“Aliens in the Attic” is a DVD babysitting tool that was somehow granted a theatrical release. It’s not all that loathsome, just remarkably unremarkable; a lively war of the worlds diversion with plenty of spunky special effects, gratuitous slapstick, and Ashley Tisdale parading around in a bikini for all the dads out there. It’s something bright and flashy to rest eyes upon for 85 minutes, but I can’t imagine anyone emerging from a showing of this thing proclaiming it to be a summer 2009 highlight.
Writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan are primarily known for their goopy work on the last few “Saw” sequels. Well, the boys are up to their old torture tricks with “The Collector,” though it’s heartening to find some improvement in the fright and performance departments. A grisly, sicko suspense ride, “Collector” is miles ahead of the “Saw” franchise. Perhaps that’s damning the film with faint praise, but “Collector” has some genuinely inspired moments to alleviate its cancerous stupidity.
With “40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” writer/director Judd Apatow created a special comedic identity that combined slacker geek sentimentality with crude, winding improvisational stings. It suited him well at the box office, but “Funny People” bravely detaches from Apatow’s comfort zone, though in a crafty manner that perhaps doesn’t provide an intensive genre-shifting challenge for the filmmaker. However, there’s just enough of a shove into uncharted waters of callous behavior to maintain an intriguing bite to the essential rolls of laughter.
Richard O’Barry worked for the Miami Seaquarium in the 1960s, capturing and training dolphins to perform tricks for tourists. O’Barry was also the man who trained “Kathy,” the dolphin that became a sensation on the popular television series, “Flipper.” Lining his pockets while Kathy went about her stunts for the cameras, it soon dawned on O’Barry that something wasn’t right. When Kathy died in his arms after years of rigorous instruction, O’Barry was rocked to his foundation, refusing the lucrative comfort of future dolphin exploitation to become an activist, preaching a message of freedom for these highly intelligent mammals often cooped up in aquatic cages or worse, as found in an astonishing corner of rural Japan.
While a fringe member of the supposed “Mumblecore” movement, “Humpday” is more of an art-house Will Ferrell comedy than a searing depiction of genital gamesmanship. A tale of gay chicken slathered with a thick coating of verbal wandering, “Humpday” is cute, well acted, but exceptionally trying at times, using an aesthetic reserved for realism to push across a trite frat house concept.
“The Soloist” strikes me as a very special film handicapped by unfortunate marketing. Dreamworks seems unfairly bound to promote the feature as a feel-good snapshot of redemption, spotlighting the road-tested appeal of the privileged white man taking a handicapped black soul under his wing, guiding him to unimaginable greatness. “The Soloist” is not that film. Under no circumstances is this picture a perverse “Radio 2.”
Meeting odd couple “Turner & Hooch” and falling asleep during “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.”
“Orphan” is a seriously tasteless motion picture, but it’s equally as spineless. A suspense piece with numerous acts of violence and torment involving children, “Orphan” endeavors to unnerve the audience by hitting below the belt, taking on the taboo concept of kids in peril to come across as provocative and unsettling. Instead, the film mostly bores with its repetition; the little originality it clings to dearly is neutered and slowly drained of shock value by the film’s end.
The screenplay for “G-Force” seems to fumble the joy of the concept, hunting for a more impactful way to tell a very silly story. This might be the reason there’s a frantic, suffocating thinking that ends up marring the picture. This is a team of super spy guinea pigs getting into all sorts of hijinks, there’s little need to add pathos or rigid character arcs. “G-Force” feels the urge to present audiences with a sympathetic portrayal of talking animals, when it’s clear that potential viewers, both young and old, would rather see these heroes in all stages of miniature combat and furry teamwork instead.
A political farce with wonderful ricochet timing and stellar acting, “In the Loop” reaches for both the brazen and the bizarre to manufacture a hopping comedy. If only all bureaucratic adventures could share this type of spirit; “Loop” establishes itself as an acidic force of nature, confident with brutal exchanges of opinion, yet retains a cutting satirical curve that buttresses the film’s undeniable pull toward outright silliness.
“A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women?” – Katherine Heigl on “Knocked Up,” Vanity Fair, January 2008.
Wow. Star Wars Weekends ended over a month ago, and I never got around to posting my pictures from the event. Chalk it up to pure absentmindedness, not a reflection of the month-long celebration of all things “Star Wars.”
Comparing “(500) Days of Summer” to Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” might be marvelous shorthand to describe the acidic romantic comedy intentions of this new film, but quality wise, the pictures are miles apart. Using the tenets of alternative hipsterdom to blanket screen clichés of all shapes and sizes, “Days” aims to be a carefree, collar-unbuttoned pass on love and other disasters. Mostly the picture grates with its faux-indie-film affectations and unimaginative craftsmanship. It grazes on the fields of Gen-Y trends and ‘80’s nostalgia to fatten itself to such a degree, it would be impossible to notice the material is only a few menopausal jokes away from your average Nora Ephron film.
With all the grief Hollywood receives (however justified) for reimagining their horror classics, it appears those bad habits are spreading across the globe. The clumsily titled “Nature’s Grave” (wow) is a remake of the 1978 Australian shocker “Long Weekend,” brought back to the screen through Aussie funding and local director Jamie Blanks. It goes without saying that an update here is completely unnecessary, but Blanks, while curiously slavish to the original picture, insists on recapturing B-movie lightning in a bottle, minus the powerhouse thespian effort and directorial stillness that marked filmmaker Colin Eggleston’s initial take on this bruising material.