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 at the kid’s action movie “My Spy,” the divorce drama “Hope Gap” and the political polarization of “The Hunt.”
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about the weekend’s biggest releases including “My Spy,” the odd couple flick for kids, the controversial “The Hunt,” the adult drama “Hope Gap” and the wild supernatural comedy “Extra Ordinary.”
Last summer, just before the original release date for “The Hunt,” a political satire starring “GLOW’s” Betty Gilpin, President Trump Tweeted, sight unseen, that it was “made in order … to inflame and cause chaos.” Being labelled “very, very bad for our Country!” by the most powerful man in the world the film got the political satire pulled from distribution. The President and the rest of us will finally get a chance to see what all the fuss was about when the movie hits screens this weekend.
Breathing the same bloody air as dystopian movies like “The Purge,” “The Hunt” is a violent b-movie that examines America’s current political divide in very broad strokes. Gilpin plays Crystal, one of a group of strangers—i.e. “deplorables”—kidnapped by Athena (Hilary Swank), the ringleader of a group of “liberal ‘cucks’ who run the deep state.”
“Every year these liberal elites kidnap a bunch of normal folks like us,” reveals Gary (Ethan Suplee), “and hunt us for sport.” The game becomes less lopsided when Crystal fights back, eliminating the “competition” one by one.
Horror films have long used guts and gore as allegories for modern societal woes. “Frankenstein” is a God complex story. “Night of the Living Dead” is a metaphor for the past coming back to wreak havoc on the future. Those, and others like social-politically themes “The Host” and “Videodrome,” or “Invasion of the Body Snatchers’s” look at conformity, among others, provide important and entertaining ways of looking at ourselves through a different lens. “The Hunt,” while entertaining in a b-movie kind of way, doesn’t really rise to the designation of important. Like so many things these days, the outrage that preceded its release was blown out of proportion.
There’s no allegory here. “The Hunt” is a literal representation of political polarization in a “Hunger Games”-style of haves and have-nots. It’s the 1% vs the 99% until a plot twist suggests that this may be an even emptier exercise in us vs them than originally thought. Most of what passes for social commentary—and it hits most every social situation from racism, class division, crisis acting, immigration, fake news, corruption, gender identification and cultural appropriation—is punctuated with a gun shot or a joke. One “deplorable” calls another a “snowflake” when he refuses to shoot her after she’s been injured. The punchline? A gunshot.
“The Hunt” is a gutsy (sometimes literally) grindhouse movie that only goes as deep as to poke fun at people who use “their” instead of “there.” But while it may not have the power, as the Pres sez, to inflame and cause chaos, it is an effectively gritty little thriller more interested in the fist-in-your-face action (delivered with the subtlety of an Alex Jones monologue) than getting in your face with its message.
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the dirty-mouthed puppet movie “The Happytime Murders,” the prison drama “Papillon,” the rom com “Little Italy” and the gritty crime drama “Crown and Anchor.”
Richard has a look at the raunchy puppet movie “The Happytime Murders,” the time-travelling rom com “Little Italy,” the “Papillon” reboot and the gritty crime drama “Crown and Anchor” with the CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
“Little Italy,” a new rom com starring Hayden Christensen and Emma Roberts, is good hearted enough but feels like it arrived via a marinara sauce splattered time capsule from 1985.
Leo Campo (Christensen) and Nikki Angioli (Roberts) were inseparable while growing up in Toronto’s Little Italy. “To us Little Italy wasn’t just a few blocks, it was our whole world.” Their families were tight, working side by side at the Napoli Pizza Parlour until the Great Pizza War erupted, causing a split that saw the pizza place sliced down the middle, cleaved into two separate businesses. Years pass. “It’s Little Italy’s oldest food fight.” Nikki moves to England to study the culinary arts while Leo stays home, working with his father.
Five years later Nikki returns home to renew her English work visa and is drawn back into the world she thought she had left behind. My Nikki is coming home today,” says mother Dora (Alyssa Milano). “Now we have to find her a husband so she’ll stay.” Will there be amore? Will the moon hit her eye like a big pizza pie or will she return to her cooking career in London?
“Little Italy” is an “I’m not yelling I’m Italian” style rom com. Desperate to establish the flavour of Little Italy it parades stereotypes across the screen speaking in loud exaggerated Italian accents. It’s annoying but it is all played for laughs, tempered with the easy sentimentality of the most rote of rom coms.
Director Donald Petrie, whose “Mystic Pizza” made a superstar out of Roberts’s Aunt Julia, never finds the balance between the slapstick, romance and cliché. Sometimes it feels like sketch comedy, other times like every rom com you’ve ever seen. Either way, it never feels original or particularly likeable. Top it off with a been-there-done-that run to the airport climax that would likely get everyone involved, if this is anything like real life, arrested and you have a movie that is all about love that is anything but loveable.
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the the rollercoaster action of “Jason Bourne,” the heartwarming (and slightly raunchy) comedy of “Bad Moms,” “Cafe Society’s” period piece humour and the online intrigue of “Nerve.”
If you thought Pokémon Go, with reports of people being ambushed and robbed while searching for those elusive Digletts and Rhyhorns, was risky along comes a new movie with an even deadlier game. “Nerve,” a new thriller starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco and Juliette Lewis, introduces an on-line truth or dare game… minus the truth.
Roberts stars as Venus Delmonico—Vee for short—a Staten island high school senior who rarely strays outside her comfort zone. “Life is passing you by,” her friend Sydney (Emily Meade) says. “You need to take a few risks every once and a while. You’re playing Nerve.”
The on-line game is fairly simple, or so it seems. Players are given a series of stunts to perform—like hanging moons, getting a tattoo, eating gross stuff or singing in public. Basically it takes advantage of its player’s poor impulse control and bad decision-making. “Watchers pay to watch, players play to win. Cash or glory? Are you a watcher or a player?” The game that uses your personal online info to tailor dares that play on your fears and deposit cash in your account for every challenge completed. The wilder the stunt the bigger the payday.
Vee becomes a player and when dared to kiss a stranger for five seconds she lip locks with Ian (Dave Franco), a random guy at a diner. The game partners them–“Apparently the watchers like us together,” he says.—and soon Vee is on a wild adventure across New York Bay in the Big Apple. What began as a simple kiss quickly escalates. It’s all fun and games until Vee begins to realize the game controls her life. She’s not playing to win, she’s playing to survive.
“Nerve” is a stylishly made teen flick with an interesting premise and likeable characters and actors. It follows the age-old adolescent formula—there’s unrequited crushes, underage drinking and two-faced BFFs—with one major change. It used to be teen movies always had an athletic character who could be counted on for muscle when the going got tough. Now it’s a hacker, which comes in very handy for Vee as the story takes a dangerous turn. A dangerous turn for Vee and the viewer. What begins as an appealingly made juvenile thriller—complete with comments on how much importance millennials place not on social standing but on social media standing and how the anonymity of the Internet allows people to use cyberspace to do things they never consider in real life—dissolves into typical teen fare by the time the end credits roll. What could have been an edgy analysis on the responsibility of social media is, instead, reduced to an actioner with an upbeat ending.
“Nerve” is almost really good. Too bad co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman didn’t have the nerve to continue with the dark tone all the way to the end credits.
The Spider-Man movies don’t skimp on the stuff that puts the “super” into superhero movies. There’s web-slinging shenanigans and wild bad guys galore, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb calls the relationship between Spidey and girlfriend Gwen Stacy, “the engine of the movie.”
The chemistry the real-life couple brings to the screen is undeniable, but it almost didn’t get a chance to blossom. Before Emma Stone landed the role of the brainiac love interest, Mia Wasikowska, Imogen Poots, Emma Roberts and even Lindsay Lohan were considered.
Stone won some of the best reviews of her career playing Gwen in The Amazing Spider-Man — Peter Travers said she, “just jumps to life on screen” — in a role that gave her the biggest hit of her career to date.
Smaller roles in Superbad and Zombieland hinted at her ability to be funny and hold the screen, but in 2010’s Easy A she turned a corner into full-on Lucille Ball mode, mixing pratfalls with wit while pulling faces and cracking jokes. Smart and funny, she’s the film’s centrepiece.
The movie begins with the voice over, “The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s the voice of Olive (Stone), a clean-cut high school senior who tells a little white lie about losing her virginity. As soon as the gossip mill gets a hold of the info, however, her life takes a parallel course to the heroine of the book she is studying in English class — The Scarlet Letter.
Stone is laugh-out-loud funny in Easy A, but her breakout film was a serious drama.
In The Help, she plays Jackson, Miss. native “Skeeter” Phelan who comes home from four years at school to discover the woman who raised her, a maid named Constantine (Cicely Tyson), is no longer employed by her family. Her mother says she quit, but Skeeter has doubts. With the help of a courageous group of housekeepers she tells the real story of the life of the maids, writing a book called The Help.
The Flick Filosopher called her performance, “on fire with indignation and rage,” and she moved from The Help to a variety of roles, including playing a femme fatale in Gangster Squad opposite Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin, and lending her trademark raspy voice to cave girl Eep in the animated hit The Croods.
The 25-year-old actress is living her childhood dream of being an actress but says if performing hadn’t worked out, she would have been a journalist, “because (investigating people’s lives is) pretty much what an actor does.
“And imagine getting to interview people like me,” she laughs. ‘’It can’t get much better than that.”