May 2024



Game Night (2018)

DIRECTOR: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

CAST: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons


For those seeking a comedy of a little darker, more twisted variety than a fluffy rom com, Game Night might deliver the goods, or at least enough of them to justify its hour and forty minute existence.  Co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who previously wrote Horrible Bosses and the Vacation reboot, and screenwriter Mark Perez keep the twists and turns coming rapid-fire and have the good sense to not get bogged down by the thin dramatic/sentimental tissue.  Game Night might not be a “great” comedy, but it’s an entertaining dark screwball entry with an often witty, occasionally twisted sense of humor. Continue reading

Peter Rabbit (2018)

DIRECTOR: Will Gluck

CAST: Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, voices of James Corden, Colin Moody, Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, David Wenham, Sia


Devoted fans of Beatrix Potter’s gentle children’s stories will likely be appalled at how it’s been souped up with Home Alone-esque action, sometimes crude humor (though nothing that pushes the family friendly envelope very hard), and busy pop soundtrack, but Peter Rabbit keeps the action and comedy flying fast and furious enough that it will probably entertain small children while being at least passably enjoyable for the adults accompanying them.  It’s not the most high-brow family friendly entertainment to be found, but parents on the lookout for something to take their children to that’s not an endurance contest for themselves could do worse. Continue reading

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

DIRECTOR: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

CAST: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand


Hail, Caesar!, a pseudo-docudrama/comedy going behind-the-scenes of a Hollywood film studio of the 1950s, feels self-indulgent, like its thin narrative exists as an excuse for obvious film buffs Joel and Ethan Coen to play in the 1950s “classic Hollywood” sandbox recreating the kinds of movies they grew up admiring.  To that end, it’s an enjoyable enough diversion, but among the Coen brothers’ filmography, it’s one of their more forgettable offerings. Continue reading

Holes (2003)

DIRECTOR: Andrew Davis


Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson, Shia LaBeouf, Khleo Thomas, Dulé Hill, Henry Winkler, Siobhan Fallon, Nathan Davis, Eartha Kitt, Scott Plank, Roma Maffia


I wasn’t expecting too much from Holes the first time I saw it, and with some reason; Disney’s live-action films aren’t generally noted for their quality (or even for being bearable). Fortunately, Holes is a surprisingly enjoyable exception, well-acted, quirky, and with a surprising amount to offer adults as well as the young readers of Louis Sachar’s much-loved book. Continue reading

Lone Star State of Mind (2002)

DIRECTOR: David Semel

CAST: Joshua Jackson, Jaime King, Matthew Davis, D.J. Qualls, Ryan Hurst, John Mellencamp, Thomas Haden Church


If one happens to stumble across the fairly obscure Lone Star State of Mind, they might not find a lost great film, but an amiable comedy that serves up enough slapstick, twists and turns, and quirkiness to make for a diverting hour and a half, even if it might not linger long in the memory. Continue reading

Rat Race (2001)

DIRECTOR: Jerry Zucker

CAST: Breckin Meyer, Rowan Atkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, Lanei Chapman, Amy Smart, Vince Vieluf, John Cleese, Kathy Najimy, Wayne Knight, Dave Thomas


Rat Race, a throwback to screwball chase comedies like It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, is not a great comedy, but it’s a hard-working, fast-paced, sometimes creatively zany one that serves up a reasonably steady supply of laughs until running out of gas at the finish line.  Jerry Zucker (Airplane, Naked Gun) hasn’t delivered a comedy classic, but it’s an entertaining enough diversion. Continue reading

Heartbreakers (2001)

DIRECTOR: David Mirkin

CAST: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman, Ray Liotta, Jason Lee


Despite a little star power in its cast, Heartbreakers doesn’t really rise above television sitcom level, but it’s an entertaining enough diversion that serves up enough laughs to be enjoyable, at least until its overlong runtime and dragged-out third act starts to wear out its modest welcome. Continue reading

My Father, The Hero (1994)

DIRECTOR: Steve Miner

CAST: Gerard Depardieu, Katherine Heigl, Dalton James, Faith Prince, Lauren Hutton, Stephen Tobolowsky, Emma Thompson


My Father, the Hero is an English-language remake of a 1991 French comedy Mon père, ce héros (“My Father, The Hero”), even recasting Gerard Depardieu in the titular role, though surrounded with an American cast.  I can’t comment on the original, but My Father, The Hero is a forgettable piece of fluff with a few mildly amusing moments but never rising above the level of the television sitcom it often feels like. Continue reading

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

DIRECTOR: John Hughes

CAST: Steve Martin, John Candy


Both a holiday classic (not that there’s a lot of competition for Thanksgiving movies) and one of the stronger entries in both the road trip and buddy movie genres, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles marked a bit of a change of pace for its writer-director John Hughes, moving from high school teen comedy-dramas like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to a comedy starring adults, but without abandoning his knack for mixing comedy and a little underlying sensitivity.

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The Princess Bride (1987)

DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner

CAST: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Falk, Fred Savage


The Princess Bride has a few things about it that make it such a unique and beloved film.  Firstly, it is that rare “family movie” that appeals equally to children and adults.  Secondly, it is possible to enjoy it both as a traditional fairy tale and a tongue-in-cheek parody thereof.  Continue reading