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Jerry Cutler On Film & Theatre—Exciting ‘On Your Feet,’ Spirited ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,’ & Disappointing ‘Equalizer 2’

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2018 – 12:43 AM

Exuberant On Your Feet Embodies The American Dream

Gloria and Emilio Estefan have presented a story of boundless energy, creativity, music, dancing and undying faith in pursuing success in their adopted country, America.

The anticipation in the audience on opening night of On Your Feet started to build before the curtain rose when a few beats from the Miami Sound Machine filtered through the Pantages, sending waves of excitement bouncing off the walls of the revered theater.

The upbeat music is intermittently interrupted by a story, bland by comparison to the eclectic Estefan brilliance coupled with Sergio Trujillo’s choreography. The party atmosphere never lets up and is greatly enhanced with the highly talented Christie Prades and Mauricio Martinez as Gloria and Emilio.

The Estefans are the embodiment of the “American dream” and have given us a wonderful and most enjoyable musical chronicling their eventual and most deserving success.

3-1/2 Tortilla Bagels out of 4

• • • • •

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Missing Original’s Cohesive Storyline

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you what I think of the rest of the movie.

Suffice it to say that in one of many flash-backs, I liked Lily James performance as a young Donna. However, I didn’t care for the casual one-night stands she has with her three bachelor hunks resulting in a paternity triangle as to who is the father of the cute Amanda Siefried. (I led a very puritanical early life.)

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is full of youthful spirit, some humor, great songs and dancing. However, missing is the original storyline that had more of a cohesive story line. Writer/director Ol Parker faced, what seemed to be an impossible task when he tried recreating a film that was fresh and exciting in its first run.

2 Bagels out of 4

• • • • •

Equalizer 2‘s Denzel Washington Should Stick To Characters That Make A Difference

I didn’t see the original Equalizer, but was excited to see the second installment starring Denzel Washington, one of my favorite actors and worthy of all the accolades he has garnered over the years. He is also excellent in Equalizer 2. The movie, which I am sure racked up enough profit to warrant another, is packed with mayhem, lots of shooting (some bullets actually hitting their original targets) a few bushel-fills of blood and some destructive fight scenes.

What it lacks, as these follow up movies often do, is a compact, comprehensive and interesting script.

The great Orson Bean appears as a Holocaust survivor with a Yiddish accent who is a frequent passenger in Washington’s Lyft cab. His accent is right on.

Being a SAG member may I refer to the recent groundbreaking case of Scarlett Johansson, who had to give up her role playing a transgender male due to an uproar stating that there are many transgender actors who should have been considered for the part. Well, I was home with not much to do, except prepare for the encroaching High Holidays. Did anyone think of calling me for the part? No. And I do a great Yiddish accent. On the other hand, I think Mr. Bean, who I consider to be a friend is an outstanding talent and watching him act, you’d never believe he wasn’t. However, I believe he thinks he is Jewish.

As for Equalizer 2, due to the tumultuous action during these times of hatred and despair, our country reeling from massive outcries of disenchanted Americans, I think Denzel Washington should stick to playing down-to-earth characters who make a difference. There’s no one better.

2 Bagels out of 4

Jerry Cutler, the Courier’s film critic, is rabbi at Creative Arts Temple.

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