Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including Steven Spielberg’s finger-snapping remake of “West Side Story,” the Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence satire “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Can Richard Crouse review three movies in just thirty seconds? Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about Steven Spielberg’s much ballyhooed remake of “West Side Story,” the dark satire “Don’t Look Up” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Steven Spielberg’s finger-snapping remake of “West Side Story,” the Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence satire “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Richard joins Jim Richards and guest host Tamara Cherry of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today they play a round of Did Richard Crouse Like These Movies? We review Steven Spielberg’s finger-snapping remake of “West Side Story,” the Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence satire “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.” For the boozy portion of the show we talk about the drink “Sex and the City” made famous.
Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Akshay Tandon to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, the star-studded “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, the star-studded “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Movies about giant things hurdling through space toward Earth are almost as plentiful as the stars in the sky. “Armageddon,” “Deep Impact” and “Judgment Day” all pose end-of-the-world scenarios but none have the satirical edge of “Don’t Look Up.” The darkly comedic movie, now in theatres but coming soon to Netflix, paints a grim, on-the-nose picture of how the world responds to a crisis.
Jennifer Lawrence is PhD candidate Dr. Kate Dibiasky, a student astronomer who discovers a comet the size of Mount Everest aimed directly at our planet. Her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), comes to the alarming conclusion that the comet will collide with Earth in six months and fourteen days in what he calls an “extinction level event.”
They take their concerns to NASA and the White House, but are met with President Janie Orlean’s (Meryl Streep) concerns about optics, costs and the up-coming mid-term elections. “The timing is just disastrous,” she says. “Let’s sit tight and assess.”
With the clock ticking to total destruction Dibiasky and Mindy go public, but their dire warnings on the perky news show “The Rip”—“We keep the bad news light!”—go unheeded. Social media focusses on Dibiasky’s panic, creating memes of her face, while dubbing Mindy the Bedroom Eyed Doomsday Prophet.
As the comet hurdles toward Earth the world becomes divided between those willing to Look Up and do something about the incoming disaster and the deniers who think that scientists “want you to look up because they are looking down their noses at you.”
Chaos breaks out, and the division widens as the comet closes in on its target.
It is not difficult to find parallels between the events in “Don’t Look Up” and recent world occurrences. Director and co-writer Adam McKay explores the reaction to world affairs through a lens of Fake News, clickbait journalism, skepticism of science, political spin and social media gone amok. In fact, the topics McKay hits on don’t really play like satire at all. The social media outrage, bizarro-land decisions made by people in high offices and the influence of tech companies all sound very real world, ripped out of today’s newspapers.
It’s timely, but perhaps too timely. Social satire is important, and popular—“Saturday Night Live” has done it successfully for decades—but “Don’t Look Up,” while brimming with good ideas, often feels like an overkill of familiarity. The comet is fiction, at least I hope it is, but the reaction to it and the on-coming catastrophe feels like something I might see on Twitter just before the lights go down in the theatre.
It feels a little too real to be pure satire. There are laughs throughout, but it’s the serious questions that resonate. When Mindy, on TV having his “Network” moment, rages, “What the hell happened to us? What have we done to ourselves and how do we fix it?” the movie becomes a beacon. The satire is comes easily—let’s face it, the world is full of easy targets—but it’s the asking of hard questions and in the frustration of a world gone mad, when McKay’s point that we’re broken and don’t appreciate the world around us, shines through.
Despite big glitzy Hollywood names above the title and many laugh lines, “Don’t Look Up” isn’t escapism. It’s a serious movie that aims to entertain but really wants to make you think.
You could be excused if you experience déjà vu while watching 17 Again. The story, about a depressed 37 year-old man (Matthew Perry) who magically reverts to his 17 year old self (Zac Efron), mixes and matches bits of Back to the Future, Big, Vice Versa and even It’s a Wonderful Life to come up with a plot that is as unimaginative as it is derivative. Luckily it has a secret weapon, and I don’t mean Efron’s abs, which are on display throughout. No, I mean Thomas Lennon, an actor you’ve likely never heard of unless you stayed up late and watched Reno 911 on cable television.
When the movie begins it is 1989 and Mike O’Donnell (Efron) is at the top of his game. He rules the basketball court, has a line on a university scholarship and goes out with Scarlett, the prettiest girl in school. He’s 17 and has the world by the tail. Everything changes when Scarlett gets pregnant and he chooses to give up everything to be with her. Twenty years later Mike (now played by Perry) is a pudgy, unhappy mid-level executive, alienated from his kids, on the verge of a divorce from Scarlett and about to be passed over for yet another promotion. Kicked out of the house he’s rooming with his best friend, the impossibly rich, but impossibly nerdy Ned (Thomas Lennon). “Of course I want to live in the past,” he tells a mysterious janitor / angel at his former school, “it was better there.” Fate gives Mike a second chance at happiness when he is astonishingly transformed back to the age of 17 (back to Efron). Will his trip back in time give him some perspective on life, or will he simply try to relive his best years?
17 Again is High School Musical star Efron’s first move from juvenile roles to young adult parts on his way to an adult career. He’s been quoted as saying that this role was a stretch for him because he had to play a 37 year old, but while he’s an agreeable screen presence in that shiny toothed teen idol way but doesn’t show any more range here than he did in the HSMs. He carries most of the movie and he’s the guy 99% of the audience is going to pay to see but the movie would be much less enjoyable without the unhinged comic presence of Thomas Lennon.
As Ned, former high school nerd—“a good day was when I didn’t get my head dunked in the toilet”—turned soft ware millionaire nerd. He’s the ultimate fanboy with a house full of light sabers, LOTR shields, comics wrapped in acid free plastic sleeves and a bed shaped like a space ship. He’s an outrageous character and Lennon doesn’t shy away from any opportunity to get a laugh, but his larger-than-life portrayal gives the movie some much need steam and cuts through the more predictable aspects of the story.
Chandler Bing… er… Matthew Perry is essentially playing his familiar character from Friends in what is really little more than an extended cameo. His appearances bookend the film and he disappears completely for more than an hour of the film’s 102 minute running time.
17 Again is an amiable movie that tries hard to please everyone, from the teens who have followed Efron from his HSM days—there’s even a short dance number or two—to the couples that may be drawn by the love story, but apart from Lennon’s gags and, for some, Efron’s abs, it was more enjoyable the first few times around when it was called Back to the Future. Or Vice Versa. Or It’s a Wonderful Life.