“Toy Story 4” Summer Road Trip Rolls into Kansas City on June 23rd

 Attention “Toy Story” fans, this announcement is for YOU!

  On Sunday, June 23rd, the “Toy Story 4” Summer Road Trip will be making a stop in the Kansas City area. A “Toy Story 4”-themed RV will roll into Kansas City, featuring photo opportunities for fans, film-themed prizes, carnival games and lots of family-friendly fun.     

Local “Toy Story” fans are invited to take part in the activities. Two film ambassadors will be on hand to share details about fan-favorite characters—Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep—as well as new characters coming to the big screen—Forky, Bunny, Ducky and Duke Caboom, among others—learn more about this all-new adventure.     

The event will be held at the AMC Town Center 20, 11701 Nall Ave. in Leawood, Kansas and will run from 10:00 am through 3:00 pm.

Film Review: “Men In Black: International”

  • MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
  • Starring:  Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Liam Neeson
  • Directed by:  F. Gary Gray
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  1 hr 54 mins
  • Columbia

Paris.  Present day.  As a young man prepares to propose to his lady on top of the Eifel Tower they are surprised by the sudden appearance of two mysterious men dressed in black.  They appear curious as to their presence but soon they won’t even remember they were there.  Cue the neurolizer.  FLASH!

An entertaining continuation of the “Men in Black” series, albeit minus Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, “Men In Black: International” introduces us to two new agents – H (Hemsworth) and M (Thompson).  They are assigned to protect a visiting alien dignitary by their superior, High T (Neeson).  However, when things go horribly wrong, they quickly deduce that there is a mole in MIB, one who must be stopped.

I’ve always enjoyed these films.  And I like how they have fun with the time lines.  This time the producers have cast two of the most popular young actors working today and both Hemsworth and Thompson handle their assignments well.  Thompson’s M has dreamed of “What’s out there?” since she was a little girl.  She impresses MIB chief O (Emma Thompson) by doing the impossible – infiltrating MIB headquarters.  This bold move gets her hired – probationary – and her exuberance is felt in the audience.  Hemsworth is the hot-shot H, dealing with emotional issues (his alien girlfriend just dumped him) and slacking off in his job.  They are joined by Pawnie, a six inch chess piece voiced hilariously by Kumall Nanjiani.  The trio team up to save the day, or at least destroy a lot of stuff trying.

Like the other films, the two best things going are the chemistry between the leads and the amazing creature effects.  Seven-time Academy Award winner Rick Baker designed the original trilogy’s creatures and the new group who worked on this film carry on the great tradition.  The direction, with Mr. Gray replacing trilogy director Barry Sonnenfeld, is brisk and keeps the story moving.  If you’ve even wondered “What’s out there?” this film may not have the answers.  But it will give you an enjoyable two hours to contemplate. 

Interview with “Georgie” Producer and Co-writer John Campopiano

When he’s not busy doing his daytime job for the television program “Frontline,” filmmaker John Campopiano allows himself to indulge his love for horror films.  In 2017, Campopiano co-wrote and co-directed the acclaimed documentary “Unearthed and Untold:  The Path to Pet Sematary.”  He just released the short film “Georgie,” which he produced and co-wrote with the film’s director, Ryan /Grulich.  Next up is his next full length documentary, “Pennywise:  The Story of ‘IT’”   While gearing up for his next project, John found some spare time to talk with me about his work, past, present and future.

MIKE SMITH:  Where did you come up with the idea for “Georgie?”

JOHN CAMPOPIANO:  We were in post-production on a documentary about the mini-series “IT.”  We interviewed the cast and crew and one of the cast members, Tony Dakota, who played Georgie Dembrough in the mini-series was one of the last actors to find for an interview.  I found him in the Pacific Northwest.  By this time our production budget was depleted so I was looking for a free-lancer to get this interview with Tony.  I met Ryan Grulich, who is based in Seattle and he shot the interview for us.  One of the questions we had asked Tony was if he would ever want to get back in show business.  He had been a child actor in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Besides “IT” he had also been in “Who ‘s Harry Crumb?” with John Candy and had also done some episodes of “McGyver.”  (NOTE:  T.V. fans may also remember Dakota for his eight episode arc as Clavo on the very popular “21 Jump Street”),   He had been out of the spotlight for some time and had stopped acting around 1993.  So when he was asked if he wanted to get back into acting he said “yes” but wasn’t sure how to do it.  He had had a rough upbringing and some personal problems which had kept him away from acting.  But when he expressed an interest a light bulb went off.  I said to Ryan, “what if we wrote a short film for Tony?  It could be a win/win.”  We would write a short film that would allow him to reprise his role as Georgie, which would put some money in his pocket.  And we would give him a positive and creative outlet that could hopefully open some doors for him.  And that’s how “Georgie” started.

MS:  I know from doing the “Jaws 2” book that trying to find actors that haven’t acted in 30 years is not very easy.  Did you have the same problems with some of the lesser known members of the cast?

JC:  Oh yes.  Even though Tony is billed a Tony Dakota, Dakota was not his birth name.  Since he stopped acting he has been living his life under his real last name.  He was almost like a ghost who had vanished from the public eye.  Also, he hadn’t acted in almost a quarter of a century.  It made it challenging for sure. 

Tony Dakota returns as the title character in “Georgie”

MS:  Thank God for the internet!!

JC:  (laughs):  I know, right?

MS:  Ironically, last week on our Podcast we kind of previewed “Georgie” and talked some about the “IT” documentary and my co-host informed me that Stephen King will allow student filmmakers to license any of his works that have not been sold to Hollywood for $1.00 for a student film.  Did you contact him about “Georgie” and, if so, has he seen it?

JC:  I think it’s cool that he does that, especially for somebody who has had his level of success.  We did not approach him about “Georgie” ahead of time.  Obviously we’re dealing with intellectual property that belongs to him and Warner Brothers.  But on the same side of that, we are not monetizing this.  It’s a short film, which really don’t have much of an afterlife in terms of monetization.  We’re giving Georgie a fresh story and kind of a new spin on the character.  We will definitely be sending it to him and hoping he watches it.

MS:  Can you talk a little about the ‘IT” documentary?

JS:  I had done a documentary with Justin White about the film “Pet Sematary” that took us about four and a half years to complete.  That got us a little bit of attention from other filmmakers who were doing similar documentary films…retrospectives about other films.  I’ve been a die-hard “IT” fan, both the book and the mini-series, forever.  Justin was not interested in doing another documentary.  Given the scope of the mini-series I knew it wasn’t something I could do alone.  So I started writing articles as I was interviewing the cast and crew.  A producer in the U.K. named Gary Smart, who runs Dead Mouse Productions, saw the articles and had the idea about doing the documentary about “IT.”  He reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come on-board and co-write it or produce it with him.  That was 2017.  We launched a successful Indiegogo campaign, raised the money and spent three weeks in Los Angeles shooting cast and crew interviews.  Now we’re in the final stages of post-production.  We dropped an extended trailer back in February of this year and it’s done very well.  It received almost 500,000 views on YouTube in the first week.  It was also very serendipitous.  We had announced a street date before the theatrical version of “IT” was released.  People had been talking about remaking “Pet Sematary” and “IT” for years but it wasn’t until the past few years that those projects became reality.  We got very lucky in terms of the timing.  The mini-series was beloved by its fans but the new movie really introduced the story to new generations.  It revitalized the franchise, which worked in our favor.  I think in total we’ve interviewed about forty members of the cast and crew.  It’s going to be a pretty robust documentary that I think people are going to be excited about.  The plan is to release it before the end of 2019. 

MS:  Do you have any projects planned after the documentary is completed?

JC:  I’m working with Gary Smart again on a bio-pic about Robert Englund.  That was Gary’s idea.  He approached me and said he wanted to do a film about Robert’s life and career.  He’s such a legendary character actor.  Not just for the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films but all of the other projects that he’s been a part of.    Gary asked if I wanted to come on board as a producer and I said, “sure.”  We launched an Indiegogo campaign last weekend to help raise funds to make it happen.  The plan is to go out to L.A. later this summer to get the interviews and then get working on that one.  I’m not writing that one, which is nice because it’s less work for me but I’ll be doing a lot of archive research for Gary and helping produce the interviews.  I’m also working with “Georgie” director Ryan Grulich again.  We wrote a new short film based on my story, dealing with something I went through as a kid.  We have a finished script for that.  It’s my attempt at an “Are You Afraid of the Dark” episode or something from “Goosebumps.”  I’ve been interested for a long time in horror movies for kids.  In my opinion I think it’s a sub-genre that we are seeing less and less of.  I feel that the 80s and the 90s were a ripe period for content like that.  I want to make a short film that is spooky and scary and has an original monster in it but one that is geared very much towards a teenage audience.  We’re looking right now for talent to attach to the project and then we’ll raise some funds and hopefully start shooting it next year. 

On a personal note, John and I both had an amazing friend named Lou Pisano.  Lou co-wrote the “Jaws 2” book with me and was really looking forward to the release of “Georgie.”  John told me, “It’s kind of bittersweet.  Lou was so excited about this project.  I think he would have loved it.  The only disappointing thing is that he isn’t here with us to see it.”

To view the extended trailer for “Pennywise:  The Story of ‘IT’” click HERE.

To contribute to the Indiegogo campaign for “ICON: The Robert Englund Story” click HERE.  

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Annabelle Comes Home”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Warner Brothers to give (20) Kansas City area readers and their guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Annabelle Comes Home.”

The film, starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, will screen on Wednesday, June 19th at the Cinemark Theatre in Merriam, Kansas. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm.

All you have to do is click HERE. The first (20) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. GOOD LUCK!

Film Review: “GEORGIE”

  • GEORGIE
  • Starring:  Tony Dakota, Meredith Binder
  • Directed by:  Ryan Grulich
  • Not Rated

I’ll admit here that I was very late to the acclaimed and beloved 1990 horror mini-series “IT.”  About 27 years late.  That’s right, I didn’t see it until just before the feature film was released.  No reason really.  Actually there is.  I’m deathly afraid of clowns.  Not sure why.  I don’t have any bad “he touched me” stories to share.  Actually I’ve only had two “run-ins” with clowns, the first being when I was threatened with protests (and worse) should the theatre I was managing at the time show the film “Shakes the Clown,” which these clowns – and I’m not using slang, they WERE clowns – felt was disrespectful to the clown community.  Anyway, I watched it and I loved it.  Loved the film as well.  Hate Pennywise but you know what I’m saying.

Welcome to the town of Derry.  As darkness falls we find ourselves inside a modest house.  Inside a frail woman is finishing a sketch of a young boy.  The flights flicker, then go out.  As she begins lighting candles her hand shake.  To quiet her nerves, she begins to play “Fur Elise” on the piano, but the tune is slow and deliberate…almost like a dirge.  Though the room above her is empty, she hears footsteps.  Georgie?

A short film – about eight minutes in length – “Georgie” is that rare short film that gets its message across loud and clear.  Written by Producer John Campopiano and director Grulich, it is being promoted with the question “What if Georgie returned to Derry?”  For those of you not familiar with the story of “IT,” Georgie is the little boy whose paper boat has the misfortune of going into the storm drain occupied by Pennywise the clown.  Things don’t go well for the youngster.

With only music and atmosphere to propel the story, “Georgie” relies greatly on its two leads.  As the woman of the house, Binder is able to convey her fear in her eyes.  She is unsure of the noises we hear and so are we.  Dakota, who played the young Georgie in the 1990 mini-series, is a blank yet terrifying face, able to express his menace with a wink of an eye or a smile.  Grulich’s direction is top notch and the film is well paced.  Credit also the musical score, animated sequences and visual effects that help create and sustain the atmosphere. 

If you’re a fan of “IT,” horror films in general or just great filmmaking, I urge you to pay “Georgie” a visit.  To view the film, click HERE.

Film Review: “The Secret Life of Pets 2”

  • THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2
  • Starring the voices of: Kevin Hart, Patton Oswalt
  • Directed by:  Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val
  • Rated:  PG
  • Running time:  1 hr 26 mins
  • Universal

If you are a pet owner, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen, and loved, “The Secret Life of Pets.”  It was uncanny how the creators captured the little idiosyncrasies that had many in the audience, myself including, thinking “that’s exactly what my dog/cat/bird/ferret, etc does.  And that insight carries over into the second chapter in the adventures of Max (Oswalt) and his furry and feathered friends.

Things are going well for Max.  His owner attends to his every need and all is right with the world.  Until the day she meets a gentleman.  Nothing wrong with that.  But as things progress, as they do in life, Max soon finds himself having to deal with a new person in his life…a baby.  At first he is wary of the new arrival, but as the boy grows, they form a bond that, anyone who had a dog as a child will know, can’t be broken.  Which makes Max frantic.  Where he used to enjoy going for walks, he now feels the streets, and the things encountered (steam grates, flocks of pigeons) are hazards for the boy.  This causes him to develop a nervous tic which sadly leads him to be encased in, what both my wife and I (and the film) call the cone of shame.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, Snowball the bunny (Hart) is also enjoying life.  His owner likes to dress him up as a superhero and he takes to the idea, proclaiming his prowess to his pet friends.  He is quick to jump – do you see what I did there – into action when he is asked by his Shih Tzu friend Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to help save a tiger being held by a cruel circus worker.  What’s a bunny to do?

Cleverly written and fast paced, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is the ideal early summer film.  The characters and their traits are spot on and the voice actors do their best to inflect some of their own personalities into the characters.  Oswalt, replacing original Max voicer Louis C.K., is well cast.  Of course, he was outstanding as the voice of Renny in “Ratatouille,” so this should come as no surprise.  Hart once again is the frantic Snowball and I’m happy to see he is no longer homicidal (my one big problem with the first film).  Other actors lending their voice include Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll, Ellie Kemper and Pete Holmes.  Even Harrison Ford shows up, marking his animated film debut.  But as great as they all are, the vocal star here is Lake Bell, who seems to inhabit the character of Chloe, a cat like no other and yet like every cat we’ve ever encountered!

My only fault with the film is the same one I had with the first.  Though obviously geared for kids (and the parents that accompany them), there are some scary moments here, including one (thankfully off camera) of the tiger being disciplined with a whip.  There is also a pretty intense pack of wolves that made at least one child near me at the screening hide her face in her mother’s side.  So parents with very young children, be warned.

All in all, though, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is a welcome treat to begin the early days of summer.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Late Night”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Amazon Studios to give (25) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Late Night.”

The film, starring Emma Thompson and Mandy Kalling, will be screened on Wednesday, June 5th at the AMC Studio 28 in Olathe, Kansas and will begin at 7:30 pm.

All you have to do is click HERE. The first (25) people to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the allotted passes have been claimed, the giveaway is over. Good Luck!

“Late Night” opens nationally on Friday, June 7th!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Shaft”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at New Line Cinemas to give (15) readers and a guest the opportunity to be among the first to see the new film, “Shaft.”

The screening will be held on Monday, June 10th, at the Screenland Armour Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall and Richard Roundtree and starts at 7:00 pm.

All you have to do is click HERE! (15) random entries will be selected and they will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. Winners will be notified by email on June 9th. Good luck.

“Shaft” opens nationwide on Friday, June 14th.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Dark Phoenix”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at 20th Century Fox to give (35) fans in Kansas City the chance to be among the first to see the latest X-men adventure, “Dark Phoenix.”

The film will be shown on Tuesday, June 5th at the AMC Barrywoods Theatre in Kansas City. It will begin at 7:00 pm

All you have to do is click HERE. The first (35) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. GOOD LUCK!

Film Review: “Rocketman”

ROCKETMAN
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell and Richard Madden
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 1 min
Paramount

Not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but Paramount has chosen to release the new Elton John bio-pic, “Rocketman” the same week that, 47 years ago, the song “Rocket Man” made it’s debut in America on the Billboard Top 40 Chart. That song was so popular that I can remember my 7th grade teacher bringing in the lyrics for everyone in class to read and discuss their meaning. Heady stuff. As is the film.

We first meet Elton John (played in an award-worthy performance by Egerton) as he walks into a group therapy session. He obviously sticks out. But not because he’s Elton John. It’s because he is wearing one of the flamboyant outfits – complete with oversize glasses – he has become famous for. After he introduces himself and rattles off his many issues – alcoholic, drug user, sex addict – he begins to reflect on his life and the journey that took him from a shy English boy named Reginald Dwight (something to remember if you play trivia) to the gregarious superstar named Elton.

Full of great music and fantastical spectacle, “Rocketman” appears to be what everyone who found “Bohemian Rhapsody” lacking (I didn’t – I thought it was one of the best films of the year) – wanted it to be. Rather than a straight – no pun intended – bio-pic, “Rocketman” is more of a look at the life of a superstar through his increasingly large and rose colored glasses (the film’s director – Dexter Fletcher – took over “Bohemian Rhapsody” after original director Bryan Singer was let go). We learn that Elton’s father (Steven Mackintosh), who was a music lover, had no time or even interest in the young man, usually only speaking to him when scolding him. His mother, played by an almost unrecognizable Bryce Dallas Howard, obviously loves her son but has other interests. It’s left up to his grandmother (Gemma Jones) to recognize his brilliance – he can hear a piece of music once and then play it flawlessly on the piano. She’s the one who takes him to the Royal Academy each Saturday (he studied there for four years).

Reg is recruited to play in a backing band for visiting American groups and, when answering an ad looking for musicians, is handed a random envelope of lyrics and told to “do something with this.” The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin (Bell) and, after the two are introduced, they would go on to be perhaps the greatest songwriting duo after John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Egerton does a great job inhabiting the role. Besides physically resembling the singer, Egerton also sings the songs here. And while
he doesn’t sound a lot like Elton John, he does a fine job in his phrasing and in capturing the emotional moments of the music. Bell is equally good as Taupin while Richard Madden is both smoothly suave and cruelly businesslike as John’s manager (and lover) John Reid.

Don’t go into the film looking for facts. There are many “errors” (including John playing a song in the late 60s that he and Taupin actually wrote in the early 80s) in the story that are used to keep the story moving, which didn’t really bother me. My problem with the film was the occasional “over the top” production numbers that took away from the drama and emotion of the scenes. And there are some emotional moments. Most heartbreaking is when John gets up the courage to tell his mother he is gay. She tells him she has known this, but also tells him that, because he is gay, he will never be loved properly.

If you are even a slight fan of Elton John, you will find the film, and it’s music, enjoyable. And if you’re lucky enough to catch Elton John on his farewell tour, I urge you to go. That experience is even more enjoyable

Kansas City Theater Review: “Rock of Ages”

ROCK OF AGES
Starlight Theater - Kansas City, Missouri
May 31, 2019

My first Broadway show was “42nd Street” in 1981. Yes, I’m old. But I’m also able to tell people that I saw Jerry Orbach on Broadway. And Julie Andrews. And Chita Rivera. But enough about me. I’ve seen plenty of shows in the past three-plus decades but I have never seen anything as fun and exciting as “Rock of Ages.”

Our story begins in the small town of Paola, Kansas. Yes, it’s a real town and, yes, it’s really small. My son’s baseball team used to play there every year and I remember the big hoopla when Walmart showed up! We meet Sherrie (Katie LaMark). She’s a small town girl…living in a lonely world. And her dream is to make it to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Despite her parent’s disapproval she heads west and ends up on the Sunset Strip. She is soon mugged and is rescued by Drew (Anthony Nuccio). Drew works at the Bourbon Club, famous for helping launch the careers of many a band. Drew gets Sherrie a job and soon….well, you’ll have to see the show.

Drew (Anthony Nuccio) and Sherrie (Katie LaMark) share a dream of stardom.

I’ve been seeing shows at Starlight for years, and this was, by far, the BEST one I’ve ever seen there. I had only seen the film so I wasn’t prepared for my evening at the Bourbon Club. The music is all classic 80s rock and metal hits. Pretty much every band you can remember is represented. Except, ironically, Def Leppard, whose hit song gives the show it’s name. We are told by the Narrator (an amazing John-Michael Breen) that there is no Leppard in the show because the band wouldn’t license their music. Ironic, isn’t it?

The performances were also outstanding. As Sherrie and Drew, LaMark and Nuccio have a strong chemistry and an underlying sweetness that has you rooting for them. Both also have great voices. During “Oh, Sherrie” Mr. Nuccio held one note for an amazing 33 seconds, which brought the already enthusiastic audience to near euphoria. I would love to see him tackle the lead in “Jekyll and Hyde.” And extra credit to Ms. LaMark for dealing with a major technical glitch (her face mic was not working at the beginning of Act II and, with her character having to remain on stage for some time, delivered a strong performance using a hand-held microphone. Also credit to the tech crew because, in the few seconds she was able to go off-stage, the problem was corrected. Fine performances were also delivered by the supporting cast, with many in the audience falling under the spell of Sam Harvey, who plays quintessential (and problem child) front man Stacee Jaxx – which is possibly the coolest rock star name ever. And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the kick-ass band that provides the music.

John-Michael Breen

I’m saving this paragraph for the highlight of the show – John-Michael Breen. He not only narrates the show but appears as the Bourbon Club’s sound guy, Lonny. Lonny loves three things. Rock and Roll and his Fogmaster 5000 fog machine are two of them. Mr. Breen gives the show the majority of it’s laughs and both the cast and the audience feed off of his enthusiasm. I will definitely keep an eye on his career and hope to catch him on stage in the future.

As I said in the beginning, I’ve seen some great Broadway shows, from “Phantom” to “Les Miz” – from “Cats” to “Spamalot – and “Rock of Ages” has definitely jumped onto my all-time favorites list.

Curtain Call

“Rock of Ages” is only in Kansas City through Sunday, June 2nd. For information on upcoming tour dates, click HERE.

2019 Summer Movie Preview

As Memorial Day has come and gone, it’s time once again to take a look at some of the films being offered to us for our air conditioned enjoyment. As always, special thanks to our friends at the Internet Movie Database for some synopsis information. Opening dates shown are subject to change at the whim of the studios.
(*) denotes a film that one of Media Mikes’ critics are especially looking forward to.

MAY 31st

*ROCKETMAN
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell and Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher

At first I was shocked when I heard about this film. Harlan Williams playing Elton John??? Then I realized it was a different Rocketman. Following in the footsteps of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” this bio-pic tells the story of one Reginald Dwight, who the world knows as Sir Elton John. Director Fletcher took over for Bryan Singer on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and early reviews say this film is equally good.

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
Starring: Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra
Directed by: Michael Dougherty

The big guy is back and he’s bringing his pals with him.

MA
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis
Directed by: Tate Taylor

The Podcast gang spent a lot of time trying to come up with the plot to this one. Give it a listen and let us know if we got it right.

JUNE 7th

DARK PHOENIX
Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender
Directed by: Simon Kinberg

Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world. Though it’s being released by Disney, this was originally a 20th Century Fox property. Now that the MCU is ALMOST one big happy family, I’m curious if the X-men will show up in a future Avengers film.

*LATE NIGHT
Starring: Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow and Emma Thompson
Directed by: Nisha Ganatra

A late night talk show host suspects that she may soon be losing her long-running show. Kaling is always fun to watch and I’ve been in love with Emma Thompson since “The Tall Guy!”

*THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2
Starring the voices of: Kevin Hart and Patton Oswalt
Directed by: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val

Continuing the story of Max and his pet friends, following their secret lives after their owners leave them for work or school each day. Hopefully in this one, Hart’s Snowball isn’t homicidal.

JUNE 14th

AMERICAN WOMAN
Starring: Sienna Miller, Aaron Paul
Directed by: Jake Scott

A woman raises her young grandson after her daughter goes missing.

*MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
Starring: Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson
Directed by: F. Gary Gray

The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization. Sadly, the newbies won’t be trained by agents J or K.

JUNE 21st

CHILD’S PLAY
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Tim Matheson
Directed by: Lars Klevberg

Hollywood again picks the bones of a dead franchise and tries to breathe new life into it. The bad news: Brad Dourif is not the voice of Chucky. The good news: Mark Hamill is.

TOY STORY 4
Starring the voices of: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen
Directed by: Josh Cooley

When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy. Disney’s movie about toys dolls is going to kick the crap out the Universal’s movie about a toy doll at the box office.

JUNE 28th

ANNABELLE COMES HOME

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Directed by: Gary Dauberman

Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target-the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy, and her friends. The real Lorraine Warren recently passed away, for those of you keeping score at home.

*YESTERDAY

Starring: Himesh Patel, Lily James
Directed by: Danny Boyle

A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed. Written by the great Richard Curtis – who also wrote “The Tall Guy,” the movie I first fell in love with Emma Thompson with.

JULY 2nd

*SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Starring: Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon and Marisa Tomei
Directed by: Jon Watts

Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever. I’m guessing the start of Phase 3 of the MCU? Love Holland as Spidey and Batalon’s Ned is one of my favorite movie side-kicks ever.

JULY 12th

*STUBER
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista
Directed by: Michael Dowse

A detective recruits his Uber driver into an unexpected night of adventure. As someone that has driven for Uber I will admit I’m intrigued. The most exciting thing that ever happened to me was a woman breaking up with her boyfriend in the back of my car!

JULY 19th

THE LION KING
Starring the voices of: Seth Rogen, Donald Glover and Beyonce’
Directed by: Jon Favreau

For those of you who have been on Mars for the last 25 years: After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery. Favreau worked miracles with his version of “The Jungle Book” and Disney is hoping this is another “Aladdin,” not “Dumbo.”

JULY 26th

*ONCE UPON A TIME IN… HOLLYWOOD
Starring: Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margo Robbie
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

It’s the summer of 1969 and a lot of things are happening in Hollywood. Sex. Drugs. And Charles Manson. As advertised, this is the 9th film directed by Tarantino, who has always said he plans on making 10 and retiring. I challenge you to find a filmmaker that has made as many films as he has without making a dud. Even my favorite director, Steven Spielberg, has made a misstep (I’m looking at YOU, “Hook”).

AUGUST 2nd

FAST AND FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS and SHAW
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and lots of cars
Directed by: David Leitch

When the eighth film in this franchise came out I joked on our Podcast that the next one would be called “Fine and Furious,” because “fine” rhymes with “nine.” However, to avoid paying me money, Universal has chosen this title. Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity. I’ve only seen the original and part 5. However, the addition of Idris Elba as the villain might pull me into the theatre for this one.

AUGUST 9th

*SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK
Starring: Michael Garza and Austin Zajur
Directed by: André Øvredal

A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives. Podcast co-host Loey Lockerby says that these books scared the hell out of her when she was a kid.

AUGUST 16th

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED
Starring: John Corbett, Nia Long
Directed by: Johannes Roberts

Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves. Why isn’t this being called “48 Meters Down?”

*WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Kristin Wiig and Laurence Fishburne
Directed by: Richard Linklater

A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.

AUGUST 30th

In Germany, our movie would be called “De Scheisse”

PLAYMOBIL THE MOVIE
Starring the voices of: Daniel Radcliffe and Kenan Thompson
Directed by: Lino DiSalvo

Animated feature film inspired by the Playmobil brand toys. Are you ****ing kidding me??? PLAYMOBIL THE MOVIE???? A movie about the little toys my grandchildren play with?? Quick, get me Hollywood…I want to make a movie about the game of Jacks! Believe it or not, Daniel Radcliffe was not only Harry Potter but did “Equus” on Broadway. How the mighty have fallen. Look for him to reprise the role of Harry Potter when he leads tours around Universal Orlando.

Look for our movie NEXT summer!

Film Review: “Aladdin”

ALADDIN
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hrs 8 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

Will Smith has fought many a cinematic battle.  He’s taken on drug dealers, aliens (many times), a mechanical spider and George Foreman and beaten them all.  This week he takes on his biggest challenge, the memory of Robin Williams.  And I’m happy to report he succeeds.

We open with a family at sea.  The children remark at the opulence of the boats around them, causing their father to remind them that bigger isn’t always better.  He then begins to tell them the story of Aladdin and his Magic Lamp.  We meet Aladdin (Massoud) as he and his monkey companion, Abu, work their trade through the marketplace.  Their trade is theft, and they are very good at what they do.  However, when Aladdin sees a beautiful young woman (Scott) ahead of him, his thoughts go from larceny to love.  He introduces himself and offers to show her the town.  However, she suddenly rushes off, explaining that she is a handmaiden to the daughter of the Sultan.  Like Cinderella, she is off with Aladdin seeking to find her.  However, unlike Cinderella, SHE is the Sultan’s daughter, which puts her a little out of Aladdin’s league.  If only he had a way of becoming a prince.

The least “Guy Ritchiest” of any Guy Ritchie film, “Aladdin” is actually an entertaining bit of filmmaking.  All of the characters from the beloved 1992 animated film are here.  Aladdin.  Princess Jasmine.  Jafar (a very evil Marwan Kenzari).  His parrot, Iago.  Abu.  Rajah the tiger. And, of course, the Genie.  Robin William’s performance as the Genie in the animated feature was so amazing that the Golden Globes created a special award for him.  It was really the first time I thought that an actor would get an Oscar nomination for voicing an animated character.  I give Will Smith a lot of credit for even accepting the role.  And he does well.  He isn’t Robin Williams, but he isn’t trying to be.  This is vintage early Will Smith.  Think the Fresh Prince or Mike Lowery from “Bad Boys.”  A lot of fun and a lot of attitude. 

The musical numbers are immaculately staged, like you just wandered into a “Bollywood” production.  And while this film is about 40-minutes longer than it’s animated predecessor, it doesn’t suffer under the crush of added time like the recent “Dumbo,” which was almost twice as long as the 64-minute animated original.  The cast is excellent, and I’ve read where Disney made sure to cast actors whose heritage is from the actual parts in the world the film depicts.

My one disappointment, and this was echoed by many of the people around me in the screening that sat through the entire closing credits, was that there was no dedication to the memory of Robin Williams.  For generations to come, whenever the animated “Aladdin” is mentioned, his name will be the first thing brought up.  A very simple “FOR ROBIN” would have been a fine and quiet tribute.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Men In Black: International”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Sony Pictures to give (25) random readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see one of the summer’s most anticipated films, “Men In Black: International.”

The film starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson, will screen on Tuesday, June 11th at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m.

All you have to do is click HERE. (25) random entries will be selected and each will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. Good luck!

“Men In Black: International” opens nationwide on Friday, June 14th!

#MIBI

#MenInBlackInternational

#MIBIKC

*Disclaimer: Limit one entry per person. Void where prohibited. Screening is overbooked to ensure a full house. Seating is limited to theatre capacity and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Receiving a screening pass does not guarantee seating.  Theatre is not responsible for overbooking.