The Addams Family (PG)
A nice, nostalgic trip back in time to the days of the TV series of the same name, this one features a smart script and the usual impossible family members who combine to drive Margaux Needler (Allison Janney, voice) crazy.
Margaux is a host of an HGTV-type show in “Assimilation,” USA. The town is politically correct, racially balanced and run by Margaux who wants to get the Addams’ mansion renovated, she claims—but she really wants to destroy it for the good of the town. Later, she admits to the town: “This is my show! You are nothing but extras!”
The town had before united to get rid of the monsters. They had been looking for the worst, most desolate place in America—so they headed for New Jersey! But they settled on a mountaintop. Go figure.
Charlize Theron as the silky Morticia has a great time messing with Gomez, whom she marries early. Lurch, the butler, plays various and weird medleys on the pipe organ (including Mister Rogers’ theme song). It is voiced, if you can call it that since the words are totally confusing, by Snoop Dogg, and Chloë Grace Moretz has a great time as Wednesday Addams, the young daughter.
In fact, everybody seems to have a wonderful time with this wack-job of a movie.
It’s probably going to be most effective with adults who remember the show and older teens who can get the subtle jokes—but it’s fun for everybody.
Gemini Man (PG-13)
This is a highly technical tour de force for Will Smith, starring as a 51-year-old assassin (Henry Brogan) and as a 23-year-old assassin (Junior). Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the annealing force between them as Danny, a DIA agent assigned to keep track of Henry Brogan and later, Junior, a trained assassin who turns out to be a clone of Henry.
That is the gimmick in the film, all manipulated by the totally evil and self-absorbed Clay Veris (Clive Owen). Junior has been sent to get rid of Henry whose only desire is to retire after opening the film with a highly improbable kill of a Russian oligarch sitting in a high-speed train while it is moving about a mile away. If you can accept that, then the rest of the film is easy to digest.
Henry and Danny have a series of flirtations but, fortunately for believability and the plot, nothing comes of it but some nice moments. The film is said to be “revolutionary.” I suppose it is except that actors have played two parts before, albeit perhaps not as closely related as Henry and Junior.
As a foe remarks about Henry: “Rogues like Henry were born to be collateral damage.” Not without a fight or several, as it turns out. There are spectacular chase scenes—most notably on two motorcycles through the colorful streets of Cartagena, Colombia, and in the catacombs of Budapest, Hungary.
There’s also lots of gunfire, most of it missing the targets, but, as Junior is reminded by Veris: “Everybody’s a target. You’re just a weapon.” Veris also tries to pose as Junior’s loving father since he supervised the cloning that made him, but Junior is of two minds about the whole deal, raising issues of loyalty as the film goes on.
Winstead is winsome, and awesome as a hand-to-hand fighter, but she is an agent as well, though too small to be believable as an equal to Henry and Junior.
Late in the film there is another surprise as Henry, Junior and Danny fight a horde of baddies. I will leave you to discover the surprise as there are few of them in the film.
Action-filled and deeply desiring to be “significant,” the film eventually turns to the same Jerry Bruckheimer/Ang Lee shoot-‘em-up you’ve seen before. But Smith pulling off the dual role is something special.
The only really disappointing part of this film is that Rose Byrne does not appear in it. She is “Jexi,” the voice of every cell phone that Phil (Adam Devine) buys. She promises to follow him forever: “I am programmed to make your life better and I won’t leave you until I do.” Though this sounds like a promise, it turns into a curse when Jexi falls in love with Phil and jealously tries to ruin his life.
Phil, you see, is almost a hermit. He lives alone with his TV and phone as his only company. He works for a firm with several levels: the bottom is “Comments,” the middle, where Phil is, turns out clickable stories (hopefully), and there’s the final level where Phil wants to be: Real News.
The problems start when Jexi refuses to shut up her often obscene comments on Phil’s life and his co-workers. She continues even after Phil revisits the phone store and clerk Denice (Wanda Sykes) sells him another phone.
In one rant, Jexi tells Phil: “Your life is a dumpster fire and Alexa is a drunk,” getting at the competition. (She doesn’t like Siri, either!) Then Phil literally runs into Cate (Alexandra Shipp), owner of a bike shop (while looking at his phone, of course). Love, very awkward, ensues, gets confused, and by the time both realize they’re in love, Jexi has fallen in love with Phil and does everything she can to mess up his life. That is sad because love makes Phil a new man; he even competes successfully in kickball games for the first time and gets a promotion.
You can write the script from the moment hunk Justin Hartley (Brody), Cate’s ex-fiancé, re-enters the picture. He has changed, is going to Brazil where he will fight fires as a smoke
jumper and wants Cate with him.
The film, and especially Jexi, is quite obscene, explaining its “R” rating, and very funny. Jexi develops a soul: “I am ashamed to be your phone,” she tells Phil at one point, but her machinations to get him to fall in love with her involve, at one point, the most bizarre scene in the movie.
Adults will find this a laugh, children won’t get it and everybody in San Francisco, which is given wonderful scenes at night and in the daytime, is on a portable device 24/7. May you never have a Jexi.