‘Concussion,’ ‘Daddy’s Home,’ and ‘Point Break’ on Local Screens (New Year’s Day, Fri., 1/1/16)

1) ConcussionIn 2002, Dr. Bennet Omalu—a forensic pathologist from Nigeria working at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Pathology—performed an autopsy on former Pittsburgh Steeler’s center Mike Webster. His findings led to the first documentation of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in American football players.

He later carried out similar research on NFL player Terry Long who, like Webster, had a history of health problems, mood disorders, depression, drug abuse and suicide attempts … symptoms Omalu contended were caused by their long careers with the NFL. His finds were presented to Commissioner Roger Goodell and the backlash was immediate and fierce as the NFL tried to downplay the research, question Omalu’s skills and bury the story. Omalu’s (whose surname was shortened from his original family name, Onyemalukwubew, which means, as you know, come forth and speak) struggle to have the NFL acknowledge the relationship between repeated concussions and CTE were publicized in a magazine article and then book by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Peter Landesman has now written and directed a movie version (shot in Pittsburgh) with Will Smith playing Omalu. Alec Baldwin, Stephen Moyer, and Luke Wilson also star.

As an interesting side note – the hacked Sony emails (Sony being the studio behind the film) revealed that the NFL went to considerable lengths to get changes made to the script … some of which Sony, Landesman and Smith agreed to. Mamma, don’t let your sons grow up to be football players. Check Fandango for screens and times. (TH)


2) Daddy’s Home – I remember in a schlocky 1960’s horror film it was said that if someone was born on Christmas Day, God would be so mad at the child who dared crowd His own son’s birthday He’d turn the kid into a monster. (Don’t yell at me; the movie was The Curse of the Werewolf with Oliver Reed; check it out if you don’t believe me.) For the new millennium, I think we can adapt that idea: If you release a movie on Christmas Day, God’s gonna be so angry He’ll put Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell in it. (I could swear both these men have already starred in this exact same movie separately and together several times over the past few years.) Ferrell plays a mild-mannered guy married to Linda Cardellini who is trying to be the best step-dad he can to her children. Then Wahlberg shows up as the kids’ bio-daddy, and we know he’s very cool (and a lot of trouble) because he rides a motorcycle. Complications, not surprisingly, arise. See what I mean? Doesn’t it feel like you’ve already watched it a few times? I suppose that may not matter come Christmas night when you’ve put up with just about as much as you can from visiting relatives and need to see something … anything! Daddy’s Home certainly fits the bill. Check Fandango for screens and times. (TH)


3) Point BreakYou wanna know how the movie biz has changed? You’re going to find no better example than the two IMDB descriptions of the original Point Break and its remake. From the 1991 version: “An FBI agent goes undercover to catch a gang of bank robbers who may be surfers.” The 2015 version: “A young FBI agent infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists devastating the world’s financial markets. Extreme sports featured include snowboarding, wingsuit flying, free rock climbing, high-speed motocross, and surfing 70-foot waves.” I’m wondering if I even have the stamina to buy a ticket – I feel like I should be cross-training just to get through it. The original is famous for the barely concealed homoerotic undercurrent between the FBI agent Johnny Utah (played by Keanu Reeves) and the lead surfer (Patrick Swayze as Bodhi.) Something tells me homoeroticism will have no place in this new version … although they have kept the character name “Johnny Utah.” Check Fandango for screens and times. (TH)

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Rick Handler

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