Author: Riley Humphrey

Despite its overlong runtime, “In the Heights” is a successful take on the now-rare big-budget musical. There have been entries these past few years, but many are either derivative (Disney’s live-action “Aladdin”) or complete disasters (2019’s “Cats”). While “In the Heights” is no timeless classic, it thankfully avoids these categories. If I could compare it to anything, it would be cotton candy: light and airy, but still sweet and a good treat for the summer months.  The film follows the residents of Washington Heights, a New York neighborhood where everyone is chasing their dreams and falling in love. This setup is a good fit for a musical, and the filmmakers have obviously studied the genre’s 1950s and ’60s heyday, mining the classics of that era for inspiration.  Director Jon Chu (of “Crazy Rich Asians” success) creates…

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Author: Riley Humphrey Movies like “Cruella” live or die on their style, and what a strange style “Cruella” has: not bold or shocking, but gangly and mismatched. The pseudo-prequel to Disney’s 1961 animated film “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” follows Estella (Emma Stone), a young thief and aspiring fashion designer living in 1970s London. She begins working for the Baroness (Emma Thompson), a notorious fashion icon, setting her on the path to becoming the criminal Cruella de Vil. Like its main character, the movie has two halves that it can’t reconcile. One side wants to be a ’90s live-action Disney movie, with CG dogs, slapstick fights and wacky supporting characters. This is where the movie spends roughly 80% of its time — inoffensive but clunky.…

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