Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the Christopher Plummer road trip “Boundaries,” the family drama “Leave No Trace” and the love letter to one of Manhattan’s most famous hotels, “Always at the Carlyle.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the latest Marvel superhero flick “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the Christopher Plummer road trip “Boundaries” and the glitz documentary “Always at the Carlyle.”
The trouble with making a feel good movie about a scoundrel is twofold. Either the scoundrel is neutered, which makes them less interesting, or remains a scoundrel, which complicates the feel good vibe. “Boundaries,” a new film starring Vera Farmiga and Christopher Plummer, tries to have it both ways and ends up in the mushy middle.
Farmiga is Laura, a single mom with son Henry (Lewis MacDougall), a house full of rescued animals and daddy issues. “I’m so messed up I can’t even tell my therapist everything,” she says. She’s been working at setting up boundaries with her father Jack—when he calls the name display reads, “Don’t Pick Up!”—but when he gets kicked out of his nursing home due to his “unorthodox“—i.e. “illegal”—ways of making money she agrees to help him by driving him to Los Angeles to live with his other daughter Jojo (Kristen Schaal).
The formerly estranged father and daughter, along with Henry and a backseat full of stray dogs set out for what should be an uneventful trip. Trouble is, Jack is the above-mentioned scoundrel and a drug dealer who fills the trunk with $200,000 of marijuana he plans on selling along the way. When he isn’t dealing they detour to visit old friends, like Stanley (Christopher Lloyd), a nudist art forger and other ghosts from Jack and Laura’s past. As dad gets up to his old tricks Laura sees a different side of the man she thought she knew. But can he really change or is her ex-husband Leonard (Bobby Cannavale) right when he says, “An elephant will always be an elephant. He will never be a monkey.”
“Boundaries” has a fine cast trapped by a conventional script.
Farmiga battles through the family dramedy clichés to portray Laura as vulnerable and protective, a woman who has filled the hole in her heart with her stray animals and a fierce love of her Henry.
MacDougall is strong as a troubled youth who, when he isn’t drawing nude portraits of his friends and teachers to reveal their true souls, is caught up in the adventure of getting to know his untraditional grandfather.
It is Plummer, however, who brings the charm. He’s likely too old to be playing Farmiga’s father but his trademarked twinkle shines through. When Laura says, “You make people fall in love with you and then you leave,” she sums up both Jack’s appeal and his selfishness. Plummer, at 88, is a formidable actor whose mere presence elevates this Cliché-A-Thon from “Old Codger on a Road Trip Part XXII” to “Skilful Actor Transcending the Material.” It’s a terrific performance that nonetheless rings hollow. Jack is a man who only ever cared about himself, who abandoned his family and calls his relationship with Henry “a temporary situation,” and is the square peg rammed into this round hole of a feel good story.
In movies like “Boundaries” (MILD SPOILER!!) everyone gets a happy ending but Jack would have been more interesting if writer-director Shana Feste had allowed the scoundrel to remain a scoundrel.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show guest host Ken Connors to talk about the small scale superheroes “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the Christopher Plummer road trip “Boundaries,” the father and daughter drama “Leave No Trace” and the love letter to one of Manhattan’s great hotels, “Always at the Carlyle.”
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Silence” from director Martin Scorsese, Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe and “A Monster Calls” with Liam Neeson.
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “Silence” from director Martin Scorsese, Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe and “A Monster Calls” with Liam Neeson.
Conor O’Malley’s (Lewis MacDougall) needs a friend. A sensitive child with a troubled home life, he’s being forced to deal with adult problems even though he’s only twelve-years-old. He is, as one character says, “too old to be a kid, too young to be a man.”
The young British boy’s troubles are many. His mother (Felicity Jones) has terminal cancer so he’s forced to move in with his strict grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). “If you get hungry there’s spinach in the fridge,” she says on the way out the door. “Don’t touch anything!” If that wasn’t bad enough his father (Toby Kebbell) lives in California and he’s the favourite of local bully Harry (James Melville). “I’m sorry you have to face this,” says dad, “but you have to be brave.”
One night at 12:07 he meets the friend he so desperately needs, a monster yew tree (voiced Liam Neeson) with roots for legs and long branches for arms. “I know everything about you,” he rumbles. “The truth you hide. The truth you dream.” Speaking in parables the giant tree tells Conor three stories to help him cope with the trauma in his life.
“A Monster Calls” is a quiet family drama about growing up and learning to grieve. It’s an intense topic and one that places it just outside of the kid’s entertainment category. An off-kilter tale that packs an emotional wallop in its final third, it defies expectations by allowing the characters to react in real ways. This is not sentimental fluff. Conor is in turmoil, plagued by nightmares of his mother’s grave and, as a result, lashes out in anger. It’s powerful and upsetting to see a young boy struggle with situations that he can barely understand let alone control.
At the heart of the story is Lewis MacDougall as Conor. He’s a child with an adult face that imbues the character with an unactorly authenticity that feels utterly real, even when he is talking to a giant tree.
Neeson’s voice is a thunderous roar that comes on strong but hides an undercurrent of tenderness and compassion.
“A Monster Calls” is a heartbreaking tale with a nightmarish climax that will be too intense for kids who may get wrapped up in the story. For everyone else it’s a fractured fairy tale with real insight and pathos.