“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” the weekend’s #1 movie, was a colossal waste of my time. In the interest of not wasting too much of your time with my complaining, I’ve decided to chop down that review and offer two alternatives that are much more deserving of your time, though they will never get a weekend to call their own. With that in mind, I’ll get the big dud out of the way first…
“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”
This movie is a poor excuse to have Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Salma Hayek cursing at each other for 99 minutes. That might sound like fun given the talent involved, but trust me, it gets old fast.
Reynolds is especially grating as a wannabe bodyguard who’s not particularly good at anything. In 2017’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” he was at least competent enough to be a decent bodyguard except for when he was getting foiled by Jackson’s hitman. Here it’s hard to see why he was ever allowed to be a bodyguard in the first place.
The whole thing is set against the backdrop of an action movie so hacky it’s on par with those direct-to-VOD movies I was reviewing when theaters were closed last summer. These actors could have been doing much better projects, and I weep for what we might have had instead of this dreck.
Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content. Its running time is 99 minutes.
“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”
I watched 2018’s “Peter Rabbit” in preparation for this sequel, and I’m glad I did. Both movies have a nice twisted sense of humor, which isn’t to say that they’re so cynical that they’re obnoxious.
This movie sees Peter (James Corden) and his family turned into storybook characters by their adoptive human parents (Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson). Peter likes his newfound celebrity until he learns that he’s seen as a bully and a villain. This makes him want to ditch his new life entirely and pull food heists along his late father’s old thieving crew. But if he’s turning to a life of crime, doesn’t that make him the bad seed that everyone thinks he is?
Peter’s identity crisis isn’t particularly compelling (the need to learn a lesson is overpowering), but the movie hits the right notes in the humor and sweetness departments. Kids finally have a decent movie to see in theaters besides “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
Rated PG for some rude humor and action. Its running time is 99 minutes.
In the tradition of “Maleficent” comes Disney’s latest recontextualization of a classic villain. How did mischievous-but-well-meaning street urchin Estella (Emma Stone) become the crazed fashion mogul Cruella de Vil, a character so contemptable she wanted to turn 101 dalmatians into fur coats?
The answer is she doesn’t. Disney would never let a protagonist become that unlikeable, so the movie presents an all-around nicer version of the character that happens to look kind of like Cruella and say “darling” like Cruella, but isn’t really Cruella. But all is not lost. While this movie fails as a Cruella origin story, it’s actually pretty good as a con artist movie.
Cruella is out to unseat The Baroness (Emma Thompson) as the head of the London fashion world. She and her cohorts Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser, a great under-the-radar talent) and their loyal dogs pull all sorts of fun pranks and heists in the name of getting Cruella ahead. The movie is a delight until it gets bogged down in exposition that I suppose was inevitable. But the movie is still filled with well-attended costumes, sets, and gags, so I give it a recommendation.
Rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements (though I can’t think of anything in this movie that warrants a PG-13 rating instead of PG). Its running time is 134 minutes.
Robert R. Garver is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at New York University. His weekly movie reviews have been published since 2006.