Box Office Friday: ‘Bumblebee’ and ‘Aquaman’

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12/21/2018 – Box Office Friday with Film Critic Tony Toscano.

“Second Act” gets a C and is rated PG.

A worker at a big box store reinvents herself and her life-story to nab a better job.

“Second Act” is basically a TV movie released on the big screen. The film is likable although the plot is nothing new. There are a few confusing moments in the script, but everyone in audience knows where this is going. 

In the end, “Second Act” is a typical ‘fish-out-of-water’ formula movie which is trying very hard to be relevant but falling way short of its goal.

“Bumblebee” gets a B and is rated PG-13

“Bumblebee” is an origin story about why the Transformers come to Earth. The film takes place in 1987 as a young woman discovers a living machine disguised as VW Beetle.

“Bumblebee” is a better-than-expected addition to the “Transformer’s” franchise and balances comedy and action in a fast-moving and well written script.

Surprisingly, the film doesn’t relay solely on its robot battles, it also has heart and offers up some unexpected sentimentality which gives the film a much needed change of pace from its predecessors.

Aquaman gets a C and is rated PG-13.

Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.

“Aquaman” takes much too long to get to the point as the film keeps tacking on plot devices and characters giving the audience a sense the script was unfinished when production began. 

Despite its terrific special effects, “Aquaman” is mostly a lackluster, uneven and unsatisfying film begging for one more re-write.

Mary Poppins Returns gets a C and is rated PG.

Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is a film audiences want to like. But when compared to the original 1964 film, the new sequel is out of its league.

At it’s heart “Mary Poppins” and “Mary Poppins Returns” are musicals. But the musical score in “Mary Poppins Returns” is unmemorable at best. 

Compare the new score to the original’s score which included “Jolly Holiday,” “Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Feed the Birds,” Chim Chim Cheree” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” all songs the audiences were humming as they left the movie theater in 1964.

The new film really lacks that big blockbuster song.

Also gone in “Mary Poppins Returns” is a sense of childhood whimsy and fun, as the new film is laden with sorrow in the first few moments of the movie. 

Although Emily Blunt takes on the iconic role in earnest, her Mary Poppins is written to languish in the background, smiling and knowingly nod. She is hardly the protagonist we remember.

Lin-Manual Miranda plays ‘Jack,’ a new character taking the place of Dick van Dyke’s ‘Bert,’ but again the character seems to be only added in to provide some songs here and there.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is not unlikeable, but it is unremarkable.

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