Will Smith is in theaters this week, but the best movie is the much smaller “The Addams Family.” And a new take on buddy movies is very funny with “Stuber” in home video.
It’s Viewing the Videos.
While “Stuber” doesn’t quite measure up to the classic buddy movies like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” or action comedies like “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Lethal Weapon,” it’s still very good.
The cast, lead by Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Universe”) and Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick,” HBO’s “Silicon Valley”) generate the perfect chemistry between a hard-boiled cop and the Uber driver the cop forces to drive around L.A. in search of the drug smugglers who killed his partner.
Chemistry is important in a buddy movie, and both leads are strong. Bautista is best known for his action movie, tough guy skills, but here also shows nuanced emotion, especially when dealing with estranged daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales). He’s really funny, too.
So many funny lines here!
A combination of multi-faceted characters, solid acting, action and humor, make “Stuber” a good choice for an enjoyable movie.
A daughter and her father are trapped by a hurricane in an old house with several alligators and must fight for their lives.
This movie doesn’t pretend to be anything else but a compact, intense thriller, but its impact is blunted by chaotic editing and setting most of the movie in the crawl space under the house. It’s a dark space filled with murky water, low ceilings and pipes and cramped areas.
It’s hard to be scared when you can’t see what’s going on.
This movie has its moments, but the effect is softened by the muddled directing and editing.
One of cinema’s biggest stars, Will Smith, checks in, playing not one, but two parts, in “Gemini Man.”
Directed by the great Ang Lee, it features great action sequences, an interesting story but clunky dialogue which ultimate dooms the movie to failure.
Smith plays two roles: Henry Brogan, a professional assassin who wants to get out of the business and a younger cloned version of himself, sent to kill the old version.
Some impressive computer work is used to create the younger version, and it’s quite successful. A similar project earlier this year, “Captain Marvel,” tried the same thing with Samuel L. Jackson. That attempt was distracting
This time, it’s pretty remarkable, with the younger version, known as Junior, being somewhat thinner, with a smoother face and more athletic ability than the older version.
Clive Owen is the creator of the clone. This could easily have been quite the over-the-top mad scientist, but as a contractor for the U.S. government, he wants to create an army of these clones to provide better soldiers. They would have no relatives, so there would be no painful deaths for families and he would breed things like sympathy and compassion out of the equation.
While he’s trying to get out of the assassination business, Henry picks up a new sidekick, Dani (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and an old friend played by Benedict Wong, while he tries to figure out why his last assignment turned out to have him kill the wrong man.
The story lands in France, Georgia, Cartagena and Budapest. Director Lee, who won the best directing Oscar for the spectacular “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” is a master at action sequences. His work here is breathtaking including among other things a sequence where Junior tries to kill Henry with a motorcycle. Have to see that one to believe it.
The problem is, Lee used a special technique, shooting the movie digitally in an extra high frame rate of 120 frames per second, much faster than the usual 24 fps.
He did this in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” in 2016 where he was so focused on the technology that he forgot to have a good script.
This time, the technology, used with 3D, is again districting. The visuals, which should have been rich in locations like Georgia or Cartagena, are washed out. The high FPS creates an odd, almost videogame-like feel, which is not the right thing for a feature film.
Best to wait for streaming/home video on this one.
Two Palm Trees.
This is absolutely the best movie to see this week.
“The Addams Family” is a delightful treat for adults and children.
The family is, as the classic theme song says, “mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky. “ Children younger than 8 might not understand everything but they’re not going to be traumatized.
There’s slapstick and juvenile humor and plenty of material for adults. But it’s just funny, not the relentless collection of pop-culture references found in the Shrek series.
The tone of the movie is just right. The characters are more unusual than creepy.
Although any family that includes something called Cousin Itt, which is just a hand that moves around, is not exactly the Brady Bunch.
Many people know the Addams Family from the movies in the ’90s or the mid-’60s television, which made the family almost cute, if very eccentric.
They were an odd wealthy family who enjoyed the macabre and were unaware or didn’t care that other people found them odd.
In fact, the Addams family, created by cartoonist Charles Addams, appeared in “The New Yorker” magazine starting in the 1930s. They were not cute. They were very dark, very macabre, but still very funny.
They family consisted of Gomez, his wife Morticia, their children Wednesday and Pugsly and several others.
Voice work is outstanding in this movie.
Oscar Isaac is Gomez, who is possessed with passion for his wife, Morticia. Isaac is right on the mark, intense without being over the top. He endearingly refers to his wife is “Tisha.”
Charlise Theron is truly amazing. Her Morticia is strange, but also not over-the-top. She’s icy, but in a non-threatening way.
The state-of-the-art animation is right on target as well. It’s not the splashy almost blinding look of DreamWorks animation, and it’s not so dark as to be muddled. It uses a subdued color palette that’s just the right amount of scary without being frightening.
The movie is a concise 1 hour, 27 minutes, which is good, because it’s such a delicate premise. Stretching any longer could have ruined the fun.
“The Addams Family” is not ground breaking, but above average. It’s a family movie not to be missed.
Three Palm Trees.
Lucy in the Sky
This is the second recent movie about the effects of humans going into outer space, but “Lucy in the Sky” is a big disappointment after “Ad Astra,” with Brad Pitt.
“Ad Astra” is fiction, set in the near future. “Lucy” is a contemporary film about the emotional catastrophe that envelopes Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) after she returns from space. A title card describes the movie as “Inspired by true events,” about a real life female astronaut’s affair with another astronaut and her subsequent criminal activities.
After a consciousness-altering visit to space, Cola’s life on earth seems lackluster and mundane. She is almost consumed by training to get onto another mission. But in the meantime, her private life disintegrates as she has an affair with another astronaut (Jon Hamm). Things really go off the rails when he dumps her. She ends up on a cross-country trip with her teenage daughter attempting to confront Hamm and convince him he made a mistake, which as we know from dozens of movies, always works out.
Portman has an Oscar for the disturbed ballerina in “Black Swan,” has done light comedies, other dramas, and even ventured into outer space in three “Star Wars” movies. So she’s got the skills.
But director Noah Hawley and script writers Brian C. Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi have fashioned a disjointed, confusing tale that jumps back and forth in time.
Hawley also constantly changes the size of the image from super wide for outer space to much smaller and square for Lucy’s life on earth. He also drops in some disjointed overhead shots.
He’s clearly trying to depict the disintegration and unsettled aspects of Lucy’s life, but it’s not coherent. It’s just confusing. He is one of the creative forces between the eccentric television version of “Fargo,” but he missed the mark here.
One Palm Tree.
A hard-R-rated comedy from some of the guys involved in the Hangover movies has plenty of potential, about a man whose life is completely taken over by the artificial intelligence program on his new phone.
Unfortunately, the execution dooms this premise to a series of barely funny interludes strung together over a fortunately brief 84-minute running time.
Adam Devine is an extremely likable actor and would seem to be good choice to be the centerpiece of a story.
But the production barely qualifies it for a low-end cable show, much less a theatrical feature, where you’re expected to pay admission.
One Palm Tree.
FROM THE VAULT
The versatile Natalie Portman (“Lucy in the Sky”) won the Best Actress Oscar in the 2010 psychological horror drama as the ballerina who loses her grip on reality. Intense and outstanding.
HOW WE RATE THE FILMS
Home videos are simply rated recommended or not recommended.
New Releases are rated as follows:
Five Palm Trees: Must see
Four Palm Trees: Worth seeing on the big screen
Three Palm Trees: Recommended for home viewing or on the big screen
Two Palm Trees: OK if you’re not paying
One Palm Tree: Skip it. Save your money and your time