Opening This Week
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (PG-13) Martin Lawrence and Cedric the Entertainer star in a film about a successful talk show host and single father rethinking the direction of his life when he returns home.
Fool’s Gold (PG-13) Matthew McConaughey (as a surfer dude) and Kate Hudson (as his unbelievably put-together eye candy) hunt for treasure in this comedy action flick.
The Hottie and the Nottie (PG-13) Paris Hilton plays a skanky young bachelorette who realizes her chances with men depend on her not-so-hot best friend. A movie that’s amazingly true to life.
The Savages (R) Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney care for their ailing father. Opens Friday at the Terrace Theater.
27 Dresses (PG-13) It’s not the kind of movie I’d see of my own volition. Lots of women, I imagine, reject the notion that human validity for women comes only through heterosexual marriage. And marriage is what 27 Dresses offers us as the ultimate fulfillment of female life. The movie gives us two options of adult womanhood: You can either be a mousy, insecure, wedding-obsessed workaholic or a trampy, irresponsible liar/drunk (who’s only that way to cover up how sad she is because she doesn’t have a man). —Conseula Francis
Atonement (R) Joe Wright’s adaptation of Atonement works — and doesn’t work. As a piece of film craft, it’s undeniably impressive, the kind of movie that gathers Oscar nominations by the score. At times, though, it presents itself as though auditioning for its own Cliff’s Notes: an ambitious, thoughtful, and literary story that practically dares you not to recognize that it is Art. —Scott Renshaw
Cloverfield (PG-13) | Read a full review here. The dialogue sucks and the character development is next to nil. Think about the day-to-day conversations you have with your loved ones or your friends. Penned by Aaron Sorkin it’s not. Even worse, our personal dramas are pedestrian; they lack pizzazz. We’re lame. We’re petty. We’re boring. And because Cloverfield focuses on us as we appear in daily lives and not as we appear up on the big screen, the film feels as insubstantial as a text message, or even worse, an episode of Laguna Beach. 🙁 —Chris Haire
The Eye (PG-13) The only vestige of horror to be found in the tepid supernatural thriller The Eye is the display of Jessica Alba’s rudimentary acting skills — not to mention her attempts at appearing to play the violin. Even by the dictates of the PG-13 rated horror flick, this is lame stuff — worse, it’s lame stuff you’ve seen many times before. Ms. Alba plays Sydney Wells, a blind violinist who regains her sight through a cornea transplant. (Since she gets two eyes, shouldn’t this be called The Eyes?) Of course, there’s a downside — she sees dead folks and the nasty specters that escort dead folks to wherever dead folks go. And naturally, no one believes her. It all leads to a stupid Final Destination rip-off and a moral sermon that makes no sense in context. Scares are limited to a few shock effects that mostly serve to keep the viewer at least on the edge of consciousness. —Ken Hanke
First Sunday (PG-13) David E. Talbert comes with his very own set of flaws, namely a complete inability to create a coherent film. Despite a pleasant cast and a workable premise involving a plan to rob a church that, it turns out, has already been robbed, the film is simply a mess of loose ends and meandering plotlines. Worse, for a comedy, it’s conspicuously laugh-free. —Justin Souther
Hannah Montana (G) Calling this peculiar, pre-fab phenomenon a movie is a bet of a stretch. It’s really nothing more than a cut-down version of Disney Channel pop diva Hannah Montana (aka Miley Cyrus, daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, who also appears) in concert with occasional backstage glimpses. This round she appears as both Hannah and herself (the appreciable difference being the removal of her blonde Hilary Duff wig when she’s herself). For anyone not jazzed about Cyrus — meaning, pretty much anyone who isn’t a four to 12-year-old girl — the whole thing is apt to feel like the Barbie’s Playhouse version of Madonna’s Truth or Dare — only in 3D and marketed as an “event” at an inflated price. It hardly matters what anyone says, though. Its target audience will adore it. —Ken Hanke
How She Move (PG-13) The story of a teenager forced to join a step-dancing crew to win money she needs to pay her tuition at a private school, How She Move fancies itself a grittier version of Stomp the Yard. And while there are some strong performances from its cast of unknowns and attempts at making likable, sympathetic characters, the film ultimately becomes too steeped in melodrama and lackluster direction to completely work. —Justin Souther
I Am Legend (PG-13) Few actors like Will Smith can carry a quiet drama like The Pursuit of Happyness and a science-fiction blockbuster like I, Robot, but he combines those two personas here for an involving portrait of a guy trying to convince himself there’s a reason to stay alive. —Scott Renshaw
Juno (PG-13) It’s a familiar tale: Juno MacGuff, high schooler (Ellen Page), finds herself preggers after some sexual experimentation with her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). Right from the get-go, and on through the whole film, there’s a refreshingly nonpanicky approach to the whole situation: Yes, having a baby can dramatically affect the rest of a young woman’s life, but it’s not the end of the world. —MaryAnn Johanson
Mad Money (PG-13) Despite the combined talents of Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and director Callie Khouri, the lightweight comedy Mad Money is at best an exercise in painless mediocrity. I sat through it without squirming. I chuckled a couple times. I admired the stylishness of a handful of scenes, no one actually disgraced themselves, and I all but forgot the film in the space of about 24 hours. It’s a low-concept caper comedy in which the caper is just too darn simple to be entertaining. —Ken Hanke
Meet the Spartans (PG-13) The approach to this flicks is as simple as it is simple-minded: throw as many pop-culture references (even if the pop in the culture long ago went flat) at the viewer and make him or her laugh on sheer recognition value. It has nothing to do with parody — just recognition. Tasteless, tactless, and pretty much laugh-free, it’s little more than a parade of homosexual panic jokes mixed with a juvenile passion for gags involving bodily fluids. It also looks like it was made for a buck and a quarter on left over sets from the original Star Trek TV series. Absolutely awful. —Ken Hanke
No Country for Old Men (R) Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is Evil itself. Bardem performs with such casual mastery that it feels as though he has originated the concept of a sociopathic killer. In a film full of exceptional performances, his stands out not because his role is flashy, but because he makes it precisely the opposite of flashy. He is the bad thing that happens indiscriminately to the sinner or to the saint, its own logic oblivious to constructed human morality. —Scott Renshaw
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (R) It’s impossible to feel very strongly one way or the other about this one. It’s not great. It’s not terrible. It’s just sort of there. I never felt like I was wasting my time, but it’s doubtful I will remember much about it a year from now. —Ken Hanke
Over Her Dead Body (PG-13) Think Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit after a lobotomy and you’re in the ballpark as concerns this charmless and cheap supernatural romantic comedy. Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria Parker plays a thoroughly unlikable woman who’s crushed to death by an ice sculpture on her wedding day. We’re then supposed to believe that her fiance (Paul Rudd) is still mourning the loss of a woman any sane person would pay to have stand on the business end of a shooting gallery a full year later. Concerned sister (Lindsay Sloane) takes him to a psychic (Lake Bell) with the idea of getting a message from the other side telling him to move on. Romance ensues — much to the displeasure of the spirit of the late fiancee. It’s neither funny, nor romantic, and there’s zero chemistry between any of the actors. —Ken Hanke
Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (G) Parents in search of the utterly harmless may endorse it, but most viewers are to wish for someone to arrive with a Veg-O-Matic and put a stop to the whole thing. The faith-based makers of the film have soft-pedaled the religious aspects this time (see their previous Jonah movie), but in exchange all they can come up with is a vague — and incredibly dull — Wizard of Oz clone that tries to cash in on Pirates of the Caribbean. —Ken Hanke
Rambo (R) | See feature on page 45. An action flick with a moral center. Stallone, as director and actor, revisits the shell-shocked special forces character of the early 1980s. Only this time, instead of being pushed to his limits by a maverick sheriff, he finds an opportunity to put the past behind him by helping a group of missionaries stop a government-sponsored genocide in Burma. Stallone admirably avoids the pitfalls of action genre cliché and instead opts for real characters who understand the profound consequences of extreme violence. —John Stoehr
Strange Wilderness (R) Produced by Adam Sandler, this is one of those movies designed to give gainful employment to those hangers-on you never seen in anything that doesn’t bear Sandler’s name. But this one is so bad that even Rob Schneider wouldn’t tag along. (Think about that for a moment.) —Justin Souther
There Will Be Blood (R) Based on Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!, There Will Be Blood is very much a fictional story that runs on the rules of fiction. But director Paul Thomas Anderson just makes you forget that. That’s how real Blood feels. It’s as effortless as it is resolutely uneasy from the harsh discordancy of its weirdly urgent soundtrack by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood to the oddly stilted yet deeply, coldly expressive performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, a turn-of-the-century oilman who comes into a small California desert town and pumps out its oil. It’s a mythology of oil, a fairy tale for the industrial age. —MaryAnn Johanson
Untraceable (R) This movie undercuts itself by attempting to condemn us for finding its admittedly well-produced action-with-deadly-stakes enthralling, if only momentarily, while also, you know, making its admittedly well-produced action-with-deadly-stakes enthralling, if only momentarily. It’s frustrating. —MaryAnn Johanson
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