Musts and Misses: The movies to see (and skip) this weekend

Your Place or Mine

Your Place or Mine

If your press tour involves defending your chemistry with your co-star, chances are, the final product might not live up to expectations. This sentiment rings true for “Your Place or Mine,” a rom-com that struggles to ignite even a flicker of excitement despite boasting star power and a promising premise. Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher headline the film, but their on-screen dynamic feels more like damp kindling than a blazing inferno. What should be a delightful romp through the rom-com playbook instead falls flat, offering a hollow and uninspired rendition of the genre’s tropes.

Witherspoon portrays Debbie, a cheerful single mom and accountant living in sunny Los Angeles, while Kutcher plays Tom, a successful yet emotionally detached New York business consultant. The two have been best friends for nearly two decades, their bond forged after a regrettable fling long ago. When Debbie needs to obtain an accounting certificate in Manhattan, Tom agrees to babysit her son, Jack, played by Wesley Kimmel.

Their transcontinental adventure introduces additional characters into the mix: Debbie gains Minka, played by Zoe Chao, a vivacious party girl from Tom’s dating pool, while Tom acquires Alicia, portrayed by Tig Notaro, Jack’s schoolteacher, and a peculiar neighbor, played by Steve Zahn. As the story unfolds predictably, with rom-com staples like chance encounters and missed connections, it becomes evident that the film lacks the charm and wit necessary to elevate its formulaic plot.

Writer-director Aline Brosh McKenna, known for her work on “Cruella” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” fails to inject the screenplay with the depth and nuance needed to engage audiences. Instead, the film feels like a half-hearted homage to classic rom-coms, relying on tired clichés rather than genuine emotion or humor.

While “Your Place or Mine” may find an audience among those craving nostalgic escapism, it ultimately falls short of delivering the quality expected from its talented cast and seasoned director. In an era hungry for clever and refreshing rom-coms, this film serves as a reminder that sometimes, even star power isn’t enough to save a lackluster script.

Sharper

Sharper

In the elaborate game of cons and deceit that is “Sharper,” Sebastian Stan’s character, Max, is the mastermind orchestrating a series of intricate schemes. With targets including a cantankerous New York billionaire (John Lithgow), his glamorous wife (Julianne Moore), and their estranged son, Tom (Justice Smith), the stage is set for a whirlwind of deception and manipulation.

However, the film’s plot takes unexpected twists and turns, beginning with a seemingly innocent romance between Tom and Sandra (Briana Middleton). As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that each character harbors hidden motives and secrets, blurring the lines between truth and falsehood. “Sharper” revels in its own audacity, weaving a web of intrigue where morality takes a backseat to ambition and survival.

Despite the risks and moral ambiguities, Stan’s Max remains undeterred, navigating the labyrinthine world of high-stakes cons with a combination of brooding intensity and calculated charm. Meanwhile, Moore’s portrayal of the billionaire’s wife adds a deliciously theatrical flair to the proceedings, injecting the film with a dose of larger-than-life charisma.

Ultimately, “Sharper” is a gleefully absurd romp through the world of high society grifters, where the only certainty is uncertainty. As the story hurtles towards its conclusion, justice — in its many forms — is served, leaving audiences both exhilarated and slightly bewildered by the audacious twists and turns of the journey.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance

MAGIC MIKE'S LAST DANCE

In the beginning, there was Channing Tatum’s “Magic” Mike Lane, dreaming of a life beyond the strip club stage. What emerged in 2012 was cinematic enchantment: a tale of Florida showmen shedding inhibitions along with their clothes, masterfully crafted by director Steven Soderbergh.

Fast forward to the present, and Mike, now 40, has traded his dance shoes for a more mundane existence. Yet, beneath his sculpted physique and timeless charm, lies a man still searching for purpose. Enter Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek), a larger-than-life figure grappling with her own existential crisis. Hearing whispers of Mike’s past exploits, Maxandra enlists him in a peculiar venture, beckoning him to revive an old theater in London.

As the plot unfolds, Last Dance adopts a whimsical yet introspective tone, reflecting the uncertain times in which it was conceived. The narrative meanders, driven more by spontaneity than meticulous planning, mirroring Mike’s own journey of self-discovery. Soderbergh’s direction oscillates between gritty realism and dreamlike sequences, evoking a sense of both nostalgia and escapism.

While the characters’ depths may remain largely unexplored, the film compensates with its signature dance numbers and pulsating energy. In its climactic moments, Last Dance delivers the catharsis of a classic Hollywood finale, leaving audiences both satisfied and longing for more.

Somebody I Used to Know

Somebody I Used to Know Jay Ellis and Alison Brie

In the quaint village of Leavenworth, Wash., reality-TV producer Ally finds herself at a crossroads. After the abrupt end of her latest project, she returns home determined to prove she’s more than just a career-driven workaholic. However, fate has other plans when she discovers her ex-boyfriend, Sean, is about to marry the free-spirited Cassidy.

Determined to rewrite her own narrative, Ally concocts a scheme straight out of a romantic comedy playbook. With her expertise in crafting chaos, she infiltrates the wedding festivities, setting in motion a series of events designed to upend Sean and Cassidy’s relationship. As she navigates through familiar tropes of love and redemption, Ally’s journey is filled with unexpected twists and comedic mishaps.

Written and directed by Alison Brie and her husband Dave Franco, Somebody I Used to Know cleverly subverts rom-com clichés while embracing its familiar charm. From quirky setups to witty dialogue, the film offers a fresh take on timeless themes of love and self-discovery. And while Ally’s journey may be unconventional and at times outrageous, it’s ultimately a delightful ride filled with laughter, chaos, and a touch of nudity that breaks all the rules.

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