Have you ever Googled yourself? One of the more entertaining narcissistic pastimes of a slow workday, the trail of information your name leaves behind is practically a scientific experiment waiting to be explored, revealing unexpected passages of history and identity. For struggling actor Jim Killeen, the iconic search engine opened a psychological door that he couldn’t ignore.
I’m having troubling figuring out what’s worse here: that 20th Century Fox would go out of their way to make sure I didn’t see “Deception” before opening day, or that 20th Century Fox would actually bestow something as tepid as “Deception” with a wide theatrical release. Ah, such mystery!
Right from the start I’m stating that I detested this needless “Harold & Kumar” sequel. However, I’m well aware that it will absolutely delight the franchise’s core group of fans, so please, for the love of all that’s holy, do not step an inch further in this review if you cherished “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.”
If there’s one thing to be learned from the “Baby Mama” experience, it’s that Tina Fey is a movie star. Effortlessly charming and genuine in front of a camera, she carries the film with a special poise in this, her first starring role. The rest of the movie can’t possibly keep up with her, and often doesn’t even try.
Helen Hunt took herself out of the Hollywood game eight years ago after sleepwalking through the Mel Gibson embarrassment, “What Women Want.” She’s acted in a few projects here and there, but “Then She Found Me” feels like a breaking dam: the overflowing artistic release of an actress fed up with what’s been handed to her. Now Hunt takes matters into her own hands with this raw feature film, her directorial debut.
Poker has been dealt some terrific cinematic hands before, but “Deal” is hardly cinematic. It feels like it would be more at home on the small screen, where the curious lack of energy running through this picture wouldn’t seem quite as severe, “Deal” is a passable diversion for poker junkies, but I fear will hold little interest for anyone not enthralled by gambling.
For some, the Apatowing of American comedy has perhaps lost its luster through repetition. For others (and this would be me), the unwashed comedic sensibility of the Apatow family is a godsend, and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is another barnstorming success, flush with peculiar performances, a frothy stream of vulgarity, and a universal tale of brokenhearted loathing that’s sure to make it the finest awkward date movie of the year.
“Zombie Strippers!” You shouldn’t really need more than a title to explain the experience contained within. However, what if I wrote that the picture is actually an elaborate critique of the Bush Administration and current political and social woes? Boy, I would sound nuts. But then again, so is “Zombie Strippers!”
It’s impossible to take Morgan Spurlock seriously as a big-screen documentarian. Clearly he comes from the Michael Moore school of “infotainment,” only without the sharp wit or, frankly, compelling subject matters. If you thought nailing McDonalds for unhealthy eating standards in the 2004 film “Super Size Me” was an easy target, wait till you see Spurlock going after global terrorism.
“The Life Before Her Eyes” is a tender film of internal discoveries that doesn’t need any sort of artificial push. An adaptation of Laura Kasischke’s novel, the picture is yearning to follow the literary pathway led by the author, yet quickly becomes a film better at using its own artistic choices instead of trying to communicate established ones.
“Jack and Jill vs. the World” is teeming with infuriating cinematic qualities. On the surface, it’s an easy film to loathe, yet on closer inspection writer/director Vanessa Parise has managed to establish some interesting emotional corners in this otherwise bubblegum diversion, the least of which is getting Freddie Prinze Jr. to act like an adult for once.
That “88 Minutes” is a cruddy, silly thriller is nothing remotely shocking; the genre has been laying eggs for decades. How Al Pacino found himself roped into this wacky movie is another mystery entirely and one that doesn’t take much research past the words “yacht payment” to solve.
Stop me if you’ve read these ingredients before: a PG-13 horror picture, a remake of an 80’s cult classic, directed by nondescript filmmaker, pathetically kept from critics to avoid unpleasant opening day reviews, and starring a roster of insipid young actors? Surely this means only the finest quality Hollywood has to offer!
Police corruption is roasted over an open fire in “Street Kings,” the latest motion picture to look into the black heart of the LAPD and come out confused, covered in blood, and gasping for air.
I understand that the nauseatingly titled “Young @ Heart” is intended to be a joyous celebration of life, but I was bothered by the film in ways I’m having trouble putting my finger on. It’s a heavy documentary about such a cheerful moment of self-expression, but much like last winter’s “The Bucket List,” it is ultimately a story of death, and that is too much weight for this fragile film to carry.
“Smart People” is a title that accurately describes the characters in the film, not necessarily those behind the camera. A jittery domestic dramedy, “People” squanders a capable cast on moldy material and problematic editorial decisions, resulting in a nomadic character study hastily winnowed down to indigestible pabulum.
In today’s crowded marketplace of blockbuster motion pictures, it’s unimaginable how a delicate picture such as “The Visitor” could be produced, much less find theatrical distribution. Perhaps the answer here is in the execution; a polite, gentle drama about friendship and musical expression, “Visitor” dances slowly, but effectively, working its way to the heart.
Reviewed at the 2008 Phoenix Film Festival
“Son of Rambow” has unfortunate timing, released after “Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation” toured the country and “Be Kind Rewind” branded homespun VHS fandom as “sweding.” Yet “Rambow” is quick to clear the cobwebs, introducing itself as a bracingly hilarious, heartening, and visually elastic comedy about the bliss of big-screen replication.
Reviewed at the 2008 Phoenix Film Festival
“The Forbidden Kingdom” marks the first collaborative experience for Jackie Chan and Jet Li, two action-film marvels fans have been clamoring to see bounce off walls and pummel bad guys for decades now. Criminally, “Kingdom” is a stiff, disturbingly ill-conceived fantasy film more consumed with playing slack-jawed fanboy than telling a compelling story (or at least a competent one) worthy of these two giants.