Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for a holiday romp that once again provides a few solid laughs. Alas, it's also just as unambitious, never pushing its characters very far or coming up with anything terribly original. But filmmakers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore know that sometimes audiences just want dumb entertainment.
In the week before Christmas, Amy (Mila Kunis) has reached breaking point with all of her motherly responsibilities. So she's delighted that her boyfriend (Jay Hernandez) and kids just want to have a mellow holiday. Then her hyper-demanding mother (Christine Baranski) arrives with enormous plans that Amy's meek dad (Peter Gallagher) quietly goes along with. So Amy turns to her best friends Kiki and Carla (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) for help. And they've also been invaded: Kiki's far-too-involved mother (Cheryl Hines) arrives for three weeks, while Carla's biker-chick mom (Susan Sarandon) is a gambling addict in need of cash. So Amy, Kiki and Carla team up to take back control of Christmas.
Continue reading: A Bad Moms Christmas Review
This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot of Lewis Carroll's classic, which sent the heroine into Underland (not Wonderland) for a dark adventure that spiralled into a Lord of the Rings-scale battle. Thankfully this time the odyssey remains personal, centred on lively characters rather than overwrought plotting. And Alice's time-travelling quest is both pointed and engaging.
After captaining her late father's ship on a global journey, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to 1875 London to bad news: her mother (Lindsay Duncan) has made decisions that take her future out of her hands. As she struggles to respond, she is summoned back to Underland to help her friend Hatter (Johnny Depp), who is emotionally devastated by the fact that his entire family has been killed. So Alice decides to help by confronting Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and stealing a device that will allow her to travel back to help the younger Hatter. But she also becomes entangled in the early life of the White and Red Queens (Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway), and the feud that grew between them as young sisters. Meanwhile, Time is terrified that Alice is unravelling the fabric of reality.
The emotional nature of Alice's mission adds a surprising layer of suspense to the entire film, while director James Bobin (The Muppets) adds a breezy comical tone to Tim Burton's stunningly visual designs. Some of the more wacky flourishes don't quite work (such as the "sea of time" imagery or Time's hand-powered vehicle), but the film more than makes up for these with wonderful character details. This lets the actors relax into their roles while cranking up the surreal touches. Wasikowska is great as the plucky heroine fighting for her right to control her own life, a strong point that's made without preaching.
Continue reading: Alice Through The Looking Glass Review
With its refusal to follow the usual romantic-comedy formula, this snappy and observant movie is a nice surprise. Not only does it keep us wondering about where it's heading, but it gives the likeable Jones and Samberg much more complex roles than they usually get to play. And the quirky approach combined with some darkly dramatic moments makes it more interesting to watch.
Jones and Samberg play the long-time couple Celeste and Jesse, who have been together since they were in school. Now married for six years, they're starting to wonder if maybe they're just best friends, rather than a couple. So they decide to separate. The main issue seems to be surfer-artist Jesse's lack of ambition but, when he begins to move on with his life, Celeste starts wondering if maybe she's the real problem. Even so, they're still completely involved in each others' lives, which is awkward for their friends Beth and Tucker (Graynor and Christian). Maybe they need some distance.
The film's perspective centres on Celeste's messy journey, which is a bumpy series of conflicting emotions. She works as a lifestyle critic, so her comments on pop culture are hilariously barbed, but as her personal life dissolves she retreats into annoying pot-fuelled wallowing. It's often not easy to watch her, but Jones gives a ruthlessly honest performance that's both funny and disturbing. Her sideplots with her gay boss (Wood), her low-life drug dealer (cowriter McCormack) and a bratty popstar client (Roberts) are nicely played but only tangentially developed.
Continue reading: Celeste And Jesse Forever Review
Devon Sawa stars as Anton, a slacker who sits around his house all day, smoking weed, and watching television. When Anton's parents are killed, a mysterious force takes over Anton's hand. He unwillingly kills his two best friends (Seth Green and Eldon Henson) and doesn't seem that phased by it. I mean, he's worried what more damage he could do, but it doesn't really bother him. His friends refused to go to heaven (too far) and walk around as zombies for the rest of the film, helping Anton control the hand, and save his girlfriend (Jessica Alba, who I wouldn't mind saving).
Continue reading: Idle Hands Review
Instead of Bond, it's super-groovy spy Austin Powers (Myers) making his triumphant return to the silver screen, the British secret agent frozen in the 60's and thawed in the 90's, where/when he returned to active duty. The Spy Who Shagged Me picks up right where the original left off, with Dr. Evil (also Myers) banished to space in his Big Boy statue/spaceship, and Austin settling down with new wife Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley, in a cameo re-appearance).
Continue reading: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Review
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