Billy Magnussen

Film Review: Game Night

by Carrie Kahn on February 23, 2018

The Game‘s afoot in breezy, fun new comedy

Game Night doesn’t exactly go as planned for Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams).

The writing/directing team of actor John Francis Daley (who played Sweets in the long-running and slightly addictive Bones) and Jonathan Goldstein made their directorial debut three years ago with the poorly received Vacation remake. They fared better with two pictures they wrote but didn’t direct: Horrible Bosses (2011) and Horrible Bosses 2 (2014); this reviewer isn’t at all embarrassed to admit that she laughed so hard during the first Horrible Bosses that she nearly hyperventilated. With Game Night, the team’s second feature directing project, Daley and Goldstein do the opposite, though, and only direct, leaving the script to screenwriter Mark Perez. That may explain why this film, which also similarly stars affable everyman Jason Bateman, doesn’t reach the comedic heights of those prior two films. But this new collaboration has resulted in a pleasant and highly amusing comedy with a sensational cast, and it yields enough genuine laughs to recommend it.
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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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Film Review: Into the Woods

by Carrie Kahn on December 25, 2014

The cast is great/The film is good/Into the woods/To go to the movies!

The Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt) venture Into the Woods.

The Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt) venture Into the Woods.

Director Rob Marshall, who was nominated for an Oscar for his film version of the musical “Chicago” back in 2003, returns this holiday season with another big screen adaptation of a Broadway hit musical. This time he takes on Steven Sondheim’s storied (pun intended) 1987 mega-hit Into the Woods, an extraordinarily entertaining mishmash of several of the Grimm Brothers classic fairy tales. Produced by Disney, the film had been the subject of widespread speculation that the darker edges of the Sondheim/James Lapine fantasy might be smoothed too much. Purists need not worry, however; Marshall’s version retains the mature themes and disquieting tone of the original, and has the added benefit of a terrific cast.

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