OPENING THIS WEEK
Drillbit Taylor (PG-13) In this comedy, Owen Wilson is an alleged soldier of fortune hired to protect three nerds from the schoolyard bully.
Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns (PG-13) This movie adaptation of Perry’s hugely successful play stars the incomparable Medea, the gun-toting grandmother to whom no one shows disrespect.
Funny Games (R) Naomi Watts and Tim Roth star in a story about a family vacation and psychotic visitors. Opens Friday at the Terrace Theater.
10,000 B.C. (PG-13) You may have seen worse movies than 10,000 B.C., but you’ll have to work hard to find a dumber one. It sets new standards for stupidity. This is like Uwe Boll with a budget. This is the village idiot of movies. With no respect for history, science, geography, or even decent drama, Emmerich assaults and insults the viewer for nearly two hours with a witless story of prehistoric folks (with astonishingly good teeth and razors) who have to deal with CGI woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers, ill-tempered giant ostriches, and slave traders who kidnap them and their mammoths and take them to Egypt to build the pyramids about 7,300 years before any pyramids were built. It’s even sillier than it sounds. —Ken Hanke
The Bank Job (R) Roger Donaldson’s The Bank Job is two-thirds (the first and the last) of a great movie marred by a middling middle third. The big problem with that is that the film’s mid-section is the heist itself, which is never more than adequate. The backstory of the government-engineered robbery to get ahold of incriminating photos of Princess Margaret’s sexual antics in order to de-claw a troublesome “black power” radical is fascinating. So is the aftermath with everyone scrambling to contain the scandal, but the heist just doesn’t cut it, even with Jason Statham as a perfect working-class hero. Screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais capture the era, but director Donaldson can’t keep the requisite atmosphere going. —Ken Hanke
The Bucket List (PG-13) In The Bucket List, we’re introduced to Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman), who has just learned that he has cancer, and Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson), billionaire CEO of the private health company that runs the hospital. It’s sad when you become your own type. —Scott Renshaw
College Road Trip (G) I guess one thing can be said in defense of College Road Trip. At the very least, its title practices truth in advertising. I mean, there are colleges, and there is a road trip in the movie. Of course, one should also take into account that the words “funny,” “original,” or “entertaining” can be found nowhere in the title. It’s all about overprotective dad Martin Lawrence learning to trust his college-bound daughter (Raven Symone). If that — or the idea of being trapped in a car with Donny Osmond — amuses you, go for it. —Justin Souther
Doomsday (R) Neil Marshall’s (The Descent) latest film, Doomsday, has been getting pretty rough treatment from most critics. Maybe it’s just the fact that I can’t help but admire a silly post-apocalyptic action thriller with the chutzpah to throw in the final image from Bergman’s The Seventh Seal along the way, but I couldn’t help but like this preposterous flick. I really think Doomsday — a ridiculous tale involving a group of British soldiers being sent into quarantined and walled-off Scotland in search of a cure for a virus that threatens to kill the rest of the country — is being misread as an attempt at a serious movie. The truth is it’s a cheerfully nihilistic exercise in campy, cheesy violence and gore. It deliberately leaps from one “what the hell?” moment to the next with gleeful abandon. When taken in that spirit, it’s nasty fun. —Ken Hanke
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. 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. —Ken Hanke
Fool’s Gold (PG-13) Fool’s Gold works on the premise that watching pretty people in pretty locations is somehow sufficient entertainment all by itself. —Ken Hanke
Horton Hears a Who (G) It’s instructive to realize that in order to get really glowing reviews in the realm of movies adapted from a Dr. Seuss book, all the filmmakers have to do is be better than Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Bo Welch’s The Cat in the Hat — and that’s not asking for much. This latest outburst of Seussian cinema is certainly better than those attempts, and it will undoubtedly delight children. But whether it’s the instant classic it’s being portrayed as is another matter. It’s a reasonably faithful version of the book about an elephant, Horton (Jim Carrey), finding himself the saviour of a speck of dust that just happens to contain the miscroscopic world of Whoville. The problem is that it’s too slight for a feature and the padding required to flesh it out is rarely inspired and all too often leans on snarky post-modern pop culture references. —Ken Hanke
Jumper (PG-13) Jumper is so indefensibly bad that it goes beyond awfulness to become, if not good, then at least hugely entertaining in its unintended hilarity and transcendent dopiness. I honestly do not believe that it would be possible to make a list of truly bad ideas and come up with anything nearly this dumb — and I’m not just talking about casting Hayden Christensen in the lead. —Ken Hanke
Juno (PG-13) Juno MacGuff, high schooler (Ellen Page), finds herself preggers after some sexual experimentation with her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). By now, you know the rest. —MaryAnn Johanson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (PG-13) Read a full-length review at www.charlestoncitypaper.com | Miss Pettigrew is played by the goddess-like Frances McDormand, who refuses — thank you, McDormand — to make the at-first frumpy, seemingly stodgy Pettigrew into a caricature, as tempting as that may have been, and even as funny as that may have been. The same goes for Amy Adams, actually. For all the roller coaster emotions — I was in tears by the end, and they were tears of both happiness and sadness — Miss Pettigrew does not hit a single wrong note. This could not be a more perfect movie. —MaryAnn Johanson
Never Back Down (PG-13) The story of the new kid at school (Sean Faris) who finds himself in the world of underground martial arts and must learn to fight for what he believes in — with the help of a kind of Mr. Miyagi from Senegal (an embarassed Djimon Hounsou). Aimed squarely at the most undemanding of teen audiences, this film is a cheesy, melodramatic look at rich kids and martial arts — complete with unintentionally funny lines like “Break — now roll over” and “Sometimes it’s hard to change positions.” It’s that perfect mix of accidental ineptitude and all-around stupidity that makes it somewhat engaging on a “What were they thinking?” level, but never anything approaching what might be mistaken for a worthwhile entertainment. —Justin Souther
The Other Boleyn Girl (PG-13) Read a full-length review at www.charlestoncitypaper.com | The story opens in 1520s England, with King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) still lacking a male heir from Queen Catherine (Ana Torrent). The king’s close advisor, the Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey), sees this development as an opportunity, and looks to place one of his nieces into Henry’s court as a possible mistress to advance the family’s position. With Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson) newly married, her younger, more ambitious sister Anne (Natalie Portman) is given the task — but Henry takes a liking to Mary instead. The family has what it wants, but Anne isn’t quite so willing to surrender the king’s affections to Mary. The fact that the film spends almost as much time on the soft-focus sex scenes between Henry and Mary as it does on Anne and Mary as Queen Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting suggests that director Justin Chadwick and screenwriter Peter Morgan don’t really know how to bring out the fundamental gender politics of this story. Like a high-school history textbook, it becomes all about who’s doing what to whom, and too rarely about why. —Scott Renshaw
Penelope (PG) I’m happy to report that Penelope gets it right. The story, a reworking of Beauty and the Beast, is about a family curse that shows up in the form of a pig snout on the otherwise lovely face of Penelope. The family, an old-money, well established family in The City, spends the first 25 years of Penelope’s life trying to break the curse. The movie opens after a succession of failed attempts. To say much more about the film’s plot would take away from the pleasure of experiencing the story. And that story — about not equating what you look like with how you feel, about not waiting for life to happen to you, about the fraught relationship between mothers and daughters, about the magic and possibility we all hold inside ourselves — is a story worth telling, and one my daughter and I very much enjoyed. —Conseula Francis
Semi-Pro (R) For this kind of comedy, nothing’s really spoofed of satirized. Instead it resembles your basic, run-of-the-mill sports flick. Will Ferrell seems grafted on as an afterthought — a supporting player in his own movie with the film being carried by Woody Harrelson and Andre Benjamin. That may make it less painful for anyone who doesn’t think Ferrell is nearly as funny as Ferrell does, but it doesn’t make it good. —Justin Souther
Spiderwick Chronicles (PG) This film breaks the cardinal rule of show, don’t tell, giving us far too much information about the feelings and lives of the Grace family through stodgy dialogue. The refreshingly down-to-earth children of the book are replaced by characters who talk like psychology majors. They do their best with the material, and there are likeable barely-there cameos by Nick Nolte and Andrew McCarthy. —Nick Smith
Step Up 2 the Streets (PG-13) I’m sure the film is supposed to be some raising of the bar of the dance movie, though it lacks any exploding car windows a la last month’s How She Move. Instead, the best director John Chu seems able to come up with is having people dance in the rain, though I’m sure Gene Kelly would have something to say about that. —Justin Souther
Vantage Point (PG-13) The story of the attempted assassination of the president told from several different points of view, Vantage Point is gimmick filmmaking at its most banal and half-baked. Instead of the edge-of-your-seat thrill ride the film is supposed to be, we end up spending the majority of the movie watching the same assassination and the same explosions and the same conversations over and over throughout the film’s 90-minute running time. —Justin Souther
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (PG-13) Martin Lawrence plays an obnoxious talk-show host who goes home to the Deep South and his outrageous family where he learns that his trophy fiancée is a golddigger, family comes first, etc. It boasts at least four gags predicated on the hilarity of a Pomeranian having sex with a Labrador retriever. —Ken Hanke
Witless Protection (PG-13) These Larry the Cable Guy creations are determined to actually lower the common denominator and to encourage their target audience to take pride in willful ignorance. It’s a nasty little mean-spirited badly-made movie —Ken Hanke