What's worth your time in TV and movies this weekend? EW's critics review the latest and upcoming releases, including Evil and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.
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Musts and Misses featuring Chris Hemsworth in Spiderhead, Dakota Johnson in Cha Cha Real Smooth and Jana Schmeidling in Rutherford Falls
Credit: Ron Batzdorff/Peacock; Netflix; Apple TV+

Each Friday, our critics provide a few quick-hit reviews of the titles that have them giddy and groaning — or, to put it another way, the Musts & Misses of the week.

Rutherford Falls

Streaming now (Peacock)

RUTHERFORD FALLS -- "Adirondack" Episode 205 Jana Schmieding as Reagan Wells, Ed Helms as Nathan Rutherford
Jana Schmieding and Ed Helms in 'Rutherford Falls'
| Credit: Greg Gayne/Peacock

Season one of Rutherford Falls ended with Ed Helms' Nathan hitting the road on a quest to find himself after learning the devastating news that he was not, in fact, a descendent of his town's colonial founder, Lawrence Rutherford. After spending months coming to terms with his cultural blind spots ("I read the book White Fragility, and then I read another book about how White Fragility is bad, and then I read another book called White 'White Fragility' Fragility, about how white people are super fragile about the book White Fragility"), Nathan is back in season 2, ready to "de-center" himself as a white dude living in a town built on Native land. It's the best decision he — and the show itself — could have made.

Created by Sierra Teller Ornelas, Michael Schur, and Helms, Rutherford Falls is at its best when it keeps the spotlight on the (fictional) Minishonka Nation, including cultural center curator/Nathan's bestie, Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding) and ambitious casino owner Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes). With Nathan's painfully misguided civic pride no longer the show's focus, season two is free to explore more interesting topics: Reagan attempts to navigate the reservation's Byzantine land application process; Terry and Regan work as "cultural consultants" on a popular cable show that could really use some help with their representation of Native characters; and Nathan's former assistant, Bobbie (Jesse Leigh), teams up with Terry for a bold political venture.      

As for the new-and-improved Nathan, he's still got plenty to do — he's just a lot less annoying while doing it. A curveball from his former fling, Mayor Chisenhall (Dana L. Wilson), gives Nathan something new to obsess over, and the second season also benefit from the addition of Reservation Dogs' Dallas Goldtooth, a serene standout as Reagan's fastidious new co-curator, Nelson. Congrats, Rutherford Falls — you've gone from a show with promise to something pretty darn delightful. B+ — Kristen Baldwin

Cha Cha Real Smooth

(Streaming now, AppleTV+)

Sundance Film Festival Preview
Cooper Raiff and Dakota Johnson in 'Cha Cha Real Smoth'
| Credit: Apple TV+

You might not know Cooper Raiff, but you still know him. Like Zach Braff and Bo Burnham before him, he's that floppy half-grown puppy of a guy — anxious, adorable, a little bit insufferable — caught somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, and too full of feelings for his own good. As a filmmaker, he's also a one-man band: The writer, director, and star of Cha Cha Real Smooth, a polished, crowd-pleasing indie zhuzhed up with mainstream marquee names (Dakota JohnsonLeslie Mann) and enough sharp edges to transcend the more familiar outlines of the script.

Raiff's Andrew is a freshly minted Tulane graduate whose inglorious post-college plans include moving back in with his mother (Mann) and her peevish husband (Brad Garrett) in New Jersey, getting a job at the local Meat Sticks, and watching his Fulbright Scholar girlfriend quickly learn to forget him in Barcelona. But accompanying his baby brother (Evan Assante) to a bat mitzvah turns into an unexpected career opportunity, as a professional tween wrangler and party starter.

It also introduces him to the lovely, lonely Domino (Johnson), a single mom whose autistic daughter, Lola (Vanessa Burghardt) he forms an easy bond with. A lot of the movie depends on their bittersweet chemistry, and his tender platonic connection with Mann, too. But it's still on Raiff to carry pretty much every scene — a task he wears lightly, allowing Andrew to be both a scruffy hyper-literate charmer and a self-sabotaging wreck. He's also a singularly Gen-Z kind of hero, so constantly emotionally attuned that he makes the older people around him seem like Mad Men anachronisms. In that sense, Cha Cha feels like both a fitting showcase for a young auteur and a larger marker of how much movie masculinity has evolved: a real-smooth manifesto for the anti-toxic man. Grade: B+ — Leah Greenblatt

Spiderhead

(streaming now on Netflix)

SPIDERHEAD. Chris Hemsworth as Abnesti in Spiderhead
Credit: Netflix

Spiderhead arrives with a promising pedigree: It's directed by Joseph Kosinksi, fresh off his Top Gun: Maverick triumph, from a lauded short story by the Booker Prize-winning novelist George Saunders, and somehow snagged Chris Hemsworth between his Thor and Furiosa duties to star. If only there were more web to weave in this clumsy adaption, a sci-fi thriller so lank and silly, it defies the sum of its parts.

Hemsworth, his features still a feat of golden symmetry, is a man named Steve Abnesti — not a medical doctor, exactly, but the "vision guy" overseeing an experimental penal program set in some unspecified near-future. Which means that inmates like Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Underground's Jurnee Smollett) get snacks and smoothies and their own plush private rooms, but they also have to say yes to mind-altering medications of unknowable daily doses in their spinal ports: A given pharmaceutical might makes the user feel suddenly, drastically sexy (Luvactin), and another works like a waking nightmare (Darkenfloxx); one just gives you the tools to talk about all of it, at least temporarily (Verbaluce).

Kosinski, who also helmed Oblivion and Tron: Legacy, should know his way around sleek dystopias by now. And Spiderhead sure looks expensive, from its luxe tech-lord setting to its starry cast. But it never feels real for a moment, largely because the adapted screenplay, by writing partners Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (DeadpoolZombieland) is simultaneously so underbaked and overwrought. There's a version embedded in here somewhere that could have been fun, even camp, if not for the constant laborious effort of telegraphing every plot twist and motivation. (The movie rarely meets a point it can't make three times over, then hit with a mallet.) And for all the pretty scenery, the thrills, such as they are — a nefarious and heavily portended endgame will be revealed in due time — run out long before the hectic climax. By then, it's hard to know, or care, who this legless Spider was made for. Grade: C– — LG

Evil

(streaming Sundays on Paramount+)

Evil
Credit: Elizabeth Fisher/Paramount+

Season 3 of this delightful horror show picks up right where last year's finale left off, with married Kristen (Katja Herbers) mid-smooch with recently ordained priest David (Mike Colter). It's a big moment for the central will-they-or-won't-they couple, but the new run of episodes largely focuses on expanding the show's scope, with a renewed focus on the wider ensemble and some rampant serialization when you least expect it. There is more attention paid to Sister Andrea (Andrea Martin), a no-nonsense nun who sees demons constantly, and to Kristen's therapist Kurt (Kurt Fuller), now a regular bench player in Evil's squad. Kristen's cheerful husband Andy (Patrick Brammall) says he's home to stay.

And I haven't even mentioned Kristen's mom Sheryl (Christine Lahti), who remains locked in a baffling danse macabre with Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), Evil's most visible agent of general badness. That would be a lot of characters for, like, a lay-around Netflix show with more budget than plot progression. But in its third season, this former CBS show retains the fundamental forward momentum of a network procedural, even when it merrily throws the formula out the window. A —Darren Franich

Good Luck to You Leo Grande

(streaming now on Hulu)

Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack appear in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande by Sophie Hyde, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
Daryl McCormack and Emma Thompson in 'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande'
| Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute/Nick Wall

Insisting that a film about hiring a male escort is actually about intimacy sounds like some kind of reverse Pretty Woman fantasy. And Good Luck to You, Leo Grande does seem at first like it might be another, more familiar kind of movie: How Emma Got Her Groove Back. But Sophie Hyde's two-handed chamber piece turns out to be bolder and sweeter and less predictable than that: a tender coming-of-late-middle-age drama with a quietly radical idea of self-acceptance at its center.

Emma Thompson stars as Nancy Stokes, a sensible-looking widow who decides, after a passionless 31-year marriage, to finally find out what all the fuss is about by hiring a young Irishman who calls himself Leo Grande (The Wheel of Time's Daryl McCormack) to do the job professionally. He may be an expert — and a golden-skinned Adonis with an improbably rich vocabulary to boot — but she makes it clear he shouldn't get his hopes up; she's gone a whole lifetime without an orgasm, and two hours with a handsome stranger won't change that. So instead they talk, and talk, until nonverbal communication takes over.

McCormack's Leo may be entirely too dreamy to believably be bookable by the hour (if a show like Bridgerton doesn't immediately pick him up, they're crazy), but he's remarkably winning in the role, building in layers that belie his character's early, easy charm. And Thompson, unsurprisingly, is a force: alternately brittle and vulnerable and mordantly witty, her whole body vibrating with a lifetime's worth of sublimated desire. When she stands exposed and alone in front of a mirror in the movie's already-much-discussed final shot, it feels less like a prurient shock than it should, maybe, to see the two-time Oscar winner this way: Imagine the small miracle of allowing a 62-year-old woman to gaze at her full unadulterated self on screen, and like what she sees. Grade: B+ — LG

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