Tag Archives: Ashley Judd

Four’s a Crowd


by Rachel Willis

After a deadly virus strikes, a trio of women turn their home into a sanctuary, cut off from the outside and safe in director Alec Tibaldi’s film, Lazareth.

As years pass in this virus-plagued world, we watch Lee (Ashley Judd) and her nieces Maeve (Sarah Pidgeon) and Imogen (Katie Douglas) carve out rituals and chores to keep themselves going. With a truck that somehow still works, Lee makes trips into town for supplies, but as she warns the girls, things in town are bad.

There is a lot of information given in a small amount of time that stretches the thin cord of belief. After so many years, it’s hard to accept there are certain items still available. However, it’s interesting to see how these three women work together to maintain their fragile existence. As the film progresses, we get answers to several questions, but some things remain vague.

The two sisters, Maeve and Imogen, are the film’s strongest characters. Having little experience of the world prior to the pandemic, they rely on their aunt to keep them safe. Most of what they believe is taken on faith.

It seems as though writer/director Alec Tibaldi expects much of the same from the audience. It’s never clear what Lee’s motivations are. When Maeve’s eyes are open to various truths, her choices are unfathomable. Imogen never has much chance to develop as more than “girl smitten with new boy,” which, to be fair, isn’t too far out of the realm of possibility as she’s a teenage girl who’s never met a boy before.

The boy in question, Owen (Asher Angel), quickly threatens to upend Lee’s fragile world. The tightrope Lee has been walking threatens to fall from under her.

There is some tension after Owen arrives, but it’s never quite enough to make us fearful for our trio of survivors. We also don’t spend enough time getting to know who they are to care what happens to them, and the characters do things that contradict what we think we know of them.

If done well, these surprises can keep audience off balance, but when done poorly, it’s another thorn in a viewer’s side. Lazareth is an island surrounded by thorns, never giving anyone a chance to learn much of anything.

Puppy Love

A Dog’s Way Home

by George Wolf

After the sledgehammer schmaltz of A Dog’s Purpose last January, director Charles Martin Smith takes over for the latest adaptation of a W. Bruce Cameron canine tale and chooses wisely by making a straight up kid’s movie.

Martin has the two Dolphin Tale films on his resume, so he knows his way around a family film, and I’m guessing he knew the only chance this one had was to aim it squarely at the youngest in the house.

Just think of it as Bryce Dallas Howard reading a big screen picture book to your kids for 90 minutes, as cute puppy Bella (voiced by Howard) over-explains all the goings on from the moment we meet her as a stray.

She’s adopted by Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and his mom Terri (Ashley Judd), and things are great until Bella runs afoul of the overly strict dog laws in Denver (who knew?). She’s taken in by friends in New Mexico until Lucas can sort it out, but homesickness leads to a backyard jailbreak, and Bella sets off on the long journey back to Colorado.

Bella gets into plenty of adventures along the way as her path crosses friendly people, mean people, CGI animal friends, predators and an amusing picnic-basket stealing or two.

Like A Dog’s Purpose, everything is painted with the broadest brush available. It is Martin’s altered viewpoint that makes this one much less painful to endure, even providing subtle teachable moments concerning diversity, veterans, homelessness and even same-sex couples.

Pretty good dog.

And, really, Denver, what gives with those outdated laws?