Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 13-19: The Barbershop Criminal Jungle

In Theaters.

Well, we were down for one art/indie title this week, but it got pushed back to Aprill 22, leaving us with three mainstream titles. One of these is in the Next Big Thing category. The others are…less anticipated — possibly not anticipated at all. I freely confess to being unable to work up a great deal of enthusiasm over any of them. I am perhaps in Full Curmudgeon mode.

Last weekend was pretty lightweight at the box office. Even the art titles were at best tepid. In the case of City of Gold (which should never have opened without a review), tepid is being kind. (Yes, I know it’s a documentary, but still…) Hopefully, Demolition and Midnight Special perk up this week. It’s too late to save City of Gold.





Taking this roster alphabetically, we start with Malcolm D. Lee’s Barbershop: The Next Cut — starting Friday (and Thursday evening) at The Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. In its favor: The original Barbershop was one of 2001’s pleasanter surprises. For that matter, neither its sequel Barbershop: Back in Business, nor its spinoff Beauty Shop were awful. Most of the original cast is back. And while the only Malcolm D. Lee movie I’ve seen and liked was Roll Bounce, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. However, none of this answers the question of why this movie exists. Why now all these years later? It’s not like Ice Cube needs a hit in the wake of those Ride Along movies. What I’d like to believe is that everyone had such a great time making the first one (and maybe the second) that they just wanted to get together for a new one. Well, it could happen.




And then there’s Ariel Vromen’s Criminal — doing that Friday opening (Thursday evening) thing at Carmike 10, The Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. Much as I dislike review aggregator sites — more for trying to reduce criticism to a mathematical formula than for collecting a bunch of unfiltered reviews — there’s always a grim fascination with movies that get that dreaded Zero Percent rating, and at this moment that’s where Criminal sits. Granted, that’s based on a very small number of reviews, but when you encounter phrases like “nothing short of an unmitigated disaster” and “The fact it’s all played completely straight only makes it funnier,” well that’s perversely tantalizing. It’s even more so when you read the premise that’s being “played completely straight.” It says, “The memories and skills of a CIA agent are implanted into the brain of a dangerous criminal in order to stop an international terrorist.” Wow! What could possibly go wrong? I am so there based on the plot alone. The bad reviews are merely seasoning, as is the prospect of watching Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Michael Pitt in anything this absurd.




The big title is Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book — starting Friday (and Thursday evening) at Carmike 10, The Carolina Cinemark, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. This is the polar opposite of Criminal — sitting at a 100 percent approval rating (26 reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes. Even folks I know personally — and more or less trust — are enthusing over this high-priced live-action (well, sort of) remake of the 1967 animated film. I’m not entirely sure that a movie in which all the performers but one are CGI contrivances really qualifies as live-action, but no matter, especially since the 1967 take on Rudyard Kipling’s story was Disney at his most cartoonish. There’s no denying that the studio has gone all out on voice casting for its talking critters — Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, the late Garry Shandling. And there’s no doubt this can wrestle the box office to the ground and take the weekend. Personally, I’m just not that interested. I didn’t much care for the animated version when it came out, and I still resent having sat through 2003’s animated The Jungle Book 2 (with those “ch…ch…chattering monkeys”) — a film everyone (not unreasonably) seems to forget happened.

This week we bid farewell to The Lady in the Van (two months is a healthy run) and, as mentioned, City of Gold.

Special Screenings


(clockwise from top) Paul Crauchet, Lino Ventura, Alain Lebolt and Claude Man


World Cinema is screening Jean-Pierre Melville’s The Army of Shadows (1969) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Apr. 15 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Apr. 17 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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24 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 13-19: The Barbershop Criminal Jungle

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    I like Vromen’s deathly serious The Iceman, featuring my favorite Chris Evans performance.

          • Ken Hanke

            I watched it. There’s a fine line between “deathly serious” and “utterly humorless” and The Iceman crossed it. I guess it well enough made, but it’s definitely not my dish of tea.

          • Matt

            Ah, darn, I missed it; for a brief window of time, there was a movie I had seen that Ken had not.

  2. Big Al

    The preview for “Criminal” looked pretty awesome, except that Tommy Lee Jones’ looks kinda tired and I can’t help but wonder if he is just there so his name will draw fans in while he phones in a performance.

  3. Me

    Is Everybody Wants Some opening next week? Do you think it will open wide at some point?

    • Ken Hanke

      It is supposed to open in Asheville next week. Paramount is handling it, so I have no idea if it’ll go wide. I kind of doubt it.

  4. Edwin Arnaudin

    Netflix is now streaming Moonwalkers, which I’ve not seen but has a mighty fine synopsis: “A brain-addled war vet, a failing band manager and a Stanley Kubrick impersonator help the CIA construct an epic scam by faking the 1969 moon landing.” It stars Ron Perlman and Rupert Grint.

    • Ken Hanke

      I might give that a look. I’ve been saving up my Netflix wanderings to put in the Reeler as an addition. Seems of more value to me than just putting them in the comments.

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