2 Best Movies to Watch by Matt Nolan

Staff & contributors

, 1996

Only a writer of Albert Brooks’ comedic and perceptive talents could turn the premise of an insecure middle-aged man having romantic trouble into something genuinely funny and poignant. Brooks appears as his signature brand of self-loathing boomer here: he plays John Henderson, a middling novelist who's recently gone through a second divorce. When he finds himself in the unenviable position of having to start afresh in his forties, John first decides he needs to get to the bottom of his recurring failures with women. In keeping with the neurotic preoccupations of his characters, Brooks has John take the psychoanalytic approach by going back to the source: his mother. 

To better get to the root of his hang-ups, John temporarily moves back in with Mrs Henderson, whom Debbie Reynolds plays as a hilariously blithe foil to her manic, insecure son. Brooks and Reynolds’ fractious rapport is tortuously true to life: John finds her petty habits maddening, while she doesn’t seem to understand his life or his work — an obliviousness that, it turns out, might run the other way, too. Cleverly turning the self-obsessions of its lead character on its head, Mother is a wry comedy full of insight and unexpected sweetness.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Albert Brooks, Anne Haney, Billye Ree Wallace, Debbie Reynolds, Ernie Brown, Greg Bronson, Harry Hutchinson, Isabel Glasser, James Gleason, Joey Naber, John C. McGinley, Kimiko Gelman, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Nolan, Michael Moertl, Paul Collins, Peter White, Richard Assad, Rob Morrow, Rosalind Allen, Spencer Klein, Vanessa Williams

Director: Albert Brooks

Rating: PG-13

Less homage to Star Wars than it is a pastiche of that cultural juggernaut, a strong sense of déjà vu hangs over Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon. Unfortunately, in plainly appealing to the memory of its vastly superior inspiration so many times, it inadvertently reminds viewers of how much better its muse is. There are far too many direct copycat scenes here for Rebel Moon to craft anything like an identity of its own, but its derivativeness might be forgivable were it not so self-consciously, humorlessly straining for epicness.

Rebel Moon rises with narration from Anthony Hopkins and an operatic score — a promise of grandness it never lives up to. At two-hours-plus, this dreadnought announces its lofty ambitions for future franchise status at every turn, but never once earns it: the dialogue is creakingly expository and the acting is spotty, ultimately making it feel like the film has lazily assumed it's already secured all the interest it needs to justify a potential two further sequels and a galaxy of tie-in media. Though there are bright spots that suggest an actual movie lurks somewhere deep within its 134 minutes, Rebel Moon instead feels like a laborious couple of hours of scene-setting that arrogantly banks on you returning for more, despite doing little to deserve any more of your time.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Adam J. Smith, Alexander Ward, Alfonso Herrera, Anthony Hopkins, Bae Doona, Ben Geurens, Bonnie Morgan, Brandon Auret, Caden Dragomer, Carolyne Chen, Cary Elwes, Charlie Hunnam, Charlotte Maggi, Christine Kellogg-Darrin, Christopher Matthew Cook, Cleopatra Coleman, Colby Lemmo, Corey Stoll, Danielle Burgio, Derek Mears, Djimon Hounsou, Dominic Burgess, Douglas Tait, Dustin Ceithamer, E. Duffy, Ed Skrein, Fra Fee, Francis Ngannou, Greg Kriek, Ingvar E. Sigurðsson, Isabella Brenza, James William O'Halloran, Jena Malone, Josefine Lindegaard, Kayden Alexander Koshelev, Kingston Foster, Mark Steger, Matt Nolan, Michael James Bell, Michiel Huisman, Napoleon Ryan, Patrick Luwis, Ray Fisher, Ray Porter, Rhian Rees, Richard Cetrone, Robbie Jarvis, Rory Gibson, Samantha Win, Scott Subiono, Simon Potter, Sisse Marie, Sky Yang, Sofia Boutella, Staz Nair, Stuart Martin, Tony Amendola

Director: Zack Snyder

Rating: PG-13