Friday, August 18, 2023

Review: ‘The Out-Laws’ action-packed silliness

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes

What if you suspected your to-be in-laws were current bank robbers? What would you do? This is exactly what happens to Owen when he meets his fiancé Parker’s parents, Billy and Lilly, whom he suspects robbed the bank where he is manager.

His intimidating in-laws know he’s on to them, and he’s having trouble proving their guilt and his innocence. When Parker is kidnapped by Billy and Lilly’s boss, Rehan, he must work together with his in-laws to save his to-be wife from a gruesome fate – all in time for their upcoming wedding in this outlandish comedy.

Produced by Adam Sandler, “The Out-Laws” stars Adam Devine, Nina Dobrev, Pierce Brosnan, Ellen Barkin, Michael Rooker, Poorna Jagannathan, Richard Kind, Julie Hagerty, Blake Anderson, Lil Rel Howery, Lauren Lapkus, and Dean Winters.

Owen (Devine) and Parker (Dobrev) are getting married. Owen is mapping out the seating chart for the wedding using a variety of action figures. When Parker asks if there is room for two more seats, Owen is psyched her parents are coming; he’s never met them. Parker is less than thrilled and says her parents can be a bit much.

Despite Owen’s parents (Kind, Hagerty) not being crazy about Parker, he is excited to meet her parents. He assures her it’s OK if her parents are a lot.

“Have you met my parents?” said Owen. “I only picked Medusa and Skeletor [as representatives for his parents in the seating chart] because they don’t make Stalin and Lizzie Borden dolls.”

When Parker’s parents, Billy (Brosnan) and Lilly (Barkin) arrive early, it’s a surprise. To say they’re intimidating is an understatement.

Billy, Lilly and Owen all go drinking and Owen tells Parker it was like hanging with the cool kids.

Later, Owen’s bank is robbed, and the robbers know Owen by name. Detective Oldham (Rooker) has been tracking notorious criminals, the Ghost Bandits, for years and he suspects this is their handywork.

After carefully considering several details from the robbery coupled with initially meeting Billy and Lilly, he thinks they may have robbed his bank.

Billy and Lilly’s boss, Rehan (Jagannathan), tells them she wants more money than the $1 million they’ve already given her, otherwise Parker is in trouble.

While Agent Oldham is tracking the Ghost Bandits, he finds the equipment they used to rob Owen’s bank in the trunk of Owen’s car. Owen turns them in almost immediately and Agent Oldham wants him to wear a wire.

While Parker and Owen are cake tasting, Rehan bursts in and kidnaps Parker.

Owen tells Billy and Lilly they need someone familiar with how to get in and out of bank vaults in order to get the rest of the money they need to save Parker. The three come up with a plan to rob the heavily secured Atlas Reserve Bank run by Phoebe King (Lapkus).

I liked this movie. It was funny in parts with a lot of action; the scenes in the cake shop and the cemetery are intense. It is a little raunchy, with mild violence, a little bit of blood, and moderate language. While there are many great actors in this movie, Richard Kind in typical Richard Kind fashion is over-the-top ridiculous, especially when working with Agent Oldham. I felt like it started strong and lost a bit of momentum as it progressed, but this is still a fun one.

The fifth James Bond gives it two thumbs up!

Available to stream on Netflix. <

Friday, August 4, 2023

Disney’s ‘Haunted Mansion’ a fun ride on the big screen

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2 hours, 2 minutes

Gabbie and her son Travis are moving to and starting over in a new house, Gracey Manor, with the intention to open a bed-and-breakfast. When strange things begin happening in the house, they are both convinced it’s haunted. They soon call on a dream team of experts to help rid their home of these unwelcome guests. 

They enlist the help of Ben; an astrophysicist, Father Kent, Harriet; a pyschic, and Professor Bruce Davis. They must join forces to banish the Hatbox Ghost, also known as Alistair Crump in this spooky adventure.

“Haunted Mansion” stars LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chase Dillon, Jared Leto, and Charity Jordan.

Ben (Stanfield) is a grieving astrophysicist who developed a camera to detect dark matter. After the loss of his wife, Alyssa (Jordan) he takes over her ghost tours, despite being a non-believer.

When Gabbie (Dawson) and Travis (Dillon) move into Gracey Manor to open a B&B, they discover their house gets frightening, especially after midnight. They call on Ben to see if he can photograph some ghosts with his “ghost camera.” Ben meets Father Kent (Wilson) who has considered doing an exorcism on the manor.

Gabbie tries to convince Ben that setting foot in her home could change the course of his life. Ben’s not buying how scared they are. After being in the manor, Ben experiences strange occurrences at his apartment and now believes the ghost may have followed him home.

He returns to the manor and Gabbie and Travis tell him the hauntings have gotten worse. Ben thinks they need an exorcism, but Father Kent is hesitant.

After Ben explores the house on his own, he says they’ll need more help. They bring in Professor Bruce Davis (DeVito) and psychic Harriet (Haddish). Professor Davis has newspaper clippings detailing the deaths that took place in the manor.

While examining the attic of the manor, they find an old trunk with a crystal ball which houses Madame Leota (Curtis). The group finds a secret séance room and contact the spirit of William Gracey, who owned the manor previously. She explains there is a terrible evil that was summoned long ago; this is Alistair Crump (Leto). If Crump is not banished, the ghosts will remain at Gracey Manor.

Crump wants Ben as his last soul. A reverse séance is performed, and Ben goes looking for Crump.

Crump locks Gracey Manor down, but Ben, Travis and Father Kent have escaped, and traveled to Crump Manor, now a historical site with guided tours, to stop Crump. In Crump Manor, Travis finds Crump’s hat, which can be used as part of the ritual to banish Crump.

One of my favorite rides at Disney World is the Haunted Mansion. This movie has many elements from the ride, from changing picture frames to rising walls, and just an overall air of spookiness. It’s not super scary, though I did jump in my seat once. This is a perfect pre-Halloween treat. It’s funny and sweet in places, but the realistic abundance of ghosts may be too scary for younger audiences. I really enjoyed this action-packed movie and its special effects. Pay attention to the background in Gracey Manor for anything unusual. If you’re a fan of the Disney ride, haunted houses and ghouls, you have to see this one on the big screen.

Crump Manor tour guide Vic gives this movie two thumbs up.

Now showing only in theaters. <

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Windham varsity boys’ basketball wraps up successful summer session

By Matt Pascarella

It’s been a busy and productive summer for the Windham High School boys’ basketball team. They became Gold Rush champions during a basketball camp at Thomas College in Waterville. The entire team has been working hard each morning showing up for early morning practices. In the final game of the summer season, Windham boys’ varsity beat Edward Little at home, 56-49, on Thursday, July 27 in a game that showcased their hard work and dedication.

Windham junior Conor Janvrin dribbles past two Edward
Little opponents on Thursday, June 27 during a summer
basketball game at Windham High School.
For the first time, the boys’ high school basketball program invited Windham seventh and eighth graders to join them in a week of practices as they finished their summer season.

“We couldn’t wait for the summer to start, just because of the guys we had coming back,” said Windham varsity boys’ basketball coach Chad Pulkkinen. “Summer has been great, because we get to hang out with these guys, but also helping fuel their passion for the game. It’s very rewarding for me.”

During the final game of the summer season, Edward Little jumped to an early lead. Windham tied the game with the Red Eddies several times and the game was tied at 22 at the half.

At the start of the second half, Windham really increased their intensity and took the lead. Windham remained out in front and made it difficult for Edward Little to get this win.

Windham junior Creighty Dickson said they pushed the pace, finished at the rim and played fast pace on defense; it was a solid game.

When Pulkkinen opened practice up to seventh and eighth graders, he said he’s seen his players start to understand their roles as role models and that gives them a sense of how to hold themselves as players and athletes. It’s a win-win for both sides. It’s been very collaborative and powerful for the program.

“It’s been good we all work out together a lot,” said Windham junior Conor Janvrin. “We all worked together, everyone knows their role and plays a part in the team; I’m looking forward to the upcoming season [this winter].”

Windham sophomore AJ Moody sunk 3 three-pointers during the Edward Little game and said this was the last summer with some of the seniors. He really wanted to show up for them and put everything on the line; he couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff. He likes teaching the upcoming high school players new things and he can’t wait to play with them.

The varsity players got to show the middle school players how they do things offensively and strategically. The overall comradery has been really fun. Pulkkinen enjoyed seeing his team as a great set of role models. It was fun for him to see varsity players giving back to the youth program.

“It was really fun to watch and play against a bunch of high-level players and being able to learn from them,” said Windham eighth grader Sean Lebel. “They showed me the pace that high school basketball is played at and is a very big step up from middle school. It was a great way for me to work on fundamentals and get up a lot of shots. It was nice to build relationships with a lot of the high schoolers too.”

Windham junior varsity and assistant varsity coach Geoff Grigsby said the commitment and dedication he’s seen on the court from players of all ages this summer really proves Windham is a basketball community on the rise. <