A truly mixed bag in the new releases this week, with something for everyone.
1. Paddington 2 (Warner Brothers, 3,702 Theaters, 103 Minutes, Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 100% Fresh [140 Reviews]): Yes, that is right. This film is currently 100% fresh. Every one of those 140 reviews were positive. Wow.
I, for one, am glad. Having an eight-year old daughter, I get exposed to a LOT of kiddie entertainment. Most of it seems to be made by people who think that since their target audience hasn’t mastered the art of spelling, that they don’t really have to worry about making a quality film. But kids deserve to have great films to watch.
My kid has been bugging me to see this film. I’m happy that I won’t have to suffer through it.
2. The Commuter (Lionsgate, 2,892 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some intense action/violence, and language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 55% Fresh [91 Reviews]): Listen, I’m as happy as the next guy that Liam Neeson has found a second act to his acting career as an action star. Seriously I am. I mean, the man is 65. Actors of his age usually start playing grandfathers ten years younger.
But how about we find some films that are of a slightly lower concept. This one kind of stretches the suspension of disbelief a bit too far for me.
Maybe it comes down to the fact I live in an area that relies a lot on commuter rail service. I’ve rode these kinds of trains numerous times before and I can’t see the plot of this film playing out on one of them. Most trains have too many cars and the rides are of too short a duration for anyone to find one particular stranger on them. Never mind the fact that it’s nigh impossible for one person to easily walk from car to car while the train is moving. Whenever I have to do it, it’s like a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie.
3. The Post (Opening Wide, Fox, 2,819 Theaters, 116 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for language and brief war violence, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 88% Fresh [221 Reviews]): If there was ever a factory that mass=produces Oscar bait movies, this film would be the template for the first batch of films to roll off the assembly line.
Let’s list the components. Multiple Oscar-winning actors in the lead? Yep. Oscar-winning director? Yep. Plot taken from the annals of history? Yep.
The film has done fairly well during award season, but I think it’s telling that it hasn’t done as well as the riskier Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and less conventional Lady Bird. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad film, just that the Oscar bait trick that worked in the past doesn’t quite work as well anymore.
4. Proud Mary (Sony/Screen Gems, 2,200 Theaters, 89 Minutes, Rated R for violence, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 27% Fresh [17 Reviews]): Taraji P. Henson is one of the best actresses working today. Last year’s Hidden Figures shows what she can do in a good film. This one? Shows what she could do in a bad one.
The film’s rather low review count is due to it not being released to critics for review before the film came out. That is never a good thing. Expect the Fresh percentage to stay low.
This is a shame. Henson in a remixed, Blaxploitation take on Gloria should have been great.
Next wekk, the new releases offer an atypical war movie, a prototypical heist film, and a stereotypical Nicholas Sparks-lite romance.