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‘Lean on Pete’ review: A horse story of a different, darker color
BaltimoreSun.com / 1524305401

When we first see 15-year-old Charley Thompson, the human center of the devastating new film “Lean on Pete,” he’s jogging on the streets of Portland, Ore., a long way from the bohemian coffee bars and “Portlandia” cliches of popular culture. This is the other side of the tracks, the America all...

‘Super Troopers 2’ review: Has it aged, or have we?
BaltimoreSun.com / 1524305401

Like many of a certain age, I was a fan of Broken Lizard's 2001 stoner cop cult classic “Super Troopers,” which circulated smoky dorm rooms in the early aughts. The energetic, silly and wordy comedy of the then-unknown troupe was absurd, naughty and endlessly quotable.

Seventeen years later, the...

‘I Feel Pretty’ review: Amy Schumer’s fable about fat-shaming is frankly depressing
BaltimoreSun.com / 1524305401

In a 2015 sketch aired on Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer,” the one called “New Body,” Schumer played a woman shopping for a wardrobe for the body she’s always wanted. The clothing store clerk, thin and deadpan, is the perfect foil for Schumer’s chipper, play-along reactions. With those two...

Review: The only scary thing about ‘Truth or Dare’ is how boring it is
BaltimoreSun.com / 1523700603

As a genre, horror is supposed to evoke a physical reaction — a gasp, an elevated heart rate, a roiling stomach — but my biggest bodily response to “Truth or Dare” was an eye roll at its conclusion. My FitBit actually logged the experience as a 100-minute nap. Other than a single, solid jump scare,...

‘Rampage’ review: Dwayne Johnson leads worst Chicago architecture tour EVER
BaltimoreSun.com / 1523700603

“Rampage” is a drag. Three times during the thing, I wrote down the phrase “NO FUN,” with increasingly impatient underlines. This could be me, not the movie. Maybe I’m the one who’s no fun. But in general I like Dwayne Johnson, that smiling granite star, coupled with a tremendous amount of vehicular-...

‘The Miracle Season’ brings girl power to inspirational sports movie cliches
BaltimoreSun.com / 1523095804

Inspirational sports movies tend to be testosterone-heavy, so the all-girl volleyball movie "The Miracle Season" is a welcome twist on the familiar genre. Based on the true story of Iowa City's West High School girls' volleyball team who battled back from tragedy in 2011, "The Miracle Season" is...

‘Blockers’ review: John Cena, Leslie Mann play parents out to stop a prom night sex pact
BaltimoreSun.com / 1523095804

I went into “Blockers” cringing and came out smiling, which says more about me (double standard! They wouldn’t treat graduating high school males that way!) than it says about the movie. But that’s how moviegoing works. We’re pre-judgy that way. And “Blockers,” the feature directorial debut of...

‘A Quiet Place’ review: Hush, little family, don’t say a word or the monsters will get you
BaltimoreSun.com / 1523095804

Director John Krasinski’s third feature, and by far his most accomplished, “A Quiet Place” is a pretty crafty small-scale thriller set a few years in the future, with minimal dialogue and maximal, human-eating monsters. The creatures’ origin is never discussed or explained by way of the usual sheepish...

‘Foxtrot’ review: An Israeli war dance, uniquely unsettling
BaltimoreSun.com / 1521886204

Metaphorically the foxtrot is an irresistible dance step. The dancer makes a square, returning to where he or she started, and begins again. It’s a paradox, creating invisible box after box, while creating the illusion of freedom.

“Foxtrot,” the movie, embraces that box-step metaphor, and writer-director...

‘Sherlock Gnomes’ review: Johnny Depp a drab Baker Street detective
BaltimoreSun.com / 1521886204

There's a current boom of family-friendly film fare inspired by beloved British literary characters, which makes this moment ripe for the animated "Sherlock Gnomes," the sequel to 2011's "Gnomeo and Juliet." In terms of ranking these adaptations, "Sherlock Gnomes" is quite a bit more pleasant than...

‘Midnight Sun’ review: Bella Thorne shines in otherwise lackluster film
BaltimoreSun.com / 1521886204

The ailing teen romance genre is a rite of passage for many young stars. Mandy Moore had "A Walk to Remember"; Shailene Woodley had "The Fault in Our Stars," and never forget the patient zero of these movies: the '70s cancer tearjerker "Love Story."

These tales of doomed, innocent romance are so...

‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ review: This time, it’s impersonal
BaltimoreSun.com / 1521886204

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” may be not be much, but in the spirit of the film itself, let’s be realistic. It’s better than any of the “Transformers” movies, and shorter.

The sequel to the Guillermo del Toro-directed “Pacific Rim” (2013) plows through its battle sequences and utterly mechanical “humanizing”...

‘7 Days in Entebbe’ review: Negotiating a hijacking thriller, timidly
BaltimoreSun.com / 1521281402

Unless it’s complicated by something like human feeling, and a recognition of the human beings on both sides of any bloody ideological conflict, true-life heroism has a tendency to look a little synthetic on screen. It’s what sells, of course. And it’s an easy emotional sale if The Other in the...

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