Tag Archives: John Goodman

Movie review: ‘Kong: Skull Island’ chest-thumping great time

“Kong: Skull Island” (PG-13)

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts brings out the best in the beast in “Kong: Skull Island,” an insanely entertaining update featuring the legendary movie monster.

While the film has its share of flaws, it doesn’t matter: “Kong” is summer popcorn movie that happens to have a March release date. With lots of bone-crushing action, explosions, mayhem, a great cast and an incredibly realistic rendering of King Kong, the movie franchise suddenly has a vibrant new life.

Set in 1973 after the end of the Vietnam War, the great thing about “Kong: Skull Island” is that it’s not a remake of “King Kong.” The action takes place almost entirely on Skull Island, and there’s no transporting Kong back to New York City to be put on display.

Here, Kong remains in his natural habitat in a virtually inaccessible island in the South Pacific, and he doesn’t like it when a secret government exploration team with a military escort invades his space. The problem, as the humans come to discover, is that Kong isn’t the only creature on the island, giving the movie an intense “King Kong” meets “Jurassic World” feel.

LINK: See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Francis Ford Coppola and more on his new YouTube channel.

While the star of “Kong ” is the title character, the film’s cast doesn’t entirely get lots in the island madness. While Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell and Samuel L. Jackson all fit the bill, the actor who steals the show is John C. Reilly as a pilot stranded on island for almost 30 years. From the very first time Reilly pops on the big screen with long, frizzy beard and looking like a madman, Reilly is a hoot.

Make sure to stick around for an after-credits scene, which sets up more “Kong” adventures. All told, “Kong: Skull Island” is a roarin’ good time.

Lammometer: 7.5 (out of 10)

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Movie review: ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

"10 Cloverfield Lane" (photo: Paramount)

By Tim Lammers

“10 Cloverfield Lane” (PG-13) 3 1/2 stars (out of four)

Producer J.J. Abrams has successfully pulled

a fast one over moviegoers once again with the brilliantly-conceived and marketed “10 Cloverfield Lane,” another underground (quite literally, in this case), super-secret movie project that came out of nowhere with a mysterious trailer two months back. Coming out eight years after his equally brilliant found footage horror thriller “Cloverfield,” “10 Cloverfield Lane” could hardly be considered a sequel. There are some similarities, though, however, slight, that will have film sleuths mulling over the whether the films are distant cousins. Perhaps through more “Cloverfield” chapters, somehow we’ll find that they tie together when all is said and done.

John Goodman gives a career performance as Howard, an extreme survivalist in the Deep South who is convinced that the world has come under attack, but is not sure how. Before he locked himself into his airtight bunker underneath his barn, he rescued, or so he says, a distraught woman, Michelle (an excellent Mary Elizabeth Winstead) woman who crashed her car as she fled her apartment after breaking up with her boyfriend (Bradley Cooper supplies the voice of the beau in a phone call). Waking up, chained to a wall in one of the bunker’s cells, Michelle is apparently being held captive for her own good because if she escapes her confines, she faces certain death with the polluted air outside. Also trapped down below is Emmett (an impressive John Gallagher Jr.), who helped Howard build the bunker when he realized the attack was underway.

Questioning Howard’s sanity – his theories range from a chemical attack, invasion by Russians or maybe even Martians – Michelle and Emmett struggle with their seemingly few options. On one hand, the bunker is stocked with years of supplies and they could live comfortably, only worrying about Howard’s instability and clues of his lurid past; or they could tempt finding a way to escape, even though there’s evidence outside to back up Howard’s theories of an attack.

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There’s no question Abrams is a genius shepherding young filmmakers through these lower-budgeted projects, and for the second film in a row (Matt Reeves expertly directed the first “Cloverfield”), the filmmaker has found an extremely talented director in Dan Trachtenberg, who creates a claustrophobic atmosphere throughout.

Staged about 80 percent of the time in the bunker, Trachtenberg creates an indelible slow-burn with “10 Cloverfield Lane,” as the tension – only broken occasionally by Gallagher’s well-placed comic relief – ratchets up in an unnerving manner throughout the film. The film has no predictable outcome and leaves you guessing throughout. Is Howard suffering some sort of paranoid psychosis and holding his captives for something more sinister? Is the air really contaminated outside, and why? Are there monsters outside? Is Howard the monster, or merely is he someone who is slightly off-kilter? The possibilities are endless until the last act of the film reveals the truth, which for obvious reasons, can’t be explained her.

One of modern film’s best character actors, Goodman steals the show in “10 Cloverfield Lane,” going places he’s never gone to in his career with the explosively unpredictable Howard. Of course, we all knew he could be funny, and he’s certainly had a his fair share delivering in dramatic roles. But “10 Cloverfield Lane” displays Goodman in an entirely new light. It’s great to see an actor of his stature, especially at this point in his career, willing to take risks instead of doing the same, old stereotypical roles for a paycheck. He may not be the model citizen of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” but he’s perfect person to dwell in the unpredictable world of “Cloverfield.”

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Movie reviews: ‘Love the Coopers,’ ‘Spotlight’

Diane Keaton and John Goodman in 'Love the Coopers' (CBS Films)

By Tim Lammers

“Love the Coopers” (PG-13) 3 stars (out of four)

If you’re looking to get into the Christmas spirit early you should at the very least like “Love the Coopers,” a dysfunctio

nal family comedy that avoids the trappings of the genre as it winds down to a predictable yet very sweet conclusion.

Diane Keaton and John Goodman star as Charlotte and Sam Cooper, whose marriage has soured after 40 years together. Wanting to gather their family together for one last Christmas before they split, the Coopers struggle to hold it together as their children and extended family each make their respective treks to the family household.

“Love the Coopers” plays out in five individual stories before the family gathering, as we follow the complicated lives of Cooper children Hank (Ed Helms) and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), grandpa Bucky (Alan Arkin), Charlotte’s sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei), and of course, Charlotte and Sam.

Hank is going through a divorce and is in search of a job, while Eleanor has a mess of a love life until she meets a soldier (Jake Lacy) on leave. Bucky, a lonesome widower, is distraught that his good friend, Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) is moving away; while Emma struggles to come to terms with her longtime sibling rivalry with Charlotte. Also involved wrapped up in the family trials are a taciturn police officer (Anthony Mackie), an eccentric aunt (June Squibb) and Hank’s estranged wife (Alex Borstein) and their lovelorn teenage son, Charlie (Timothee Chalamet).

“Love the Coopers” feels like a number of different films, from “Home for the Holidays” to “A Christmas Story,” because the story is aided with a wise, introspective narration. It also feels a lot like “Love, Actually,” because it starts out with separate stories that eventually intertwine.

Despite its shortcomings, “Love the Coopers” works because it could have easily gone the way of a screwball comedy, yet instead relies on its gifted cast’s talents as actors whom possess natural gifts for both drama and comedy. It has a surprising blend of humor and poignancy, all while telling us a story we all know too well: Families are complicated. But since the Coopers are loaded with family members you can relate to, don’t be surprised if you leave the film with a big smile on your face.

“Spotlight” (R) 3 1/2 stars (out of four)

Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams head up an all-star cast in writer-director Thomas McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” a compelling film about the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team’s investigation into the Boston Archdiocese child sex abuse scandal – a report that led to a falling out in the Catholic Church and exposure of hundreds more scandals in parishes nationwide.

Set largely in 2001 – in the days before the Wild West journalism of the Internet (and a sad reminder of how investigative journalism is currently on life support) – “Spotlight” follows editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) as the team digs into allegations of child molestation against defrocked priest John Geoghan. As it turns out, Geoghan is only the tip of a very large iceberg, leading the reporters to groundbreaking investigation into the Catholic Church’s cover-ups of child sex abuse by defrocked, and in some cases, reassigned, priests.

“Spotlight” runs the gamut of emotions. You’ll feel sadness hearing the tragic revelations of abuse survivors in interviews conducted by reporters; and anger when you see the thinly-veiled threats by the church’s powerful supporters as Spotlight is urged to back off its investigation. There’s also frustration as journalists desperately try to get sensitive court documents unsealed, and disbelief as the reporters uncover a coded system in the church’s records to detect how priests accused of abuse were dealt with in a very large and convoluted system.

In the end, “Spotlight” is a very difficult film to watch, but an important film to watch nonetheless. It’s easily one of the best films of the year.