4 Best Movies to Watch by Scott MacArthur

Staff & contributors
In Suncoast, writer-director Laura Chinn takes the personal tragedy of losing her brother to cancer and weaves it into something meaningful. The film is a sensitive meditation on death and grief, but it isn’t all grim. It’s also a coming-of-age story, one that focuses on Doris (Nico Parker), a version of Chinn’s younger self aching for normal teen experiences. The film is at its best when it zeroes in on Doris’ interiority and examines the duality of having to deal with so much death while still wanting to live a vibrant life. The surprising friendship that blooms between her and the popular kids as she chases after this life is one of the best depictions of authentic teen dynamics in recent memory. But the film is at its weakest when it tries to be something it’s not—that is, your usual tear-jerker indie fare that’s rife with lessons from a magical stranger (in this case played genially, but unnecessarily, by Woody Harrelson) and grievances from a grief-stricken mother (played powerfully by Laura Linney). To be sure, Harrelson and Linney (especially) deliver top-notch performances, but they feel shoehorned in an otherwise pitch-perfect film about a girl finding her place in the real world.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Amarr M. Wooten, Andrea Powell, Andrew Dicostanzo, Ariel Martin, Cree Kawa, Daniella Taylor, Ella Anderson, Elliott Sancrant, Jason Burkey, Karen Ceesay, Keyla Monterroso Mejia, Laura Linney, Matt Walsh, Nico Parker, Orelon Sidney, Pam Dougherty, Parker Sack, Scott MacArthur, Woody Harrelson

Director: Laura Chinn

Rating: R

It’s best not to overthink the details of No Hard Feelings, an uproarious comedy that benefits from the lead actors’ physicality. It’s meant to be enjoyed as it happens, at the moment, with Lawrence lighting up every scene with full-bodied commitment and Feldman, a worthy co-lead, delighting at every turn. They’re playing stock characters, and the script doesn’t give much beyond the usual backstories, but Lawrence and Feldman play them with so much heart and gusto, knocking every scene they’re in out of the park. Everything else plays second fiddle to their two-hander show. The cameos are star-studded but forgettable (except for Kyle Mooney, who I wished was onscreen more as Percy’s male nanny), the character development is heartwarming but predictable, and though it bills itself as a sex comedy, the film never really touches past third base. But all that is water under the bridge when you’re watching Maddie and Percy flirt and fumble their way through the film.  

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alysia Joy Powell, Amalia Yoo, Andrew Barth Feldman, Ari Frenkel, Brian Calì, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Hasan Minhaj, Jennifer Lawrence, Jordan Mendoza, Kyle Mooney, Laura Benanti, Luca Padovan, Madison McBride, Matt Walton, Matthew Broderick, Matthew Noszka, Melissa Lehman, Natalie Morales, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Scott MacArthur, Victor Verhaeghe, Zahn McClarnon

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Rating: R

There is a clear and wide gap between what Maximum Truth wants to be and what it actually is. What it wants to be is a silly but smart sendup of right-wing activism and the rampant disinformation the movement propels. What it ends up being is an occasionally funny but mostly tiresome film that falls flat thanks to caricature performances and flimsy arguments that essentially work against the film's supposed ideals. In a self-contradictory twist, it actually helps the conservatives it claims to poke fun at by proving just how dumb liberal humor can be. The running gag about Rick being in the closet feels outdated at best and offensive at worst, while Simon being the typical airheaded jock does nothing to subvert the trope. It’s baffling that a film like this could come out in 2023; ultimately it just seems like a terrible waste of everyone’s time. 

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Andrew Friedman, Beth Grant, Blake Anderson, Brandon Wardell, Brenda Koo, Brianna Baker, David Stassen, Dylan O'Brien, Ike Barinholtz, Ithamar Enriquez, Jena Friedman, Jon Barinholtz, Josh Meyers, Kelvin Yu, Kiernan Shipka, Mark Proksch, Matt Corboy, Max Minghella, Mia Serafino, Robert Belushi, Scott MacArthur, Seth Rogen, Sunil Narkar, Tiya Sircar

Director: David Stassen

Rating: R