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January 2020

THE LAST FULL MEASURE is Stunning

The Last Full Measure cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director writer/director Todd Robinson and Roadside Attractions comes a film that answers the question of ‘is it ever to late to do the right thing?’ with the story that takes THE LAST FULL MEASURE.

Now, here is where I usually tell the story and the actors who portray them but this time I’m going to do something a little different. On April 11, 1966, a very young Air Force Pararescuer A1C William H. Pitsenbarger was sent to retrieve Army soldiers wounded in an ongoing ambush.

Needing help loading the wounded men on the ground, Pitsenbarger volunteered to go down to help the men who he did not even know. Under intense fire, the helicopter needed to leave and Pitsenbarger stayed. For almost two hours he tended to the wounded and even helped with munitions for the soldiers still in the fight.

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There were men that day who survived the battle of Abilene witnessing all of what Pitsenbarger did to save as many as he could.

Now, here we are, in January of 2020, fifty-four years later hearing the story of Pitsenbarger because there were men that day who believed this young man deserved a Medal of Honor and was denied and why?

That is what the film THE LAST FULL MEASURE is about. Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) is a young politician who needs to find another position with a new administration coming in. Politician Whit Peters (Linus Roache) and handler Carlton Stanton (Bradley Whitford) present Huffman with letters about how A1C Pitsenbarger was supposed to get the Medal of Honor but instead only received a Air Force Cross.

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Wanting answers is Tulley (William Hurt) a palliative care worker who knows the family including father Frank (Christopher Plummer) and mother Alice (Diane Ladd). Irritated that he has to be bothered with this when he’s trying to find another White House position, Huffman begrudgingly starts looking for witnesses that include Ray Mott (Ed Harris), Jimmy Burr (Peter Fonda), Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson) and Kepper (John Savage).

Each of these men are suffering from different forms and severity of PTSD are suffering from different forms and severity of PT and bringing up what happened on April 11, 1966 is physically and mentally painful. These men had a story to tell but trusting all the information to Huffman proves to be his challenge.

Finally, the truth is uncovered and it becomes time to bring it all to the forefront so that A1C William H. Pitsenbarger is not only honored for what he did, but for those who fought for that recognition and the lives he touched from one act of valor.

Stan as Huffman couldn’t have found a better role to play because it is nothing like I’ve ever seen him play. He gets a chance to show what he can do (without a suit) in bringing this character to fruition. Thinking only of his possibilities in the White House, it slowly becomes clear that his priorities might be a little skewed.

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Hurt as Tulley is the first force to be reckoned with as it becomes clear that he feels a sense of something about that day. He wants to bring honor to Pitsenbarger for the sake of his lovely parents. Jackson as Takoda is a man of few useless words and he don’t take kindly to outsiders invading his personal space but does explain that he had been trying for years to make the medal happen.

Fonda as Billy (and it is a loving moment to see him on the screen) is a man tortured beyond reason because of his Vietnam experience. His wife Donna played by stellar actress Amy Madigan, explains to Huffman that the night holds nothing but fear for her husband.

Harris as Mott is a man who carries his own guilt about what happened and the aftermath. Like his Army buddies, he is not happy to be talking to Huffman but if it gets Pitsenbarger what he deserves then perhaps it’s time.

Whitford as Stanton gets a chance to be back in the White House and douchey at the same time. The one thing you can say about Whitford, he is good at being good and seriously bad at being seriously bad. Hurt as Keppel is a man who lives in Vietnam and tries to help his fellow servicemen. When Huffman visits him there are so many moments of pain and joy it is a scene you have you experience for yourself.

Finally, to Jeremy Irvine who portrays Pitsenbarger – you sir gave a performance that choked me. Every time he was on screen, I just saw such a young man doing the extraordinary. Please don’t get me wrong, I know all soldiers do the extraordinary because I know I couldn’t. I’m giving Irvine a backslap for giving us the feel for this soldier at this era.

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Other cast include Alison Sudol as Tara Huffman, Cody Walker as Young Kepper, Ser’Darius Blain as Young Takoda, James Jagger as Young Jimmy Burr, Travis Wade as Lt. Tom Allison.

Is this a vague description of the film? Absolutely. I wasn’t sure what I would be seeing when presented with the opportunity to see THE LAST FULL MEASURE, but I can tell you this, my heart ached the entire film.

We live in a world that still doesn’t seem to understand what war does to the men and women who fight in them. Vietnam was the first opportunity that family and friends experienced the effects when loved ones returned totally different. Psychological help wasn’t a priority then so as the years passed, so did the concern for the soldiers.

Hollywood scratched at it a few times with such films as FULL MENTAL JACKET, DEERHUNTER, PLATOON, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, and FULL METAL JACKET but didn’t seem to pierce the wall to those who could make change.

Here we are with Afghanistan and Iraq with soldiers returning to the same mess created by war. Sending perfectly capable individuals on to be returned people in physical and mental pain. So THE LAST FULL MEASURE doesn’t hide the PTSD that these men continue to suffer and the character of Huffman can’t run from it any longer either.

This is our history folks, one that is repeated time and time again with every war started. Am I saying we should protect ourselves, absolutely not – but we need to be sure that it is a last resort not a first stone cast.

Now, to Pitsenberger’s story – it is the mixture of men agonizing over decisions made and people not being held accountable for their actions. The film doesn’t let any of it slide away into oblivion but instead faces it, just as the soldier’s family and friends have faced it every day since. The soldiers that were there that day come face to face with it and this film gives us the chance to embrace them even if we can’t’ break through the screen and hug them.

The cast is absolutely amazing and there is no one that takes the screen away from another. They, well, meld together to support one another’s character because they want to bring the message to us – never be afraid to do what’s right just as Pitsenbarger did.

Please let that be the very thing everyone takes away from seeing THE LAST FULL MEASURE.

I truly believe it is important that each person that sees the film remembers exactly what the citation reads, so, it you will indulge me. The citation reads, “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1963 has awarded in the name of the Congress the Medal of Honor posthumously to: A1C William H. Pitsenbarger, United States Air Force for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty near Cam My, April 11, 1966”.

In the end – he gave the very last full measure.

It is the Return of THE ADDAMS FAMILY on Vivid Bluray

Adams Family Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Double snapping onto Bluray/DVD and Digital this week from directors Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, Bron Studios and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the return of our favorite differences with THE ADDAMS FAMILY.

After being chased out of their home, the Morticia (Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) Addams decide to start over and find a place where no one would bother them landing on a hill in New Jersey. As time goes by the couple have daughter Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) along with Lurch and Thing.

Down below in the valley, television star and home renovator Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) has created the town of Assimilation. When she sees the house on the hill the plan for her show finale is born. Trying to get the Addams to allow her to make that happen falls on death ears as Morticia isn’t about to ruin her beautifully dark home. Agreeing with her is Gomez’ brother Fester (Nick Kroll) who is more than happy to say so.

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Wednesday meets Parker (Elsie Fisher), an unhappy teen who is a different kind of unhappy that Wednesday’s usual unhappy unhappiness. A friendship blossoms and she wants to attend school to see the world. Morticia is a little hurt but she takes her mind off it with the special family event planned for Pugsley.

Margaux is also planning an event of her own and to make it happen, she begins a campaign of fear with the people of Assimilation. Using social media to get the job done, daughter Parker can’t believe she is doing it. Both Wednesday and Parker decide to make their teenage protests known loud and clear.

The Addams’ are under scrutiny from their own family and the town which means only one thing – family sticks together no matter what!

Theron as Morticia has the calming voice of a mother on the death side of life. She only wants her family to be terribly unhappy and that means letting go of things a bit. What she learns is that if she is patient, all her fears will be realized. Isaac as Gomez wants Pugsley initiated into the family with tradition but learns that we are all good at some things and not all and perhaps that’s okay too. Both of these are loving parents that only want the worst for their children and I love that about them.

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Moretz as Wednesday is a young girl who just wants to see what’s beyond the metal toothed gates of the Addams home. Once she does, no one worries for her because this girl isn’t to suffer fools lightly. Wednesday knows who she is and it’s time for everyone else to know that too. Wolfhard as Pugsley is more like his Uncle Fester than Gomez realizes. He is good at creating destruction but not so light on his feet.

Kroll as Fester is just funny but then again I’d expect nothing less. Thing and Lurch aren’t about to be left out of this story nor should they because even though they don’t say much – action speaks louder than words or in Lurch’s case a good ole fashioned eye roll.

Janney as Margaux Needler is viciously hilarious with her crazy idea regarding the town she rebuilt and the pressures from the networks. If she wasn’t so normally insane I’d think she’d make a fantastic Addams! Fisher as daughter Parker just wants something different in her life – enter Wednesday!  Each girl wants to walk in the other’s shoes and once given the chance they learn it’s only a step up to being even better friends.

Other cast include Snoop Dogg as It, Bette Midler as Grandma, Martin Short as Grandpa Frump, Catherine O’Hara as Grandma Frump, Tituss Burgess as Glenn, Jenifer Lewis as Great Auntie Sloom, Aimee Garcia as Denise and Conrad Vernon as Lurch.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

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The Bluray Bonus Features include Deleted and Extended Scenes, Welcome to the Family, Charades with Thing, Life of a Scene, Addams Family Throwback and more!

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit http://www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

This version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY comes directly from the comic by Charles Addams that appeared in The New Yorker in 1938.  Television would bring their own version of these characters in the 1960’s with Carolyn Jones and John Astin as the devoted Morticia and Gomez.

In 1991 and 1993, THE ADAMS family appeared on the big screen with Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston in the roles of Gomez and Morticia. They actually gave the characters a darker look but still kept the loving side of their relationship. Although I adore the original television series, I came to embrace the films because that was the Morticia and Gomez I wanted to see and didn’t even realize it.

Now animated and on Bluray/DVD, this isn’t the first time they have been ‘cartooned’. What is a little different with this film is taking the characters from their original 1938 visual form. What I can say is that my granddaughter had a great time laughing, snapping and wide eyed that I knew the words to the song.

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There is something for everyone in this version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY and it will reach all age groups from the first of us to watch the television series to the next who experienced the 90’s films. Each iconic character brings what we’d expect wrapped up in animation that is fun. It’s about family, friendships, love on their own terms and seeing the world in a unique way makes THE ADDAMS FAMILY someone I’d love to live next door too!

In the end – think your family is weird, think again!

HARRIET Shares the Story of Freedom

Harriet cover

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray/DVD and Digital this week from director Kasi Lemmons and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a story of the run for freedom with HARRIET.

Minty (Cynthia Erivo) is a young slave woman working on a plantation married to free man John Tubman (Zackary Momoh). Believing their time had come to be set free according to a prior agreement, Minty is upset to learn that the agreement won’t be honored by plantation owner Edward Brodess (Mike Marunde). Angry that she even asked, Brodess orders her sold. Looking on is son Gideon (Joe Alwyn) who has known Minty since they were children.

When Minty asks God for answers, Gideon lets it be known that he also has no intention of honoring his grandfather’s agreement. Knowing that she has no other choice if she is ever to have a life beyond the fields, Minty plans to make a run north. She also knows that leaving husband John behind will save his life.

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She tells her mother and father goodbye and his final father order is to visit Reverend Green (Vondie Curtis-Hall) who gives Minty a mental map to freedom. Not far behind her is Gideon who is not about to let her go. When the two finally meet, it is on a bridge over a rushing river where she makes the ultimate decision.

Making her way north, she meets William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) who takes notes of slaves who find freedom and asks Minty if she wants to give herself a new name for her new life. Choosing Harriet Tubman she meets Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monae) who helps her settle in safely and a job. For the first time, Harriet is free to come and go while making a wage without fear.

But Harriet can not forget her husband or family left on the plantation. She makes it clear to William that if she made it north, so could they. She proves all the nay-sayers wrong and so begins her effort to go back and forth from south to north taking as many as possible to freedom.

Gideon’s father passes and now he is more obsessed with finding the girl he knows as Minty but Harriet isn’t about to stop what she is doing or be stopped by anyone.

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Erivo as Harriet portrays a woman who trusts in her faith and doesn’t let what others think of her get in the way of her goal. Thinking she is being led one way, it becomes quickly clear that her life would be dedicated to helping others. Her speech in the company of Frederick Douglas is what cements the belief that her path is laid out before her with the Underground Railroad.

Alwyn as Gideon is obsessed with keeping Minty on the plantation, so much so that he’s willing to promise her anything to make that happen. When she refuses his offer, Gideon starts a mission to do whatever it takes to get her back. Marude as Brodess is a plantation owner who isn’t about to let one single person leave and teaches that behavior to his son Gideon.

Odom Jr. as Still is a man who does everything he can to help slaves who manage to get to Philadelphia. Keeping records, he fears for what Harriet is doing but that’s not stopping her! Momoh as Tubman is a free man who is married to Minty as a slave. Believing that one day the agreement would be honored, insists that running is the way to go. His life would change as well when Harriet returns to help family.

Monae as Marie is the first woman in Harriet’s life who teaches her what freedom means and how to fool anyone stopping her in the south. She is elegant and graceful and, more importantly, an owner of a business. Curtis-Hall is the Harriet’s preacher who also becomes important in helping slaves fleeing the south.

Other cast include Daphne Reid as Miz Lucy, Clarke Peters as Ben Ross, Vanessa Calloway as Rit Boss, Omar J. Dorsey as Bigger Long, Henry Hall as Walter, Tim Guinee as Thomas Garrett, Nick Basta as Foxx, Joseph Anderson as Robert Ross, Antonio Bell as Henry Ross, CJ McBath as Junyah Ross, Alexis Louder as Jane, Tory Kittles as Frederick Douglas, and Jennifer Nettles as Eliza Brodess.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit http://www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Bonus Features include Deleted Scenes, Her Story, Becoming Harriet and Feature Commentary with Director and Co-Writer Kasi Lemmons.

HARRIET is a riveting story about a woman who defies the odds of slavery, survival and dangerous trips from south to north to free other slaves. Keeping it simple in the telling allows the viewer to become emotionally invested in understanding the life of Harriet.

This is the genre of film that can be an enormously beneficial teaching tool and hope that teachers will use it. It shows the human spirit and potential to change the wrongs of the society then and what can be accomplished now.

In the end – be free or die.

The Final App with COUNTDOWN

 

Countdown cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from writer/director Justin Dec and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes an App running a COUNTDOWN.

A group of teenagers spend the evening doing usual teenage stuff when they discover an app that can tell you when you die. Playing along, the group download it and find they all are pretty much going to live to a ripe old age – accept one.

Fast forward to Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail), a young nurse that has a way with her patients. She takes care of them especially when they aren’t feeling their emotional best. That’s when she learns that one of her patients has downloaded the app and so does she. The results aren’t what she thought and now the clock is ticking.

Trying to find a way to stop the whole mess, Quinn meets Matt (Jordan Calloway), a young man who has a life ticking away problem as well. Trying to be their for one another, they now want to find someone who can tell them how to stop it all, especially since Quinn is trying to save her sister Jordan (Talitha Bateman) who has downloaded the app.

They meet Father John (P.J. Byrne) who tells them a story about an evil spirit and the curse of time. Together they spend every moment trying to stop it all before the clocks run down to 0.

Lail as Quinn is a young woman trying to do the best she can with her family life. Her colleagues see her as a good nurse and one particular doctor wants to make trouble. When she downloads the app her entire world is turned upside down. Doing everything possible to make it stop, the app now has control of her life. Lail gives that fear a face but also a mission!

Calloway as Matt is a young man in the same predicament as Quinn and wants the same thing she does, to make it all stop. Even trying to get someone to hack the app, they do it together and a friendship based on fear happens.

Bateman as Jordan is a young girl doing what all young girls do – spend their entire existence using their phone. When Quinn tells her of the app, of course she is going to download it and become part of the game. Byrne as Father John is actually the comedic side of this horror film. Yes, he has some of the answers they are looking for but presents them in such a way that I’m actually laughing!

Other cast include Charlie McDermott as Scott, Jonny Berryman as Jeff, Louisa Abernathy as Mrs. Talbot, Valente Rodriguez as Father David, Dillon Lane as Evan and Peter Facinelli as Dr. Sullivan.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

COUNTDOWN is actually a look at how phones and apps have overtaken our lives. Hey, look, I’m just as guilty when I get busy and try to do everything on my phone – I mean “there’s an app for that!” is the universal slogan right? This film shows us the painful side of apps.

Of course this is a bit of an exaggeration (unless you believe in stuff like this in which case get rid of your phone before its too late), but if you remove the ‘demon’ from the equation, you still have to deal with the evil that apps can perpetuate on our lives.

Personally, I don’t download apps randomly at all and I certainly wouldn’t download one that will tell me when I’m going to die. There are so few surprises left in life that I’d kind of like the final surprise to be that…a surprise.

But, in the meantime, put away your phones and instead grab popcorn, a few friends and some couch time for a Friday night thriller with COUNTDOWN.

In the end – Death? There’s an app for that!

The Band is Back Together with ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap on Bluray

 

zombieland bluray

 

Jeri Jacquin

Start the new year with good laughs from director Ruben Fleischer and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and the continuation of rules to survival with ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap on Bluray and DVD.

So, a few years have gone by since we last checked in with the apocalypse survivors as Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are taking a zombie break living in a big white house. Columbus and Wichita have settled into being a couple, Tallahassee is working on a new vehicle and Little Rock is getting itchy feet.

Thinking that Wichita might need something to look forward to, Columbus does his best to clear a path for their life. Spooked by his suggestion, both the girls pack up and hit the road. A month later, Columbus is heartbroken and Tallahassee is about to lose his mind with his whining so hitting up the local mall the two get more than they bargained for. Cute and fluffy Madison (Zoey Deutch) has survived in a mall and is happy to see others.

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So happy that she latches onto Columbus which doesn’t work out really well when Witchita resurfaces with the news that Little Rock has taken up with a non-gun-toting-pacifist named Berkeley (Avan Jogia). On their way to Graceland perks Tallahassee up and all four jump into a vehicle to make their way to see the King – oh yea, and to get Little Rock Back.

Finding a hotel, the gang (minus one and plus one) meet Nevada (Rosario Dawson), Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch). In a scuffle to end all scuffles, the gang (minus one with no plus one) heads off for a place called Babylon where Little Rock is supposed to be.

Well, to make a long story short (I know, too late!), Babylon is a perfect place for Berkeley with their non-gun-pacifist-giving-post-apocalyptic-peace-a-chance. All that would be wonderful except for one thing, a new breed of zombies affectionately called T-800’s are headed toward the drum circle and the only people that know how to stop them are going to do just that!

Eisenberg as Columbus is sticking to his rules (well, except for Madison) and knows that since they’ve been laying low for a bit their zombie skills might be a little rusty. Once Wichita comes back the tension is full of well-deserved shade. Eisenberg doesn’t miss a Columbus step. Stone as Wichita is still a strong lady who doesn’t know what she wants relationship wise and her protective sister instincts are strong. She is just fun all the way around.

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Breslin as Little Rock has itchy feet because she’s tired of hanging out with people not her age. It isn’t easy and when she meets Berkeley, Little Rock sees a chance to do something different while paying homage to Cheech & Chong with a little road trip. Jogia as Berkeley reminds me of every cliché about guitar playing pacifists to the point that agreeing with Tallahassee is hilarious.

Speaking of Harrelson as Tallahassee, he has become the father figure to the group whether he likes it or not. When Little Rock runs off you can see his ‘dad’ side come out with wanting to do only one thing – end Berkeley. I love that Harrelson finally got a chance to ham it up with some Elvis impersonating.

Shout out to Deutch as Madison because her character is just everything, we never thought we wanted for Zombieland. She is hilarious, speaks her mind even if it doesn’t make sense, isn’t judgmental towards the situation the world finds itself in, is just the happiest survivor I think I’ve ever seen. Plus, she looks absolutely fabulous through the entire film!

Dawson as Nevada is a nice addition to the storyline, Wilson as Albuquerque has a truck bigger than Tallahassee’s and Middleditch as Flagstaff knows his Terminator movies and quotes. That’s all I’m saying about that because you should have all the giggles, I did with the new additions to the Zombieland universe.

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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment encompasses motion picture production for television, digital content and theater releases. The studios include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films and Sony Picture Classics. To see what is coming to theaters and to home entertainment please visit www.sonypictures.com.

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit http://www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Bluray Exclusives are Extended Blooper & Outtakes, Alternate & Extended Scenes, The Doppelgangers and A Day with Bill Murray. Also included are The Rides of Zombieland, Rules of Making a Zombie Film, Making Babylon, New Blood and Filmmaker Commentary.

First, what I love best about ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap is that the storyline doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it picks up a few years later without missing a sarcastic beat. The characters have become a little lazy behind the walls of their big ole house so adventures in zombie land are inevitable. What hasn’t changed is their idiosyncrasies, their need to not admit that they are feeling anything out of the ordinary like commitment, or the fact that they treat each other exactly as they did in 2009.

Think about that for a minute, it’s been 10 years since we were introduced to ZOMBIELAND and the only one that has aged is Abigail Breslin. Harrelson, Eisenberg and Stone look fantastic and I can’t express enough how glad I am that they all came back to make this sequel. Let’s be honest, sequels don’t always work out well and it is mainly because the expectations are really high. In ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap, the only thing I expected is that the humor be at the same level as before and I wasn’t disappointed in any way.

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I had a fun time, enjoyed getting reacquainted with old friends and understanding that the rules that Columbus introduced us to in 2009 are what kept these characters alive. In their world all bets are off because the only thing they need to do is remember they are a family – oh and stay alive!

That’s right folks, no spoilers here because there is oh so much more to see AND what makes the arrival of the Bluray so very cool is making it a double ZOMBIELAND night and watch both films back to back. Oh yes, that is exactly what is happening in my household this weekend.

In the end – it’s their world and we just get to enjoy it.

DOLITTLE Brings Charm to the Big Screen

Dolittle cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Stephen Gaghan and Universal Pictures is the story of animals who live with none other than DOLITTLE.

Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.) began as a doctor who has the unique ability to speak with animals. Known far and wide, even the Queen called upon him to help with her animals. In gratitude Dolittle is given an estate to continue his work with animals and given them shelter.

When tragedy strikes the good doctor, he closes the gates to everyone and becomes secluded from the world. That is until meeting the young Tommy (Harry Collett) who discovers a squirrel that needs a doctor! It is the flying parrot Polly (voiced by Emma Thompson) who leads the lad to Dolittle’s door.

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At the same time, the young Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) is sent to Dolittle on behest of Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) to come to the palace and help the monarch. Quickly is snapped back to his self by all the animals who know that he needs to do what’s right. Visiting the Queen he is met by Lord Thomas Badgley (Jim Broadbent) and the nefarious Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen).

It seems a plot is in the works against the Queen and only Dolittle knows how to stop it. The mysterious illness that has taken the Queen has a cure and Dolittle knows where it can be found.

Taking along Tommy, their journey begins with a ship full of animals and a mission – to save the Queen

Downey, Jr. as Dolittle is perfect casting with his unique ability to be quirky and humorous in his own way. It could also be that I’m happy to see him on the big screen again taking on a role that is lighthearted and warm in character. Downey, Jr. has a flair to entertain an audience, so much so that I can easy overlook the mushiness of his accent.

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Collett as Tommy is a young man unlike the rest of his hunting family. He sees the grace in loving animals and once meeting Dolittle, knows his path in life. The adventure is just a bonus! Collett is charming and fun to watch alongside Downey, Jr. and that makes for wonderful storytelling.

Sheen as Mudfly has become good at being bad. This time he is able to add a little slap stick comedy to his role but never go against Downey, Jr.! Broadbent as Badgley is supposed to be taking care of the Queen but is he?

Laniado as Lady Rose is sweet, elegant and wants to protect her Queen. A strong young woman who isn’t afraid of much and that serves her well against both man and animal. The spark between herself and Tommy is very sweet as well.

The animal cast include: Rami Malek as Chee-Chee, John Cena as Yoshi, Kumail Nanjiani as Plimpton, Octavia Spencer as Dab-Dab, Tom Holland as Jip, Craig Robinson as Kevin, Ralph Fiennes as Barry, Selena Gomez as Betsy, Marion Cotillard as Tutu, Frances de la Tour as the Dragon and Jason Mantzoukas as James the Dragonfly.

Other cast include Kasia Smutniak as Lily Dolittle, Oliver Chris as Sir Gareth, Clive Francis, and Antonio Banderas as King Rassouli.

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DOLITTLE is a charming fun adventure for the entire family. This is an introduction to Dolittle like we have not seen before and it does leave the door open in case Downey, Jr. wants to return. The audience was taken with the bounty of talking animals and all their own personalities and it did bring lots of laughs with side jokes.

The human cast is fun and ready to take on the journey which is unexpected and full of twists and turns. DOLITTLE is the reason families come to the movies together on a Saturday and escape into a magical world for a time and still talk about it after.

So, gather the entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – everybody!) and enjoy time together with the animals.

In the end – he’s not just a people person!

THE BIG TRIP

Big Trip DVD cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from writer/director Vasili Rovenskiy and Lionsgate comes an animated adventure of an unlikely friendship and together taking THE BIG TRIP.

Mic-Mic (Pauly Shore) is a bear who wants to enjoy his leisurely uninterrupted life but that’s all about to change. A stork making his deliveries doesn’t do such a good job when mis=delivering a baby Panda. Immediately irritated, it is decided to take him to family in China.

Going along for the big trip is rabbit Oscar (Drake Bell) because he seems to be the only animal capable of calming the crying panda. On the road they pick up a pelican, a tiger who likes to chat and a wolf with issues.

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Their journey is one of learning to understand their differences but all toward the goal of one thing – returning the baby panda to his family!

Bell as Mic-Mic is not in the mood to be any other animals caretaker let alone nanny! Deciding to take the panda home is his only way out of the situation. Bell certainly uses his voice to project his character and gives it the right amount of grump.

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Shore as Oscar is a rabbit who truly wants to be friends with all the animals they are traveling with. Mic-Mic isn’t to keen on sharing the big trip and Oscar makes darn sure that he hops his way into their hearts. Shore is sassy and funny as always.

Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com

The DVD Special Features include Giving the Characters a Voice: At the Recording Studio with Drake Bell and Pauly Shore Featurette.

Here is how I feel about animated films – I want them to be fun and colorful of course but also have a point to the adventure and even a few lessons about how to work out difficult problems and have fun at the same time.

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THE BIG TRIP is a story of differences and unlikely friendships and that is what I’m taking from it. My granddaughter loved the animal characters who made her laugh and even ‘awwww’ a few times. She loves pandas so watching the togetherness to protect this particular little panda captured her attention from start to finish.

The is most definitely a family film that is a good way to spend time together cuddled up on the sofa during these winter months with a soft blanket and a tub of popcorn. This is how you go on an adventure without leaving home.

In the end – big dreams, big travel and big trouble!

1917 Brings the Realities of War

1917 cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Sam Mendes and Universal Pictures comes the story of two young men who try and stop a fatal mistake of war in 1917.

In northern France, Lance Corporals Blake (Dean Charles-Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) are given one of the most dangerous missions. Learning that the Germans have retreated, the British 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment is preparing to attack. When it is discovered to be a trap, a message needs to be delivered to call it off.

Among the 1,600 men preparing is Blake’s brother so he volunteers to take a message to commander of the Battalion to stop. Schofield isn’t very happy about being a part of the mission but goes with his friend Blake.

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Through trenches, explosions, dogfights, rigged bunkers and snipers in a destroyed village, the mission becomes even more crucial with ever step to save the soldiers who don’t know what is coming.

Bravery has no limits.

Chapman as Corp. Blake knows only one thing – he needs to stop the attack. Yes, it could be said his volunteering seemed motivated by family, but Chapman’s portrayal made me believe he would have done it no matter what or who.

Mackay as Schofield doesn’t start off with the same quality. Feeling forced to take on the mission, we as the viewing audience experience his change. He is still afraid but determined to finish what was started.

These two actors carry the weight of the story squarely on their shoulders. A difficult task in a film set to a harsh time in history and yet these two actors swoop us up for the experience without any fight from us.

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1917 is a time of young men going to war with the basics of everything. Yes, there were weapons and crude by todays technological standards, so it is stunning people survived at all. Mendes makes sure we are fully aware of it in every frame from start to finish.

In telling this story, Mendes enlists the like of Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Daniel Mays, Billy Postlewaite, Andy Apollo and Mark Strong to complete the road this film takes us down.

1917 is a start to the senses with a continual tension line to the very end. It works beautifully and the proof is in the two Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director for Sam Mendes. That is all before the wide release this Friday. 1917 has won 48 awards with 154 nominations and all this before Oscar nominations have been announced.

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Mendes edited the film to be one continual shot. “You don’t want an audience thinking how you shot the film, it’s a constant dance between character and landscape and you have to allow for constant movement and create a real experience.” The story is inspired by Mendez grandfather’s experience with “The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes: 1897-1991.”

1917 is heartfelt and heart stopping wrapped up in an intense story of sacrifice, bravery and the ugly reality that is war. It has everything that an epic war film should but add serious intensity and it will have viewers leaving the theatre talking about Oscars.

In the end – time is the enemy!

UNDERWATER Brings Tension in the Ocean’s Depths

Underwater cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director William Eubank and 20th Century Fox comes the depths of the Mariana Trench and what is truly UNDERWATER.

Deep below the depths is a research laboratory platform that in a minute becomes a potential watery grave. Mechanical Engineer Norah (Kristen Stewart) is the first to notice the leaking vessel as the walls begin to close in and wetter rushes in. Trying to alert the crew, she finds Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie) as they look for the safest place to be.

Making their way they find crew mate Paul (T.J. Miller), Emily (Jessica Henwick), Smith (John Gallagher Jr.) and Lee (Gunner Wright) as well as the Captain (Vincent Cassel). Knowing they have no choice but to leave the platform, the Captain decides the best route is to another platform and to go by walking!

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Almost immediately there is a sense that something is down in the depths with them. The shadows come closer and closer until the creatures reveal themselves. Their goal is to take out the humans and the human’s goal is to get to the other platform alive.

Norah knows how to work the mechanics to try and keep their oxygen packs working and as the group is taken down one by one, she is more determined than ever to get to the surface!

What is down in the depths with them is nothing anyone has ever seen before.

Stewart as Norah doesn’t waste a moment jumping into action. Practically from the beginning of the film the action kicks in and so does Stewart. She thinks fast on her feet (considering what is under her feet is quickly turning to water) and is doing everything to keep her wits. This isn’t a role that will make or break Stewart, but it is a role that is pretty strong, and I don’t mind that.

Cassel as the Captain knows the only way out is through the murky waters and doing it walking in very heavy suits. Having the chance to get out while the getting was good, the Captain wants everyone to get out. I love Cassel because he is so diverse in every role he has played and can get flamboyant or subtle, but his presence is palpable.

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Henwick as Emily is a young woman who isn’t having an easy time accepting what is happening and what is going to happen. She has a nervous talk and covers a wide range of subjects in a short period of time one minute and can hold a conversation with herself the next. Then again, I’m not sure how any of us would react in that situation!

Miller is the winner of the film and he is hilarious which is the tension breaker in a film loaded with it. His one-liners and need for a bunny gave us all the chance to laugh off the intensity of the story. I just love any time he’s on screen because I never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. Gallagher Jr. and Wright get a chance to run for their lives as well and once the creature is exposed, its just run or be food.

UNDERWATER is a mixture of genre films like ALIENS, THE ABYSS and the like but you know what – I’m good with that. I understand that January isn’t the month for big time releases which might play well for the film. UNDERWATER is an intense, humorous (thanks to Miller) and seat jumping story that doesn’t require a lot from the audience. I know that sounds a bit snarky but I don’t mean it that way at all.

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There is something awesome about the holidays being over and needing a film that just lets you sit back with a tub of popcorn and have a good time. I don’t know anyone that didn’t have a jump for five or six thanks to a creature that is just too creepy to be on land. Instead, there is a right amount of everything in UNDERWATER.

So load up family and friends to hit the theatre for an experience of thrills and watery chills because it’s a great way to start the new year!

In the end – seven miles below the ocean surface something has awakened!

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