Capsule Movie Reviews (June 4): 'Obvious Child' and four more
R, 1 HR., 23 MINS.
When Brooklyn bookstore employee/stand-up comedian Donna (Jenny Slate) gets dumped by her boyfriend and her job in the same week, she does what countless fallible humans have done before: gets wrecked at a bar and has sex with a stranger (Jake Lacy). If you’ve already heard Child described as “the abortion comedy,” you can guess what comes next. But despite a few too-cute moments (and many fantastically graphic vagina jokes), the movie is both smarter and more sympathetic than that glib shorthand. Donna may be as unmoored in broke bohemia as Lena Dunham’s Girls girls, but unlike them, her gaze goes beyond her navel; you can picture – and want to know – the grown woman she’ll become. A- –Leah Greenblatt
Ping Pong Summer
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 32 MINS.
Pac-Man and parachute pants are paid loving tribute in Michael Tully’s fun but slight coming- of-age film about an awkward Maryland teen (Marcello Conte) who becomes, well, not a man exactly, but a slightly more confident teen during the magical summer of 1985. The film coasts on its time-capsule fetishism and affable supporting turns from Susan Sarandon and Lea Thompson, but it never achieves the emotional punch of like-minded comedies such as Adventureland and The Way, Way Back. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B- –Chris Nashawaty
R, 1 HR., 39 MINS.
If you’re unfamiliar with the People’s Temple and the 1978 mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, you may think Ti West’s latest indie chiller is wildly original. If, on the other hand, you do know about that horrific event, it will feel like a faux-documentary shrug of the shoulders. A filmmaking team heads into the jungle to investigate a fanatical religious sect led by a charismatic loon, only to have the assignment spiral into chaos. West is a talented director and knows how to build suspense. But here’s a case where the truth wasn’t only stranger than his fiction, it was scarier, too. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B- –Chris Nashawaty
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
R, 1 HR., 25 MINS.
Mike Myers’ affectionate, star-packed documentary traces the outrageously peripatetic life of Gordon, a showbiz Zelig who has worked with everyone from Alice Cooper to the Dalai Lama. The movie borders on hagiography, but Gordon is a charmingly voluble storyteller; he’s like Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World recast as a balding Jewish guy from Long Island. B+ –Leah Greenblatt
R, 1 HR., 30 MINS.
Writer-director-star Clark Gregg plays one of the oiliest archetypes in Hollywood – an agent for child actors – in this barbed tale of redemption. Gregg doesn’t possess the moral rot needed to crawl into the Willy Loman muck, and the film’s dialogue is Glengarry lite, but Saxon Sharbino, as an enigmatic tween actor, is just as the movie claims: the real deal. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B –Joe McGovern