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For almost the entirety of its runtime, Old Dads feels like it has something it's desperately trying to prove. But while the millennial generation and a newfound popular interest in political correctness are ripe for satire, this film chooses the lowest hanging fruit possible to make jokes about—inventing one senseless situation after another in order to laugh at people's "sensitivity" with little energy or wit. The main cast has tried and tested talent, but the material they're working with feels more artificial and whiny than truly perceptive of today's generational clashes. The movie tries to manufacture some sort of dramatic realization by the end, but it hardly changes the protagonists anyway. A film need not be PC to be good, of course, but it should at least stand for something instead of simply standing against so much.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Abbie Cobb, Angela Gulner, Bill Burr, Bobby Cannavale, Bokeem Woodbine, Bruce Dern, C. Thomas Howell, Cameron Kelly, Carl Tart, Chelsea Marie Davis, Cody Renee Cameron, Dash McCloud, Erin Wu, Jackie Tohn, Josh Brener, Justene Alpert, Justin Miles, Katie Aselton, Katrina Bowden, Leland Heflin, Miles Robbins, Natasha Leggero, Paul Walter Hauser, Rachael Harris, Reign Edwards, Rick Glassman, Rory Scovel, Steph Tolev, Tom Allen

Director: Bill Burr

Rating: R

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Unfortunately, it isn't enough to have cartoonishly attractive people do silly things in the name of love for an entire feature film. This premise is undeniably fun at first: the pace is snappy, the locations are pretty, and there are more than a few intentional laughs buried within the film's fast-paced dialogue. But the longer Love Tactics 2 goes on, the more idiotic its characters seem and the more it feels like they don't actually deserve the love they supposedly earned in the previous movie. It greatly underestimates how frustrating it is to watch people fail to communicate over and over again, not out of any goodwill, but out of pure pride and jealousy. Sure, the leads provide plenty of eye candy, but after seeing how little they actually get to work with, watching them becomes an act of secondhand embarrassment.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Atakan Çelik, Bora Akkaş, Ceyhun Mengiroğlu, Demet Özdemir, Deniz Baydar, Hande Yılmaz, İpek Tuzcuoğlu, Kerem Atabeyoğlu, Melisa Döngel, Şükrü Özyıldız

Director: Recai Karagöz

Rating: PG-13

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It's admirable how A Taste of Love keeps to the gentle pace of a slice-of-life story instead of blowing things up with unnecessary drama, but it's ultimately just too thinly drawn for any of its moments to become charming in their simplicity. There's nothing particularly wrong with any of its plot threads—emotionally they're all pretty level-headed and easy to understand—they just don't seem to coexist for any reason, or within any larger framework. As a result, spending time with this film doesn't just feel like hanging out with total strangers, but hanging out with people who are strangers to each other as well.

Genre: Comedy, Romance, TV Movie

Actor: Adam Hose, Ashley Dulaney, Darla Delgado, Demi Castro, Erin Cahill, Gina Yeena Salas, Jeremy King, Jesse Kove, Jim R. Coleman, Jody Pucello, Lily Jane, Martin Kove, Meghan Colleen Moroney, Rod Grant, Sasha Andreev, Steve Heinz, Susan Gallagher, Tymberlee Hill

Director: Conrad de la Torres III, Michael E. Brown

Rating: G

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The fourth Kandasamys installment may only appeal to viewers who've been there from the beginning, but no matter your history with the South African Indian series, The Baby really offers far too little. With unconvincing third-act drama and extremely loose connection tissue between scenes, it becomes very difficult to see what the point of all this is, unless you are truly charmed by the bickering of this dysfunctional family. Unfortunately there isn't any wit to the clashing of personalities here; these are characters who aren't even trying to get on the same page, so set in their stubborn ways that it becomes infuriating to watch them butt heads for no good reason.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Jailoshini Naidoo, Koobeshan Naidoo, Madhushan Singh, Maeshni Naicker, Mariam Bassa, Mishqah Parthiephal

Director: Jayan Moodley

Rating: PG-13

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Locked In is the latest in a long line of B-movie psychological thrillers that seem to place much more importance on the kind of twisty structures they can pull off, rather than the actual content of their stories. Formal experimentation is just as valuable of course, but when a story like this—that relies on the shock of how these various character relationships turn against each other—can't give us characters with any sort of real interiority, the flashback-heavy narrative just begins to seem like unnecessary noise. Trying to keep up with basic emotional beats shouldn't be this complex, and after a while you begin to realize that these people are simply doing things outside any proper context, suspended in a world with no weight or specificity.

Genre: Thriller

Actor: Alex Hassell, Anna Friel, Famke Janssen, Finn Cole, Karl Collins, Rose Williams

Director: Nour Wazzi

Rating: R

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With uninteresting characters and an aggressively bland story right from the start, Choose Love fails to establish any stakes worth caring about, no matter what choices we make throughout. Any sense of novelty from playing this choose-your-own-romcom vanishes once you notice how certain decision points lead to the exact same idea, or are blatantly disregarded by the character you "control" anyway. Choice is a complete illusion here, and the fact that we're only asked to participate when it comes to some of the most inane dilemmas only highlights how the film's protagonist isn't acting like a rational, adult human being with any self-respect or regard for others. Sure, people are inherently flawed and it can be fun to see how disastrous this situation can get through our own manipulation, but by the end there's still no believable spark to be found. It feels like a cop-out no matter what.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Avan Jogia, Benjamin Hoetjes, Blair Strang, Jack Bright, Jacque Drew, Jesse Griffin, Jordi Webber, Laura Marano, Lucy Wigmore, Megan Smart, Nell Fisher, Scott Michael Foster

Director: Stuart McDonald

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Though it tries to root itself in the relatable situation of comparing oneself to others amid the often forced positivity of the Christmas season, Best. Christmas. Ever!'s disparate parts are so carelessly thrown together that it's hard to take any of it seriously. Potential conflicts in the marriages of its two central couples are tonally incompatible with the film's corny humor and a Miracle on 34th Street-esque subplot about the adults' children trying to prove that Santa is real. This is a totally mixed stew of Christmas movie tropes without rhyme or reason, which would have had a chance to at least be campy if its actors weren't phoning it in either.

Genre: Comedy, Family

Actor: Abby Villasmil, Allan Groves, Brandy Norwood, Camille Cadarette, Chase Ramsey, Heather Graham, Janet Lo, Jason Biggs, Madison Skye Validum, Matt Cedeño, Paul Kiernan, Wyatt Hunt

Director: Mary Lambert

Rating: PG

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Though it'll likely have more to offer for those who enjoyed the original Nickelodeon series that ran from 2014 to 2018, The Thundermans Return still does mournfully little with its feature length. There are some promising ideas here relating to what one's responsibility should be as members of a family, but any heart in the story is buried underneath weak attempts at action and painfully stilted humor—which is only made worse by the laugh track running through much of the film. Even in the oversaturated arena of American superhero movies, this one doesn't have relatable enough characters for teenagers and older kids to relate to, nor does it have enough mindless, poorly shot action for the younger kids.

Genre: Action, Action & Adventure, Comedy, Family, Kids, Science Fiction, TV Movie

Actor: Adam Kulbersh, Addison Riecke, Anushka Rani, Aubrey K. Miller, Audrey Whitby, Brady Amaya, Brandon Papo, Brittany Bardwell, Chevonne Hughes, Chris Tallman, Christina Correll, Christina Offley, Dana Snyder, Daniele Gaither, Diego Velázquez, Fletcher Sheridan, Guy Moon, Harvey Guillén, Helen Hong, Jack Griffo, Jake Borelli, James Hong, Jamie Kaler, Jamieson Price, Jeff Meacham, Jennifer Hale, John Sanders, Kenny Ridwan, Kira Kosarin, Laura Louise, Malcolm Foster Smith, Maya Le Clark, Michael Wayne Foster, Paul F. Tompkins, Robin Atkin Downes, Rosa Blasi, Tanner Stine, Valerie Loo

Director: Trevor Kirschner

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Despite a solid premise that should lead to compelling drama—about men scarred by war and the morally grey inner workings of the police—Confidential Informant devolves into a half-baked thriller that's as dull as its title. Flat direction, a lack of connective tissue between scenes, and an unfortunately visible lack of production resources suck the life out of the script and from the actors' performances. There's clearly a foundation to be built upon here, but the film makes a crucial mistake in trying to have its cake and eat it too: it wants to deliver all the (unsatisfying) thrills of an antihero police procedural, but it just doesn't have the money or the creativity to do this, on top of being a character drama. And so any tension that it tries to build up deflates by the end, its characters nothing but hollow shells, stuck in a story that that never gives them a chance to be anything more interesting.

Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Arielle Raycene, Dominic Purcell, Erik Valdez, Jon Lindstrom, Kate Bosworth, Meadow Williams, Mel Gibson, Nick Stahl

Director: Michael Oblowitz

Rating: R

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Hallmark movies aren't automatically bad if they're cheesy and on the cheaper side; there are ways to make these characteristics work, of course. But these qualities definitely don't help if the story they're telling is uninteresting and if the actors in front of the camera couldn't be compelled to deliver convincing emotions if their lives depended on it. Watching Gilded Newport Mysteries: Murder at the Breakers kind of feels like watching people rehearse a family-produced parody of an Agatha Christie novel, or like visiting Westworld and seeing the robots play-act a fictional scenario. Every line over-explains everything that happens on screen, and the mystery elements just aren't coherent enough for them to lead to a satisfying conclusion or interesting statement about the characters and their world.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, TV Movie

Actor: Aisling Goodman, Alissa Skovbye, Amira Anderson, April Telek, Ava Telek, Cesare Scarpone, Danny Griffin, David Beairsto, Geoff Gustafson, Gillian Barber, James Drew Dean, John Prowse, Katherine Evans, Madeleine Kelders, Mark Humphrey, Nathan Witte, Sebastian Greaves

Director: Terry Ingram

Rating: PG

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If it's been said about one American stand-up comedian, it's been said about a dozen of them: just because a joke is edgy doesn't mean it's brave, nor does it mean it's actually a well-written joke. Throughout this hour-long special, Mike Epps rambles from one topic to another with little sense of direction, usually resorting to making fun of a vulnerable group, or making dull "observations" about relationships and everyday life when he hits a wall. There's no real perspective to what he says here, not even an attempt to criticize more progressive points of view. It's hard to see what's so funny about somebody stating the obvious loudly and arrogantly.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Mike Epps

Director: Royale Watkins

Rating: R

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Shockingly little happens throughout A Young Time Ago's nearly two-hour runtime, and the little that does happen is all so poorly thought-out. As we're introduced to protagonist Tayo at a bar, a woman whom he doesn't know insists on hearing his love story—which turns out to be a story about how supernatural forces seem to have orchestrated the rape of the woman he once loved in school, and how a singer who was last seen with her tries to wash his hands of any suspicion (even if he thinks that he actually might've raped her anyway). It's an already tasteless and nonsensical plot that leads nowhere. Characters talk vaguely about who's to blame and how they can evade the fallout of the crime, while the survivor never really gets a voice or an opportunity to reclaim her control over what's happened to her.

The performances are awkward at best and totally inauthentic at worst, often leading to unintentionally hilarious line readings. And the overall technical package, while not necessarily bad, is just so flat and lifeless that it becomes impossible to track the film's emotional trajectory. And while we should consider ourselves fortunate to be able to see films from countries like Nigeria, which don't normally get a boost from mainstream streamers, we should always remember that a film this ill-conceived shouldn't represent the local industry it comes from.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Actor: Daniel Etim Effiong, Mofehintolaoluwa Jebutu, Timini Egbuson, Tolu Osaile

Director: Tolu Lordtanner

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Even before its characters get to Europe, Bawaal sets itself up as a truly ludicrous romantic comedy, completely unmoored from any common sense or internal logic, and with the most cartoonishly awful protagonist at its center. There isn't a single convincing story idea here, from the way Ajay's students learn from and idolize him despite his complete lack of teaching ability, to the way he treats his wife Nisha like dirt after learning she has epilepsy. Movies about scoundrels aren't unwelcome, but it feels as if there hasn't been any thought put into how Ajay views other people and the self-image he so desperately wants to protect—and even less thought seems to have been put into the hilariously shallow ways Ajay "earns" redemption by the end.

But then the characters get to Europe, and Bawaal inexplicably becomes a history lesson about the atrocities of World War II, which are briefly recreated in corny and at times tastelessly done fantasy sequences. The idea that these grown adults who have access to knowledge and pop culture are only now finding out that genocide is bad is nothing short of mind-numbing. Even worse is how Bawaal ignores every difficult and painful truth we've learned and continue to learn from World War II, and reduces so much suffering into a contrived moral lesson about how we should accept each other's flaws and learn to forgive. No matter the efforts of its lead actors or the quality of the production values on display, the film just can't overcome the bad taste it leaves in the mouth.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, History, Romance

Actor: Anjuman Saxena, Janhvi Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa, Mukesh Tiwari, Prateek Pachori, Varun Dhawan

Director: Nitesh Tiwari

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Filmmaking is a difficult thing. And there are countless filmmakers—the directors of this film included—who have strong ideas and just need the right time and support to have their vision realized. But there's no other way around it: Colonials was not ready to leave the pre-production phase, much less ready to be released on streaming. Non-existent production values, embarrassing visuals, unfinished sound design that leaves most of the actors muffled and unintelligible, incoherent world building, dumb action, and terrible performances—there really isn't anything worth checking out here. That the film has the gall to tease a potential sequel feels cruel.

Genre: Action, Science Fiction

Actor: Daniel Roebuck, Greg Kriek, Jamie Bernadette, Jennifer Willis, Jeremy John Wells, Jon Provost, Louise Barnes, Mike Ferguson, Sean Kanan

Director: Andrew Balek, Joe Bland

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