“Annie” a hard-knock movie? “Exodus” divine? “Top Five” tops? DVD Popcorn Bag reviews!

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KANSAS CITY, Mo ---

1. ANNIE (PG)
Sony Pictures

RUSS
I was rooting for this remake of the classic Broadway musical. The cast is appealing, but the execution of this update of the Broadway musical is flat and uninspired.

SHAWN
Lets not pretend. The 1982 version was no classic. "Annie" is simply a tricky musical to pull off cinematically. But I liked this 'urban' update. Not so much for it's technique but for its unforced inclusion. Loved the cultural diversity. Loved the New York feel. And I really loved Quvenzhané Wallis. She was heartwarming and properly self-assured. Sure the adults were a bit clumsy. Even Oscar winners gotta keep paying bills. But it's called "Annie" and as long as the lead is popping we have a winner here. And miss Wallace was more than up to the task.

RUSS
It’s dull, even for undemanding kids.

SHAWN
I disagree. It's built for young kids. it has an easy to watch vibe and just enough musical excitement to keep things upbeat. No hard knock life here.

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

 

2. EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (PG-13)
20th Century Fox

RUSS
Did you know that God was a whiney 10-year-old boy with a British accent? That’s just one of the revelations in Ridley Scott’s bizarre miscalculation, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” This revisionist look at the same Biblical territory covered by Cecil B. De Mille’s “The Ten Commandments” delivers some impressive spectacle, but also some laughable dialogue and oddball casting.

SHAWN
The casting alone turned me off. Sure it's a well made movie with nifty special effects and the look and of something delivered by an accomplished director. But come on with the casting. Talk about disrespectful.

RUSS
European Christian Bale is Moses and Australian Joel Edgerton is Ramses, and they make do with what they’ve been given. Scott tries to have it both ways, allowing audiences to decide for themselves whether the events were natural or supernatural and whether Moses was a prophet or merely delusional. That wishy-washy attitude sinks it. While dated and corny, De Mille’s version is still the superior one. Thou shalt skip “Exodus.”

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 1 Popcorn Bag

 

3. TOP FIVE (R)
Paramount Pictures

RUSS
Here are the top five things about the comedy “Top Five:” 1) It's outrageous, 2) Irreverent, 3) Profane, 4) Funny, 5) Chris Rock’s best movie. Rock wrote, directed and stars in this movie about a comedian whose career suffers when he tries to go dramatic.

SHAWN
Being dramatic is easy. Being funny is really really hard. And comedian Chris Rock nails it with his unflinching, daring and keenly observant comedy. Think Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” except for the millennial generation with a fair amount of urban edge.

RUSS
While it’s very crude and edgy, “Top Five” bristles with the kind of smart and insightful humor that has become Rock’s trademark. It's the kind of movie Woody Allen wishes he still made.

SHAWN
Chris Rock's character develops a friendship with a New York Times features writer who brings him back to his roots. Sharp, insightful and funny as hell. Chris Rock has boldly and brilliantly obtained cinematic genius status. Who knew. Previously he was a gifted comedienne who was a horrible actor. "Top Five" is an instant classic that's a comedic masterpiece. "Top Five" was the best movie of 2014. Thanks Chris Rock. What a fresh surprise. And oh yeah look for the killer cameos.

RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 5 Popcorn Bags

 

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