STORY WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
What initially seems like a knock-off of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” turns out to be feisty family comedy that celebrates the fine art of breaking the rules.
In “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life,” tweener Rafe (Griffin Gluck) is forced to transfer to a rule-crazy middle school where he vows to do battle with the smug principal (Andy Daly).
Based on James Patterson’s bestselling series, “Middle School” has a lot going for it, including short but sweet fantasy sequences involving Rafe’s drawings come to life, a hilarious supporting turn by Daly and a sense of mischief that should prove irresistible to audiences of all ages. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.
Also New To Streaming
One Day At A Time: Season 1: Netflix’s reboot of the Norman Lear series from the 1970s follows three generations of a Cuban-American family living in the same house. There’s a newly divorced former military mother (“Six Feet Under’s” Justina Machado), her teenage daughter (Isabella Gomez) and tweener son (Marcel Ruiz) as well as her old-fashioned, Cuban-born mother (Rita Moreno). One of the most beloved characters from the original show was flirtatious super Schneider, who was played by Pat Harrington. Schneider is back in the remake, and portrayed by Todd Grinnell. On Netflix.
Insecure: Season 1: Here’s an irresistible comedy about two African-American pals attempting to navigate life’s everyday ups and downs. Issa Rae co-created, writes and stars in the HBO series as a woman who’s in a rut at work and unsatisfied at home with her slacker beau (Jay Ellis). Her pal Molly (Yvonne Orji) is a corporate attorney who seems to have it all together but is, in reality, just as self-doubting and anxious. “Insecure” feels fresh and original thanks to Rae who manages to explore the kinds of nooks and crannies of modern life which many TV series ignore. On HBO Now.
Growing Up Coy: At the center of this acclaimed documentary is Coy Mathis, a six-year-old trangendered girl who was born male but began living as a female when she was 18 months old. In 2013, Coy became the focus of a landmark case when she was denied access to the girls’ bathroom at her Colorado school. This doc chronicles the legal battle waged by Coy’s parents against Eagleside Elementary. Given the recent rollback of transgender rights in North Carolina, “Growing Up Coy” couldn’t be any more timely or relevant. On Netflix.
The Asphalt Jungle: John Huston’s crisp crime thriller has never looked better thanks to a new 4K transfer. Sterling Hayden stars as a hooligan pulled into a doomed jewelry heist by a criminal mastermind (Sam Jaffe) and a crooked attorney (Louis Calhern). For this fascinatingly diverse gang of small-time bandits, the big score sadly becomes the be-all and end-all of their existence. Marilyn Monroe is note-perfect as Calhern’s mistress while Jean Hagen is heartbreakingly realistic as Hayden’s down-on-her-luck moll but it is Hayden who makes you feel the desperation of a small-timer’s life in your gut. On FilmStruck.com.
When The Bough Breaks: Directed by “24” vet Jon Cassar, this potboiler full of back-stabbing, betrayal and murder is fun trash that never pretends to be anything else. Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall play a wealthy couple so desperate to have a child they hire a cash-starved surrogate (Jaz Sinclair). Things go awry almost immediately as Sinclair schemes to lose her boyfriend (Theo Rossi) and ensnare Chestnut. Cassar, to his credit, manages to tuck a comment on income inequality into the action. But “Bough” isn’t meant to make you think. It’s a thriller filled with fantasy homes and femme fatales in red dresses. Go with it. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.
Dog Eat Dog: With his latest crime thriller, writer/director Paul Schrader (“Hardcore”) goes so far over the top that he makes “Natural Born Killers” seem restrained. Nicolas Cage stars as the ringleader of a trio of nasty thugs (Willem Dafoe, Christopher Matthew Cook) tasked with kidnapping a gangster’s baby. A few scenes are lurid enough to be fascinating, particularly a strangely unsettling hotel encounter between Cook and a young woman (Louisa Krause). But “Dog Eat Dog” is a freaky fever dream that would have benefitted from some restraint. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.
For The Kids
Storks: Too bad this cartoon adventure about a stork named Junior (Andy Samberg) makes the mistake of substituting a frenetic pace for a funny bone. Still, the saga of the Stork and his clumsy human buddy Tulip (Katie Crown) has its moments, many of which involve a pack of wolves (Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele) and an obsequious pigeon (Stephen Kramer Glickman). If you don’t mind the screwball speed at which the whole thing unreels, “Storks” delivers plenty of giggles. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir: Originally broadcast on Nickelodeon, this series offers a fresh spin on the superhero formula. Tweeners Marinette and Adrien lead double lives as two young students who moonlight as the world-saving heroes Ladybug and Cat Noir. In the lastest seven episodes, the youngsters must keep their city safe from evil-doers while still managing to turn their homework in on time. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Odd Squad: The Movie: In this feature-length movie, a rival group of adults that calls itself Weird Team arrives with a gadget that fixes every odd problem. Suddenly, the members of the Odd Squad are out of work and forced to go back to their lives as regular kids. But after Olympia and Otis discover that Weird Team’s devices are only covering up problems not solving them, the kids come together again, just in time to save the world from destruction. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.