Each Monday, Skokie Patch reviews a local restaurant and the latest movie in our Dinner and A Movie series. We've been running these for almost a year now and created this page so you could catch up on some of the reviews you may have missed.
Because there are so many, this list will be updated frequently, so don't fret if there is someplace missing from the list.
To read previous restaurant reviews,
It's Kind of a Funny Story was "Kind of Funny, Kind of Annoying," as our critic put it. Yet, with It's Kind of a Funny Story, the writing and directing team of Anna Bolden and Ryan Fleck so thoroughly sugarcoats the dark parts of the story that a movie about teen suicide and mental illness manages to be something of a crowd-pleaser. To read more
Red is remarkably ridiculous. Though its cast collectively holds three Academy Awards and ten nominations, this film never calls on anyone but explosion-movie perennial Bruce Willis and Weeds darling Mary-Louise Parker to actually do anything that resembles acting.
All the other Hollywood heavyweights involved in this film get to have oodles of innocuous fun, kicking ass and joking about they're all too old to kick ass. To read more,
I liked the first one way better. It kept me up at night and freaked me out. Yet It's not always the best idea for a small-budget horror film to attempt to recreate its grass-roots success through a sequel. Does anyone out there remember Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2? No? Well there's a reason for that.
To read our critic's review,
This is just crazy. How many Saw movies are there now? In our critic's words: "Saw 3D is pure torture."
Read the review by
This is one amazing movie. If you've missed it, then I encourage you to check out our review. It is hard to describe a movie as well done as 127 Hours without slipping into hyperbolic statements about how it's "the movie of the year," or "the performance of a lifetime," though the latter may very well be true for the film's sole lead (and almost only actor) James Franco of Pineapple Express, Milk, and the recent Howl.
To read more,
Unstoppable may be a bit predictable and contrived, but like its blue-collar heroes, it gets the job done. Walking a fine line between corny and exciting, the movie is an unswerving "men on a mission" thriller. Though it may not be great, it is head and shoulders above mediocre. Check out the full review by
While the most recent Potter adventure was a commercial success, the last installment was as confusing as a Dennis Miller joke.
There's an inherent problem with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and it's the "Part 1" part. There's no denying that this is only the dress rehearsal. Though it may be a fairly necessary one, Deathly Hallows nevertheless manages to be fairly convoluted and unsatisfying, at least for the muggles in the audience. To read more,
One of Disney's newest, Tangled, is a highly entertaining and heartwarming princess story that marks a nostalgic but triumphant return to form for its beleaguered animation studio, but the movie is also a sort of turning point for contemporary animation. To read more,
Perhaps our critics best review. Black Swan is a dizzying and disturbing exercise in art-house horror, but despite some great performances it can't quite hold itself together. It's a film that's lost in wild directorial pirouettes, visceral detail and nightmarish imagery. Read more by
It certainly wasn't considered the best movie, but "The Tourist" starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp was the first movie review to be paired with our weekly restaurant features. To read more,
Let's face the facts, Tron: Legacy is by no means a great movie. As an eye-sizzling CGI spectacle, however, it's simply amazing. Tron: Legacy, like its 1982 cult-classic predecessor, only does two things well: hitting a nerve with nerds and showcasing the cutting edge of special effects. Check out the full
December has been Jeff Bridges' month. Almost one year after winning his first Oscar with Crazy Heart and less than one week after appearing in dual roles in the flimsy but eye-catching Tron: Legacy, the Dude is back again with the Coen Brothers.
The brothers and Bridges haven't worked together since his iconic performance in 1998's The Big Lebowski. This time around, Bridges plays equal parts gruff and funny in the mostly solid but somewhat arbitrary new Western True Grit. Read more by clicking here.
Our critic said this would win best picture when most people had never even heard about it. The King's Speech is the type of historical biopic that gives history movies a good name. It's not at all surprising that it's on the Oscar shortlist for several little golden statues. After all where would Oscar season be without at least one critically well-loved flick about the British monarchy?
Check out the
Nicholas Cage, what happened to you? If you're looking for a few laughs, check out our critic's review of Season of the Witch by
The Dilemma is at best an inconsistent movie. Though it’s billed as a wacky bro-comedy in the vein of 40-Year-Old Virgin or I Love You Man, this mess never maintains the comedic even keel of those earlier and more enjoyable films.
Instead of letting itself be funny, The Dilemma tries too hard to be dramatic and insightful. It’s may be a surprisingly honest look at relationships for a comedy, but there in lies the problem. The Dilemma doesn’t know whether it wants to be juvenile or mature. Read more here.
One of these days someone will make a halfway intelligent comedy about the friends with benefits scenario but it seems we’ll have to wait. No Strings Attached is conventional in both its execution and its message: go ahead and screw around for a little while, as long as you eventually settle down. Read
Ever since The Exorcist scared the living daylights out of a generation, exorcism movies have tended to be substantially lacking. It’s a sub-genre that is distinctly dominated by its hallmark film. Just as no other zombie film will ever be Night of the Living Dead--though dozens have tried--no exorcism film will ever be The Exorcist.
The reason The Rite is somewhat surprising is that it doesn’t overtly try to emulate its predecessor. It certainly isn’t as scary or visceral as The Exorcist, but that may work to its advantage. This fairly tamed horror tale won’t gain any notoriety for being controversial. Read more by
Our critic called The Mechanic a lemon. Still, the review will give you some laughs. Check it out by
You don’t have to be from the Midwest to find Cedar Rapids funny but it probably helps. This new comedy starring Ed Helms and John C. Reilly shares many qualities with its regional setting in that it’s charming, honest, low-key and silly. It’s a crude by heartwarming comedy about looking for fun in Americas often stuck-up heartland. Read more by
It would be unfair to categorize Unknown as a bad movie, but it’s by no means great. Thrillers of this sort seem to have an identity crisis over how to develop and deliver original plot twists in a genre that has been done to death. Unknown doesn’t add much to Hitchcock’s stock genre, where a character is taken far away from home only to be confronted with and conspired against by forces beyond his understanding. Read more by
If Judd Apatow’s brand of guy-centric comedy were now considered the Coca Cola of intelligently juvenile humor, then the Farelly Brothers would fulfill the role of RC Cola or some store brand equivalent.
The comedy purveyors who once brought us Dumb and Dumber (1993) have proven that their brand is a lasting one, even if it’s based on cheap laughs and stale formulas. This isn’t highbrow material, but it may be satisfying to some of comedy’s easiest-to-please demographics. To read more,
Though perhaps not as lovable or touching as the recent Pixar heavyweights, Rango is stiff competition for other animated offerings coming out this year, and definitely worth rushing out to see. Weird, wacky and intelligent, Rango may be one of the first cult classics to come out of the recent mainstream popularity of CGI animation. To check out our review,
Boy, did our critic go off on this one. If you like to read bad movie reviews, this may just be up your alley. Check it out by
Comedies like Paul certainly don’t have to be great to be loveable, though to love them requires embracing your inner nerd without reservations.
(To watch an exclusive clip of 'Paul," click on the image to the upper right.)
A combination buddy comedy, road trip flick and sci-fi parody, Paul is tailor-made for those of us who were raised on Stephen Spielberg and Star Wars, and then grew up to enjoy Seth Rogen slacker comedies--if you can count that as growing up. Read more by
Though it may contain enough eye-candy to cause the average viewer insulin shock, all the CGI in the world can’t save Sucker Punch from its own ridiculous premise: a sexually abused 20-year-old girl finds solace in an elaborate video-game fantasy world that involves lots of machine guns, robots and skimpy leather outfits. To read more on this bust,
Smart, socially relevant science fiction doesn’t come to multiplexes all that often. So when you get one that’s as entertaining and head-scratching as it is a cerebral thriller, it’s kind of a box office godsend. To check out the full review of this locally shot film, click here.
I really want to check this one out, but haven't gotten around to it. Hanna is a superbly crafted action fable that offers star-making showcase for Saoirse Ronan. Check out the review by
I remember watching the first Scream when I was just 13-years-old. It scared the socks off of me. Wes Craven's latest installment reboots the Ghostface franchise and leans more toward amusing than scaring moviegoers. Read more by
What happened to Reese Witherspoon? She used to be one of the wittiest, most enjoyably sardonic actresses in Hollywood. After her marvelous debut in Robert Mulligan’s swan song, The Man in the Moon, Witherspoon went on to deliver memorable, often hilarious performances in films such as Freeway, Pleasantville and Election. In this review, our critic cites the lack of story in this romance film. Read more by
I'm not going to lie: I'm a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise. I know, the premise of the whole concept is just whack, but they're fun to watch. Our critic said the franchise was "out of gas." Read the review by
What the hell happened to Mel Gibson? The Beaver flew so under the radar and maybe it was for the best. This is a serious movie involving Mel Gibson and a hand puppet. Not joking
Some say this is a girl's version of The Hangover. Our critic doesn't think so. He happened to like this movie a lot. Read his review by
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a splendid title. It suggests that the Jerry Bruckheimer-Disney franchise has somehow regained its footing.
After an unnecessary trilogy caused the adventure yarn to lose any semblance of its initial charm, Bruckheimer ordered a reboot that promised to focus on the franchise’s most beloved character, Captain Jack Sparrow, an indelible creation of the endlessly inventive Johnny Depp. Read the full review by
I really want to check this one out.
Midnight in Paris is a warmhearted crowd-pleaser from the legendary Woody Allen. It marks the first time I’ve ever had to stand in line to see a new work from the staggeringly prolific filmmaker. My devotion to his films has been unflagging through all the ups and downs of his professional and personal life. Even his most flawed pictures have more flashes of brilliance than the vast majority of American cinema. Read more by
Too many characters, too little time. That in a nutshell has been the greatest challenge facing the cinematic adaptations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s beloved mutant squad, the X-Men.
While nearly all superhero vehicles hinge on a titular protagonist (a.k.a. “The Chosen One”), the X-Men films are overwhelmed by their sheer number of colorful characters with expensive superpowers. By condensing the narrative to the oversimplified level of SparkNotes, the X-movies routinely threaten to become little more than glorified effects exercises. Read the full review by
When attempting to review a children’s film, critics have a choice to make: either view the picture as they would any other new release or go a step further and attempt to reconnect with their younger self.
Some films are designed to function as harmless babysitters, and on that level, Mark Waters’ Mr. Popper’s Penguins gets the job done. On every other level, it fails miserably. Read the full
In our critic's words: "Cars 2 proves the franchise should be junked." Read the full
I've known Matt, our movie critic, since college. He is the most warmhearted, gentle human being I know. Yet he really hated this movie. So reading his review on the latest Transformers movie was quite the treat.
As an embodiment of everything that is wrong with modern American society and culture, Transformers: Dark of the Moon succeeds spectacularly.
To dismiss it as mindless entertainment is to miss the point entirely. Like Passion of the Christ and The Blind Side, this is the sort of mega-blockbuster that attracts viewers who don’t often attend movies. Its status as a cultural phenomenon should inspire film scholars to investigate precisely why it has connected with such a large section of the American movie going public.
Read the full