This week’s movies are two comedies and “Dads,” a feel-good documentary.
It’s Viewing the Videos.
All the movies this week are available from streaming stories or on-demand
Irresistible (Amazon Prime)
Political satire would be seem to be right up Jon Stewart’s alley, but “Irresistible” is entertaining rather than sharply focused.
Set right after Donald Trump was elected, Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives, decides to help elect the major of a small Wisconsin town. He thinks that Democratic political party professionals have problem communicating with the voters.
He discovers a viral video that shows a retired military man who, in Zimmer’s words, “looks conservative, but sounds progressive. He’s a Democrat, but he doesn’t know.” Zimmer journeys to the small town of Deerlaken, Wis., to try to work his political magic.
Stewart has a lot to say about our dysfunctional political system and he hits all the issues: political action groups, consultants, big budget contributors and cable news pundits.
The man he selects to run as his candidate is former Marine Colonel Jack Hastings, who achieves viral fame when he makes an impassioned speech before the town council urging them not to require official IDs for residents to use city services.
Colonel Jack Hastings is played by Chris Cooper. He’s perfect (as are all the actors) as Hastings who became a farmer in rural Wisconsin after his service and seems incapable of not telling the truth, which makes him a different kind of candidate. With his grey hair and face lined from years of living life, his words are believable.
Things can't stay idyllic for long. The Republican Party decides to get involved, supporting the incumbent. Zimmer’s long-time republican rival Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) crashes into Deerlaken and while, ballbuster might not be an appropriate term these days, she’s as rough and vulgar as Zimmer is smooth. Nice to see the woman’s role as the hard-ass.
This is a smooth and entertaining movie, and Stewart makes all his points, but it seems a little too smooth, bland in a way. No one is a better observer of the political scene than Stewart and it could have been more hard-edged.
So, in terms of ideas and observations, it doesn’t break any new ground. But it’s a realistic look at what’s wrong with our political system and extremely enjoyable.
Three Palm Trees.
Dads (Apple TV+)
The Apple TV+ “Dads” wholesome look and the highs and lows of fatherhood. Actor/director Bryce Dallas Howard directed the package which is informative and heartwarming at the same.
Fatherhood is a universal experience and Howard constructs the movie with interviews from a-list personalities and longer looks at several fathers who are out of the spotlight.
Part of the fun is the fact that celebrity fathers reveal that they may be famous, but in the eyes of the children, they’re still dorky dads. Celebrities include Judd Apatow, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, Ken Jeong, Jimmy Kimmel, Hasan Minhaj, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, Will Smith, Kenan Thompson, Bryce’s father, Ron Howard, and her grandfather Rance Howard
The celebrity interviews are relatively brief, informative, funny, and touching.
The longer segments might be a little smoothed off, but they are still realistic.
There’s a Brazilian father who didn’t know what to do because he had no father; he ended up starting a blog. In Japan, after recovering from an illness that was expected to kill him, Shiuchi Sakumi becomes a stay-at-home dad who cries tears of joy when discussing his son.
And there’s a gay couple from Maryland who become foster parents to three boys and a girl almost at the same time. Sounds like a movie premise, but the love they show clearly overwhelms what would be an unmanageable situation to many people.
The movie is short, but it doesn’t feel like anything was overlooked.
Besides her work as an actress, Bryce Dallas Howard directed a few short films and one of the episodes of the highly popular Disney+ series, “The Mandalorian.” That brief resume shows tremendous range as a director, so her future as a director is unlimited.
This movie will make you feel good and maybe shed a few tears. Nothing wrong with that. Four Palm Trees.
My Spy (Amazon Prime)
This is an old story.
In “My Spy” a big, musclebound tough guy partners with a wise cracking child. Complications and hopefully humor follow. It’s been done many, many times before, so the execution must be perfect.
Unfortunately, it’s not. The acting is first class. Dave Bautista, superstar professional wrestler turned actor is JJ, a CIA operative. Bautista is best known for action roles in movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but also is superb comic actor, with both dialogue and physical comedy.
He’s teamed with 11-year-old Chloe Coleman. Only 11 with a few credits including HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” she has comedic talent far beyond her years.
In spite of the acting, the movie is a dull package. The creative team included the writers of the “Red” movies, which were funny. The director, Peter Segal, is responsible for movies like “Tommy Boy,” “Anger Management” and “50 First Dates.”
None of this matters. It’s not a waste of time, but it’s nothing special. Don’t expect too match and you won’t be disappointed.
Two Palm Trees. OK is it’s for free.
MOVIE THAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
Steve Carell (“Irresistible”) provides the voice in this animated story of a supervillain, Gru, who adopts three girls. It’s funny and heartwarming in its own way.
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.