'Puzzle' is Well Made, but a Few Pieces are Missing

Based on the film Rompecabezas, Puzzle is one of those little-known independent films that sneaks into theaters with little to no fanfare, although the fact that it is being promoted “from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine” should help it get noticed somewhat. Puzzle is a quiet, little film about a woman who discovers that jigsaw puzzles are the key to changing her life. While the subject matter doesn’t sound all that exciting, the film really isn’t about puzzles but instead about one finding their voice, or so it appears. It’s also a message film that has its own agenda expecting the audience to agree with the choices of the main character and applaud her “brave” behavior. Frankly, it just feels manipulative.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, Puzzle’s most impactful scene comes within the first few minutes. We see Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) cleaning up the house and they decorating it for a birthday party. Then we see her serving appetizers while being ignored by the guests. …

'Kevin Can Wait' Should Have Waited a Little Longer

Review of "Kevin Can Wait"
Kevin James and Erinn Hayes in Kevin Can Wait. (CBS)
The great thing about Kevin James is that he’s such a likeable guy. The problem with Kevin James is that he always plays the same likeable guy in every movie or TV show that he’s in. So much so that CBS’s whole promotion for his new series, Kevin Can Wait, featured the actor's new character (Kevin) talking to his old one (Doug) from his former CBS hit, The King of Queens. I don’t know if telling your audience that you’ll be getting more of the same is the best marketing tool.

The King of Queens lasted nine years because of his sparring partners Leah Remini and Jerry Stiller. Erinn Hayes, who plays Kevin’s wife Donna, couldn’t more different from Carrie, which isn’t a bad thing. Instead, she is cheery, which gives the two a different type of banter that is less snarky and show's the difference in their relationship. That is probably the best thing that can be said about James’s new show.

The premise of Kevin Can Wait, is that Kevin has just retired from being a police officer and has big plans but realizes that just because he retires, life still goes on. Kevin and Donna’s daughter Kendra (Taylor Spreitler) springs news on the couple that she wants to drop out of college so she can support her unemployed fiancĂ©, Chale (Ryan Cartwright) who wants to change the world with his new app. Chale is as similar to Kevin as Meathead was to Archie from All in the Family. Their next daughter Sara (Mary-Charles Jones) is said to have a “budding anger-management issue” (though it is unseen in the pilot) and youngest Jack (James DiGiacomo) suggests that he should stay home from school because he thinks he got a concussion playing football. Kevin reminds Jack that he plays a football video game, not the real thing. Then there’s Kevin’s former working buddies which are basically just different versions of Kevin and are the show’s weakest characters.

Review of "Kevin Can Wait"
James DiGiacomo and Kevin James (CBS)
Kevin Can Wait might have potential if the show the creators retool it. The creators actually have built a family unit that could be kind of fun to watch. Outside of a line or two that seem to come completely out of left field, the first episode is pretty clean. There is even mention that the family attends church, something that is rare to see on TV these days. Shows like this could be a comedy that they whole could enjoy if it was done well. Instead, it doesn’t seem to know what it wants. Kevin seems like a nice, beer-loving irresponsible buffoon and yet in the pilot’s main conflict, he manages to work it all out in a matter of seconds.

The problems with Kevin Can Wait include the show’s laugh track, some terrible one-liners and obvious promotion of commercial products including Muscle Milk, The Container Store and a long running gag with the Gyro Bowl (look it up) that feels like an infomercial. This last error would be preferable to actual commercials, but not both please.

Some of the show’s problems stem from the fact that the pilot show has to throw in every character and potential plot point to give viewers a good idea of what the show is all about and the second episode could be greatly improved. Maybe. Kevin is a great comedian, but he deserves better and should have waited a bit longer before signing on for this one.

Kevin Can Wait airs on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.


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