About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

December 2023 - People of a certain age may remember the holidays as the time when the mail carrier delivered the best thing of the year – the Sears Wish Book. Kids spent hours combing through the catalog and circling all the toys they hoped Santa might bring. But not all of those toys appeared under the tree, and even some that did, didn't live up to expectations. So, kids, be careful what you wish for.

Movie fans learned that the hard way. When Wonder Woman wowed audiences in 2017, they – me included – enthusiastically wished for another one just like the other one. What they got instead was Wonder Woman 1984.

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine returned for this PG-13 film that was released in theaters on Christmas Day, 2020. Director Patty Jenkins also returned and helped write the script. The cast featured Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal. TV Wonder Woman Lynda Carter also appears briefly.

As you may have guessed from the title, the film is set in 1984. Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gadot) is working at the Smithsonian. She's still mourning the loss of Captain Steve Trevor (Pine) more than 60 years ago. But then an ancient relic ends up in the hands of a desperate businessman (Pascal). Suddenly, he has the power to grant wishes, and Diana can't resist wishing for Steve to come back to her. But, as Diana and everyone else in the world soon find out, wishes often come with unintentional and unwanted consequences.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. Not as good as the first film and, at 2.5 hours, longer than necessary. Mostly, it seemed like a giant contrivance to pair up Gadot and Pine for a second time.

Deadly consequences abound in The Box, a PG-13 movie released in 2009.

Imagine the doorbell awakens you from a sound sleep. Curious, you open the door to find only a box wrapped in plain paper on the doorstep. You open the box and, inside, find another box with a button on top. The next day, a stranger shows up and promises that, if you press the button, he will give you one million dollars. The catch? Someone you don't know will die. What would you do? Does it matter that the stranger who makes the offer is missing half of his face?

That's the scenario that confronts Cameron Diaz and James Marsden in this film set in late 1976. Diaz and Marsden play Norma and Arthur Lewis. They live in Richmond where he works for NASA and she teaches at a private school. Arthur owns a Corvette which, I suppose, is one reason why the couple and their son live paycheck to paycheck. Their financial struggles are about to be compounded because Arthur gets rejected by the astronaut program and Norma learns that the faculty discount she gets on her son's tuition is being taken away. So, when Frank Langella shows up with his half a face and his million-dollar offer, the couple has a decision to make.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. What this film is, mostly, is weird. The initial set-up is fine, but once Norma and Arthur make their decision, really bizarre things start to happen – not the least of which is Santa showing up in the middle of an intersection.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert