film Kevin Costner

Some Movies to See This Weekend, February 20, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015 Rob Samuelson

Three new wide releases find their way to theaters this weekend, again continuing the odd eclecticism of this February. Sure, there are two comedies this week, but their goals and means are so highly different that they feel completely different. There's also a family friendly uplifting sports story, too, so lots of audiences can be satisfied by at least the premises at the movies.

Director: Ari Sandel
Writer: Josh A. Cagan
Starring: Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell

Mae Whitman of Arrested Development fame – Ann Veal! – has an extensive résumé but has almost always been a side character. That fortunately changes with The DUFF, short for “designated ugly fat friend,” a designation that Whitman most certainly does not fit. However, the movie is a satire of the insane body image limits people put on themselves and others. It could go off the rails with saccharine platitudes, but Whitman's interest in the project alone, with her track record of focusing on jokes rather than vanity, puts this in the “go see it” category. The trailer offers promise of this being another entry in the line of great female-led high school comedies like Mean Girls and Easy A, with a similar bite.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Director: Steve Pink
Writer: Josh Heald
Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott

I didn't see the original Hot Tub Time Machine, and I am frightened to learn it came out five years ago, and that I was well into college at that time. And now I am old. And I have gray hairs sprouting everywhere. And this preview is getting offtrack.

Adam Scott, one of television comedy's MVPs of the last decade, replaces John Cusack, playing Adam, Jr., who I assume to be the future son of Cusack's Adam from the original. Because they time travel in these movies. With a hot tub. You get it. The trailer made me laugh a few times, especially Craig Robinson's “original” songs. It'll probably be a little lewd, a little mean, and probably some fun. I doubt you'll need to have seen the original to get onboard with the sequel.

McFarland, U.S.A.
Director: Niki Caro
Writers: Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, Grant Thompson
Starring: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez

Turns out this is a movie about cross country runners, not swimmers. Its poster, depicting a bunch of young men charging into the ocean, is misleading and it should be removed immediately because I cannot handle this.

However, continuing my “when I was in college” meltdown of this preview, the trailer for McFarland, U.S.A. features a song by Juanes, a man whose songs – especially “A Dios Le Pido,” the one here – I heard innumerable times in college Spanish classes. It was the Truman State University Spanish department's main quirk, in which every professor played that song so we could learn the lyrics for some reason. That guitar riff reverberates through my brain in my darkest times, making them darker/more annoying. I am less inclined to see McFarland, U.S.A. because of this insult.

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