I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the threequel “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” the non rom com “Somebody I Used to Know,” the Dolly Parton tribute “Seriously Red,” and, just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Your Place or Mine.”
I join CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to talk about the threequel “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” the non rom com “Somebody I Used to Know,” the Dolly Parton tribute “Seriously Red,” and, just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Your Place or Mine.”
I join 1290 CJBK in London and host Ken Eastwood to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the threequel “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” the non rom com “Somebody I Used to Know,” the Dolly Parton tribute “Seriously Red,” and, just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Your Place or Mine.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the threequel “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” the non rom com “Somebody I Used to Know,” the Dolly Parton tribute “Seriously Red,” and, just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Your Place or Mine.”
Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to change a lightbulb! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the threequel “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” the non rom com “Somebody I Used to Know” and, just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Your Place or Mine.”
Despite Thomas Wolfe warning, “you can never go home again,” characters in rom com after rom com do just that. Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes “Somebody I Used to Know,” a charming new Alison Brie movie, now streaming on Amazon Prime, that defies the usual romantic comedy playlist.
Brie is Ally, the hard driving producer of the recently cancelled reality show called “Dessert Island.” Cut adrift from the long hours and stress of life in Los Angeles, she ignores Wolfe’s advice and returns home to her hometown, the quaint, Bavarian-styled village of Leavenworth, Washington.
Being home again stirs up some ghosts for her. Memories of the simple, happy life she had before her career complicated everything come flooding back, just as she has a chance encounter with her ex-boyfriend Sean (Jay Ellis).
They haven’t been in contact in 10 years, since Ally skipped town to pursue her career, but both feel a blast of nostalgia. “Here we are,” says Sean, “going down memory lane!”
“I kind of resented your entire industry for a long time,” he tells her, “for taking you away from me.”
A few laughs, some reminiscing and a quick kiss later, Ally wonders if Sean is the one who got away. Trouble is, he’s engaged to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons), a punk rock singer about to give up her career to settle down.
Determined to win back Sean’s affections, Ally uses all the tricks she learned making reality TV to wage a not-so-clandestine campaign to derail the wedding and win back her ex.
“You’re not going to pull some Julia Roberts, ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ stuff are you?” asks Cassidy.
“Somebody I Used to Know” defies the usual romantic comedy formula. You know how most, if not all, rom coms will end. The good ones are about the journey, not the destination. This one, director Dave Franco’s follow-up to the creepy “The Rental,” is about both, a classic rom com st up that walks a different, sometimes bittersweet, path to its destination.
It is a story about passion, but not romantic passion. It’s about a lust for life, following your heart and making choices. It’s a refreshing genre twist in a film, that despite a slow start, pays off as a compelling story about empowerment.
As Ally, even at her most devious, Brie brings enough authenticity and charm to keep the character likable. There is enough chemistry between her and Elis to fuel the film’s fire, but it is in her scenes with Danny Pudi, one of her former “Community” co-stars, where the platonic sparks fly.
The relative simplicity of “Somebody I Used to Know” is its main selling point. Unlike other recent rom coms—I’m looking at you “Shotgun Wedding”—it avoids screwball situations in favour of human contact and actual emotion.
In “Escape Room,” the new psychological thriller starring “True Blood’s” Deborah Ann Woll, the young characters don’t have time to mull over the past. They’re too busy thinking of the future and whether or not they will survive long enough to actually have one.
The story centers around six good-looking people (Woll, along with Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis and Nik Dodani) trapped in a series of immersive escape rooms. The twist? Whoever leaves last is necessarily the winner.
Each have been lured to the game—and possibly their doom—by a mysterious puzzle box delivered in the mail. They’re invited to test out a new, immersive escape room and, if they keep their wits about them and find their way out, they’ll be rewarded with $10,000. “They’re basically like real life videogames,” enthuses Danny (Dodani), an escape room geek the others nickname Gamer Boy.
Seems like an easy payday until they realize the puzzles are terrifying manifestations of each and every one of their deepest fears or trauma. One room turns into an oven (“We gotta find a way out of this Easy Bake Oven!”), another is an upside down hellscape and if that wasn’t enough, there’s even a Victorian drawing room that gets a little too close for comfort. “I can’t figure this out!” shouts truck driver Mike (Labine). “Who would do this?”
Like the less Kafkaesque (and less gory) offspring of “Cube” and “Saw,” “Escape Room” also borrows from the “Final Destination” flickers. The thing it is missing is the sense of grim fun that seeped into those other films. The rooms themselves are elaborate and yet all pretty much all the same. Find a key, unlock a door. There is suspense along the way and the stakes rise as the number of survivors lowers but we never get to know enough about each character to be invested in them. Sketchy background details fill in some blanks but it’s not enough to make you mourn the loss of any of them. Even when they do start to fall away it is with a casualness that sucks some of the drama out of the scenario. It’s as if all the effort went into the planning of the methods of executions and not the killings themselves.
Add to that some psychoanalysis and morality à la “Saw” and you have a movie that is more psychological drama than horror and even then it’s psychology-lite. The sequel ready ending promises more of the same should they ever get around to making “Escape Room 2: Breakout Boogaloo.”
“Escape Room” won’t exactly make you want to escape the theatre but it doesn’t really give you a great reason to be there in the first place.