"Penguin Bloom"

"Penguin Bloom"

Rating system:  (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)


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“Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar” (PG-13) (1.5) [Crude sexual content, drug use, and some strong language.] [Available Feb. 12 on various VOD platforms.] — After two dimwitted, lifelong friends (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig) lose their jobs at a Nebraska furniture store in this wacky, over-the-top, nonsensical, music dotted, intermittently funny, star-studded (Damon Wayans Jr., Wendi McLendon-Covey, Reba McEntire, Tommy Bahama, Phyllis Smith, Michael Hitchcock, Rose Abdoo, Reyn Doi, and Kwame Patterson), 105-minute comedic spoof, they decide to go Florida on vacation and end up in the middle of a silly murder plot by a once bullied, revengeful, pasty white, villainous woman (Kristen Wiig) and her smitten, handsome accomplice (Jamie Dorman) to kill everyone in town by releasing thousands of deadly mosquitoes.

“Daughter from Danang” (NR) (3) [Partially subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — A heartbreaking, moving, tension-filled, 2002 documentary about the traumatic, unexpected experiences of 22-year-old mother Heidi Neville-Bub who leaves her military husband John and young daughters Jessica and Kaitlin in Tennessee to return to her birth mother Mai Thi Kim in Vietnam who gave her up for adoption in 1975 during Operation Babylift.

“The Karate Kid” (PG) (3.5) [Bullying, martial arts action violence, and some mild language.] [DVD and VOD only]— When a young African-American boy (Jaden Smith) moves from Detroit with his widowed mother (Taraji P. Henson) to Beijing and finds himself the target of a bully (Zhenwei Wang) and his friends to the dismay of a young violinist (Wenwen Han) in this inspirational, entertaining, well-paced, 150-minute remake of the 1984 film, a skilled, widowed Chinese mechanic (Jackie Chan) reluctantly agrees to train him in the art of kung fu after a mean-spirited martial arts master (Rongguang Yu) challenges the student to compete in an upcoming tournament.

“Killers” (PG-13) (2) [Violent action, sexual material, and language.] [DVD and VOD only]— An enjoyable, action-packed, cameo-dotted (Martin Mull and Usher Raymond) albeit silly, preposterous comedy about a Maalox-popping computer executive (Katherine Heigl) who meets a suave, handsome man (Ashton Kutcher) in France while vacationing with her parents (Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara) and then learns three years later that her husband and neighbors (Rob Riggle, Casey Wilson, et al.) are not who they claim to be.

“Marmaduke” (PG) (3) [Some rude humor and language.] [DVD and VOD only]— After a rambunctious Great Dane (voiceover by Owen Wilson) moves from Kansas to Orange County with his ambitious owner (Lee Pace) and his family (Judy Greer, Caroline Sunshine, Finley Jacobsen, and Mandy and Milana Haines) when the workaholic owner (William H. Macy) of an organic pet food company offers the Midwest marketing executive a promotion in this smile-inducing, family-oriented, fun comedy, the 160-lb. canine tries to fit in with other mutts (voiceovers by Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan, George Lopez, Marlon Wayans, Damon Wayans Jr., Sam Elliott, et al.) at the dog park while falling for a pure-bred collie (voiceover by Stacy Ferguson) who is dating a bully (voiceover by Kiefer Sutherland).

“Minari” (PG-13) (3.5) [Some thematic elements and a rude gesture.] [Partially subtitled] [Played Feb. 11 as part of AARP’s Movies for Grownups, opened Feb. 12 in theaters, and available on various VOD platforms.] — When a hardworking, idealistic, proud Korean immigrant (Steven Yeun) moves his reluctant wife (Han Ye-ri) and their two children (Alan Kim and Noel Kate Cho) from California to the Ozarks in Arkansas during the 1980s to fulfill his American dream of becoming a farmer with the help of an eccentric, evangelical Christian (Will Patton) in Lee Isaac Chung’s compelling, touching, heartwarming, well-written, critically acclaimed, poignant, superbly acted, 115-minute autobiographical film, he tries to stop bickering with his discontented, unhappy wife whose elderly, card-playing, foul-mouthed, minari-seed-planting mother (Youn Yuh-jung) just arrived from Korea while struggling to be successful in his new venture and making his wife proud of him.

“Penguin Bloom” (NR) (3) [Netflix Only] — When nightmare-plagued, wheelchair-bound former Australian surfer Samantha Bloom (Naomi Watts) becomes a paraplegic while vacationing in Thailand with photographer husband (Andrew Lincoln) and three young sons (Griffin Murray-Johnston, Felix Cameron, and Abe Clifford-Barr) in this engaging, factually based, inspirational, moving, well-acted, 95-minute film highlighted by wonderful scenery and photography, she finds herself inspired and intrigued by a smart, talkative, injured magpie they called penguin and slowly begins to come to terms with her condition with the help of her devoted family, mother (Jacki Weaver), and her supportive kayaking coach (Rachel House) and eventually becomes a two-timing winning para-athlete at the National Kayaking Championships.

“River of Grass” (NR) (1.5) [DVD and VOD only] — After hooking up with a guy (Larry Fessenden) she meets in a Miami bar and then believing she accidently shot a black man (Mannie Mack) by his pool in this wacky, unusual, lackluster 1994 film, a single mother (Lisa Bowman) leaves her three children with her drum-playing, police veteran father (Dick Russell) and hits the road trying to escape Florida and the law.

“Solitary Man” (R) (3) [Language and some sexual content.] [DVD and VOD only]— After a well-respected, 60-year-old New York car dealership owner (Michael Douglas) learns from his doctor (Bruce Altman) that he might have a heart problem in this engaging, down-to-earth, cameo-sprinkled (Danny DeVito, Jesse Eisenberg, Richard Schiff, Olivia Thirlby, et al.) film, his cushy life begins to spiral out of control when he becomes involved with illegal financial schemes, cheats on his wife (Susan Sarandon), seduces the daughter (Imogen Poots) of his affluent girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker), and disappoints his daughter (Jenna Fisher) and his grandson (Jake Richard Siciliano).

“Splice” (R) (1) [Disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence, and language.] [DVD and VOD only]— A beyond stupid, uncomfortable plot highlights this groan-inducing, over-the-top, predictable, dark, sci-fi thriller reminiscent of David Cronenberg films in which two involved genetic scientists (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) get in over their heads when they hide their experiments from coworkers (David Hewlett, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, et al.) after merging human and animal DNA and creating a winged human-chimera creature (Abigail Chu) that they ultimately have difficulty controlling as it quickly grows into an adult (Delphine Chanéac).

“Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon” (R) (3.5) [Bloody battle scenes.] [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — Exquisite cinematography, martial arts, and battle sequences highlight this stunning, captivating, frenetically paced, violent, epic 2009 Chinese film in which a skilled Shu warrior (Andy Lau) in 228 A.D. becomes one of five tiger generals (Lung Ti, Cjen Zhi Hui, et al.) to help unite the provinces in China for a powerful warlord (Hua Yueh) and then finds himself 20 years later fighting alongside his jealous friend (Sammo Hung) to defeat the cunning, headstrong granddaughter (Maggie Q) of their longtime enemy (Damian Lau).

“Tortilla Heaven” (PG-13) (2.5) [Some nudity and sexual humor.] [DVD and VOD only] — After a small-town restaurant owner (José Zúñiga) in New Mexico grills a tortilla on which the face of Jesus appears and then foolishly signs a contract with a slick, money-grubbing management consultant (Miguel Sandoval) in this offbeat, fun, lightweight, 2007 comedy, the statue-loving priest (Marcelo Tubert), the sheriff (George Lopez), the golf-crazy mayor, a lip-licking grandmother (Lupe Ontivertos), and other greedy citizens (Del Zamora, et al.) try to get their own piece of the action with dire consequences.

 Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident. 

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