Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the alien invasion flick “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams, “Loving,” with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga and “Almost Christmas” with Danny Glover, Mo’Nique and Gabrielle Union.
It may be a warmer than usual November, but at the movie theatres, it’s already Christmas. It’s not a Christmas miracle, it’s a movie hoping to grab double digit grosses to go along with the month’s double-digit temperatures.
Danny Glover is Walter, the recently widowed patriarch of a large family. Retired and lonely he invites his four children, daughters Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) and sons Christian (Romany Malco) and Evan (Jessie Usher) and the extended family home to Birmingham, Alabama for the holidays. “This is our first Christmas without your mother,” says Walter. “Just five days for you all to act like a family.” It’s not the twelve days of Christmas, it’s five fraught filled days as the family tries to get along. Cheryl and Rachel can barely stand being in the same room together for reasons neither of them can remember and Christian can’t seem to stop working long enough to enjoy the visit. “We’re not going to make it to Christmas are we?” “Not a damn chance,” sighs Aunt May (Mo’Nique).
“Almost Christmas” is like a Bollywood movie. There’s action, tragedy, a dance number, comedy, romance, humour, infidelity and even a slightly risqué bit of slapstick. It has something for everyone and if you can hold on tight as it rockets between heart warming and humourous with the speed of Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, you’ll have a pretty good time.
It’s barely a movie in the strictest sense. It’s more a collection of moments strung together as old ghosts rear their ugly heads during the few festive days the family spends under the same roof. It’s episodic but melodramatically likable as it careens toward a funny and over-the-top dinner scene that involves everything from hurt feelings and guns to Danny Glover’s most famous line from “Lethal Weapon.” The siblings—and everyone else—learn that despite their differences they are stronger together than individually.
Not that you need to be told that. The story telegraphs everything that’s going to happen—there are no surprises under this Christmas tree—but does so in a way that is as sweet as the Potato Pie the family enjoys at dinner.
Want to know how to spend your theatre-going dollars this weekend? Richard’s CTV NewsChannel reviews for ‘Jersey Boys’ (two stars), ‘Think Like a Man Too’ (three stars) and ‘The Rover’ (three stars) run all weekend! Tune in and check them out!
The idea of turning self-help books into movies isn’t new. Fifty years ago Helen Gurley Brown’s guidebook “Sex and the Single Girl,” which featured advice on “How to be Sexy,” among other useful tips, was made into a film starring Natalie Wood and “Mean Girls” was an adaptation of the high school survival manual “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughters Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence.”
So the idea of the 2012 farce “Think Like a Man” based on Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” wasn’t a stretch.
But now a sequel? The question is: How do you conjure a second story out of a book with no plot? Set it in Vegas and let Kevin Hart do all the heavy lifting.
The idea of Harvey’s tome is to give women an inside look into the workings of the male psyche and take control of their relationships. It’s typical battle of the sexes stuff and on film they play it for laughs.
The four couples from the original movie— Maya and Zeke (Meagan Good and Romany Malco), Dominic and Lauren (Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson), Jeremy and Kristen (Jerry Ferrara and Gabrielle Union) and Tish and Bennett (Wendi McLendon-Covey and Gary Owen)—plus the almost single Cedric (Kevin Hart) reunite in Las Vegas—“The number one destination in the world for people who do the craziest thing… get married.”—for “Think Like A Man Too.”
They’ve gathered for the wedding of Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence Jenkins) but you know as soon as someone says, “I’m going to give you the perfect wedding… nothing is going to go wrong,” that, of course, everything is going to go wrong. The romantic getaway is jeopardized when the bachelorette and bachelor parties spin out of control.
“Think Like a Man Too” plays like a tamer version of “The Hangover.” There’s even a cameo from a world champion boxer but “TLAMT” doesn’t have the cynical edge of the Bradley Cooper movie. Instead, it plays it safe, making Sin City look like a wild but not terribly dangerous place to get married. All the usual Vegas clichés are well represented, from the gambling montage to the glaring neon lights to flaming cocktails to skimpy bikini-clad women to male strippers. What happens in Vegas also happens in the movies… quite often. The only thing missing is an Elvis impersonator or two.
Director Tim Story moves the story—what there is of it—along faster than a spinning roulette wheel. Montages and music video interludes keep the pace up, disguising the fact that there isn’t much going on. The story is thin, despite the multiple storylines crisscrossing throughout.
Kevin Hart seems to be trying to singlehandedly make up for a dearth of story by pulling out all the stops. No pratfall or face pull is beyond him. He even recreates Tom Cruise’s “Risky Business” underwear dance. His hyperactive performance stands in stark contrast to the more laid back work from his co-stars, but it does add a splash of life to every scene he’s in. Only his enthusiastic reading of a line like, “I’m sick of this non-tourage,” could pull laughs from some of this material.
“Think Like a Man Too” is a thin story bolstered by a few laughs (courtesy of Hart) and good-looking people navigating the choppy waters of modern romance. The advice contained within has more Hart than actual heart and is unlikely to provide much self-help, but has the same kind of bland appeal as its predecessor.