TV Guide weekend film reviews: from Saturday May 29 to Sunday May 30
The first wives club
Well done, 2:30 p.m.
With Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Diane Keaton.
A revenge fantasy that isn’t as witty as it should be, but has proven to be a big hit in theaters in large part thanks to the exuberant performances of its stars, Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton , who play rejected spouses who band together for revenge. against their sleazy exes who are all now involved with younger women. Watch out for an Ivana Trump cameo! ★★★
A dog’s path home
Three, 7 p.m.
With Bryce Dallas Howard (voice), Jonah Hauer-King.
If you love dogs, you’ll love this one, if not, enough said. Bella is a loyal family pet who has been mistakenly deceived as a pit bull by a malicious real estate developer and, as such, subject to destruction in her hometown of Denver, where the breed is banned. Her frightened owner therefore sends her beloved pet to live on a farm hundreds of miles away. But Bella, who is homesick, sets out on a trip back to Denver, which will take two years, and sees her befriended a cougar, whom she calls “ Big Kitten, ” and with whom she sharing adventures. Based on a true story (just kidding). ★★★★
* Mātai Smith hosts new bilingual quiz show 9 Lives on TVNZ
* Why Call The Midwife is still giving birth after 10 years
* Anna Hutchison sets tales in romantic comedy film A Love Yarn
Maori TV, 7 p.m.
Voiced by Jaden Waldman.
Japanese animated film for children about a little boy jealous of his new baby sister. A deeper and richer experience than is the case with most of these films. ★★★★
Jumanji: the next level
Sky Premiere, 8:30 p.m.
With Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black.
The 1981 Frenzied Fantasy / Action Movie Jumanji, about a game that comes to life, starring Robin Williams was revived in 2017 with Welcome to the jungle, with Dwayne Johnson, who generally manages to be endearing despite his formidable physical presence. The movie did well enough to have a sequel, The next level. The three young people who took part in this Jumanji game are back, and once again are sucked into another world, where their avatars return to their physical forms – enter Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan. If you’ve seen a Jumanji movie you know what to expect and it’s more or less the same, this time with the goal of finding a magical necklace that can save Jumanji from a crippling drought. ★★★
Testament of Youth
Maori TV, 8:30 p.m.
Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington.
Much of this period drama is based on the autobiography of the same name by Vera Brittain, a young, middle-class woman who dropped out of college to become a nurse during WWI. It’s a beautiful period drama, all the more poignant for its truth and despite the strange casting of Swedish actress Alicia Vikander as Brittain (before her days as Lara Croft). As good as it is, the 1979 BBC TV adaptation is still the gold standard. ★★★★
Three, 9 p.m.
Alexandra Daddario, Kate Upton.
End the stopover! It’s a crass comedy about two female best friends fighting over a seasoned firefighter during an unscheduled stop when a hurricane hijacks their flight. No need to attach a storm warning to this lame effort. ★
TVNZ 2, 9:35 p.m.
With Kit Harington, Emily Browning.
Old fashioned disaster movie which in itself is something of a disaster. There is a Mills & Boon sensation in this story of a slave turned gladiator who must run to save the daughter of a Roman senator as Vesuvius erupts. Lots of rippling flesh and the obligatory slaughter, but it lacks substance. It looks like Kit Harington, fresh out of his role as Jon Snow in Game of thrones, does not know anything when it comes to choosing a screenplay for a blockbuster movie. ★★
Ladies in black
Three, 10:30 p.m.
With Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor.
Hailed by critics as the best Australian film since Priscilla queen of the desert, Ladies in black dates back to 1959, post-war and the dawn of the ’60s Youth Revolution. Much of it takes place on the women’s floor of the FG Goode department store in Sydney, divided into areas with names such as Ladies Cocktail Frocks and Model Gowns. The central character is Lisa, a school leaver who takes a summer job there, where she gets involved with the stylish ‘ladies in black’ fashion assistants who help her smooth her transition to wife. It’s a light and charming story, celebrating the femininity and the fusion of cultures that have made Sydney and Australia (and New Zealand) such vibrant “new” nations. ★★★★
TVNZ 2, 11:45 p.m.
With Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock.
This adrenaline-fueled thriller set a new tone for action flicks in the ’90s, with its non-stop high-speed stunts, sneaky liners, and a well-matched lead couple in future stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. While the whole premise borders on the slightly ridiculous direction, tense and relentless pacing should keep any viewer glued to their seat for the full two hours. ★★★★
Live the night
TVNZ 2, 1:50 a.m. (Sunday)
With Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana.
Police drama from the Prohibition era that follows the son of a police chief turned bootlegger who crosses paths with a mafia boss and steals his girlfriend. A lot is packed in two hours, and the plot unfolds on familiar terrain with no real cohesion. ★★
Well done, 7 p.m.
With Mike Myers, Dana Carvey.
Classic hit of the 90s that spawned a thousand slogans. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey are Wayne and Garth – two young rock fanatics who host their own underground TV show and are offered a life of fame and wealth when they are discovered by a big slimy wig (Rob Lowe). Great entertainment. ★★★★
The mountain between us
TVNZ 2, 8:30 p.m.
With Idris Elba, Kate WInslet.
A mountain of star power is wasted in this melodrama disguised as an adventure story. While there are some good times, with incredible cinematography, there just isn’t enough substance in the downright ridiculous storyline to make it through the day. The story sees two strangers stranded in a snowy desert following a plane crash. ★★
Three, 8 p.m.
With Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena.
Just when you thought the Transformers franchise was short of all the powers of the giant mechanoids, comes Bumblebee, the sixth in the series and possibly the best. This time around, the Autobots are set to lose the civil war against the Decepticons and Optimus Prime sends a scout, B-127, aka Bumblebee, to Earth to set up a base there. It’s still pretty much a mash of mechanical monsters, but here’s some clever dialogue and the characters are well-developed in that you can form an emotional bond with a bunch of metal. ★★★★
Sky Premiere, 8:30 p.m.
With Travis Fimmel, James Nicholas.
Fimmel, aka Ragnar Lothbrok of the Vikings, swaps longships and the icy North Sea for helicopters and a scorching jungle in this tale of the Battle of Long Tan in 1966 during the Vietnam War. Director Kriv Stenders details, without much historical context, the desperate struggle for the survival of an Australian unit cut off by Vietnamese troops supported by artillery and mortars. It’s a gripping and heroic story, told from an Australian perspective, although in real life the outcome of the battle is seen as undecided as to the actual damage inflicted on the Viet Cong. ★★★★
Sometimes always never
Maori TV, 8:30 p.m.
With Bill Nighy, Jenny Agutter, Sam Riley.
This quintessential Englishman, Bill Nighy, plays a Scrabble-obsessed man in this comedic drama, with a lean towards it. No, it’s not a strange British thing, but the character’s only hope of reuniting with her long-lost son, who may be playing the online word game. It’s the sort of thing that fits Nighy’s funniness perfectly, and it’s backed by a knowledgeable supporting cast, most notably evergreen Jenny Agutter. The title? Nighy’s character, Alan, is a nobility tailor, and Sometimes, Always Never is a reference to how to button a jacket. ★★★
Well done, 9 p.m.
With Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg.
Ted is a teddy bear movie that you probably shouldn’t take your kids to see. Rude and rude is the job of Family Guy comic book genius Seth MacFarlane and it would have been easy for Ted to have been an extended version of this show. Instead, it breaks the mold and tells the story of John Bennet (Wahlberg), a grown man whose best friend is the weed-smoker teddy bear who was born as a result of a childhood wish. There are some terribly funny moments, and while it’s a bit hit and miss at times, it’s still refreshing. Yet be forewarned. If you are against rude sexual themes, bad language and drug use, then better stick to Paddington! ★★★★
The job of the bank
TVNZ 2, 9:05 p.m.
With Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows.
Surprisingly based on a mysterious real-life theft that took place in 1971 at Lloyds Bank in London. That said, the implications made in the film about the compromising footage of Princess Margaret with a gangster are purely conjecture, with no apparent basis in fact. New Zealand director Roger Donaldson starts the thriller off slowly, but it’s worth the perseverance. Statham excels in a lead role, a more substantial mite than he’s used to working with, and the rest of the cast perform wonderfully as well. ★★★★
TVNZ 2, 11:20 p.m.
With Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow.
It may be 48 years since its original release, but this groundbreaking horror tale can still turn heads with its classic and expansive appeal to horror enthusiasts of all generations. While the special effects don’t contain the same effect anymore, this is an undeniably scary movie. ★★★★