MOVIE BUFF-ET: Impact of returns diminish in ‘Happy Death Day 2U’

Universal Pictures

If you enjoyed the Groundhog Day concept of the original film, you might be in for even more fun with “Happy Death Day 2U,” but then again maybe not.

The 2017 original told the tale of college co-ed Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) who found herself caught in some kind of a time loop that forced her to relive her birthday over and over again similar to the way Bill Murray’s weatherman character relived Groundhog Day in the 1993 classic “Groundhog Day.”

New In Local Theaters

  • Happy Death Day 2U (PG-13) 1 hr. 40 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Alita: Battle Angel (PG-13) 2 hr. 2 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Isn’t It Romantic (PG-13) 1 hr. 28 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer

Unlike the Murray film, though, Tree dies a gruesome death at the hands of a creepy serial killer who wears a bulbous plastic baby mask in each of her lives. That’s a pretty great schtick for slasher film fans who enjoy watching more and more inventive slayings of the main character.

In the sequel, Tree and her physicist friend Ryan (Phi Vu) find themselves stuck in another loop. They along with Tree’s other pals must create a machine to close the loop before the day ends or Tree will once again face another gruesome death. While she returns after each murder or suicide, she returns weaker and weaker. She suspects at some point they won’t have the energy to survive.

The film is a black comedy, and some of the setups and deaths of Tree are admittedly funny, but the gag gets a bit long in the tooth. There is a nice moral about those who have passed away from our lives, and the movie’s nods to films of the 1980s, and Rothe’s likability factor kept me semi-invested for most of the running length of this marginal bit of entertainment.

Still this isn’t a movie I would recommend to anyone but the most ardent fans of the original. Even then, I’m not sure. The movie is not scary, or surprising, or even all that clever or funny.

However, it is one of the best examples of the law of diminishing returns that I’ve ever experienced.

(PG-13) 1 hr. 40 min.
Grade: C-

Classic Corner

My Fair Lady (1964)

Warner Bros.

A 55th anniversary might seem to be an odd one to celebrate, but if it means the return to the big screen of one of the poignant yet charming musicals of the 1960s, then why not?

The 1964 Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe adaption of their play “May Fair Lady” returns to the big screen at the Malco Razorback Cinema and Grill for special showings at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” is a classic by any standard with excellent performances by Audrey Hepburn as Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as the arrogant professor Henry Higgins.

The stuffed-shirt and self-righteous Higgins wagers he’s intelligent enough to not only correct phonetics but also skilled enough to teach proper manners to any girl and pass her off as a product of high society with his fellow phonetics expert Col. Hugh Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White). Doolittle overhears the assertion and appears on Higgins’ doorstep the next morning to take him up on the proposition, which Pickering quickly agrees to fund.

Set in Edwardian London, musical directed by George Cukor, is not only enchanting but also a stab at the pomposity and values of social classes if manners are put before the matters of the heart.

It’s also an old-time love story where the two main characters think they despise one another before realize what the audience already knew — that they can’t live without each other.

It’s one of Hepburn and Harrison’s key performances. As always Hepburn is adorable, even though her lyrics were dubbed in post production by soprano ghost singer Marni Nixon. Nixon filled the same role in other musicals of the day, including “The King and I,” and “Westside Story.”

The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won eight, including Best Picture, Best Director for Cukor, and Best Actor for Harrison.

For those who enjoyed recent musicals “La La Land” and “Greatest Showman,” here’s a chance to see one of their forerunners as it was meant to be seen on the big screen.