A quick look at some of the more notable titles hitting home video this week.
A Bad Moms Christmas
This sequel to 2016’s surprise hit (said because as usual expectations for a female-led comedy were pretty low) didn’t perform at the same level as the original but still brought in some pretty decent box office. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Katherine Hahn all returned as the frazzled mothers and wives who are trying their best to live up to the expectations society places on women, this time with the added comedy and pathos of their visiting mothers. Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon play the moms of the moms. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the overdone gender cliches on display in the campaign, a lot of people apparently were.
Lolita and The Crucible get mashed up in this drama about Abagail (Quinn Shephard), a high school student with a history of emotional issues. When she starts to feel a new teacher (Chris Messina) is paying special interest in her she starts to change her “good girl” personality to be much more sexual and outrageous. That brings her into conflict with her rival in school Melissa (Nadia Alexander), who sets out to destroy Abagail. The movie’s limited campaign was steeped in gender roles and was a tad on the exploitative side but wanted to highlight the interpersonal dramas that drive the story.
Bella Thorne seems to be fully embracing her status as this generation’s scream queen in a series of films, including this one. Here she plays Jamie, one member of a family that finds itself suddenly trapped in their own home, with notes left all around warning them that they’re being watched by someone at all times. As usual the games being played change over the course of a very long night and the trailer played up the close quarters that heighten the tension.
Rob Reiner’s political biopic didn’t catch on with critics or audiences, for a variety of reasons including a small campaign that didn’t offer a lot for people to connect with. Woody Harrelson plays the former president in this story that follows him from his reluctant acceptance of a place as JFK’s running mate in 1960 – something done purely out of political pragmatism by both men – to his position as the keeper of Kennedy’s legacy as a champion for social (read: liberal) causes. Reiner took pains in the press to talk about how he was making this movie as a mea culpa for having misjudged Johnson for years, but audiences weren’t interested.
“Too dark” was the consensus reaction this movie. George Clooney directed Matt Damon in this dark social satire, based on an idea Joel and Ethan Coen have been sitting on and talking about for 20 years. Damon plays a suburban father and husband whose wife is killed and who somehow gets involved with the local mob, personified by Oscar Isaac. The marketing very much played like a Coen Bros. film, but seems to have missed some crucial elements of the story that turned people off on a number of fronts.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.