Popcorn Perspectives – Week of November 23, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 23, 2020

(from left) Phil Betterman (Peter Dinklage) and Grug Crood (Nicolas Cage) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age, directed by Joel Crawford.

The Croods: A New Age
Rated PG for peril, action and rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76% at time of writing
In Theaters

This sequel to the 2013 animated film follows the continuing adventures of the Croods, a prehistoric family in search of a better life consisting of food, shelter and safety. Lucky for them they discover a beautifully walled-in single-family commune with a more evolved family, named the Bettermans, who have figured out a much more sophisticated way of living. While at first the Croods are welcomed, the two families’ differences quickly cause problems that escalate into a big feudal mess. While I wouldn’t say the movie is a big evolution from the first one, it’s actually still a lot of fun and crazy creative. Originally slated for a 2017 release, the studio changed the story direction by hiring Dan and Kevin Hageman (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark) to re-craft for a much later release this Thanksgiving. Is it worth venturing into theaters during Covid? Not sure about that one. But it is a fun little comedy with some big laughs and a welcome familiarity. Sure its more like theatrical comfort food than fine dining, but sometimes that is okay. Whether in theaters or in what I’m sure will be a relatively fast trip to home entertainment, kids will obviously enjoy, as I’m sure many of the adults will too with its wacky, random humor and nicely-paced story. B

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% at time of writing
Available on Netflix

Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman put on an acting masterclass in this film from Netflix based on the play by August Wilson and produced by Denzel Washington. The story follows a famous black singer named Ma Rainey (Davis) and her band as they attempt to record some new songs at a studio in Chicago in the 1920’s. Tensions flair as a young trumpet player (Boseman) and the rest of the band argue and fight over the direction of their music and their lives as black musicians in white America. The movie very much feels like a play as it moves between its music and its narrative. And while the story itself isn’t overly compelling, the stories of the characters, along with the fantastic ensemble cast playing them, give the film a memorable and satisfying journey as you learn about each of them and what has gotten them to that moment. And depending on when we actually see awards for this year, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Boseman and Davis were both major front-runners for best actor and actress when we eventually do see the trophies handed out. For Boseman especially, his potential posthumous win will be an emotionally charged campaign to reward the great talent which we lost way too soon. A-