never fear, there are a few new options at the theater this weekend. Let’s take a look!
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN would’ve been lovely had it focused on the love story between a the theatrical producer (Zac Effron) and one of the circus acts (Zendaya). These two actors have amazing chemistry, and their interaction (family friendly) is truly moving. But it’s about P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), the man who made circuses a thing.
In this musical about the origins of show business, we see first how Phineas Taylor Barnum, after initial success with various businesses, took a leap of faith when he turned his museum of oddities into a live show with animals and ‘freaks.’ An obsession with trying to get good reviews and desire to be seen as ‘upper crust’ would prove a personal hindrance that dogged him a long time.
Sadly, the flick is also a good example of how not to do a musical. The song sequences seem cut and pasted from another movie or at least another version of it. Not helping is the script, which is unaware of the era it’s set in. The actors are talented (also stars Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife, and Rebecca Ferguson as opera singer Jenny Lind), but even they cannot save this. Pass.
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Yeah – this is really just a vehicle to showcase the Rock in an action-comedy. If you think that’s a good reason to see it, here’s the story: four teenagers find a 90’s video game, get sucked into it, and are transformed into adult avatars in which the actors have to play against their ‘type.’ So the nerd becomes the muscular Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson), the jock becomes the mousy Finbar (Kevin Hart), the cute girl becomes Professor Oberon (Jack Black), and the rebel becomes a Lara Croft type (Karen Gillan). Thrown into a treacherous tropical jungle, they have to figure a way out. You’d think then this would be about how the game forces the kids within the avatars to use their innate good character to learn lessons, but no. They just get to use the gameplay ‘skills’ the game assigns them to do whatever nonsense the scriptwriters vomited out… apparently in a daze of boredom. It’s good for some laughs. One thing’s for sure—it makes the original seems like cinematic perfection. Not sure if it was, but it was definitely far, far better than this.
PITCH PERFECT 3
Fans looking for great hair, nice pop songs, a couple cute fellas, and a hint of racial/ gender politics will most likely be satisfied. Otherwise, this sequel’s kind of a bore. Everyone’s grown up and hating it: Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) no longer a music producer (artists can be such a pain!); instead she’s rooming with Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) – who hates working, and Chloe (Brittany Snow) who is sick of vet school. Cynthia’s (Ester Rose) likewise sick of flight school, and Aubrey’s (Anna Camp) longing for the sort of competition she enjoyed from days past. So we have the USO tour, DJ Khaled, and the Battle of the Bands. John Lithgow stars as Amy’s dad, and you’ll also see Hailee Steinfeld as college girl Emily. There are also a couple of silly love stories tossed in. Unfortunately, the magical Pitch Perfect vibe has vanished. But, like I said, if you’re here for nice hair and fun songs, you’ll be just fine.
Two fraternal twins, at the wedding of their free-spirited mother (played by Glenn Close), find out she lied to them about the circumstances surrounding their birth. So these two dopes – one an uptight proctologist (Ed Helms), and the other a barbecue sauce spokesman/ model (Owen Wilson), go on a road trip to confront certain people. Terry Bradshaw stars as a Miami dealership salesman, Ving Rhames as an ex-Steeler, and JK Simmons as a reclusive gun enthusiast. Highly predictable situations and poor pacing hobble what could’ve been a great raunchy flick. Comedy’s all about timing, and it’s pretty obvious that cinematographer-turned-director Lawrence Sher is still learning that. The lighting and visuals are great, though 🙂
If none of these appeal, there’s always THE LAST JEDI. That’s bound to make everyone’s jaw drop (one way or another)… and there’ll definitely be something to talk about later, so there won’t be any awkward silences. Here’s hoping I’ll see you at the movies! And Happy Holidays to all!