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 comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Based on David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller “Every Day,” the new teenage romance starring Angourie Rice, asks what would it be like to really get inside the head of the person you love?
Rice plays Rhiannon, a 16-year old high school student dating a popular jock named Justin (Justice Smith). He’s a bit oblivious, the kind of guy who thinks a great date involves hanging around his bedroom, eating McDonalds and playing “Legend of Zelda.” One morning, feeling playful, Rhi suggests they skip class and spend the day together. “Is that something we do?“ he asks, before hightailing out of school and into an afternoon of romantic adventure. It is, Rhiannon says, the greatest day of her life.
Unfortunately, the next day, Justin doesn’t remember any of it. He has a vague memory of the fun, like he’s seeing it through a mist, but soon he’s back up to his old tricks, reverting back to the guy he was before their magical date. What’s going on? It seems Justin was simply “inhabited” for twenty-four hours by A, a wandering spirit who invades random bodies, always of the same age and only for 24 hours. It’s “Quantum Leap with a big helping of teenage ennui.
As Rhiannon slowly comes to grips with what’s going on she meets A’s newest incarnation, a teenage girl. “Where is A?” she asks. “He’s here, he’s not here, here.”
Confused yet? It gets foggier when Rhiannon and A, the amorphous spirit, become romantically involved. “Not everyone’s body aligns with their mind,” A says. “I am asking you to give me a chance.” The love is real, regardless of the meat suit the spirit has jumped into. When A lands in the form of Alexander (Owen Teague), a strapping young man, it seems the perfect blend of metaphysical and physical. Enter the melodramatic teen dilemma: How can you love someone whose life is not their own?
“Every Day” takes the long way around to drive home the point that making a spiritual connection with someone is just as important as clicking physically. After a deadly first thirty minutes that could have been from any generic indie teen drama the story picks up once Rhiannon rebounds from Justin to the spirit world but it never fully engages. Director Michael Sucsy embraces the supernatural afterschool special feel of the material, adding in a few playful touches—A spends some time in Rhiannon, modestly being careful not to look down while she’s in the shower—but he also muddies the already murky waters with a subplot about Rhiannon’s troubled father (Michael Cram) and harried mother (an underused Maria Bello). Their story provides more relationship advice—cultivate the ability to except the change in others—but adds little to the overall story.
“Every Day” feels like it skirts around the interesting stuff—the exploration of what it means to be rootless, cut free of gender and family—in favour of playing up the teen dream “instalove” aspects of the tale.
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the continuing adventures of the USS Enterprise “Star Trek Beyond,” the family-friendly “Ice Age: Collision Course,” Edina and Patsy’s drunken adventures in “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” and the ‘are you afraid of the dark’ movie, “Lights Out.”
As a general rule it’s not the dark we’re afraid of, it’s the goblins and ghosts that may be lurking on the dark that terrify us. A new film from producer and horror meister James Wan takes advantage of our fears, unveiling the creepy crawlies that may or may not be shrouded in darkness.
Based on Swedish director David F. Sandberg’s acclaimed short film of the same name, the movie stars Teresa Palmer as Rebecca, a young woman who left home at a young age, disturbed by visions and her mother Sophie’s (Maria Bello) behaviour. Years later Rebecca returns home after a phone call from her half-brother Martin’s (Gabriel Bateman) school. Seems he’s been having a hard time staying awake in class and Rebecca fears the same spirit that plagued the family for years is tormenting him. “Every time I turn off the lights,” he says, “there’s this woman waiting in the shadows.”
The bloodthirsty supernatural form is Sophie’s childhood friend (Alicia Vela-Bailey) who had a skin condition that made her allergic to the light. “A long time ago I had a friend named Diana,” says Sophie, “and something really bad happened to her.” Sophie sees her as “a good friend” but Rebecca fears she is actually a malevolent spirit only visible in the dark. When the lights come on, she disappears. “Everyone is afraid of the dark,” says Rebecca, “and that’s what she feeds on.”
With her sanity and safety at risk, Rebecca must discover, once and for all, why Diana does bad things when the lights go out. “Each one of us is being haunted by this thing,” says Rebecca.
The light averse wraith is a cool, fresh idea for a movie bugaboo. The story, however, feels stretched to fill the 8eighty-one-minute running time. There are some good jump scares early on and a few low-fi but high wattage shocks in the final twenty minutes—Beware the flickering light!—but the lead up feels padded.
As it is “Lights Out” is a nicely performed ray of genre with a few story problems that will leave some audience members in the dark.
“McFarland” is based on the life of Jim White, a hothead football coach who worked his way down from good paying jobs at big schools to taking an assistant coach position in McFarland, California, one of the poorest towns in America.
When we first see White (Kevin Costner) he’s hurling a cleated shoe at the lippy captain of his football team. He opens the kid’s cheek and loses his job. It’s a recurring pattern for the temperamental teacher, and the thing that lands him in McFarland. He and his family are fish-out-of-water in this mainly Latino town where jobs as “pickers” in the local fruit and vegetable fields are valued over athletic or academic achievement.
White soon notices that several of his students have a remarkable ability; they can run like the wind and strengthened by years of picking, have great physical strength and endurance. He puts together the school’s first ever cross-country track team and after a rocky start—placing last in their first meet—and not so hidden racism from other teams—“Bet they can’t run without a cop behind them and a Taco Bell in front of them.”—White teaches the seven runners how to be champions while they teach him a thing or two about dedication, loyalty and family.
There’s nothing in “McFarland” we haven’t seen in a hundred other sports movies. The underdog-pulling-themselves-up-by-the-bootstraps may be a potent source of drama but it is a familiar one, so it’s hard to get too excited about “McFarland’s” story arc, even if it is tarted up with American Dream messaging about the virtues of heart and hard work. It’s not just a sports movie, it’s an ode to what it is to be American—family + heart = success! They even sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at one point.
“McFarland” is a standard issue inspiration coach movie. White—or “Blanco” as his students call him, inspires the runners but, in a twist, they inspire him to let go of his preconceptions about success and family. On one hand the lack of cynicism is refreshing but it feels a bit old fashioned, like an afterschool special with a bigger budget.
Jim and Cheryl White have seen the movie McFarland three times and teared up every at every viewing, even though, he says, “we knew what was going to happen.”
The film, which stars Kevin Costner as the most successful Californian high school cross-country coach in history, is the story of White, his wife and their life and work in McFarland, California, an impoverished town transformed by sports.
The Texas native taught in McFarland for forty years, establishing a cross-country running team that would win nine state championships and give the runners a glimpse of life outside their small town and nearby fields where many of them worked as migrant “pickers.”
His success may have earned him a Hollywood biopic and a more permanent tribute in the form of a dedicated gazebo in the town square but he sees his influence in more metaphysical terms.
“To me my legacy is in the hearts and minds of these boys I’ve taught.”
In person White is a humble man who quietly commands respect. At a post screening Q&A I hosted with him in Toronto he earned a standing ovation before even saying a word. As the audience clapped he was genuinely moved, and with a quivering voice whispered to me to, “take over for a second.”
Earlier in the day we discussed seeing his life played out on the big screen. “We just hoped they could portray our true feelings of love for the town; for the community. That came across real well. We also felt like they portrayed the true hardships these boys went through.”
Hollywood did make some changes to White’s story and one scene in particular irked him. When we first see White in the film he’s hurling a cleated shoe at the lippy captain of his Idaho school football team, opening the kid’s cheek.
“That is dramatic licence,” he says. “It bothered me for a while but I talked to Kevin Costner about it. I said, ‘Kevin, can you give me your true feelings about the situation that happened in Idaho?’ He said, ‘I think, Jim, you’re going to come across as the hero and not the villain because you’re standing up for what’s right.’ I said, ‘All right and I was satisfied with that.’”
White often uses the phrase “well, that’s Hollywood for you,” when describing the making of the film and the liberties taken with his life’s story but now that the movie is finished he says, “What was really fascinating to both us was watching the screen and seeing them say, ‘Mr. White would you come in here…’ Jim White this, and Cheryl White that. We’re sitting there looking at ourselves up there. It was kind of funny.”