Review: ‘The Outside Story’ captures New York City in spirit and charm.

THE OUTSIDE STORY

Synopsis

Brian Tyree Henry takes on his first big screen lead role as Charles Young, a broken-hearted  video editor. Perceiving a betrayal of trust as a sign his girlfriend Isha (Sonequa Martin-Green)  is leaving him, Charles preemptively blows up his relationship and sequesters himself at home.  The fates do not comply and Charles locks himself out of his apartment. Stumbling into a transformational, timely odyssey exploring his community, Charles meets a dynamic ensemble of previously avoided neighbors (including Sunita Mani, Olivia Edward and Asia Kate Dillon) who show him everyone’s got issues and it never helps to keep them all locked up.

The Outside Story is a quintessential New York City one, where people of all backgrounds, ages, and beliefs intersect in one single day. If you’ve ever lived in the city, the statistical possibility that you’ve locked yourself out of your apartment is very high. I’ve definitely done it, in my pajamas without a phone. It’s like a rite of passage.

Charles is a video editor in a bit of a slump. Trying to do the right thing, he accidentally locks himself out. The make it worse, he has no shoes or wallet. Crossing paths with the neighborhood traffic enforcement officer, neighbors of all persuasion, an unreliable friend, and a cat, all while attempting to pack his ex’s belongings. The editing utilizes flashbacks to, in a way, explain how Charles is in this situation.  Managing texts, phone calls, a work project, and post-breakup woes, Charles is left with neighborhood shenanigans and his memories to taunt him.

I’ve been waiting for Brian Tyree Henry to get a leading role since he charmed the pants off of audiences in television, film, and on Broadway for the past 10 plus years. He’s sheer perfection. You just want to spend time with him. You can tell he is thoughtfully listening to his fellow cast by the tone of his responses. That is great acting. His journey culminates in a revelatory and emotional finale. It all just fits beautifully.

The dialogue is genuine and relatable. It’s a peek into lives very different from their own, regardless of social status. It’s a wonderful reminder to pause, take a breath, and look around every once in a while. I also think it might be a secret desire for every city dweller to run across the adjacent rooftops once in their lifetime. We get to live vicariously through Charles and Brain, here. The Outside Story is a love letter to a neighborhood and everyone who lives and survives there. It’s an ode to the perfectly imperfect moments. It’s a gem.

AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL AND ON-DEMAND ON FRIDAY, APRIL 30th

Written and Directed by CASIMIR NOZKOWSKI

Produced by FRANK HALL GREEN, BRIAN NEWMAN, JOSEPH STEPHANS, and CASIMIR NOZKOWSKI

Executive Produced by EVAN THAYER, CAMERON O’REILLY, and LISA KLEINER CHANOFF

Starring BRIAN TYREE HENRY, SUNITA MANI, SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN, OLIVIA EDWARD, ASIA KATE DILLON, and REBECCA NAOMI JONES

HBO Max original review: ‘Superintelligence’ reminds us to be grateful for Melissa McCarthy.

original
When an all-powerful Superintelligence (James Corden) chooses to study the most average person on Earth, Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), the fate of the world hangs in the balance. As the A.I. decides to enslave, save, or destroy humanity, it’s up to Carol to prove that people are worth saving.

75% of this film is Melissa McCarthy speaking directly into the camera and it’s brilliant. The social commentary is what grabs you. It’s presented in an accessible, funny, and genuine way. The script is straight-up hilarious. I mean ceaselessly laugh out loud hysterical. The timing of the release is frankly just what we needed in this dumpster fire of a year. McCarthy plays a woman who left big tech to do better. She is simply living her life when it is interrupted by an AI that doesn’t grasp the totality of humanity. And can you blame it? These days? Technology has caused a lot of drama, heartache, hatred, and sadness over the past few years in particular. Superintelligence tackles it all but makes it funny.

Bobby Cannavale is charming as ever. His chemistry with Melissa is enchanting. Jean Smart, clearly modeled after Hillary Clinton, is obviously incredible. Brian Tyree Henry as Dennis is magic. His comic timing is something a director dreams about. He is a delight. James Corden’s smart-alecky demeanor is the perfect foil for Melissa McCarthy. He pushes her buttons and her limits allowing the plot to barrel forward. As for McCarthy…You cannot help but adore the character of Carol. You will instantly connect with her. She is down-to-earth, anxiety-ridden, and sincere.  All of Melissa McCarthy‘s positive energy shines off the screen. She embodies all that is good. McCarthy proves, once again, she is a comic genius. But outside the laughs is a very human character that hits home, reminding us what a well-rounded actor she truly is.

At first glance, the script appears to focus on technology. At the heart of it, the story is about just the opposite. Superintelligence breaks down the human experience from the superficial to the profound. The small moments that become monumental in the grand scheme of life. It chooses kindness and self-sacrifice over hatred and selfishness. It will make you smile from ear to ear. It’s one of the year’s best family films. Superintelligence reminds us all of what we should be grateful for.

Premieres on HBO Max on November 26, 2020

 

DIRECTOR: Ben Falcone
WRITTEN BY: Steve Mallory
PRODUCED BY: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, and Rob Cowan
CAST: Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, and James Corden