The Hippo


Aug 22, 2019








 Adrift (PG-13)

A couple sailing across the Pacific is knocked off course in Adrift.
California twentysomething Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) is working on boats and docks around the Pacific in the 1990s, when she meets Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), a thirtysomething Brit who travels where he pleases on the boat he built. The two have a fast romance. When Richard is asked take their boat across the Pacific Ocean to San Diego in return for a nice wad of cash and some first-class tickets back to Tahiti, he agrees but only if Tami comes with him.
They set off on their adventure, which, at first, is all rosy sunsets. But then a massive storm seriously damages the boat and sends it far off course. Tami, who is knocked around during the storm, comes to and can’t find Richard. When she finally sees him, he’s clinging to the dinghy some distance off the ship and seriously wounded. She has to set about repairing the ship to even get to him and then has to navigate by sextant and figure out how people and ship will survive long enough to make it to land. 
So, this is a movie. I mean, there are characters and a setting and a central story. Sure, I spent some scenes waiting for a shark to show up (spoiler alert: there is no shark), but I can’t say that nothing happened or that the writing or acting is on its face terrible in some way. It’s all fine. 
But that’s really it. At the end of the movie, we see photos of the real life people involved in the story and magazine features about them. I felt like, yes, this would probably make a good magazine piece. The movie has a “huh, interesting” quality in its scenes where we watch Tami set about repairing the ship, breaking out the navigational tools or trying to figure out how to spear fish. But there just isn’t enough to this movie. Enough what, you ask? Enough energy? Enough story? Enough compelling characters? So some degree, yes to all of those, while also all of those elements (pacing, narrative structure, characters and performances) are fine. OK but not awful, not great but not stand-out for any big fault. Woodley, whose performance is the core of this movie, does a completely serviceable job but never really breaks through the “this is mildly interesting” haze over this movie. C+
Rated PG-13 for injury images, peril, language, brief drug use, partial nudity and thematic elements, according to the MPAA. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur and written by Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith (from a book by Tami Oldham Ashcraft), Adrift is an hour and 36 minutes long and distributed by STX Entertainment. 
Action Point (R)
Johnny Knoxville mixes the danger of rickety amusement parks and the sappiness of a father-daughter relationship in Action Point, a baffling and fairly terrible movie.
D.C. (Knoxville, of Jackass fame) is presented here both as a grandpa (a milder version of Knoxville’s Bad Grandpa old man character) babysitting a tween granddaughter in the present day and in flashbacks as a 1970s-era owner of a crumbling theme park. (The theme: “decay.”) His young teen daughter Boogie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) comes to stay with him for the summer. She’s misses her father and is eager to spend time with him.
But D.C. is focused on waging war with a new, not-terrible amusement park nearby and with developer Knoblach (Dan Bakkedahl), who wants to buy D.C.’s Action Point park and put houses on the lakeside land. As D.C. complains in his narration, these were the good old days of kids being kids, when it was totally fine to hang out doing dangerous stuff with one’s dumb buddies because “personal responsibility” or something.
The point of the whole amusement park setting seems to be the many scenes of people falling through or running into or being hit by rickety equipment or repair materials or whatever. Similar to Jackass,  these moments are often witnessed by a chorus of goofuses giving a group “ooooh!” to the thing that has just happened. Not similar to Jackass, these moments aren’t as “real” and loose as the staged stunts and pranks of the TV show and previous movies. This is standard movie pratfall fare which is mostly just an underlining of the central joke about about how crummy the Action Point park is. 
As poorly constructed as the rides in this park is the subplot about D.C. and his relationship with Boogie. It is a lot of tell (often via Grandpa D.C.’s narration), very little show. It is clearly meant to be a glue that turns the collection of pratfalls into a story but it doesn’t hold. Either we needed none of this or a lot more to make it anything.
Action Point feels like Johnny Knoxville trying to split the difference between Jackass/Bad Grandpa-goofiness and a more conventional kind of comedy. Unfortunately, all he really does is water down what could have been silly fun about either. D
Rated R for crude sexual content, language, drug use, teen drinking and brief graphic nudity, according to the MPAA. Directed by Tim Kirkby with a screenplay by John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky, Action Point is an hour and 25 minutes long and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Film reviews by Amy Diaz


Meet “notorious” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in RBG, a fun, rousing documentary.
In addition to extensive interviews from Ginsburg herself, we get commentary on her life and work from her adult children, a grown granddaughter, childhood friends, colleagues from her early years, people she represented in cases she argued before the Supreme Court, Senator Orrin Hatch, Bill Clinton (the president who appointed her), the son of longtime fellow-Supreme buddy Antonin Scalia (with whom she appeared in an opera) and Supreme Court watchers, including NPR’s Nina Totenberg. The documentary takes us through her whole biography: her family, her marriage, her early years as a lawyer, her work as a judge and her time on the Supreme Court. Well-researched and well-rounded, is what I’m saying, at least to the degree that we get to see Ginsburg from many angles — as a mom, as a student, as a lawyer and advocate for women.
A centerpiece of the discussion of Ginsburg the person is her very happy marriage to lawyer Martin Ginsburg, who died in 2010. The movie gives us a look at how they balanced their respective careers and how they pulled for each other — Ruth helping him get through law school when he had a bout of cancer as a young man and Martin relentlessly lobbying to get her on Bill Clinton’s short list of justice nominees. And I liked the way we got a sense of her personality — that she’s a bad cook, doesn’t like small talk and enjoyed the balance that taking care of her young child while going to law school brought to her life. RBG gives us a few backstage peeks at the Supreme Court, her legal legacy and explains her “notorious RBG” presence in the culture. To some degree, there is an assumption that anyone seeing this movie has some general appreciative sense of Ginsburg but it does a good job of walking you through her history and the significance of her work.
Sure, RBG is clearly the work of fans, but it is effervescent and fun (without being flip or shallow) as it covers a serious person and weighty subjects.  A-
Rated PG for some thematic elements and language, according to the MPAA. Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, RBG is an hour and 36 minutes long and distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 

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