Actor John Krasinski’s second directorial effort is a decent one with a first-rate cast. Krasinski stars as John Hollar, working a dead-end job for a publishing company when his girlfriend (the always great Anna Kendrick) informs him that his mom (a terrific Margo Martindale) is sick, and then he’s flying home to see her. Once there, John has to deal with his weird brother Ron (Sharlto Copley), the oddball nurse that is also his old girlfriend’s new husband (Charlie Day) and his weepy dad (Richard Jenkins). The script goes to some familiar territories, but the performers put new spins on the situations, especially Martindale, who takes the part and really runs with it. Krasinski does a good job handling the script’s many mood swings, and the relationships in the film feel real—that strange kind of real. The film manages to get laughs, even when the subject matter goes to dark places. It deals with the lousier side of life without getting totally depressing, something that could’ve happened easily. Krasinski makes it all work. The supporting cast also includes Randall Park, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Josh Groban in small but memorable roles. The soundtrack is stellar, featuring Josh Ritter, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and Wilco.
1 Blair WitchThis is the second sequel to The Blair Witch Project, the original “found footage” horror film. Would Lionsgate take this opportunity to reintroduce a once promising premise into a new style of film, perhaps a traditional narrative about the Blair Witch set in the forest without the gimmick of people running around with cameras filming themselves, even when they are in great peril? Nope—opportunity wasted. This movie is essentially the original with louder noises, a few more gizmos—drones, walkie talkies, better tents—and, yes, lots more sticks tied together with twine and piles of rocks. For those of you who are scared shitless by stick men made out of twigs and twine—and piles of rocks in front of tents—this movie will fuck your shit up. I’m thinking that accounts for perhaps .00009832 percent of the movie-going population. The rest of you will be bored out of your minds. James (James Allen McCune), long suffering brother of the original film’s Heather, who vanished all those years ago, has found … a tape. That tape contains shaky footage made by somebody moronic enough to try to keep the action on camera rather than focus on their much needed getaway. In said footage, a messed-up looking woman is glimpsed for a second, so James instantly thinks it’s Heather. James assembles a crew of idiots to go into the forest, the cursed forest where people disappear and strange tapes are found, in search of the house where the footage was filmed by some moron who didn’t just drop the stupid camera in favor of weaponry and get the hell to safety. The results: not scary and not entertaining.