Aubrey Plaza

Tonally uneven film obscures provocative premise   

Social media obsessed Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) moves to L.A. with a plan to befriend her Instagram idol.

If you sometimes worry you may be checking your Facebook and Instagram feeds just a little too frequently, rest assured that you’ve got nothing on Ingrid Thorburn. As portrayed by an exceptional Audrey Plaza, the social media obsessed heroine of Ingrid Goes West becomes a poster child for smart phone restraint. Unfortunately, first time feature writer/director Matt Spicer and his co-writer David Branson Smith run into tone problems, turning what could have been a brilliant satire into something mildly amusing but ultimately unsatisfying, almost to the point of troubling.
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… in which our intrepid California-bred Senior Film Reviewer defies an epic winter storm and a fierce chest cold to bring you highlights from this year’s famous Park City fest.

The 2017 Sundance Film Festival ended last Saturday evening after ten days of showcasing over 200 films from around the globe; you can see all the winners here.

For the third year in a row, Spinning Platters was on the (snow-covered) ground trying to take in as many movies as our limited time and budget would allow. And so we bring you the first of our posts spotlighting the 17 films we managed to squeeze in to just over five days.

Many of these may receive distribution deals (if they haven’t already), so you can know what to watch for in the coming year with these handy capsule reviews, which use our patented Sundance Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide:

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Winning cast brings solid laughs to predictable picture

Mike (Adam Devine, l.) and Dave (Zac Efron, r.) are aghast after being chastised by their parents for their boorish behavior at family events.

Back in the pre-Internet days, an old creative writing teaching technique used to be to have students read the classifieds and generate a short story based on gems they found there. Screenwriters Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien obviously understand the imaginative gold of such an assignment, since, for their post-Neighbors 1 and 2 screenplay, they’ve turned an actual Craigslist ad into the decently funny picture Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Directed by TV comedy director Jake Szymanski in his first feature film foray, Mike and Dave is neither no more nor no less than what you’d expect from a raunchy-but-sweet summer comedy.
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A raunchy two-joke movie that keeps the humor flowing.

Aubrey Plaza demonstrates her (acting) skills.

Aubrey Plaza demonstrates her (acting) skills.

If you’re old enough to remember growing up in the 90’s, then The To Do List will supply you with a healthy dose of nostalgia.  If you like sexual humor and gross-out comedies, then The To Do List will surely entertain you.  If you find the combination of 90’s culture and sexual humor appealing, then this movie is basically a cinematic orgasm.  It’s also a coming-out party for Aubrey Plaza, if Parks & Recreation hasn’t yet done the trick.  The To Do List turns the stereotypical preachy message that you’d find in most romantic comedies (even the gross ones) over on its head, instead delivering the truth about teenage sexual curiosity and pressures…the unabashed, awkward, and honest truth.

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