Field Goals

12-mighty-orphans-movie-review-luke-wilson-jacob-lofland-martin-sheen
Laura Wilson/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
12 Mighty Orphans (2021)

Was “12 Mighty Orphans” meant to be so howlingly funny? And doesn’t the fact that it clearly was not make it even funnier? Inspired by true events, we are in the depths of the Depression when Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson, who everyone forgets is from Texas), his wife Juanita (Vinessa Shaw) and their cute little daughter arrive at the Masonic Home in Fort Worth, Texas. Home to 150 orphans and run by Frank Wynn (Wayne Knight, who does everything the part requires with tremendous flair), the only kids that matter are the ones who end up on the fledging football team. Of those 12 boys, only six really have speaking parts, not that it matters who is who: You might as well call them Dashing, Angry, Weedy, Stammers, Peeper and Jolly. There’s also an assistant coach (Martin Sheen) who’s an alcoholic doctor perfectly called Doc and a knowing newspaperman (Rooster McConaughey) even more perfectly called Pop. It’s a damn shame Robert Duvall’s brief cameo part isn’t called Mac, but that would have been ridiculous.

Continue reading "Field Goals" »

Running Into the Ground

Never-stop-movie-review-ryan-zheng
China Lion Film

MOVIE REVIEW
Never Stop (2021)

China’s box office champion over the dragon boat festival long weekend, “Never Stop” seems to be emblematic of that nation’s contemporary cinema. Its plot revolves around two track stars, both with corny, clichéd names. Hao Chaoyue (Ryan Zheng), which means “surpass” in English, is a washed-up medalist who finds himself in financial ruins for peddling counterfeit sneakers. Wu Tianyi (Li Yunrui), which literally translates to “adding wings,” is a current titleholder and qualifying for the Olympics. In a desperate bid to salvage his business, Chaoyue reaches out to Tianyi, his former underling, in hopes of securing an endorsement deal. Meanwhile, Tianyi’s A.D.H.D. symptoms spiral into a full-fledged mental breakdown.

Continue reading "Running Into the Ground" »

Golden Mean Girls

Queen-bees-movie-review-ellen-burstyn-james-caan
Ray Bengston/Gravitas Ventures

MOVIE REVIEW
Queen Bees (2021)

The “Queen Bees” trailer pitches the film as “Mean Girls” for the geriatric set, but in actuality it’s a feature-length infomercial singing the virtues of the nursing home and brought to you by the AARP (which, incidentally, was the actual sponsor of the virtual preview this critic attended).

Continue reading "Golden Mean Girls" »

Unlicensed to Kill

The-hitmans-wifes-bodyguard-movie-review-ryan-reynolds-samuel-l-jackson-salma-hayek
David Appleby/Lionsgate

MOVIE REVIEW
The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard (2021)

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” finds Ryan Reynolds reprising the role of dimwitted Michael Bryce, who suffers an identity crisis due to his professional license being revoked and goes on a sabbatical in Italy per the suggestion of his therapist (Rebecca Front). However, the serenity is short lived as Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) from the 2017 original rudely disrupts to summon his help rescuing his former client and her husband, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson).

Continue reading "Unlicensed to Kill" »

Father Imposes Best

Bo-gia-dad-im-sorry-movie-review-tran-thanh-ngan-chi
3388 Films

MOVIE REVIEW
Bo Gia (Dad, I’m Sorry) (2021)

In Vietnam’s all-time box office champ, “Bo Gia (Dad, I’m Sorry),” a deeply traditional extended family reckons with the generation gap and broader cultural shifts brought by modernization and Westernization. It’s the same well Ang Lee drew from exactly three decades ago to much international acclaim, yet this time it feels different. Whereas Mr. Lee became increasingly mindful of his international profile and audience as the “Father Knows Best” trilogy progressed, directors Tran Thanh and Vu Ngoc Dang are unabashedly Vietnamese in their approach, warts and all.

Continue reading "Father Imposes Best" »

Fleeing the Nest

A-quiet-place-part-ii-movie-review-emily-blunt-noah-jupe-millicent-simmonds
Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

“A Quiet Place Part II” lives in the shadow of many great sci-fi horror flicks. Its predecessor revolved around blind creatures attracted to noises, like the cave dwellers in “The Descent,” but it felt original because of its theme of family dynamics related to responsibilities and guilt. The sequel seems to have drawn various plotlines from “The Walking Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead” and “Aliens.” It works for the most part, although it also feels comparatively derivative and tangential. Trailers and ads have played up the “Walking Dead” aspect, but it’s contained within only one scene.

Continue reading "Fleeing the Nest" »

Inglorious Bastards

Final-account-movie-review
Focus Features

MOVIE REVIEW
Final Account (2021)

The documentary “Final Account” tracks down about 20 members of the last generation of Germans and Austrians from the Third Reich to glean their recollections. The typical responses: 1. We didn’t know! Nobody knew! 2. Everybody knew, but we were too scared to talk about it! 3. Ashamed. 4. No regrets.

Continue reading "Inglorious Bastards " »

Family Portrait

Pink-all-i-know-so-far-movie-review
Andrew Macpherson/Amazon Studios

MOVIE REVIEW
Pink: All I Know So Far (2021)

“Pink: All I Know So Far” is the cinematic equivalent of a fawning cover story from a magazine on display at the supermarket checkout aisle – not the tabloids; not Billboard; not Rolling Stone; but People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly. The film follows 20 days out of the pop singer’s 19 month long “Beautiful Trauma” world tour with her husband, Carey Hart, and children, Willow and Jameson, in tow. Although Pink and Mr. Hart insist the 225 tour staff members are also family, none are interviewed on camera.

Continue reading "Family Portrait" »

Planet Bollywood

Radhe-your-most-wanted-bhai-movie-review-salman-khan
Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai (2021)

“Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai” adapts Kang Yoon-sung’s 2017 Korean film, “The Outlaws,” into a star vehicle for Salman Khan. As a turf war escalates between two rival gangs, a ruthless newcomer angles to take over. It’s up to the roguish cop, the titular Radhe (Mr. Khan), to restore peace. While the original was based on actual events that took place in 2004, the Bollywood remake seems so extravagant that few traces of reality remain. Both Radhe and the antagonist, Rana (Randeep Hooda), are utterly indestructible; this is precisely the kind of action flick that Takashi Miike had in mind when he made the cartoonish “Dead or Alive.”

Continue reading "Planet Bollywood" »

Second Fiddle

Finding-you-movie-review-rose-reid-jedidiah-goodacre
Anthony Courtney/Roadside Attractions

MOVIE REVIEW
Finding You (2021)

“Finding You” is “Wolfwalkers” for adults: a fable set in a magical place called Ireland, where a homeless nuisance can be a master fiddler and a soul-searching American girl can fall in love with a Hollywood heartthrob. Beyond all the tourism board-approved scenic views you’ll discover an abundance of folk music, dancing, high crosses, ales and town tasties – or scones rather.

Continue reading "Second Fiddle" »

© 2008-2021 Critic's Notebook and its respective authors. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Subscribe to Critic's Notebook | Follow Us on Twitter | Contact Us | Write for Us | Reprints and Permissions