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'Logan Lucky' and 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' prove solid performances, with a wild, fun time

Film graphic (MGN Online)

LOGAN LUCKY (2017)

Score: B+

Rated PG -- 119 minutes

"It's OCEANS 11, but with rednecks -- and it's a damn fun time"

This is classic Steven Soderbergh sinking his teeth into his bread and butter art -- making the "heist" film! It's OCEANS 11, 12, AND 13 all over again but with West Virginia rednecks. Robbing a NASCAR race track is a damn fun time at the movies. But when the film is long over, you will find something much deeper to remember. The simple sweetness of family, friends, community, and our humanity.

This is the first theatrical film that this director has made in four years. And it is a good one. This is the same director who brought us SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE (1989), ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000), MAGIC MIKE (2012), and the brilliant Best Director Oscar winner -- TRAFFIC (2000).

I think there are a number of reasons why this film is so strong. First, is the amazing chemistry between the lead actors. The laid-off divorced construction worker played by Channing Tatum. His talent never ceases to amaze me.

His brother is played by Adam Driver. I should add that he is a Veteran, as well as a one-armed bartender.

Riley Keough (from MAGIC MIKE) plays his sister. I should add that she is a bleached-blonde explosives expert.

And I save the best for last. The violent prison convict is played by Daniel Craig. You have never seen him like this before. Who knew that he could be so funny. If there is any Oscar justice in 2017, Mr. Craig should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

The solid screenplay is by Rebecca Blunt. But throughout the caper -- from the "Logan Family Curse" to the "Top Ten Rules to Follow" -- all I could think of was the influence of the Coen Brothers. It is that kind of a crazy film. If you like them, you will love LOGAN LUCKY.

Perhaps the most significant reason why this film is scored as a high B+ is the fact that Soderbergh retained complete control of the final cut. This is his movie! Plain and simple. And don't be surprised if he also directed the camera work and the editing of this film. He does that a lot but often will use a different name.

Soderbergh is now one of eight producers (including George Clooney) filming OCEAN'S 8 starring Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Sandra Bullock, and Rihanna. The film will be released next year.

THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD

Score: B+

Rated R -- 111 minutes

"It's a late 80's movie with a predictable plot, but who cares!"

Congratulations to director Patrick Hughes. At the tender age of 39, he is already an Australian film director, film editor, film producer, and screenwriter. THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD is a hoot. Energetic. Fun. And just plain stupid. And that is the magic of this wonderful film directed by Mr. Hughes. The script is from Tim O'Connor. He is another super talented Aussie with a strong theater background.

The soundtrack for this film is one of the best I have heard all year. Credit Atli Ovarsson and the 15 familiar songs from the 1980's that are included in the film.

The cinematography and special effects are out of control, non-stop action. Credit cinematographer Jules O'Loughlin and editor Jake Roberts.

And credit a great cast ensemble. You can't go wrong with the talents of Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim De Almeida, Kristy Mitchel, and Richard E. Grant.

But -- the movie really belongs to Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. I don't think that I have enjoyed a "buddy-movie" this much since Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Reynolds and Jackson had to have had a ball playing off of each other. What a joy! A solid B+.

Folks, this is a great weekend to go and see a new movie. See it up on the big movie theater screen with state of the art sound. You can't go wrong with either LOGAN LUCKY or THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD.

THE BROADWAY SEASON HAS BEGUN AT THE SMITH CENTER

SOMETHING ROTTEN, which just completed its short run at The Smith Center last weekend, was a perfect Broadway show to open the new Broadway season. The show had anything and everything you would ever want to see in a musical. The show was nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Adam Pascal received the Tony for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role in SOMETHING ROTTEN. Mr. Pascal repeated his role in The Smith Center production last week. Pascal is most famous for originating the role of Roger Davis in RENT. He went on to star in the RENT motion picture.

SOMETHING ROTTEN closed on Broadway after performing 742 performances. It is currently enjoying a very successful national tour.

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS

Next week we will review the R-rated (language, violence, drug use, and sexual content) film, GOOD TIME. For 101 minutes you will mostly see Robert Pattison in a subtle but possible career-making performance. The film also stars Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Lennice Webster, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Directed by Josh & Benny Safdie, I found GOOD TIME anything but a good time ... it is very, very dark.

Looking ahead to what's coming this summer? Bob Fisher has the blockbuster box office guide to this summer's movie season!

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