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Previews of upcoming releases and special screenings

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STORY WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For Digital First Media

Big Game

Imagine that you’re a Finnish teen, on a hunting mission in the woods to kill a deer. If you succeed, you can prove to the local townsfolk that he has reached manhood. That’s what 13-year old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is doing in “Big Game.”

Oskari is living in the shadow of his illustrious father. The latter is a famed hunter, who had slain a bear on his own inaugural solo hunt years before.

The next thing you know, Oskari is face to face with the President of the United States, William Alan Moore, played by  Samuel L. Jackson.

It turns out that President Moore has been the target of an attempted assassination plot. He’s exited Air Force One by using an escape pod, which has crash landed in a remote Finnish forest.

Now, President Moore is being carefully monitored on satellite surveillance video equipment  by the Vice President (Victor Garber), the C.I.A. director (Felicity Huffman), and a retired C.I.A. field operative, Herbert, (Jim Broadbent). The latter has been brought onboard as a consultant.

Who’s behind the plot to assassinate President Moore? Is it some wild-eyed Talibani driven by ideological motivations? Or could it be a domestic terrorist with an agenda that is more mundane than restoring an Islamic caliphate?

Will Oskari prove his mettle and enable President Moore to survive? Or will the stuffed heads of these two newly-minted comrades end up as hunting trophies?

“Big Game” was reportedly shot on a budget of $8.5 million. That would make it an extremely  modest budget for a U.S. film. However, it is the most expensive Finnish film ever shot.

Opens at select theaters on Friday, June 26. PG – 13 (for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language) 90 minutes. Relativity Media. In Finnish and English.  

Ted 2

Back in 2012, Seth MacFarlane conjured up the idea for a film with a talking teddy bear. Sound like the premise of a cute kids film? Not so fast  —  MaFarlane was the creator of “Family Guy,” a hard-edged television comedy. His talking bear, the eponymous Ted, wasn’t the cuddly protagonist of some innocuous film for pre-schoolers. No indeed — as voiced by MacFarlane, this teddy bear was a foul-mouthed creature. He was an unabashed purveyor of politically incorrect remarks, scatological humor, and sexual innuendo.

The film was based on the notion that Ted had come to life as the result of the fervent wish of his human owner, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg). Fast forward a few decades and John and Ted are still fast friends.

Did I mention that Ted has the libidinous appetites of a human being? He successfully pursued Samantha Leslie Jackson (Amanda Seyfried).

“Ted” went on to gross $550 million in international box office. So, you knew that a sequel wasn’t far behind.

As the sequel opens, Ted and Samantha are married and have decided to start a family. There’s one catch, for all of his sexual braggadocio, Ted is not anatomically equipped for procreation. So — he has to ask his old buddy, John, to act as a sperm donor. Is anyone getting skeeved out by this premise yet?

The promotional posters and trailers provide a clear warning that the sequel will be full of the same raunchy humor that graced the original.

Mila Kunis, who portrayed Mark Wahlberg’s girlfriend in Part 1, is M.I.A. However, look for appearances by the likes of New England Patriot’s quarterback, Tom Brady;  Liam Neeson; Morgan Freeman; Dennis Haysbert; and David Hasselhoff (now making a follow-up career out of self-parody).

Opens wide on Thursday, June 25. R (for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use) 115 minutes. Universal Pictures

Nathan Lerner sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at lernerprose@gmail.com.

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