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Comedy

VOD Spotlight: “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

Yes, the world does have its serial monogamists. But for most of us, divorce and breakups aren’t easy. And for those out of the dating world for a decade or more, there are the uncertain and often inept attempts to reenter the social scene. That’s the position in which fortysomething Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) finds himself in the comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. But soon he has help starting over from expert lothario Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Carell and Gosling play well together and have admiration for each other’s work. The script was written with Carell in mind (Carell also coproduced […]

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Action

VOD Spotlight: “Captain America: The First Avenger” gives Cap his proper film treatment

By Jeff Pfeiffer Follow @ChannelGuideJP Maybe it takes a certain national climate to do a Captain America film right. Since his comic-book origins in 1941, on the eve of America’s entry into World War II, the Marvel Comics hero has been the subject of a few filmmaking attempts that have not been very successful. He was in some 1940s cliffhanger serials, some dreadful 1970s made-for-TV efforts and a 1990 theatrical film that started with a good idea but came crashing down quickly, mainly thanks to its very low budget. But Captain America: The First Avenger finally gives Cap (played by […]

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Comedy

VOD Spotlight: Cameron Diaz is a “Bad Teacher”

Cameron Diaz has a history of playing edgy roles — consider the leggy beauty as the drab wife of a puppeteer in Being John Malkovich, for example — but rarely is she as unlikeable as she is in Bad Teacher. It’s one of the reasons she took the role of Elizabeth, a woman teaching only long enough to find the money for the breast enhancement that she is convinced will be her ticket to a better life. When she sets her sights on a wealthy and idealistic substitute teacher attracted to someone else, rivalries lead to over-the-top comedy. “You just […]

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Action

VOD Spotlight: “Green Lantern”

As any fan of the Green Lantern comic series knows, the plots concern the clash between fear and will. And for star Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal), who plays Hal Jordan in the film Green Lantern, there was a great deal of will needed while making the movie because his role of a test pilot turned intergalactic superhero required he overcome his own fear of flying, beginning with his transport to the Lantern home planet of Oa.

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Comedy

VOD Spotlight: The merry menagerie of “Zookeeper”

From kids who baptize their cats and dogs so that they will go to heaven to adults who mortgage the house to keep favorite pets alive, we love our animals. Zookeeper takes the opposite approach — a situation where animals are so in love with their keeper that they reveal the secret that they can […] […]

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Comedy

VOD Spotlight: “Horrible Bosses”

The comedy Horrible Bosses features three helpless schmucks (played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) who meet over drinks to diss three of the worst bosses in film history. But the fact that the put-on employees’ plot to kill their bosses become funny is because the bosses are so over-the-top horrible. Two of the actors playing bosses, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey, have played villains before, but for Friends star Jennifer Aniston, the role of sexual predator was new to her. She plays a dentist whose hilariously overt advances toward her assistant are the likely reason the film […]

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Action

VOD Spotlight: The cars of “Fast Five”

“Top gear and full throttle” is a phrase that most speed demons only dream of in our 65-mph world, but the romance of speed fuels The Fast and the Furious films. In the fifth installment of the roaring franchise, Fast Five, the stakes are even higher and the stunts more awe-inspiring. At the heart of the speed-driven film is the 1970 Dodge Charger that Dom (Vin Diesel) drives. It killed Dom’s father and was totaled twice, but, like the Terminator, it keeps coming back. Picture car coordinator — yes, a film like this needs someone with that title — Dennis […]

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VOD Spotlight: Great Lakes city-smashing in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

  Writing in The Milwaukee Journal prior to the theatrical release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, film critic Duane Dudek wrote, “Neither the Milwaukee Art Museum nor any lakefront real estate was harmed during the filming of Transformers: Dark of the Moon there last year. Chicago was not so lucky.” Milwaukee sees a bit of filmmaking action, but only rare action films the magnitude of Transformers. During one of Milwaukee’s morning commutes during the filming, cars were lined up at the end of the freeway ramps at the lakefront, their drivers standing beside them watching helicopters circle over the […]

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Comedy

VOD Spotlight: “Bridesmaids”

Somewhere between the proposal and the honeymoon is the wedding and all the excesses that go with the biggest day of a bride’s life. It can be trying for the happy couple, but often even more so for the bridesmaids who must live with, and help foot the bill for, the excesses. This was perfect fodder for producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) to create a chick flick version of The Hangover — the comedy blockbuster Bridesmaids. He drew on the writing and acting talents of Saturday Night Live comedian Kristen Wiig, who also appeared in Knocked Up. “Every time we […]

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Action

VOD Spotlight: Thriller “Hanna” is interpreted by graphic artists

The title character of this adventure thriller, Hanna (played by Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan, Atonement), is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across […]