The summer of sequels begins in earnest as two box office behemoths of years past hope that audience goodwill and fond memories translate into ticket sales. “The Hangover Part II” does its ‘Hangover‘ thing, this time in Bangkok! And “Kung Fu Panda 2” hi-yahs onto screens with a stacked roster of all-star voice talent. Annnnd, oh my god, talk about burying the lede! Fuckin’ “The Tree of Life” starts its roll out! Terry Malick! Brad Pitt! Sean Penn! Dinosaurs! At least 15 of you just wet yourselves. I know you. I know you Playlist readers, and your love of T. Malick. With good reason. Will it be everything you dreamed of and more? I really hope so!
“The Hangover Part II” stumbles its hungover ass into theaters this week. The Wolf Pack is back, with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, and Ken Jeong reprising their roles as the misbehaving, forgetful bunch, this time in Bangkok. Also, now they have a monkey instead of a baby. You know the drill: bachelor party blackout leads to missing bro. Our review says it’s “a sloppy, tossed-off excuse for a sequel those involved should reconsider being proud of.” Yikes. Maybe watch some of the TV shows we’re into this weekend instead? Rotten Tomatoes: 33% Metacritic: 46
Jack Black returns to voice the portly panda of “Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom” (greatest subtitle ever), with supporting voice acting from “Kung Fu Panda” vets Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross and James Hong, with newcomers Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber, Dennis Haysbert and Danny McBride. Our review says the film is “mostly a kicky joy.” Quality animated fun for all ages! RT: 78% MC: 68
In Limited Release:
I mean… what more is there to say about “The Tree of Life” that we haven’t already covered? We’ve dissected the poster. We’ve waited with bated breath for the trailer. We’ve waited and waited and waited for Terry Malick to get that edit right. Our first impression from Cannes? Well, our review said Malick “created a cinematic experience that is uniquely his own, often powerful and mesmerizing, at times overreaching and overbearing, but never forgettable.” The impressionistic, experimental film ponders the nature of the universe and search for the meaning of life, set against the story of a Texas family, headed up by Brad Pitt. We also had some thoughts from three other contributors who all chewed it over. Go judge for yourself if it hits your theater this weekend. RT: 85% MC: 89
The latest film from the Romanian New Wave is “Tuesday, After Christmas,” about divorce and adultery. Fun times! Our review says, “nails its performances, but everything else sticks too close to genre contrivance, and chances are there isn’t a huge audience for sad divorce tales anyway.” There’s an audience for everything, right?! RT: 64% MC: 74
“United Red Army” from filmmaker Koji Wakamatsu offers a history lesson about the Japanese student uprisings and the eventual formation and downfall of the United Red Army. Our review says the film suffers from a poorly executed first act that it does recover from well, but that, “by the time the credits roll, we’re not talking about the substance, but of the bad first impressions given by the structure—and that is not going to bode well when we analyze how our precious time was spent.” RT: 86%
Also in theaters…
Psychological thriller The Abduction of Zack Butterfield, in which a female Iraq combat vet kidnaps a young boy when she returns home. Not getting good notices with the dreaded 0% on Rotten Tomatoes making an appearance. Joining the 0 % club is “Tied to a Chair” about a woman… who is tied to a chair. Don’t bother. James Urbaniak is in the festival hit “Hello Lonesome” about disparate people coming together and finding solace in each other. I think. RT: 64%. Guess what “Puzzle” is about. Guess, guess, guesssss…. PUZZLES. Competitive puzzling. I guess that’s a thing now! RT: 57%. Rotten Tomatoes continues to fuck with my game by announcing sexy lady vampire movie “We Are the Night” as opening both last weekend and this weekend. WHAT IS IT ROTTEN TOMATOES?! RT: 57%
In this week’s “TV Better Than Movies” installment, “Too Big To Fail” hits small screens on HBO. Following the 2008 financial crisis, our review says the film is “compelling viewing right out of the gate and at its best, feels like an insider’s tour into what really went on behind the scenes offering a different perspective to the sound bites the public was given at the time.” Check it out people, we need to be informed.