Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Fresh 'AIR' the best of '23 so far; Colorful 'Mario Bros.' plumbs for plot

Sorry, all-time NBA scoring leader Lebron James, but not only does Ben Affleck's enjoyable "AIR" prove the impact of Michael Jordan on and off the basketball court, it also soars as the best movie 2023 has to offer so far.

Any hoops aficionado certainly might agree when it becomes obvious, almost from the get-go, how easily director Affleck and first-time feature screenwriter Alex Convery get it all so very right in telling the marvelous tale of running-shoe company Nike chasing down superstar-to-be Jordan just so he can wear their sneakers way back in 1984. 

Everyone else, of course, simply will get knocked out by the mostly A-List talent that nails each and every performance -- from Matt Damon's likable cager guru to Jason Bateman's marketing wiz to Viola Davis, as Jordan's decision-maker Mom. (Still, such a fabulous trio barely skims the surface of acting talent on display, thanks to key cast contributions from Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, Affleck himself and, oh, so many more.)

Even with an ending that perhaps could use a little more, uh, well . . . game, "AIR" rises so consistently behind members of the thoroughly engaging ensemble, they already have put themselves in early position as real players for an awards season that remains a good eight months away. Watch them now and expect nothing but three-pointers all around.

Rated "R" by MPAA: for language throughout: 1:52; $ $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Speaking of games, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" acceptably puts the world's most famous Italian plumbers through their animated paces with an array of capable salutes to the siblings' longtime antics on Nintendo's ever-popular video systems.

Whether Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) walk to their first job assignment in Brooklyn, prove their mettle to Mushroom Kingdom Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), try to assemble an army by battling fellow gamer Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen), or get chased by Dark Land's big bad Bowser (an amplified Jack Black), anyone who ever handled a joystick might find reason to relate.

There are also enough "Easter eggs" to discover just in time for Sunday's joyous spring holiday, and assorted snippets of the game's now familiar theme music, all mixed in with rock hits such as a-ha's "Take on Me" or ELO's "Big Blue Sky."

Now, all we need is a legitimate story to flesh out among the colors. Maybe next time? 

Rated "PG" by MPAA: Action and mild violence; 1:32: $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

("AIR" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" both open Wednesday in theaters everywhere. Opening Friday (April 7): "How to Blow Up a Pipeline" and "Paint. Streaming: Chupa (Netflix); "Gangs of Lagos" and "On a Wing and a Prayer" (Prime Video), all also debut on April 7.)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

If you're watching a Mario movie for the plot, you've entered the wrong movie theater.