Grade: C+

Directed by Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly
Voiced by Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph

With stints as animators for hit films like Frozen and The Iron Giant behind them, first time directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly took on quite a different task: Create a profitable and engaging film based on a once-popular smartphone app. Where 2014's The LEGO Movie excelled at taking a risky idea and delivering a hilarious and clever product, Kaytis and Reilly's The Angry Birds Movie struggles to find its cleverness amidst a shaky plot and inconsistent humor.

The first half of Angry Birds is the real treat. The characters look similar to their smartphone game counterparts, with Red (Jason Sudeikis) getting top billing as the ultimately angered bird. After run-ins with the law, thanks to an unfortunate birthday clown episode, Red is sent to anger management class where he meets aloof Chuck (Josh Gad) and excitable Bomb (Danny McBride). The class is led by the light-as-a-feather Matilda (Maya Rudolph) and gets, deservedly, some of the film's best laughs.

While the story has to inevitably get to the introduction of the game's enemy pigs, the film would've almost worked fine without that element. Trusting the audience to recognize the friendly characters enough to just enjoy seeing them in their natural element could've been the clever twist to a head-scratching idea that worked for LEGO. Instead, we're given a funny idea and then force-fed an even bigger idea for the second half of the film.

By the time we see the birds join forces to fight the pigs, led by the evil Leonard (Bill Hader), we're overwhelmed with unfunny sequences and a race to new side stories that just get in the way. The whole Mighty Eagle bit, while traced from the beginning, becomes more annoying than heartwarming or encouraging.

The animation has interesting quirks that elevate it some, plus seeing it in 3D is a visual treat, but nothing can save the film from its own devices. While there is a lesson to be learned about personality, bravery, humility, and even friendship, it's so shrouded in hundreds of other attempts at story and humor that it all feels like a big pile of ideas with no ultimate payoff. Less would've definitely been more here.

Kids will get a kick out of the bright colors and family-friendly potty humor. Parents will enjoy the 97 minute break in the air conditioning. The frugal moviegoer will want to wait and get this on Redbox.

Rating: PG
Runtime: 97 minutes


Grade: B

Directed by Jodie Foster
Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell

We've made it to the point in Hollywood where the recent financial crisis has become popular fodder for thrillers, comedies, and everything in between. Acting as a commentary on big business and today's media, Money Monster sores in theory, but falters in its approach.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a popular television host known for flashy antics and a loud personality. The host of his own money show, where he gives financial advice, Gates is preparing to say farewell to his longtime producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) during their last broadcast together when a disgruntled viewer crashes the set and takes Gates and the production team hostage. Demanding the show stay on the air, the plight of Gates becomes a worldwide phenomenon.

Playing out in real time, Money Maker sold itself on a strong trailer, offering the kind of edge-of-your-seat premise perfect for our current attention spans. In actuality, director Jodie Foster works the timeframe to mostly solid use, but there are moments that drag, becoming just as preachy as a real money show without any real heart. It's very clear that, beyond just being a summer blockbuster, Foster was hoping to mold an intelligent proverb on the risks involved in being a normal person in a world controlled by millionaires.

There are moments of true excitement, especially thanks to Jack O'Connell's clever turn as distraught Kyle Budwell. While he's technically the bad guy, the plot lends itself to some sympathetic notions in regards to his struggles. We've all been in that place where making a quick buck seems like the ticket to financial peace. Unfortunately, some risks do not end happily. Mixed with furor and innocence, Budwell becomes a representative of a vast majority.

This connection to Budwell offers the most compelling piece of the Money Monster puzzle. Living in the era of current and relevant media available at any time of the day, especially in regards to social media and breaking news, a similar event taking place would not only be harrowing, but completely captivating. Budwell becomes a sort-of blue collar hero to the masses, especially when leading Gates through Manhattan, with cameras still fixated on the turmoil at hand.

Far from perfect, Money Monster ultimately accomplishes what it sets out to do. It is more intelligent than many other summer offerings, saying more than it intends to, but still feels stilted in its overall drama. Clooney and Roberts do what they do best, but don't expect Money Monster to be part of the award season conversation.

Rating: R
Runtime: 1h 38min



The 69th Cannes Film Festival has officially concluded with I, Daniel Blake taking home the Palme d'Or.

This year's jury was headed by Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller and included cinema figures like Kirsten Dunst, Donald Sutherland, and others.

Other films and filmmakers to walk away with prizes were Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World and Andrea Arnold's American Honey.

Opening with Woody Allen's Cafe Society the 69th fest made headlines with controversial speeches (including opening night jabs at Allen's personal life) and red carpet glories (hello Blake Lively).

Here's a complete list of this year's winners:


I, Daniel Blake
Ken Loach


Xavier Dolan
It's Only the End of the World


Olivier Assays
Personal Shopper

Cristian Mungiu


Asghar Farhadi
The Salesman


Shahab Hosseini
The Salesman


Jaclyn Jose


American Honey
Andrea Arnold


Jean-Pierre Leaud


Uda Benyamina


Juanjo Gimenez


The Girl Who Danced with the Devil
Joao Paulo Miranda Maria