American Pastoral Boo A Madea Halloween

Anything You Could Want to See: October 21's New Movies

Friday, October 21, 2016 Rob Samuelson

There is so much coming to theaters this weekend, folks. Horror-comedies, horror original flavor, fish-out-of-water comedies, action sequels, and theoretical awards fare are all on the docket. If you plan to see everything in theaters every weekend, my hat’s off to you. It’ll be a lot to take in. Let’s check it out.

Photo credit: Boo! A Madea Halloween/Facebook

Boo! A Madea Halloween
Director: Tyler Perry
Writer: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely

I don't know if Tyler Perry’s work would best be described as controversial or divisive because so many in the critical and “white moviegoer” communities dismiss him wholesale as an incompetent and hacky filmmaker, a figure who is worthy only of derision. I can tell you that two people whose opinions I trust on matters like these think Perry is fascinating in ways that transcend traditional goodness or badness. I'm no expert because I haven't seen his movies, only an episode here and there of his sitcoms.

It's been a while since the usually super prolific Perry has put out a new feature film, and for his big return he's going for a Halloween comedy starring his Madea grandma character fighting supernatural and other spooky villains. One of these days it'll be time for us all to sit down with Perry’s oeuvre with open minds. A holiday romp with Perry in drag as his most famous character seems like as good a place as any to begin.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge

2012’s Jack Reacher was a throwback to a pre-superhero action style, with Tom Cruise as a pulp hero who could stylishly beat up anyone while remaining believably human. It was the movie that convinced Cruise to let director Christopher McQuarrie take over the Mission: Impossible series (McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation might be the best entry in the franchise) so the hope here is that Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’s director, Edward Zwick, can do something similar.

Even if this sequel doesn't live up to its solid predecessor, you can still awe at the 54-year-old Cruise performing most of his own stunts. The guy is incredible at anything athletic on the screen, so it's always a joy to watch him defy death.

Keeping up with the Joneses
Director: Greg Mottola
Writer: Michael LeSieur
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot

For the comedy fans out there, Keeping up with the Joneses pits two of the more affable presences in modern comedy, Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), against Jon Hamm (who has been an uproarious secret weapon on Tina Fey’s sitcoms) in his first major post-Mad Men role and Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot. Hamm and Gadot play secret agents who move down the street from Galifiankis and Fisher’s ho-hum married couple. Misunderstandings and poorly-timed discoveries of secret identities leads to hijinks. Director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) has a good track record so this could be a nice October surprise that has nothing to do with the election.

Ouija: Origin of Evil
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Annalise Basso

After The Lego Movie proved that movies made for cynical brand-awareness reasons could wind up being great as long as the right people are behind the scenes, there is a lot of hope for Ouija: Origin of Evil. The board game has a long history of providing scares in other horror franchises, but now it comes front and center in filmmaker Mike Flanagan’s (Hush) latest effort. And it looks terrifying. With Halloween arriving in a matter of days, it might be time to head to the theater to scare yourself and others.

American Pastoral
Director: Ewan McGregor
Writer: John Romano
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning

Ewan McGregor makes his directorial debut with an adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth’s novel of the same name. Taking place in the revolutionary late 1960s, McGregor (pulling double duty as the lead actor) is a square suburban man trying to provide for his family, including wife Jennifer Connelly and daughter Dakota Fanning. The daughter isn’t too keen on their comfortable middle class lifestyle, so she wants to blow stuff up -- including a post office. The search for Fanning, who goes on the run, takes up the plot. It looks moody and like it’s reaching for something big and profound, as is Roth’s wont -- he’s the guy who wrote a book called The Great American Novel, after all. Whether McGregor’s take on the material turns out to be any good remains to be seen, but he’s swinging for the fences.

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