Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 12/22/17

Darkest Hour (PG-13)
Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ronald Pickman, Ben Mendelsohn
Directed by: Joe Wright
In Darkest Hour, it’s 1940,the Nazis are invading France, and the 21 mile width of the English Channel seems to offer scant protection for Great Britain. Rising to the challenge is British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (played by Gary Oldman in full speechifying mode), and the nearly miraculous mobilization of Dunkirk. We’ve been awash with different actors portraying Churchill, and it seems obvious that capturing the totality of this larger-then-life, once-in-a-century individual, is beyond the powers of mere mortals. One distraction is that the musical score fails at presenting the nuanced reality of these goings-on, and is often so loud that it drowns out Churchill’s wisdom.
3 and 1/2 pieces of catch it for Gary Oldman’s Oscar-worthy performance toast

Downsizing (R)
Starring: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Maribeth Monroe, Jason Sudeikis, Rolf Lassgard, Margo Martindale, Hong Chau
Directed by: Alexander Payne
“Everything is better when you are small,” is the advertising ploy used to get people to sign up for the Norwegian process of shrinking down to 5 inches in height. Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig play the Omaha, Nebraska couple who volunteer. Obviously, the couple never studied Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, or The Incredible Shrinking Man, and are completely unprepared for the realities of living in a downsized community, especially when she backs out at the last moment and opts to stay “full-sized.” Writer/director Alexander Payne adroitly handles this film’s multiple messages in a bemused and delightfully off-kilter manner.
3 pieces of it’s not easy being small toast

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (PG)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Karern Gillan, Nick Jonas
Directed by: Jake Kasden
Four stereotyped teens (jock, brain, wimp and babe) are magically transformed into the game avatars they selected to play an “ancient” video game. The wimp becomes a muscular, self-effacing “expert” with a “smoldering look.” The brain develops sex appeal and long, shapely legs, the football star becomes a wise-cracking, short-statured fellow maned Mouse, and when the babe selected “a curvy genius cartographer” she did not envision Jack Black’s body. It takes awhile for these teens to learn to utilize their avatar’s skill sets, but fortunately, the game gives them two extra lives. The McGuffin everyone is searching for, is the gigantic emerald eye missing from a jaguar statue. If you are looking for a fun afternoon, this movie is a perfect fit. It even manages to build in a couple of moral lessons along the way.
3 pieces of they got me when they hired Dwayne Johnson toast

Pitch Perfect 3 (PG-13)
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Seinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, John LIthgow, Elizabeth Banks
Directed by: Trish Sie
Since the first two films about a group of misfits singing together to win the Acapella World Championships has earned over $400 million, there had to be a sequel. This is it. Despite recent YouTube videos of singing grocery clerks, shoe sellers and fish mongers, there aren’t that many ways to make money by simply opening your mouth in song. Having paid no attention at all to my wise advice about mistakes other film series made in their third try, this franchise sends the singers to Europe (on a USO tour no less) for what is billed as “one last time.”
1 and 1/2 pieces of everyone except Rebel Wilson is running on empty toast

The Greatest Showman (PG)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, MIchelle Williams, Zrndaya, Paul Sparks
Directed by: Michael Gracey
Phineas T. Barnum was The Greatest Showman of the 19th Century. Barnum turned “big time” by purchasing Joice Heath, the “161-year-old” blind slave he claimed was George Washington’s nurse and selling tickets to see her in person. His Manhattan “museum” of oddities included humbug artifacts like the top half of a stuffed monkey sewn on to the lower portion of a fish and billed as the “Fejee Mermaid” as well as true wonders like the six-ton elephant he called Jumbo, a dapper-dressed midget called Tom Thumb, and the opera singing Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind. After the museum burned down, he partnered with circus manager George Bailey to create the traveling circus Barnum dubbed “The Greatest Show On Earth.” The filmmakers decided to ignore or modify historic details and instead showcase some mediocre pop songs intended for the ears of a 2017 audience. The end result is a hyperactive something-or-other with instantly forgettable songs that quickly becomes profoundly dull.
2 pieces of they should have hired Baz Luhman to make this really The Greatest toast

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