Tag Archives: Chris Pratt

Saving the Galaxy…Awesome!

Family matters in ‘Guardians’ sequel, but mostly it’s a wild ride of bonkers space-rocket fun 

nullGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker & Kurt Russell
Directed by James Gunn
PG-13
In theaters May 5, 2017

“We’re saving the galaxy again?” asks the rascally raccoon known as Rocket. “Awesome!”

Many fans will have the same giddy reaction at the return of Guardians of the Galaxy, the 2014 blockbuster about a ragtag, Robin Hood-ish crew of Marvel Comics space mercenaries. The gang from the original, which raked in more than $773 million at the box office, is also all aboard for the sequel, including writer/director James Gunn.

Leading the pack again is Chris Pratt as the cocky, roguish pilot Peter Quill, who still has an “unspoken thing” for the emerald-skinned she-assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Former professional wrestler Dave Bautista is a man-mountain of red-tattooed muscle as Drax (the Destroyer), whose hearty laugh sounds like it could rattle the rings around Saturn. Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), the mouthy raccoon genetically altered to become a master of weaponry and fighting, is given his own mini-story spinoff—which includes an especially zesty verbal spar with a dreadlocked baddie named Taserface (Chris Dowd, who plays Toby Damon on TV’s This is Us).

nullAnd even though you really can’t tell, that’s Vin Diesel once more providing the voice of Baby Groot, the new, little-sprout incarnation of the hulking tree creature that was part of the Guardians crew in the first film.

Baby Groot pretty much steals the show—and certainly every scene in which appears,  dancing, wiggling, running, grunting or simply saying the only thing he ever says: “I am Groot.”

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Rocket & Baby Groot

This time around, the Guardians get into serious trouble when Rocket double-crosses some gold-skinned aliens, the Sovereigns, led by the imperialistic Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki).  That sets off an intergalactic bounty hunt by the Ravagers, a group of motley thieves, smugglers and space pirates.

But Peter Quill’s long-lost father, Ego (Kurt Russell), zooms to the rescue. When he takes the Guardians to his fabulous celestial home, a world he created, he lays the news on them: He’s actually a cosmic deity, a “celestial.” That makes Peter, his spawn, a bona fide star child.

“You’re…a god?” asks the incredulous Peter.

“Small g, son,” says Ego. “At least on days I’m feeling humble.”

The matter of Peter’s mixed DNA—his mother was an Earthling who died of a brain tumor when Peter was a child—looms large. And as most everyone knows, family matters can be complicated.

There’s a difference and a distinction between fathers and daddies, Peter is reminded by Yondu (Michael Rooker), the blue-skinned bandit who raised him. And Gamora is reunited with her sister, the cybernetically enhanced Nebula (Karen Gillan, Dr. Who’s Amy Pond), who has some major childhood grudges she still wants to settle.

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Gamora

All of this zaps and zooms along, as did the first movie, to a witty stream of pop-cultural riffs and references. Peter compares his slow-burn relationship with Gamora to Sam and Diane from the iconic rom-com Cheers, and he tells her how much he longed for his dad to be like dashing Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff. A wild, warping ride through space zones, in which characters’ faces contort in crazy, eye-popping ways, is a meta-reference to the work of legendary Looney Tunes cartoon animator Tex Avery. There’s a visual joke about Pac Man, and another very clever running gag that takes drone weaponry to an alien-videogame-arcade extreme.

And there are VIP cameos, one by someone Marvel fans always expect to show up in Marvel movies, and another by Sylvester Stallone, who mumbles a few mushy lines and then disappears for most of the rest of the movie.

Just like the original Guardians rocked out to Peter Quill’s “Awesome Mixtape Vol. I” cassette on his beloved Walkman, this one has an equally cool overlay of classic-rock gems to set the tone. It starts out with the Looking Glass super-70s hit “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” and continues through “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” Jay and the American’s “Love a Little Bit Closer,” Silver’s “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” and several more.

And you’ve probably never thought of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” as the musical backdrop for the battle of a gigantic glop monster, or Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights” as the soundtrack for a moonlit evening of finely orchestrated defensive-perimeter mayhem. But you probably will now.

It’s noisy, colorful, jam-packed and it ends—like a lot of superhero flicks—with a big, boom-y, blowout bang before a much softer, sentimental coda, one orchestrated to the meditative strains of the Cat Stevens song “Fathers and Sons.” But it’s a practically nonstop cascade of fast-paced, bonkers, high-spirited fun, a far-out space-rocket ride with a cast of endearing characters that have definitely found their movie niche and intend to hang onto it.

As the teaser at the end indicates, they’ll definitely be back—to save the galaxy again.

To quote Rocket the raccoon, “Awesome!”

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Lost in Space

Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence heat up sci-fi mush of ‘Passengers’

Chris Pratt; Jennifer Lawrence

Passengers
Starring Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by Morten Tyldum
PG-13
In theaters Dec. 23, 2016

A gigantic rocket ship on a 120-year journey to a faraway space colony has a glitch mid-route, mistakenly waking up one—and only one—of its 5,000 passengers from suspended-animation hibernation early.

Ninety years early.

And once your personalized alarm clock goes off on this intergalactic cruise, there’s no way hit the snooze and go back to deep sleep—you’re up.

That’s what happens, alas, to Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), who awakes to find himself all alone on a big, spinning luxury cruise liner of a spaceship auto-piloted to a lush new world, set to arrive…well, a couple of decades now after he’s dead.

Michael Sheen plays the android bartender Arthur.

Michael Sheen is android bartender Arthur.

Jim at first explores the ship and avails himself of all its amenities (holographic dance-offs, no lines in the food court, great robotic restaurant service). He finds a “companion” in the lounge’s android bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen from TV’s Masters of Sex). But he’s smitten when he catches a glimpse of one of the other hibernating passengers, a writer named Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence).

Weighing the moral and ethical considerations against his own crushing loneliness, Jim eventually makes the decision to rouse Aurora from her hibernation—without telling her he did so. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her, right? Right???

The starship in Passengers runs on a whirring nuclear reactor. But the movie itself is powered by two of Hollywood’s hottest, most likeable, bankable stars, and the film’s storyline bends around them and the heat they generate. There’s a genuinely creepy, unnerving nugget of a tale—of obsession, desperation and survival—in Passengers about what might happen under the futuristic circumstances it depicts, but it mostly gets lost in the sweet, sci-fi mush—and rush—of its intergalactic romance.

Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) swims...a lot.

Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) swims…a lot.

Things get better for Jim, then worse—much worse. He grows a beard. He shaves off his beard. Aurora and Jim walk among the stars—a big-ticket “shore excursion”—and make out in spacesuits. Aurora laughs. Aurora cries. Aurora rages. Aurora attacks Jim. Aurora swims—a lot. She gets trapped in a big, floating water “bubble” when the ship’s artificial gravity goes out.

Norwegian director Morten Tyldum, nominated for an Oscar for The Imitation Game, creates a space-station world, and an atmosphere, that feels like a cross-pollination of a Carnival Cruise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Robinson Crusoe and The Twilight Zone. He pays attention to small details and never lets his “big” space movie get overrun and overblown with special effects.

Another big-name star, also awoken early by a system malfunction, makes a late appearance, mainly to sound the alarm that things have really taken a turn for the worse. Can Jim and Aurora right the ship—and realign their own stars?

“Lay some bartender wisdom on me,” Jim implores Arthur at one point. “I feel like I’m lost in space here.” After riding along in Passengers’ interstellar love boat for two rocky hours, you may agree that some course correction might have indeed been helpful—especially when this rocket lands on one of the cheesiest spaceball wrap-up endings of anything this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ride ‘Em Cowboy

‘Magnificent Seven’ brings western past into focus with Hollywood present

Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee

Meet the new ‘Magnificent Seven’: Vincent D’Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee

The Magnificent Seven
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard & Haley Bennett
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
PG-13

The western pretty much trotted into the sunset decades ago, but every once in a while something gallops out of Hollywood that reminds us just what a big deal cowboys used to be.

And the cowboy, as depicted and polished by Hollywood and pop culture, remains one of America’s most potent mythic figures—a rugged, rustic, stoic, individualistic, self-sacrificing hero, good with a gun and sometimes even better with women.

The Magnificent Seven gets a lot of its retro dust honestly. For starters, it’s a remake of a remake: The original Seven, in 1960, was an all-star Americanized version of a 1954 Japanese classic, Seven Samurai, in which a samurai warrior and six others band together to defend a village from marauding bandits.

Director Antoine Fuqua certainly knows how to make an action-packed project click into place, with clear-cut lines between good guys and bad guys, a lofty morality-lesson overlay and a dark undertow of bloody revenge.

Denzel Washington;Chris Pratt

Denzel Washington plays bounty hunter Sam Chisholm.

The star here is clearly Denzel Washington—his collaboration with Fuqua in Training Day brought him an Oscar, and the two also worked together in The Equalizer. He plays sure-shot bounty hunter Sam Chisholm, who comes to the aid of a small frontier town under the rule of ruthless robber baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his murderous cutthroat bodyguards. Bogue has poisoned the water supply, set fire to the church, enslaved the local men to work in his gold mine and demanded that the residents either sell out, move out—or else.

Beseeched by a firebrand widow (Haley Bennett) whose husband was killed by Bogue’s thugs, Chisholm—whose very name evokes the title of a 1970 John Wayne western, Chisum—assembles a group to help reclaim the town.

The multinational, cross-cultural rainbow coalition looks awesome onscreen, but it feels more like an Old West Suicide Squad—or a colorful team of Avengers assembled by way of High Noon—much more than an organic group of renegades and rogues, despite all the grime, grit, dirt, sweat, stubble and scruff.

Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt is heavy-drinking, wisecracking Josh Faraday, whose skill with cards helps him in more ways than one. Ethan Hawke’s erudite former Confederate sharpshooter is haunted by ghosts of his wartime past. His Chinese partner (Byung-hun Lee) can do lethal wonders with any type of blade or firearm.

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is a hunky Mexican outlaw whose vicious skillset makes him a valuable member of the seven. A young renegade Comanche (Martin Sensmeier) likes the gallant cause and wants to come aboard. Vincent D’Onofrio’s big, Bible-quoting mountain man is a holy terror—and an audience favorite.

Bullets fly, bodies fall, blood flows, hooves thunder, jokey banter gets bantered, dynamite goes ka-boom. There’s a particularly twisty twist at the end that you won’t see coming. You may catch—or imagine—wispy glimpses of the ghosts of Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and other western icons looming and lurking around the edges of some of the scenes.

With a winning combo of gunpowder and star power, The Magnificent Seven brings the cowboy past into focus with the Hollywood present. If you like your popcorn sprinkled with old-fashioned, good-guy gusto, it’s as rip-roaring a time that’s come along on horseback in years.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Building a Badder Dinosaur

‘Jurassic World’ takes a big new bite out of the classic franchise

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Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Nick Robinson & Ty Simpkins

Jurassic World

Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Vincent D’Onofrio

Directed by Colin Trevarrow

PG-13

The ingredients to a new dinosaur movie are a lot the ones for a new dinosaur: Bigger, louder and more teeth.

It’s been 22 years since director Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, which broke new ground in computer-generated special effects and left audiences gasping for air with its romping, stomping tale of bio-engineered prehistoric creatures running amok. But after two sequels, the Jurassic franchise lost much of its roar—and its box-office bite. Audiences were no longer gaga for lifelike, big-screen dinosaurs.

In Jurassic World, the owners and operators of a sprawling new “living dinosaur” theme park, re-established after the downfall of the original facility, are faced with the same problem. “No one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore,” says Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the corporate operations manager. Visitors are still coming—up to 20,000 a day—but teenagers barely look up from their smartphones at a stegosaurus, investors are clamoring for greater return on their dollars, and sponsors want something with more wow and pow.

What to do? Create a bigger, badder dinosaur. Meet Indominus Rex, cooked up in Jurassic World’s lab from a monstrous mixture of dino-DNA super-traits. It’s nastier, angrier and more nightmare-inducing than any other creature, even the park’s venerable T. Rex.

What could possibly go wrong?2424_SB_00075NBR

Steven Spielberg is executive producer this time around, but newcomer director Colin Trevarrow loads his film with clever and nostalgic throwbacks to him and his craft, from specific camera shots to an original Jurassic Park t-shirt (one character’s EBay find) and a holographic depiction of a dinosaur that had a memorable small role back in 1993. When several characters come across a decrepit building that was once part of the old park, it looks like they’re strolling through the franchise’s long-abandoned prop room.

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Chris Pratt plays a dinosaur trainer working with wily, lethally dangerous raptors.

As Owen, a dinosaur trainer working with a group of wily, dangerous raptors, Chris Pratt is quick with a quip—even when faced with serious, life-and-death situations. Vincent D’Onofrio plays a contractor who wants to use the raptors for military purposes. “These guys’ll run straight into the enemy’s teeth and eat them, belt buckle and all,” he says.

To further stir the perfect storm, two young brothers (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) are visiting the park, sent by their parents for a weekend-adventure getaway. Guess who gets way more adventure than they ever dreamed?

The movie’s underlying theme of modern man’s hubristic drive to control—and commercialize—nature’s ancient, primal power never gets in the way of its full-throttle fun and its cavalcade of chills, thrills, stupendous state-of-the-art special effects and even outright grins and giddy giggles. Jurassic World isn’t quite the revelation that its granddaddy was, some two decades ago. But for pure summer popcorn wow-and-pow dollars, you certainly won’t find much anything bigger, louder or with more teeth.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Across the Universe

Marvel’s newest superheroes are an inter-galactic gas

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana & Dave Bautista

Directed by James Gunn

PG-13

Marvel Comics gives their all-stars a breather with Guardians of the Galaxy. But Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and other tried-and-true, brand-name superheroes had better watch out: This flip, witty, wily, cheeky, action-adventure sci-fi yarn—which introduces an all-new Marvel team of cosmic crusaders—is all set to become one of the summer’s biggest, most buoyant mainstream hits.

Based on little-known Marvel characters that first made a brief appearance in the 1960s, the Guardians are a motley crew of space misfits led by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt from TV’s Parks andguardiansofthegalaxy530439f7bb98f Recreation), who was abducted from Earth by alien pirates as a youngster and taken to the far reaches of the galaxy, where he grew up to become a rogue smuggler with an intergalactic price on his head, a taste for retro FM rock and a weakness for extraterrestrial hotties.

When Peter swipes a silver orb that turns out to be something Very Powerful Indeed, it puts a series of events in motion that eventually congeal the other guardians around him—although not necessarily as teammates, at least at first.

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a genetically mutated, green-hued assassin sent to retrieve the orb. Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a motor-mouthed raccoon bounty hunter, is in cahoots with Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a tree-like creature that speaks volumes with the one sentence he can speak, “I am Groot.” And pro wrestler Dave Bautista is Drax, a hulking wall of red-tattooed muscle.

guardiansofthegalaxy5371066e4ab7aTheir adventures bounce them, like interplanetary pinballs, across the galaxy, racing away from—and sometimes into—an ever-growing cloud of trouble. Director James Gunn, at the helm of his first mega-budget, major studio project, creates a teeming sci-fi cosmos of colorful creatures, humanoid hybrids and dazzling digital effects for a totally immersive eye-candy experience. Everywhere the movie goes—and it’s constantly going somewhere—it’s a wild, exuberantly fun new kick.

The cast is first-rate, even down through the supporting ranks. Glenn Close plays the matriarch of a gleaming utopia on the brink of destruction; Michael Rooker is terrific as the swaggering scavenging scoundrel who abducted Peter all those years ago; Benicio Del Toro is The Collector, a mysterious curator of cosmic odds and ends.

But it’s the Guardians, the mismatched team of “losers,” who command the spotlight. And credit the zippy script, by Gunn and Nicole Perlman, for the steady stream of jaunty comedic banter that just keeps the laughs coming—along with a sprinkling of sweetness, a dash of sadness, and even a flash of romance, orchestrated to Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”

Will it remind you of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and several other movies, some references to which it just goes ahead and hands you? Sure, but that’s just part of its big, fizzy, movie-lovin’ funhouseguardiansofthegalaxy53bd964656849 spirit. “It’s got a Maltese Falcon kinda vibe,” Peter says of the orb. One scene, when Groot gently gives a young girl a flower, is an obvious nod to a similar moment in the 1931 classic Frankenstein.

You may see classier movies this summer, and you’ll certainly see more serious, sensible ones. But you won’t see another one that takes you on such a rollicking carnival ride halfway across the universe and back, and leaves you with such a big, goofy, satisfied smile when it’s over.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Everything is Awesome

Sharp, smart writing, gonzo wit and the pursuit of special-ness

LEGO

The Lego Movie

Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman & Elizabeth Banks

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

PG-13, 100 min.

Since their introduction in Denmark in 1949, Lego construction toys have spread all over the world, across multiple generations and throughout the reaches of pop culture. In addition to almost endless varieties of play sets, characters and components, there are also Lego videogames, Lego clothes, Lego competitions, and Lego amusement parks in Europe, North America and Asia.

Now there’s a Lego movie—and more people have seen it than any other film in America since it opened earlier this year.

Clearly, Legos are immensely popular playthings. But The Lego Movie is also an exceptionally well-done, wildly entertaining piece of family-friendly fare, a rare piece of work that engages both grownups and kids with a sharp, smart writing, gonzo wit and a story that bridges cross-generational audiences.

000048.0027807.tifBrilliant digital animation creates a teeming, brick-by-brick Lego world—several of them, in fact—and a sprawling cast of Lego characters: Emmet (Chris Pratt), a everyday, by-the-book construction worker nubbin who may—or may not—be the fulfillment of a long-ago prophesy foretold by Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), a blind seer; Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a beautiful female resistance fighter; Metal Beard (Nick Offerman), a walking maritime junkyard of a pirate; Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum) and the Green Lantern (Jonah Hill); Lord Business (Will Farrell), an evil control freak who wants to micro-manage everything and everyone; and Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a literally two-faced law-enforcement officer.

Co-directors and writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, whose growing collaborative résumé includes the movies 21 Jump Street and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and TV’s How I Met Your Mother and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, weave themes of creativity, independence and cooperation into a story that runs on a crazy rail of nearly nonstop pop-cultural riffs and satirical references, understated comedic nuance as well as explosively absurd visual magic, and just the right tones of subversive cool for a movie that needs to appeal to children as well as parents.

LEGO

Early in the movie, Emmet gets in his Lego car, turns on the radio and hears a song, “Everything is Awesome.” It’s meant to be a big supersonic joke, an ironic mantra-like jab about conformity in a place where being mindlessly happy is mandatory. But it’s infectious as all get-out, and it becomes the movie’s theme. (It’s performed by the Canadian indie duo Tegan and Sara and the comedy-rap group the Lonely Island, and produced by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh.)

And like the interlocking pieces of the gazillions of Legos it would have taken to make this movie if it weren’t for the digital magic of computer animation, the song just fits. Yep, in this joyous, joke-filled parable about the joy of making stuff, the power of imagination and the pursuit of special-ness, everything pretty much is awesome.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Guy Meets Gigabyte

A surprisingly sweet, audaciously witty, somewhat weird and ultimately warmhearted ‘what if’ about love in the not-so-far future

HER

Her

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and the voice of Scarlett Johansson

Directed by Spike Jonze

R, 126 min.

Can you love someone who isn’t really anyone? That’s one of the questions at the heart of Her, in which a lonely writer in the not-so-distant future develops a romantic relationship with the operating system of his computer.

Think of Siri, the speech-recognition software that comes with an iPhone, or the “voice” that narrates routes mapped out by your vehicle’s GPS navigational device.

Only Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), the first of an advanced new operating system (OS) product line, is much more than just a voice. She has personality and a powerful “artificial intelligence,” and she immediately begins to wow her new owner Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) with attention to his every need. She proofreads his work, composes music for their moments together, helps him play his favorite holographic videogame and sends him dirty-minded doodles that make him laugh.

HERSamantha “gets” Theo—understands him, relates to him—like no flesh-and-blood woman ever got him before. Soon enough, he begins to develop feelings for “her.”

Written and directed by Spike Jonze (Where The Wild Things Are, Being John Malcovich, Adaptation) Her takes an old-fashioned romantic convention—guy meets girl—and runs it through an innovative wavelength of sci-fi wi-fi that at the same time doesn’t seem all that out of sync with today. We never know when it takes place—presumably, it’s only a couple of decades from now—but its scenes of people walking around with ear buds, constantly speaking commands for their portable devices to check email or play songs, look oddly contemporary.

Jonze’s movie—nominated for four upcoming Academy Awards, including Best Picture—raises issues about relationships, intimacy, isolation, jealousy, sensory experience, and our connections to the technologies on which our lives have increasingly come to rely. Phoenix gives his usual standout, immersive performance in a very tricky role, playing to a co-star who isn’t really “there” in a physical sense.

As for Samantha, heard but never seen, Johansson is mesmerizing, a warm, sensual, palpable “presence” that moves from Theo’s head into his heart, re-awakening him in every way

_DSC2097.tifAmy Adams frumps down her recent firecracker role in American Hustle to play Theo’s old college friend with love problems of her own, and Rooney Mara portrays his soon-to-be ex-wife, scoffing at his inability to find and date a “real woman.” Theo’s co-worker (Chris Pratt from TV’s Parks and Recreation), however, doesn’t bat an eye when he finds out his girlfriend is an OS. Olivia Wilde has one scene as a date with doubts about Theo’s abilities to commit.

At one point, Theodore plays a ukulele and plunks out a song for Samantha. It’s a charming little tune about being “a million miles away” with the one you love. The very idea of a guy head-over-heels with a female voice coming out of a device in his shirt pocket may seem, indeed, w-a-a-ay out there. But Spike Jonze’s surprisingly sweet, audaciously witty, somewhat weird and ultimately warmhearted “what if” makes you wonder if it’s not so far off, after all.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Oh, Daddy!

Vince Vaughn goes for warm & fuzzy as a fantastically fertile father

DELIVERY MANDelivery Man

Starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders

Directed by Ken Scott

PG-13, 105 min.

When Brooklyn meat delivery-truck driver David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) discovers that anonymous sperm donations he made to a fertility clinic some decades ago have resulted in more than 500 now-adult children, he decides to check them out. Not all of them—just the 142 New Yorkers who are suing to find out the true identity of their dad.

So the deliveryman who’s sewn his seeds over the Big Apple goes off to see how they’ve sprouted—without letting any of them know who he really is.

DELIVERY MANThis remake—by the same director—of a 2011 French-Canadian flick called Starbuck (after a champion stud breeding bull) follows Wozniak as he interacts with his offspring. He encourages the street musician, cheers for the historical reenactor, gets a manicure from the salon worker, and subs for the barista at a coffee shop so the aspiring actor can skip work and go to an audition.

He even saves the heroin addict from an overdose.

There’s also a subplot about how Wozniak’s latest get-rich scheme has resulted in a massive debt to some sleazy loan sharks, and about his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother), who’s pregnant with his baby but not really expecting her screw-up of a partner to be much of a co-parent.

Can “Starbuck” turn his life around and become the man he needs to be—and the father he already is, 500 times over?

Vaughn, whose acting career has generally been defined by playing slouchy, raunchy man-child slackers, takes a decided turn toward the warm and fuzzy here, but still retains enough of his trademark comedic brand to not totally surprise anyone expecting to see a “Vince Vaughn movie.” It’s Chris Pratt, however, a supporting player on TV’s Parks and Recreation, who snatches most of the laughs right out from under him as his best friend and lawyer buddy.

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Chris Pratt, from TV’s ‘Parks and Recreation,’ gets most of the laughs as Vaughn’s best buddy and lawyer.

There’s something creepy about a grown man sneaking around, spying on dozens of barely 20-somethings, sneakily tweaking their lives. There’s something implausible about just how swell, well adjusted and full of sunshine all these kids are, even the heroin addict. And the scenes in which Vaughn interacts with his severely disabled son (Sébastien René, reprising his role from the original movie), meant to show Wozniak’s love for all his kids, instead come off as manipulative and mawkish.

Ultimately, this tall tale of a fantastically fertile lug and his epic leap into the nether-reaches of fatherhood has a message about family, connectivity and belonging that wraps around its comic center like one giant group hug. But Delivery Man makes you slog down a long road of soppy, artificially sweet goop to get to it.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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