CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - If you're thinking you might want to skip Stronger because you don't want to experience another movie about the Boston Marathon bombings, think again.
Yes, it's sometimes heartbreaking and draining but this movie will surprise you. It's much more than the traditional heroic tale inspired by true events.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives maybe the best performance of his life playing Jeff Bauman, a regular guy in his 20’s living a regular guy life. He worked at Costco, trying not to screw up with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, still living with his mom, rooting for his beloved Red Sox. Jeff was standing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when one of the bombs exploded almost directly underneath him.
He lost both legs above the knee, and he suffered from PTSD.
The city of Boston and the country adopted Jeff as the face of "Boston Strong" but he didn't want to be a hero and he felt enormous pressure to put on a brave public face even as he was going through hell.
"Stronger" doesn't sugarcoat Jeff's problems with drinking, his fits of anger, and his sometimes cruel treatment of his girlfriend, played by Tatiana Masley of Orphan Black.
Gyllenhall could get a best actor nomination. Miranda Richardson almost certainly will get a best supporting actress nomination for her work as Jeff's tough-as-nails, hard-drinking, fiercely protective mother.
This is one of those movies where we see the real-life characters at the end and get an update on their lives, and you better believe your eyes are going to well up and your heart will beat strong with pride.
Whether he'll admit it or not, Jeff Bauman is an American hero. From the rubble of an act of cowardly terrorism, he emerged a better man. Stronger. See it!
Also opening this weekend is Kingsman: Golden Circle.
This is the sequel to the surprise hit from 2014, based on a British comic book series.
That movie was crazy and ultra-violent and filled with cool pop-culture satire and just entertaining as all get-out. This movie is also crazy and ultra-violent and filled with pop-culture satire, but it's also a loud, throbbing, obnoxious, tedious, unfunny, overlong and pounding hammer to your temples.
Taron Egerton returns as Eggsy, the now-dashing young operative with the secretive Kingsman Agency.
Channing Tatum plays his Kentucky counterpart in a group called the statesmen. And there's a whole batch of Oscar winners flouncing about, including Colin Firth from the original, and new additions Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry.
Do not let the energy and humor of a quick clip mislead you.
Golden Circle starts off with a bang and tries really, really hard to keep the momentum going, but we're soon mired in a movie that loves scatological humor, is casually and almost shockingly sexist--and goes on, and on and on.
It's two hours and twenty-one minutes, are you kidding me! Skip it.
I'm also urging you to stay away from the mid-life crisis movie Brad's Status, starring Ben Stiller. It's a real drag.
But I loved the 1970s tennis Battle of the Sexes, with Steve Carell and Emma Stone playing Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King.
It's great fun and surprisingly touching as well.