April 2017: Coming to Theaters

Posted on April 1, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Copyright 2017 Sony Pictures
Copyright 2017 Sony Pictures

Happy April! Wishing you all a minimum of showers and a maximum of flowers. Here’s what I’m especially looking forward to in theaters this month.

April 7

Smurfs: The Lost Village
The smurfs are back where they belong — in a fully-animated feature set in their own magical world. Smurfette who was created by the evil wizard Gargamel but became a part of the otherwise all-male and all-named after one characteristic smurf community, wants to know who she is. And she discovers a whole village of female smurfs. It features the voices of Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Joe Manganiello, Demi Lovato, and Julia Roberts.

Going in Style
Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin star in a remake of the George Burns film about a retirees who rob a bank. Ann-Margret and Kenan Thompson also appear, and it was directed by Zach Braff (“Scrubs,” “Garden State”).

April 12

Gifted
Chris Evans and Jenny Slate star in the story of a man who cares for his intellectually advanced young niece, despite those who think she needs a different kind of environment.

April 14
The Fate of the Furious
Those Fast and Furious rascals are back, still fast, still furious. This time it appears Dom has become a bad guy, but don’t you believe it. We know he’d never turn on his family.

The Lost City of Z
Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson star in the real-life story of Englishman who explored South America, the man who inspired dozens of adventure sagas, including the Indiana Jones films.

April 21

Born in China
DisneyNature releases a nature film every year in honor of Earth Day. This one is sure to elicit “awwws.” It’s about pandas.

Free Fire
Martin Scorsese produced this stylish and very violent story about illegal arms dealers, starring Oscar winner Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor, and Armie Hammer.

The Promise
It was 100 years ago, but it is more relevant than ever. The story of the Armenian genocide (the event that gave rise to that term and the need to have such a term) provides the background for a story of love and loss starring Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac, and Charlotte LeBon, directed by “Hotel Rwanda’s” Terry George.

April 28

The Circle

Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and John Boyega star in a story that could not be more timely — about a company that knows everything about you and just wants to help…or does it?

Sleight

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Features & Top 10s Opening This Month

Smurfs Quiz

Posted on July 28, 2013 at 10:00 am

In honor of this week’s release of “Smurfs 2,” how many of these questions can you answer?

1.  The Smurfs were created by a comic artist from what country?

2.  How tall are Smurfs?

3.  Who created Smurfette?

4.  What is the name of the Smurf’s enemy and who is his pet?

5.  What Jake Gyllenhaal movie has a rather crude discussion of the Smurfs?

6.  Neil Patrick Harris returns for the sequel.  What television show gave him his first starring role?

7.  Hank Azaria appears in the film.  What long-running television series features his voice?

8.  What Smurf movie shares a title with a Mozart opera?

9.  What pop star gives her voice to Smurfette?

10.  What comedy news show reporter provides a voice for one of the Smurfs?

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Quiz
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The Smurfs

Posted on July 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

After a promising beginning with the tart but sweet romantic comedy “Never Been Kissed,” director Raja Gosnell has been mired in the quagmire of movie junk food, “family” movies like “Scooby-Doo” and “Yours, Mine and Ours.”  They are the cinematic equivalent of high sugar, high fat processed food: loud, crude, special-effects-driven, cheesy, and vacuous.  His updates miss both the charm and the point of the originals.  While the animated “My Little Pony” is not only back on television but it is suddenly hip, this latest version of the Smurfs combines an enchanted world of magical animated characters with live-action New York City and manages to get the worst of both worlds.  It tries to appeal to kids with pratfalls, potty humor, and the substitution of “Smurf” for every possible noun, verb, and adjective.  It tries to appeal to adults with pointless cameos by Tim Gunn and Joan Rivers.  Gunn looks around with the disappointed expression he usually reserves for those Project Runway contestants who are an hour from deadline without an idea and Rivers delivers her one line as if she is hoping her face will look as lively as the expressions of the animated characters.  It doesn’t.

The Smurfs were created by Belgian comic artist Peyo (Pierre Culliford), who came up with the idea after he and a friend joked around by substituting nonsense syllables for the words in a conversation.  He created a community of magical blue creatures “three apples high” called Smurfs who have adventures, fight off the evil wizard Gargamel, and say things like “Oh my Smurf!” “Smurf-zactly!” and, heaven help us, “Smurf happens.”  The film-makers are so proud of that last piece of wit they used it for the URL of the movie’s website.

Children enjoy the Smurfs because they are tiny, magical, sometimes mischievous but sweet, and able to defeat their foe, a human-sized wizard named Gargamel.  Kids like being able to predict what each Smurf will do, not too challenging because each one’s name, Seven Dwarf-style reflecting his sole characteristic.  (The only female Smurf is called Smurfette, because being female is all you need to know about her.)  Children learn what it means to be “Greedy,” “Grouchy,” “Vain,” or “Clumsy,” from the characters with those names.  And listening to the way the word “Smurf” is used in the dialog is a good introduction to the way language works.

This film takes six of the Smurfs out of their animated community, with its quaint mushroom houses and soft pastel colors.  Grouchy (George Lopez), Brainy (“SNL’s” Fred Armisen), Clumsy (Anton Yelchin), the inexplicably Scottish Gutsy (Alan Cummings), Smurfette (the endearingly candy-sparkle voice of pop star Katy Perry), and elder statesman Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) are chased by Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat Azrael, who want their magical blue essence.   They are all sucked through a portal that lands them in live action Central Park.

 

Before they can find a way to get back home, they encounter a harried marketing executive (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife (“Glee’s” Jayma Mays), toy store F.A.O. Schwartz, an apartment, an office, a prison yard, and many, many unfunny attempts at comedy about the words “blue” and “Smurf.”  Also, in a plot twist apparently lifted from every single episode of the last two seasons of “Bewitched,” the Smurfs mess up their new friend’s advertising campaign for his imperious boss (“Modern Family” bombshell Sofia Vergara) but of course somehow it turns out for the best.

 

The kids in the audience enjoyed the pratfalls, laughing uproariously when Gargamel got hit by a bus, and happily squealing at the gross-out humor from a disgusting hairball, a smelly port-a-potty, and a chamber pot in the middle of an elegant restaurant.  They liked seeing Harris get down with the Smurfs for a rousing round of “Rock Band.” It is good to see Smurfette get a chance to show her fighting spirit, though not so good to see her stuck with a plot line about wanting new dresses, and downright disappointing to see her have to stand on a heating vent in one of them for a Marilyn Monroe joke.  This must be why Gutsy is Scottish – so his kilt can billow up when he stands on the vent, too.

The movie wants us to feel affection for the Smurfs and make fun of them, too.   It is is raw and mean-spirited, with too many of the “Smurf” word substitutions more naughty than nice (“Who Smurfed?” “Where the Smurf are we?”).  That’s Smurfed up.

 

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3D Animation Based on a television show Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel Fantasy For the Whole Family
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