A Dog’s Way Home, set to open here Friday, Jan. 11, is a heartwarming story about Bella, an adorable puppy adopted by Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King, 23), a young medical student. The pair is inseparable until Bella gets lost and must travel 400 tough wilderness miles to get back to her beloved owner. The supporting cast includes Ashley Judd and Bryce Dallas Howard (as the voice of Bella). This is the first big film role for the handsome Hauer-King. He’s had a lot of Brit TV roles, including a major part in the recent British production of Little Women as “Laurie” (shown on PBS). Jonah’s British father, Jeremy King, 60ish, is a famous U.K. restaurateur. His American mother, Debra Hauer, 60, was a theater producer and now is a therapist. Jonah, who has a Cambridge University degree in theology and religious studies, told his college magazine he frequently visits the San Francisco Bay Area, where his mother grew up, and that he grew up in a “North London Jewish family.”
The Upside is a comedy/drama about how a recently paroled ex-convict (Kevin Hart) improbably gets a job as the personal attendant of a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston). Julianna Margulies, 52, has a biggish supporting role as “Lily.” By the way, if you visit U-M in Ann Arbor, you might notice the “Kenneth G. Lieberthal and Richard H. Rogel Center for Chinese Studies.” Kenneth Lieberthal, 75, is a retired U-M professor whose attorney son, Keith, has been married to Margulies since 2007. They have one child together.
What Men Want is a re-make of What Women Want, a 2000 Nancy Meyers’ film in which a man, after an electric shock, could “magically” hear women’s thoughts. In the remake, due out in early February, Ali, an African-American woman and a sports agent, is constantly boxed-out of good clients by male colleagues. After drinking a weird concoction, she can read men’s thoughts and things go a lot better for her. The director is Adam Shankman, 54, (The Wedding Planner). Josh Brener, 34, (Silicon Valley) and Max Greenfield, 38, (New Girl) have supporting parts.
The 10-episode Israeli TV drama When Heroes Fly will premiere on Netflix on Thursday, Jan. 10. This Hebrew-language, English-subtitled series tells the story of four veterans of a special IDF commando unit from the 2006 Lebanon War who reunite, 11 years later, for a final mission. They will try to rescue the girlfriend of one of the commandos. She was kidnapped by a drug cartel in Columbia. Tomer Kapon, 33, a real-life paratrooper commander in the Lebanon War, plays one of the veterans. If you viewed the Israeli series Fauda, also on Netflix, you’ll recognize Kapon.
Premiering Jan. 11 on Netflix is the original film The Last Laugh. Chevy Chase plays Al Hart, a retired talent manager who reunites in a retirement community with his first client, a comic named Buddy Green (Richard Dreyfuss, 71). Buddy quit showbiz 50 years ago, but Al convinces him to hit the road for a cross-country comedy tour. Andie McDowell and Lewis Black, 70, have supporting roles.