Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the Melissa McCarthy mob story “The Kitchen,” the kid’s horror “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” the family adventure of “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” and the Casey Affleck drama :Light of My Life.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the live action “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” the mildly scary “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” the family drama “Luce” and the mob tale “The Kitchen” with CFRA morning show guest host Matt Harris.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks two kid-friendly flicks, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and the intense family drama “Luce.”
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with guest host Ken Connors to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the Melissa McCarthy mob story “The Kitchen,” the kid’s horror “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” and the family drama “Luce.”
When you think of kid’s books wholesome titles like “Captain Underpants” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog” likely spring to mind. But for 1980s children with a darker sensibility who were too old for “The Addams Family” but too young for “Stephen King,” the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” trilogy by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, where must reads. Violent and eerie, the American Library Association reports that the gothic story collections were the most challenged books of the 1990s, which, of course, only made them more appealing to rebellious kids. A new film produced by horror master Guillermo Del Toro and directed by André Øvredal, uses the books as the basis for a new story.
Set in the small town of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania in 1968, the action begins on Halloween. When besties Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) play a prank on the town bully, he looks for revenge forcing them to hide first at a drive-in where they meet new kid in town Ramón (Michael Garza).
The night soon leads them to a spooky house on the edge of town. The decrepit old place was once the grand home of the Mill Valley’s richest family, the Bellows. Now all that remains are dusty ruins and, as the kids discover, a diary of old stories written in blood by Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard), the youngest, cursed daughter of the once powerful family. As strange things happen the kids realize the book is making their worst fears come true. “You don’t read the book,” says Stella, “the book reads you. I’m afraid we woke the book up.”
This movie could be more accurately called “Mildly Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” It’s a collection of jump scares and creepy elements—scarecrows, spiders and a severed toe—cobbled together to create a teen-friendly flick that owes a debt to the Halloween afterschool specials of yesteryear. It’s Scooby Doo with courser language and better effects; an entry level horror for teens who find the Garbage Pail Kids too intense.
For any boomers who might take the kids or grandkids the “toe stew“ is gross but the scariest stuff comes in the form of background news reports on Vietnam and Nixon’s re-election.
As an anthology type movie “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is slowed by the supernatural sleuthing of Stella and company as they try to get to the bottom of sad Sarah’s story. Repetition of the legend and lots of shots of Chuck’s freaked out face slow the momentum. During one of these longer scenes I wondered, “When is the pacing building suspense and when is it building tedium?“ By the end credits the background mystery has sucked the air out of what could’ve been a tightly crafted fun movie.
At once both an investigation in obsession and white male privilege, “Brad’s Status” stars Ben Stiller as a man who cannot help but compare himself to his more successful friends. “I have a creeping fear that not only have I not lived up to my expectations,” he says, “but have disappointed others as well.”
Brad Sloan is a husband, father and the owner of a non-profit organization that helps people in need. It’s a comfortable Sacramento life, comfortable but, according to Brad, unremarkable. Lately his head has been filled with thoughts of his college years when, “I was in love with the world and it was in love with me.” The difference between then and now? “The world hates me and the feeling is mutual.”
He must confront his feelings of inadequacy when he and his musical prodigy son Troy (Austin Abrams) tour colleges in Boston. Harvard seems sure to accept the teenager until a mix up in the dates delays Troy’s admissions interview. Determined to reschedule the meeting Brad has to swallow his pride and call his wealthy friends for help.
Contacting Billy Wearslter (Jemaine Clement), a rich guy who lives with two girlfriends in Hawaii, best-selling author and DC powerhouse Craig Fisher (Michael Sheen) and billionaire playboy Jason Hatfield (Luke Wilson) gets the job done but forces Brad further down the rabbit hole of inadequacy.
“Brad’s Status” is a character study of a man who complains about being ignored at dinner parties because he isn’t rich. Stiller is very good—he’s always at his best when in movies that don’t feature statues that come to life—at bringing Brad’s neurosis to vivid life, but what years ago would have been thought of as a mid-life crisis movie is now a story of male privilege, ripe with first world problems. In other words, it’s hard to feel particularly sorry for a character whose self-pity overrides the good things in his life. Stiller keeps him relatable, from his petty frustration at a useless silver airlines status card to his deep seeded jealousy of everyone from his successful friends to his talented son, but early on you sense the story is only headed in one direction.
I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll put a [SPOILER ALERT] here, but it turns out that Brad doesn’t have it so bad after all. There is poignancy to the story by times but the lesson—never judge a person by the private jet—is too slight, too obvious to make any lasting impression.
As a laundry list of Brad’s existential questions “Brad’s Status” doesn’t delve deep enough to provide any real answers, no matter how good the performances.
“Paper Towns,” the new teen movie from the writer of “The Fault in Our Stars,” is a coming-of-age-mystery-love story-road trip-romance about a teenage boy and the mysterious girl of his dreams.
Nat Wolff is Quentin, an Orlando, Florida A-student just weeks away from graduation. His childhood crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne), lives across the street but they haven’t spoken in nine years. He’s a nerd, she’s an exotic beauty who looks like she just walked out of a Victoria Secrets catalogue—because, in real life, Delevingne was a VS model—and he still loves her. One night, out of the blue, she appears and asks a favour with her husky voice, like a young Brenda Vaccaro.
“I have nine things to do tonight, and I need a get-a-way driver.”
It’s a mission of revenge against her cheating boyfriend and BFFs who have betrayed her. “It’s a night to right some wrongs and wrong some rights,” she tells him. “Basically it will be the best night of your life.”
Among other things they cloak a car in Saran Wrap, complete with a note that reads “That’s a wrap on our friendship,” and share a quick tender moment. The next morning, she’s gone.
Her parents are unconcerned. “She’s not missing,” says her mother, “she’s gone. There’s a difference. She’ll come back when people stop talking about her.”
Quentin isn’t so sure, and soon begins to find clues Margo left behind. Convinced she wants him to find her, he becomes a teenage Columbo, piecing together a series of obscure clues that would give Sherlock Holmes a headache. The clues lead him and a car load of friends (Halston Sage as Lacey, Austin Abrams as Ben, Justice Smith as Radar and Jaz Sinclair as Angela) to a tiny “paper town” (a fictional place on a map used by cartographers as copyright protection) in New York State.
Whether or not Quentin finds her is irrelevant. It’s the journey, not the destination that counts. Margo is the McGuffin, an impossible pixie dream girl who, despite reading Walt Whitman and being the only millennial who knows who Woody Guthrie is, is the least interesting part of the story. She exists simply to put everything in motion.
Is the journey worth your time and money? Sure, if you consider pop psychology like, “You have to get lost to find yourself,” to be a deep insight to the human condition. It rides the line between existential teen drama and the above-mentioned mishmash of styles (coming-of-age-mystery-love story-road trip-romance) that never exactly dins its tone. For a movie whose mantra is, “Take a risk,” it certainly plays it safe with the storytelling.
Keeping that in mind, “Paper Towns” is populated with likeable, compelling characters. Delevingne is a charismatic catalyst, and the trio of boys have the genuine chemistry of friends who have “known one another since they were foetuses.” They bring the material to life, breathing life into a story that is simultaneously overwritten and under realised.