Don’t miss “Hunt For The Wilderpeople” at Tower Theatre

by Chris Narloch,

If by chance you find yourself with a couple hours this week to watch a movie, I have two excellent choices to consider and at least one dud film to warn you to avoid.

Read on for my reviews of “Hunt For The Wilderpeople,” “Swiss Army Man,” “The BFG” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.”



Hunt For The Wilderpeople
The crazy current state of movie distribution never ceases to amaze me, and I can’t for the life of me understand why this suspenseful and very funny film was dumped into one local theater with little or no publicity and no press screenings.

The big-city movie critics who have seen “Hunt For The Wilderpeople” anointed it with such glowing reviews that it had a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as I wrote this review, a score reserved for films like “Citizen Kane.”

Now I wouldn’t compare “Hunt For The Wilderpeople” to “Citizen Kane,” but it is one of the best movies I have seen so far this year, and I hope that word of mouth propels more people to see it in theaters and later on DVD.

A terrific Sam Neill stars as the foster uncle of a rebellious teen. The pair becomes the subject of a manhunt after they attempt to avoid authorities by escaping into the New Zealand wilderness.

You can see “Hunt For The Wilderpeople” at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre, but probably not for long. It opened on July 8. Don’t miss it.

Swiss Army Man
The plot of this surreal new comedy is so bizarre and original that I hesitate to say much about the film except that it made me laugh my head off.

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe play, respectively, a young man stranded on a deserted island and the flatulent corpse that washes up on said island, comes to life, and becomes his best friend.

If you saw the inspired music video for “Turn Down For What,” then you are familiar with the wacky work of directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who also teamed up on “Swiss Army Man.”

The scene in which Radcliffe and Dano share a tender underwater kiss is just one of the gonzo moments in a movie that would surely have become a hit midnight movie back in the day.

“Swiss Army Man” was still playing at several multiplex theaters in the Sacramento area as of Friday, July 8. You can also see it at the Varsity Theatre in Davis.

I urge you to see the movie as soon as possible because it’s simply too strange to be in theaters for very long.

After three excellent “serious” films in a row (“Bridge of Spies,” “Lincoln,” “War Horse”), the great Steven Spielberg has directed a family film written by the late screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who scripted his “E.T.”

“The BFG” is an adaptation of a beloved book by Roald Dahl that seems like it would be a perfect fit for Spielberg and Mathison. Alas, while the movie contains stunning special effects including a fascinating digitized performance by Mark Rylance as the “big friendly giant” of the title, the film ultimately disappoints.

Rylance is an astounding actor who deserved every award he received for “Bridge of Spies” (including an Oscar), and his warm, soulful eyes and voice also provide this movie with depth.

After a terrific opening sequence in which the BFG kidnaps the young heroine of the story without being detected, the story moves to the land of the giants, where our heroine and her captor-turned-savior ultimately bond.

Unfortunately, the story begins to meander at this point, which will probably bore older children and their parents, while tiny tots will likely be scared by the big, ugly giants who want to steal the girl from her big, friendly giant in order to eat her.

The film’s CGI is so spectacular that the scary monsters in “The BFG” are fairly terrifying, and several little kids started crying and had to be taken out of the theater while I was watching the movie.

“The BFG” is a nice try and a near miss for Spielberg and Mathison, but it’s no “E.T.”

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
After fine work on television in the “High School Musical” franchise and then on the big screen in several independent films, Zac Efron has boxed himself in to a corner with one raunchy bro’ com after another.

I don’t have anything against good raunchy movies, but “Dirty Grandpa” and Efron’s latest dud don’t even come up to the level of “guilty pleasure.”

Efron and Adam Devine star as two lunk-head brothers who advertise on Craigslist to find acceptable, classy dates for their sister’s wedding.

That sounds like a potentially hilarious premise, but the lame script squanders its talented cast, which includes Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, on jokes and situations that were already tired and unoriginal back when the “American Pie” series ran out of gas.

If Zac Efron has any brains left after playing stupid in so many movies, the actor will take his legitimate song and dance skills to Broadway or better yet, make a big screen musical.

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