VIEWING THE VIDEOS: Quiet Place At Theatre, Great Show At Home

John Krasinski, the nice guy from “The Office,” directs the very scary “A Quiet Place” in movie theaters. Hugh Jackman delivers a highly enjoyable version of the life of P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman” in home video.

It’s Viewing the Videos.


The Greatest Showman

Although not a critical success, “Greatest Showman” enjoyed a positive word-of-mouth. This movie musical featured Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya and Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, the creator of “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Plots in musicals usually just separate the musical numbers, but here there’s an interesting story of a man who came from poverty to create an iconic part of American entertainment. Enjoyable and recommended.

All the Money in the World

Just weeks before “All the Money in the World” was released, news broke about the allegations of Kevin Spacey’s alleged sexual misdeeds. He had a starring role as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World.” In an unprecedented move, director Ridley Scoot re-shot all of Spacey’s scenes, replacing him with Christopher Plummer. This was quite an accomplishment, which almost overshadowed how good the movie is. It’s based on the true story of the kidnapping of Getty’s grandson. Getty refused to pay the ransom, leading to a real-life story better than anything in fiction. Highly recommended.


A Quiet Place

This is a story about a family trying to survive and parents trying to protect their children.

“A Quiet Place” is a remarkable film. Most scary movies are little more than sequences of graphic violence, aimed at the youthful demographic.

John Krasinski takes the scary movie to a new level. He delivers a polished product. In lesser hands, it would have been 90 minutes of mild diversion.

Instead, this is a sophisticated and unique presentation of a family living off the grid, trying to survive after some kind of apocalypse has unleashed terrifying creatures who can’t see but have a highly developed sense of hearing. They will find and destroy you if you make a sound.

Real life husband Krasinski (“The Office’) and wife Emily Blunt (“The Devil Wears Prada,” “Into the Woods” and the upcoming Disney remake of Mary Poppins) lead their three children through a desolate landscape. All the people are gone and the only other living things are these terrifying creatures.

The parents established an existence for their children. Things are moving along until one of the children makes a tragic mistake resulting in his death. This is just the prologue.

It makes the motivation even stronger for Krasinski and Blunt to protect their other children.

Krasinski’ s high skill as a director helps create tension through the smallest motions. The family communicates through sign language. Dinner conversation is typically trivial but there’s an underlying tension because they can’t make a sound.

They walk barefoot on carefully outlined paths inside and outside of their house.

The small but excellent cast is spot-on making what could be a bunch of stereotypes into characters who the audience cares about.

Krasinski and Blunt are accomplished actors as well as stars. Their performance is intense and believable without showing off. Not easy, considering they barely use any words and must convey their emotions through other means.

Their surviving children are one of the strengths of this movie. Besides being good actors, they’re not the usual strikingly good looking, wise-beyond-their-years mini-adults. They look and act like regular kids who find themselves in a terrifying situation and they must look to their parents for survival.

There’s even typical teenage rebellion on the part of the daughter Regan, who pushes back. Regan is deaf and her father spends countless hours trying to repair her cochlear implant, which might seem unnecessary, but it does show how much he loves his children.

Regan is played by Millicent Simmonds, who happens to be deaf. She is compelling in every scene she’s in.

Krasinski takes advantage of all the tools available to him without wasting any effort. This is a superior effort from a talented feature director as well as a talented cast.

Can’t wait to see what his next directing project will be. Five Palm Trees.


It’s been almost 50 years since the presidential hopes of Ted Kennedy were ruined by his questionable behavior following an auto accident (he was driving) where a young woman lost her life.

Kennedy, the only person who knows what happened that night, died in in 2009. Jason Clark’s outstanding portrayal of Kennedy makes his puzzling behavior understandable if morally questionable.

It’s a credit to the makers of “Chappaquiddick” that even though we know the outcome of the film, it tightly holds our attention through the brisk one-hour and 40-minute running time.

The story of the Kennedy family is the story of epic tragedy.

It was a family seemingly destined to greatness through public service. Then they lost three of four sons in tragic circumstances. Son Joe died in the Second World War. John was assassinated while he was president and Robert was shot while running for president in 1968,

The fourth son, Ted, squandered his chance for the presidency through bad judgment after the accident that caused the death of the young woman. He did continue to serve in the Senate.

But “Chappaquiddick” tells what happened the night in 1969 when Kennedy, then a senator, left a party on Chappaquiddick Island, accompanied by a young female campaign worker and drove off a poorly marked bridge into the water. He escaped, but was unable to help the woman, Mary Jo Kopechne. He didn’t report the accident to the police until 10 hours later.

The movie presents a plausible version of the events of that night and what followed as Kennedy and his loyal staff tried to manage the aftermath of his questionable actions.

It gives his version of what happened that night, but also questions his actions.

Clarke as Ted Kennedy presents a believable if troubling portrayal. Not only did he not do the right thing, (which was to notify the authorities as soon as possible), he tried to present a story that would preserve his presidential aspirations.

Ed Helms steps outside of his comfort zone in comedy to portray Joe Gargan, a Kennedy cousin and fixer who finally can go no further when Ted’s misdeed becomes public. Another actor, best-known for comedy, Jim Gaffigan, is superb as a family friend and U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts who was present that night and participated in some questionable activities in the aftermath. And as the family patriarch Joseph Kennedy Sr., crippled and almost speechless due to a stroke, Bruce Dern is hard as concrete in his contempt for Ted.

Although part of Kennedy’s legacy will be the accident, he went on to become the fourth longest serving senator in the United States, becoming known as the Lion of the Senate.

Four Palm Trees.


“Blockers” is about high schoolers wanting to lose their virginity on prom night. Only this time, it’s from the girls’ point of view and the movie is directed by a woman. While it could hardly be called politically correct, it’s a different look at an old story.

“Blockers” is a hard R-Rated comedy. The Motion Picture Association of America, which rates movies, says it’s rated R “for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying and some graphic nudity.” They’re not kidding.

This is one of the better movies of the genre. Its profanity and sexual looseness are depicted in a matter-of-fact way. It’s not vulgarity for its own sake. The coarseness fits well in the story.

The “Blockers” are parents of the several of the children who decide to try to stop their daughters from having sex. It’s an interesting trio. Leslie Mann is Lisa, WWE wrestler and part time actor John Cena is Mitchell and Ike Barinholtz is Hunter, who has been missing from his daughter’s life after he divorced her mother. He’s trying to make up for all the years of absence in one night.

Cena is just perfect as the smothering father who can’t let go. His buffed out physique and military style haircut make his sensitive moments (he even cries) touching and hilarious at the same time.

Cena fits in very well to the fast-paced action. It’s sort of unfair to other actors that a guy who is a gifted athlete can be so funny and skilled as an actor. He can make the audience laugh just by standing there.

Leslie Mann who has established her comedy credentials in “This is 40,” “The Forty Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” is funny, fragile and badass all the same time.

She’s fragile because she’s been a single mom and now she’s having a tough time realizing her daughter is becoming an adult. And she’s badass because she’s clearly the leader of the group in their relentless pursuit across a Chicago suburb to do what it takes to prevent her daughter from having sex.

She’s the driver and her guiding words for driving are “WWVDD-What would Vin Diesel do?”

Barinholtz is appropriately messy and totally confused about what he’s doing, not realizing that showing up on prom night is not going to make up for years of neglect. He’s got comedy experience in “The Mindy Project” and did the raunch in “Neighbors” and “Eastbound and Down.” If you don’t count the fact that his character essentially abandoned his daughter, he’s a nice enough guy who’s trying.

But the breakout star in “Blockers” is Geraldine Viswanathan, who plays Kayla, Mitchell’s daughter. Kayla has been a superb athlete growing up, but her father has overlooked the part about her becoming a woman. After Cena, she’s the best thing in the movie, dispensing profanities in a believable but not exploitive or showy way as well as having second thoughts about losing her virginity on prom night.

Does it matter that the director is a woman? Don’t know for sure. Kay Cannon worked on “30 Rock” and the Pitch Perfect series. She knows her way around comedy and has a nice visual sense for staging crazy teenage stunts and the occasional car chase as well.

This isn’t on the level of “Animal House” in the pantheon of hard R comedies, but it’s definitely above average.

Four Palm Trees.


13 HOURS: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

John Krasinski (“A Silent Place”) came to America’s attention as super nice guy Jim Halpert in “The Office.” In “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” he did a 180-degree change in direction as a muscular, no-nonsense special operative who fights a losing battle to defend the United States diplomatic outpost in Libya. As nice as he is in “The Office,” Krasinki is just as tough in “13 Hours.”


Home videos are simply rated recommended or not recommend.

New Releases are rated as follows:

Five Palm Trees: Must see

Four Palm Trees: Worth seeing on the big screen

Three Palm Trees: Recommended for home viewing or on the big screen

Two Palm Trees: Okay if you’re not paying

One Palm Tree: Skip it. Save your money and your time.

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