Mike at the Movies

Photo | Submitted Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf star in “The Peanut Butter Falcon.”

Photo | Submitted
Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf star in “The Peanut Butter Falcon.”

The Peanut Butter Falcon (PG-13)

This low-budget sleeper features sterling performances by Shia LaBeouf as Tyler and Dakota Johnson as Eleanor with a wonderful turn by newcomer, Down Syndrome actor Zack Gottsagen as Zak. The strong cast also features Thomas Haden Church as old wrestler “The Salt Water Redneck.”

This is basically an unlikely buddy movie. Zak wants to be a pro wrestler like his idol, The Salt Water Redneck. The problem is, Zak only knows his idol from 20-year-old VHS tapes. Tyler, on the other hand, escapes with his life after burning a whole village worth of crab traps and setting two villains off after him. As unlikely as it may be, Zak escapes from the retirement home where he has been assigned, he runs into Tyler and they both go on the run together.

Meanwhile, the comely and well-educated Eleanor sets off after them in a retirement home’s van and, oddly enough, finds them and soon bonds with them. The trio is soon on a raft, trying to get to The Salt Water Redneck’s wrestling camp, long since defunct.

The story gets sweeter and more lovely as Tyler teaches Zak how to swim and how to more or less survive on his own, something Eleanor does not believe and does not want to grant. Her boss, hearing that Zak has been captured, wants him transferred to a high-security home.

A lot of the rest you can either piece together or guess. The film moves to a satisfactory, if expected, conclusion.

This may be Johnson’s best and most sympathetic role, nicely underplayed, and LaBeouf is equally effective as the fisherman on the run. There are some naughty words and the film seems generally under-exposed, but the story is a grabber and Gottsagen is a very sympathetic character, made more so by the support of his two stars. Good stuff for summer!

Angel Has Fallen (R)

Since Morgan Freeman is “Angel” (Allan Trumbull, POTUS), he can’t fall very far. Even so, since he falls into a coma, he’s missing for much of this shoot-‘em-up for Gerard Butler (Mike Banning).

It is sort of fun watching perky Piper Perabo play a domestic role (Leah Banning) rather than the sharp federal agent she played on “Covert Affairs” on TV. She doesn’t have to even pick up a pistol in this role, which demands only that she look perky, say assorted four-letter words and look worried.

Butler has to look worried, though he adds a number of those four-letter bombs himself as he is chased by the bad guys. They are headed by a surprisingly high-up government official, bent on turning the US over to private security firms. Butler is accused of trying to assassinate Trumbull, Russia is rumored to be involved and away go the chase scenes and much emptying of large magazines for semiautomatic, automatic and good old Glocks ensues.

Of course, Banning has to prove his innocence, no matter how many other federal agents get killed in the process—and plenty do.

An entertaining diversion is the inclusion of the reclusive Clay Banning (Nick Nolte), Mike’s father. His self-designed protective system of his secret compound in the woods is hysterically efficient, if a bit wasteful of the environment.

Both sides tend to dress alike, use the same-looking weapons and tend to have no restraint, but fans of this kind of film are accustomed to that kind of confusion so I suppose it doesn’t hurt. Kids may be put off by the bloodshed or so used to it in their games that it won’t matter. It’s up to you, but there’s nothing you can do about the language. It’s part of this kind of film’s
culture!

Ready or Not (R)

What starts out to be a sort of funny/bloody horror film turns into an unfunny, violent bloodbath of a movie with very little suspense. Why think this might be funny? Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for starters, before a wedding. “1812 Overture” also has a run, but by that time the movie has lost its comic edge and is into murder by various means.

Grace (Samantha Weaving) and Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) have just been married, but Grace can’t become a full member of the clan until she has been inaugurated into the family. Drawing a card out of a mysterious box left by an ancestor who was into games, Grace draws “Hide and Seek.”

Rule is simple: The family must kill Grace by dawn or they will all die. Not so funny, or even fun anymore.

Equipped with weapons from crossbows to shotguns and bows and arrows, the family sets out after Grace and soon the handheld camera shots mount up, the blood starts to flow—much of it by accident—and the humor is really not charming at all anymore.

We think there is hope as Becky (Andie MacDowell) is told: “She’ll never be a part of us.” Andie responds: “Of course not; she has a soul.” Bizarre ways of dying ensue, and Grace, soul or not, ends up in a true and thorough bloodbath.

All sense of good time is gone and so is one’s patience with this horror film turned ugly and ho-hum terrible. No kids, for sure!

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