Just as I was thinking that 2018 has been a down year for comedies, along comes “Juliet, Naked,” which got a limited release in theaters and is now on home video. It’s the sixth Nick Hornby book to be adapted for the screen, and my personal favorite. (And no, I’m not forgetting “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy.”) Featuring the pitch-perfect cast of Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd, it left me misty-eyed with laughter and sadness – sometimes within the same scene – and features a funny yet sober examination of extreme music nerdery.
When we say “the new Paul Feig movie,” something like “A Simple Favor,” now on home video, is not what we’d expect from the co-creator of “Freaks and Geeks” and the director of many subsequent comedies with heart. But, you know, it’s pretty cool that someone can have enough success to break out of the category we’ve put him in – even if we like his work in that category.
“Iron Man 3” is one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but I’ve heard it criticized for being a Shane Black movie in a genre where that doesn’t fit, and I have a feeling that critique might come up again with “The Predator.” Recently released on home video, this is another fun film from the director, but I admit the tone is off.
“BlacKkKlansman” continues the trend of films based on true stories – along with the likes of “I, Tonya” and “The Disaster Artist” – that would be labeled as illogically plotted if they were fictional. This Spike Lee joint is the story of Ron Stallworth, not the Steelers player but rather a Colorado Springs detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan as an undercover detective in the 1970s, despite being black.
“iZombie’s” Rose McIver is doing pretty well, at least commercially, on her offseason hiatuses, starring in 2017’s “A Christmas Prince” and this year’s “A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding.” In these Netflix hits, she plays Amber Moore (a long-lost twin sister of Liv?), an American journalist who falls for the prince of Aldovia while on assignment covering the royal succession.
“The Christmas Chronicles” (Netflix) makes a strong bid to join the pantheon of holiday classics. Despite being a straight-down-the-middle yarn in a lot of ways, the earnest performances – especially a game Kurt Russell as Santa Claus – and top-flight special effects should make this a winner for all but the most Grinchy of viewers.
“Peppermint” is basically a gender flip of “The Punisher.” Jennifer Garner plays Riley North, whose husband and daughter are gunned down by gang-bangers due to some poor decisions the husband had made. After an outburst in court when the killers are set free, Riley is to be sent to a mental hospital; however, she escapes and disappears.
Recent Hollywood offerings remind us that any stupid thing guys can do, girls can do just as stupidly, from the “Hangover”-esque “Girls Trip” to the “American Pie” update “Blockers.” The latest offering in this subgenre is “Never Goin’ Back” (on Amazon Prime), the answer to stoner comedies such as “Pineapple Express” and other entries from the Rogen-Franco oeuvre.
“Mile 22,” directed by Paul Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, comes on the heels of “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon” and “Patriot’s Day,” all of which were really good movies. In fact, “Lone Survivor” and “Patriot’s Day” were in my top 10 for their respective years. However, that may change with Wahlberg’s newest entry.
In honor of “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” hitting home rental this week, I thought I’d do a ranking of all six “M:I” movies in which Tom Cruise plays Agent Ethan Hunt. As an action movie junkie, my views may differ from the typical critical rankings. Cruise does almost all of his own stunts, and they are just as much the star of the show as he is, so I’ve included a nod to the best action sequence in each film.