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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Big Sick

best comedy of 2017

Real. Sick.

The story of The Big Sick centers on Kumail’s (Kumail Nanjian from Silicon Valley and Mike and Dave Need Dates) courtship of Emily (Zoe Kazan from It’s Complicated). When Emily suddenly comes down with an illness that leaves her in a coma, the relationship between the Pakistani comic and American graduate student is exposed to both of their families.

One other thing I should mention — it’s a romantic comedy. It’s a funny one with more depth than most rom-coms from this decade. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents add to the strong ensemble and Kumail’s family culture of arranged marriage is a refreshing subtext hardly seen in comedic film. Working against the film is a convenient resolution in the third act.

One other thing I should mention — that too-good-to-be true plot twist and this whole story is based on the true story of Nanjian’s real-life courtship of co-author Emily V. Gordon.

Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer, Hello, My Name Is Doris) directed this film, which is produced by Judd Apatow (Trainwreck, Girls, Knocked Up, 40-Year Old Virgin) who has a knack for introducing comic talent to bigger stages. This is one of his best.

Simply put: Although the final act goes on about a bit too long to be perfect, The Big Sick is this year’s crowd-pleasing comedy.

Award potential: Should do very well with Golden Globe nominations across all comedy catagories.

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Just enough.

Before I walked into the theater, I had already heard the word “masterpiece” used by reviewers at Time magazine, The Atlantic and other sources that gave similar praise for Dunkirk. To me, using that word is somewhat accurate. 

As far as bringing the ground, sea and air of WWII to life, it is indeed a stunning masterpiece and the score, sound and FX should have those respective 2018 Oscars locked. However, despite being a grand spectacle, I did find that Dunkirk lacked something I needed from a full movie experience. 

The film’s famously sparse dialogue is likely the source. Likely some key actors as well. Despite the powerful story, I needed to connect to the central characters more. Newcomers Fionn Whitehead (land) and Jack Lowden (air) played characters so silent and soulless that I can’t even remember their character’s names. I’m sure director Christopher Nolan was going for realism versus scripted Hollywood fare, but I needed more.

That balance was perfectly executed by some seasoned pros. Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branaugh) and seaman Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) utilized their lines to sell and propel the story. They provided some heart to it as well.

The story, an important rescue mission, also lacks some of the resolution we’re used to seeing in a big WWII film but Nolan crafted a finale that ultimately sold me on Dunkirk.

This exchange, at one point during the story that I won't reveal, sums up my feelings for the full film:

Blind man: Well done.
Alex (Harry Styles): All we did was survive.
Blind man: That’s enough

Simply put: Well crafted. Well done. That’s enough to recommend this film. 

Award potential: A lock for nominations and likely wins in technical categories. There will be nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematographer and maybe Best Supporting Actor (Rylance) too, but by next February this film will not be on the radar for those top honors. Even Saving Private Ryan, another summer release, couldn’t take home a win. 

Ten buck review: Worth ten bucks. Worth IMAX and 70mm pricing too.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

This Spidey is so McFly.

The last two Amazing Spider-Man films were anything but. Each of those films, as well as the original trilogy, has retold the origin story in every single stinkin’ film, so I’m thrilled to tell you that Homecoming provides only this line, “So you got bit by a spider,” as an origin. Non-spoiler alert: you don’t have to watch Uncle Ben die again either.
Homecoming picks up after Spidey’s comedic appearance in Captain America: Civil War (2016), with a teenage Tom Holland working his way through, well, John Hughs High. In a fresh move for Marvel, half of this movie feels like an 80’s high school comedy ­with winks and nods to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) and Breakfast Club (1985). 

Mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and villain Vulture (Michael Keaton) turn in seasoned, adult performances to make sure we know this is a legit Marvel endeavor, but each threaten to clash with this fresh approach. 

Credit some restraint by Marvel and a zippy, awkward hero performance by Tom Holland that recalls Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly. High praise indeed. 

Spider Man's nemesis was not the Green Goblin; It was teen angst, melodrama and hyperbolic action sequences. This friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man flies by seat of his spandex pants and it’s a modern marvel. 

Simply put: My spider sense says we’ll be seeing more of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, and I’m fine with that. 

Award potential: Not much Oscar-worthy here. 

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.