Tag Archives: Selena Gomez

Dolittle Jones


by George Wolf

Man, when I was a kid I wanted a Pushmi-Pullyu so bad.

I would try to get all the way through “If I Could Talk to the Animals” without messing up a lyric, and imagine how fun it would be to get one of those mythical Pushmis delivered in a crate, just like Rex Harrison in 1967’s original Dr. Dolittle.

Over thirty years later, Eddie Murphy ditched the tunes for a more straightforward comedic approach in two franchise updates, and now Robert Downey, Jr. steps in to move the doctor a little closer to Indiana.

Jones, that is.

But’s it’s Indy by way of Victorian-era Britain, as Young Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) calls on the famous animal-taking doctor with a dispatch from Buckingham Palace and an urgent plea to help the deathly ill Queen Victoria herself (Jessie Buckley).

As suspicions arise about Royal Dr. Mudfly (Michael Sheen) and the true nature of the Queen’s ills, Dolittle and friends (some human, most not) set sail on a grand adventure to acquire the cure from King Rassouli (Antonio Banderas), who just happens to be the father of Dolittle’s dear departed Lily (Kasia Smutniak).

Plus, there’s a big dragon.

Director/co-writer Stephen Gaghan (Syriana) re-sets the backstory with an animated fairy tale, then ups the ante on action while letting Downey, Jr. and a menagerie of star voices try to squeeze out all the fun they can.

From Emma Thompson to John Cena, Octavia Spencer to Rami Malek, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes and Kumail Nanjiani to Selena Gomez and more, the CGI zoo juggles personalities, while Downey curiously chooses a whispered, husky delivery that sometimes makes his Do a little hard to understand.

But, of course, he still manages to craft an engaging character, even centering the Dr. with a grief just authentic enough for adults without bringing down the childlike wonder.

This is a Dr. Dolittle set on family adventure mode, with plenty of talking animal fun for the little ones and a few clever winks and nudges for the parents. But as the start of a possible franchise, it’s more of a handshake than a high-five. It may not leave you with belly laughs or tunes stuck in your head, but it’s eager to please manner doesn’t hurt a bit.

Being in Love Means Never Having to Say “Slow Down!”


by Richard Ades


Just days after the events depicted in Before Midnight, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is still smarting from the emasculating attack he endured at the hands of Celine (Julie Delpy), the increasingly bitter love of his life. He returns to their Parisian home and is surprised to find it empty and in a state of disarray.

The phone rings. A strangely accented voice tells him he must steal a souped-up Mustang and perform a series of dangerous tasks if he ever wants to see Celine again.

There’s a long pause. “Well?” the voice asks.

“I’m thinking,” Jesse replies.

Obviously, that is not how Getaway begins. A flick that hopes to attract fans of Gone in Sixty Seconds and similar car-chase epics has no time for complicated relationships. It doesn’t even have time for exposition. Instead, director Courtney Solomon dives into the gear-gnashing, tire-squealing action before the opening credits even roll.

Via flashbacks and spare bits of dialogue, we learn that Brent Magna (Hawke) is a washed-up American racecar driver now living in Sofia, Bulgaria. We also learn that his Bulgarian wife (Rebecca Budig) has been abducted by a mysterious man (Jon Voight) who communicates with Brent through the car’s phone and threatens to kill her unless his instructions are followed to the letter.

Soon joined by the Mustang’s angry owner, a young woman known only as the Kid (Selena Gomez), Brent is ordered to perform tasks that mostly involve evading the police and always put the general public at risk. And because it’s the Christmas season, there’s a lot of general public around to be put at risk.

All of this could be entertaining if it weren’t for a couple of problems.

First, the movie suffers from unfortunate timing. In an early scene, Brent is told to drive at full speed through thick crowds of holiday revelers. Though he miraculously avoids hitting anyone, it’s an uncomfortable reminder of the Dodge-driving maniac who killed a bride and injured 16 others while plowing through a Los Angeles boardwalk crowd in early August.

More importantly, co-screenwriter and third-time director Solomon (An American Hauntingseems to have no knack for this kind of thing. The action is nearly nonstop and the destruction is massive, but frantic editing lowers the excitement level.

We see a tiny Bulgarian police car, and a split second later, it crashes. Where’s the fun in that? A last-minute chase, in which Solomon adopts the driver’s-view strategy pioneered by Bullitt (1968), offers one of the flick’s few heart-pounding moments.

Solomon’s attempts at humor also fall flat. They mostly call on the Kid to hurl insults at Brent, such as calling him a “shitty” driver—which is incongruous, considering he’s performing moves that could only be completed by someone who’s spent his life racing on Sundays and studying stunt driving the rest of the week.

In general, the talented Hawke and likable Gomez are limited to yelling at each other in the midst of all the mayhem, except during the rare quiet moments when the Kid uses her technological savvy in an attempt to figure out their tormenter’s motive. And he has one, of course, but don’t think about it too hard or you’ll start asking questions.

Getaway is designed to be mindless entertainment, after all. It’s just too bad that the mindlessness began before the first pedal was pressed to the metal.


More reviews and stories by Richard Ades can be found on his theater blog, columbustheater.org, and in the new weekly version of the Columbus Free Press, which launches Sept. 5.








For Your Queue: Princesses Gone Wild

We may be deep into summer vacation, but this week’s DVD releases include a great chance to revisit Spring Break!

With Spring Breakers, gonzo writer/director Harmony Korine gives us his most mainstream film to date.  Okay, it’s no Nicholas Sparks schmaltz-fest, but mainstream compared to Korine’s usual fare (Gummo, Trash Humpers). Four wild teenage girls (including former Disney princesses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens) head south for Spring Break, and soon meet up with rapper/gangsta “Alien” (a terrifically unhinged James Franco). From there, there is little law-abiding.

Korine has something to say here, and he says it pretty well. Outrageous, courageous, and often very funny, Spring Breakers is worth your time.

When Wednesday Addams decided she was through with family fare, she wasn’t kidding. Christina Ricci followed That Darn Cat – the last of her Disney work – with a slew of riveting, gritty indies including 1998’s Buffalo ’66. She plays Layla, a small town teen willingly abducted by parolee Billy (creepy as ever Vincent Gallo). Another tale of road trips, questionable male influences and the corruption of youth, Buffalo ’66 is a gripping surprise overflowing with fantastic performances. Plus there’s bowling!