WEEK IN WOMEN: Amy Poehler honored at CinemaCon 2024 – Brandy McDonnell reports

Primetime Emmy Award winner Amy Poehler will receive this year’s CinemaCon Vanguard Award. CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, is taking place from April 8-11 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Poehler will be presented with the honor at the Big Screen Achievement Awards ceremony April 11 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

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FARAWAY DOWNS – Review by Susan Granger

Do you recall a 2008 Baz Luhrmann film called Australia? Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, I found it an exciting, epic adventure but – at the box-office – it went nowhere, perhaps because it touched too superficially on that country’s notorious Aboriginal race issue. So resourceful Luhrmann recently re-edited it into a six-episode limited series called Faraway Downs, telling a compelling tale as viewed through the eyes of Nullah (Brandon Walters), an enchanting half-Aboriginal outcast child – and adding nearly an hour of never-before-seen footage.

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WISH – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Wishes are powerful—and sharing them with others can help them come true.

Such is the message of Wish, the latest musical comedy from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Wishes are stock in trade for Disney, with songs about how “a dream is a wish your heart makes” and, of course, “when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” So centering a story about a kingdom of wishes seems very on-brand. Wish is tough to dislike. Lively and charming, Wish is a sweet cocktail of catchy songs, amusing humor, and especially stellar voice performances from Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose, Alan Tudyk, and Chris Pine. Who knew the onetime Captain Kirk could sing?

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THE MARVELS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

The Marvels is the loopiest Marvel Studios movie this side of The Guardians of the Galaxy films, with three leads whose company is a joy. It’s also the kind of film where it’s best not to overthink. The villain’s murky motives take time to gel, and there’s word salad for some dialogue, but at its best moments, it’s an entertaining lark with genuine humor and endearing enthusiasm.

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THE MARVELS – Review by T.J. Callahan

The Marvels are out to change the MCU with a team of three teleporting tough girls in charge of a multi planet search and rescue mission. The astral alliance of Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau aka Professor Marvel and Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel complement each other’s powers in a race to keep a scorned adversary from stealing the galaxy’s natural resources to save her own dying orb.

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HAUNTED MANSION – Review by Emma Badame

Disney’s first attempt at turning their popular, gothic Haunted Mansion ride into a film gave them a hit at the box office, but was widely panned by critics. Cut to 20 years later and the House of Mouse has decided to revisit the idea – clearly hoping to recreate that movie-goer mojo but this time, capture the goodwill of the critics, too. It’s truly a delightful surprise that Haunted Mansion is as enjoyable as it is. Particularly in light of its predecessor. It’s truly the perfect summer-movie fare and a great way to spend an overheated afternoon or evening for film fans of all ages. For lovers of the spooky and supernatural, it delivers there, too.

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FLAMIN’ HOT – Review by Leslie Combemale

In the moments before Eva Longoria’s feature directing debut, the 20th Century Fox fanfare plays, but the traditional score is changed to sound like a mariachi band is playing it. That’s the first sign that Flamin’ Hot is going to bring strong, fun Latin flavor to the screen. What comes next is a two hours tall tale, far from the true story of the origin of the famous Frito-Lay snack, but which is a true and often joyful celebration of Latin culture and family life.

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THE LITTLE MERMAID – Review by Susan Granger

Why this live-action remake of Disney’s beloved 1989 animated classic? Because it’s “woke” 2023 – when audiences may want to see a more dutiful, diversity-aware approach to race and gender in The Little Mermaid. Sweetly guileless Ariel (Grammy-nominated Halle Bailey) is one of King Triton’s many, multiethnic mermaid daughters. Despite her widowed father’s disapproval, she avidly collects artifacts from the human world that she scavenges from shipwrecks with the help of her fish friend Flounder and Scuttle, a squawking seagull.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Eva Longoria’s FLAMIN’ HOT’ to stream on Disney+ and Hulu – Brandy McDonnell reports

Flamin’ Hot, the feature film directorial debut from seasoned actor and filmmaker Eva Longoria, starts streaming June 9 on Disney+ and Hulu. The film is based on the true story – or at least the popular urban legend – of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global phenomenon. Flamin’ Hot premiered in March at South by Southwest (aka SXSW) in Austin, Texas, where it won the Headliners Audience Award.

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THE LITTLE MERMAID – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Disney’s new live-action take on The Little Mermaid goes along swimmingly in its sweet romance, but it doesn’t diverge enough from its animated roots to truly make a splash. First things first: The charming Halle Bailey gets Ariel endearingly right, from her innocent optimism to unquenchable curiosity. Unfairly targeted with racist vitriol after the initial trailers, Bailey is a likable lead, and it’s easy to imagine young mermaid fans loving her and her sisters, who also are women of different races. The Little Mermaid is adorable enough in parts, but its story largely stays on the surface. Like Ariel in “Part of Your World,” I wanted more.

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