Our critics pick what’s new to streaming and VOD for the weekend of April 30, and list everything new to VOD and streaming platforms.
Equal parts road movie, buddy comedy and sports picture, Golden Arm stars Mary Holland and Betsy Sodaro as Melanie and Danny, college friends who reconnect when headstrong trucker Danny enlists anxious baker Melanie as her proxy in the National Ladies’ Arm Wrestling Championship—against some very steep odds. There’s just one problem: Melanie has never arm-wrestled anyone professionally.
Screenwriters Ann Marie Allison and Jenna Milly have clearly studied Bridesmaids for conflict and character dynamics, but they’ve written something that stands on its own. Ably steered by sketch and short-film director Maureen Bharoocha, Golden Arm is a fun, goofy comedy filled with engaging performers and unexpected laugh lines. Holland and Sodaro have a great time bouncing off one another, their riffing skills honed by years of scene-stealing in other people’s projects, and the supporting cast is loaded with talent: Eugene Cordero gets to play a romantic leading man, sort of, as a referee crushing on Melanie, while Ron Funches, Aparna Nancherla and Kate Flannery all turn up for a scene or two to work their respective skill sets and pull a couple of laughs. 91 min. Available on digital and on demand Friday (April 30). (NW)
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Can a bickering nuclear family (and their weird pug) put their conflicts aside and save the world from a machine apocalypse? What if their conflicts are the thing that gives them a fighting chance? That’s the ingenious engine that powers The Mitchells vs. The Machines: Gravity Falls veterans Rianda and codirector-cowriter Jeff Rowe have delivered a delirious entertainment where the comedy and the dramatic stakes escalate in perfect harmony, each joke setting up an emotional payoff, and vice-versa.
Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson is Katie, our narrator and sort-of hero; Danny McBride is her distant dad Rick, whose decision to drive the whole family cross-country to drop Katie at school puts them one step ahead of the machine uprising. Supported by Maya Rudolph as Mitchell matriarch Linda and director Rianda as nervous kid brother Aaron, they make a convincing family of obsessive weirdoes; they may be cartoon characters, but their individual tics and flaws fit together in an entirely believable way.
Rianda and his Sony Pictures Animation teams pack the digital frame with hand-drawn elements, even subtly referencing traditional animation in characters’ frown lines and wrinkles. The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a pleasure to behold, but it’s so much more than its visuals. Read a full review here. 113 min. Available to stream on Netflix Canada Friday (April 30). (NW)
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse
On one hand, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse will give fans of the late author’s clenched, dour action thrillers exactly what they want: a clenched, dour action thriller where an uncomplicated good guy wreaks righteous vengeance upon a shadowy cabal trying to launch a global conflict. On the other hand, it’s kind of a grind.
Michael B. Jordan is John Kelly, a special-forces badass who finds himself the sole survivor of his unit—and a widower—when some bad guys demand payback for the death of a Russian national in Syria. There’s only one thing to do: hunt down everyone involved and Make Them Pay. Clancy fans will recognize this as the original story for the CIA operative John Clark, and that’s all it’ll take for them to sign on; I just wish director Sollima and screenwriters Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples had delivered more than a blandly mechanical spy thriller that sets Jordan up with an action franchise at the cost of his megawatt charisma. But maybe they’re saving that for the sequel. 110 min. Some subtitles. Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video Friday (April 30). (NW)
Catching A Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur
(James Buddy Day)
Produced for an American cable network, this talking-head account of the Toronto Police investigation into Church-Wellesley Village serial killer Bruce McArthur benefits from access to a handful of key players—including a survivor identified as John Doe—but is little more than a concise overview with the typical true-crime TV trappings. For Toronto audiences that followed the case, the subsequent outcry in the LGBTQ community over police inaction and the independent review that found systemic discrimination hindered the investigation, Catching A Serial Killer will offer nothing new. It’s a broad account, complete with Freudian analysis of McArthur’s potential motives, and bland visual filler like close-ups of coffee mugs, fingers typing on keyboards and black-and-white photos of the Village with rainbow flags left in colour. Police failings are glossed over, though John Doe, victims advocate Haran Vijayanathan and McArthur employer Karen Fraser add emotional dimension to this straight-forward cat-and-mouse story. 85 minutes. Premieres Friday (April 30) on SuperChannel. (KR)
Available on VOD
Mary Holland, Betsy Sodaro, Olivia Stambouliah; directed by Maureen Bharoocha
Here Are The Young Men
Anya Taylor-Joy, Finn Cole, Travis Fimmel; directed by Eoin Macken
Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, Zach Braff; directed by Clark Johnson
Michael Vlamis, Brock O’Hurn, Bianca Haase; directed by Taylor Chien
SpiderMable: A Real Life Superhero Story
Documentary directed by Kelly Wolfert
Disc of the week
Quick Change (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray)
When people talk about Bill Murray’s greatest movies, they bring up the usual favourites: Stripes and Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day and Rushmore and Lost In Translation and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. And it’s true, those are some pretty great movies. But perhaps the best expression of Murray’s cranky-comedic sensibility is his 1990 heist comedy, which the actor codirected with screenwriter Howard Franklin. A movie about a trio of bank robbers who pull off a flawless heist but find all of New York City conspiring to keep them from getting to the airport, it might be literally perfect: every laugh lands, every character detail advances the story while complicating things just a little bit further, and every roadblock to our heroes’ escape is weirdly credible.
It’s impossible to oversell the sheer pleasure of watching Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid tripping over one another’s issues as they struggle to make it from Manhattan to Brooklyn to Queens in the hopes of leaving their misery behind; it’s also a delight to watch Jason Robards, as the exhausted cop on their tail, turn out to be as sharp as Murray’s master planner Grimm. The supporting cast is packed with ringers like Bob Elliott, Phil Hartman, Kathryn Grody, Kurtwood Smith, Philip Bosco, Victor Argo, and future Big Night costars Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub, and veteran cinematographer Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) lights and frames the New York locations to play up the weird, crumbling beauty they had at the time.
A box-office dud that’s long been undervalued on home video formats, Quick Change finally gets a high-definition release from Warner Archive in a bare-bones Blu-ray that offers nothing beyond a new 1080p transfer and cleaned-up DTS-HD Master Audio sound. Given the way the movie’s been treated over the decades, that seems like the best we could have hoped for…but hey, at least it looks good. (NW)