Screened Out – The Secret Life of Pets

By : Stephen Miller
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Voices of Louis CK, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jennie Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks

Pet lovers are often animation lovers, too, I know, looking to our animals for wildly, colorful entertainment – like living cartoons. We search online for videos of puppies who act like goofballs or kittens who don’t quite make the jump. The Secret Life of Pets taps into that great slapstick so many of us love.

It is a good thing the characters – as shallow as they are – and the shtick liven things up. The story in Pets is really a retelling of the first Toy Story, where the established dog/toy gets displaced by the new dog/toy. A rivalry ensues that takes both of these enemies far outside, far from their comfort zones, and then they must band together to survive the cruel out-of-doors and find their ways back home.

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Screened Out – Trumbo

By : Stephen Miller
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Bryan Craston, Alan Tudyk, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg, David James Elliott, Robert Bart, Dean O’Gorman

Bryan Cranston got nominated Best Actor for playing Dalton Trumbo; he is better than this movie. Trumbo was the brilliant screenwriter who was blackballed in the 1950s as a Communist. Trumbo was also better than this, too. Trumbo wrote Spartacus, Papillon, Johnny Got His Gun, and the Oscar winners The Brave One and Roman Holiday.

It’s not just ironic, it’s somewhat sad that this script about a genius scriptwriter swings between good and awkward, blunt, and even boring. Only great acting raises this up.

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