Not much again this week for us so I’ll start with the biggest release Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. A sequel to Maleficent, the film did a little under half a billion dollars worldwide which might sound good, but it’s a quarter billion less than the first. It made over a $100 million less in the US alone which means we probably won’t see the series continuing. Like the first film, this sequel isn’t really for me. When Maleficent came out I had to look up what it was about because I’m not much of a Disney person and didn’t realize Angelina Jolie’s character was tied into the Sleeping Beauty world. Being the best part of that film she returns for this one and continues to be the best part of the franchise. Even if the movies are meaningless to me, I do appreciate her performance. The plot to this one seems all over the place with Maleficent being good and bad (depending on what character is talking) and transforming into a phoenix by film’s end. Elle Fanning returns as Aurora, this time older and in charge. Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith is new to the franchise and is the antagonist of the film. Some of the special effects were cool and all three women are good in their roles, but the plot is a mess. There is way too much going on for this to be geared towards kids and I understand why this one disappointed at the box office. But the film looks and sounds great in HD and the Blu-ray comes with bonus features like Behind-the-Scenes, extended scenes, outtakes and more.
Second we have Jexi, a romantic comedy that looks at how we rely on technology. Adam Devine plays a down on his luck guy writing clickbait articles with no love life. When his cell phone gets destroyed his new phone has an AI named Jexi installed. Voiced by Rose Byrne, Jexi throws his life into chaos. He meets a girl and at first Jexi tries to help him not screw it up but gets jealous. Jexi helps him get a promotion just to take it all away from him as well. I can see this film picking up an audience on home video/streaming. It got a small release in theaters, but I wasn’t even aware of it until the home video release. Devine is great in these nerdy/everyday type roles and Alexandra Shipp makes for a good love interest. Michael Pena is the crazy boss with Ron Funches and Charlyne Yi his coworkers. Even though Byrne isn’t physically in the movie, she’s great as the voice. Think of it as a slapstick version of Her. If you are a fan of Devine you’ll like it. I was pleasantly surprised with it and I can see myself watching it again.
Third we have MacGyver: Season 3. I’m not always a fan of TV reboots but even I can admit the MacGyver reboot for CBS has worked. I don’t watch it when it airs, I wait until the DVDs come my way but I have to say I overall enjoy the show. It sticks to what made the original work and doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Lucas Till also makes for a charming Mac which is necessary because Richard Dean Anderson was a charming SOB in the original. Episodes in Season 3 find Mac and his team in Nigeria, Ghana, Las Vegas, dealing with an Irish bomb maker he’s been looking for for years, a soccer mom thief, a crime boss wanting to be at his daughter’s wedding, and much more. It’s not a great show, but it’s an easy show to watch and you can binge a few episodes at a time.
Fourth is Mister America and I can without a doubt say it’s not my type of thing. I’m not a fan of fake documentaries in the first place and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed anything Tim Heidecker has done either. Once I know something is fake, I can’t get beyond that and lose interest knowing none of it is real. Yes movies aren’t real, but going into you know that. What’s the point of a fake documentary? Just make a regular movie with characters. In the fake documentary Heidecker plays a guy running for district attorney because the current DA tried to send him to prison for deaths at a music festival. After defending himself and getting off, he decides he can be DA and wants to take the current one down. He goes door to door and drives around introducing himself. He wants to get the everyday person vote. None of it worked for me. I didn’t find it funny or get the point of it. I didn’t like Tim & Eric, The Comedy or most things with him in it. Just not for me but fans of his and Gregg Turkington might enjoy it.
Next are some Mill Creek Entertainment releases for the week. They have a few others coming out this week (and some last week) that I haven’t seen before, but these are the films I’ve already seen.
First is Maid in Manhattan starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes. The 2002 film has been released before but now it’s in this 2 disc Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. Lopez plays a maid mistaken as a socialite when trying on a dress that isn’t her. Fiennes has a political background and as the truth comes out, well it’s classic rom-com storytelling. Think Pretty Woman but with a maid and not a prostitute. Both leads are good together and I know a lot of people who have a soft spot for the film.
Next is the Double Feature of Reservation Road and Return to Paradise. The first is a drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino and finds two families wrecked after a car accident. A young boy is killed, one family tries to cover it up while the other deals with its loss. The father (Phoenix) of the dead boy hires a lawyer (Ruffalo) after being frustrated with the police investigation. Ruffalo of course is the man who accidentally killed his son. Based on the book of the same name. Return to Paradise stars Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix and is about friends on vacation in Malaysia who go their separate ways. Phoenix stays behind but is arrested for drugs. Heche is a lawyer who wants Vaughn to return and help his friend out. It’s an early drama for Vaughn and an early film for Phoenix along with the film debut of Vera Farmiga. It’s a pretty solid drama with really good performances from the late 1990s.
Last we have the doubleheader of Dad and I’m Not Rappaport. Dad is a late 1980s drama starring Jack Lemmon, Ted Danson, Olympia Dukakis and Ethan Hawke. When his mom has a heart attack Danson comes home to take care of his father (Lemmon) along with his son (Hawke). As Danson takes care of Lemmon, he learns he’s been missing out on Hawke’s life. It’s a multi-generational tear jerker. I’m Not Rappaport stars Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving, Craig T. Nelson and more and is about a half blind building super (Davis) and an old non-stop talker (Matthau). Both men find themselves in different kinds of trouble. It’s based on a play by the same name and is definitely more for an older audience.