Welcome to PTBN Pop! Flick Pics! Each month, Russell makes his picks for the best (and not best) way to spend your hard-earned dollar at the movies. Be it action, superhero, sci-fi, comedy, drama, horror, romance, etc., he’ll direct you to what’s likely to be the best time at your local theater.
August starts the summer wind-down. We’ve been beaten about the head and neck area (thanks Nick) with all the slam-bang action you could ask for so now it’s time to pull it back a little. But not too much.
Christopher Robin – It can be tricky business trying to tell a story of a grownup version of a beloved childhood story (looking at you, Hook), Disney may have just made one for the ages. Ewan McGregor stars as the title character alongside the classic stuffed animals of his imagination Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Tigger, Owl, Rabbit and Kanga. The motion capture animation style for the loveable Hundred Acre Wood contingent looks incredible in the trailers. Not to mention some of the most genuinely heart-warming voice performances that are straight out of your childhood. This might not have all the big bells and whistles of a Pixar movie, but it’s going to have every bit of the heart and then some. Like the adult Christopher Robin, some of us adults have forgotten what it’s like to appreciate the important things in life. This might be a good reminder for us and a great introduction to these magical characters for the kids.
The Spy Who Dumped Me – Not likely to be as good as either film it ripped that title from (The Spy Who Loved Me or The Spy Who Shagged Me), this Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon action/comedy looks to attempt splitting the difference. Some big stunt work and legit funny lines might just make this one a fun, brainless time at the theater. McKinnon’s star has been on the rise lately and she’s proven capable of making the transition from Saturday Night Live to the big screen without much of an issue. And it’s been too long since we’ve had Kunis in a leading role. They appear to have excellent chemistry together and that’s the they key to this buddy movie’s success. Hopefully the funniest bits were saved for the film itself and not packed into the trailers (looking at you Hitman’s Bodyguard).
The Meg – If you don’t have at least a little ironic love for Deep Blue Sea, then this might not be for you. But it is definitely the kind of blatantly stupid silliness only a giant screen could handle. Jason Statham really might do just about anything if the money’s right. Though don’t look for him to solve this one with a few well-placed punches and spin kicks… or maybe do. Who knows, that’s the kind of insanity once should maybe expect from this modern era B-movie. Based on the novel of the same name, this has actually been an anticipated adaptation for some time. If you’ve seen Deep Blue Sea, it’s kinda like that except this is about a team of researchers going into the deepest part of the ocean and a man who claims to have seen a live megalodon and wants to prove they still exist. Yep… the largest shark known to have existed still roaming the oceans. Or… asleep in the Mariana Trench. Does it really matter? Big Ass Shark!
Pick of the Month!
BlacKkKlansman– Spike Lee directs this true story adaptation of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department in the early 1970’s. John David Washington (Ballers) takes on the lead role alongside Flip Zimmerman (Adam “Kylo Ren” Driver) to stage an undercover operation aimed at taking down the Ku Klux Klan as it attempts to take its extremist hate message to the mainstream audience. This one looks like an instant classic. The humor is trademarked Lee, but the authentic 70s feel of the movie makes it feel even more compelling. Washington has been a breakout star on the HBO football drama Ballers (alongside Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson) and he shines bright in the trailers. Driver playing the “face to the voice” in this situation gives this a real buddy-cop feel that is sure to be a hit. It’s listed as a “Limited Release” film, but if it’s playing near you, this is the one to see this month.
Mile 22 – This is kind of an “I guess” pick. Admittedly, the action looks great and the cast is more than solid. Peter Berg has proven capable of crafting good action scenes, and with the addition of The Raid’s Iko Uwais, expect to see some of the most badass fight choreography this side of a Bourne movie. Ronda Rousey also takes on a small supporting role, which is probably for the best as her acting isn’t quite there yet. Mark Wahlberg has done plenty with Berg over the years (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day) that this should be like old hat for them now. Hopefully this’ll also be a big break for Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) into major films. It’s certainly needed considering where her TV show is these days. The plot is kinda stock espionage and the dialog looks to be stifled by this fact, but maybe there’ll be just enough substance in the action and a couple of the characters to make this one entertaining enough for an afternoon viewing. No rush, though.
Juliet, Naked – Nick Hornby books have made for some excellent films in the past (High Fidelity, About a Boy) and this one looks to be another feel-good romp about modern relationships. Rose Byrne and Chris O’Dowd are two amazingly talented British actors with expert timing. Seeing them playing a long-term couple who can’t hold it together any longer should make for great comedy. And this wouldn’t be a Hornby adaptation without a strong musical presence, so Ethan Hawke is here to deliver is trademarked sleepy-eyed charm as an aging, burned out, recovering alcoholic, virtually-unknown rocker from the 90’s (fictional, of course). The trailer is packed full of pure charm, so this is one limited release you should seek out this month.
The Happytime Murders – You may see puppets and think “oh, this is one my kids and I can see together.” NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Do not make the same stupid mistake as all those parents who took their kids to see Deadpool thinking a superhero movie is always safe. This is NOT for kids. This Melissa McCarthy comedy is pure raunch from the first frame to the last. Seriously, watch the VERY RED BAND trailer here and you’ll get it. That said, this looks hysterical. It’s like someone watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and thought “wouldn’t this be better with lots of swearing and puppet sex?” Well… here we are. And if the trailer is any indication, it’s going to be a laugh riot. It’s got a murder/mystery plot as its backdrop, so it’s not completely devoid of story. But let’s be honest, that’s not why we’re going to see this.
Support The Girls – If Waiting had put more emphasis on its storytelling heart and concentrated less on how many different ways it could work in a scrotum flash, it might have gotten close to this. But don’t think this one won’t come with its own side of gross-out jokes. The cast is made up of virtual unknowns, but looks for quite a few to break out soon. Regina Hall stars as the manager of what is essentially Hooter’s, but they can’t call it that because copyright. She’s the kind of person who’s incurably optimistic and a bit of a den mother to her girls, but this day-in-the-life hits some hard bumps that threaten to derail that and possibly the business itself. It looks like one of the better feel-good romps this year. It’s another limited release, so you may have to search for this one a little.
Kin – If you loved 1980s grounded sci-fi adventure films like DARYL or maybe Cloak and Dagger, this one might be up your alley. An ex-con and his adopted brother are on the run from some pretty bad people, led by crime lord, Taylor (James Franco). But when Eli (Myles Truitt) finds what appears to be an alien weapon in a crashed ship, the tables turn a bit in their favor. Until the aliens come looking for them, too. It’s a family road trip, sci-fi thriller that looks to channel a lot of the best parts of both genres. Dennis Quaid and Zoë Kravitz round out a solid cast for this adaptation of a popular short film.
Skips of the Month
The Darkest Minds – Fox knows it’s losing the X-Men to Disney soon and needs that “superpowered kids franchise” ready to go. Too bad this one looks like every YA cliché’ ever in one poorly-written, shoddily-acted, self-important bore.
Alpha – Wait a minute! It’s a story about a boy and his do…err, wolf! How can this be bad? You mean aside from the shitty, unnecessary CGI, by-the-numbers story, charisma-vacuum lead actor and a story where you already know both of them are definitely dead at the end? I guess if you put all that aside it might be worth sleeping through. But I can get a better nap at home.
A.X.L. – Speaking of shitty “boy and his dog” movies… here’s this one about a boy and his… robot dog. This thinly-plotted, CGI-heavy slog is going to grate on the nerves of everyone who didn’t think Monster Trucks was a good idea for a full-length film. Which is to say: everyone.