BAD MOMS 2 (MA15+) Just as funny with twice the not-so-nice US, 104 min
A quick check of last year’s calendar reveals the first Bad Moms (a very profitable smash hit) was only released 15 months ago. Surely it is way too soon for another ransacking of our box-office pockets? Not quite. Somewhat surprisingly, this swiftly assembled sequel earns its keep as a crowd-pleasing comedy for two telling reasons. Firstly, the hit-to-miss joke ratio is moderately high. When the big laughs do come, they do so with gusto. Secondly, Bad Moms 2 refreshes the proven formula of the original by doubling the number of misbehaving mothers in play. This time around, the foundation trio of Bad Moms — Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) — must go head-to-head with their own bad mothers. As it is Christmas, a period that brings the worst out of most families, Amy’s control-freak mom Ruth (Christine Baranski), Kiki’s clingy mom Sandy (Cheryl Hines) and Carla’s trailer-trash mom Isis (Susan Sarandon) will be doing their best to ruin this hallowed holiday for all.
THE FOREIGNER (MA15+) Revenge a dish best served old US-China, 110 min
They killed Jackie Chan’s daughter. Now they’re gonna have to pay. But first, old Jackie has to work out exactly who “they” are. After losing his only child in a London terrorist bombing, Quan (Chan) has a hunch the IRA (and their man in British Parliament, played by Pierce Brosnan) might be in it up to their ears. So runs the seen-it-all-before premise of The Foreigner, a no-frills action-thriller as old school as this kind of fare can be.
GEOSTORM (M) Cloudy, with a chance of meatheads US, 109 min
A D-grade disaster movie where the world’s weather has turned suspiciously malicious. Our only hope rests with the Daniel Day-Lewis of dumb action flicks, Mr Gerard Butler. Gezza must zoom up to the International Space Station to shake his fists and throw some spanners at a ring of weather-controlling satellites that have gone rogue. Butler and a grimacing, vein-popping cast play it way too straight in a movie fundamentally telling all conventional logic to go and get bent.
HAPPY DEATH DAY (M) If at first you don’t survive, try, and try again US, 94 min
This appealingly appalling thriller puts Groundhog Day in a microwave with the first Scream, and turns all controls way up high. Cleverly, the movie knows we’ll all keep watching to see what happens, even if it against our better judgment. Newcomer Jessica Rothe stars as Tree, a college student trapped in a terminal time loop. Every morning, she wakes up in someone else’s room across campus. By midnight, she will have died a terrible death at the hands of a masked killer.
HOME AGAIN (M) Whatever they say, Reese is the word US, 97 min
Eager-to-please (and-even-more-eager-not-to-hard offend) rom-com escapism depicting a situation incredibly hard to believe, yet very easy to sit back and take in. Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice, who after a big night bemoaning her 40th birthday, takes in three young aspiring filmmakers as lodgers. Wouldn’t you just know it? The combined traits of this well-behaved pack of guy-candy amount to everything her exhusband (Michael Sheen) should have been. Co-stars Candice Bergen.
JIGSAW (MA15+) The eighth cut is not the deepest US, 92 min
Spoiler alert: this grisly horror movie ends with some brains departing a skull, and making tracks for the floor. To keep your own grey matter where it should be housed, you should come along to Jigsaw only if you feel the urge to witness a belated eighth instalment to the Saw franchise. There hasn’t been one of these flicks since 2010. Though a lot has changed in the realm of horror in that time, it is very much business as ooze-ual in the Saw slaughterhouse. You know the drill here. There’s a quartet of young miscreants being held against their will in an enclosed space. To escape, they might have to part company with an organ, limb, or a substantial percentage of their lifespan. Meanwhile, a cabal of clueless cops and morticians wonder aloud if this is all the work of the notorious mastermind Jigsaw, seemingly still at work in spite of dying at the end of Saw 3.
SUBURBICON (MA15+) The best-slayed plans of mice and men US, 129 min
By 1950s standards, it should be the perfect crime. A timid husband (Matt Damon) wants his wheelchair-bound wife (Julianne Moore) out of the picture. Mainly so he can replace her with her sketchy twin sister (Moore again). A hefty insurance payout won’t hurt, either. While the rest of the all-white neighbourhood goes into a rage over an African-American family discovered to be living in their midst, the man of the house makes his move. With every part of the plan primed to fall into place, only one variable remains: how much does the unhappy couple’s only child, a small boy, know about what is really going on? Directed by George Clooney from a script penned by the Coen Brothers ( Fargo, No Country for Old Men), this twisted tale of domestic evil carries a comic edge which will divide some viewers. If you can get where it is coming from — but can’t pick where it might be heading — then this shrewd set of jabs at American pride and its many prejudices has done the job mighty well. Co-stars Oscar Isaac.
THOR: RAGNAROK (M) Hammer comes down, humour goes up US, 129 min
The third big-screen solo outing for Thor sees the big burly bearded bloke in his best form yet. While the movie supplies the kind of sprawling action spectacle Marvel is renowned for, it is also a sly, dry comedy packed with deadpan punchlines and absurd sight gags. The goodnatured goofiness to the fore is definitely the handiwork of New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, fresh off his 2016 global sleeper hit Hunt for the Wilder people. When Waititi and an openly enthusiastic cast — led by Australian duo Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as his evil older sister Hela — get the laughs going on a roll, the movie’s charm is irresistible. Co-stars Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo.
THREE SUMMERS (M) Perfectly unseasonable, Australia 102 min
A lifeless Australian comedy from go to whoa to no, lethargically collecting all the sketchy caricatures, redundant stereotypes and crass cliches writer-director Ben Elton can think of. After Elton applies a heart-hardening grasp of modern romance, then makes several lifeshortening lunges at levity, what remains is just a dumpster fire with dialogue. The plot stretches a multitude of thin storylines across three successive stagings of an annual folk music festival. Characters who have initially got it wrong about how to be a good parent, a good spouse, a good lover, a good kid or a good multicultural citizen will eventually come to their senses and get it right. But not before a viewer’s patience — or goodwill towards an appealing homegrown cast which includes Michael Caton, Deborah Mailman and Magda Szubanski — has been completely vaporised. A featured love story between two unlovable types (Rebecca Breeds as a feisty fiddle player, Robert Sheehan as an annoying Irish drifter) merely prolongs the inert, inane agony of it all.