Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 7/08/16

The Secret Life of Pets (PG) 
Starring the voices of: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Dana Carvey
Directed By: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
The people who continue to bring us The Minions (in a short cartoon before the feature), continue with The Secret Life of Pets, a dog’s tale (or tail?) where a Jack Russell Terrier rules his NYC apartment building. The position of “top dog” is up for grabs when a fluff-covered mutt appears. The rivalry eventually leads them to dog-walking at cross purposes, capture by animal control, and a stint among the “flushed pets” abandoned by their owners. Similarities with Disney’s Lady and the Tramp will only occur to those old enough to fondly recall the Siamese cat duet, dog pound quartet and a romantic meal of spaghetti and meatballs. No Peggy Lee songs in this one, but Alexander Desplat’s jazz music brightens an animated film perfect for pet owners of all ages.
3 pieces of dog-gone-good toast

The Weiner Dog (R) 
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Kieren Culkin, Tracy Letts, Ellen Burstyn, Zosia Mamet
Directed By: Todd Solendz
Writer/director Todd Solendz adds The Weiner Dog to his list of “original” (aka “quirky”) films. The title character starts in a dog shelter where the crated animal is left by his former owner. Other humans become attached to the dachshund over the course of the film, and their interactions are told like a series of short films curated together because they all focus on the same topic. One of these shorts is a revisit with characters first introduced in Solendz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse. The nerdy teens reconnect in a Quickee-Mart, and take a road trip together with the dog. The last segment is a surrealistic journey into “what-might-have-been” when little girls describe a woman’s alternative lives if she had made different choices in her past.
2 and 1/2 pieces of seeing a filmmaker about a dog toast

Dog Lover: The Wrong Side of Right (R) 
Starring: Lea Thompson, James Remar, Alison Paige
Directed By: Ali Afshar
Filmed in Petaluma by Petaluma native Ali Afshar, this film about an animal rights activist who goes undercover at an illegal puppy mill has its Northern California premiere in Petaluma on Friday night.
Gil has not screened this movie

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in HIs Own Words (R) 
Directed By: Thorsten Schutte
Frank Zappa, the musician and composer who first gained attention in the band Mothers of Invention, reportedly hated being interviewed, so compiling a documentary using only recorded conversations is a bit of a challenge. The result is outstanding, especially those who only know Zappa from his 14-year-old daughter Moon Unit doing vocals on the hit single, Valley Girl. Surprisingly, the iconic rock musician who died way too young (of prostate cancer), primarily thought of himself as an ordinary guy with “four kids and a mortgage and all that crap.”
3 pieces of Zappa was an original toast

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (R)
Starring: Zac Effron, Anna Kendrick, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza
Directed By: Jake Szymanski 
A viral Craigslist ad turned into a book has been turned into a movie directed by a guy who makes 2-minute videos. Surprise, surprise, the result is an amalgamation of short scenes strung together like popcorn kernels at Christmas time. In other words, stale, bland, and really not worth consuming. The opening credits tell us what follows is based on a true story, sort of,” but we don’t care about anyone on screen so that really doesn’t matter. The premise is in the title. Two guys want dates for a Hawaiian weddiing. Since this supposed to be a sex-comedy, they assume the “Dates,” will include “benefits.” Of course the fact the the “dates” are crazed drug-addicts just adds to the hilarity—NOT!
1 and 1/2 pieces of competes with Dirty Grandpa as Zac Effron’s worst film toast