Posts Tagged ‘Emma Roberts’

Betty Gilpin (right)

“THE HUNT” My rating: C+

89 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The premise of “The Hunt” —  a bunch of rich sphincters go hunting for other humans on a private game preserve — has been recycling through the cinema ever since 1932’s “The Most Dangerous Game.”

But this is the first time the hunters have been  elite libtards and their prey Trumpers.

Okay, okay. Step back and take a deep breath.

Craig Zobel’s film lets us know early on with a bombastic musical score that it isn’t meant to be taken too seriously.  Ditto for the laughably over-the-top violence.

Which is not to say that “The Hunt” doesn’t have some fairly serious subtext.  At its core it’s about how America’s deep political and social divisions are leading to self-destruction.

Mostly, though, the picture is played for thrills and yuks.

A dozen individuals awaken in a forest. Rubber gags have been locked onto their faces. They discover a large wooden crate containing a small arsenal of weapons and a key that opens their mouthpieces.

And then all hell breaks lose. These individuals — some played by familiar faces like Emma Roberts, Jake Barinholtz, and Justin Hartley (Kevin on TV’s “This is Us”) — must negotiate a dangerous landscape.  They may be shot with bullets and arrows, blown up by land mines, poisoned with dosed donuts or skewered in pits filled with sharpened wooden stakes. (more…)

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Mickey Rourke, Nate Wolff

Mickey Rourke, Nate Wolffe

“ASHBY” My rating: C+

100 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Ashby” is a stew of a movie — part coming-of-age story, part assassination thriller, part comedy, part romance, part drama.

Ed (Nat Wolffe) is the new kid in town, freshly arrived in a D.C. suburb with his romantically challenged mother (Sarah Silverman) and feeling very much the outsider.

Assigned by a teacher to interview and write a story about an older person, Nat approaches his well-worn next door neighbor, Ashby (Mickey Rourke).

Initially Ashby refuses to cooperate, maintaining that he doesn’t know any old people. But he changes his mind because he needs Nat to drive him on errands.  In an early scene Ashby was told by a doctor that he has only three months to live. He’s not supposed to get behind the wheel.

Tony McNamara’s film is really two stories. In the first, Nat overcomes his lack of confidence to try out for the high school football team. And he enjoys smart-kid banter with Eloise (Emma Roberts), the dweeby classmate who shares his disdain for the conventions of teen life.

In the second, Ashby goes on a killing spree to get revenge on his old CIA bosses, whom he discovers had him assassinate an environmental activist not for national security reasons but because the guy opposed a real estate development the suits were investing in.

Nat Wolffe, Emma Roberts

Nat Wolffe, Emma Roberts

Between gunplay Ashby and Ed (who finds himself driving the getaway car) share life lessons.  It’s like a particularly twisted remake of Bill Murray’s “St. Vincent.”

Individual moments work reasonably well (the best are featured in the film’s trailer), and the scenes between Wolffe and Roberts are particularly enjoyable — even innocently romantic.

An appreciation of “Ashby” depends upon one’s tolerance of Rourke, whose frozen features (too much plastic surgery? Botox?) limit his ability to express emotion. I was less than impressed.

| Robert W. Butler

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Emma Roberts, John Cusack

Emma Roberts, John Cusack

“ADULT WORLD” My rating: D (Opening March 7 at the Screenland Armour)

 97 minutes | MPAA rating: R

In the skin-crawling indie comedy “Adult World,” former tweener star Emma Roberts (TV’s “Nancy Drew”) dulls up the screen as a college coed whose lack of self awareness and sense of entitlement  is so total as to be crippling.

Her Amy, a student at Syracuse University, has convinced herself that she’s a great poet. In fact, she is a ghastly poet (“…shattered wings catapult the vulva to vast oblivion…”), but nothing like a reality check gets in the way of her quest for literary greatness.

In short order she has dropped out of school and been kicked out of her parents’ home.  She gets a job clerking at Adult World, a mom & pop adult book/video store owned by a mom and pop (Cloris Leachman and John Collum, who make an early appearance and then bail) and managed by the sweet/cute/ironic  Alex (Evan Peters, Jesse Eisenberg now being too old for these parts.).

Given the setting, you might expect some “Clerks”-style satire of the whole porn thing, but  we get only a few half-hearted stabs at the store’s loser clientele (“Do you have the anti-microbial anal beads?”). Outrageous? Hardly. It it all feels very 1980s made-for-television. (Still can’t figure out what earned the movie an R rating.)


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