On the Marquee: ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Vacation,’ and Family Films

‘Mission: Impossible’ and ‘Vacation’ headline this week’s local releases. Plus, where you can see ‘Penguins of Madagascar,’ ‘Planes: Fire & Rescue,’ ‘The Mighty Ducks,’ and ‘Big Hero 6.’


Tuesday, July 28 & Thursday, July 30: Penguins of Madagascar

10 a.m. & 1 p.m. @ The Avalon Theater & Times Cinema ($2)

As has become custom, animated films beget spinoff films featuring comedic sidekick characters, much as has been done here in Penguins of Madagascar. It is hard to deny that the penguins were the best part of that series of films, and here they’re placed into a spy thriller milieu as they face off with an evil scientist.


Tuesday, July 28: Planes: Fire & Rescue

8 p.m. @ Village Park (13600 Juneau Rd. in Elm Grove) (FREE)

And if that doesn’t sate your hunger for animated spinoff movies, that Elm Grove is bringing you the Cars sidequel Planes: Fire & Rescue. If your kids like flying machines (minus the magnificent men), then this will be right up their alley, with Dane Cook’s character from the original Planes film training to become a firefighter.

Wednesday, July 29: Vacation opens in wide release

Check local listings for showtimes/pricing

Anything that was once popular must be strip-mined for any remaining value, so sayeth the state of our cinematic nostalgia. That said, Vacation looks like it might be a decent time at the movies. Chris Hemsworth as a lecherous relative, Ed Helms as a harried everyman – these are comedically sound concepts to build your film around.

Friday, July 31: The Mighty Ducks

7:15 p.m. (seating begins at 6 p.m.) @ Peck Pavilion (outside of the Marcus Center – 929 N. Water St.) (FREE!)

The Quack Attack is back. I haven’t seen The Mighty Ducks in over twenty years, so there’s a strong chance it isn’t the charming underdog sports story that I remember it being, but I’d bet on it being entertaining enough for a family night out at the movies under the stars (theoretically, the start time suggests you won’t actually see stars until the ride home).



Friday, July 31: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opens in wide release

Check local listings for showtimes/pricing

Despite any couch-jumping or strange belief structures, I still and will always be a huge fan of Tom Cruise. His career efficacy rate is through the roof (only recently has he started trucking in mediocrities, and even those are few and far between) and there are very few movie stars left who have such a tangible enthusiasm for the medium that comes through in their performances. The Mission: Impossible movies are a great example of that, with nearly every film feeling quite different (thanks to a wide swath of unique directors) with the main constant being Tom Cruise sprinting and smirking his way through them. I’m particularly excited for Rogue Nation, as the last collaboration between Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie was the severely underrated Jack Reacher, so this should prove to be a thoroughly satisfying entry into what has become a very reliable action film series.


Friday, July 31: Irrational Man opens locally in limited release

Check local listings for showtimes/pricing

Late period Woody Allen is a very interesting filmmaker to me and his latest Irrational Man is another example of why that is the case. I wish today’s director Woody Allen could collaborate with the screenwriter Woody Allen of a few decades past, as in terms of look and pacing his work here is on par with anything he’s ever put out. Darius Khondji’s work as cinematographer here is lush and gorgeous, making Rhode Island carnivals look like an otherworldly land of seduction. And while there is a certain level of “greatest hits” feeling to what he does here (contemplations of the perfect murder in an upper class milieu), it would be a mistake to cast this aside as a filmmaker simply spinning his wheels. Joaquin Phoenix does as fine a job as any in making the particular rhythms of a neurotic Woody protag feel his own and Emma Stone continues to collaborate nicely with the director. His repeated use of the same jazz track over and over again (instead of his standard variety) and where the film ultimately concludes suggests an evolution both of Allen’s worldview and filmmaking acumen. It seems strange to say of a filmmaker pushing 80, but I’m interested to see where these modest changes take his next work. Fans of his should find plenty to chew on here, and even non-fans might be seduced by his jazzy take on a murderous existential crisis.


Saturday, August 1: Big Hero 6 starts Bay View’s Film on the Hill series

8 p.m. @ Humboldt Park (3000 S. Howell Ave.) (FREE)

I think I’ve waxed enthusiastic as much as I am capable of with regards to Big Hero 6, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking it out this weekend in Bay View. The band shell at Humboldt Park is a lovely place to take in some entertainment, and this is entertainment with an Oscar-winning pedigree.



Tom Fuchs is a Milwaukee-based film writer whose early love for cinema has grown into a happy obsession. He graduated with honors in Film Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has since focused on film criticism. He works closely with the Milwaukee Film Festival and has written reviews and ongoing columns for Milwaukee Magazine since 2012. In his free time, Tom enjoys spending time with his wife and dogs at home (watching movies), taking day trips to Chicago (to see movies), and reading books (about movies). You can follow him on Twitter @tjfuchs or email him at tjfuchs@gmail.com.