Colossal & Unforgettably Gifted in Style: April 2017 Movie Preview

C: April’s underway, but if you’re anything like us, you probably haven’t been to the movies yet this month. Perhaps you have a vacation coming up though, so it’s time to start thinking about what to see!

E: Well, today’s the first official Friday of April, so unless you were seeing March movies, you won’t have needed this preview.  Now, this isn’t the explosion into summer we get in May, but still, this April brings us a veritable bouquet of interesting spring movies.  As befits the season, I have hope that some of these films are very much worthwhile.

M: Again this month we’re running on a tough timetable, so we have fewer of the limited-release movies than we normally include. Apologies! Now to it.

April 7 – Going In Style, Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Case For Christ, Colossal, Gifted

April 14 – The Fate Of The Furious, Spark, The Lost City Of Z, Norman, A Quiet Passion

April 21 – Unforgettable, The Promise, Free Fire, Born In China, Phoenix Forgotten

April 28 – The Circle, How To Be A Latin Lover, Slight

April 7

Going In Style (wide)

M: A bank robbery/buddy comedy with a bit of a twist… the robbers (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin) are all around 80 years old.

C: Sort of Ocean’s Eleven meets The Bucket List.

M: Directed by Scrubs‘ Zach Braff, this is a tale of men who have been wronged by banks over their mortgages and pensions taking justice into their own hands. And it looks really funny.

E: I feel like there is this whole subgenre of movies, usually starring Morgan Freeman or Robert DeNiro, about gangs of old men getting up to shenanigans.  Doesn’t it seem like there’s at least one a year?  It’s a mild fad.

M: Definitely. Last Vegas is one I specifically remember. It usually doesn’t do it for me, but I think it can work.

E: Sure.  It can work for someone other than us.

C: I don’t know, I pretty much always like heist movies no matter who’s in it. (Why aren’t there comedies about old ladies getting up to shenanigans, though?)

E: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren robbing a casino? Now that I would absolutely pay to see.  Throw in, I don’t know, Diane Keaton and Blythe Danner and you have a real Ocean’s 11 going on.

M: Clearly, you’re forgetting Calendar Girls, which actually did star Mirren.

E: Which was not a heist movie, M.

M: No, but it is old ladies getting up to shenanigans. But I’m with C, this is something I’ll probably watch at some point.

Smurfs: The Lost Village (wide)

M: This, on the other hand, if it looks funny, is for all the wrong reasons. It looks like a total retread of all things Smurfs-past. Well, except that there are no live-action actors this time, so that’s a plus.

E: Well, I don’t have any memory of there being a lost village before, let alone one composed entirely of female smurfs, but yes, it certainly seems like a long episode of the classic cartoons. It lacks the live action blend of the last few Smurf movies.

M: Yeah, I didn’t mean all the exact specifics, but overall, it seems very familiar.

C: Is it weird that, despite my total lack of investment in current-day Smurfs, I’m kind of objectively intrigued by the story of how the female and male Smurfs got separated?

E: Not at all.  The gender segregation idea is super weird.

C: Not like I’ll watch the movie, of course, since these are of the lowest-common-intelligence brand of children’s programming, but as someone who watched Smurfs on Saturday mornings as a kiddo, I always did wonder about Smurfette being the only girl.

E: It’s even weirder if you know that (if I recall correctly) villainous Gargamel created Smurfette to sow seeds of dissent among the formerly all-male Smurfs.

M: You do recall correctly, which makes the village of lost girl smurfs even more strange.

C: Not that the idea of an all-male village is less strange without that.

M: True story. I will say, the voice cast is amazing. Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts, Jack McBrayer, Joe Manganiello, Rainn Wilson, Demi Lovato, Michelle Rodriguez, Danny Pudi, Jake Johnson, Gordon Ramsey, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham and Meghan Trainor…

E: Julia Roberts?  Seriously?

M: Right?

C: Okay, not a lot of those people are what I’d call top-drawer talent, but it’s an awful lot of familiar names. And Julia Roberts, somehow.

E: I kind of feel like the Smurfs are a weird vehicle for celebrity voice overs.  You don’t go to the Smurfs to hear Mandy Patinkin — and you don’t really want to have a voice stick out, like Jack McBrayer.  Don’t you want your smurfs to just sound like the characters?

M: Agreed. Though, I think McBrayer’s a weird case. I feel like he and his voice are both instantly recognizable, and instantly tell me the EXACT character I’m going to get. His range is about as varied as John Kerry’s facial expressions.

E: Well. That’s a strangely specific analogy.

M: My specialty.

The Case For Christ (wide-ish)

M: Admittedly I am biased, however I think that this adaptation of Lee Strobel’s real-life story of conversion through attempting to disprove looks fantastic. If it holds up to the trailer I’ve linked in the title, it could be up there with the original The Passion as one of the best made Christian movies since the days of The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur.

E: I’m not sure I’d go as far as fantastic, but definitely good.

M: I don’t know the lead, Mike Vogel, and his resume is chock full of things I have no interest in (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bates Motel, Pan Am, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants), plus some things that I might be interested in but will never make the time to see (Under The Dome, Cloverfield), but he works a lot, and looks quite solid in this.

E: I’ve seen several of those — Sisterhood, Under the Dome, Cloverfield — but with the big seventies hair and mustache it’s still a little hard to place him.

C: This is the kind of movie where waiting for reviews is almost pointless — there will be a core of Christian viewers who love it for its message regardless of the delivery, and a core of critics who scorn it for its didacticism regardless of the delivery, so it will be quite difficult to filter that out in determining whether it actually works as a movie. So I guess you’ll need to review it for our readers, M!

Colossal (limited)

M: And now for something… completely different. Anne Hathaway plays a down-on-her-luck woman who, get this, happens to control (unintentionally) a giant Godzilla-like monster that’s terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. Like, any movement she makes, it makes. It’s some weird projection of her, linked to her telepathically, or something. And before you scroll to the next movie… it looks hilarious, and is garnering incredible critical response. Really. Like “I have a feeling people will be talking about this movie well into the summer, and hope it makes certain audiences reconsider Hathaway’s appeal.”

C: Um, you did not need that caveat about before-you-scroll-away for me — I was hooked! What an absolutely wild, fresh premise. There aren’t enough comic magic-realist movies.

E: I’m going to just stare at M’s synopsis for a few minutes and try to absorb it before I check out the trailer.  Because, what?

M: Right? But check out the trailer, it’s pretty funny.

E: Okay, I’ve seen it, and it’s definitely different. And I can’t even imagine how that pitch meeting went.  How do you sell that idea to originality- and risk-averse studios?

C: Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that.

E: And I’ll agree, it does really look like it could be funny.  Will I see it in the theater?  Probably only if the reviews are out of the park; it’s not really my season for seeing movies without my kids.  It absolutely looks like it could be worth catching, though.

C: Also starring Jason Sudeikis, with an appearance from man-of-the-hour Dan Stevens (Legion, Beauty and the Beast).

Gifted (limited)

M: From a small comedy starring Catwoman, we now move to a small drama starring Captain America. In Gifted we see Chris Evans playing against superhero type as a struggling, ordinary man trying to raise his dead sister’s gifted seven year old daughter. His struggle, to try to raise the little girl as his sister wanted, and let her have a childhood, is at odds with what educators, and eventually his mother, want, thinking he is depriving her of her potential. A custody battle ensues. It looks fantastic.

C: Isn’t that kind of the premise of Manchester By The Sea? The “ordinary man’s struggle to raise his sibling’s kid” bit, I mean? Sounds a bit dreary.

M: Well, part of it, but there are significant differences. For one, this doesn’t look devastatingly sad.

E: Right, and there’s no custody battle.  It feels more like a kind of standard middle grade novel to me.  It’s not an original premise, maybe, but the trailer looks well made and intriguing.  Will Evans fight for his niece, or does he believe he’s standing in her way?  If he does fight, will he win?

M: It reminds me in ways, not exactly, but in its heart, of the Pierce Brosnan movie Evelyn, which is one of the top ten most underrated movies of all time. And for the record, I was thinking that even before it was revealed that the grandmother, played by Lindsey Duncan, is named Evelyn.

C: That is a very good movie, as we’ve doubtless told our readers before now. And it raises the interesting point that, while we live in a culture now where women are seen as the default most appropriate guardians for children, and that has been true in other times and places (such as the setting of Evelyn), in other times and places women have had no rights over their children whatsoever. I’m not making a point about the movie here, just noting that it’s interesting that such a seemingly fundamental idea can be so varied in different cultures.

E: Hmmm.  That is interesting here, actually, because on one level you have the grandmother vs. the uncle, but then you also have the dead mother’s wishes being disregarded, and the uncle more in the role of emotional caretaker versus the cold, intellectual grandmother.  I hadn’t really thought about how much playing with stereotypes there is here.

M: Definitely a good twist on the norm. The gifted girl is played by Designated Survivor and Once Upon A Time‘s Mckenna Grace, and Octavia Spencer supports.

E:  Based on the trailers, Grace is really compelling (so compelling my eight year old totally wants to see this movie, which is rather unfortunately rated PG-13) — and obviously Spencer’s fantastic, though classically underused.  Is she just there to provide a little wry maternal wisdom?  I’d love to see her get something atypically meaty to do someday.

April 14

The Fate Of The Furious (wide)

M: Okay, so one thing has changed since the last time we previewed an installment in the F&F franchise. I finally caved and watched the original. As I expected, it was pretty lousy. The writing? Poor. The acting? Lackluster. The story? Nothing special. The action sequences? Middling. I still don’t get how it spawned one sequel, let alone seven. Let alone a movie where people are driving cars away from submarines and torpedoes. Let alone a movie that includes Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, The Rock, Jason Statham, and other big names that weren’t part of the original. I just don’t get it.

E: See, that’s the good thing about being a sort of occasional internet critic.  We can whine about the movies that don’t interest us but we don’t actually have to see them.

C: It does seem like the story jumped at some point from the realm of the semi-probably to the realm of the epic/operatic. You’ve come a long way, Furious…?

M: Yeah, it looks like they’ve gone from stretching credulity in normal ways (ridiculous action sequences) to stretching them in more supernatural ways (mind control). I suppose when it’s your eighth movie in the series, you need to go further outside the box to keep topping what you did in the last one.

E: For those who do enjoy this testosterone fest series (and there are a lot of you), Theron has somehow bent original star Vin Diesel to her will, which may or may not mean that he’s betrayed his old gang.  His family and friends certainly think so.  Vehicle chases and grumpy faces ensue.

C: I’m unclear if anyone is actually related — I got the impression they call themselves “family” to indicate their intense bonds as a semi-criminal outsider group? There is absolutely no need to actually look this up. I’m sure those who watch know.

E: I’m pretty sure there was a whole sibling thing in the first one — like, one of the main guys hooked up with the other one’s sister – which is why I used the word.  But sure, I believe it applies in the figurative sense as well.

M: Having seen the first one I can confirm. It is both, figurative and literal (the late Paul Walker dates Vin Diesel’s sister), but mostly figurative, as Diesel always referred to his gang as “the family.”

Spark: A Space Tail (wide)

M: Animated wide release number two for April is a classic “member of the deposed royal family who was believed dead rises up when comes of age and discovers lineage to overthrow the evil usurper” tale. This one’s set in outer space, with the royal (an anthropomorphized monkey-ish creature voiced by Jace Norman) having been abandoned and believed dead as a baby 13 years before. Susan Sarandon, Patrick Stewart, Hillary Swank and Jessica Biel also lend their voices.

C: That’s quite a high-class cast! Well, minus Biel.


E: And an interesting premise.  I saw ads for this and didn’t come close to an inkling of that plot.   All I really got out of the TV ads was “I’ve been waiting thirteen years for this” and “let’s go kick some asteroid,” which didn’t exactly inspire my interest.

M: That last line made me cringe, as this is ostensibly a kids’ movie.

E: That said, my eight year old was pretty captivated by this trailer too.  Probably because she’s eight and hasn’t seen this plot dozens of times before, but I guess that’s the intended demographic.

M: I think it’s more being eight than anything.

E: Don’t hate me for being picky, but did anyone else notice that all Spark’s anthropomorphized animal friends can breathe in the vacuum of space?

M: I didn’t. Now I won’t be able to not notice, though.

C: I read the title at least three times as “shark” rather than “spark.” It makes a bit more sense now.

The Lost City Of  Z (limited)

M: The leader of the Sons of Anarchy goes batty searching for a lost civilization.

E: Apparently this is based on a true story of Western exploration of the Amazon river basin.  I’m kind of half intrigued by this (archaeology?) and half turned off (exploitation, obsession and avarice).  Charlie Hunnam is kind of an unknown quantity to me, which doesn’t help me decide either.

C: My only impression of Hunnam wasn’t positive, but dates back too many years for it to be relevant anymore. As to this movie, the subtitle of the book it’s based on — “A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon” — isn’t too promising. I love lost cities as a plot device, but this movie seems too into its own masculinity to be my cup of tea.

M: Robert Pattinson also stars, and Sienna Miller plays Hunnam’s dutiful wife who he continually leaves back in England.

Norman (limited)

C: I got confused at first, thinking that surely there was already a movie with this title, and not long ago. Turns out, I was right about that. But since that doesn’t ring a bell, it’s also possible I was thinking of ParaNorman. This is not either of those movies.

E: Were you thinking of the excruciatingly bad looking Norm of the North?

M: Perhaps. Here we have Richard Gere, looking very old, playing a “New York fixer,” a guy who helps people get what they want. It looks like he’s either very good at it, or very good at B.S.’ing people into thinking he’s really good. It doesn’t look like typical Gere, who I usually can’t stand because every character he plays is insanely smug. I will say, he looks like he’s doing a good job in it.

C: A “fixer” great at B.S. is atypical for Gere? In what way, pray tell?

M: I still have no interest what so ever, except that an also very old looking Steve Buscemi is in it playing a rabbi, and that just sounds fun.

E: I was underwhelmed.  I felt like the trailer wanted you to believe that Norman was this clever and intriguing fellow, creating cons from sheer will power and smarts, when he just came off as a pushy bore. I was very impressed by the supporting cast (including Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens and Josh Charles) but wouldn’t go to see a sadly ancient-looking Gere.

C: That’s right, DAN STEVENS AGAIN.

M: To recap, E’s underwhelmed, C is fixated on some guy from Downton Abbey, and the only thing that might make me see this for free on TV at some point is Steve Buscemi playing a rabbi. Huzzah!

A Quiet Passion (limited)

M: An Emily Dickinson bio-pic that stars Pride and Prejudice‘s Jennifer Ehle (not as Emily, that’s Sex in the City‘s Cynthia Nixon, but as her younger sister) and is written and directed by Terrence Davies? I think I’ll leave this one to my sisters.

E: This has been on my Oscar radar for ages; as you can see from the trailer, its been all over the festival circuit.  I’m interested for sure in this tale of poet Dickinson’s quiet rebellions.  It looks beautifully made and acted, and I hope it lives up to its promise.

M: And being released, like all other Oscar bait, in… April?

C: This sort of biopic frustrates me because inevitably, it dramatizes the author’s real life for maximum entertainment and heavily inflects it with a modern worldview — but, thanks to its period setting, high tone, and quality production values, people still think it’s the historical truth. I’m no great Dickinson expert, and I’ve only seen the trailer rather the the whole film so maybe I’m judging too quickly, but it looks very much like our current stereotype of Dickinson  played up for the big screen, rather than anything more complicated and potentially real.

E: Right. The trailer definitely played up Emily’s rebelliousness to the degree that you wouldn’t also expect her to be a Christian.

April 21

Unforgettable (wide)

M: This wanna-be thriller about an woman (Katherine Heigl) who makes life a living hell for her ex-husband’s new girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) is very poorly named. This will ultimately be VERY forgettable.

C: Yep. I’ve literally forgotten it already.

M: It is very standard fare, drawing from things like Fatal Attraction, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, and every Lifetime movie ever, things like lying, stalking, setting up fake social media pages, sicking the girlfriend’s abusive ex-boyfriend on her, then killing him and framing her. And I don’t know about you all, but I’m totally in suspense as to how it’s going to end!!!

E: I wish people would stop using this title.  Also, I wish people would stop thinking the jealous psycho ex is an idea worthy of new movies when there are already so many mediocre ones out there.  Without Heigl and Dawson, this could be a Lifetime movie, right down to Heigl’s over-peroxided hair being used to show us that she’s unhinged.

C: Pretty soon Heigl will be in Lifetime movies, it’s been so long since she did anything creditable.

E: It amazes me that she keeps getting movies and TV shows, since 2007’s Knocked Up was her last hit.

The Promise (wide)

E: Facebook thinks I’ll love this movie. I see the ads for this Dr. Zhivago-set-in-the-Armenian-genocide drama constantly.

C: Which really says a lot about your taste, I think.

E: Does it?  I loathe Dr. Zhivago.  I’m behind the effort to publicize the Armenian genocide, though.

M: I have to agree with Facebook on this one. Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Shohreh Agdashloo, and written and directed by Terry George (who wrote In The Name of the Father, and wrote/directed Hotel Rwanda)? Seems to be right up your alley.

C: Gotta say, all of those credits are pretty persuasive.

M: I’ve seen the ads for months, too, though not constantly, and think it looks like it could be quite good. I’m concerned by the April opening, though, especially when the trailer lists “Oscar winner so and so, Oscar winner so and so….” As mentioned above with A Quiet Passion, we’re far, far away from Oscar season.

E: And as I said before, that’s quite true. In this case, however, I think the cast and crew aren’t necessarily big names, and the subject matter is unusual enough that it could account for the non-prime slot.  I think it might be terrific anyway.

M: Now, you know I’m not a fan of love-triangle movies, or even sub-plots. And I’m not here, however, this one strikes me as a little different. In most love-triangle plots, the audience is given a very clear protagonist to root for, and the person who is opposing them in the triangle is made out as the clear lesser choice, and usually is an antagonist or is bad in some way.

C: Um… you’re clearly leaving out young adult romances in that assessment, bro.

M: Maybe those are less obvious, but they usually end up putting the readers almost all in the camp of one “ship.” In this, however, both Isaac’s and Bale’s characters look to be virtuous men who clearly love Charlotte Le Bon’s character. They also both seem to genuinely care for each other, help each other, and are on the same side of the over-arching conflict. Personally, I like both Isaac and Bale as actors, and don’t know which way my rooting interests would fall. My guess is Isaac, as the main character and actual Armenian, is likely, however, I’m impressed by the unusual aspect of it.

E: Really?  That’s an surprising reaction.  I feel like we’re clearly rooting for Oscar Isaac.  I’m immediately ready to think ill of Christian Bale’s character.

M: Except that we see him helping in a war that he has no stake in, being assaulted by the bad guys, and helping Isaac despite (it appears) knowing that they both have feelings for the same woman. That makes me think well of his character.

C: Can we back up a second? What do you mean, “actual Armenian”? Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada, aka Oscar Isaac, is definitely Guatemalan.

E: I think he means within the context of the story, Isaac’s character is Armenian and Bale’s isn’t.

M: Exactly, the character is Armenian. Bale’s character is a foreign (I believe British) journalist.

Free Fire (wide)

M: Apparently the 70’s are big this month, as we have another movie set then. This time it’s Brie Larson headlining (how about that!) a cast that includes Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer.

C: Brie Larson does seem to be ubiquitous these days.

M: It’s a shoot ’em-up that appears to just be one big long scene of a guns deal gone bad.

E: Right?  There has to be a plot that’s more than just a dozen people shooting each other in a warehouse — there has to be, right? — but damned if they’re going to reveal it in the trailer.  Very Tarantino-wanna be.

M: I’m not sure there is more of a plot, E. The summary I read said it’s all the one warehouse scene. Now, there are a few funny lines in the trailer, but this doesn’t look like something I’ll ever see. You two should go, however, to show your support for female-led casts in male dominated genres.

E: Oh no.  First, one woman does not make the film a pro-woman production.

C: Yeah, there’s nothing to suggest this would pass the Bechdel test!

E: Also, I’m not a huge fan of Tarantino’s style when he does it; I’m even less impressed when other folks make the attempt.  I couldn’t even make it through the entire trailer.

M: I’m just saying, you lobby for better, bigger, equal roles for women, and when things like this and Sicario come out, you avoid them. That’s not going to make Hollywood cast more female leads.

Born In China (wide)

M: This year’s Earth Day feature from DisneyNature appears to be as stunningly beautiful as the other documentaries we’ve seen from them. This one travels into the wilds of China (duh), from the mountains to the forests, following pandas, monkeys and snow leopards (the animals, not the Mac OS) and the creatures they interact with.

C: Do people go to see these? I mean, they seem really well done, but I don’t know who goes out to the theater for them.

M: Like the other DisneyNature docs, this looks gorgeous, but will likely only be something I see if I catch it at the Museum of Science IMAX theater some time.

E: This looks amazing, and my kids are entranced.  Disney’s last Earth Day movie was really hard to find, though, so I’m not sure we’ll be able to get there.  We might end up at home watching Planet Earth II instead.

C: I wish the popularity of nature documentaries had some impact on people taking care of nature.

E: Sigh.  If wishes were pandas…

Phoenix Forgotten (wide-ish)

M: I don’t think we need to say much more than that this is Blair Witch, but with UFO’s instead. If you like that stuff, enjoy.

E: Well, I don’t know.  I like UFOs.  Not so much the shaky hand cam, though.  Can that fad die already?

M: Seriously, this is ENTIRELY about that fad, the UFO’s are the McGuffin that brings you into the shaky-cam terror.

C: How is that even a fad again?

M: Because it’s super cheap and makes studios money?

April 28

The Circle (wide)

M: About a year ago I read the David Eggers novel that this is based on, and loved it. I’ve always been a fan of dystopian fiction, and this is a bit of a different twist. While most dytopian fiction starts out with its dystopia established, this is set in a similar, very near future, and takes us down the path of how it might become a dystopia. And does so at a spine-tingling, page turning pace.

C: Interesting. I like that idea, since most dystopias really hand-wave how their situation came about. “There was a war or some unrest, so everyone gave up all their rights and dissolved all current nation states and made geneticists into kings and painted their hair blue. AND NOW, a sexy hero rises…”

E: HA!  C, that’s fantastic.  Great point.

M: Exactly!

E: What else does this movie have going for it? It’s a high prestige literary adaptation with big stars and an up and coming director (John Ponsoldt) who’s made well-respected indies (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour).  Who’s hotter than Emma Watson right now, with Beauty and the Beast ruling the box office?

C: How about Dan Stevens? …No? Okay.

M: You’ll have to settle for Patton Oswalt.

E: And what can you even say about Tom Hanks?  Even better, there’s no indication that we’re going to be subjected to a totally inappropriate romance between the two.

C: Oh THANK GOD. That would be… gag… I don’t want to think about it.

E: Because let’s face it — even Colin Hanks is too old for Emma Watson.  Instead, Hanks senior is the charismatic CEO of a Google-like company, and she’s the staffer who (with the help of Star Wars‘ John Boyega) bucks the company’s bid for Big Brother/Matrix status.

M: Ummm, not so fast. Unless Boyega’s character is more significantly changed than just his appearance (which is significantly changed, and relevant), he’s one of the founders of the company. Second… well, spoilers, so I’ll zip it.

E: REALLY?  That’s intriguing.  From the trailer I saw, I thought he was giving her inside info on how the company’s an impending nightmare.  And I guess that makes sense, but Boyega is what, 35 years younger than Hanks?  40?

M: Trying not to spoil things, but that’s all true to the book. The character was a prodigy, who sours on where his company is being taken by his partners.

E: Okay, thanks, that helps and isn’t spoilery at all.  Now, the movie pushes the idea of our social media society to an extreme conclusion. If every moment is captured on camera, Hanks suggests, then isn’t everything lived above board?  If some information is good, isn’t all the information better?

M: They really do mean ALL the information, too.

C: I love the idea of a Boyega-Watson team up, and everything you’ve said sounds great. Definitely excited and hoping for positive reviews on this one.

E: I bet there will be.

How To Be A Latin Lover (wide)

C: This title just makes me think of the narrator of Jane the Virgin, referred to paratextually as “the Latin lover narrator.” Since he’s absolutely fantastic and maybe the best character on the show, that’s a very positive association.

E: Well, this is a bit different than that, though I’m glad you shared the thought. Little Salma Hayek wants to grow up to be an architect.  Her brother (Eugenio Derbez) wants to grow up to be a gigolo.  At least one of them achieves their goal.

M: And then, in midlife, Derbez gets dumped by his sugar-momma and has to move back in with his sister and her nine-year-old son. He tries to teach the son to be a ladies man, while also trying to seduce the grandmother (Raquel Welch) of the boy’s crush. Rob Lowe and Kristen Bell provide… umm… proof that Hollywood thinks white people won’t go see a movie with primarily Latino cast?

E: That sounds sad but probably true. Let’s say charitably that Derbez doesn’t have the typical fan base it takes to open a movie on his own.

C: You know I fundamentally agree, but I also fundamentally cannot object to adding Kristen Bell and Rob Lowe to anything and everything.

M: You make a strong point.

E: This movie makes me think of fabulous 1990s cringe-worthy comedies like Kingpin and Austin Powers.  If it’s anywhere near that good, it’ll be well worth seeing, even if it might not fit the current comic sensibility.

M: I’m thinking more Austin Powers than Kingpin, but neither feel exactly right. Maybe those, with a splash of Grumpy Old Men thrown in, and some originality, too.

E: In other words, we’ll be quite curious about those reviews, too.

Sleight (wide)

M: Last up this month is a Strange-with-a-capital-S-looking movie from WWE studios, which seem to have really upped their quality and diversity recently.

C: Wait… like the wrestling?

M: Yup. Strange but true. Their last release was a Christian movie, actually, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.

E: Super strange.  I didn’t even know they HAD a studio.  But keep on with the strange, please, bro.

M: This is the tale of a young street magician and low-level gang member who’s trying to raise his little sister, move her to a better neighborhood and keep her from harm. Turns out, though, that his magic tricks may be more than just sleight-of-hand. Turns out they might be actual magic.

E: I freaking love this idea: powered person/superhero comes of age in what looks like the tough streets of L.A.  The gang scene is not my thing, but I’m thrilled with the idea of setting a supernatural tale in that world.  Talk about urban fantasy!  I’m blown away to see The West Wing‘s sensitive Dulé Hill as a murderous, mansion-dwelling drug kingpin and both young leads — Jacob Latimore and Seychelle Gabriel — stand out.  I really, really hope the execution here lives up to the premise.

C: Gabriel, by the way, may be best known to some for her voice, as the actress behind a major character in the animated Legend of Korra.

M: I was thinking the same thing about Hill (though I think of him as Psych‘s Dulé Hill). One thought I had after rewatching the trailer…. I’m leaning toward it actually being illusion/slight of hand, but using magnets somehow.

E: I would be super-disappointed if that were true.  I want genre-bending!  I might be more interested in this than any film this month.

M: But here’s the thing… it has me thinking about it long after watching the trailer. I’m definitely intrigued, and want to see it.







One comment on “Colossal & Unforgettably Gifted in Style: April 2017 Movie Preview

  1. MMGF says:

    Wait. Katherine Heigl still exists…??

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