Opening this week at a screen near you:

 

Clifford the Big Red Dog   (2021) PG

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Clifford The Big Red Dog

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Emily (Darby Camp) is having trouble fitting in a school and at home until she brings a puppy home that she names Clifford to her family’s New York City apartment. Overnight Clifford becomes giant-sized and is now wanted by a genetics company run by an evil scientist (Tony Hale). Now it’s up to Emily and her uncle (Jack Whitehall), along with friends they have met along the way, to save Clifford from a life in a lab.    Clifford The Big Red Dog Website

What to Watch For: The film is based on the best-selling children’s books by Norman Bridwell, who wrote and illustrated over forty books about the ‘Big Red Dog’ named Clifford.

Word on the Street: John Cleese (Monty Python’s Flying Circus) portrays a magical animal rescuer that gives Clifford to Emily. His character’s name is Mr. Bridwell, after the author of the books that inspired the movie.

My Take: The diverse cast includes Rosie Perez, Paul Rodriguez, David Alan Grier, Russel Wong, and Izaac Wang.

 

Belfast   (2021) PG-13

Belfast

Photo courtesy of Focus Features

Buddy (Jude Hill) is a kid growing up in Belfast in the 1960s. He has a loving family and a school that he adores. All that starts falling apart when unrest hits Northern Ireland, pitting neighbors against each other in what becomes an all-out war for control of the area. Buddy’s father (Jamie Dornan) decides that his family is in danger and wants to move his family to Australia, but Buddy’s mother (Caitriona Balfe) wants to stay where her family has roots.  Belfast Website

What to Watch For: The film is written and directed by five-time Academy Award-nominated Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn, Hamlet, Swan Song, Henry V), who grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Word on the Street: The film is nominated for eleven awards at the British Independent Film Awards and won the People’s Choice Award at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.

My Take:  Many film critics think this could be an Academy Award nominated film for Branagh.

 

Red Notice   (2021) Pg-13

Red Notice

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Nolan (Ryan Reynolds) used to be the number-one most-wanted art thief, but he has been supplanted by The Bishop (Gal Gadot), a new and mysterious mastermind thief. Nolan teams up with FBI agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) to capture The Bishop to put Nolan back on top of the Red Notice, a list by Interpol of the most-wanted criminals in the world.    Red Notice Website

What to Watch For: The film is written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, known for Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) and We’re the Millers (2013).

Word on the Street: This is the third film that director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Dwayne Johnson have worked together on after Central Intelligence (2016) and Skyscraper (2018).

My Take: Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, and Keanu Reeves were all considered for the role of FBI agent John Hartley for this movie which is the largest budget ever for a Netflix film.

 

tick, tick…Boom!   (2021) PG-13

tick, tick...Boom!

Photo courtesy of Netlfix

Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) works at a diner but has been trying for eight years to bring a musical that he has written for the stage, worried that he has made the wrong career choice. As he is about to turn thirty, Jonathan navigates love, friendship, and the pressure of life in the big city of NYC as he dreams of bringing his life work to life.  tick, tick…Boom! Website

What to Watch For: The film is directed by Tony, Emmy, and Grammy award-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, who knows a thing or two about bringing musicals to Broadway (In The Heights, Hamilton).

Word on the Street: The film is based on a musical that Jonathan Larson wrote and performed as a solo work, which was then produced as a three-actor piece after his death. Larson won three posthumous Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for his musical Rent.

My Take: I love musicals, and Rent is one of my favorites.

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Mayor Pete   (2021) R

Mayor Pete

Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

Documentary that follows the campaign of Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who went from a small-town mayor to a Presidential candidate. Pete Buttigieg is a vet who would be the youngest President ever if elected; the documentary gives us an unprecedented look at the candidate, his husband Chasten, and their election team as Pete travels across the country.     Mayor Pete Website

What to Watch For: The film is nominated for two Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, including Best Political Documentary.

Word on the Street: The movie is directed by Emmy award-winner Jesse Moss, whose documentary Boys State (2020) has been a huge award winner on the festival circuit.

My Take: I can’t wait to see this film as I am a big fan of Jesse Moss’s work. I loved his 2014 documentary The Overnighters.

 

Home Sweet Home Alone   (2021)

Home Sweet Home Alone

Photo courtesy of Disney+

Ten-year-old Max Mercer (Archie Yates) is left behind at home when his family mistakenly leaves him behind due to a mix up in tickets and flights to their trip to Tokyo. Max at first enjoys his time by himself in the house, but soon his bliss is interrupted by a married couple (Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney) looking to steal a priceless heirloom in the Mercer household. Max now must defend his home, alone from these thieves, who have no idea what is in for them.   Home Sweet Home Alone Info

What to Watch For: Archie Yates is fresh off his critically acclaimed role as Yorki in the 2019 film Jojo Rabbit.

Word on the Street: This is the sixth film in the Home Alone franchise.

My Take: This film is just in time to create a new movie tradition for the holiday season.

 

Love is Love is Love  (2021)

Love is Love is Love

Photo courtesy of Blue Fox Entertainment

Three stories about love, commitment, and loyalty between couples, family, and friends; a couple (Joanne Whalley, Chris Messina) explores a long-distance relationship, an older couple (Kathy Baker, Marshall Bell) tries to decide if their changing relationship is worth keeping, and a family deals with the loss of a mother.   Love is Love is Love Website

What to Watch For: The film is written and directed by Eleanor Coppola, wife of Academy Award-winning Francis Ford Coppola.

Word on the Street: The outstanding cast includes Rosanna Arquette, Polly Draper, Cybill Shepherd, and Rita Wilson.

My Take: The film was nominated for the Grand Special Prize at the 2020 Deauville Film Festival.

 

Soulmate(s)   (2021)

Soulmate(s)

Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Samantha (Alexandra Case) and Jessamine (Stephanie Lynn) have been life-long best friends, growing up in a small town in Vermont. Their way of life is being threatened by a corporation trying to take over the local maple syrup industry, something that has been the town’s pride and joy forever. Things get complicated when Mess’s new fiancé starts hogging all of Jess’s time, and what’s worse, he works for that corporation.   Soulmate(s) Website

What to Watch For: Stephanie Lynn, who stars as Jess, who co-wrote the film with her co-star Alexandra Case, won Best Actress at the 2020 Hollywood Florida Film Festival for her performance in the 2019 film Little Black Lie.

Word on the Street: Alexandra Case played Ashlee in the TV series Aimless.

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My Take: I have several friends from Vermont, so I will be checking this film out.