-- “Concussion” (PG-13)
"Concussion" is a movie every football player and fan should see. More importantly, it’s a movie every parent who has a child playing football, or thinking about, allowing their child to play football, should see.
Dr. Omalu is perplexed by Webster’s death. His brain showed no overt signs of dementia or mental illness, but Webster’s behavior was indicative of somebody suffering from some sort of brain injury. When Omalu was told that the city won’t pay for further tests on Webster’s brain, Omalu pays for them out of his own pocket, and takes a much deeper dive into both Webster’s brain and his life.
Omalu discovers Webster, who died at age 50, had sustained the type of brain damage you generally would only see in a much older person. Knowing nothing about football, Omalu does extensive research and demonstrates that excessive blows to the head and multiple concussions can lead to a disease he calls chronic traumatic encephalopathy, now commonly referred to as CTE.
"Concussion" is, without a doubt, this year’s most important movie -- it literally has the power to save lives. The science the movie shows is one thing, but it’s Smith’s powerful performance as Dr. Omalu that drives the message home. He easily does his best work here, full of empathy, passion and grace. In one of the year’s best scenes, a part of which is included in the movie’s trailer, Omalu begs the NFL’s chief doctor to “Tell the truth! Tell the truth!” It’s so personal and so charged, it feels as if Smith is channeling every person who’s been affected by CTE, reaching through the screen and grabbing us by the shirt, fans and athletes both, and imploring us to be honest with ourselves about the cost of this violent game we love so much.
Professional football is a multi-billion-dollar business with fans who love it like a religion, so it’s hard to change attitudes about it. But Smith and director/co-writer Peter Landesman do a terrific job telling a story that needs to not only be told, but heard, seen and -- most importantly -- felt. If you’re being honest with yourself, you’ll feel "Concussion," and it will and should be painful.
Four out of five stars
“Daddy’s Home” (PG-13)
From that natural conflict, comedy is born. Sometimes.
"Daddy’s Home" is described as a “family film.” But, for whose family? Granted, it’s rated PG-13, but I’m hard pressed to think of another supposed family film with so many sexual references and -- spoiler alert -- a scene in which a young girl is punched, kicked in the groin and called the b-word.
Irresponsible marketing aside, there are some laugh-out-loud moments in "Daddy’s Home," but there are more scenes that will have you rolling your eyes so much, you might give yourself a headache.
Two-and-a-half out of five stars