‘Back’ is juvenile, ‘Jack Ryan’ is intense and ‘Reasonable Doubt’ is adequate

Among the new movies that were released Friday, Jan. 17 are a high school reunion comedy starring Michael Rosenbaum, a CIA action-drama starring Chris Pine and a cat-and-mouse thriller starring Dominic Cooper and Samuel L. Jackson.

Back in the Day

Michael Rosenbaum plays a man who heads home for his 20-year high school reunion and, in an attempt to relive the glory days with his boys and explore an old romance, nearly destroys his hometown and friendships. (R – 93 minutes)

Writer/director/star Michael Rosenbaum may have been able to get away with the juvenile humor in his new comedy “Back in the Day” had its characters been celebrating their 10-year high school reunion. However, seeing men who are closing the gap on age 40 get their kicks by farting on one another is not amusing; it’s pathetic. That is just the beginning of a long laundry list of things that are wrong with Rosenbaum’s complete train-wreck, though. The script is superficial, the acting is affected and the story is stale, hitting all of the same notes we have heard countless times before on the way to an expected ending. (Thumbs Down!)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Chris Pine plays a young covert CIA analyst who uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley and Kenneth Branagh also star. (PG-13 – 106 minutes)

Having only seen (and, for the most part, forgotten) 2002’s “The Sum of All Fears,” “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” may as well be this film columnist’s first encounter with the film franchise based on late author Tom Clancy’s bestselling books. That introduction to a new generation of moviegoers is likely exactly what Paramount Pictures is hoping for here, having hot-ticket star Chris Pine step into shoes previously worn by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. And while the result is a fairly familiar affair in terms of the action-drama genre, its intelligently choreographed intensity makes for one exciting cinematic experience. (Thumbs Up!)

Reasonable Doubt

Dominic Cooper plays a District Attorney whose life is turned upside down when he becomes involved in a hit and run and another man (Samuel L. Jackson) is arrested for his crime and charged with murder. (R – 90 minutes)

“Reasonable Doubt” is kind of contrived but its serpentine story and snappy pace save the day, making the movie well worth watching – even though you may wind up forgetting it soon thereafter. Granted, those who are exposed to the film’s trailer will have the vast majority of the motion picture’s surprises spoiled for them, so try your best to experience the story uninformed in order to dispense the most gasps. Moreover, the roller-coaster loops distract you from the fact that the flick fails to operate with any real-world sensibility, which would have elevated an adequate piece of entertainment into terrific territory. (Thumbs Up!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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