Short Redhead Reel Reviews for the week of April 20
by Wendy Schadewald
Special to Sun Thisweek
Rating system: (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
“Bully” (PG-13) (3) [Language.] — A controversial, insightful, and educational documentary that includes interviews with Murray County Superintendant Vicki Reed, Assistant Principal Paula Crandall, a bully’s father Kirk Smalley, and grieving parents David and Tina Long who lost their 17-year-old son Tyler to suicide in Georgia in 2009 while focusing on the horrific, brutal experiences of five students, including Iowa teenager Alex Libby, 14-year-old Ta’Meya Jackson, and lesbian teenager Kelby Johnson in Oklahoma, who deal with bullying by their peers on a daily basis.
“Chimpanzee” (G) (3) — Tim Allen’s cutesy and possibly misleading narration hinders this otherwise captivating, family-friendly, informative, 70-minute, 3D nature documentary that focuses on young chimpanzee Oscar somewhere in Africa that lives with his devoted mother Keisha in a smart 35-member troop headed by alpha male Freddie; showcases the smart chimpanzee’s skills in hunting for monkeys, foraging for fruits, and using rocks to crack open nuts and sticks to gather stinging red fire ants; and banding together to protect the lush, highly prized nut grove from a rival troop led by Scar.
“Damsels in Distress” (PG-13) (0) [Mature thematic content including some sexual material.] — One odd scene after another and stilted, unrealistic language dominate this highly bizarre, pointless, boring film in which a college transfer student (Analeigh Tipton) gets sucked into the weird lives of her three roommates (Greta Gerwig, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Carrie MacLemore) and other male students (Adam Brody, Billy Magnussen, Ryan Metcalf, Jermaine Crawford, Hugo Becker, et al.) on campus.
“The Lucky One” (PG-13) (2.5) [Some sexuality and violence.] — After a hunky, blue-eyed, Colorado Marine (Zac Efron) finds a picture of a beautiful woman (Taylor Schilling) during his third tour of duty in Iraq and walks across the U.S. with his faithful German shepherd Zeus to thank her for being his good luck charm in this unevenly paced, bittersweet, romantic film, which is loosely based on Nicholas Sparks’ bestselling novel, is highlighted by picturesque cinematography, and hindered by one-note acting, he falls in love with her and her chess-savvy, violin-playing son (Riley Thomas Stewart) after her widowed grandmother (Blythe Danner) hires him to work in their Louisiana dog kennel and then quickly proceeds to anger and frustrate her jealous sheriff ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson) who wants his family back; some readers of the book may be disappointed.
“Think Like a Man” (PG-13) (3) [Sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use.] — A funny, enjoyable, well-paced, star-dotted (Sherri Shepherd, Jenifer Lewis, Steve Harvey, J.B. Smoove, and La La Anthony), romantic comedy, which is based on Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” about six couples, including a charismatic player (Romany Malco) trying to sleep with his cautious date (Megan Good), a struggling wannabe chef (Michael Ealy) trying to impress an image-conscious COO (Taraji P. Henson), a commitment-phobic slouch (Jerry Ferrara) trying to evade marriage with his frustrated real estate agent girlfriend (Gabrielle Union), an estranged husband (Kevin Hart) trying to reconnect with his controlling wife (Wendy Williams), a mamma’s boy (Terrence Jenkins) trying to make the woman (Regina Hall) in his life number one, and a happily married man (Gary Owen) trying to hang with his friends, who use Harvey’s relationship advice to manipulative their love lives.
“To the Arctic” (G) (3) — Meryl Streep narrates this captivating, beautifully photographed, educational, 3D IMAX documentary, which is filled with music by Steve Wood and songs by Paul McCartney, that follows a polar bear as it struggles to care for and protect her two 7-month-old cubs from male polar bear predators in the ever-changing, frigid Arctic and a newly married couple as they follow on foot the annual migration of Alaskan caribou to their birthing grounds.
“Toast” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — After his asthmatic mother (Victoria Hamilton), who has a delicate stomach and can barely toast bread or boil water, dies in this charming, amusing, heartwarming, factually inspired, 2010 film, which is based on chef and food writer Nigel Slater’s memoir “Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger,” a creative, 9-year-old English boy (Oscar Kennedy) develops a passion for food and cooking, which gets into high gear as an inquisitive, motivated, competitive teenager (Freddie Highmore) when his stuffy father (Ken Stott) marries his manipulative housekeeper (Helena Bonham Carter) in 1960s England and they vie for his dad’s affections through cooking scrumptious meals and desserts.
“We Have a Pope” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] After a conclave of cardinals (Renato Scarpa, Franco Graziosi, et al.) elects a new pope and the new supreme pontiff (Michel Piccoli) has a nervous breakdown and is filled with self-doubt in this satirical, engaging, 2011 Italian film that cannot decide whether it’s a drama or a comedy, a distraught Vatican spokesman (Jerzy Stuhr) quickly hires two psychoanalysts (Nanni Moretti and Margherita Buy) to help the new pope face his responsibilities and his worshipping, anxious public.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.