Screened Out – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

By : Stephen Miller
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Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Terrence Stamp

Tim Burton peddles in peculiar stuff like Miss Peregrine. So it is no wonder he opted to film Ransom Riggs’s famous YA story (or a version thereof – this expands the first book significantly). It’s a tale of gifted, perpetual children and the bird-women who protect them from extinction.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children presents a fascinating and wondrous world. It also introduces intriguing characters. Finally, there is no shortage of that brilliant Tim Burton visual style. And yet what it often lacks is something that hollows out many other Burton films: storytelling cohesiveness.

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Screened Out – Spy

By : Stephen Miller
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Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Allison Janney, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Miranda Hart

It’s a bit of a flashback to Working Girl, 9 to 5, and Miss Congeniality – comedies embracing a strong feminist bent. The secret weapon in this new action flick – written and directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) – is one half Melissa McCarthy comic genius and one half James Bond intrigue. It’s a solid one-two punch, since Bond films are typical sexist and need a woman to show them how to make international intrigue much funnier.

Even with some strong gags and a protagonist we genuinely care about, Spy isn’t as super as it could be. It feels like it needs a few more killer jokes, and McCarthy’s character arc could be tighter and more surprising.

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Screened Out – The DUFF

By : Stephen Miller
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Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Allison Janney, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels

What makes a teen comedy a classic? Well, it has to be hilarious, of course. It definitely needs to tap into the youth zeitgeist. Other than that, it should follow the rules of other great films: intriguing or empathetic characters, an unexpected plot, and a fascinating theme.

The DUFF gets a C on most of these – it’s intermittently funny, and it sorta-kinda shows what kids are experiencing today, with a serious throwback to old-school movies about cliques. The rest of the report card is also mixed.

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Screened Out – Tammy

By : Stephen Miller
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Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Mark Duplass, Gary Cole, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd

The road-trip comedy Tammy was written by McCarthy and her husband (and the film’s director) Ben Falcone. They’re a very funny couple, but their writing feels like a few miles of rough concrete. You’ll laugh during this journey, but you’ll also miss important landmarks like character consistency, arc, and plot points building on one another.

Mostly, Tammy is a goofy summer comedy replete with enough “feel good” to make audiences smile. All the stunt casting either helps or hurts, depending on how often you want to be pulled out of the film, every time you see another familiar face. Often, it feels like they only could schedule some of these actors for one or two days of shooting.

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