Jim Erickson

Movie reviewer

Jim Erickson has been KMUW's film reviewer since 1974. He came to Wichita State University in 1964 from the University of Texas in Austin. He taught narrative in literature and film from 1966 until his retirement in 1997. His favorite film is Citizen Kane.

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 Central Intelligence is less a story that it is a mere jumbling together of a bag of routines and conventions and cliches from other buddy thrillers, linked loosely together by little shreds and patches of dialogue scenes that suggest a central plot that may or may not hold together into a coherent story. But it has an irresistible spirit of Let's Have Fun and a delightfully charming star in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a magnificent giant of a man with a real gift for using his physique for comedy.

The Conjuring 2 claims to be based on "one of the most documented cases in paranormal history," but credits its story to three of its four screenplay writers, one of whom is also its director.

For the first half hour or so, I thought I understood what The Lobster was trying to be about. It's set in a society where bachelor-hood is illegal and unmarried men of a certain age have to find a mate within establishment society inside of 45 days or they will be turned into animals of their choice; our hero has chosen to be a lobster, maybe because lobsters have hard shells and big claws to defend themselves against attackers. The fact that they are customarily boiled alive for food didn't seem to fit, but parodies are seldom complete in detail.  


I am mystified by the continual popularity of Jane Austen, whose neoclassicism seems to me as outside modern aesthetics as my own. The audience I watched Love and Friendship with laughed a lot more often than I did. But the stiff formality of Austen's times kept the characters speaking in a conversational manner with hands hanging at their sides until they sounded too much the same, and their grammatically pure sentences sounded too literary.

The Nice Guys is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery thriller along the lines of the Lethal Weapon series.

The film offers Ryan Gosling as the slick detective who can't quite make it slick, and Russell Crowe as the slob detective who is a little too brutal for his role, but who has a soft side brought out mostly in relation to 12-year-old Angourie Rice, a remarkably restrained and natural actress who functions as heroine and is as good a detective as the other two and a stretch more likeable.

Money Monster is a first-rate suspense movie about a hostage situation, frequently compared to Sidney Lumet and Al Pacino's Dog Day Afternoon. But Money Monster is a lot more complicated than Dog Day Afternoon, with a lot more to think about. The hostage taker this time has a much more public motive, and the movie has a lot more relevance to public issues and current public debate.

I avoid comic book movies successfully enough that I really can't judge, but Captain America: Civil War does seem to have more thought content than is usual with action thrillers.

Everybody Wants Some is the only movie I can think of that reminded me of My Dinner With Andre, from back in 1981, in which Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory sat down to dinner in the first shots and didn't get up until almost two hours later, after accomplishing nothing but meandering chatter--they didn't even eat their dinner. In Everybody Wants Some, a gaggle of college baseball players and other college students report to campus a few days before classes start and squander a little over two hours of screen time accomplishing even less.

In the first place, The Huntsman: Winter's War, which is supposed to be some kind of sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, which had Kristen Stewart as Snow White, has neither Kristen Stewart nor anybody else as Snow White, whose birth is announced at the very end of the movie. It also kills off just about anybody who might have a role in the real story of Snow White, so the creators of this strange trilogy are going to have to create a whole new cast for the third movie in order to get to the Snow White story at all.

Criminal starts out with a premise strongly suggestive of a horror movie, progresses with fairly believable developments like a mystery story, and concludes with a sudden outburst of violence like an action thriller. The progression is not particularly illogical, but it is misleading, and it may leave everybody with a feeling of having been served satisfaction at one point or another, but very few being happy with the movie as whole.