Movies in Theaters and On Your Couch
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is the fourth installment in the “Diary” series. It takes place a year after the events in the third film, but the principal cast has been replaced. Newcomer JASON IAN DRUCKER, 11, stars as Greg Heffley, replacing ZACHARY GORDON, now 19. ALICIA SILVERSTONE, 40, plays Greg’s mom.
“Long Haul” finds Greg and his brother convincing their family to go on a road trip for their grandma’s 90th birthday. But they actually intend to go to a video convention.
Drucker was born and grew-up in Hollywood, Florida. His father is an anesthesiologist and his mother is a fitness instructor. Your intrepid reporter was able to find out they belong to a local Reform temple and were generous donors to this year’s Purim celebration at their temple. (Opens May 19)
The original Netflix film “War Machine” premieres on Friday, May 26. It is a satirical film about the seemingly endless Afghanistan war. It is loosely based on the non-fiction book, The Operators,” by the late Michael Hastings. You may recall that in 2010 Hastings did a “Rolling Stone” interview with General Stanley McCrystal, then the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, in which the General heavily criticized President Obama and his administration. He was subsequently forced to resign. In 2012, Hastings (who died in a car crash in 2013) turned his year of traveling with and interviewing McCrystal into “The Operators.”
Brad Pitt stars as Gen. Glen McMahon, who is based on Crystal, and like Crystal, “War Machine” follows the events leading up to his firing. EMORY COHEN, 37, plays Willy Dunne, an important member of McMahon’s staff. Cohen burst into prominence with his lovely performance as an Italian guy who courts an Irish girl in the acclaimed film “Brooklyn” (2015).
Other notable cast members include Ben Kinsley as Hamid Karzi, the former president of Afghanistan and Anthony Michael Hall as General Michael Flynn (yes, that Michael Flynn).
Mayim Bialik, Big Bang and Book
As usual, the season finale (May 11) of “The Big Bang Theory” ended with a surprise teaser ending. I won’t spoil it for those who didn’t see the episode except to say that the teaser involved MAYIM BIALIK’s character, Amy, and her boyfriend Sheldon. It’s now certain the series’ main the focus will be on Amy and Sheldon during at least the first half of next season.
Bialik’s present worldwide stardom is a far cry from her situation prior to joining the show in 2009. On May 10, she told Seth Meyers that a motivation for joining the hit show was making sure her health insurance didn’t lapse. I gather that her sporadic work in show business and teaching some classes (she got a doctorate in neuroscience in 2007) did not provide enough financial/insurance stability for her, her then-husband, and her two children.
You’d think that it would ever be smooth sailing for an actress who was in a major hit film (“Beaches,” 1988) at age 13 and was the star of “Blossom,” a hit sit-com, when she was 16. But, in a recent “Marie Claire” article, she recounts, year-by-year, from age 4 until age 17, her insecurities. Here’s age 17: “I don't like the boys the other girls like. I don't want to act dumb so boys will like me. I want to find someone who looks and thinks like Elvis Costello. I want to live anywhere other than this country; I want to go where I'm not the only one who doesn't shave my legs and armpits. I want to go where it's not weird to like sports cars and comic books and veganism.”
Her new book, “Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular,” is aimed to be a guide for all girls, those quirky and those not, on how to cope with the challenges of growing-up. Bialik says: [It teaches] girls about themselves through learning about the cultural experience, or a scientific experience, of being female and how it varies across culture.”
On her book’s cover, Bialik wears a cape similar to Supergirl’s, as she jumps joyfully in the air. She says: I’m writing a book about girls feeling empowered and feeling intelligent and embracing their quirky sides, I don’t want to be presented as the pretty girl wearing glasses on the cover of this book. I actually suggested that we do something comic-y and superhero-y and empowering with me in sneakers, the way I always am.”