Screening Room: Magic Mike, Ted
Welcome to the Screening Room. I’m Russ Simmons
And I’m Shawn Edwards. Talking bears and bare bodies are set to dominate theatres this weekend. Let’s start out with the male stripper extravaganza, “Magic Mike.”
MAGIC MIKE (R)
What should have been a dream for the ladies to is a nightmare to watch. The dance sequences, and there are many are fun, sexy and explicit choreography at the highest level. But when the dancing stops this movie goes off the cliff like “Thelma and Louise.”
If the Chippendales boys appeal to you, then “Magic Mike” might be your slice of beefcake. But the hard R-rated story, inspired by Tatum’s own experiences, is a decadent dud.
Channing Tatum is a likable hunk but delivers a personality on par with one of those Old Navy mannequins. And Matthew McConahey is a blast as he delivers a combination of Jim Morrison, Sun-Ra and any early Sunday morning evangelist. So it’s too bad the story is so flat. There are some interesting elements that could have been stripped down and explored but director Steven Soderbergh kept the movie’s clothes on. Thus “Magic Mike” is nothing more than “Showgirls” with dudes. Except “Showgirls” was more fun in a really bad way.
Director Steven Soderbergh’s gritty filmmaking technique gives it a sense of realism, but “Magic Mike” will seem meandering and dull to those who don’t care about corny strip routines. Even those who go for a naughty ‘girls night out’ soiree may be disappointed.
2 Popcorn Bags
1 Popcorn Bag
“Ted” is the most hilarious and sinfully original movie in years. It’s outrageously funny and straight from the bizarre mind of “The Family Guy” creator Seth McFarlane who wrote, directed and provided the voice of Ted with his trademarked irreverent and crass humor with brilliant strokes of genius.
This exceptionally raunchy comic fantasy is about a grown man, played by Mark Wahlberg, whose teddy bear magically came to life while he was a child. Now, as an adult, Mark’s hard-partying toy causes him a boatload of problems.
The movie sort of derails about a third in but gets back on track to conclude nicely. It all works because Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Ted have a perfect triangle of chemistry. The humans got it. They aren’t the stars. It’s also nice to finally see a comedy where all of the good jokes are not in the trailer. Ted may be a bit creepy and a little too in your face but you’ll laugh and you’ll love it.
“Ted” is wrong in oh, so many, many ways, so you may be ashamed of yourself for laughing…but laugh you will.
3 Popcorn Bags
4 Popcorn Bags
MOONRISE KINGDOM (PG-13)
Quirky filmmaker Wes Anderson offers “Moonrise Kingdom,” a likably whimsical comedy about eccentric 12-year-old runaways in 1965. Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis and Ed Norton are fun as the clueless adults. The kids are cute and the tongue-in-cheek approach should appeal to viewers with an appreciation for the offbeat.
Russ: 4 Popcorn Bags
PEOPLE LIKE US (PG-13)
Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer star in an exceptionally well made Hollywood soaper, “People Like Us.” Pine plays a slick salesman who discovers a lot about himself when he learns that his late father had a second family he knew nothing about. Fine performances and smart dialogue make this one a winner. Take Kleenex.
Russ: 4 Popcorn Bags
YOUR SISTER’S SISTER (R)
Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt play sisters who host a friend, played by Mark Duplass, at their remote family retreat. In this offbeat comedy, things become very revealing after a couple of days of drinking. It’s somewhat artificial and self-consciously edgy, but a strong cast and good heart make it a palatable escape.
Russ: 3 Popcorn Bags
LOLA VERSUS (R)
Greta Gerwig stars in “Lola Versus,” a forgettable comedy about a self-involved Manhattanite who gets dumped by her fiancée. Gerwig will survive this misstep.
Russ: 2 Popcorn Bags
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (R)
Aubrey Plaza from TV’s “Parks and Recreation” stars in this offbeat comedy about a magazine intern who does some clandestine research on an eccentric (Mark Duplass, yet again) who thinks he can time-travel. It’s quirky, funny and possesses a certain goofy charm.
Russ: 4 Popcorn Bags