Bad Moms (R)

Bad Moms, starring Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell and Christina Applegate, is the story of a mom who is overworked, overscheduled and drained who decides she is not going to do what is expected of her as a “good” mom anymore, so she resigns herself to being a “bad” mom: a mom who does not do her children’s homework and projects; does not make it to every game/recital/conference; does not participate in every drive/fund raiser/bake sale; a mom who thinks of and puts herself first sometime; a mom who drinks, goes out on school nights, and all the other things “good” moms do not do.

For me, this movie was a miss in so many ways from beginning to end.

Most importantly, the laughs just were not there.  Allow me to say this please… There is a reason why certain cuss words and phrases do not really “take off” like others.  One reason is that the words sound ridiculous when they come out of one’s mouth.  Anyone’s mouth.  It’s not that the speaker is doing anything wrong.  It’s just that what they just said sounds ridiculous.  Trust me when I tell you, and most people who have had a conversation with me can back me up on this, there is an art to the use of curse words.  You have to first own the word and then command it.  You have to commit to cussing if you’re going to do it effectively and sound authentic.  So, there were words in this movie that never should have been written, much less spoken, and there were instances where the cussing did not make the line funny.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again, cussing does not offend me, so it is fine to use profanity to accentuate or even punctuate a joke as far as I am concerned – but the cuss itself cannot and will never be the joke.

After watching Bad Moms I found out it was written by John Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover) and I must say, this is not their best work.  I mean, I can’t really explain where the disconnect lies, but there was definitely a disconnect between the audience and the funny.  There were some chuckles, but no real humor.  There are some even uncomfortable moments that will make you laugh – because you feel uncomfortable and don’t really know how else to react – because you think you came to see a comedy…?  Perhaps this movie should not have been billed as a comedy.  Not in its current state at any rate.

The story was all over the place.  Kunis’ character was breaking up with her husband, fighting with her kids, fighting with the head of the PTA, fighting with her boss, had a useless assistant, the dog was sick (which was totally unnecessary and not really funny at all).  There were too many relationships going on in the movie when the focus should have been on the relationship with the other “bad” moms (Hahn and Bell), her rival at the PTA (Applegate), the children, and the job.  All of the rest of the “stuff” in the movie was unnecessary.  Filling the movie up with unnecessary characters and relationships just diluted the story, thinned the plot and thinned the potential jokes.

The acting wasn’t bad at all. Kathryn Hahn is a raunchy maniac who is capable of saying almost anything and making it sound authentic.  Almost anything.  Even she could not overcome some of the poorly written lines and jokes.  She can be pretty funny given the right material though and I look forward to seeing more from her.  And it was good to see Kristen Bell attempting “comedy.”  Mila Kunis did a pretty good job.  And be on the lookout for Oona Laurence, the young lady who plays Kunis’ daughter Jane.  She was pretty perfect in her comedic and dramatic moments, and is adorable here.

Bad Moms earns 5 bloops. It is a so-so movie that is worth seeing if you don’t have to pay. Wait for it to come on cable or streaming service.

Nerve (PG-13)

Nerve, starring Emma Roberts as Vee and Dave Franco as Ian, is a modern-day teen thriller about one big game of Truth-or-Dare, minus the truth, played on line, hopped up on steroids, that gets all too real for a high school senior.  After doing absolutely zero homework about this game, Vee decides to participate in order to add some spice to her otherwise ho-hum existence and prove that she is not “boring” to a friend.  She soon finds out she’s made a huge mistake as throughout the course of this game the stakes get higher and higher as the “dares” of the game become increasingly dangerous.

If you’re looking for thrills and suspense, you will find some here, but it isn’t super intense, or at least I didn’t think so. There are adrenaline inducing stunts that will have you on the edge of your seat, but the film is almost light-hearted with quite a few more laughs than one might expect.  Nerve could have gone much darker but I like that it didn’t and that it kept a PG-13 rating so that the audience who will benefit most from this movie is able to at least see it and to relate to it.  Even though Nerve is a sort of “What Not to Do” guide, if you’ve ever been a teen, surely you recall how any message being “too preachy” can turn a kid off to the message entirely.  Also, to go too dark would make the premise seem more far-fetched, and thereby less relatable.

Nerve is a movie which provides many teachable moments to open up dialog between parents/guardians and pre-teens/tweens/teens about being leaders instead of followers, the imperfections of friendships and how to get past them, the dangers of getting caught up in social media, how what you put on social media can be used against you, reality vs. perception, social images and illusions, mob mentality, peer pressure and more.  I highly recommend seeing it with your children if they feel they can still be seen with you in public, that is.

This generation of American teens and all generations to follow are or will have no choice, one way or another, but to have a social media presence whether they like it or  want it, or not.  It’s hardly a choice anymore and will become less so, I’d imagine, as we go forward.  That cannot be an easy way to grow up.  When we did something embarrassing how many people found out about it?  Fifty, one hundred, two hundred – even a thousand?  How many people have access to that information now?  Or maybe even video of it.  There is no better time to have this discussion than right now.  It is necessary social media etiquette become part of our conversations with children, along with the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, as it is one of the basics in our lives now.

This movie took me back to being young (not that I’m not still young; I mean teenager young), insecure, foolish and trying to figure out who I am in the world.  It also took me back to a time when I was blissfully ignorant, arrogant and carefree.  I can only speak for myself here, but during the teenage years, many times, these times were both happening simultaneously.  We all need to remember that every once in a while so that we don’t judge younger generations too harshly.  Like, “Wow.  Yes!  I remember actually being equally stupid!”  I may not have done the same stupid thing you’re doing right now, but nonetheless, Yes.  I did some pretty dumb shit.”  I was impressed that feeling was able to be captured, until the fun stopped and it wasn’t fun anymore – and that feeling was captured as well.  That is what makes this movie good.

The integration of footage of some of the on line stunts our youth have pulled in recent years really cemented the feeling that something not so different from the plot of this movie could and may be happening in the not-too-distant future, if it isn’t happening right now and we old people just don’t know about it yet.  I would not be surprised.  What would surprise me though is if such a game could remain a secret for long because everyone is just dying to go viral and compelled to spill every part of their lives all over the internet, or so it seems.

There were problems with this film that I cannot go into without providing spoilers, so I’ll let you judge for yourself, if you should see it.  Some plot issues, some writing critiques, and even some acting critiques, but the fresh subject matter saves it.

Nerve earns 8.0 out of 10 bloops. It is an original movie that is worth seeing, particularly if you have tweens/teens.  Even if you do not have children, if you’ve ever been a teen you should get some enjoyment from Nerve.  It is a good summer movie that is definitely worth a look.

The Childhood of a Leader

Said to be loosely inspired by the early childhood experiences of many of the great dictators of the 20th century, The Childhood of a Leader (starring Tom Sweet and Robert Pattinson) attempts to examine how sociopaths who come to power become who they are.  More specifically, what part of their psychoses is nature vs. nurture?

This is a beautifully shot movie with music and many scenes that will remind you of The Omen. Both films are about a horrifying young boy, who will one day become a world leader, except in this film, the parents are far too wrapped up in themselves to parent this person like they should, with catastrophic results.  Like the adage says, “If You Have Children, Remember This; When You Finish With Them, The Rest Of The World Has To Live With Them, So Please Teach Them Respect.” ~ author unknown.  Despite the fact that The Childhood of a Leader is billed as a horror film, this child possesses no otherworldly powers.  He is simply a disrespectful, narcissistic, little egomaniac who is left unchecked.  The horror is in watching his extremely undisciplined life and who and/or what he grows up to become.

Despite the fact that this child displays signs of being a bit “off” more and more over time, the workaholic father leaves him to the stay at home mother, the mother leaves him to the housekeeper, the housekeeper is fired and so the child is left to the mother again; the child is left to the French tutor who cannot handle him, but then he outgrows the need for tutoring, so back to the mother he goes. His mother cannot deal with him and he is left to the father, and on and on and on like this throughout the movie.  Discipline does not exist in the form of punishment and when punishment is administered, it is severe.  Also, there is no discipline in the child’s day to day activities as he hangs around the house with the servants and attempts to get attention from his parents with absurd interruptions, outburst, and tantrums.  He doesn’t even attend school, although I’m sure that if he did, he would have many problems there as well.  Early on his mother attempts to get him involved in church youth activities, but he doesn’t quite fit in there, to say the least.

Tom Sweet’s performance as this unapologetic brat is excellent. Robert Pattinson shows the way to break out of being typecast, as he takes on dual roles here.  Rounding out the main cast, as the boy’s father and mother are Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth from Game of Thrones) and Bérénice Bejo.  Each does an excellent job at relaying their frustration with a child they have absolutely no idea how to manage.

While the movie is well written, it tends to drag in spots. A bit more editing would have gone a long way.  The WWI footage is well integrated into the story to give you an idea of the era and environment in which this child is being raised, what is happening in the world at the time, and his family’s relationship and parallels to it all.  The similarity in look and sound to The Omen take away from the originality of the plot.

The Childhood of a Leader earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a well written, intriguing story that is worth a look.

The Infiltrator (R)

John Mazur (played by Bryan Cranston) and Emil Abreu (played by John Leguzamo) go under deep cover into a world of scary, murderous, criminal, sociopaths in The Infiltrator.  Very much in the vein of Walter White from Breaking Bad, Cranston’s character attempts to navigate two worlds; that of doting family man, and that of a high level money launderer for drug dealers, and eventually the entire Medellin cartel.  To make an error as a family man may or may not be forgivable; to make an error as a money launderer for a drug cartel will undoubtedly cost him his life.

Mazur is not your typical undercover officer, but a U.S. Customs official who, along with the more street smart Emil, infiltrates the cartel in an attempt to follow the money trail rather than the drug trail to bust the drug trade wide open, including the drug lord, Pablo Escobar, his upper level lieutenants and associates and the bankers who enabled them to launder their dirty money around the world. Based on a true story, this movie has action and suspense, and it is shot like it was made in the 80’s at the height of the U.S. war on drugs, but in a good way.

Cranston is one of the most effortless modern day actors. Here, he does what he does best – the good guy turning bad showing the blurred lines in-between.  Leguzamo provides the much needed comic relief, and shows off his dramatic skills in some very tense scenes.  The Infiltrator is fast paced (sometimes a little too fast (see below)) and never dull because you never know what an agent might do to slip up.

The main issue I had with this movie was that the characters skipped around from setting to setting and it was not always clear where they were, and/or how they got there, which left me sort of confused and having to take a few seconds to figure it out. The agents and cartel associates move from New York, to Tampa, to Columbia, to Paris and back again with such little notice and such fluidity it was hard to keep up.  At least it was hard for me to keep up anyway.  You may fare better.  This scene shifting leads to the other problem with the film.  This style of film making makes it feel as though certain scenes are incomplete.  Before you know it, the movie moves on to the next situation, the next scene, the next event – giving the entire movie a “choppy” feel.

The Infiltrator earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a solid movie worth seeing, particularly if you enjoy a movie with suspense, action, drug lords and executions.

Swiss Army Man (R)

For the second time in my movie going history, I had to raise myself up out of my chair and walk out of a movie. This time I could only stand 10 very short (or very long, depending on how you look at it) and very painful minutes of Swiss Army Man.  I was at the AMC Empire 25 on 42nd Street and the manager tried to give me a hard time about a refund.  I know that the policy at most theaters is that a viewer has 20 minutes of viewing time in which to decide whether they want a refund.  If you watch any more than 20 minutes, it is likened to the “steak” scenario, where you cannot get a refund if you ate the steak – meaning you cannot watch a crappy movie until the end and then request a refund.  So, after 10 excruciating minutes watching  Swiss Army Man (starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe), I made a beeline to customer service.  The manager tells me the 20 minute window begins at the start time printed on the movie ticket and I am too late.  How can that be when there are 20 minutes of previews?  How can I say whether I want to walk out and be refunded if I have yet to lay eyes on scene one of the movie?  In the end, I got my refund and more.

I thought this movie had possibilities as the synopsis immediately conjured up images of a mashup between Weekend at Bernies (1989) and Castaway (2000), with Paul Dano’s character (I’m not even going to waste time looking up character’s names) stranded on a deserted island for so long he is ready to commit suicide.  (I wish he had and the movie just ended there, honestly – but it continued.)  While he is in the act of hanging himself, he notices Daniel Radcliffe’s body has washed up onto the shore.  He unhooks himself to see if this person is alive, only to be sorely disappointed and realize he is not.  He then presses on the body, which releases some gas.  Move forward a few frames and this dude is riding Daniel Radcliffe’s dead body like a jet ski, while they are being propelled by flatulence.  They ride all the way to a neighboring island or shore, or whatever, which it seems is also deserted until Dano’s character finds a bag of Cheetos or something.  I don’t know whether that bag of Cheetos washed up on shore or if that signified there might be people inhabiting this island; and at this point, I could not have cared less if I tried.  At this point, I had had enough and walked out.  I understand that Daniel Radcliffe is trying to shake his Harry Potter image, but this was foolishness.

In all fairness, I have since spoken to several people who were able to sit through this movie and each of them used words such as “amazing,” “inventive,” “incredible,” “original” to describe it.  Their opinions may or may not be the case, but I will not be revisiting this movie any time soon to find out what I allegedly missed.  Everything is not for everybody and this movie definitely was not for me.

I can’t rate Swiss Army Man at all because I didn’t see it.  I just wasn’t interested enough to continue watching.  That’s the thing about being and getting older – time becomes so valuable.  The one thing I cannot stand above all else is for anything or anyone to waste my time.  I wasn’t willing to take a chance that this might be two hours or so of my life that I would never get back.  At the end of my life I might be praying for another 2 hours, but oh yeah… I wasted it watching some terrible movie.  I know that is not how time and death actually work, but sometimes in my mind it does.  So, this makes the second movie I have walked out on ever, all in the same month.  Things can only getter better from here!

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (R)

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is one funny movie.  I cannot tell you the last time I’ve seen a comedy that caused me to laugh so consistently throughout.  Maybe Superbad (just to give you an idea of the silly things that make me laugh – and in all fairness, I was not reviewing movies then and I was not at all sober the first time I saw Superbad).  Had I been anything less than sober, I might have hurt myself.  And I was not laughing alone.  Although attendance was sparse (it was 1:00 p.m. on a Thursday.  There may have been 20 people there), those in attendance were laughing right along with me – and not because we were prompting one another to do so.  These were genuine laughs.

Yes, the humor is crude, but that’s the way I like it sometimes. I am not easily offended, if at all, by swear words and understand that the joke cannot rely on them.  So, to curse and make me laugh is not an easy thing to do.  Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is adult, edgy, sometimes what some might consider vulgar, but most importantly, it is fun and it is funny.  To see Zac Ephron doing “adult” comedy is odd – but rather hilarious; and to pair him with Adam Devine (who borders on comedic genius here as he reminds me so much of a young Dan Akroyd with his versatile approach to humor, his facial expressions and the fact that at times, he actually LOOKS like Akroyd), was a stroke of genius.

Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick pulled no punches, saying and doing all sorts of “unlady-like” things to make you laugh out loud.  I will admit that Aubry’s character took it too far at times, but what the heck… if you’re gonna go for it, go for it!  And they did.  They are an outlandish, provocative, crazy and funny pair who work well together.  These two are crazy broads who can hang with the fellas when it comes to the raunch, matching their male counterparts joke for joke and stunt for stunt.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. The humor of this movie took me back to Porky’s, Revenge of the Nerds, Meatballs, Bachelor Party – you know, the 80’s sex romp movies; just a fun, funny, stupid comedy.  The kind of movie I would have snuck into with my underage friends, so your kids are going to want to see it – just so you know.  Especially if they are Zac Ephron fans.  So, if that genre of movie suits the brand of humor you enjoy, you should catch Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates this weekend.

Ghostbusters (PG-13)

Ghostbusters starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth is a loose remake of the 1986 original, Ghost Busters.  Each version is a story about some New York City hauntings rooted in a larger plot to somehow take over and/or destroy the world.

The ladies have a hard time living up to the comedic chemistry and timing of Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd, and no one should expect them to.  Almost no one could.  Wiig’s character is consistently, sometimes annoyingly, over the top, at times doing far too much to earn a laugh that should come far more effortlessly.  McCarthy’s character earns a couple of laughs, but the entire role feels forced and somehow not right for her – if you can imagine for a moment that there is anything Melissa McCarthy cannot do as a comedian (or comedienne…  I have no idea which would be politically correct, nor do I care).  At other times, the jokes weren’t taken far enough and lacked the comedic “punch” required to get the laugh, told as if the cast were in a hurry to film this movie and get it over with, or the jokes were just misses.

While the original was a goofy and, let’s face it, corny, product of its time, it contained a few laugh out loud lines and moments.  This remake could have been so much better had it not attempted to be different in all the wrong ways.  It is nice to see a “blockbuster” summer movie starring women, but there must be more.  To have a main cast of women does not provide humor and is not enough.  To take the instrument used to find the presence of ghosts and change the color from the masculine black in the original to neon “pink is for girls” is not enough.  To add in a bit of modern technology is not enough.  To amp up the supernatural beings with CGI is not enough.  To add 3D effects is not enough.  And to add Chris Hemsworth for eye candy…well…that was almost enough, but still – not enough.  Although, I must say, he really is super cute and more importantly, he provided the majority of the comedy in the film with his rendition of the traditionally female “dumb blonde” – making it less of a “girls” movie after all.

I am having a hard time finding fault with the director, Paul Feig, who directed Bridesmaids and The Heat, and there were great comedy writers on this project, including Dan Akroyd – leading me to believe that perhaps: (1) there may be something off about the chemistry of this particular cast that doomed this movie to mediocrity.  Just because they are funny ladies doesn’t necessarily mean they can be funny well together.  I would probably have to watch it again to put my finger on the exact issue, but that’s not going to happen, at least not for a very long time; and (2) perhaps the material leaves little for a creative mind to work with; so perhaps a remake of this particular film was not in order, but a total reinvention that could have been amped up and taken the original to the modern day next level, rather than being stuck mostly in the past with the use of dated looking tasers and such.

At any rate, the mission was to deliver on the laughs, and considering the build-up for this movie and the talent involved, I expected more.  If you enjoyed the original or are superfans of any of the cast you may enjoy this version of Ghostbusters and younger kids will enjoy it, particularly if you see it in 3D.  They don’t really know any better unless we teach them, do they?  Older kids may find it old-fashioned and corny still, just like the original – and not in a good way.  The effects are sort of underwhelming compared to what can be experienced in theaters these days.

Ghostbusters earned 6 out of 10 bloops. It’s not bad, but it could have been much better.  Lackluster compared to the 30 year old original.

The Shallows (PG-13)

Starring Blake Lively, The Shallows is a modern-day man (or in this case woman) vs. shark tale about a very smart shark that can really hold a grudge and is determined to have Lively’s character, Nancy, for supper.

What I liked about The Shallows is that it in almost no way resembles  Jaws, except, quite obviously, that there is a killer shark and some suspense involved.  It was almost an anti-Jaws type movie in that this beach setting is small and intimate, desolate and unnamed – which kept the movie on a small scale – which is why the movie worked.  Only a few people die, but on an isolated island every death is meaningful. There were not throngs of tourists involved, and it was not a holiday weekend or spring break, on an island with many inhabitants.  There was no mass hysteria or need for a “bigger boat.”  There was just Nancy and this Shark, pretty much.  Even the length of the movie, a respectable 1 hour 26 minutes, is considered sort of short for a movie these days.  I very much appreciated the movie’s length, rather than sitting through an additional 24 minutes of fluff to fill up 2 hours for no good reason at all.  This makes me want to see more from director Jaume Collet-Serra and writer Anthony Jaswinski.

Lively does a decent job of carrying a movie (and the seagull playing Nancy’s non-verbal companion (à la Wilson from Castaway) deserves an honorable mention).  Lively got a chance to join the mostly boys club that includes, to name a few, Tom Hanks (Castaway), Robert Redford (All is Lost) and Matt Damon (The Martian), as a main character carrying a movie with little to no other characters in most of their scenes.  The only other women I can think of who are in that club may be Sigourney Weaver (Alien) (I hope I am not confusing Alien with Aliens.  if that is the case please forgive me) and Sandra Bullock (Gravity).  I may be forgetting some film or another, but you get the point, I’m sure.  There are not many women in the club.

I did not care for the tech presentations in the movie, generally. We all know what year it is and that everyone is equipped with gadgets that do just about anything and everything, but I did not enjoy being taken outside of the movie and put on the character’s Facetime call.  There is a scene where a cell phone screen with Nancy’s image and a cell phone screen with the image of her sister, are literally simultaneously put up on the movie screen as Nancy walks on the beach during their conversation.  At another point, Nancy’s high tech clock is put up on the screen, which is less annoying because she is using it to time the shark’s activity.  It worked with the clock, but not with the Facetime for me because although I see how the Facetiming technique cuts the film budget (not to have to actually shoot a scene with those lines in it, put it on the phone, and explaining the background of the story) I believe I would have enjoyed the movie more if those scenes would have been played out.  Hey, maybe not.  But I get it.  Nancy is a modern, gadget using girl.

Also, personally, if I had written this movie it would have been rated R due to the amount of cussin’ I would have been doing while this focused and extremely fixated, ever so patient shark stalked me.  This woman may have had the cleanest mouth on film ever, particularly under the circumstances.  I wonder, has anyone created a test or a measurement for that?

Time Out Magazine naming this movie one of the best of 2016 so far is a bit of a stretch in my opinion, but whatever…  Everyone has their own taste.  And it isn’t like Hollywood is cranking out masterpieces so far this year either – so they may be correct.

The Shallows earns 7 bloops.  It’s not a bad movie, and is worth a watch.  Whether you see it in the theater or wait for it to come on cable or streaming, I think you’ll enjoy it.  Aside from the fact that the protagonist is a woman, the movie provides nothing we’ve not seen before.  But, there is some suspense here, and the movie does not try to be something it is not, which is really rather smart.  Depending on your taste, The Shallows may be worth the price of admission for some light, summer fare if you want to escape the heat and find something to keep the kids quiet for a few minutes.  The youngsters (7-11 year olds) who were in the theater with me were quiet, captivated and seemed to enjoy it very much.

The Innocents

Billed as a Polish-French film with English subtitles and based on true events, The Innocents takes place in 1945 Poland at the end of World War II.  Lou de Laâge plays Mathilde, a young, French doctor treating patients who have been liberated from the concentration camps.  One day a nun comes to the hospital where Mathilde works and asks for help with an emergency at her convent.  At first Mathilde refuses, but eventually accompanies the nun back to the convent.  There, she discovers a pregnant nun who needs immediate help delivering her baby.  This encounter leads to other secrets about this order of nuns and what the nuns have been willing to do to protect their secrets.

This movie is riveting and I recommend you see it before it leaves theaters. It is suspenseful, with a full and rich plot.  The story is fresh and the restrained yet intense acting is brilliant; although, several of the scenes are horrifying to watch for various reasons.  The Innocents also passes the Bechdel test with flying colors as these women discuss womanhood, woman’s health, religion, faith, life, love and more.

This movie illustrates the everyday vulnerabilities of being a woman; a woman of any ethnicity, nationality, religion, anywhere in the world and the savagery of war. It shows the stark contrast between these otherwise gentle, sequestered nuns and the brutality of the outside world.  It shows the many different human reactions to absolutely absurd and inhumane tragedy – the sort of life events that are nearly impossible to wrap one’s head around: Would you break down, give up, fight harder, do the unspeakable, find the silver lining?  Would you break rules, persevere, question and challenge?  What would you do?

Following these tragic events (which are downplayed in the film quite a bit compared to what really happened), many of the nuns are torn by crises of faith that are so very understandable and make the characters so genuinely relatable, you cannot help but feel great compassion for them.  They are asking, “Why me and/or us God?  Where were you when we needed you?”  It’s a question many people ask at times of tragedy; but the fact that these are women whose very lives are literally dedicated to serving God and being obedient to His word asking makes the entire scenario all the more heart wrenching.

Contrary to popular belief, nuns are not super-beings or robots, but women with emotions and questions and quandaries. When the movie starts, you will be thinking to yourself, “How am I supposed to be able to tell all these nuns apart from one another?”  (Or maybe that’s just me.)  But as the movie evolves, so do the characters and we get to know the nuns individually.  They even appear less and less in groups and less and less in habits.  We get to hear their voices, see what their hair looks like, see their entire face, make distinctions among them.  We see this woman of science, Mathilde, a non-believer, who is so very different from these nuns in so many ways at the start of the movie, relate to them more and more deeply as the story progresses and you will feel as if you are learning more and more about these nuns with her.

The Innocents earns 9 very strong bloops. It is a very moving film and will hold your interest for every second of its hour and 55 minutes.  It came so close to earning a perfect score, but there was one part I did not care for, that I won’t tell you about, of course.  You’ll know it when you see it, I believe.  Even with that snafu, The Innocents is one of the best films I have seen thus far this year and I hope you go to see it as well.

The Legend of Tarzan (PG-13)

The Legend of Tarzan (starring Alexander Skarsgård) stays true to the story we all know and love (or don’t love) and amps it up a bit with lots of computer generated animals, action, adventure and romance.  Years after leaving the jungle to claim his birthright as Lord John Clayton, Tarzan is summoned back to the jungle to help his countrymen.  Unbeknownst to Tarzan, his return is orchestrated by and plays into the hands of villain Leon Rom (played by two time Oscar winner (Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012) Christopher Waltz).  Jane isplayed by Margot Robbie and the core cast is rounded out by Samuel Jackson as George Washington Williams, Tarzan’s newest friend and adventure companion.

The Legend of Tarzan mostly delivers what it promises as far as action.  The clashes between man and beast were intense.  I decided not to see it in 3D because I wanted to see what the film is like without the effects, and I did not miss them.  Heck, I remember watching Tarzan in black and white on a much smaller television than the ones we have today as a tot, so all the “extra” really wasn’t necessary for me.  I’m sure this version would be Edgar Rice Burroughs approved as it really does bring Tarzan to life in an impressive way.  Tarzan swung from the vines, communed with the apes and gave his famous yell – which really took me back since I haven’t heard that yell since Carol Burnett did it many years ago.  (Young people, I know it can be difficult, but please try to keep up.  Ask your parents or grandparents about it or you can Google it.)  There was a damsel in distress, who wasn’t the timid, cowering damsel from the past.  On top of not being very worried about her man Tarzan being able to save the day, Jane even got a few blows in herself.  The movie is well cast and not overplayed.  The scenery is beautiful.  The writing is not too, too, cheesy.  The characters have dimension.  I’ve never really been a big fan of Tarzan but this version was not terrible, I must say.

Even though the movie dealt with serious themes, it is just plain fun, for the most part. Pay attention to the rating system.  It is PG-13 for a reason, I suppose.  (One, maybe two “bad” words are uttered, but nothing too earth shattering.  Your under-13 year old has probably heard or read or maybe even said worse.)

The Legend of Tarzan earns 7.5 bloops. It’s a good movie and great summer fun, if you’re into Tarzan.  Even if you’re like me and have never really cared for Tarzan all, I think you might enjoy this version.