Movie Review

Veteran movie reviewer Jim Erickson shares his no-holds-barred opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

Writer-director Richard Linklater took 12 years to make Boyhood , because he wanted to show the physical changes in Ellar Coltrane from his first day at school to his graduation from high school 12 years later. And the physical developments of Coltrane and his sister in the movie are fascinating to watch. But I'm not sure Linklater benefits much more than that from his much-discussed gimmick. A great deal happens during the 12-year period of school, and even with over two-and-a-half...

The Hundred-Foot Journey starts out rather unpromisingly, with violence in India and a tyrannical father and one of those tiresome young sons who seems to be in rebellion against everything (at least everything his father suggests). But very shortly, the family moves to rural France and sets up a restaurant across the road from Helen Mirren's five-star French restaurant, and things settle down into a relaxed, thoroughly enjoyable-- though not very exciting and pretty clichéd-- story...

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A Most Wanted Man is another one of those gloomy John le Carré spy thrillers in which everybody is venal and ruthless-- maybe in a good cause, but hardly admirable for all of that. Everybody has secret schemes and counterpurposes till it's difficult to keep track of who is betraying whom, and even if you can tell who you're supposed to sympathize with, it isn't easy to do it. It appears that Hamburg, Germany intelligence agent Philip Seymour Hoffman is trying to help illegal...

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One myth Hollywood will never give up is that a desire to be in show business is a divine calling never to be outgrown. In Wish I Was Here , Zach Braff's character cannot support his family and apparently peaked his acting career with a dandruff commercial. His wife, Kate Hudson, asks him whether his dream of playing a costumed comic-book superhero is the only dream his family of four is allowed, and his father, Mandy Patinkin, tells him that at some point he has to support...

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Two viewings of the movie and discussions with six other viewers failed to uncover anybody who claimed to understand Third Person . I suspect that a third viewing would have led me to a pretty complete understanding, but Third Person is nowhere near good enough to sit through three times. But I can give you a few hints that might help you get through it with less bewilderment than the seven of us suffered. First, keep in mind the possibility that the woman Adrien Brody is...

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Ten years after the action of Rise of the Planet of the Apes , we have Dawn of the Planet of the Apes . Surely, the dawn should precede the rise of anything, but let's not squabble with our blessings-- The Dawn is maybe even better than The Rise was. And if too much seems to have happened in the intervening years, let's remember that these apes were experimented on scientifically and may be evolving pretty fast. They can't quite talk yet and use a lot of...

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Melissa McCarthy has many reasons to be happy with her new movie Tammy . She produced, co-wrote and stars, and her husband co-wrote, directed and takes an important small role as the boss who fires her and starts the whole thing going. McCarthy is also more attractive both in her physical appearance and in the character she plays than she was in either Bridesmaids or The Heat , partly because Tammy is a gentle, people-loving movie without satiric edge or...

Like this year's Heaven Is For Real , the newly released Alone Yet Not Alone is a supposedly religious movie that is almost without religion. The one-sheet poster says, "Their faith became their freedom," and the end notes identify one support character as, "the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America," but in fact there is little reference to God or faith, even when prayer would seem to be called for. Somewhat similarly, the opening credits say Alone Yet Not Alone ...

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Both The Rover and The Signal are sort of road movies, though The Signal eventually turns into a sort of science fiction movie, and both of them end with sort of surprises, which in neither case is very satisfying. The Rover features really unpleasant characters, with a couple exceptions in the supporting cast. The Signal starts with three pretty acceptable collegians, but after turning into science fiction pretty much abandons characterization...

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a typically enjoyable, superior animation with most of the usual pluses of the form and only a few typical minuses. It's conventional in story and thin on characterization, pictorially beautiful, generally comic, and modest as to any ambition beyond entertainment. Visually, it is first rate. The scenery is gorgeous, with blue sky and sunshine and green trees and sparkling water and a generally Edenic beauty, contrasted with occasional darkness and...

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