Friday, May 27, 2022

A familiar ol' 'Top Gun,' some stale 'Burgers,' and the real 'Emergency'

The first Academy Award winner of 2022 arrives with "Top Gun: Maverick," but it actually shows up after all is mostly said and done. That's when the inimitable Lady Gaga belts out "Hold My Hand," already a dead-mortal-lock Best Original Song ballad she co-wrote to soar majestically over the closing credits, just like the many fighter jets do over enemy territory during this typically explosive summer blockbuster sequel.

Of course, Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" walked away with the Song Oscar from the original "Top Gun," even if "Danger Zone" (which did go on to earn Kenny Loggins a Grammy Award) was the upbeat credits closer 36 years ago. In fact, some quickly "Danger"(ous) notes can be heard dancing around "Maverick," which also uses more photos than clips to bring back memories from America's No.1 box-office hit of 1986.

Otherwise, the biggest reminder obviously comes with the return of legitimate movie star Tom Cruise, now admirably playing a more mature and wiser version than the young hotshot who earned his titular nickname as a heroic and excitingly successful test pilot. 

Also back is Val Kilmer, still called "Ice" by some, but now the U.S. Naval Commander of the (entire) Pacific Fleet. Naturally, his emotional reunion scene with Cruise will be the best 10 minutes in the film for many, but they also might notice all the nifty and newest digital cinematography moments from Claudio Miranda, already an Oscar winner himself for 2013's "Life of Pi," currently in his fifth big-screen collaboration with director Joseph Kosinksi.

The rest has Kosinski ("Only the Brave," "Tron: Legacy") serving up the requisite summer schmaltz and gravy, including a side of Jon "Too Much" Hamm," as the superior officer who repeatedly, testily and haplessly rags on Maverick's every spirited move. Talk about mad men!

Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: sequences of intense action and some strong language; 2:12; $ $ $ out of $5

Please excuse the bun, but "The Bob's Burgers Movie" really must be more than just an acquired taste, no? After all, the FOX-TV series on which it's based has been running every Sunday night for 11 years.

I think I watched the animated show's opening episode and never went back (unlike "The Simpsons," first noticed in this corner as a cartoon short on the old "Tracy Ullman Show" in 1987, and still occasionally viewed today during its own incredibly enduring -- and on-going record -- 33rd season).

Sad to say, the "Burgers" movie simply doesn't go down so easily. Three or four laugh-out-loud-instigating jokes and a few (very) silly songs in a dinosaur-paced 100 minutes do not a successful comedy make. 

Besides, the murderous plot has gloomy Bob Belcher (H. Bob Benjamin) and ever-boosting wife Linda (John Roberts) worrying about paying the rent. And, that's even before a sudden and huge sinkhole not only hampers their eatery business, but leads to daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal), the youngest of three oddball Belcher kids, to finding skeletal remains at the bottom. Uh, maybe next time we'll just order fries.   

Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: rude/suggestive material and language; 1:42; $ $ out of $5

Finally, that leaves the movie week's only real thought-provoker with "Emergency" (already in some select theaters and debuting on Prime Video today).

It features two college kids hoping to enjoy the fun of their senior-year spring break. Though Kunie (welcome newcomer Donald Elise-Watkins) is trying his best to complete the mold experiment that will help him advance to post-grad studies at Princeton, he somewhat reluctantly agrees to take his party-hardy cues from best pal Sean (RJ Cyler, still smartly funny after his "Harder They Fall" success).

The setup suggests lotsa rollicking stuff ahead, right? Well, what follows does provoke some satirical laughs, but potential racial implications speak timely and emotional volumes, too.

It all comes from director Carey Williams ("R#J") and writer K.D. Davila, who collected the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award after the film premiered at Sundance last January. The movie's final image alone is a killer.
Rated "R" by MPAA: pervasive language, drug use and some sexual references; 1:44; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

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