At the Movies: Opens Friday, Jan. 11
“A Dog’s Way Home” is heartwarming story about Bella, an adorable puppy who’s adopted by Lucas (JONAH HAUER-KING, 23), a young medical student. The pair is inseparable until Bella gets lost and has to travel 400 tough wilderness miles to get back to her beloved owner. The supporting cast includes Ashley Judd and Bryce Dallas Howard (as the voice of Bella). This is the first big film role for the handsome Hauer-King. He’s had a lot of Brit TV roles, including a major part in the recent British production of “Little Women” as “Laurie” (shown on PBS). Jonah’s British father, Jeremy King, 60ish, is a famous U.K. restaurateur. (I don’t know if Jeremy is Jewish). His American mother, DEBRA HAUER, 60, was a theater producer and now is a therapist. Jonah, who has a Cambridge Univ. degree in theology and religious studies, told his college magazine that he frequently visits the San Francisco Bay Area, where his mother grew-up, and that he grew-up in a “North London Jewish family.” His sister HANNAH, a theater director, told a Brit website: “I love being Jewish. I feel like we should all be spiritual. It doesn’t need to be through an organized religion; for me it just happens to be Judaism because that’s how I was brought up.”
“The Upside” is a comedy/drama about how a recently paroled ex-convict (Kevin Hart) improbably gets a job as the personal attendant of a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston). The star of “The Good Wife,” JULIANNA MARGULIES, 52, has a biggish supporting role as “Lily.”
“What Men Want” is a re-make of “What Women Want”, a 2000 NANCY MEYERS’ film in which a man, after an electric shock, could “magically” hear women’s thoughts. In the remake, Ali, an African-American woman and a sports agent, is constantly boxed-out of good clients by male colleagues. After drinking a weird concoction, she can read men’s thoughts and things go a lot better for her. The director is ADAM SHANKMAN, 54 (“The Wedding Planner”). JOSH BRENER, 34 (“Silicon Valley”) and MAX GREENFIELD, 38 (“New Girl”) have supporting parts.
Over on Netflix/CNN
The 10-episode Israeli TV drama, “When Heroes Fly,” will premiere on Netflix on Jan.10. This Hebrew-language, English-subtitled series tells the story of four veterans of a special IDF commando unit from the 2006 Lebanon War who reunite, 11 years later, for a final mission. They will try to rescue the girlfriend of one of the commandos. She was kidnapped by a drug cartel in Columbia.TOMER KAPON, 33, a real-life paratrooper commander in the Lebanon War, plays one of the veterans. If you viewed the Israeli series “Fauda,” also on Netflix, you’ll recognize Kapon.
Premiering Jan. 11 on Netflix is the original film “The Last Laugh”. Chevy Chase plays Al Hart, a retired talent manager who reunites in a retirement community with his first client, a comic named Buddy Green (RICHARD DREYFUSS, 71). Buddy quit showbiz fifty years ago, but Al convinces him to hit the road for a cross-country comedy tour. Andie McDowell and LEWIS BLACK, 70, have supporting roles.
Even CNN is getting into the business of showing films. On Jan.1, they first broadcast/streamed “Love, Gilda,” a very-well reviewed 2018 documentary about comedian GILDA RADNER (1946-1989) that played in a limited number of movie theaters last year. As I write this, “Love” is regularly being re-shown on CNN during its regular schedule and it’s available to subscribers via CNN on-demand. The filmmaker, Lisa Dapolito, deftly uses Gilda’s diaries, home movies, audiotapes, performance videos, and interviews with colleagues and family members. Jewish interviewees include Gilda’s brother and nephew, her writing partner ALAN ZWEIBEL, 68 (he also co-produced the film), “SNL” creator LORNE MICHAELS, 74, musician PAUL SHAFFER, 69, and “SNL” cast mate LARAINE NEWMAN, 66.
New on Regular TV
“Fam” is a sit-com that premiered on CBS on Thursday, Jan 10 (9:30PM). Nina Dobrev stars as Clem, a woman who seems to have a perfect life that includes an adoring fiancé (Tone Bell). But perfection ends when her out-of-control 16-year-old half sister, Shannon (ODESSA ADLON, 17), shows up unannounced in need of a place to stay. This is the first big role for Adlon, who is the daughter of actress/writer/director PAMELA ADLON, 52. Pamela Adlon’s hit FX series, “Better Things,” features her as the single mother of three daughters. In real life, she is the single mother of three daughters. However, she didn’t use her real daughters to play her TV daughters.