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Vacation group shot
New Line
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‘Vacation’ Review: This Sad Sequel Truly Is a Road Trip from Hell

Full disclosure: I missed the last 10 minutes of Vacation. Last night’s press screening started 20 minutes late, then began without any sound, which lead to a 10 minute delay to correct the technical difficulties. With an unbreakable engagement elsewhere, I had to sneak out right before the very last scene. So take this review with as many grains of salt as you’d like. If you think those final minutes might recontextualize everything that came before to transform a generally miserable comedy into a beacon of transcendent hilarity, so be it. Having sat through the previous 90 minutes, I’m of the opinion that nothing short of the long-lost missing footage from Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons could have redeemed this dreadful film.

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Magic Mike XXL review
Warner Bros.
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‘Magic Mike XXL’ Review: Just Like Riding a Pony

Magic Mike was a movie about strippers trying to make ends meet in the midst of the Great Recession, the difficulty of modern romance, and the dangers of drug use. Magic Mike XXL is a movie about strippers stripping. And not a whole lot else.

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Ted 2
Universal
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‘Ted 2’ Review: Hateful Teddy Bears Are People Too, Bro

It’s funny that the poster for Ted 2 features the title character with his back to the camera and his hands suggestively poised near his crotch above the tagline “Ted is coming, again” because the whole movie revolves around the fact that Ted can’t come, not even once. Ted doesn’t have any genitals or a reproductive system, so he can’t have a baby with his wife. His search for a sperm donor eventually spills into the legal system, where a court case will decide a surprisingly complex question: Is Ted a person?

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Inside Out
Pixar
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‘Inside Out’ Review: A New Pixar Masterpiece

It’s been at least five years since the last great Pixar film (or more, depending on your feelings about Toy Story 3). In the interim, they produced a series of sequels — some quite entertaining, but few as transcendently beautiful as the original concepts that turned the studio into the most dependable brand in all of Hollywood. Their latest effort, Inside Out, isn’t just a return to form; it surpasses almost all of their previous classics. It is, from start to finish, one of the best films Pixar has ever made.

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jurassic-park-review-pic
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‘Jurassic World’ Review: The Park Is Open and Full of Dumb People

When all you care about is money, bad things happen. That’s the message of Jurassic World, where greedy theme-park executives hoping to spike attendance engineer the “Indominus Rex,” a genetically-modified dinosaur that immediately turns on its creators and runs amok. Designed as a cautionary tale about the dangers of building a meaner, badder monster purely for the sake of profits, Jurassic World works equally well as a cautionary tale about doing the same thing in movies. All of the rationalizations provided by Jurassic World’s employees — “Consumers want them bigger, louder, more teeth.” “Somebody’s gotta make sure this company has a future!” — could have been taken directly out of the mouths of the studio executives who approved this gene splice of a reboot and a sequel. Their creation — the Indominus or the movie, there’s basically no difference — is as advertised; huge, mean, and visually striking. But this experiment is not without consequences.

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everest trailer featured image
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‘Everest’ Trailer: All of Your Favorite Actors Get Their Asses Kicked by a Mountain

Hollywood has seen its fair share of movies where man attempts to conquer nature, only to find himself thoroughly humbled. Everest looks to continue that trend, putting one of the best ensembles in recent memory smack-dab in the middle of Mother Nature’s wrath. As the title implies, the film deals with an expedition up the world’s tallest mountain going oh-so-horribly wrong. As the trailer shows us, an Everest expedition going wrong looks like an incredible movie.

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Category: movie reviews
Spy Melissa McCarthy
20th Century Fox
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‘Spy’ Review: An Empowering but Uneven Female Spy Spoof

Paul Feig’s The Heat took a genre that has traditionally belonged to men — the buddy cop movie — and gave it a female twist. Feig’s new movie, Spy, does much the same thing, this time for spy films, a world that has long been by, about, and for dudes and their power fantasies. Spy explicitly subverts the genre’s typical gender dynamics by casting Melissa McCarthy as a lowly, desk-bound CIA analyst named Susan Cooper, who has spent her entire career in the shadow of a glamorous James Bond-esque spy (Jude Law) and then finally gets her opportunity to step into the spotlight and become a full-fledged field agent.

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Entourage Movie
Warner Bros.
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Review: The ‘Entourage’ Movie Is Basically ‘Entourage’ Season 9 on a Larger Screen

That’s Entourage in a nutshell. Whenever things threaten to get too serious, the show (and now the film) would just trot out a celebrity cameo or two, distract the audience for a couple minutes, and then carry on as if nothing ever happened. For better or worse, the Entourage movie is an extremely faithful adaptation of the Entourage television show. All the main characters and most of the key supporting players from the show’s eight seasons are back, along with series creator Doug Ellin (who co-wrote and directed the movie). Even though the TV show ended with its lovable bad boys making their first tentative steps toward maturity and monogamy — Vince gets engaged, his manager Eric (Kevin Connolly) finally settles down with his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and Ari decides to retire to spend more time from his family — all of that gets instantly erased before the movie’s opening credits roll. Status quo restored, Vince, Eric, Ari, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) return to their luxurious, lascivious ways with R-rated abandon. Shouldn’t these characters have grown up by now?

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San Andreas 1
Warner Bros.
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‘San Andreas’ Review: Seek Cover From This Dumb Disaster Movie

The classics of this genre featured danger and destruction on a scale a guy could wrap his head around; a hijacked airplane, a skyscraper on fire, a capsized ocean liner filling with water. But when you live by spectacle, you die by it too. And so the disasters got bigger and bigger, one movie trying to top the next, until it became an arms race of planetary devastation. One movie blows up the White House, the next one washes it away in a tidal wave. Where do you go from there? An exploding tidal wave? At this point, if your disaster movie isn’t eradicating a large portion of the globe, don’t even waste your time.

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Category: movie reviews
Poltergeist
20th Century Fox
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‘Poltergeist’ Review: A Decent Remake Haunted By the Spirit of the Original

Everything that goes wrong in Poltergeist stems from an act of desecration; the building of a cookie-cutter housing development on top of an old cemetery. Some might find the sheer act of attempting a remake of Poltergeist similarly disrespectful; the 1982 original is something of a masterpiece of suburban terror. But if viewers can look past the sheer audacity of attempting another Poltergeist, they’ll find a solid modernization, the cinematic equivalent of a decent cover version of a great rock song. It’s totally superfluous, and not nearly as satisfying as the original, but well-performed and effective in its own way. It’s nice (or, in this case, deeply unsettling) to revisit an old classic in a new arrangement.

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Category: movie reviews

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