Movies: 'Rio 2,' 'Draft Day' & 'Dom Hemingway'
Published 5:29 pm, Friday, April 18, 2014
Following are Susan Granger's reviews of the latest movies in area theaters:
While this animated sequel stuffs in twice as many characters and twice the amount of comedic subplots, it redeems itself with progressive percussive pop music.
Those rare Blue Spix Macaws, domesticated Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and free-spirited Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are raising their three chicks: wise Bia (Amandla Stenberg), adventurous Tiago (Pierce Gagnon) and adolescent Carla (Rachel Crow). But when Blu's Minnesota buddies, traveling eco-activists Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) and Linda (Leslie Mann), find a flock of Blue Spix Macaws as they're trying to halt logging in the Amazon rainforest, they announce that the endangered species is not extinct. So Jewel decides that it's time to introduce her iPod-loving kids to their natural wild habitat in South America.
Nerdy, neurotic Blu, who wears a fanny pack with a GPS for navigation, is understandably reluctant about making the 2,000-mile journey. Nevertheless, they descend on Rio de Janeiro, along with the party-hearty toucan Rafael (George Lopez) and the rapper duo of cardinal Pedro (will.i.am) and canary Nico (Jamie Foxx). Before long, they find Jewel's lost-lost family, including her stern father Eduardo (Andy Garcia), overbearing Aunt Mimi (Rita Moreno) and preening childhood playmate Roberto (Bruno Mars), whose charm ignites citified Blu's jealousy.
Meanwhile, in the waterfront Carnavale, the villainous, Shakespeare-quoting cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) is plotting revenge with Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth), a poisonous pink-and-purple tree frog who adores Nigel but cannot be touched, and mute Charlie, a tap-dancing anteater with an extra-long, elastic tongue.
Chaotically scripted by Don Rhymer, Carlos Kotkin, Jenny Bicks and Toni Brenner from a story by Brazilian-born director Carlos Saldanha, it's filled with vividly colorful merriment and jubilant musical numbers, supervised by Sergio Mendes with composer John Powell, singer-songwriter Carlinhos Brown and original compositions by Janelle Monae and Wondaland. But the effect is uneven. Jemaine Clement's rap-infused rendition of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" seems discordant, while Chenoweth soars with the torch song "Poison Love."
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Rio 2" is an exotic 6, a frantic, family-friendly adventure that's filled with familiar feathered friends.
Each May, National Football League general managers wheel and deal, trying to sign the best college players. So, when Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) of the Cleveland Browns gets a call from the Seattle Seahawks, offering to trade their star quarterback, he must decide whether he's willing to sacrifice his first, and perhaps only, chance to build his own dream team, for what looks like a "sure thing."
Sonny's in a bind. His fabled coach father died the week before and his spunky girlfriend Ali (Jennifer Garner), the team's salary-cap manager, just informed him that she's pregnant. Sonny really wants linebacker Vonte Mack (Chadwick Boseman), who will serve the team in the long run. Besides, the Browns already have a strong quarterback (Tom Welling), now fully recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him much of last season.
On the other hand, the head coach (Denis Leary) desperately wants running back Ray Jennings (Arian Foster), whose father (NFL vet Terry Crews) was also a Brown. And the team's owner (Frank Langella), tells him his job's on the line unless he picks a winner.
Written by Rejiv Joseph and Scott Rothman and directed by Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters," "Stripes," "Kindergarten Cop"), this sports dramedy is, basically, about having the courage of your convictions -- with split screens effectively heightening the tension. The pressure takes place behind closed doors in the executive offices, as opposed to the playing field, while statisticians observe that sometimes first-round picks turns out to be duds, while a sixth-rounder, like New England's Tom Brady, excels.
Costner ("Bull Durham," "Field of Dreams") is solid, as are Garner and Leary, with Ellen Burstyn as embattled Sonny's outspoken mother and Sean Combs as a slick agent. Cameos by real-life Browns, past and present, include legendary Jim Brown, plus sports figures Chris Berman, Mel Kiper, Jon Gruden, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Draft Day" scores a shrewdly suspenseful 6. Not as good as "Jerry Maguire" or "Moneyball," but football fanatics undoubtedly will enjoy it.
In this British black comedy/crime drama, Jude Law plays the hot-tempered, self-destructive titular character, a notorious London safecracker who gets into trouble as soon as he's released from 12 years in prison.
Because he refused to rat on his Russian boss, he's expecting a generous reward. After relishing three days of utter debauchery with his meditative mate Dickie (Richard E. Grant), they take the train to the south of France, outside of St. Tropez, to visit the posh, countryside villa that belongs to Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), who gives him three-quarters-of-a-million pounds in cash.
Predictably, disaster strikes -- in the form of a nighttime Rolls Royce car accident and an exotic femme fatale named Pasolina (Romanian model Madalina Diana Ghenea) -- launching this crime-caper, interwoven with Dom's attempts to establish a relationship with his estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke), a struggling singer with a young, mute son.
Self-consciously written and directed by Richard Shepard ("The Matador," "The Linguini Incident") as a redemption saga, it's certainly not as compelling as other dramas in this gangland genre, like "Sexy Beast" or "Two Smoking Barrels." On the other hand, it gives usually handsome Law ("Sherlock Holmes," "Alfie," "Cold Mountain") an opportunity to gain weight, grease and comb back his hair, sport a double-mutton chop beard and spew crude, vulgar profanities in a Cockney accent. Reportedly, he piled on the extra poundage by drinking 10 Coca-Colas a day. Law obviously enjoys impersonating this abrasively loquacious, lowlife lout, even though no one else seems to care very much about his relentless rants.
It will be a challenge for fans of "Game of Thrones" to recognize Emilia Clarke, who looks nothing like Daenerys Targaryen, the blonde dragon princess she portrays on that popular TV series.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Dom Hemingway" is a dissolute, insufferable 5. Wait for the DVD.