Mike Rich

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Cars 3 Review

Very Good

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in that time), and the filmmakers have wisely decided to go back to basics for this one. After the sequel's foray into global spy mayhem, this movie keeps its focus on the race track. There's still that nagging lack of logic in the premise: a world of cars living like people, except that there are no people. But the oddest thing about this movie is that its themes are aimed at grown-ups, not children.

It opens as Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is at the top of his career, winning every race and celebrated as a rock star. Then young upstart Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) beats him, using high-tech training methods. To boost his speed, McQueen's sponsor (Nathan Fillion) sets him up with hot new trainer Cruz (Cristela Alonzo). But the old-school McQueen doesn't like simulators; he wants to feel sand in is tyres. So he takes Cruz on a cross-country trip to tap into his roots and show her the purity of racing on a dirt track. This involves seeking out salty old trainer Smokey (Chris Cooper) as McQueen prepares for a make-or-break race. Meanwhile, a TV pundit (Kerry Washington) drastically cuts McQueen's odds of winning any more races at all.

It's unlikely that kids in the audience will be able to identify with the central idea that you need to recognise when it's time to step aside for the younger generation. But then, they're mainly watching these movies for the vroom-vroom action, then buying the merchandise and recreating the races at home. The plot is for the adults, really, and this film provides a very nice story arc for McQueen (and Cruz as well). There is also, of course, a non-stop barrage of automotive puns and sight gags, silly side characters and wacky action. The stand-out scene is a riotous demolition derby in the mud.

Continue reading: Cars 3 Review

The Nativity Story Review


Good
There's a newly famous scene in Borat where a rodeo official advises the titular character to shave his moustache so as not to arouse suspicion that he's a terrorist. What could that possibly have to do with a movie about the birth of Jesus? Well, given that said rodeo official would have to advise (probably rather awkwardly) virtually everyone in this film to do the same, a whole lot.

Many Biblical epics have graced the screen but few have made any effort to match the casting with the geography. The Nativity Story is a notable exception. In a narrative long since detached from the holiday that celebrates it, Israelite Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes), living under Roman rule in, well, zero B.C., sees a vision in which the angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) tells her that she will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit. Cue the scratching of the record.

Continue reading: The Nativity Story Review

The Nativity Story Review


Good
There's a newly famous scene in Borat where a rodeo official advises the titular character to shave his moustache so as not to arouse suspicion that he's a terrorist. What could that possibly have to do with a movie about the birth of Jesus? Well, given that said rodeo official would have to advise (probably rather awkwardly) virtually everyone in this film to do the same, a whole lot.

Many Biblical epics have graced the screen but few have made any effort to match the casting with the geography. The Nativity Story is a notable exception. In a narrative long since detached from the holiday that celebrates it, Israelite Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes), living under Roman rule in, well, zero B.C., sees a vision in which the angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) tells her that she will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit. Cue the scratching of the record.

Continue reading: The Nativity Story Review

Finding Forrester Review


Good
They're already calling it "Good Will Hunting in the hood," and it's for good reason. Gus Van Sant's latest takes us back to the inner city (or The Bronx, at least) for a second verse of that feel-good feeling, with none other than Sean Connery as a crotchety old shut-in who teaches (and learns from, natch) a local teen (Rob Brown) who sneaks into his apartment.

If you've seen the trailer, you know the story. The local Bronx kids live in fear of "the window," a ghostlike man who stares down at them creepily while they shoot hoops. On a dare, young Jamal (Brown) sneaks into the place, finding it cluttered with books. He's given a scare and Jamal runs off, leaving his backpack behind.

Continue reading: Finding Forrester Review

Radio Review


Weak
HBO's cultish sketch-fest Mr. Show, in one of its more brilliant skewers of the entertainment business, did a hysterical mock movie awards show where all categories were for playing mentally challenged adults. The heart of the joke was the way the actors engaged in sickening self-congratulation for their "courageous" role choices.

Cuba Gooding Jr. deserves similar congratulations for his courage, not just for "playing retarded" in the titular role in Radio, but for most of what he's done since he won his own Oscar as jawboning jock Rod Tidwell in 1996's Jerry Maguire, a role in which his only devastating handicap was playing for the Arizona Cardinals. If not true fearlessness, it's hard to imagine what else can explain some of Gooding's recent script-picking decisions - Chill Factor, Instinct, Rat Race, Snow Dogs, and the execrable Boat Trip come to mind. Maybe he can't read.

Continue reading: Radio Review

The Rookie Review


Good
The Rookie, as you may have figured out from its television advertising blitz, is the true story of Jimmy Morris, a 35-year-old high school science teacher and baseball coach that takes one last shot at his dream of playing in the Major Leagues. It's definitely an inspiring story, but unfortunately the filmmakers never manage to build a strong momentum as the story wends through Morris's life.

The primary shortcoming of the film is that it takes three or four separate stories and loosely strings them together, while leaving out perhaps the most interesting story of all. Granted, the centerpiece of the film is how a high school science teacher makes his way to the major leagues, but this story seems rushed and almost an afterthought by the time we get to it. Instead, the filmmakers take up too much time early on relaying a tenuously related fable about nuns and the origins of baseball in Jim's rural Texas town, and then mill around in Morris's childhood, focusing on his strained relationship with the stern father that did not support his dream.

Continue reading: The Rookie Review

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Mike Rich Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Nativity Story Movie Review

The Nativity Story Movie Review

There's a newly famous scene in Borat where a rodeo official advises the titular character...

The Nativity Story Movie Review

The Nativity Story Movie Review

There's a newly famous scene in Borat where a rodeo official advises the titular character...

Advertisement
Finding Forrester Movie Review

Finding Forrester Movie Review

They're already calling it "Good Will Hunting in the hood," and it's for good reason....

Radio Movie Review

Radio Movie Review

HBO's cultish sketch-fest Mr. Show, in one of its more brilliant skewers of the entertainment...

The Rookie Movie Review

The Rookie Movie Review

The Rookie, as you may have figured out from its television advertising blitz, is the...

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