McFarland, USA (PG): Kevin Costner headlines this inspirational underdog tale from Walt Disney Pictures. Taking place in the impoverished town of McFarland, the story follows a PE coach who moves to a predominantly Latino local high school, and soon discovers some of the student’s fantastic running abilities.
Although the storyline is incredibly cliché, the movie all around seems to be funny, dramatic, and inspirational and Kevin Costner shows promise in his role as a new PE coach. This movie serves as the weekend recommendation.
The Duff (PG-13): This movie takes a crack at the classic high school comedy genre. Playing on the theme of labels in school, the movie introduces a new title. The Duff is the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” in the movie’s terms. Summarized in the trailer, the Duff is the friend in any group who is less attractive and easier to approach. When the main character, Bianca, finds herself in the Duff seat of her friend group, she decides to take action and enlists the help of a former friend. Together, they must defeat the school’s “label maker,” Madison, to save Bianca’s senior year.
While at first glance this film appears to be just another unoriginal high school movie, it offers some potential in the cast list and quirky themes. Out of these three movies, it falls somewhere in between the other two: not quite a recommendation, but also not a reject.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (R): Often sequels fall short of the quality of the original film. It is a challenging task to make a follow-up to a film that maintains the good qualities of the original, but yet changes enough elements to sustain interest. Unfortunately for the cast and crew behind Hot Tub Time Machine 2, this sequel does not appear to live up to the first film. As of February 19th, the movie held a disappointing 15% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie follows the same group of friends from the first movie, except in the sequel, they accidentally wind up in the future instead of the past. So they must alter the future in order to save the present.
One complaint about this film comes from the absence of John Cusak, one of the main characters in the original Hot Tub Time Machine. His presence in the film was very important to the flow of the film, and without Cusak the movie loses a pivotal role.
Overall, this movie does not seem to live up to the standards of the first “Hot Tub Time Machine” and is not a recommendation for this weekend.