Updated: 12/09/2016 3:56 PM
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12/9 Movie Trip
Paul gives his review on political thriller Miss Sloane and two Christmas movies you can check out this weekend. For more reviews from Paul, click here.
MISS SLOANE (theatrical release)
Lobbying is about foresight, making sure you surprise them, and they don’t surprise you. That’s the general rule of thumb for Miss Elizabeth Sloane, played with fierce determination by Jessica Chastain. She is forced to appear before a senate hearing, and you can tell it doesn’t look good for her. The movie then flashes back a few months to see how all of this unfolded. She is a tough, grab the bull by the horns type, and she’s known for her strong reputation. She’s approached to support a pro-gun lobby to appeal to female voters and repeal a gun control law that’s been put forward that would call for checks and regulations on gun owners. She basically laughs in their face when they claim she’s the perfect woman for the job. Her boss is furious and tries to blackmail her into taking the job. She’s too smart and independent to cower to demands, so she pulls a Jerry Maguire by quitting and taking some of her teammates with her. Liz takes it one step further by joining a small firm to go up against the gun giants to sway senate voters into voting on the gun control law. It’s all about winning for Liz, which means a deep and dark labyrinth of lies, deception, and unethical moves in order to come out victorious.
-Starring: Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow, Sam Waterston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy
-Liz is extremely smart and is the standard power-hungry, ruthless type who has nothing in life except her career. She’s glued to her phone and screws over anyone that gets in her way. Jessica Chastain plays her in this one-dimensional sense; she’s not a very likable character even if you are on her side of the debate.
-David and Goliath style story set in the world of D.C. politics
-Very topical issue given the attention to 2nd Amendment rights and gun control posed during the election. Film takes Sloane’s position and is very much in favor of gun control, which they state is different than confiscation.
-Due to the very strong stance, it feels very one-sided and preaching to the choir. Doesn’t quite appeal to those on the other side or offer enough counter argument to get the audience to sway back and forth throughout the movie.
-Another movie showing dirty politics and the completely unethical moves that power players in D.C. use to get ahead.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It’s not nearly as smart and edgy as it wants us to believe.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (theatrical release)
For as many funny people that appear in Office Christmas Party, it sure felt very unfunny and a big waste of everyone’s talents. T.J. Miller stars as Clay Vanstone who is the head of the Chicago branch of his family business, Zenotek. He’s a huge fan of Christmas and is looking forward to the annual office Christmas party and Secret Santa gift exchange. He starts to get bummed out when he senses a sad vibe around the office. His sister, Carol, is the CEO of the company and pops in one day with some startling news. She’s the Scrooge of the movie and wants to cancel the party, take away the annual Christmas bonuses, and lay off forty percent of the staff. She threatens Clay that they need to gain a huge profit or else she will completely close the branch if it continues to under perform. Clay and his tight-knit colleagues, Josh and Tracey, decide to go after a high-profile client who would be the game changer they need. The client is hesitant about the company culture due to recent rumors and a poor reputation. Clay decides to secretly throw the Christmas party against Carol’s wishes and invite him to the party in hopes of gaining his trust and prove they are a worthy company. It’s only a matter of time before the party gets completely out of control jeopardizing everything they’ve worked hard for.
-Starring: T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Courtney B. Vance, Vanessa Bayer. This is the fifth movie with Aniston and Bateman and both appear on autopilot. They are far better and far funnier than this material.
-Every actor seems to be playing into his or her standard brand of characters. Bateman’s the jerk who doesn’t have time for anyone else, McKinnon does her wacky/odd SNL type caricature bit, Aniston has the hard, prickly edge, T.J. Miller is the outgoing teddy bear type.
-McKinnon and Miller come out the best. They garner a few laughs from the audience, but it is few and far between.
-Another current comedy where it ends in a gag reel revealing that many scenes were done through improvisation where the actors had to come up with better jokes and punch lines.
-It seems like the movie wants to be a raunchy, hard R-rated comedy, but it generally plays it too safe without going all the way. Movies like The Hangover or Neighbors, where the events go horribly wrong and out of control, find a way to be consistently funny and at times shocking. This movie tries to do that but can’t quite reach that level.
-At one point, I forgot it was even a Christmas movie. The holiday basically just serves as a time stamp as the office party and behind it could have taken place at any holiday. Maybe the sequel will be an Independence Day Party or a Halloween party.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? With so many actually funny Christmas movies you can watch at home, no need to bother with this one.
RATING: 1 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS (home release)
If you’re looking to get into the Christmas spirit and are sick of the standard songs and specials, I’d like to point you in the direction of A Very Murray Christmas on Netflix. The premise is quite simple, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Bill Murray is supposed to air a live Christmas special, but he’s feeling the Christmas blues this season. The whole city of New York has been shut down due to a blizzard, and good ol’ Bill is beside himself at what he should do. He’s afraid he won’t be able to get the big A-list names to show up like George Clooney or Brad and Angelina. It goes from bad to worse for Bill as he and his crew find themselves trapped in the Hotel Carlyle when the power goes out. When roaming the place, he meets a couple that is supposed to be getting married and facing the same bad luck he is due to the weather. They join together to make the most of the situation and still have a warm and merry Christmas.
-Starring Bill Murray, Paul Shaffer, Michael Cera, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Jason Schwartzman, Miley Cyrus, and Jenny Lewis. Some actors play characters while others are playing themselves.
-If you’re a Bill Murray fan, you will get a kick out of this. It adds his dry and wacky sense of humor while still adhering to a joyous and festive Christmas special.
-Found exclusively through Netflix Streaming
-Only 60 minutes, perfect to have on in the background while wrapping presents or decorating the Christmas tree
-Full of music including classic Christmas carols and some contemporary songs. Mainly crooner/lounge style singing with a variety of solos, duets, and big group numbers.