Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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Review: Diablo Cody flick is far from 'Paradise'

Paradise (PG-13) (87 min.) — Diablo Cody should've written a better script for her directing debut, or at least used her Oscar-winning instincts to not choose this one. Paradise pokes its fun at fundamentalist religion but isn't in the same snarky-lark league as Juno, nor as comically raw as Young Adult. The concept is rich with potential to offend yet after a promising opener Cody doesn't seem interested.

Julianne Hough is perky enough as Lamb Mannerheim, a wide-eyed virgin raised in church by her parents (Nick Offerman and Holly Hunter, left jokeless). We learn in montage that Lamb survived an airplane crash, severely burned and wondering why God would spare her to live scarred and chronically pained. Cody's writing is never again as biting, nor her direction as crisp.

Lamb shocks her church community by rejecting God the only way this immensely naive woman knows how, by going to Sin City itself, Las Vegas. She'll draw up a bucket list of transgressions to be accomplished, most of them innocent enough, like getting drunk and urinating in public. Nothing as funny as Aubrey Plaza's The To-Do List, which is indebted to the writer Cody isn't here.

Lamb's journey is unlikely joined by William, a smarmy British bartender — typecasting for Russell Brand — and a cynical, alcoholic nightclub singer named Loray (Octavia Spencer, a wonderment as usual). Paradise becomes their quest to check off Lamb's temptations list and soak up Vegas, riding the Fremont Street zip line, hitting the clubs and rubbing off on each other. Occasionally an identifiably Cody line pops up, cutting and cauterizing but not nearly often enough. (Regency 20 in Brandon.) C-

Steve Persall, Times movie critic

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Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballTulsa at Temple6 p.m.ESPNewsVillanova at Georgetown6:30 p.m.FS1Dayton at St. Joseph’s6:30 p.m.CBSSNArkansas at Florida7 p.m.ESPN2; 1250-AMSMU at Wichita State7 p.m.ESPNUAuburn at Alabama7 p.m.SECUSF at East Carolina7 p.m.820-AM...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lou Gramm, Mick Jones join Billy Joel on stage for Foreigner tunes

Lou Gramm, Mick Jones join Billy Joel on stage for Foreigner tunes

Billy Joel's been knockin' 'em dead at his regular Madison Square Garden shows these days. And staying home in NYC also gives the Piano Man a chance to dazzle his audience with surprise guests. For the Jan. 11 show, it was Lou Gramm and Mick Jon...
Published: 01/16/18
Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

BY STEVE PERSALLTimes Movie CriticPaul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is passionless window-shop cinema, each static tableau lovingly arranged for display and easy dusting. Its centerpiece is a mannequin, albeit played by Daniel Day-Lewis, whose gi...
Published: 01/16/18
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

TAMPASeldom have I paid such close attention to a restaurant closure, remodeling and reopening. Byblos Cafe began a major renovation last year, keeping the restaurant open as long as possible during the summer with some nifty temporary walls to shiel...
Published: 01/16/18
Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Maybe Jack Nicholson was wrong. We can handle the truth.The #MeToo movement is giving a microphone to once unheard voices. Political lies are constantly challenged. At the Golden Globes, Oprah’s rousing speech asserted "the most powerful tool is spea...
Published: 01/16/18
Coming-of-age love story ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a rare treasure

Coming-of-age love story ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a rare treasure

Another young man’s summer he’ll never forget is the core of Call Me By Your Name, a movie to likewise treasure. Luca Guadagnino’s coming out-of-age drama is a rare exception to familiar romantic rules.This film’s same-sex summer fling shared by a te...
Published: 01/16/18

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballWisconsin at Purdue7 p.m.ESPNLouisville at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPN2Georgia at LSU7 p.m.ESPNUVanderbilt at Mississippi State7 p.m.SECClemson at North Carolina7 p.m.Fox SunCincinnati at UCF7 p.m.CBSSNWomen: Michigan at Ohio State7 p...
Published: 01/15/18
Was Jon Bon Jovi ever really lonely? Maybe back in ’84

Was Jon Bon Jovi ever really lonely? Maybe back in ’84

Our '80s historian Kevin Wuench says congratulations to Bon Jovi on getting into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and provides this history lesson:Do we pander to Bon Jovi fans to get more Lost and Found clicks on the website? Surely not, as ...
Published: 01/15/18