First-time director Tom Volf plainly adores Callas — sometimes to a fault — but his film stands as a necessary corrective to decades of bad press. It’s an unalloyed tribute to her as a musical genius who gave all of herself to the public.
Amandla Stenberg carries the magnetism she brought to her breakthrough role in the YA romance “Everything, Everything,” but she’s betrayed by a stilted rendering of a rarely illuminated piece of history.
Tartakovsky’s instincts are to keep the action moving quickly and let one piece of kid-friendly slapstick tumble into the next, but when the jokes are this consistently uninspired, it doesn’t matter how fast they’re dispensed.
Shirkers isn’t about Cardona, but about Tan reclaiming the film and the story that he had taken away from her. Her energized, rough-hewn documentary style doesn’t seem that far removed from her lost debut, but she and her friends have enough perspective to look back at that period in their lives with touching fondness and good humor.
So little has been done to update or refresh “The Intouchables” for American culture or a new audience that The Upside has no integrity as a separate piece of work. The casting alone is all that’s keeping it from sinking into a cynical act of franchise burnishing.