Updated: 02/05/2016 3:58 PM | Print Story |  Email

2/5 TCL Movie Trip

Minnesota’s own Joel and Ethen Coen are widely known for their quirky dark comedies. Paul McGuire Grimes from the website Paul's Trip to the Movies thinks their new movie “Hail Caeser” is one of their best.

He also thinks “GOOSEBUMPS” is worth watching at home but skip the new Nicholas Sparks’ movie "The Choice". Paul says it's one of his weaker stories. More of his thoughts on these three films are below.

HAIL, CAESAR! (theatrical release)

Joel and Ethan Coen are back with a tribute to the golden days of Hollywood. Eddie Mannix is the studio fixer for Capitol Pictures Studios. Their current film “Hail, Caesar: A Tale of the Christ” is the studio’s biggest film to date. He doesn’t want to offend anyone in its depiction of Christ. George Clooney plays Baird Whitlock, the lead star of the film. One day on set, his chalice is spiked by one of the extras. He passes out on the lot and is kidnapped by a Communist Party group known as The Future. Eddie receives a ransom note from the group and is desperate to keep this a secret before it gets to the gossip magazines. That wish is already squashed when a pair of twin sister reporters start pressuring him for updates. If only this was Eddie’s only problem. He must deal with other needy actors who are causing the studio issues with their own issues.

-Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, No Country for Old Men)

-Part physical comedy, part film noir with swimming mermaids, tap dancing sailors, cowboys all set in an old Hollywood setting

-Starring: George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Scarlet Johannson, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes. Many of them only have one or two scenes but they’re all having a barrel of fun playing characters that are slightly dopey.

-It’s their fourth film with Clooney who rarely does comedies outside of his work with the Coens.

-Channing Tatum does all of his own singing and tap dancing in the film

-One of the lightest and goofiest Coen films. The dialogue is snappy and the comedic banter back and forth is spot-on. They’re so great at writing dialogue that makes you think that the actors are just improvising in the scenes, but it’s all written out.

-Coen Brothers wide and direct such diverse films. There is literally something for everyone in their filmography. If you’ve thought there is too much violence or profanity in their films, you may enjoy this one as it is on the “cleaner” side.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? The first great movie of 2016

RATING: 4 out of 5 Ticket Stubs

THE CHOICE (theatrical release)

We’re only a few weeks away until Valentine’s Day which also means we’ve got our annual Nicholas Spark film released in theaters to make us feel all lovey dovey. During the hot days of summer in Wilmington, North Carolina, Travis Parker is working hard as a vet and throwing barbeques with his funs. His music is a bit too loud on a nightly basis for his new next door neighbor, Gabby Holland. She’s a medical student just looking to study and be with her dog. Even though they are both in relationships, the attraction between them is mutual even if they won’t admit it. When they’re significant others are both away for an extended period, he continues to flirt with her until they relentlessly give in to the undeniable heat between them. Their relationship continues to grow into marriage and family and faces some challenges along the way. In true Nicholas Sparks fashion, tragedy strikes and one of them is forced to make the ultimate choice no person should have to make.

-Stars: Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter), Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies), Tom Welling (Smallville), and Tom Wilkinson as Travis’ dad.

-Based on the 2007 book of the same name.

-Has all of those Nicholas Sparks elements: set in the south, rugged and handsome charmer meets a young woman apprehensive about love and desmises him at the same time. There are rain storms, ‘shocking’ twists, and corny dialogue.

-While they are popular easy reads, we’re at the point of a Sparks saturation as we literally get a new movie every year with a slightly different angle to it. This is his 11th film, seven of which have come out since 2010.

-Whole first half of the film is quite slow as they continue to flirt and grow their relationship that’s all based on a summer fling. The conflict only comes in the last third of the movie.

-These film really only work if they feel unique and have a leading pair of stars. The chemistry between starts Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer is lukewarm.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It’s one of the weaker Sparks stories.

RATING: 2 out of 5 Ticket Stubs


GOOSEBUMPS (home release)

The Goosebumps books were first individually turned into a television series in the late 1990s. Now they’ve been adapted for the big screen in a greatest hits style approach. Zach is your average teenager who is frustrated about having to move to a new town. After meeting his neighbor Hannah, her down to earth ways are a welcome reprieve to the pressures of a new school and new life. Her father is quite the opposite. He’s known as “Mr. Shivers” and is the crotchety, over protective type that you don’t want as your neighbor. He warns Zach to stay away from Hannah or else “something bad will happen.” After hearing screams coming from her window one night, Zach and his friend attempts to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Upstairs they find a shelf full of old Goosebumps manuscripts with individual locks on them and make the connection that “Mr. Shivers” is actually R.L. Stine himself. Their curiosity gets the best of them, and they unlock the manuscript of The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena. Hannah tries to warn them not to, but it’s too late as the title character is released from the pages of the book. Their nightmare is just beginning, as he’s not the only demon that comes to life. Slappy from Night of the Living Dummy magically appears and becomes the puppet master for the rest of the werewolves, lawn gnomes, insects and other creatures to seek revenge on R.L. for keeping them locked up.

-Starring: Dylan Minnette, Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Ken Marino

-The writers really capture the tone and feel of the books, while poking fun at Stine at the same time. It’s all in good fun though as the film is quite funny throughout to keep kids entertained and not overly scared.

-Jack Black’s take on R.L. Stine, while appropriately odd, doesn’t always work. He decided to use an accent, which stands out and is not always consistent. He’s more successful with voicing Slappy and the Invisible Boy.

-As Zach, Dylan Minnette has more of the lead role than Black. He’s a promising young actor who is making a name for himself after roles in “Scandal”, Prisoners, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

-Goosebumps is very family friendly and took me back to films like Hocus Pocus and The NeverEnding Story. The special effects with the creatures are cartoony enough as to not overly frighten the target audience.  Feels inspired by Tim Burton, especially with the Danny Elfman score.

-Maybe it will even inspire some moviegoers that are new to R.L. Stine’s world to go and pick up the books from the library or bookstore.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Goosebumps is very entertaining and far better than I would have ever expected it to be.