Malort and tavern style pizzas go well with a Chicago made movie at the Tivoli

I felt “seen” multiple times in the first few minutes of “Relative,” a slice of Chicago life written and directed by Michael Glover Smith about a family of young adults coming home for graduation. university degree of their youngest brother.

We meet Rod (Keith D. Gallagher), the hooded bearded guy (me) throwing f-bombs at his TV with an Xbox controller in his hand (me) and overstayed his foster home with his parents (me, he 17 years ago).

There’s also Evonne (Clare Cooney), who laments the adult commitments we “all have to do” lying in bed with a blank stare (me, often).

“Relative” is suitably relatable, and the familiar setting is the icing on the cake — future college grad Benji (Cameron Scott Roberts) chats with a Malort drinker in Hopleaf (5148 N. Clark St.!) after having ate tavern style thin crust pizza. “It’s the real Chicago way,” his friend rightly says.

Smith’s characters are both specific and universal, living in a storyline that balances mundane, everyday episodes with awkward family conversations and bursts of unexpected humor. This Malort drinker, Hekla (Elizabeth Stam)? She bursts out laughing with an inappropriate joke about her trip to Iceland.

Filmed in Chicago, Skokie and Wilmette, “Relative” hits the suburban big screen at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, August 22, for a one-night only screening at the Tivoli Theater, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove, presented by the After Hours FilmSociety. Tickets are $11 and are available online at


The film is also set to screen September 17 at Studio Movie Grill, 301 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton.

“Top Gun: Maverick” hits digital buy and rent platforms on Tuesday, August 23.
– Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Need speed… at home

“Top Gun: Maverick” sat on Paramount’s shelf for two years, waiting to be unleashed on audiences when Tom Cruise felt moviegoers were ready to return to theaters, masked or not. The bet paid out $1.3 billion and more. The sequel to Cruise’s dogfighting classic hit theaters May 27 and continues to pack auditoriums into August — it was No. 2 at the box office last weekend, its 12th week on release.

It could likely play in theaters for another 12 weeks, but Paramount announced on Tuesday that “Top Gun: Maverick” will hit digital purchase/rental platforms like iTunes and Vudu on Tuesday, August 23, with a Blu-ray/ DVD to follow November 1st. Both will be filled with bonus features.

• Sean Stangland is an associate editor who has a need…a need for speed.