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LATEST REVIEWS
CITY WITHOUT BASEBALL
"You love what you love."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There's a part of me that wishes the posters, packaging, and other art for "City Without Baseball" played up the sports angle, entirely so that some of the people who watch it on that basis get a genuine shock over just how much it is something else, even if it's not necessarily quite so queer as it appears from the other angle. It's a genuinely odd film in a number of ways and one which often highlights its own eccentricity so that it can have an easier time noodling around the edges of various stories." (more)
INVISIBLE MAN, THE (2020)
"Moss owns it."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Catching up: Leigh Whannell’s 'The Invisible Man,' I can’t help feeling, was robbed of its shot at becoming a word-of-mouth blockbuster thriller that makes audiences scream happily. (As it is, the film, whose release was stunted by COVID-19 and the closure of movie theaters, still managed to scare up a decent amount via streaming and at drive-ins.)" (more)
HUNT, THE (2020)
"Gilpin owns it."
3 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Almost every character in 'The Hunt' is crap. The two exceptions are a skittish private-jet attendant and “Snowball” (Betty Gilpin), so nicknamed by the rich elites who are hunting her." (more)
DA 5 BLOODS
"Lindo owns it."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "At this point, I would sit for two hours of Delroy Lindo just monologuing into the camera, and maybe so would you after watching Spike Lee’s epic new adventure-drama 'Da 5 Bloods,' in which there are at least three such monologues." (more)
HAMILTON
"The Living Room Where It Happens"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "It should be stressed right at the start that the film version of the extraordinarily successful Broadway musical “Hamilton” that is premiering this weekend amidst enormous hype is not a traditional, fully realized screen adaptation along the lines of “West Side Story” or, God help us, “Cats.” This is more akin to a concert video that consists of footage shot during a couple of 2016 performances featuring the celebrated original cast as well some additional footage of some of the key musical numbers shot later in an empty theater in order to accommodate more elaborate camera moves than would have been possible in front of an actual audience. Originally intended for theatrical release next year to serve as a sort of stopgap measure in anticipation of a full-fledged screen version, it was famously plucked from that berth and, as opposed to practically every other big-ticket movie of note, had its release moved ahead by more than a year as Disney Studios elected to instead debut it on their Disney+ streaming platform, just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, no less. Whether this move should be seen as a noble gesture that allows families to experience the same show that cost hundreds of dollars a ticket to seen on the stage from the comfort of their living rooms for only a few bucks in subscription fees or a hard-sell way of getting people to sign up for the streaming service now that the initial hype has passed, I will leave for you to decide." (more)
OUTPOST, THE
"Nothing But The Truth"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "As I am assuming you all know by this point, pretty much every movie that I have covered since around mid-March is one that I have reviewed off of my television or computer from the confines of my lightly fortified bunker. While I would almost always prefer to see a film in a theater as opposed to on a much smaller screen, this adjustment has been relatively easy to make since the big-ticket movies that truly require the full big-screen experience have all been delayed until further notice and the ones that have emerged have not really lost all that much as a result of the diminished size of their presentations. (In the case of a listless clunker like Kenneth Branagh’s disastrous fantasy “Artemis Fowl,” the decision to premiere it via streaming may have saved Disney millions of dollars and an untold amount of embarrassment.) In the case of “The Outpost,” we have the first new movie in several months that clearly needs to be seen on the big screen in order to get the full concussive impact of director Rod Lurie’s attempt to recreate a particular harrowing 2009 battle between US forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And yet, the film has been made with such skill and dignity that its impact still manages to come across despite the greatly reduced circumstances under which most people will be experiencing it." (more)
AUDITION, THE
"Not just another troubling teacher/student story."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The makers of "The Audition" don't exactly hide what's really going on at any point, but it is nevertheless fascinating because it is not, by and large, the teacher/student story that it initially appears to be. That is there but it's just one facet of what's going on, and the one which often seems least important, giving the filmmakers a lot of room to explore the other things which tend to be going on around this type of story" (more)
SOMETIMES ALWAYS NEVER
"Tough to steal scenes at the center of the movie."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I love Bill Nighy even when he's in an awful movie, in large part because his screen persona is one seemingly built to steal scenes. It leads him to the sort of part that a good actor can give nuance in those brief moments, but there sometimes seems to be a limit to how far those parts can be stretched when placed at a movie's center. "Sometimes Always Never" is the result of stretching that sort of appeal just far enough to not break; it could do more and hit harder, but it seldom makes a genuinely wrong step." (more)
MY SPY
"It Is Not A Good Kindergarten Cop Clone"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Once upon a time—about thirty years ago, to be exact—a movie by the name of “Kindergarten Cop” came out that asked the question “What would happen if you took the biggest action movie star in the world—Arnold Schwarzenegger in this case—and put him in a vehicle that included all the standard thriller beats but also included scenes of him acting opposite little kids as a way of widening his fan base to include family audiences?” As it turns out, you got a good-sized hit—albeit one that may have miffed some parents when it proved to contain more straightforward action than the kid-friendly ads suggested—that would prove to be a template that any number of action stars would find themselves adhering to at least once in order to widen their own audiences, some more effectively than another. (It would be hard to ascribe any one film as being the nadir of Burt Reynolds’ somewhat uneven career, but “Cop and a Half” (1993) comes as close as any of them.) “My Spy,” in which the hulking Dave Bautista takes a whack at the format, may not be the worst film to be made along these particular lines (that one where John Cena was babysitting some kids at a fire station—a film whose title I refuse to expend any energy on looking up—was pretty ripe) but it might go down as the least inspired of the bunch from the shameless way that it cribs from its predecessor throughout." (more)
EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA
"a.k.a. Will Ferrell's Waterloo"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "The Eurovision Song Contest is a yearly competition in which over 50 eligible countries, mostly European-based, submit a homegrown act to perform an original song before an enormous audience in the hopes that they will be determined the winner. The contest has been running since 1956 (although this year’s edition was cancelled due to coronavirus fears) and a number of the participants have indeed gone on to international fame, such as contestants Lulu, Nana Mouskouri, Julio Iglesias and Olivia Newton-John and winners Celine Dion and ABBA, whose 1974 victory launched them into instant superstardom. With the combination of slick music, glitzy-gaudy costumes and high drama, the contest would seem to be a natural subject for an entertaining film. Perhaps one will eventually come along and “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” can be forgotten even quicker than it deserves to be. The latest misfire from Will Ferrell, this is a weirdly leaden botch of a film that has no discernible comedic point or purpose, inexplicably goes on forever and produces only a couple of mild and very scattered laughs amidst a seemingly endless array of dead spots." (more)

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