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

MOVIE REVIEW
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. …

This Summer is Going to the Dogs (and Cats)

Adam Pally stars in Dog Days
Adam Pally stars in Dog Days (LD Entertainment)

 MOVIES 

The dog days of summer are coming earlier this year; at least in Hollywood. Three new dog-themed movies will be coming to theaters and two documentaries are hoping to make strong impressions at various film festivals in hopes of being picked up for distribution that they can reach a broader audience. First up is the Will Arnet’s talking dog comedy Show Dogs which looks terrible, but hey, maybe it’s better than it looks? Then comes the documentary, Pick of the Litter about raising pups to become guide eye dogs, the robot dog adventure film A.X.L. and the comedy Dog Days which looks like it might have some promise. The last film, Catwalk is about people who enter their pet cats into cat shows for bragging rights.



Show Dogs
Max, a gruff NYPD K9 unit Rottweiler, inadvertently blows Federal Agent Frank Mosley’s cover in an operation to catch the smugglers of a baby panda known as Ling-Li. However, Max manages to corner one of the henchmen who tell of his ring-leader’s plan to sell the panda at the Canini Invitational event in Las Vegas. This prestigious dog show attracts the richest people in the animal world and the “Best In Show” is worth millions. Frank takes the assignment but in order to gain access to the coveted event, he must pose as a contestant with a dog. Max, who happens to be a purebred Rottweiler, jumps at the opportunity to take down the evil gang. The trouble is, Frank is convinced Max has anger issues, Max thinks Frank is stupid and both are entirely clueless about the glamorous world of show dogs. Show Dogs opens in theater on May 18.

Pick of the Litter
Pick of the Litter follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born and begin their quest to become guide dogs for the blind. Cameras follow these pups through an intense two-year odyssey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm. Along the way, these remarkable animals rely on a community of dedicated individuals who train them to do amazing, life-changing things in the service of their human. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Pick of the Litter is a wonderful reminder of the extraordinary relationships we have with our dogs, especially those that we work beside each day.

Dog Days
Dog Days is an ensemble comedy that follows the lives of multiple dog owners and their beloved fluffy pals around sunny Los Angeles. When these human and canine's paths start to intertwine, their lives begin changing in ways they never expected. The movie stars Lauren Lapkus, Nina Dobrev, Eva Longoria, Vanessa Hudgens, Finn Wolfhard, Adam Pally, Thomas Lennon and Jessica Lowe. Dog Days opens on August 10.

Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit
This is a story of impassioned personalities and intense rivalries, packed with pathos, humor and ultimately, redemption. And cats. This year, Kim Langille’s Turkish Angora, Bobby, has been winning every contest and has run up a points total that seems to be unbeatable. The top prize is theirs for the taking. Enter Oh La La, Shirley McCollow’s stunning Red Persian, coming out of retirement for one last shot at glory. This magnificent creature is a head-turner, but entering this late in the season and overtaking Bobby seems impossible. But once Oh La La starts to wow the judges and quickly build up points, Kim starts to worry.


A.X.L.
In the vein of classic '80s family movies Short Circuit and Flight of the Navigator, A.X.L. is a new adventure about a down-on-his luck teenage bike rider, Miles (Alex Neustaedter), who stumbles upon an advanced, robotic, military dog named A.X.L.  Endowed with next-generation artificial intelligence but with the heart of a dog, A.X.L. forms an emotional bond with Miles, much to the chagrin of the rogue military scientists who created A.X.L. and would do anything to retrieve him. Knowing what is at stake if A.X.L. gets captured, Miles teams up with his smart, resourceful crush, Sara (BeckyG), to protect his new best friend on a timeless, epic adventure for the whole family. A.X.L. opens in theaters on August 24.

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