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Interview: Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal talk “Blindspotting”

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There was lots of buzz surrounding the new drama/comedy, “Blindspotting”, at the 2018 Dallas International Film Festival.  While at the festival, I got a chance to sit down with the stars and writers of the movie, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal.  We discussed their film, the idea of blind spots, should you ignore your best friend’s ex, and more!

“Blindspotting” is a powerful film and one that will leave you thinking about its message long after you finish watching.

“Blindspotting” hits theaters July 27.

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Movie Review: “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” – A Convoluted Plot, Scattered with a Few Scares

I’ll be honest; when I first saw the trailer for this film, I was immediately intrigued. Turning a game that I have loved playing with my friends since childhood into a horror flick sounded surprisingly clever. Think about it. The actual game of truth or dare is kind of scary. You could be forced to share secrets that would ruin friendships, or do things that could ruin you. With that thought in mind, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare had the potential to really shine. Unfortunately, the film is just a commercialized knock off of The Ring (2002) and Would You Rather (2012).

We first meet our protagonist, Olivia (Lucy Hale), while she is posting a video on social media about her Habitat for Humanity plans this spring break. But, those plans quickly change. Olivia’s best friend, Markie (Violett Beane), begs her to spend the break partying in Mexico instead of helping people in need of homes. After about five seconds of deliberation, Olivia agrees and the girls are off to Mexico with four other close friends.

Once they get to Mexico, we see a cliché montage of the group having fun, partying, and taking selfies. But of course, they couldn’t just leave it at that. Nope, the group foolishly decides to follow a stranger they met at the bar to “a fun place”. Yup, it was that easy. They are led to an abandoned church, and the mysterious new friend suggests they play truth or dare. They soon to come to find out that the game is haunted by a demon, and now they are forced to play the game forever or die.

As silly as the premise sounds, the film still manages to conjure up a few screams. The actual dares keep you on edge and can be a little gruesome at times. So in that sense the film is effective. But as a whole, the film flounders. The dialogue is cheesy, and feels more like a teen drama series. Dare I say like Pretty Little Liars? There is also way too much crammed into this movie. The few character backstories are rushed, and the journey to finding out how to the end the game is confusing.

The acting is decent; lots of controlled tear drops. There’s a ridiculous love triangle in there somewhere between Markie, her boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey), and Olivia. But I chose not to put much thought into that because, clearly, the writers didn’t either. I blame most of my qualms on the script. These young actors are capable of giving better performances in a more solid film.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare may entertain its target teen audience with its attractive cast and tense moments, but their money might be better spent if they save this one for a rental.

Rating: 2.5/5

“Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” opens in theaters April 13.

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“Get Out” One Year Later – Free Screenings on President Day!

First-Come, First-Served Offer Valid at 55 AMC Theatres Nationwide to Guests of the 7:00 P.M. Screenings on Monday, February 19

Universal City, CA, February 13, 2018—Filmmaker Jordan Peele, in conjunction with Universal Pictures, today announced free screenings of Universal’s Get Out on Presidents’ Day, February 19, at 55 AMC locations nationwide.  Each guest who requests a ticket the day of the screening—at a participating location—will be given one free admission to the 7:00 p.m. showing, up to theatre capacity.

Since its release in theatres in February 2017, Get Out has been nominated for four Academy Awards®, while inspiring audiences and artists worldwide.  A compilation video was also released that showcases the artwork inspired by Get Out—featuring the hashtag #GetOutOneYearLater—to encourage audiences to share more of their artwork, experiences and discussions that were influenced by the movie.

The promotion will be available at each of the 55 AMC Theatres playing the special screening of Get Out at 7:00 p.m. on February 19.  Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and may only be picked up at the AMC box office that day.  Each guest must present a valid ID to receive their ticket, with a limit of one free ticket for each ID presented, while supplies last.  This offer is valid for the 7:00 p.m. showing of the film on February 19, only.

Markets that will playing Get Out on Presidents’ Day include ones in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; Oklahoma City, OK; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Raleigh/Durham, NC; San Diego, CA; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA; Seattle/Tacoma, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tallahassee, FL; Tampa, FL; and Washington, D.C.  To find out more information, visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.

“When Jordan approached us about a way to thank fans one year after the release of Get Out, we thought a Presidents’ Day screening during Black History Month would be a wonderful way to commemorate the film’s impact,” said Jim Orr, President, Distribution, Universal Pictures.  “The success of his stunning vision would not have been possible without the audience’s passion for both Get Out’s groundbreaking storytelling and its deft use of art as society’s mirror.”

For more information and a list of theatres offering the special screenings, please visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.  Broadcast-quality clips from Get Out are available at www.epk.tv, and stills are available at www.image.net.

 

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com).  Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal.  NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.  NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks.  NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

Interview: Tyler Perry talks “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween”

Tyler Perry made the rounds, promoting his new movie, “Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween”. I sat down with the writer/director/actor to discuss his new film, how to make kids respect their elders, and more!

“Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” hits theaters on October 20.

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Movie Review: “Happy Death Day” Delivers Laughs and Scares

“Groundhog Day” meets “Scream” in this surprisingly funny, mystery thriller.

Sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up hungover on her birthday in a stranger’s (Isreal Broussard) bed. She discovers she stayed the night with nerdy classmate, Carter, and rudely exits his dorm room. Thus begins her rampage of being a narcissistic mean girl to everyone who crosses her path. As we get a peek into a day in the life of Tree, we learn she ignores her father’s call, she’s sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittles others. I know, hard to believe someone wants to kill her. As the night draws near, Tree heads to a party and is quickly stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask–oddly enough, that is the school’s mascot.  She then wakes up, and is forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way. As Tree grows weaker with each consecutive loop, she must unmask her murderer and stop them from finishing her off for good.

Writer Scott Lobell does a great job with this clever script, as he adds a lot of humor and makes the film self-aware to the fact that this is a cheesy horror. The self-awareness allows for the movie to go beyond cliché lines and really have fun with a decently, thought out mystery. At this point I’ve described more of a comedy, but director Christopher Landon achieves a handful of scares that will have audiences jumping in their chairs.

The film’s story is solid, but the key ingredient here is the engaging breakout performance by Jessica Rothe. She nails the strong bitchy exterior that actually allows us to not feel guilty when we laugh at her numerous deaths, yet still gains sympathy towards her hopeful victory. Rachel Matthews, who plays an even more awful sorority sister, might provide the most laugh out moments with her over the top bitchy lines.

Whatever “Happy Death Day” lacks in the horror, it makes up for it in its entertainment. Reminiscent of the “Scream” era, it provides the same kind of “whodunit” feel that keeps you guessing till the very end.

I can’t say that this film should be at the top of your must-see list, but if you are looking for a few scares and fun time during this Halloween season, then “Happy Death Day” is the perfect choice.

Rating: 3.75/5

“Happy Death Day” opens in theaters October 13.

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Interview: Dax Shepard and Michael Pena talk “CHIPS”

I got a chance to sit down with Dax Shepard and Michael Pena for their new film, “CHIPS”.  And trust me when I say, this is the first laugh out loud comedy of the year! The stars discussed the best way to comfort a bro, what their weakness is when it comes to the opposite sex, and more!  Check out the fun interview below!

“CHIPS” hits theaters March 24.

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Movie Review: “Get Out” is an Excellent Mix of Horror and Comedy

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Every once in a while a horror flick comes along that not only scares, but also includes plenty of laughs along the way. In the past few years, films like “The Visit” and “The Guest” have provided this full package. And now at the start of 2017, comedian Jordan Peele (“Key and Peele”) has captured this rarity again, and presented us with the gift of his directorial debut, “Get Out”.

Based on the film’s trailer alone, audiences knew we were in for some race-savvy satire that would lead to a number of awkward scenes. But, these moments of comic relief are so subtle and well executed that they blend perfectly with the eerie tension, while still keeping you engrossed in the suspense of the movie.

“Get Out” follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African American photographer who’s planning to meet his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents for the first time. They are set to head upstate to her family’s secluded home, and of course, Chris expresses his concern by asking if they know he is black? Rose (Allison Williams) laughs it off and assures Chris that her parents are totally cool. To give him comfort, she lets him know that her dad would have voted for Obama a third term. Oh good, now we all feel so much better… Chris’ best friend (Lil Rel Howery) even warns him not go, but he does not listen.

On the drive to her parents’ house they hit a deer, foreshadowing an unpleasant visit ahead of them. And it’s here that we get our first act of racism with a cop who insists on seeing Chris’ ID after the accident, even though Rose was driving. Luckily, Rose diffuses the situation in a pretty knight in shining armor way.

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Finally, they arrive to her parents’ home, and both are welcomed with open arms. Rose’s mom Missy (Catherine Keener) and her dad Dean (Bradley Whitford) appear to be nice. Dean comes across a bit foolish at times with a few ignorant remarks when trying to “bond” with Chris, but other than that the parents seem harmless. However, their two African American servants, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson) behave in a very odd manner with forced smiles and unusual emotional breakouts.

Things just continue to get stranger. Missy offers to hypnotize Chris so that he can quit smoking. Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) makes it blatantly clear that he does not care for his sister’s new boyfriend. Then there’s a disturbing party in which Chris is hounded by the many white people in attendance. Soon enough, everything begins to unwind.

Jordan Peele’s script is sharp, witty, and an effective horror. There are subtle Hitchcock-like notes in his story telling. Peele’s cast only furthers his film with their well-rounded performances. Keener and Whitford do an incredible job maintaining their creepy, Stepford Wives composure. Major kudos to Lil Rel Howery for being the character that hilariously speaks on behalf of everyone in the audience.

“Get Out” is a refreshing horror-comedy that will keep you on edge till the very end!

Rating: 4/5

“Get Out” opens in theaters February 24th.

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Movie Review: “Bad Moms” is a Predictable, Laugh Out Loud Riot

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Usually too much predictability in a film can make it a flat out bore. However, if the predictability is overshadowed by a strong cast and hilarious, original jokes, it can actually make for a pretty fun comedy!

Aside from the all-star cast, I was hesitant going into “Bad Moms”. The track record for films beginning with “Bad”, hasn’t been so hot. “Bad Santa”, “Bad Teacher”, “Bad Words”, etc. Though all these films provide plenty of laughs, they lack heart and contentment. “Bad Moms” breaks the trend and goes for a more relatable and heartwarming plot.

“Bad Moms” is a movie for all those moms who are out there trying their hardest to balance work, love lives, kids, and the many extracurricular activities that come with kids. In this film, that role is portrayed by Amy (Mila Kunis), an overburdened mother of two kids, who gets almost no help from her lazy, creep of a husband (David Walton). The film opens with Amy unloading all of her problems on our shoulders, we come to find she has no life/work balance at all. Then we meet the other two moms who are #TeamAmy, Kiki (Kristen Bell), a stay-at-home-mom raising four kids, which has prevented her from having any real social life. According to her husband, the kids shouldn’t be baby sat by anyone else EVER because it is ONLY Kiki’s job to watch the kids. And finally, there’s Carla (Kathryn Hahn), the crude, horny single mother who has no filter.

Soon enough these three women become best friends when they join together to take down the worst kind of moms: PTA leaders.  These are the moms who make you feel like crap because they seem to never even break a sweat when it comes to raising their children and balancing all their daily responsibilities. And in this film, PTA president, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) has no problem rubbing all of your failures and her successes in your face.

After a series of bad luck in her personal life and intolerable PTA requests, Amy becomes fed up with Gwendolyn’s ridiculous demands and decides to run against her for PTA president. Thus, the war of “Bad Moms” VS “Perfect Moms” begins, leading to a numerous amount of gut-busting comedy.

“Bad Moms” is not the best film of the year. Heck, it’s not even the best comedy, but, it certainly still charms. It is a film catered for any hardworking mom who struggles to stay afloat at times. Though there are a many outlandish scenes, that doesn’t make “Bad Moms” any less enjoyable to watch. And the end credits with the actresses talking with their real life moms about motherhood, just about had me in tears.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Bad Moms” opens in theaters July 29.

“Bad Moms” Official Trailer HD

Interview: Key and Peele Talk and Sing “Keanu”

I sat down with Keeagan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele to discuss their new film, “Keanu”. We talked about loss and recovery, pets, break-ups, funk, and an improvised Keanu song! Bonus tip: watch for my un-credited special guest.

“Keanu” opens in theaters April 29.

“Keanu” Interview with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele

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Interview: Ice Cube & Lamorne Morris talk “Barbershop: The Next Cut”

I got a chance to speak with Ice Cube and Lamorne Morris about the next installment in the Barbershop franchise, “Barbershop: The Next Cut”.  We discussed biggest hometown firsts, how to protect kids from violence, and life changes from the past 10 to 12 years.

“Barbershop: The Next Cut” opens in theaters April 15.

Click Here to Watch “Barbershop: The Next Cut” Interview with Ice Cube & Lamorne Morris

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