Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

In the franchise world in which we now live, movie studios are always looking for the next big thing that will ensure fans come flocking to the theater. The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has gotten a pop cultural boost in recent years thanks to the Netflix show Stranger Things, and now – just shy of its 50th anniversary – it’s getting its own blockbuster movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

The somewhat complex story centers on two of the titular thieves, Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), who lead a group of rogues who make a living by stealing, but only from those who deserve it. One such altruistic mission, a relic that can bring back the dead, leads to the pair getting caught and put in jail, separating Edgin from his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman).

Fellow thief Forge (Hugh Grant) agrees to look after her, but after a daring escape, Edgin and Holga discover that Forge is even more of a scoundrel than they thought, rising to the title of Lord in their absence with the help of the sorceress Sofina (Daisy Head), and poisoning Kira’s mind against them. They must gather the rest of the team, including Simon (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis), to try to take him down and recover the relic once and for all.

Written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, with help from co-writer Michael Gilio, the film has the unenviable task of turning the famously dense game into something that pleases both fanatics and those unfamiliar with its many characters, creatures, and locations. It’s clear the filmmakers are trying to strike a balance between the two, loading the story with terms they barely attempt to explain while at the same time making the movie as goofy as possible.

Only the second of those two approaches truly works. The problem the filmmakers run into is that this is an introductory film that barely seems to care about introducing its characters. A lengthy speech by Edgin at the beginning attempts to do that, but is staged in such a way that the humor of sequence takes precedence over the details of the people. The only reason the characters wind up likable is because of the sheer amount of time spent with them and the actors’ performances.

Well, that and the comedy sprinkled throughout the film. If Daley, Goldstein, and Gilio do anything right, it’s not taking the material too seriously. The world has already seen Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, so adding in funny elements like the wise-cracking Edgin, a supremely fat dragon, and more keeps the film from getting lost in its own minutiae. Not all the jokes land, but 75-80 percent of them do, which is enough to keep the film buoyant.

Pine, as he’s shown in the recent Star Trek and Wonder Woman films, has charm to spare. He occupies this particular role extremely well, and so even if you can’t remember his character’s name, his performance carries the film. Rodriguez is an acquired taste, but her surly demeanor and physical prowess works for her here. The supporting actors shine at times, but the film doesn’t showcase them enough to make them stand out.

While miles better than the reviled 2000 Dungeons & Dragons, Honor Among Thieves is a merely okay beginning for a possible new franchise. There’s some excitement to be had and it stays light on its feet thanks to the comedy, but more attention paid to the story is warranted if they decide to make sequels.


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens in theaters on March 31.

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Standout Houston-born Broadway star shines as Best Actor nominee in upcoming Tony Awards

and the tony goes to...

Left to right Alex Newell, Caroline Innerbichler, Kevin Cahoon, and Andrew Durand in SHUCKED

Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

(Left to right) Alex Newell, Caroline Innerbichler, Kevin Cahoon, and Andrew Durand in Shucked.

Houstonians tuning into the 76th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11 honoring Broadway's best and brightest have an inspiring special reason to cheer.

Kevin Cahoon, a graduate of the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, is in the running for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his performance in Shucked. He plays Peanut in the show, which Variety called "surprise delight of the Broadway season."

"It is a lifelong dream come true," Cahoon tells CultureMap. "I am gobsmacked. And every time someone brings it up, it's like hearing it for the first time. I keep pinching myself."

A Houston star is born

Cahoon said he knew from a very early age he wanted to perform. At age six, he began working as a rodeo clown. HIs father was a calf roper who met his mother at a school rodeo club. Over his next decade, Cahoon would go on to perform in rodeos across Texas and Oklahoma, including at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

By age 10, he was enrolled in TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre and was performing on the mainstage. That's where he met Vanessa Garner, who became his HSPVA classmate and the founder of the Nashville Theatre School.

"She's my date to the Tonys," Cahoon notes.

For Cahoon, attending HPSVA gave him more than just an opportunity to hone his skills as an actor and a launching pad for a career that, thus far, has spanned three decades.

"HSPVA really was a safe haven for smart, talented, brilliant oddballs to feel supported," he sats. "I was a gay kid. I wasn't out, but the writing was on the wall. And it wasn't an easy daily existence in middle school. But I got to HSPVA and it was this school full of unicorns in the best possible way!"

He graduated from HSPVA in 1989 and went on to earn his BFA from NYU's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.

"Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country, and growing up here caused my heart, my mind, my eyes to be open to people of other backgrounds," says Cahoon. "When I hit New York City, I'd already been exposed to people from so many different backgrounds, and a lot of that was true at HSPVA, too."

Once he arrived in New York, he stayed.

From PVA to Broadway

Following graduation from NYU, he made his Broadway debut in The Who's Tommy, stepping into the ensemble as a replacement after the show opened. He originated the role of Ed, one of the hyenas in the original Broadway cast of Disney's The Lion King.

He was in the original casts of The Rocky Horror Show as Phantom and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as the Childcatcher, and originated the role of George in The Wedding Singer, the musical based on the Adam Sandler film of the same name.

Television audiences will know him as Ed Clark in Fox's Monarch and Hugo from seasons two and three of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, as well as that streaming service's season three of Glow, where he played Bobby Barnes.

Shucked and awe

Shucked, with a score by Brandy Clark & Shane McAnally and book by Robert Horn, is nominated for nine Tony Awards. The musical tells the story of Maizy and Beau, two residents of the fictional Midwestern community of Cobb County who are forced to call off their wedding when the corn crop gets blighted.

As corn is the lifeblood of this community, Maisy heads off to the big city looking for help and a way to save the crop. The show's corniness has been compared to the classic "Hee-Haw" comedy TV show, and its earnestness has been delighting audiences and critics. Cahoon's Peanut is something of the show's everyman, serving as county clerk, resident philosopher, and more. He's the guy with lines like, “I think if you have time to jump in front of a bullet for someone, they have time to move.”

The New York Post called his performance "brilliant."

"It's been peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys," reflects Cahoon on his journey with Peanut in the show, which as taken 12 years from development to the Great White Way. He's been part of it for a decade, through workshops and readthroughs. A pre-Broadway run in D.C. was shuttered due to the pandemic.

So, having the show finally arrive on Broadway is a triumph.

"Audiences tell us, ''I'm from Nebraska,' 'I'm from Ohio,'" says Cahoon. "And they've never felt like they've seen themselves in a positive light in a lot of media."

For Cahoon, playing Peanut is a joy.

"I love that does everything in the town," he says. "And he tries to keep everyone's spirits afloat. He looks at the world, which can be unfair and sometimes unjust and he still has this positive, sunshiny view of it. This is one of the great gifts of my career."

Kinder in the house

At the Tony Awards on Sunday, Cahoon won't be the only HSPVA representing H-Town. While his is the only performance by an alumni that's nominated for an individual award, Sterling Overshown, HSPVA Class of 2012, wrote the music for Ain't No Mo, nominated for six Tony, including Best Play.

Meanwhile, Fernell Hogan, Class of 2015, is in the musical Kimberly Akimbo, which received eight nominations, including Best Musical. Jarvis B. Manning, Jr., Class of 2005, is in Some Like It Hot, nominated for 13 Tonys, including Best Musical. Brandon Lee, Class of 2001 plays trumpet in that show's orchestra.

A standing-o representation, indeed.


Watch for Kevin Cahoon on The 76th Annual Tony Awards, broadcast live on CBS and Paramount+ at 7 pm Sunday, June 11.

Veteran Houston French chefs are not opening a French restaurant in River Oaks


Three Frenchmen have teamed up to open a new restaurant in the River Oaks Shopping Center, but Cocody may not be quite what people are expecting.

Chef David Denis, his brother, front of house specialist Sylvain Denis, and chef Lionel Debon worked together at Le Mistral, the acclaimed French restaurant in the Energy Corridor that closed in 2019. More recently, the Denis brothers have been operating Bistro 555, the Memorial-area French restaurant. Their business partner, Edwin Bosso, grew up in French-speaking Ivory Coast before coming to Houston, where he attended Rice University and started a successful career as a consultant.

Those biographical details would seem to suggest that Cocody will also be a French restaurant, but that's not the case. Instead, the team is creating a restaurant that's merely "French-influenced," according to press materials.

“Cocody is French-influenced because its leadership came from France. The owners are originally from the French-speaking Ivory Coast. All three operating partners got their training and built their early careers in France, including at a number of Micehlin-star (sic) restaurants,” publicist Mark Hanna writes in email. “The menu, on the other hand, will be a variety of dishes they have created for Cocody which can't be so easily labeled. There will be a lot of influences from all over, including Houston and Texas.”

We'll have to wait a bit to learn more about the specific dishes that will be created by the blending of French training with Texas influences, as the menu is still under development.

Considering the neighborhood, not opening a French restaurant in that location seems wise. After all, Cocody will have to distinguish itself from Brasserie 19, the restaurant across the street from its location at 1971 West Gray that has been serving French-influenced dishes such as escargot and trout almondine to River Oaks diners for more than a decade.

Whatever food the chefs decide to serve, they will do so in an elegant dining room with an Art Deco-inspired decor that includes a free-standing metal bar, a chef’s tasting room, and illumination by hundreds of shimmering crystal lights. It will also be quite large — with a 7,000-square-foot interior and a 2,000-square-foot patio.

As for the rest, Houstonians will have to wait and see what kind of not-French food this team of French chefs comes up with.

Rendering by Winn Wittman Architects

Reagan's favorite things: Father's Day finds, luggage to love, a super summer sweat sesh, and more for June

your must-have list

Editor’s note: We originally met entrepreneur Reagan Bregman in 2021 when we were the first to report the launch of her athleisure line, Exiza. Her brand quickly drew rave reviews for its ethical, sustainable practices, great fits for every body type, and effortlessly cool vibe.

Fast forward to 2023, and Reagan is a new mom to adorable baby Knox, still overseeing Exiza and its new line, a sought-after influencer and guest host, and a social media tastemaker. (Oh yeah, she’s also married to a nice gentleman named Alexwho is really, really good at baseball, business, and paying it forward.)

With so many of her fans constantly asking and commenting on her fab finds, we’ve recruited this Houston star to spotlight some of her favorite things — and where to find them — for a new column. Take it away, Reagan!

The scorching days of summer are officially here — look at all those 97s and 98s on your weather app this month! For me, that means looking for sunscreen and makeup that doesn't feel heavy when I'm out in the Houston sun or traveling for those outdoor, daytime away games.

Summer also means working up a sweat, and I've found an exercise platform that caters to my crazy-hectic days. Since you gotta hydrate after working out, I've teamed up with a local company that makes water that's good for you — and good for the planet.

My favorite thing for June? It's a first Father's Day for my special someone. With two Dads on my list now, I've rounded up some guy gifts that will hopefully help with Father's Day shopping inspo.

Reagan Bregman Alex Bregman Knox BregmanOur columnist with her two favorites.Photo by Alex Bregman

Hot tips for summer essentials

FORM online workouts

FORM online fitnessStay fit anywhere with FORM online.Photo via FORM

I love a good summer sweat sesh, but I don’t always have time to hit the gym. FORM online workouts are my favorite thing to do when I only have 20 to 30 minutes max. This digital exercise platform was started by Sami Clarke and her workouts are so effective and — this is super-important — never boring. Plus, the variety is great, so you're never in a rut.


Supergoop foundation Supergoop sunscreen is weightless and odorless — perfect under makeup.Photo via Supergoop

We all know how that the Houston summer sun can be intense. With my days full of indoor and outdoor activities, I always travel with Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen because it doesn’t feel like sunscreen and it’s so easy to use on the go. And ladies, it looks great under makeup — always a plus!

Tula Radiant Skin Brightening Serum Skin Tint Sunscreen

Tula Radiant Skin Brightening Serum Skin Tint Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30Face the sun with Tula Radiant Skin Brightening Serum Skin Tint Sunscreen.Photo via Tula

I have tried so many light foundations, but this one has stuck with me for years. I love it because it's lightweight and evens out your skin without feeling like you have makeup on.

This foundation is great for layering other liquid products — like blush and lip gloss — for that perfect dewy, summer makeup look. Find it at Ulta or Sephora.

HOW Water

HOW Water Reagan BregmanHOW water is good for you and the planet.Photo via DrinkHowWater

My Number One goal this summer is to drink more water. So it was great timing when HOW — a Houston-based water brand — approached me. The company was founded by Bob Peebler, who launched the Ruggles Green restaurants. His HOW (Hyperpure Oxygenated Water) is ultra-filtered and injects 98 percent oxygen into the water.

When I started Exiza, it was important that everything we do as a company is sustainable. That's why I agreed to work with HOW: the bottles are made with infinitely recyclable packaging, which is great for the planet.

(Editor's note: While Reagan Bregman is a HOW brand spokesperson, HOW did not compensate CultureMap for this mention; this is an columnist-curated and editorially approved selection.)

Chic weekend jetsetting in the bag

Beis Luggage

I love love love Beis luggage. The thoughtfulness that went into the design of these bags truly shows when you go to pack. All my friends and I have the weekender bag and I have almost every size of luggage they sell. They just came out with a kids version as well!

BEIS luggageBEIS black luggage is anything but basic. Photo courtesy of BEIS

BEIS luggage kidsTraveling kiddos will love these bright BEIS pieces.Photo courtesy of BEIS

Better travel for travel

Ride Alto

Alto revs up your airport rides. Photo courtesy of Alto

Given our busy travel schedule, I need a safe and reliable way to get to and from the airport. Alto rides are monitored and the company uses their own branded cars. The drivers are always so kind and professional and I always recommend to my girlfriends — especially if traveling alone or going to and from summer parties/festivities.

I love that each car has a fragrance and I can choose my playlist — before getting in the car! Also important for traveling moms: Alto drivers will wait as long as you need once they arrive; no need to rush out.

Sporty gifts for Active Dad

Diamond days: Home Run Dugout

Home Run DugoutHit the cages with Dad at Home Run Dugout.Photo via Home Run Dugout

I'm a little biased, of course, but I think a day at Home Run Dugout in Katy is great guy time. Catch the 'Stros, grab a burger and beer, and hang. And be sure to show off that grand slam swing in the batting cage.

For Dad's inner Ricky Bobby: Formula Go-Karting

Formula Go-KartingGet your need for speed with Formula Go-Karting.Photo courtesy of Hidden/Formula Go-Karting

As the poet Ricky Bobby once said, you’re either first or your last. If your Dad lives by those rules and has a need for speed — but doesn't have time to train for Monaco, Indianapolis, or Talladega, book a trip to NRG Parkway this December.

Formula Go-Karting rolls into town on December 2 and 3 for serious speed racing. Tickets start at $65. (Bonus points if your Dad dresses up like Ricky Bobby's dad.)

Dad gear goals


Municipal shirt T-shirt Reagan's favorite thingsDad will look fit in a Municipal fit.Photo via Municipal

This clothing brand from my husband's friend Mark Wahlbergis so massive right now. Shop workout gear (4 am!) and cool streetwear like a T-short of hat for that Dad drip. But don't stop at Dad — check out the women's line, too!


G/FORE shoesDad can go way beyond typical golf gear with G/FORE.Photo via G/FORE

If he's a golfer, this brand has the best modern golf shoes and apparel and goes way beyond typical course wear. I’ve gifted these Debossed Skull & T’s Gallivanter Golf Shoes to my Dad and they were a hit.

Savoring Father's Day

Getting spicy: Breggy Bomb Gift Set

Okay, this one may be an obvious for our household, but we love some good steak or a burger with El Jefe, or my personal favorite, grilled salmon seasoned with Brush Dust. The gift set is perfect for a dad who loves to grill and is sure to impress the next time you have friends or family over — or Dad needs to flex with his buddies.

Breggy Bomb Gift Set What else you gonna grill with?Photo via Breggy Bomb

No lime required: Flecha Azul Tequila Reposado

Flecha Azul TequilaFlecha Azul Reposado Tequila is a serious sip.Photo via Flecha Azul Tequila

This one is a great gift for Dads who love tequila. I discovered it this year, and I love the Reposado. It's light, crisp, and hits with citrus, praline, vanilla, sandalwood, and even some baking spice. This brand is also owned by Mark Wahlberg and is sure to be super sipper for summer. Find it online or in Houston Spec's or Total Wine stores.

A true tear-jerker Father's Day gift

Father's Day book WonderblyThis custom Father's Day book from Wonderbly is a real page-turner.Photo via Wonderbly

The sweetest story: Personalized Dad book from Wonderbly

For new dads — like my husband — I think this is such a sweet, sentimental gift. You can customize the book title, names, and the story, and preview everything before you order. Get on this quickly as the deadline to order for Father's Day is coming.

Also, I really really hope Alex doesn’t read this part before before Father’s Day. (Editor's note: Alex, this gift is a smoke screen. She's really getting you a tie.)