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T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

Rough Night is a fun night [MOVIE REVIEW]

The four coeds were the best of friends during the college days (Jess) Scarlett Johansson, (Alice) Jillian Bell, (Frankie) Ilana Glazer, and (Blair) Zoë Kravitz. Frankie and Blair even had a “past” together. Ten years after graduation they meet in Miami for a bachelorette weekend to celebrate Jess’ pending nuptials. Pippa, played by Kate McKinnon, a more recent friend of Jess’ from the land down under, joins the group as well. The ladies are pumped for a weekend of, well, everything. They rent a beautiful beach house and invite a male entertainer over. Tragically, he doesn’t survive the evening. Realizing that they could end up in the slammer, their enthusiasm gives way to panic. It’s a matter of simply figuring out what to do next.

Rough Night is another in a long line of crazy night out movies where the characters always end up asking, how did we get into this mess?! The stories are always a bit implausible. Like in this film, Jess is supposedly in a tight race to win a state senate seat. No serious politician would take off for a long weekend at a pivotal point in the campaign to party it up with friends. These movies also have more strange and unlikely occurrences in one night than most people have in a 100-year lifetime: multiple people conveniently show up at the rental house, as necessary, to help carry out the plot.

However, in the end, Rough Night does what it should do; it entertains. The cast combines the right mix of comedy and drama. There are serious scenes when the characters revisit and debate old intragroup wounds.

The film is greatly enhanced by the performances of Demi Moore and Ty Burrell as the horny neighbors who set lustful eyes on Blair. And there are other bits of humor like when the friends meet at the airport, Alice opens a bottle of champagne to celebrate the moment only to have the sound of the cork popping send other traveler scurrying from what they believe to have been a gunshot.

With Rough Night, you’ll find yourself wondering what is going happen next.

As to cast diversity, it gets a B+ for performers from all racial groups. And it is refreshing to see the one black woman in the group, be the thinnest – and not heaviest. She is arguably the most sophisticated and not the crassest in the group. Zoe is stunning; Lenny, Lisa, you do good work!

Rough Night, is rated R (for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use, and brief bloody images) and it is 101 minutes in length. Rough Night fights its way to our top rating; it’s a See It!

The Mummy should have stayed in her tomb [MOVIE REVIEW]

Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient and ruthless Egyptian queen, lays entombed deep in the earth’s recesses until an evacuation crew led by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) awakes her. Ahmanet is determined to dominate in the new world, the way she attempted to in her previous life. In addition to his ongoing battle with Ahmanet, Morton has recurring “exchanges” with the ghost of a comrade he had killed earlier in the film. Annabelle Wallis plays Morton’s partner in this adventure and is the stereotypical blonde eye candy.

The Mummy, whose production price tag was reported to be $125,000,000, is a visually stimulating 3-D extravaganza. However, The Mummy stumbles because of the filmmakers, as is too often the case in movies today, try to show how smart and creative they can be. The creativity is evident in the special effects, however, the story itself is not entertaining and there is no mystery. And, a plot like this one, that flops around like a fish on deck, soon like that fish, begins to smell.

There are no complaints about the performers. Tom Cruise has now passed the half-century mark, age wise, and remains very credible as the leading man in an action-adventure film. Cruise is fit and to prove it, he has scenes shirtless and at one point, he’s almost nude.

The Mummy gets a “B” for cast diversity. I especially liked Sofia Boutella, who is Algerian, in the role of the Egyptian queen. Courtney B. Vance costars as Colonel Greenway, along with other actors of color in smaller parts to round out a diverse cast.

Save yourself from buyer’s remorse and don’t get wrapped up in all the hype around The Mummy, this is a film you should wait to Rent It.

The Mummy is rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, suggestive content and partial nudity. It's 110 minutes in length.

Enjoy the holiday and skip Baywatch this weekend [MOVIE REVIEW]

 

The elite Baywatch lifeguard team sets up to hold tryouts for the new season. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) leads the team. Among those trying out is two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Matt Brody (Zac Efron). Brody has struggled recently and being one of the lifeguards is part of his rehabilitation plan. However, the old school Buchannon and the new arrival Brody don’t see eye-to-eye on much which leads to what might be called a shark fight. Against this backdrop, there are also bodies being found in the Baywatch waters.

Baywatch ultimately drowns in a sea of implausible story lines. But there is enough of an entertainment value to eke out a Rent It rating.

First, the idea of a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner trying out for a lifeguard crew is so amusing that no matter how hard the writers try to breathe life into that plot line, it flounders. Next, there’s the Baywatch team investigating a crime ring, complete with going undercover. There is also dubious dialogue. One of the characters explains that if the owner of a seaside restaurant were to die, the property would go to the city. What? If he is truly the owner then it would be a part of his estate and go to his heirs. But why let well-known facts get in the way of telling a story that has no credibility anyway?

Great bodies are not enough to save this movie. Great bodies are all over TV, the internet, magazines and on the big screen. They are no longer unique or special.

Baywatch does make a few splashes. Like Buchannon’s constant run-ins with the nerdy police sergeant Ellebe (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Sometimes the officer simply can’t tell whether he’s being complimented or insulted when talking to Buchannon. It’s good to see Johnson, who is also a producer of Baywatch, looking massively muscular at the age of 45; he’s a walking, talking example of the age is just a number theory.

The music is eclectic but fitting: Beach Boys, Chi-Lites, Commodores, and the Bee Gees.

Baywatch gets an “A” for cast diversity. The cast looks like America – at least racially. Other cast members include Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ifenesh Hadera. It should be noted that there are very few old folks in the film.

Baywatch is rated “R” for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity; it is 116 minutes in length. There’s not enough here to justify going to the theater to see Baywatch, this Memorial Day weekend. But later if you have a chance to Rent It, please do.

3 Reasons Everything, Everything is EVERYTHING! [MOVIE REVIEW]

Her world is the inside of a beautiful, contemporary home, her mother who is also her doctor (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse (Ana de la Reguera). She is Maddy, (Amandla Stenberg) an 18-year-old, whose fragile immune system requires that she stay indoors in a controlled environment. Maddy’s knowledge of the outside world comes from books, the internet and looking through the big windows in her house.

It’s through those windows, she first sees her new neighbor, Olly (Nick Robinson). At first, they exchange glances, then notes (placed against the window), finally cell phone numbers which lead to a steady stream of texts. It’s through her relationship with Olly, Maddy finds the courage to venture out.

Everything, Everything, directed by director and screenwriter, Stella Meghie, a Black woman from Canada, is an amazing movie; and it’s a huge See It!

Its starts with the leads Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson; they’re captivating. This film wouldn’t work if they weren’t magical together. And they are. They have to make viewers believe and understand that what they have Maddy would risk her life for. They believe and they understand.

Writers J. Mills Goodloe and Nicola Yoon create two sympathetic characters (Olly has trouble at home) but not pitiful characters that you’ll embrace and cheer for.

Goodloe and Yoon do fall into a common screenwriters trap: writing dialogue which doesn’t make sense other than to try to convey information to viewers. Maddy’s father and brother were killed in an accident when she was a baby. There’s a family photo in Maddy’s room. Her mother picks up the photo and discusses all the details surrounding that photo. Maddy should already know that stuff. But the viewers don’t, so the writers use that device to inform them.

Some of the scenes are not thought through thoroughly. When Maddy does venture out, she goes into a shop, takes an item off the rack and goes straight to the fitting room. This is not the behavior of someone who has never been out her house and has never been in a store.

As to racial diversity, this cast gets an “A”. It’s a small group but diverse in that blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians play prominent roles. This is a love story between a black woman and white man. But it’s not about race. In fact, race is not mentioned at all. This story could have been about a man and woman of any race.

Everything, Everything is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief sensuality and is 96 minutes in length. If you haven’t seen a movie this year, see this one.

 

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