Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 20, 2021

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 20, 2021

Dear Evan Hansen
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive references, brief strong language, suicide and thematic material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43% at time of writing
In Theaters

Based on the smash Tony-winning Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen follows a high-schooler (Ben Platt, revising his stage role) whose anonymity is compromised when he falsely becomes associated with a fellow high schooler who commits suicide. As he pretends to have been part of the young man’s life, he finds his way into the kid’s family and gains popularity amongst his school and beyond. While this synopsis makes the story feel cold and mean, it is actually quite a moving narrative as Hansen doesn’t want the notoriety, but he is drawn into it when it begins to meet his needs for love and friendship. And with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the team behind La La Land and The Greatest Showman, the music couldn’t be more addictive and powerful. Having seen the stage production twice on Broadway (but not with Platt), I was concerned that the big screen wasn’t the place for this, but it does work here, to a point. It helps to have an amazing cast including Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Kaitlyn Dever, along with a great director in Stephen Chbosky (Beauty and the Beast) who has pulled this off before. Part of me does think that Platt might be a bit too old to play a high schooler, but honestly, it wasn’t as noticeable as I thought it would be and by the end I was grateful to have finally seen him perform the role. The movie’s biggest fault is that it isn’t perfect, or at least as good as what you get to see on stage. Some terrific songs were cut and the new songs are merely only okay, but I also found the movie not to be as emotionally draining. Maybe that’s a good thing. On Broadway I embarrassed myself with my crying while the movie only had me wiping away a couple of tears. Overall, it’s a good enough endeavor and should win some fans, even if the critics seem to be piling on, probably in order to gain attention on social media, ironically. B

Cry Macho
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%
In Theaters and Streaming on HBO Max

In Clint Eastwood’s latest acting/directing adventure, he plays a ranch hand who is sent to Mexico from Texas in order to bring back his boss’s teenage son. Forced to take back roads in order to get past the law and the boy’s mother’s henchmen, the two become friends as they risk their lives to get back to America. As I write that synopsis, I realize that there is some potential in that story. It actually sounds good. But the execution here is awful. The biggest problem is the casting. Eastwood is a legend, but he is all wrong for this part and it is hard to watch. The boy is also not great in the role, although it’s entirely possible that he was just not well-directed. The whole project feels sloppy and rushed and not in the least believable. My advice – watch the trailer and it will give you the perfect rundown and allow you to save two valuable hours. C-

Rated R for language throughout, graphic nudity, a sexual assault, strong sexual content and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This dark comedy is based on a true story about two strippers who make a road trip to Florida that goes wrong when one of the girls decides to prostitute herself halfway through the outing. The movie tries to prepare its audience for a crazy, disastrous road trip that will burn a bad memory into your brain, and if there’s one disappointment here, it is that it never lives up to that promise. It is, however, an interesting story with some terrific performances by a very talented cast. I was actually convinced that the actors came from that world and were just making a documentary-like film, as they seemed almost too perfect in their parts. But when you dig into their IMDB pages, you start to realize that these are some big pros with impressive resumes and one of the girls (Riley Keough) is actually Elvis Presley’s granddaughter. I was also really impressed with director Janicza Bravo’s tremendous sense of style and flair in a film where that is truly unexpected. B

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 6, 2021

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 6, 2021

Come From Away
Streaming on Apple TV+

With the twentieth anniversary of the 9-11 attack this week, a couple of high-profile projects are hitting the small screen. The first is this recording of the uber-popular Broadway show, Come From Away. Earlier this year, over a year after Broadway closed its doors for the pandemic, the original cast put on this performance in front of a socially distanced crowd in the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York, which will premiere on Apple TV+ on September 10. The story is set in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland on 9-11 as 38 airliners were diverted to their airport until the skies were once again cleared for travel and the folks on board could get to their original destinations. Playing the parts of the townsfolk, the passengers and the crews, all at the same time, the musical is full of wonderful tales about people coming together in the most desperate of moments, allowing their humanity to overcome their fears. It is remarkable that anyone would even come up with such an ambitious idea, yet alone green-light it, fund it and pull it off. This was the first Broadway show I was supposed to see before the lights went dark, so I was grateful to be able to take it in, even on a television set. And now that I’ve seen it this way, I’m even more excited to see it live in October when the North American tour swings back into gear. We’ve been so lucky to have so much terrific theater available to us during Covid, and Come From Away truly stands among the recent greats like Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and In the Heights. A

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Streaming on Netflix

The other high-profile 9-11 project this week follows Michael Keaton playing Ken Feinberg, the attorney responsible for setting up the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund which was developed to keep the airlines from being bankrupted by a class-action lawsuit after the attack. As a professor of law, he was brought into the project due to his unparalleled knowledge of what a person is worth when they are killed in a tragedy. But stepping into this role, with thousands of lives lost, the movie tries to show what a monumental task it was and how the formula could never be perfect. With only 2 hours, the movie oversimplifies everything, and it shows. It attempts to bring in a few family members who lost loved ones in order to represent the thousands of other stories out there, but the storytelling just doesn’t match up to the ambition and weight of the project. That being said, Stanley Tucci is excellent as the husband of a wife who died that day, and manages to make a little more sense of the overwhelming task that was the fund. Ultimately, there might have been a more complex and relevant story to tell here that Netflix managed to fit into a relatively short watch that just gets the basic points across. B-