O&A movie columnist Mark Fields’ quick take on the latest releases

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The Humans: Acclaimed Play Makes Transition to Film

Solid performances from an accomplished cast – including Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, and Jayne Houdyshell — and a Tony Award/Pulitzer Prize pedigree go a long way, but ultimately they cannot redeem this stagey domestic drama. Three generations of the dysfunctional Blake family gather for Thanksgiving in the yet-to-be moved-into Chinatown apartment of younger daughter Brigid (Beanie Feldstein) and her new husband Richard (Steven Yeun). Over the course of the evening, personal traumas are revealed and long-standing resentments emerge. But it feels oh so lazy and familiar.

Director/screenwriter Steven Karam has adapted his own play for this film version, and he fills the quiet moments with distracting cutaway shots that expose the decrepitude of the down-market apartment setting, but they also accidentally serve to expose the tired clichés of the fraught family dynamic. An unexpected swerve in the direction of the supernatural (or is it?) at the end just confuses things further.

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed films for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Mark also has written on the movies for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark has been an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University since 1998. A career arts administrator, he is the executive director of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House and now lives on Market Street. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.