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Archives for : Reese Witherspoon

“Sing” Plays a Familiar Tune

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Prepare yourself for American Idol with pigs, elephants, gorillas and many more animals.

Illumination Entertainment’s newest film, “Sing” follows a koala bear, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), who’s on the verge of closing down his beloved theatre after back-to-back production flops. He then decides to produce an amateur singing competition in hopes that it will draw in an eager audience. To his luck and a misprinting of the prize money, a long line of hopeful talents come to audition for the show.

Eventually, Buster narrows down his choices to some surprisingly great singers; which include a gangster gorilla, Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a backup singer Porcupine, Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a con artist mouse, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), and an extremely stage frightened elephant, Meena (Tori Kelly).

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Unfortunately, this production does hit a few bumps along the way.  Performers drop out, technical issues arise, and funding seems to be a continuous struggle.
 
But the big picture of this story is really about the usual “following your dreams and taking chances.” Buster followed his dream a long time ago, and with help from his dad was able to own a theatre. All the contestants play it safe in their personal lives, almost playing back up to everyone else in their families. This competition is a chance for them shine and do something that makes them happy. However, the film doesn’t go any deeper than this message.
 
Though the coexistence of different animals might remind you of Disney’s “Zootopia” from earlier this year, it is nowhere near as complex or intriguing. “Sing” is just a much simpler, easy to follow film that should have kids engaged by the music alone. There are plenty of songs to sing along to. Just to name a few, Katy Perry’s Firework, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and Paul Anka’s My Way. But, my personal favorite may have to be Taron Egerton’s rendition of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me. Who knew the “Kingsmen” star had such an amazing voice?
 
It’s hard to say if “Sing” will make the cut come nomination time for the award season. The film has some tough competition with “Zootopia”, “Kubo and the Two Strings”, and the likely front runner, “Moana”. That being said, you cannot discredit this lovable cast and the toe-tapping song choices that makes this film a fun time for the whole family.

Rating: 3/5

“Sing” opens in theaters December 20.

“Sing” Official Trailer HD

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Movie Review: “Hot Pursuit” is a Hot Mess that Fails in Every Aspect

Not even the Oscar-winning lead actress can save this pathetic excuse for a comedy.

I’m not really sure why Reese Witherspoon signed on to this film. She certainly doesn’t need the work, and the movie is slightly beneath her. But I guess she felt after her captivating performance in Wild, she would just do a flick that requires much less thought and effort.

Hot Pursuit might as well be this year’s Tammy; a lazy, predictable, disaster road trip comedy that manages to have everything go wrong up until it’s final destination. We’ve seen this formula many times. For the most part, films like these never have any real substance, and the slapstick comedy fails to produce any real laughs. The exceptions are a few rare gems like Dumb and Dumber, Overnight Delivery, and Road Trip (Personal favorites).

In Hot Pursuit Reese Witherspoon plays, Cooper, an uptight, by-the-book cop who is stuck working in the evidence room. She has no life and no boyfriend. She’s too intense and scares guys off. But things start looking up for Cooper, when her boss assigns her to protect a newly widowed drug dealer’s wife, Daniella (Sofia Vergara). She must get Daniella safely to Dallas so that she may testify against a murderous drug lord. Of course, what should be a simple task turns into a road trip from hell. As they race through Texas, they are chased by dirty cops and vicious gunmen. They never seem to catch a break. And in a twisted turn of events, they suddenly become two wanted fugitives.

Oh and if you were concerned about Officer Cooper’s love life, don’t be. She runs into a random man (Robert Kazinsky) who’s had trouble with the law himself, and what do you know? He likes how intense she is. It’s a forced romance that lacks chemistry, intrigue, and in all honesty is completely forgettable.

I wish I could say Hot Pursuit was at least funny at times, but the film uses recycled shticks that are poorly executed. The story-line and jokes have no originality, and I could care less about these characters. That might be the most frustrating aspect of the film. Cooper and Daniella never seem to connect with each other, nor do they “make a good team.” A redeeming factor in a comedy that begins with two people hating each other is the end result of them finally caring for one another. Unfortunately, throughout their journey, Cooper and Daniella never have a genuine moment where the audience can believe that these two would become “real” friends.

Hot Pursuit might as well not even be on your radar this weekend. There are plenty of other great films out that provide a much better source of entertainment. Just go see Avengers: Age of Ultron, or Ex Mchina, or literally anything else.

Rating: 1.5/5

Hot Pursuit open in theaters May 8.

Interview: “The Good Lie”-Margaret Nagle, Arnold Oceng & Kuoth Wiel discuss Miracle Food and Life Changing Choices

They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.” Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America.  In “The Good Lie,” director Philippe Falardeau, (“Monsieur Lazhar”) brings the story of their survival and triumph to life. Sudanese actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, and newcomer Kuoth Weil, many of whom were also children of war, star alongside Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon and Corey Stoll. 

I sat down with The Good Lie writer Margaret Nagle (Red Band Society, Boardwalk Empire) and stars Arnold Oceng and Kuoth Wiel to discuss life changing choices, how we can help the South Sudanese children, and much more.

I really did love this film, I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally affected I would be.  I do wish I had had some tissue.  But I have to say it was so well written, and you two were fantastic in it. 

Kuoth, Arnold, Margaret: “Awe, Thank you!”

So a lot of the characters are faced with some tough choices in this movie.  What’s the biggest decision you guys have had to make so far in your life; either career wise or just a life changing decision in general?

Margaret: “Ask them because my life is just…”

Kuoth: “Um, I think that this film itself for me was a decision that I had to make.  Because at the time I auditioned for it, I was in college.  And it was my last semester. So the casting director had told me that if you’re going to do the film you’re going to have to give up school because we’re going to be filming for about two months and there’s a lot of travel in between.  And so I gave up my school taking the opportunity of doing the film because of the script itself.  Because I felt that I needed to be a part of it because this was the history of my country.  And so, knowing that I took the opportunity, obviously, hoping for the best (laughs).”

Arnold: “Same, same, exact same to me.  It was a big decision to be part of this film, a decision that I had to make.  And it has changed my life being part of this film.  It’s changed my life immensely.  I’ve learned about my people, I’ve learned about my culture.  Things I didn’t know.  Coming from my father, my father is from South Sudan and I came to the UK.  So being a refugee myself, and not growing up to know my father.  I had to be part of this film to grow and to mature into a man.  You know there’s a great saying, ‘you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.’  And I didn’t know where my father was from or what he’s been through, or where he’s been.  So this was an emotional journey for me and a big decision, and I’m happy I was part of it.”

The whole time while I was watching this movie I kept thinking, I have to do something.  I just wanted to help out in some way, because the film makes you feel that way when you’re watching.  And I was so happy that you (Arnold) mentioned thegoodliefund.org because once I got home I donated…

Margaret, Arnold, Kuoth: “Oh, yay! Thank you!”

It’s really rare that a movie can have that effect on the audience.  Is there another movie for you guys that after watching it you got inspired to help out for a good cause?

Kuoth: “I always feel like you have that effect with documentaries.  And that’s why this film was also special too.  Because Philippe has that special thing where he makes you feel like this is something that’s in a way very authentic, but it feels real to people.”

Margaret: “But I also think film is this emotional language.  It’s a language that the whole world can speak.  We can all watch a movie and get a certain value from it.  That someone in China or someone in, you know, Argentina; we can watch the same film and we get it.  We all get it.  And so I always believe that unlike a documentary, and this is what always kept me going, is I know this film can break down barriers for all of us.  It’s funny, it’s entertaining, and it’s an intimate epic.  But also that you can understand and so could someone a world away could understand it too and want to give that 5 dollars to the Good Lie Fund.  We’re asking people to think about South Sudan.  We’re going to try and make a difference.”

There’s also a lot of humor in here, too.  One of the funniest parts was when the guys were thanking God for the miracle food that is pizza.  I think pizza is amazing as well, but do you guys have a favorite food that you would also say is worthy of that title? 

Arnold: “Ha-ha, yeah, I’m telling you for this film I had to loose so much weight.  So now that I’m allowed to eat the food I want, I’d say steak! (Laughs)…”

Margaret: “Steak, the ‘Lost Boys and Girls’ love steak and orange juice.  And then the Cheerios, that’s my favorite.  I’m an obsessive Cheerios eater.  And I also love; I personally feel pizza is a miracle food.  I feel like that’s sort of a universal, like everybody feels like pizza is you know?  That’s why you laugh at that.  Because you know in any language airplane food is bad, pizza is good.”

The Good Lie opens in theaters October 3.

Click here for “The Good Lie” Video Interview

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*If you would like to help South Sudanese children in crisis and “Lost Boys and Girls” communities by please donate at thegoodliefund.org