MOVIE BUFF-ET: Deadpool dominates, How To Be Single exceeds expectations

Deadpool Dominance

New In Local Theaters

  • 2016 Oscar Animated Shorts (UR) 1 hr. 26 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square)
    » Watch trailer
  • Race (PG-13), 2 hr., 14 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • The Lady in the Van (PG-13) 1 hr., 44 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • The Witch (R) 1 hr., 33 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • Risen (PG-13) 1 hr., 47 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Son of Saul (R) 1 hr., 47 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square)
    » Watch trailer
  • Forsaken (R) 1 hr., 30 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square)
    » Watch trailer

Last week I brought up the question of whether an R-rating on a super-hero movie would have a negative effect on its box-office performance. Why did I bother?

Deadpool blew the top off the domestic box office last weekend with $132 million total, which was not only the highest weekend draw for an R-rated film but also the highest weekend cumulative for any Fox’s X-Men movies. It seems to be an example of giving the public what it wants, and the public lapping it up.

The film, which should fly past the $200 million mark domestically by Saturday, is funny and filled with enough action and one-liners to garner repeat viewing from its young-adult target audience. However, the secret to the sauce is that under all the foul language, violence and nudity, the film has a lot of heart thanks to the lead performances of Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin.

The movie boasts overtones of revenge story, but at its core, Deadpool is a love story, and along with the one-liners and gags, Reynolds makes you feel his love for his lady. Baccarin (Homeland and Gotham) does a nice job of keeping time with Reynolds’ larger-than-life performance, and that could help her make the move from being a stalwart TV co-star to securing more work in films.

However, moms and dads don’t let your guard down because of the hype. The R-rating is well earned. If you have any doubt at all whether to buy your child a ticket for Deadpool, you probably shouldn’t.

How to Be Single

(R) 1hr., 50 min.

How to Be Single wasn’t a movie I particularly wanted to see. In fact, I felt like I had seen about all it had to offer from the trailer.

It looked like just about any other movie about a young person making the transition for college life into the working world. Yeah, been there and done that, and I’ve seen it in too many movies about that subject dating back to the 1980s before I had experienced it first hand. Plus the movie co-stars Rebel Wilson of Pitch Perfect fame. She can be funny, but a little bit goes an awfully long way.

From the outside looking in, the one saving grace in my mind was Leslie Mann. I like Mrs. Judd Apatow, director and producer of Trainwrecked, Knocked Up, This is 40, among others. She’s smart, breezy and funny, a killer combination if there is one.

So despite my reservations and the movie’s 45-percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I acquiesced and saw How to Be Single. And I liked it.

It’s certainly not a must-see film, but for a romantic comedy, it hits a lot of the right notes. Plus, for a movie that I thought was going to be all about skewering men on spit, the guys in the movie came off pretty well, especially Jake Lacy as Ken, a younger suitor for Mann’s Meg, who is an obstetrician by trade.

Meg is the older sister of the main character Alice, played by Dakota Johnson. Johnson, who made ripples as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey, which I declined to see. Johnson, the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, is quite winning as Alice, a young woman who moves from one relationship to the next without giving herself much chance to breath. I doubt I’ll seek out Fifty Shades of Grey or any of its forthcoming sequels, but her performance was interesting enough that I’ll least consider checking out her some of her other roles.

A scene in which Alison Brie’s character Lucy has a hilarious meltdown while reading to fairy tale to children in a bookstore is almost worth the price of admission. Brie’s rant about spanks leaves the children bewildered and their parents dumbstruck.

What I liked most about the movie is that all the characters make mistakes and missteps in the various relationships presented, but in most cases, they aren’t just written off as total jerks. Most show a measure of growth and a degree of likeability.

The movie doesn’t have the stereotypical ending, either, which was a bit surprising. Director Christian Ditter did a nice job of pacing the film, delivery several nice payoffs from the screenplay by Dana Fox, Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein.

Classic Corner

The Maltese Falcon

The 1941 classic film noir The Maltese Falcon will have two special showings next week at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Malco Razorback Theater to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

If Casablanca cemented Humphrey Bogart as THE star among stars of 1940s Hollywood, then his turn as novelist Dashiell Hammett’s quintessential private eye Sam Spade catapulted him on that course.

The film, scripted and directed by John Huston, practically established the conventions for all private-eye films and TV shows that followed. The Maltese Falcon is still considered among the top 23 movies ever made by the American Film Institute. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet are outstanding in key supporting roles, and Mary Astor’s performance is one of the most duplicitous femme fatales ever committed to film.

The Thin Man

Spade might be Hammett’s best-remembered detective, but his husband-and-wife sleuthing team of Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) and their dog Asta were bee’s knees on the big screen in the 1930s, in The Thin Man comedy/mysteries. The movies are dated, but still hold a great deal of charm.

If the character Dorothy looks familiar, you might be a fan of the old MGM Tarzan films. Dorothy’s played by the lovely Maureen O’Sullivan, who starred as Jane to Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan series. The Thin Man was so popular that Hammett was called in to write screenplays for two follow-up films After the Thin Man (1936) and Shadow of the Thin Man (1941).

Watch on the Rhine
Hammett, who was imprisoned and blacklisted from working in Hollywood in the 1950s after refusing to turn over information to the U.S. government concerning Communist activities, wrote the screenplay for the anti-fascist film Watch on the Rhine, which starred Bette Davis and Paul Lukas as underground resistance fighters to the rising Nazi threat. While melodramatic, the film is a heart-wrenching classic, charged by Hammett’s staunch political beliefs. Turner Classic Movies has the film scheduled to play at 5 a.m. on Feb. 28, if you’d like to set your DVR.