I appear on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week I have a look at Billy Eichner’s LGBTQ2+ rom com “Bros,” the Vietnam story “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” and the Halloween reboot “Hocus Pocus 2.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about Billy Eichner’s LGBTQ2+ rom com “Bros,” the Vietnam story “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” the creepy psychological horror film “Smile” and the Halloween reboot “Hocus Pocus 2.”
I join CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to talk about the Billy Eichner’s LGBTQ2+ rom com “Bros,” the Vietnam story “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” the creepy psychological horror film “Smile” and the Halloween reboot “Hocus Pocus 2.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Billy Eichner’s LGBTQ2+ rom com “Bros,” the Vietnam story “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” the creepy psychological horror film “Smile” and the Halloween reboot “Hocus Pocus 2.”
“Lock up your children,” says Winifred in “Hocus Pocus 2.” “Yes Salem. We are back!”
Twenty-nine years ago, the original “Hocus Pocus,” a comedic fantasy about the Sanderson sisters, a trio of witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, was a middling hit in theatres, and labelled “dreadful” by Gene Siskel.
But despite critical lashings and a current score of 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, over the years, the Sanderson sisters have become Halloween favorites, so much so, that the town of Salem, Massachusetts threw a celebration in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary.
Disney+ gives fans another wave of the wand with “Hocus Pocus 2,” a sequel that gives new life to the Sanderson sisters.
The new film begins with a flashback to hundreds of years ago in Salem. The Sanderson sisters, played as teens by Taylor Paige, Nina Kitchen and Juju Journey Brener, become outcasts, sowing the seeds of the rage that will consume them for hundreds of years.
Cut to present day. Salem teens three teens are Becca (Whitney Peak), Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) are best friends, who hang out at the local magic shop run by Gilbert (Sam Richardson). With the help of a special Black Flame Candle, supplied by Gilbert, the teen trio resurrect the sister witches, just as Max (Omri Katz), Allison (Vinessa Shaw), and Dani (Thora Birch) did decades before in the original film.
But Salem is a much different place since the sisters last visited. In the midst of a Halloween celebration, the sisters don’t inspire fear as much as admiration. So many revelers are dressed as the Sandersons, that the city hosts a look-alike contest.
But it’s not all fun and games. The sisters are looking to gather up some tasty teen life-forces and get vengeance for the mistreatment they suffered years before. It’s up to the high schoolers to stop them.
Part horror comedy, part musical (the sisters don’t understand modern day traditions, but somehow are able to belt out Blonde’s “One Way or Another” at the drop of a witch’s hat) and all nostalgia. The spectre of the 1993 haunts the new film as it pays homage to the original to the point where the new stars—Peak, Buckingham and Escobedo—get lost in the shuffle once the original sisters show up.
As fans of the first movie might expect, Midler, Najimy and Parker chew the scenery, offering up larger-than-life performances, heavy on the whimsy. They are campy—particularly when singing a revamp of Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back,” reworked as “The Witch Is Back”—and often funny in an outrageous but family-friendly way.
“Hocus Pocus 2” is fan service. It expands the Sanderson sister’s story, providing an origin story (probably the best part of the movie) and gives Parker and Najimy more to do than the original. Mix in some modern sensibility about accepting people’s differences and you have an hour and forty minutes of forgettable fun. It’s not nearly as bewitching as the 1993 film, but may cast a spell over longtime fans.
Jay Ward may not a household name, but many of the characters he created are.
As the Grand Poobah at Jay Ward Productions he produced the animated television shows that gave us Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman and George of the Jungle among others.
His cartoons weren’t just for kids. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The good ones, which Ward was a master at creating, worked at two levels: one direct and another wonderfully satiric.”
This weekend his characters take over the big screen in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, an animated film starring the voices of Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann.
Based on Peabody’s Improbable History segment from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, the movie sees the duo use the WABAC machine to ping pong through time, interacting with everyone from Marie Antoinette to King Tut to Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman isn’t the first film based on Ward’s characters.
In a 199 television movie (originally shot in 1988 for theatrical release) SCTV alum Dave Thomas played Boris Badenov, “world’s greatest no-goodnik.” With his partner-in-crime Natasha Fatale (Sally Kellerman) he leaves Pottsylvania for the United States to retrieve a micro-chip. TV Guide said, “as a 90-minute feature film, it’s at least 80 minutes too long,” but it’s worth a gander to see one of the rare live action performances of June Foray, the original voice of Rocky.
Brendan Fraser brought two of Ward’s characters to life, George of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right.
George of the Jungle is a riff on Tarzan. He’s boy raised in the jungle by an ape (John Cleese) but who never mastered the art of swinging from tree to tree. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 56% Fresh Rating, but the film remains most memorable for the catchy “George, George / George of the Jungle / Strong as he can be / Watch out for that tree,” theme song by the Presidents of the United States of America.
Two years later Fraser was back in another Ward inspired movie about a bumbling Canadian Mountie called Dudley Do-Right who “always gets his man.”
Co-starring with Sarah Jessica Parker and Alfred Molina, the story saw Dudley track his nemesis, the depraved Snidely Whiplash. Bad reviews—USA Today’s called it a “Dead-carcass spinoff of Jay Ward’s animated TV favorite.”—doomed the movie, but the character lives on as part of an amusement park ride called Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at the Islands of Adventure theme park.
Finally, despite an big name cast—Jason Alexander, Rene Russo and John Goodman—The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle bombed at the box office despite Robert De Niro doing a take on his famous “You talkin’ to me?” speech from Taxi Driver.
Failure to Launch has one of those titles that begs me to poke fun. I could call it Failure to Laugh or say Failure to Launch fails to launch, but I won’t because it is actually quite an amiable romantic comedy.
Sarah Jessica Parker does a riff on her Sex in the City character Carrie Bradshaw as a woman who specializes in coaxing grown men to leave the nest. Her clients are usually the parents of man-boys who have “failed to launch.” They still live at home well past the point where they should be out on their own doing their own laundry and cooking for themselves. Matthew McConaughey is a handsome, successful thirty-something who still lives with his folks and has major relationship issues. She is hired to lure him out of his childhood bedroom, but of course there are complications.
Along the way we meet the usual rom-com suspects—his goofy friends, her slightly crazy roommate—while the story progresses in a paint-by-numbers way. There are no surprises here, just a few laughs and good-looking people falling in love, which is just as it should be otherwise this wouldn’t be a romantic comedy but a romantic tragedy.
Failure to Launch has an odd premise that wouldn’t happen in real life. As the story unfolded I had to wonder why McConaughey’s parents would go through such a complicated and potentially damaging scheme, so obviously doomed to failure to get rid of him rather than just talk to him. Of course if they did that there wouldn’t be much of a movie.
Failure to Launch is a good romantic comedy with a bad name.
Hollywood has a long standing tradition of churning out holiday films in which large, loving but dysfunctional families gather to celebrate Christmas and end up bring up old feuds, swapping girlfriends (or boyfriends) and over-cooking the turkey. So the idea for The Family Stone, a new comedy starring Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker, isn’t a new one, but despite the ring of familiarity The Family Stone works as both a comedy and a poignant family drama.
The story centers around Dermot Mulroney—the oldest and favorite Stone son—who brings his uptight girlfriend, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, home for Christmas. The Stone siblings and parents take an instant dislike to her and united in the cause of tormenting her they try to drive her away. For support she brings in her beautiful younger sister, played by Claire Danes who only complicates an already strange situation.
This is normally the kind of thing that makes me run to the theatre—to see something else—but the great ensemble cast really salvages this from the treacly depths. As Meredith Sarah Jessica Parker leaves her Sex in the City character far behind daring to be unlikable and along the way proves that there is more to her than simply being Carrie Bradshaw.
We also get a welcome glimpse of Canadian actress Rachel McAdams as the nasty Stone sister Amy. This is her third good film this year after The Wedding Crashers and Red Eye, and in it she proves that she has mastered the role of the cinematic mean girl.
There are many humorous moments but the film packs an emotional punch in the scenes between the elder Stones, played by Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson. In their best moment together they tell us all we need to know about their relationship in one quiet bedroom scene and one gentle touch of a scar.
In “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” a working mom comedy based on a popular book of the same name, Sarah Jessica Parker plays Carrie Bradshaw in a different time and dimension. This time out she’s traded New York for Boston, her Manolo Blahniks for children, Mr. Big for Mr. Joe Average and all that sex in the city she used to have for bake sales and kid’s birthday parties.
Fans of “Sex and the City” will recognize some of the style of “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” if you’ve missed SJP typing on her laptop or doing ocassionally witty voice over, then you may find something here to like. Otherwise it’s a tedious fourth-wall breaking exercise in female empowerment.
Where “Sex and the City” broke ground in its portrayal of female relationships, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” settles for rehashing truisms we’ve heard ad nauseum. “Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman,” may sound like a Carie Bradshaw line, but its minus the freshness that made Carrie’s quips so memorable.
What it lacks in substance it tries to make up for style. Graphics adorn the screen and characters address the audience. So is it a documentary? Nope, it’s an underwritten comedy where the acors break the fourth wall to make up for the story’s shortcomings.
“I Don’t Know How She Does It” tries to play off SJP’s previous successes, but only manges to be even more forgettable than “Sex and the City 2.”