Friday, May 3, 2019

'Long Shot,' 'Extremely Wicked,' and 'Intruder' spring onto May screens

A politically slanted rom-com and two villains dominate middling movie openings this weekend as well as the trio of brief reviews below.
Theron and Rogen play mostly for fun as "Long Shot" lovers.

The former, an aptly named "Long Shot," considers the extremely odd coupling of Charlize Theron with Seth Rogen, while offering a few hearty laughs and not as many D.C.-based insights in its lengthy telling of how a gorgeous presidential candidate actually falls for the schleppy guy she babysat for as a teen.

The really good news is that both have brains, making their adult match, which strengthens particularly during an equally strong middle hour, a step above most ridiculous Hollywood pairings. It certainly helps, too, that tall and talented Theron inspires us to giggle as much as the comically inclined Rogen's speechwriter does here.

Too bad the film's twist resolution plays similarly to something pulled off infinitely more intriguingly --- and credibly -- on a recent episode of Showtime's popular "Billions" series. Of course, it remains a long shot that anyone else might notice anyway.

Rated "R": strong sexual content, language throughout and some drug use; 2:05; $ $ $ out of $5


A Netflix movie that's totally void of comedy arrives today, too, with the psychologically spooky character study of famously charming serial killer Ted Bundy. It's title, "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile," comes from words spoken by a Florida judge while handing down Bundy's sentence in 1989, a full 15 years after his first horrific murder.

King of Quirk John Malkovich appropriately portrays the jurist, but most of the scene-stealing in the unsettling drama comes from Zac Efron, whose own nice-guy persona will play tricks on viewers likely falling themselves for his smiling visage as Bundy.

As it is, much of director Joe Berlinger's telling comes from the female perspective of Bundy's longtime girlfriend (an OK Lily Collins), whose own suffering from alcohol abuse obviously pales in comparison to Bundy's 30 or more dead victims. Actually a smaller role, portrayed by Kaya Scodelario, as the devoted, mousy woman who eventually gave birth to Bundy's only child, somehow works more effectively. But, talk about the mind playing tricks, maybe that's just because Scodelario so much resembles Emma Stone as Billie Jean King in 2017's totally unrelated "Battle of the Sexes."

Certainly, even without the director showing an abundance of Bundy's murders or re-creations of such, fans of oh so many TV crime and punishment shows might readily embrace all of it. And, by the way, Berlinger, an acclaimed filmmaker and 2017 recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Documentary Filmmaking from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, already is the creator of "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes," a four-part doc series that has been streaming on Netflix since January.

Rated "R": disturbing/violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language; 1:49; $ $ $ out of $5


Quaid intrudes rather easily.
Finally, and since we're talking about creepy, there's "The Intruder," a smarmy tale starring Dennis Quaid as the unstable title character, whose oddly fascinating facial expressions almost become worth the price of admission.

Unfortunately, we're pretty sure that this thriller is supposed to be more scary than funny, although comments from the good-natured crowd at a recent screening made for a much more entertaining final reel than anticipated.

Quaid's persistent intrusiveness centers in and around the big ol' Napa Valley home he sells to an engaging couple (Meagan Goode and Michael Ealy) in the early going and, naturally, Meagan has more patience with ex-owner's visits than Michael does. Well, one cross word leads to a more stressful house call and, before we know it, a family friend (Joseph Sikora) learns the hard way that it's never OK to pee in the bushes.

Some other key scenes -- with Thanksgiving and Christmas settings -- indicate that this stalking chestnut has been hanging around for a while in search of a worthy release date. So, if you decide to see it on date night Saturday, May the Fourth be with you. And it!

Rated "PG-13": violence, terror, some sexuality, language and thematic elements; 1:42; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

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