The Spy Who Dumped Me (R)
This is without a doubt the most continuously funny film of the summer. Mila Kunis as Audrey and Kate McKinnon as Morgan have great chemistry and romp their way through this violent spy movie without looking back. McKinnon makes me laugh even when she’s just standing still, and she does much more than that during this crazed spy movie takeoff.
Audrey and Morgan are not spies, but they become part of an international conspiracy when they discover that Drew (Justin Theroux) is a CIA spy who needs help after he inexplicably dumps Audrey. Drew has left them with the McGuffin, a second-place statue for some meaningless contest. The two friends end up carrying the statue around Europe, evading assassins who want the trophy at every turn and having some the weirdest, funniest chase scenes ever recorded.
There’s a lot of blood spilled, Hollywood style, but the grisliest scene involves Audrey cutting the thumb off a baddie because they need his thumbprint to unlock his computer.
The stunts are funny, the lines are funny and McKinnon and Kunis have great fun working with each other. This film is not really for kids unless they’re very sophisticated and can recognize Hollywood violence.
Christopher Robin (PG)
“Cristofer Roben” is written on his mailbox. Spelling is not a strength of his woodland friends. Rhetoric is not one of Owl’s friends, either, but he is clearly understood as are Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh himself, “a bear of little brain.” Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) has been their erstwhile friend but has grown up and now works in a luggage factory at a very dull job.
Christopher is given a weekend assignment that causes consternation and even anger in his family. Wife Evelyn Robin (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) go off to Sussex by themselves while Christopher lucks into a reunion with his friends. They are hiding in a tree from the dreaded Heffalump. Christopher rescues Pooh (Jim Cummings) and Eeyore (Brad Garrett, who steals the movie), but the rest are struck with terror until Christopher defeats the Heffalump (his briefcase) in a duel to the death. Together at last, the animals try to figure out what’s wrong with Christopher.
Christopher’s problem is that he is all work and no play. Pooh has the right angle on things. “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day. … Nothing leads at the very least to something.”
It is unkind to poke fun at the clinically depressed, but Eeyore is the funniest depressed character I know. Seeing the destruction of an office, he growls, “Looks like a disaster. Why wasn’t I invited?” His down takes on everything that happens are one sure source of the humor in this kind, loving and sentimental comedy.
Christopher, of course, is the archetype workaholic while his boss, Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss), is the boss who dispenses orders like “Work this weekend” to Christopher. Giles then takes his golf clubs and does no work at all.
Mrs. Robin is about to ditch Christopher when the animals show up in a clump in her garden after watching Maddie win a fantasy Wimbledon championship, playing against herself. Maddie accompanies them all to London with Christopher’s important papers, trying to save his job.
The film is gentle, beautifully photographed and very funny, in a soft-touch kind of way. One can understand why McGregor asked the crew to make him a full-size replica of Pooh since the two obviously became attached during the film. Take the kids and after the film and the ice cream, go to the library and get at least one Pooh book and read it to them. You owe it to them to get to know Pooh and Christopher Robin.
The Darkest Minds (PG-13)
In a takeoff on films built on segregation by types, this film uses five types, Green through Red, to split surviving children into five groups. The Red and Orange ones are deemed to be most dangerous and can be shot or otherwise killed on sight. Ruby (Amanda Sternberg) is cursed with Orange qualities but is allowed to pass for Green and go to camp. Ruby’s special gift is the ability to change people’s minds and order them about by touching them and talking. Liam (Harris Dickinson), met by Ruby on the road, is another Orange and he can shift objects and bring people around by staring at them. Zu (Miya Cech) is the youngest Orange and can only turn power on and off. Chubs (Skylan Brooks) is a mathematical wizard.
The quartet breaks out and heads away from trouble only to find it in many forms. Fortunately for Ruby, she runs into Cate (Mandy Moore) who saves her for a time and comes back later for another rescue. It turns out that the POTUS at the time, President Gray (Bradley Whitford), has allowed his Red son, Clancy (Patrick Gibson), to pass as normal, hiding his evil powers that he uses to form an allegedly friendly camp. This is when things really get complicated!
Super powers are used only when the scriptwriters can’t think of another way to advance the story. There is a developing relationship between Liam and Ruby from the start, an attempted rape scene and assorted racist comments. The movie doesn’t allow for a simple question and answer: OK, so the kids are rescued and go back to their families. How do they operate their super powers for good or evil as they grow up? Fortunately for anybody who is hooked by the premise, there are several hints at a sequel (or series of them) by the end. All you need to join is a bit of Orange or Green or Blue or Yellow paint on your head and you’re in. Don’t bother going to your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams.