I barely made it to Pierre 123 State Theatre in time for its final showing of “A Quiet Place Part II” on Thursday afternoon, so it looks like you’ll be watching all of this week’s picks from the couch again. Don’t worry: John Krasinski’s latest stab at horror greatness is expected to arrive on Paramount+ in mid-July.
And I didn’t forget the other movies in my dash to catch the last showing.
This week’s movies are “Plan B,” “Awake” and the aforementioned “Quiet Place.” Warning: As with the vastly superior Millard at the Movies, these reviews contain minor plot spoilers.
”Plan B,” Hulu
It’s worth noting before we get to the actual review that Syracuse, New York, where “Plan B” was filmed, does not look like the movie’s setting in South Dakota. The Syracuse of “Plan B” looks approximately as much like the original Syracuse — that is, the one in Sicily — as it does South Dakota. Ignore that and you’ll find “Plan B” far and away the best high-school comedy — and maybe best comedy, period — since 2012’s “21 Jump Street,” anchored by a side-splitting performance from Victoria Moroles. Every bit of dialogue is calculated perfectly to maximize the laughs while still cementing the chemistry between Moroles and co-star Kuhoo Verma. Absolutely worth yelling “Oh, come on! That so does not look like Rapid City!” at the screen during the film’s third act. Mike’s mark: 95/100.
Despite Gina Rodriguez giving it her all, “Awake” is little more than a “Children of Men” wannabe with cheaper visuals and a less compelling storyline: What if everyone the world suddenly stopped being able to sleep? The answer is, of course, chaos, but why does that need to be a movie? “Awake” spends 96 largely pointless minutes making its case to no avail, throwing every disaster film plot device not nailed down at the camera without giving a reason for doing so. Rodriguez shows some hustle and Ariana Greenblatt gives a promising performance for such a young actress, but there’s little in the script of “Awake” to keep the viewer from exercising their right to fall back to sleep. Mike’s mark: 46/100.
”A Quiet Place Part II,” Paramount+ Mid-July
I missed out on the original “Quiet Place,” thinking it impossible for Jim Halpert to have made such a tour-de-force on the very first try. Mistake. The second installment is an excellent film on its own two feet. Millicent Simmonds steals the show as Krasinski and real-life wife Emily Blunt’s daughter, Regan, who is deaf but more than able to use her abilities to overcome Krasinski’s long-armed, sound-hunting monsters. A complaint that could carry over from the original is that the monsters, even with rows of sharp teeth and fluctuating skulls, aren’t terribly scary but more of a clumsy cross between a Xenomorph and John Carpenter’s Things, but taking the film as a pure thriller rather than horror, as I did, easily makes up for that. The ending comes a bit abruptly and it is obvious Krasinski & Co. meant to set the series up for a third installment, but the preceding 90 or so minutes are so action-packed you won’t even mind. Mike’s mark: 89/100.