The BossAnthony Macali
A motivational speaker hits rock-bottom after being arrested for insider-trading and losing her fortune, forcing her to turn to her former assistant for help.
"The Boss" is yet another venture for its vehemently foul-mouthed co-writer and star, and a certain fondness for her brand of humour is a recommended prerequisite. We have another outrageous and admittedly funny character on display, but alas her performance is bigger than the story itself. To carry a film on antics alone is a tough gig, and a promising start crumbles into a subsidiary plot and tiresome bad behaviour. This exec is a one-trick pony.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2Stefan Sgarioto
Amidst a massive family revelation that demands another Greek wedding, Toula and Ian also deal with the fact that their daughter wants move interstate for college.
It's quite easy to say that "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" is bigger, fatter and 'Greekier' than its predecessor; however there comes a point when you realise you've been just been fed re-heated leftovers. Aside from a few plot tweaks, there isn't anything actually new being brought to the table. Not that it really matters though, because just like the first serving, there are plenty of crazy family antics and corny sitcom style jokes to keep the audience satisfied. No BYO baklava required.
Kung Fu Panda 3Anne Murphy
Po continues on his journey of legendary awesomeness encountering both his past and his destiny.
Stunning 3D animation, precisely choreographed action sequences, and well-tuned character voicing are what we have come to expect from this franchise. The production crew delivers on all counts. The adventures of our quirky on-screen friends take us into other-worldly realms and steeps the audience in mantras drawn from Eastern philosophies. The back story is in danger of being over explained, but the central message is simple enough: find your chi, be yourself, and it's OK to eat rather a lot of dumplings. Panda expanded.
The Lady in the VanAnne Murphy
The true story of an eccentric woman who lived in her van for 15 years while parked in the driveway of a playwright.
This is one of those stories where fact is stranger than fiction. The performance from the actor who plays the lady herself is fabulous, a perfect portrayal of a lonely but cantankerous and independent woman who has her wits about her. Mystery surrounds the character, and our discoveries about her are revealed like jigsaw pieces. The full picture isn't portrayed, not in all those years. Restrained, polite, and very English. Van in no man's land.
Hail, Caesar!Anthony Macali
When movie star Baird Whitlock goes missing, production is halted on the epic feature he was working on. It's just one of the many problems for studio executive Eddie Mannix to fix.
"Hail, Caesar!" is a homage to Hollywood's Golden Era and a platform for some larger political and spiritual questions littered across the directors' back catalogue. In isolation, there are a number of amusing and entertaining scenes, but often they don't seem to service the overall picture. The film is rich in period detail and delightful characters, but there is little to take away from its wide agenda apart from the occasional chuckle. A breezy salute.
Ride Along 2Stefan Sgarioto
A detective heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law to bring down a drug dealer who's supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.
Another film in the 'no sequel necessary' category. Despite a predictable plot and over-the-top, prolonged jokes, it is by no means a terrible film, and "Ride Along 2" is not the worst film to watch to kill some time. There are sporadic moments of hilarity and some creative car chases to maintain a level of entertainment. If you're bored, you may as well go along for the ride.
Zoolander 2Anthony Macali
Derek Zoolander comes out of hiding to return to the fashion world in a bid to win back custody of his son, Derek Junior.
It’s been a long time between catwalks for Derek Zoolander, and his return brings an updated collection of social satire that made his first outing so famous. While it retains some of the fun, it doesn't strike a very stunning pose with only a semblance of wit and creativity. "Zoolander 2" is silly and sloppy; countless high-profile cameos attempt to boost the credibility of the film, but cannot hide a very poor script. It's a model of recycled characters and cheap jokes. A follow-up faux-paus.
Dirty GrandpaStefan Sgarioto
Right before his wedding, an uptight young guy is tricked into driving his grandfather to Florida for Spring Break.
"Dirty Grandpa" aims to shock and horrify viewers with its crude humour and a complete disregard for boundaries. It's a combination that makes quite a violating viewing experience. The running joke throughout – where a perverted senior citizen exhibits the libido of a teenager - is made to be as uncomfortable as possible. There are laughs to be had, but they often come with that bad taste that lingers after the joke has worn off. No maturity found here.
A teenage boy teams up with author R.L Stine to round up monsters that have come to life from Stines' Goosebumps manuscripts.
Whilst the self-referential humour of "Goosebumps" may be lost on some, there are still plenty of special effects and mindless humour to keep the rest entertained. Although the inconsistent accents can be overlooked, what lets the film down is a lack of stakes. With an abundance of memorable monsters available from the source material back catalogue, it's unfortunate that many of them just become a blurry figure in a stampeding crowd. Perhaps it's not the trip down memory lane one might hope for, but enough to give you goose bumps.
After discovering their parents are selling their childhood home, two sisters decide to throw one last party at the place.
"Sisters" skirts the topic of growing old, and demonstrates the obvious and pitiful differences to the glory days of the past. To acknowledge this film as a study of women in their mid-forties would be giving it too much credit. This is lowest common denominator comedy, relying on its fantastic leading ladies and the surprisingly crass language spurting from their mouths. It certainly won't win any awards, but there is never a dull moment between the sharp wit and the low-brow. Siblings behaving badly.
Joy, a divorced mother of two, overcomes financial and family trouble to become the founder of a large business dynasty by inventing the Miracle Mop.
"Joy" is a fairly basic story about the rise of an underdog - with the main character navigating failures and defying the odds to succeed. Even in Joy's case, which includes both the support and betrayal of her unconventional family, it's nothing we haven't seen before. The most surprising aspect is that a story about the creation of a mop can be so entertaining. Despite some great casting and quirky dialogue, it does suffer from a confused tonal palette, not always sure where it should be hitting the mark between comedy and drama. Some joy to be had.
Mistress AmericaAnne Murphy
A young woman attending college in New York has her life invigorated when she meets her step-sister to be.
Witty dialogue and a tumbling pace combine to make "Mistress America" a beguiling film. The paradox of wondering what will come of us when we grow up and inevitably age is deftly explored. Characters have a sense of self awareness and introspection, but every thought is blurted out in a comic extroverted way. Perhaps this is what life would be like if we tweeted face to face, a curious mix of self-consciousness and vibrancy. Don't Miss(tress) America.
The LobsterAnthony Macali
A man checks into a hotel and has 45 days to find a partner, or be transformed into an animal of his choosing.
The quirky premise of "The Lobster" certainly captures your attention, and for the first half at least, plays out with weirdly dark and terrific humour. The film is laden with allegory, especially in its almost cynical commentary on relationships and the brutal punishment for those who don't conform. Beautifully shot with a formidable supporting cast, it's a shame curiosity wavers towards the end of the story, as our apathy for the characters falters with the plot. The one that got away.
The InternAnthony Macali
An online fashion site offer a senior Internship program to boost their public image.
"The Intern" is a feel-good outfit, which will appeal to a wide audience. Despite the cliché setup, the film is stylish, and is carried with aplomb by the two delectable leads. This unconventional pairing is clearly the best part, as they drive the most laughs and delight in sharing their stories and offering life lessons. While it might languish in the final third when a heap of drama and themes are forced upon the narrative, its overarching sweetness will please its buyers. The perfect fatherly figure.
The VisitStefan Bugryn
Two young children visit their grandparents for the first time and realise something is very wrong.
The plot twist is no new thing to cinema, and when it’s executed correctly, it can make a film feel refreshing and new. The twist in "The Visit" is incredibly clever, and breathes fresh air to a somewhat boring script after the half way mark. For a large portion of the film, it feels like everything is on repeat. If it weren't for the natural and very engaging performances from the two very young leads, it could be considered quite unentertaining. Come for the visit, stay for the surprise.
Last Cab to DarwinAnne Murphy
A taxi driver with a terminal condition embarks on a long drive to Darwin in order to die with dignity.
"Last Cab to Darwin" is unmistakably an Australian film. You could change the towns and the countryside but the characters are true-blue types not found anywhere else in the world. The cinematography is stunning, with the road trip crossing a magnificent sunburnt country. In addition to the characters and scenery we are rewarded further by the unsentimental exploration of vexing social issues. The movie personalises ordeals, and then tackles them with heart just as any archetypal taxi driver might do. Dinky die.
A Walk in the WoodsAnne Murphy
The writer, Bill Bryson, sets out to walk all 2000 miles of the Appalachian Trail with a friend from years ago.
There's plenty to laugh at as this unlikely pair of hikers set out on an extraordinary journey, tackling the unpredictable and unforgiving terrain of the wild. "A Walk in the Woods" is essentially a buddy movie exploring the pleasures of friendship. If there is something to take away from this enjoyable tale, it is the well-known life lesson that the joy is in the journey rather than the destination. Old men walking.
Irrational ManAnne Murphy
A philosophy professor is enduring a deep and hopeless melancholy which lifts after he engineers a murder.
The existential themes from the writer/director are familiar, as is the struggle between right and wrong, which the film's protagonist faces. The material might look a little tired, but the lead actors invigorate the story and bring it to life with strong performances, despite seeing them all losing their moral bearings. "An Irrational Man" holds attention as it plays out thanks in part to the dialogue, which is engaging banter with an intellectual edge. Irrational but sound.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Anthony Macali
In the 1960s, an American and Russian operative must join forces to stop a nuclear bomb.
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E." is all style and no substance. When these secret agents aren’t jumping and shooting at one another, they are delivering fashion advice. With this example you can appreciate the uncomplicated direction of this story. It starts off obnoxious, but slowly grows on you over the course of the mission. Everything is so nice to look at, and plot reveals are neatly constructed (and deconstructed) for the audience, leaving little to the imagination. Sleek and chic, and not so special.
A gym owner and a personal trainer get tangled up with a wealthy eccentric client, all three have cause to think about the relationship between love and money.
"Results" speaks to our aspirational future selves; don't we all want to become better versions of who we are? A brilliant cast get a great workout on the screen, and convincingly take us along even as the action goes over the top. The characters are recognisable and complete with questionable motives and all. This slow building story is not to be missed, it has muscle. Results delivered.
Me and Earl and the Dying GirlAnne Murphy
Greg, a high school kid, and his film making side-kick Earl are pressured by Greg's mum into befriending a girl at school who has been diagnosed with leukaemia.
This isn't the first time a romance has centered on a girl with a terminal illness, but "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is a rare movie, which confronts the situation head on with refreshing honesty, and lets the characters live without being overshadowed by their doomed relationship. The title gives it away, the story has a sense of humour and a sharp wit, balancing the inevitable heartrending scenes. Lively, until the end.
Malcolm is a high school geek, a virgin who loves hip hop and wants to go to Harvard, all goes awry when he and his friends have a wild encounter with the shady LA drug culture.
"Dope" is a smart coming-of-age story, packed with adventure. The movie opens energetically, rolling with the hero and his best friends. There are laughs to be had as the trio find themselves in more and more trouble. The second half loses pace and dawdles, before finishing with a heavy-handed lecture about race based assumptions. All in all, more awesome than dopey.
Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy.
Sassy and laugh out loud funny, "Trainwreck" sets a new standard for modern rom-coms. More than the script, which is sharp and absolutely hilarious, it is the lead character, in particular who steals the show, and delights by deftly turning the tables on gender stereotypes. It is she who calls the shots with her romantic hook-ups. You forgive her sexism as she delivers a performance with an aura of innocence and crackling wit. This wreck is no accident.
Magic Mike XXLAnthony Macali
Mike rejoins the crew to embark on a road trip to Myrtle Beach and attend the Annual Strippers Convention.
"Magic Mike XXL" does everything in its power to subvert all your expectations. Apart from the final hour, the plot is largely uneventful and bland, severely lacking the level of fun and frivolity from the first magic show. Despite the surprisingly pleasant motion picture visuals, this story of male-entertainers hitting the road on a journey of self-discovery unfortunately sticks too close to the straight and narrow. Put it away.
Inside OutAnthony Macali
When young Riley is forced to move house with her parents, she must reconcile the constantly changing emotions in her brain.
"Inside Out" is so comprehensive and creative in its depiction of what goes on inside our heads, you are almost convinced it is real. This remarkable animation is super clever in its colourful representation of human emotions and memories, creating an indelible, heartfelt and amusing cinematic experience. Exploring the imaginary world of the mind generates excitement at every turn, and its frantic pace and sharp wit will captivate onlookers of all ages. Pure joy.