Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

In this Jumanji reboot, a group of high school kids (a jock, a nerd, a popular girl, and a brainy girl) are all in detention together. Their punishment is to go through a storage room full of old magazines that need the staples removed so they can be recycled. When one of the kids discovers an old video game console with the game Jumanji loaded, they connect it to a TV and try to play after they select their characters.

Suddenly, they are magically transported into the real life game and are shocked to find out that their game characters aren’t who they thought they were. The geek is the main character who’s strength is muscle and brawn (played by the Rock); the jock is a zoologist and the main character’s weapon’s valet (Kevin Hart); the brainy girl is a kick-butt woman ninja; and the popular girl is a male map expert (played by Jack Black).

Stranded in the jungle, they have to work together to restore the eye (a precious stone) of Jumanji while fleeing from a group of bad villains and just like a video game, they have to do so with only three lives.

This funny and adventure-filled movie will appeal to the whole family. Rated PG-13


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Happy Death Day

A sorority girl wakes up in the college dorm of a nerdy kid and can’t remember what happened the night before. She goes about her day (and she isn’t a very nice person, by the way). Although it happens to be her birthday, this is not a day she wishes to celebrate, as this is also the birthday of her mother, who died a few years earlier. At the end of the day, she is murdered, but she doesn’t know by who.

The next day, she wakes up in the same dorm room, and it’s the same day, and again she gets killed by the end. She keeps having the same nightmare of a day (Groundhog Day style) but is determined to find out who her killer is, and she learns a little bit about herself along the way.

You’ll find Happy Death Day to be not overly gory but still contains an intriguing premise for a horror flick. I also enjoyed the elements of mystery and humor. Rated PG-13

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Logan Lucky

When Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) is fired from his job, he convinces his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) and brother Clyde (Adam Driver) to help him rob the motor speedway during a NASCAR race. Although he’s convinced that the race track will be easy pickings, they’re going to need some help. The catch: besides the Logan family curse to contend with, the best safe cracker around (Daniel Craig) is currently doing time, and the two locals that he’s recommended may or may not be up for the job.

A great ensemble cast, fast paced action, and well placed humor make this movie a lot of fun to watch. Also featuring: Katie Holmes, Seth McFarlane, Jim O’Heir, Dwight Yoakum, and Hilary Swank. Rated PG-13

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As a Manhattan lawyer, Howard (Bryan Cranston) lives a very nice life in the suburbs with his wife and two daughters. Despite it all, Howard is feeling suffocated by his life, and one night during his commute home, when one thing after another goes wrong, Howard’s had enough. It’s very late by the time he gets home, and not wanting to answer any questions, Howard decides to hide out in the attic above the garage. What was supposed to be a short term solution becomes Howard’s life, as he extends his stay. From his attic perch, he watches his family, and re-examines his life and marriage.

Based on a short story by E.L Doctorow (read it here), this movie is a perfect vehicle to showcase Cranston’s talent. Watching Howard’s transformation and wondering what could possibly happen next, I found myself totally immersed in the story. Rated R. Also featuring: Jennifer Garner and Beverly D’Angelo. Definitely put this on your watch list!

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Better Watch Out

Seventeen-year old Ashley shows up to babysit twelve-year old Luke one more time before she moves. His parents are out at a Christmas party, and Luke has a plan to capture Ashley’s attention. He has been in love with her for some time, and tonight he will make his move. However, everything goes awry when they are confronted by a break-in and need to find a way to escape.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so that’s all I am going to say. This might have been a straight to DVD type movie, but it actually was a decent horror flick. Not too gory with a good twist viewers won’t see coming.

Also, if you are a fan of Stranger Things, be on the lookout for a small role from Dacre Montgomery who plays Billy Hargrove in Season 2 of ST. Rated R.

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The weirdness of this movie starts at the very beginning where none of the characters in this movie have names.  Jennifer Lawrence plays the young wife of a renowned poet (Javier Bardem), who has not written in years and suffers writer’s block. They live in an old house in what looks like a rural location. A man played by Ed Harris unexpectedly drops in, as he confuses their homestead as a bed and breakfast.

Bardem invites him in and allows him to stay, much to the wife’s chagrin. Then, Harris’ wife, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, arrives and is also invited to stay. The couple have a blatant disregard to Lawrence’s requests about her house, smoking when she has asked them not to or visiting Bardem’s home office, which she has said is off limits. Then the couple’s two grown children show up and an altercation over the father’s will ensues.

The movie only gets weirder from there, with Bardem finally able to write his next poem. The reaction from the public is bizarre, with them treating him like he is some sort of God and Lawrence the ultimate sacrifice. This movie isn’t for everyone, and you’ll be left baffled and confused unless you understand the deeper meaning, which went way over my head. Rated R.

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Home Again

Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon), daughter of a famous screenwriter and producer, moves back to LA to her childhood home after recently separating from her husband (Michael Sheen). It’s her 40th birthday, and she goes a little crazy with her friends where they end up dancing the night away with a group of twenty-something guys.

One of the guys, Harry, ends up in Alice’s bed while his two friends crash on the couch. The three guys (Harry, Teddy and George), who moved to LA in hopes of making it in Hollywood, are like homeless puppies, so Alice agrees to let them stay in her guest house until they can get back on their feet. They form a bond with Alice’s two daughters, and Harry and Alice embark on a flirtatious romance, even though she knows that it’s just a fling.

When Alice’s ex, Austen, drops in unexpectedly, he is not too happy with his family’s current living arrangement. Alice must learn to balance single motherhood in her unconventional new family.

Reese is always cute, but the whole premise was unbelievable and the acting just bad. If you can suspend belief and enjoy the requisite happy ending, then this movie is for you. Rated PG-13.