Opening in Las Vegas, December 18, 2015

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Perhaps the first movie to ever make a gazillion dollars is Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens (81). Rising from the dead like Frankenstein in an old Universal horror film, the series that George Lucas could not kill off is now in Disney’s hands, as well as J.J. Abrams, who also revived the moribund Star Trek franchise. I’m not a Star Wars guy–I was 17 when I saw the first film, and already a jaded cynic, and it never meant anything to me. I dutifully saw all the prequels, but this one is getting good reviews, even though it seems to a remake of Episode 4 in plot and tone. Alonso Duralde: “Abrams had the benefit of learning what didn’t work in Lucas’ prequels, and he’s gone in the opposite direction. He’s also set an interesting course for moving forward with this engaging cast playing new characters making their way through this beloved universe.”

In counter-programming, for the women there’s Sisters  (58), starring the great comedy team of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Their movies haven’t quite matched their TV appearances, apparently (I still haven’t seen Baby Mama). I still don’t understand why they didn’t open last week, when they could have beaten In the Heart of the Sea. Josh Winning: “Laugh-out-loud in places. Frustratingly flat in others. Sporadic giggles guaranteed. Fey and Poehler’s comic chemistry is undeniable; shame the script didn’t get a Liz Lemon rewrite.”

And, as punishment for having children, there’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (34). I have successfully avoided all these films, and hopefully that will stay that way. Michael Rechtshaffen: “No less noisy, obnoxious or just plain groan-inducing than the previous installments.”

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

11 responses »

  1. For those who don’t have kids…here’s some nightmare fuel: Alvin and the Chipmunks is like a Pixar film compared to a lot of a insufferable garbage out there aimed at kids. My 8 year old sometimes brings things up on Netflix that almost certainly exist just to cause parents agony.

    You’re dead on re: Sisters’ release date. Really, both Alvin and Sisters would have clobbered Ron Howard’s whale picture.

  2. While I enjoyed watching the original trio of Star Wars films when I was kid, I haven’t had any interest in the series for decades (haven’t even seen any of the prequels). But I am fascinated (and a bit baffled) as to how this series (despite much disdain for the prequels) seems to have an iron grip on pop culture in 2015 as it has at any other stage in the past few decades.

    I’ve read some interesting theories and I reckon getting Ford/Fischer/Hamill back was pivotal, but how adults take it so seriously and passionately is still a mystery to me.

  3. In counter-programming, for the women there’s Sisters (58), starring the great comedy team of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Their movies haven’t quite matched their TV appearances, apparently (I still haven’t seen Baby Mama).

    I did a review of ‘Baby Mama’ on here a few years ago – pretty much a dud.

    From what I’ve seen of Fey/Poehler’s work, their acting styles seem too limited and TV-sketch styled to really work on the big screen.

  4. **********Spoiler, (Maybe)*******************

    I can’t believe Disney’s not using the term ‘reboot’. Because even down to the dialogue, this is just Star Wars, again. That’s not to say I wasn’t continually thrilled and that I didn’t laugh and that I didn’t even cry at a few spots from nostalgia. But that was some seriously weak writing and it was just Star Wars. Again. But for a new generation, that’s not an entirely terrible thing. But holy crap…that was weak writing, and Star Wars deserves a new, incredible story, and seeing the ending, will likely come for the next one. And don’t let your kids see this. Seriosuly. I’m scarred.

  5. Also, I’m done standing in line for movies. They charge 18 dollars for whatused to be considered a ‘movie’ and is now called IMAX, which isn’t IMAX at all and is really just what movies used to be and though the sound is great, it’s almost 20 dollars for what should be maybe 12. And you stand in line for an hour to see it.
    Also: no more 3D for me. Done. It’s not terrible, and the glasses are way more comfortable, but 2D is all I need.

  6. I’ll have a full review tomorrow (unless someone else wants to write) but i have to echo Filmman’s take, word for word. Great stuff, and I’d call it the best film of the franchise except that it plagiarizes itself.

  7. So who has seen Star Wars so far? Nic, Joe, Filmman, and me? Would everybody else go so we can have discussions about it? I want some theories (such as who are Rey’s parents).

  8. I’m not interested in seeing it but at least you’ll have slightly more people to discuss it with than the last film I saw at the cinema – Truth. Wasn’t quite the BO success that Star Wars has been I think it’s fair to say.

  9. After 4 “days” it’s already #6 for the year. It may make it all the way up to #2 before the calendar year is out (in 14 days of release).

  10. Saw ‘Sisters’ and had a decent time with it. Raucous out-of-control party movies are a dime-a-dozen these days but that the main protagonists were two middle-aged women at least was something different.

    For most part it’s pretty lively and often amusing, especially when the party is in full swing. On the debit side it relies too often on shock humour related to detailed descriptions of crass behaviour (a real cliche of modern US comedy) and yes, this is the billionth film in the past 20 years that falls back on uptight people go wild after taking drugs for easy laughs.

    As well, the last 20 minutes are fairly dreary as it wraps up things in a conventional, upbeat manner.

    But, it’s enjoyable for the most part, the two stars work well as a team as expected and there’s s nice supporting performance from Dianne Weist (far too absent in films recently).

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