TEXAS, USA —
THE LITTLE MERMAID
I've said all along, I'm against live-action remakes of classic animated films. It feels like an effort to render the originals obsolete.
But "The Little Mermaid" might just be the one to change my mind. Director Rob Marshall ("Chicago," "Mary Poppins Returns") designed a symphony of movement in the sea (maybe abut 15 minutes too much) and cast it wonderfully.
Halle Bailey is perfect in the title role as "Ariel," who longs to be a landlubber. Also a standout, Melissa McCarthy as the sea witch "Ursula." And one of my favorites, "Hamilton's" Daveed Diggs, voicing "Sebastian," the crab with a calypso clip.
Speaking of "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda adds new songs to your favorite originals, and they blend in beautifully. (Also watch for the original voice of "Ariel," Jodie Benson, in a cameo as a market vendor.)
"But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more" is the famous quote from "Mermaid" fairytale writer, Hans Christian Andersen.
This non-mermaid was a crying fool thanks to a final touch by Ariel's dad, King Triton, played by Javier Bardem in a crowded closing scene.
This may be "Uncharted Waters" for "Mermaid" fandom, but dive in! The water's welcoming.
(Walt Disney Studios. Rated PG. Running Time 2 hrs.15 mins. In Theaters Only)
YOU HURT MY FEELINGS
Can we all agree? Julia Louis-Dreyfus is comedy gold.
Writer/director Nicole Holofcener wrote "You Hurt My Feelings" with her in mind after the two did the equally appealing "Enough Said" 10 years ago. This is another insightful, grown-up story.
Louis-Dreyfus plays a writer working on a follow-up book after a well-received memoir. Her husband ("The Crown's" Tobias Menzies) has been supportive all along, until she overhears him tell their brother-in-law that he really doesn't like her latest work.
It crushes her. So, where do you go from here? There are more layers of insecurity. Menzies is a therapist who fears he's aging. Michaela Watkins plays Julia's sister who's doing double duty in the propping up department, as her husband is an out-of-work actor.
This is a gem. The feelings are honest. The laughs are organic. I want more movies like this!
(A24. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 33 mins. In Theaters Only)
ABOUT MY FATHER
Standup comedian Sebastian Maniscalco loosely adapts the story of his relationship with his Italian immigrant dad/hairdresser to the big screen. And if you're gonna cast your dad, it might as well be Robert de Niro!
Sebastian is dating an artist (a vivacious Leslie Bibb) and wants to propose. He's invited to her rich parents' vacation home for the July 4th holiday and takes dad along. What could go wrong?!
This feels like a cousin to the "Focker" movies but not as funny.
(LIONSGATE. Rated PG-13. Running Time 1 hr. 29 mins. In Theaters Only)
Gerard Butler is made for action. In fact, that's all he does lately.
In "Kandahar," he plays an undercover C.I.A. agent who poses as a utility worker and blows up an Iranian nuclear power plant. He's supposed to get home for his daughter's graduation (just like in his last movie, "Plane"), but he's coaxed into taking on one more mission in Afghanistan. He meets up with his interpreter, but before they can embark, he's exposed, and the two try to escape.
Despite Butler's best efforts, the suspense is barely palpable, and there's a chase across the desert for what felt like 20 minutes. That, like the movie, left more to be desired.
(Open Road Films. Rated R. Running Time 2 hrs. In Theaters Only)
Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen previously played husband and wife in the "Neighbors" movies.
Now, in a new streaming series, they're paired as former BFFs, estranged then reunited.
Sylvia (Byrne) is happily married with a family. Will's (Rogen) marriage has just broken up, but as the title indicates, Syl and Will don't go beyond the friend zone. She simply realizes how much fun she's been missing!
These two are great together. They also executive produced the series and told me they wanted to make an adult show that was light and not secretly subversive. Mission accomplished!
(Apple TV+. TV-MA. Series. Streaming Only)
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