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MOVIE REVIEWS

'Fire & Rescue' too much like 'Planes'

Talented duo spearheads
‘Bonnie & Clyde’

WAUKESHA - Enough, already, of the “Planes” franchise. The second installment, “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” isn’t bad and certainly isn’t offensive  (It duplicates the original’s PG rating).

WAUKESHA - If you enjoyed “Legally Blonde” last summer starring Shannon Straka and Bryan Noll, get ready for an even more amazing performance by this talented duo in the Lake Country Players’ gritty production of “Bonnie & Clyde, The Musical” a much darker, more moving musical.
 

'Earth to Echo,' 'Third Person' 
share high ranking

WAUKESHA - One is PG-rated science fiction, the other a very serious R-rated film - and both “Earth to Echo” and “Third Person” - have been found to merit  3 1/2 stars. The following paragraphs tell why.

'Tammy' stretches credulity, lacks substance
WAUKESHA - For the record, Melissa McCarthy is 43 years old, Allison Janney is  54 and Susan Sarandon is 67. 

'Jersey Boys' vs. 'Obvious Child'?
Better to Listen to the Music!
It probably comes down to this: if you enjoy the music of the Four Seasons (and literally millions do), you’re likely to enjoy “Jersey Boys,” the Clint Eastwood-directed film version of the hit Broadway musical about the group.  

Opposite films likely to attract audiences
WAUKESHA - They say opposites attract. Maybe that means both “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and “The Rover” will attract large audiences, for the two June-premiering films are dissimilar in several ways. 

Promising first-class film 'Million Ways' finds itself lost among classless chatter
WAUKESHA - In all honesty, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” doesn’t contain anywhere near a million uses of the F word. 

Much more cooking with 
British 'Belle than 'Chef'
WAUKESHA - Jon Favreau’s comedy “Chef” and the British period drama “Belle” are movies now in area theaters. Here is a look at each one: I think I’m on to the “Chef” filmmaking strategy. 

'Million Dollar Arm' and 'Godzilla contrasting films, but good ones
WAUKESHA - “Million Dollar Arm” and “Godzilla” both got off to banner starts in the movie theater in terms of gross earnings for the first weekend of their releases.

'Legends of Oz' has a few 
strengths worth mentioning
WAUKESHA - “This doesn’t look like the Oz I remember,” a computer-animated Dorothy declares early in “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.”

Wartime drama joined by 
Spider-Man sequel in theaters
WAUKESHA - The World War II drama “Walking with the Enemy” wraps up its first week in area theaters Friday, the same day “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” premieres. The following are reviews from both films:

'Greatest move never made' 
debuts in local cinemas Friday
WAUKESHA - “Jodorowsky’s Dune” comes to area movie theaters Friday following the release of three other films last week. The following are reviews of each film:

'Lunchbox,' 'Words' among new film releases
WAUKESHA - On Friday, “The Lunchbox,” a dramatic film, will join “Bad Words,” a comedy released March 28, in local theaters. Both movies are reviewed below with their ratings.

March: A month for different films
WAUKESHA - The month of March is being marked in our area by the release of three very different films: the comedy “The Grand Budapest Hotel” on Friday, one week after the documentary “Tim’s Vermeer” and two weeks after the graphic novel adaptation “300: Rise of an Empire.”

Oscar predictions and omissions
WAUKESHA - “12 Years a Slave” will win a few major awards - and leave another acclaimed 2013 movie, “Gravity,” in the lurch. That’s my take on Sunday’s Oscar festivities.


'3 Days' different, but hardly a unique film
WAUKESHA - It’s too bad they made a movie called “Shattered Glass” a few years back. That would’ve been a great title for the new Kevin Costner film that instead has been dubbed “3 Days to Kill.”

Praise for 'Her' is only faint
WAUKESHA - Star Joaquin Phoenix, as Theodore Twombly, dances around in his long underwear and accompanies a crooning computer on his ukulele.  A Twombly co-worker (Chris Pratt) praises the sensitive ghostwriter of personal letters as “part man and part woman.

Collection of films made for 
a very good cinematic year
WAUKESHA - In a fine year for cinema, such as 2013, it’s not all that challenging to compile a list of excellent movies. 

'Osage County' a must-see movie
WAUKESHA - Put “August: Osage County” near the top of your must-see movies list. The plot of Tracy Letts’ screenplay, based on his 2008 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama, revolves around kinfolk in Oklahoma. 

Reality-based stories make for good December cinema
WAUKESHA - Truth may or may not be stranger than fiction, but it can be just as interesting. And it certainly can make for good cinema.  

'Nebraska' more than a worthy successor
WAUKESHA - Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” is more than a worthy successor to the director’s “About Schmidt” (2002), “Sideways” (2004) and “The Descendants” (2011). For my money, Payne’s latest picture is the best of the formidable bunch.

'Dallas Buyers Club' is worth joining
WAUKESHA - Welcome medical inroads have dulled the once cutting-edge nature of films about the AIDS crisis (are we even calling it a crisis anymore?). 

'Book Thief' redeemed by 
acting, cinematography
WAUKESHA - Preachers, one of their number claimed, should be able to reduce their messages to a single sentence. Movies are not sermons; arguably, though, the best of them can also be summarized quickly.

'Parkland' is no typical Kennedy film
WAUKESHA - “‘Parkland,’” a synopsis states in part, “weaves together the chaotic events following the tragedy (of John F. Kennedy’s assassination) from perspectives as diverse as the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital.

'Kill Your Darlings' concept good; movie about poet doesn't resonate
WAUKESHA - “Thor: The Dark World,” sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” is an intriguing movie mixture of adventure, 3-D-enhanced special effects and humor. 

'Thor' sequel an intriguing blend
WAUKESHA - “Thor: The Dark World,” sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” is an intriguing movie mixture of adventure, 3-D-enhanced special effects and humor. 

Animated 'Free Birds' could fly higher
WAUKESHA - The lengthy list of holiday features has grown a little longer with the Jimmy Hayward-directed “Free Birds.” 

'12 Years A Slave' narrative moving and powerful
WAUKESHA - Very good. Very moving. Very powerful. That’s what I told the guy with the clipboard who asked what I thought of “12 Years A Slave” as I left a preview screening one afternoon last week.

'Enough Said' takes sophisticated 
and subtle look at love
WAUKESHA - After a certain point, every one entering a romantic relationship carries some baggage with them and falling in love with someone involves accepting their quirks and flaws.

'Blue Jasmine' merits 
bouquet of red roses
WAUKESHA - Anne Bancroft in “The Miracle Worker.” Maggie Smith in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.” Career-defining performances, all. 

'Spectacular Now' falls 
short of peak performance
WAUKESHA - Credits for the quirkily titled “The Spectacular Now” were still rolling when a guy sitting behind me in the theater offered his assessment. “A good movie,” he said.

'The Butler' serves up fairly 
good entertainment
WAUKESHA - All things considered, the rather pretentious-sounding “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is a good film. It’s not excellent, not Academy Award-worthy (although, with the considerably expanded number of films nominated in recent years, “The Butler” could end up as a best picture candidate on Oscar night 2014), but it’s good.

‘Planes' offers lessons, 
quips, but little originality
WAUKESHA - On the big screen, the character type has existed at least since Jimmy Stewart played it to perfection in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939). 

'We're the Millers' offers 
solid story, acting, but milks
 foul language, situations
WAUKESHA - In a trailer for Rawson Marshall Thurber’s “We’re the Millers,” star Jason Sudeikis pronounces the film “edgy, R-rated fun.”

No bells or whistles -
 just a darn good film
WAUKESHA - A 14-year-old boy with more potential than self-confidence. His mother, desperate to fill a void in her life. His wisecracking boss, who proves a most unlikely mentor. A wicked stepfather type. A lovely girl next door.

‘The Great Gatsby’ proves
quite satisfactory

MILWAUKEE – The most remarkable aspect of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby” is the quality of its writing. Memorable metaphors combine with indelible poetic passages.

 

 

 

The Fireside presents 
'Driving Miss Daisy'

FORT ATKINSON - It is a rarity for a playwright to win an Oscar, a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize, but Alfred Uhry can boast of this triple honor.

SummerStage's 'Water' 
has some flow to it
WAUKESHA - SummerStage in the Town of Delafield opened its 2014 theatrical summer series with Woody Allen’s “Don’t Drink the Water,” one of the famous writer’s early stage plays, which was later converted into a film starring Jackie Gleason as the crotchety New Jersey caterer.

Carroll University's summer rep 
series stages 2 worthy shows
WAUKESHA - Carroll University launched a Summer Repertory Series with a pair of delightful plays, one by the mysterious playwright who hides behind the pen name of Jane Martin, and the other by the famous Oscar Wilde. 

'View from the Bridge' dramatic, moving production
WAUKESHA - Arthur Miller’s most famous plays are “The Crucible,” “Death of a Salesman” and “All My Sons,” but there is another one, which should join the ranks of this impressive triumvirate

Sunset meets the challenge with 'On Golden Pond'
WAUKESHA - We probably all remember the 1981 film “On Golden Pond” starring Henry and Jane Fonda and Katherine Hepburn.

Skylight's 'Hair' recalls 
revolutionary time in history
WAUKESHA - “Hair,” the controversial musical of the 1960s, is alive and well at Skylight Music Theatre’s finale of the 2013-2014 season, the first year of Viswa Subbaraman’s tutelage as artistic director.

First Stage Theatre captures 
spirit of Nancy Drew
WAUKESHA - Playwrights John Maclay and Jeff Frank studied 25 Nancy Drew novels and consulted with expert Jennifer Fisher of nancydrewsleuth.com to research their adaptation of this popular young detective’s achievements.

Stanley's 'Storefront Church' probes our choices
MILWAUKEE - John Patrick Shanley is probably best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Doubt,” which also received notice as a film starring Meryl Streep.  

Skylight's 'America Singing' doesn't meet expectations
MILWAUKEE - I suppose a person always has expectations when entering a theater, whether it is a show or a company one is familiar with or not. 

Sunset's 'I Hate Hamlet' 
show Shakespearean diversity
WAUKESHA - When most people hear the name Shakespeare, they have some sort of reaction. 

Lake Country Players peak with enjoyable comedy
WAUKESHA - The Lake Country Players in Hartland is staging an old romantic comedy that is still relevant and continues to generate much enjoyment.

Flesch returns to Fireside Theatre in 'Fiddler on the Roof'
WAUKESHA - Although Ed Flesch said he was doing his swan song in his role as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Fireside Theatre seven years ago, he decided to change his mind in honor of the dinner theater’s 15th anniversary

Civic Theatre captures it all with farcical 'Noises Off'
WAUKESHA - “Noises Off” by British playwright Michael J. Frayn is one of the most popular farces of all time.

Dreams and judgments collide
 in '1959 Pink Thunderbird'
MILWAUKEE - There’s a lot to enjoy and to ponder in the companion pieces “Laundry and Bourbon” and “Lone Star,” under the umbrella title “1959 Thunderbird.”   

Falls Patio Players stage high quality production 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' includes talented cast, impressive music
MENOMONEE FALLS - When I was asked to review a play for the Falls Patio Players, I didn’t know what to expect, but I discovered a lot on my first visit. 

Rep's 'History of Invulnerability' 
soars through time
WAUKESHA - To be human is to be vulnerable, and in view of our limitations, we often create heroes who can save us from our weakness and powerlessness. 

Chamber's finale is laugh a minute
WAUKESHA - The winner of two Tony Awards and often called the second-funniest farce ever written, “Lend Me a Tenor” by Ken Ludwig has been chosen by Milwaukee Chamber Theatre for its finale of the season. 

Next Act Theatre takes marriage through the course of time
WAUKESHA - It is refreshing and rare to see a play that deals with end-of-life issues.

Renaissance Theaterworks succeeds with brining back 'Skin Tight'
MILWAUKEE - It is said that if something’s perfect, don’t mess with it.  

Wisconsin Lutheran puts new spin on 'Macbeth Project'
MILWAUKEE - Shakespeare continues to have his fans. Though some are turned off by his language, some find it a treasure worth mining. 

'Crash' shares lessons
 in patience and respect
WAUKESHA - First Stage Children’s Theatre’s “Crash” offers a lesson in tolerance and respect for all ages. In a well-honed production that provided five young actors meaty roles, we observe seven out of the eight characters growing in understanding.

Music lovers will get all jazzed
up about 'Ain't Misbehavin'
WAUKESHA - “Ain’t Misbehavin” is back, this time with a little different configuration.   In 2003, when the Skylight put on this show in the Cabot Theatre, the cast consisted of five singers and six instrumentalists.

Skylight's 'Jukebox' offers history lesson on significant past social issues
WAUKESHA - Viswa Subbaraman, the Skylight Music Theatre’s new artistic director, continues his first season with brave choices and unusual offerings.  

Civic Theatre’s ‘Curtains’ a whodunit musical comedy
WAUKESHA - “Curtains” by John Kander and Fred Ebb, their last work, does not measure up to their best musicals - “Cabaret,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Chicago.”

Sunset’s ‘Joseph’ raises the bar with complete show
WAUKESHA - Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice launched their sterling careers in 1968 with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat.”

Playwright's 'Almost, Maine' 
gets better with age

WAUKESHA - There are certain plays one can enjoy time after time. “Almost, Maine’ by John Cariani is certainly one of them. This is Cariani’s first play, and it has already enjoyed more than 2,000 productions throughout the country.

LC Players bring it all together in 'Spamalot'
HARTLAND - “Spamalot” is hard to classify. Is it a satirical farce, a farcical satire, a zany comedy? Perhaps all of the above, but surely good entertainment if you can handle the irreverence.

'Mary Poppins' rich on cozy Fireside Theatre stage
WAUKESHA - Staging “Mary Poppins” on the small stage at the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson is a challenge.

Beloved state actor DeVita 
wows in Rep's 'An Iliad'
WAUKESHA - If any actor can pull off a successful one-man show, it is James DeVita

Dialogue, characters keep 'David's Heart' from beating strongly
WAUKESHA - “Searching for David’s Heart” is a play by Cherie Bennett, which is an adaptation of her novel by the same name. 

Dancing makes 'Flashdance' worth the price
WAUKESHA - “Flashdance” was a very popular film in 1983, despite the fact that most critics panned it. Critics do not always reflect popular taste.

State playwright recalls tragedy's impact in Chamber's 'October'
WAUKESHA - Often a real-life event can inspire a given piece of literature. Such was the case with Wisconsin playwright Lori Matthews as the stories of the Tennessee Eastman Company explosion in 1960 was told to her by her relatives, many of whom who were affected by this far-reaching tragedy. 

Cast, script carry First Stage's 'Anatole'
WAUKESHA - When you enlist the talents of Gerard Neugent, Rick Pendzich, Drew Brhel and Karen Estrada, and give them a worthy musical script by John Maclay, James Valcq and Lee Becker, you can’t miss.  

Daniels dog-gone convincing in 'Chesapeake'
MILWAUKEE - If the subjects of politics, the arts and dogs interest you, you’ll find this production fascinating.  

Classic Windfall play will keep your interest
WAUKESHA - Robert Sherwood is remembered for his stage plays, movie scripts and film reviews.  He is also the winner of four Pulitzer prizes.  

'Talents & Admirers' introduces audiences to Russian playwright
MILWAUKEE - When one thinks of Russian literature, the names of Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev, Chekhov and Dostoevsky are the first to come to mind. 

The 'Perfect Wedding' 
strains our credulity a bit
WAUKESHA - The Brits are known for their clever farces, Robin Hawdon being one of the playwrights who has been very successful in this genre.   The Waukesha Civic Theatre is presently indulging in the craziness and laughter of one of his works - “Perfect Wedding.”  

'Whipping Man' gives powerful history lesson
WAUKESHA - Get ready to be stunned and dazzled and devastated by one of the most searing productions you will ever experience.

'Shooting Star' on thought-provoking venture
MILWAUKEE - Steven Dietz is one of the most prolific playwrights in America. His plays are usually produced regionally, which is the case right now in Milwaukee at the Boulevard Theatre.