(M) “Mark my words, there’ll never be a more screwed-up time in Washington!” So says eccentric scientist Bill Randa (a splendid John Goodman) as he jumps out of a cab on Capitol Hill. That may make some people chortle today, but it wasn’t as funny back in the early 1970s, the setting for Kong: Skull Island. This film is a reboot of the King Kong cinematic franchise, which is closing in on a century. Unlike the earlier movies, this one unfolds in Kong’s home, Skull Island, where he is far from being the only unusual beast. He does not end up in New York to climb the Empire State Building or the World Trade Centre. It’s the inclusion of historical references, and literary ones, that make this film engaging, despite its faults, which include a pedestrian script. There is humour too, though not always where the filmmakers intend it to be. A Few Less Men (MA15 +) A woeful sequel to Stephan Elliott’s uneven but mostly hilarious A Few Best Men (2011), with the same writer, Dean Craig, but a different director, Mark Lamprell. This starts where the earlier film concluded, but as the gormless groom (Xavier Samuel) and his accident-prone best men (Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop) attempt to transport the corpse of their mate back to Britain, the journey is complicated by a plane crash and encounters with various broadly conceived Aussie eccentrics. A solid cast can’t do much with the lame jokes and reliance on toilet humour.
Miss Sloane (M) Calamity Jones The highfalutin way to describe director Richard Carroll’s Calamity Jane at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Co is to say its abundant meta-theatrics put a contemporary, ironic frame around an old-fashioned musical, revealing fresh insights. The perky simplicity of the 1953 Doris Day film that spawned the 1961 stage version gives way to a much more nuanced 21st-century take on a mid-20th-century interpretation of an unconventional 19th-century woman. If that sounds deadly, fear not. The low-falutin truth is that along with being outstandingly clever, Calamity Jane is gut-bustlingly funny and has an extraordinarily generous heart. Crucially, it is blessed with a central performance from Virginia Gay (pictured) as fine as any seen on our musical stages since, I don’t know, forever. Carroll’s production makes having a tiny budget look like a brilliant artistic choice and adding to the general delight is the truly gorgeous score by Sammy Fain (music) and Paul Francis Webster (lyrics), blissfully heard unamplified. The Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point. Today, 1pm and 7.30pm. Tickets: $60-$75. Bookings: (02) 8065 7337 or online. Duration: 2hrs 30 mins, with interval. Until April 9. production by Michael Gow is a beloved modern classic set during the Australian Christmas of 1967. Away is seen through the eyes of Tom, an aspiring actor, and is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the social upheavals of the 1960s. The cast includes Heather Mitchell ( Hay Fever), Glenn Hazeldine ( Disgraced) and Liam Nuna. Directed by Matthew Lutton. Sydney Opera House. Bennelong Point, Sydney. Tonight, 8pm. Tickets: $61-$105. Bookings: (02) 9250 7777. Until March 25. Aladdin “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess,” said Oscar Wilde, who obviously wasn’t in a position to advise Disney on Aladdin but would not have been able to fault its abundance. Aladdin confidently contrives a standing ovation before interval, secure in the knowledge there’ll be another one at the end. Sure, there’s a wholesome story somewhere in here about being honest, generous and true to yourself, but essentially Aladdin is a supercharged salaam to fabulousness. There are a halfmillion Swarovski crystals bedecking Gregg Barnes’s eyepopping costumes Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket. Today, 1pm and 8pm. Tickets: $60-$195. Bookings: 136 100 or online. Until March 26. Richard III wants and given to sudden tantrums. When he is wooing Lady Anne, and later arguing with Elizabeth in his attempt to get her to woo her daughter on his behalf, he seems to believe what he is saying, he is so passionate, until he boasts of his trickery in those mischievous little asides to the audience. Mulvany’s face is incredibly mobile and expressive in all this. We catch the wicked grins of compliance, but also brief glimpses of hurt beneath the brashness, and then the spreading cracks in Richard’s confidence. The play is very pared back, especially in the final scenes. Richard’s relationship with Buckingham and the battle scenes with Richmond are sketched in almost breathlessly. Richmond has no final scene of triumph. At the end we are left with Richard crumpled down and dying on the stage, devastatingly and movingly alone. Director Peter Evans’s taut version of the play,