June 9, 2017, - 4:36 pm

Wknd Box Office: Megan Leavey, The Mummy, Paris Can Wait, It Comes At Night, My Cousin Rachel

By Debbie Schlussel



I really liked two of the new movies in theaters this weekend. Finally, things are getting better at the box office. At least, this weekend.



* Megan Leavey – Rated PG-13: This is a very touching, patriotic, terrific movie about a real-life American Marine dog handler and her canine. It’s also a tear jerker and is very moving, especially at the end when we see the real Megan Leavey onscreen. I very much enjoyed it. Although at times it borders on animal rights craziness regarding the love of a human and her dog, I’ve never served on a battlefield, and I definitely haven’t been on one with a specially trained dog, saving American servicemen’s lives. That creates a special bond. And this film captures it.

Kate Mara is Megan Leavey, who, along with her dog, helped save many American lives in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart. As the movie tells it, she was a young woman who is a loser and has everything going wrong with her life. She can’t hold onto a job, did drugs with her best friend (who died from them), and has a poor relationship with her lacking mother. But one day, on a lark, she joins the U.S. Marine Corps and thrives, rising to the occasion and meeting and exceeding the challenge.

Unfortunately, she screws up again. And it earns her time cleaning out the cages of bomb-sniffing dogs. It was meant to be, because this sparks her interest in working with the dogs, a difficult assignement to get. She strives to make it to the unit that features bomb-sniffing dogs and their Marine handlers. Soon, she excels enough to make it to that unit, and she ends up with a very vicious dog whom she tames and bonds with. Then, she’s shipped off to Iraq. The movie takes place when America still maintained a very active and more significant presence there.

The thing I most enjoyed about this movie is that I learned things, like how the dogs and their human Marine partners are often the first to be wounded, the first to be killed. It’s logical, but not something I ever really thought about. This movie vividly captures what they do. The dogs and their Marine handlers are in front of the front lines of war, and they often get blown up in trying to detect bombs, sparing everyone else. I also learned that the Marine dog handlers are not supposed to tell even the names of their dogs to the Iraqis and other hostiles. That’s because the enemy will then use the dogs’ names to distract the dogs and attempt to get them away from their handlers. Again, logical, but, again, something I never thought about.

This movie isn’t politically correct either. The Marines occasionally refer to the Muslims in subtly un-PC ways, including “hajjis,” which Muslims don’t like (but which is actually way too nice of a name for them). So sad, too bad. And the movie shows some of the killing and other horrible stuff the Muslims did to our troops (though it’s not a big part of the movie). And it portrays some of the sacrifices made by our armed forces. I also liked that Megan Leavey’s father is shown as a good, decent, hard-working, supportive father who is an important influence in his daughter’s life. Hollywood doesn’t often show that, and I appreciate it when fathers are portrayed positively in movies and other pop culture output.

I could have done without a brief stock portrayal of a commanding officer as a racist bigot. I would not be surprised if the comments attributed to the commander are fictional dialogue meant to make the movie more dramatic. Either way, they are unnecessary and take away from the movie. But they’re a tiny aside, and over all the movie is very good, even if it features a much more handsome guy playing the brief role of the loathsome (though not in this movie) liberal Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

While the whole world is heaping unearned praise on “Wonder Woman” (read my review) and its overrated director Patty Jenkins because she is a woman, the praise should instead be heaped on this real-life Wonder Woman and her on-film portrayal by Mara, along with this film’s terrific female director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

THREE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* The Mummy – Rated PG-13: I never saw the original “The Mummy” movie, but as with most other reboots, I’m not sure why this was and is necessary (other than to earn Hollywood types, including star Tom Cruise, a big paycheck). If the original Mummy movie was anything like this, I’m glad I missed it. This is a mess.

About the first 25% of the movie is fine, but then it just becomes a totally ridiculous mess and never recovers. I mean, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Russell Crowe, who famously attacked Jewish circumcision but not the Muslim kind)? Really? That needed to be inserted into this movie? Only because the scriptwriters wrote such a weak, awful cyclone of a story. The tornado of a script picks everything up in ts whirlwind and then throws it to the ground, severely damaged.

In the original Mummy movie, the mummy is male. In this one, it’s a woman–an Egyptian princess (Moroccan actress, Sofia Boutella), who is robbed of her birthright when her father, the Pharoah, has a male heir. Yup, somehow this faux-feminist story is a justification for the chick mummy’s evil . . . or something. It’s hard to tell which way the movie is rooting, since it’s all over the place.

The movie begins with the mummy-ette’s story, then fast forwards to contemporary times when American troops are still in Iraq (this is the second movie like that this week). Cruise and a fellow former soldier are dealers in stolen antiquities looted from the Middle East (there’s Hollywood’s anti-Western, evil-White-man-takes-from-the-Muslims narrative again). They are in the mountains, scoping out the ancient Iraqi city of Nineveh (which was Assyrian, back in the day). The city is now in the control of insurgents and they end up in the crossfire. Soon the insurgents are vanquished and leave, as a sinkhole swallows everything and reveals an ancient Egyptian tomb–that of the aforementioned Egyptian princess. Cruise, the other guy, and a sexy female archeologist enter the tomb and Cruise ends up freeing the princess’ tomb from a bath of mercury, allowing her spirit to come back to life. On the way back to the West, the princess’ evil spirit causes an air disaster over the UK. Then, the story starts moving and gets very stupid very quickly.

Cruise, who should be dead, is miraculously alive and constantly sees the possessed ghost of his fellow antiquities robber. Cruise learns that the sexy archeologist is really evil and an acolyte of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But then he is allied with her against the mummy. It doesn’t make sense, nor does most of this movie. The rest of the movie revolves around the mummy trying to get a sword re-united with a magical jewel that will complete the restoration of her powers and ability to destroy humanity. Or something. It’s kinda confusing. And apparently the sword is buried in an old (but newly discovered) Crusader burial ground under the London subway.

HUH? Yeah, I know. It’s absurd.

And not worth your ten-bucks-plus or nearly two hours of your life you’ll never get back.

ONE MARX
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Watch the trailer . . .

* Paris Can Wait – Rated PG: I enjoyed this nice, light, relaxing movie, despite the brief presence of Alec Baldwin in it. I almost always like Diane Lane, and you usually can’t miss (with one exception, “Untraceable” – read my review) when she headlines something. This is consistent with that.

This movie is not only entertaining and enjoyable, but it’s like a really great travelogue of France, minus Paris, and minus Muslims. Even if you’ve been to and traveled throughout France before, this movie has obscure sites and places you’ve likely never seen. And there is a lot of delectable food in this, so don’t go see it on an empty stomach. It’ll make you hungry. On top of that, the story is cute, even if it has some echoes of previous Diane Lane movies, such as “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

The story: Lane is the wife of a workaholic movie producer (Baldwin). They are in Europe on business. Baldwin has to make a brief stopover (as I recall, it’s in Rome), but Lane has a very bad ear infection and chooses to forgo the trip on a private plane, fearing her ears will pop and hurt even more. She chooses to go straight to Paris, and Baldwin’s French producing partner offers to drive her there. But the man, who is single and never married, has ulterior motives. He takes a romantic interest in Lane and uses the trip–and the many diversions on which he takes her–to try to seduce her. The trip involves many sumptuous meals and very interesting detours, including to a fabric and design museum featuring beautiful embroidered materials, and so on.

The movie is charming, airy, and beautifully shot. You really get to know the two main characters (Lane and actor Arnaud Viard) through their conversations about their lives and their attitudes toward certain social situations. And as Viard, a typical, lascivious Frenchman, repeatedly tries to work his moves on Lane, she is always a lady. I particularly liked the ending. But it is getting there that is so entertaining and enjoyable.

Guys, if you must take your female significant other to a movie, this is a far-more-than-bearable chick flick. In fact, I think you’ll really like it. If you choose to hold your nose and shell out money for a movie that involves Mr. Baldwin (though ever so briefly). If you do, at least rest assured that Baldwin plays the same kind of lout he is in real life. So, he isn’t really acting.

A bonus: this is an adult movie for adults–not because it’s sexual or anything like that. On the contrary, it’s adult because it isn’t hypersexualized, vulgar, or filled with action and special effects for those with an attention span of a fly. It’s the conversation that is the charm, along with the scenery.

THREE REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* It Comes At Night – Rated R: Don’t ask me why they chose to call this, “It Comes At Night.” Nothing really ever comes at night in this movie that doesn’t also come by day. And it’s not that scary or even close. It’s supposed to be a horror film and a thriller. Instead, it’s an empty, crummy rip-off of “The Walking Dead,” minus the zombies. And, while it is entertaining in the promising lead-up to something, there is ultimately no entertainment here, unlike TWD. This is a slow bore. Nothing really ever happens. There’s no payoff. Instead, it all amounts to a pile of unsatisfying, depraved killing porn.

I like a good post-apocalyptic movie. But this isn’t it. It’s an empty shell of what it could have been. Instead of substance and a good story, it just hints at that and nothing every materializes. It’s a dead end and a piece of garbage. It sets up for something so much better and just ends with an empty but loud thud.

The story: a husband (Joel Edgerton, the biggest name in this movie), his wife, and his son live in a boarded up house. They are putting the sick grandfather to death . . . or rather, “out of his misery.” He’s sick with something and can barely breathe. Eventually, we learn that there has been some sort of plague of disease or sickness that has killed most people. Those who remain are out for themselves, trying to feed themselves and survive.

One night, a man shows up to the house and breaks in. They don’t know him. He insists he thought the house was abandoned. They tie him up for a day or so. Eventually, he tells them he has a wife and a son, and he’s just looking for food and water for them. Soon, Edgerton and his wife invite the man to bring his wife and son and their animals to live with them. This way, they can pool food and water and join forces to defend their fortress home. But all does not proceed as planned. For anybody.

There is a series of creepy scenes in which Edgerton’s 17-year-old son eavesdrops on the new couple, including while they have sex and so on. Yes, not a high-brow movie, despite showing hints that it could have been.

The movie is chock full of graphic violence and blood, but to what end? You feel empty and bereft of any joy or sense of entertainment and escapism when you walk out of this movie. It’s, in the end, a giant tease that promised a lot and then delivered a giant, steaming turd.

A total letdown and disappointment.

ONE-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

* My Cousin Rachel – Rated PG-13: I’m not really sure what the point of this period-piece thriller/mystery is. It’s hardly thrilling or mysterious because the movie gives everything away virtually from the beginning. We can predict everything that will happen. It’s all loudly telegraphed through loud, dramatic music, and overt warnings by every other character toward the lead. We know the woman he’s seeking is bad for him, but he won’t listen to even a shred of common sense or reason. This happens from about 20 minutes in and never lets up. So what’s the point? We know what will happen. We’ve been there and seen that before. And, so, there’s not really a payoff.

Moreover, there’s a somewhat confusing ending that is supposed to be a payoff, but how can it be? It doesn’t make sense, really, as any sort of payoff for what we already knew was happening and an unlikely way of stopping it. To say more explicitly what I mean, would be to spoil the movie–such that it could be spoilable, which really isn’t the case. There isn’t much suspense here.

And while the movie is, indeed, entertaining, the best part of it is the beautiful, specific attention to detail for the costumes and sets of this movie that apparently takes place in the 1800s, mostly in England, with a few brief scenes in Italy. The movie is based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel, which perhaps doesn’t really stand the test of time in terms of more contemporary, more tightly-written, less-predictable mystery novels.

The story: a young English boy, Philip (Sam Claflin) from a wealthy family is an orphan. And so he is raised by his wealthy cousin, who is more like an uncle to him. As he’s gotten older, the uncle-esque cousin has fallen ill and moves to Italy to be closer to the sun and warmer weather. He writes letters to his younger cousin, whom he raised. At first the letters are gushing and happy, telling of Rachel (Rachel Weisz), the new woman in the sick man’s life. He marries her. But, then, dire letters begin arriving, telling of the uncle’s ever-worsening health and blaming it entirely on Rachel, who the sick cousin claims is poisoning and killing him. When Philip goes to look after his cousin in Italy, he finds that the cousin is dead. He returns to England, and prepares to receive his cousin’s widow, Rachel.

At first, Philip is disdainful of Rachel and expects to hate her. But when she arrives, Philip is quickly charmed, easily seduced, and soon falls in love with her. He wants to give her everything that was once his deceased cousin’s, her deceased husband’s.

Is Rachel truly in love with Philip, or is she just charming him to get what she wants? Did she murder his uncle or even drive him to his death? Or is she just an honest grieving widow?

I feel dumb asking these questions, because given the obvious set-up, we know what the answers will be. And that’s why there’s really no excitement or surprise about what will and, eventually, does happen.

This movie might have been better suited to 50 years ago. But, again, its cinematography, costuming, and set design are beautiful to watch. And it is somewhat entertaining.

ONE REAGAN
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Watch the trailer . . .

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12 Responses

I predict that The Mummy will not be an in-flight movie.

Steve G on June 9, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Hi Dear Debbie thanks for sharing there are moovies that i really like and there are moovies that i do not like at all God bless you sincerlly Tirdad.

TIRDAD GHARIB on June 10, 2017 at 7:50 am

The leaves story is a great one. This woman is from my home county in NY. The articles in the local paper were great. She really loved that dog and schumer fir once helped do something nice. This woman deserves respect and paid the price by suffering some brain damage and hearing loss,

She finally brought the dog home and they were happy together with the time they had. Now she is working for the Yankees. The movie if accurate is the feel good positive story we coukd use in this country right now.

Glen Benjamin on June 10, 2017 at 1:44 pm

The one movie I have been looking forward to is Megan Leavey and am so glad you gave it such a positive review Debbie.I must admit I’m one of those crazy animal rights people but nowhere to the extreme to many of these people.I HATE dog fighting and think Michael Vick is one of the biggest scumbags to walk this planet.Puppy Mills are commercial breeding places which sell purebred dogs to pet stores and individuals.They are horrible places with dogs crammed in filth filled cages which is why my motto is adopt don’t shop from your local shelter or rescue place.But I don’t think every cattle or dairy farmer is evil,that every zoo should be closed down and all animals be released back to the wild.That borders on insanity!
I have had debates with other animal people about this exact subject this movie deals with bomb sniffing dogs.They tell me that the dogs might die and that is cruel to the dog.My point to them is sure it’s terrible if dogs die but if they save soldiers lives which they do it’s worth the sacrifice.In a perfect world no one would have to die in war human or animal but we are fighting a dark evil with Islam who cares not who they kill.
I’m glad that the military is mostly shown in a good light and Muslims are portrayed as evil for once.And even Chuck Schumer actually did one good thing in his pathetic political career.I think there is a law now that when a trainer and their dog are done with their tour of duty the dog is sent home with them and not left in the foreign country which I think is wonderful!Your right Debbie Megan Leavey is the real Wonder Woman.I really hope this movie does well at the box office.

Todd on June 11, 2017 at 3:57 pm

The original, The Mummy (1932), with Boris Karloff, was the best.

JEFFERY TOPPS on June 12, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I agree. The scene where the one archeologist goes mad is still great 85 years later. And who can top Karloff being creepy in his movies???

    Concerned Citizen on June 12, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Watched the Megan Leavey movie today, and pretty much liked it. As noted above, it was uplifting to see how someone started as a loser, but quickly turned things around after joining the military.

I normally am not an animal lover nor a pet person, but I did appreciate that in this movie, given how Rex almost seemed to mirror the commanding officers – on how he was rough at first, but softened as he got to know Megan more. Also, how Megan’s tryst w/ him started w/ her being sentenced to cleaning the kennel, and then deciding that that was her calling.

Also, I was positively surprised how her mom was shown in a poor light, while her dad was really supportive, and gave her good lessons. Something not usually seen from Hollywood.

Infidel on June 12, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Wow that is a great tale about Meagan. On the Paris can Wait film I think it should be revealed to young adults (<20) as an example of what mature adults can get in to and how they react to those kinds of situations. I always recall in my younger years then that it was said to me the 10 commandments are there so "it will go well with you" as you get along in life. Major tenets for the economy of life. Cool beans.

jake49 on June 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm

I like Tom Cruise. He’s never told me to vote for Obola, put down Pres. Trump or babbled about gun control.

Plus the trailer looks fun. Will definitely see this.

DS_ROCKS! on June 13, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Debbie is great, but learned long ago that I have to dissect her reviews carefully – it’s like hearing reviews from my wife.

I definitely could not care less about “scenery” or “costumes” or “light” fare. For $13.50 plus $8 for a Diet Soda, I want to be rocked and stunned by what they put in front of my eyes.

Maybe Debbie could add a new “chick flick” icon (maybe a picture of Ryan Gossamer or a flower) to adequately warn us masculine types – lol (I’m not kidding)

DS Rocks!! on June 13, 2017 at 6:58 pm

DS is our go to source for Hollywood films I probably will never pay a dollar to see. thank you for sifting through the garbage for us.

Noah David Simon on June 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Just watched “Nowhere To Go” 1958 on TCM. What a good movie. Good story, good attractive actors and some good twists and turns. George Nader, Maggie Smith and Bernard Lee star. Black and white movie that did not let us down. Good dialog and easy to understand not like the so called “actors” of today who mumble.

Fred on June 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

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