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In this column we will feature thumbnail reviews by Wayne Case, a veteran of Hollywood's Big Machine who currently works for an independent film company in Los Angeles. Wayne ranks the films on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (good). The following are Wayne’s rankings of films for 2010.
ANIMAL KINGDOM Rated: 8 1/2
Australian first time writer-director David Michôd is amazing. I’m reminded of some of Christopher Noland’s work. The totally appropriate musical score (and scoring) from Australian Composer Antony Partos is as fascinating as it is unique. He has won international awards for his previous work which features acoustic instruments blended with electronic elements to amazing effect and Oscar consideration must follow. Especially impressive are the sequences where writer-director, editor and composer worked together to move the plot along with music replacing dialog.
BURLESQUE Rated: 8
As for Cher, I’ve liked her music from the start of her career but have only become a real fan these last few years. This part is perfect for her and my guess is that the actress and the character share many traits. Her banter with Stanley Tucci is delightfully sharp. A highlight is Cher singing the Diane Warren penned song, “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me”. Expect a well deserved Oscar nomination for it. I also really like her other number, “Welcome To Burlesque” and, to my ears, she has never been in better voice than here.
Jack, the male lead & love interest to Ali, is perfectly under-played by Cam Gigandet. It’s likely that he is made-up, lit, and photographed more carefully/lovingly than any male actor since Brad Pitt in the unintentionally hysterical epic LEGENDS OF THE FALL (1994). Gigandet’s career should get a big boost from this exposure, pun intended! I’ve liked him since first noticing him as Kevin Volchek in his 2005-06 15 arc on Fox’s television series, THE OC. Others who made good use of their limited screen time are Eric Dane, Peter Gallagher, and Kristen Bell.
Admittedly, film would have been improved if it included fewer characters and subplots. Wisely/necessarily/obviously, Alan Cumming’s part was a victim of post production editing.
Having read a lot about the behind-the-scenes, off camera drama makes it difficult for me to know how much credit goes to first time director, Steve Antin, but I’m impressed by what is on the screen and am inclined to give him his props, regardless. Clearly, he had a great feel for the material and my guess is that what we see is very much his vision. Antin is also an actor with a colorful personal life and history. High praise to those responsible for the razor sharp editing that moves the plot forward with short dialog scenes intercut with the musical performance of several songs near the finale. Both the decision to do so and the result really worked for me. At those points, it was important to tell parts of the story clearly & quickly.
I loved the distinctive cinematography by Bojan Bazelli and the expert editing by Virginia Katz. Production Design, sound and costumes are exactly right, also.
CATFISH Rated: 6 1/2
Given the premise, this is well done and I was entertained/fascinated up to a point although I became antsy waiting for the film to reveal what I found obvious very early on. I found the two principals, Nev Schulman & Megan Faccio, likable although I have no idea how much of what we see them do is acting and how much is reacting to real situations. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Further possible SPOILER: I was relieved & grateful that there was no violence involved.
I can’t recommend CATFISH, but I’ve wasted many hours on far worse.
CLASH OF THE TITANS Rated: 6
COP OUT Rated: 2
DATE NIGHT Rated: 7
Tina Fey, best know for NBC Television’s 30 ROCK and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE co-stars with Steve Carell, best known from THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN (2005) plus NBC Television’s THE OFFICE. They make a terrific team and I have little doubt they will work together again and soon. Mark Wahlberg (BOOGIE NIGHTS - ‘97, THE DEPARTED - ‘06) is delightfully amusing in support and can be proud to add this one to his resume.
It’s a shame the decision was made to turn this into an action comedy at about the 45 minute mark. The action part is lame & trite but given director Shawn Levy’s previous work, that’s no surprise. He directed both NIGHT OF THE MUSEUM films (2006 & 2009) to big boxoffice success. I managed to sit through only about half an hour of the two combined and left with headaches.
If you arrive at with DATE NIGHT somewhat modest expectations, you probably won’t complain.
DEAR JOHN Rated: 6
To be fair, girls and young women like or love DEAR JOHN in both forms while boys and men will have little interest and are quite likely to be bored. Be guided accordingly and keep in mind that I’m completely out of the target demographic.
EASIER WITH PRACTICE Rated: 7
EASY A Rated: 7
I read that the budget was only $8 million. If true, my congratulations to all involved for proving that good entertainment can be delivered economically. Another smart move was selecting unique & picturesque Ojai, California for the entire shoot. Best of all is the casting of Emma Stone as the lead. Probably 20 at the time the film was shot, she did seem older that most high school girls but I suppose GLEE has prepared me for that casting practice. Ms Stone is currently shooting (Sept. 2010) likely hit THE HELP (2011) and that may well propel her into real stardom. She is also rumored as the female lead in the 2011 SPIDER-MAN re-tool. The supporting cast is surprisingly stellar but as effective as expected. It includes Penn Badgley (Television’s GOSSIP GIRL - 2007-11), Amanda Bynes (HAIRSPRAY - ‘07), Thomas Haden Church (SIDEWAYS - ‘04), Patricia Clarkson (WHATEVER WORKS - ‘09), Cam Gigandet (THE O.C. - 2005-07), Lisa Kudrow (NBC Television’s FRIENDS - 238 episodes 1994-2004), and Stanley Tucci (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA - ‘06).
Given the goals of & budget limitations on it, twenty-something director Will Gluck (FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS - 2011) delivers impressively.
THE GHOST WRITER Rated: 9
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Rated: 9
Sony has secured remake rights to all three completed Swedish films based on the novels but it’s not going to be easy to equal the bravura standard set here by Danish born director, Niels Arden Oplev. Casting for the English language version has got to be highly competitive since parts as juicy as these are rare. (I’m thinking Russell Crowe or Clive Owen & Angelina Jolie, Michelle Williams or Natalie Portman would be ideal.)
GREEN ZONE Rated: 8
The cinematography by Barry Ackrord (THE HURT LOCKER-‘09), the musical scoring by John Powell (THE BOURNE IDENTITY -‘02, THE ITALIAN JOB -‘03, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY -‘04, MR. & MRS. SMITH -05), and the editing by Oscar winner Christopher Rouse (THE ITALIAN JOB -‘03, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY -‘04, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM -‘07) are award worthy but will most likely be overlooked.
Unfortunately, here in early 2010, plans for another BOURNE film to bring together a mix of elements from this talented group of men have been scrapped. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, deals can be made and we can be BOURNE again soon!
HEREAFTER Rated: 9
HEREAFTER, from director Clint Eastwood, does require exercising some patience and attention must be paid. The emotional resolution/payoff is well worth any extra effort required, however. It will easily make my Top Ten Best Films of 2010 list and Clint Eastwood deserves special credit for his wonderful original music score in addition to his assured and measured directing. Matt Damon is excellent in a nice, understated and entirely appropriate performance.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE Rated: 3
And, it isn’t funny. And, it got some good reviews, anyway.
I’m anything but a prude and I don’t get offended easily.
Among my favorite films that succeed at doing what HTTM seems to be attempting
To be fair, some of the matinee audience I saw this piece of garbage with yucked it up.
I was just stunned by its bad taste, sloppy writing, lazy acting and trashy production elements.
INCEPTION Rated: 8 1/2
The production values and the overall look of the film are fantastic and it is technically masterful. Look for multiple award hardware. The casting and performances are all dazzling although I doubt that it will receive any acting awards. Especially notable are Leonardo DiCaprio (SHUTTER ISLAND - 2010), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (THE LOOKOUT - ‘07, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER - ‘09), Ellen Page (HARD CANDY - ‘05, JUNO - ‘07), Ken Watanabe (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA - ‘06), Cillian Murphy (RED EYE - ‘05), and Marion Cotillard (LA VIE EN ROSE -07). And I particularly enjoyed new-to-me Tom Hardy who has been cast as the lead in upcoming MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2012).
Writer-director Christopher Nolan (MEMENTO - 2000, INSOMNIA - ‘02, BATMAN
IRON MAN 2 Rated: 8
Although it is a close call, the effects support the narrative here and don’t quite overwhelm it…and that’s a must for me.
Based on the trailer and early reports, I was relieved that I enjoyed IRON MAN 2 much more than I expected to. The trailer made it look like TRANSFORMERS 3, and I dread that. IRON MAN 2 tries to cram too many villains into the mix and would have been better if they’d saved Samuel L. Jackson for an inevitable sequel. Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow get it just right. I also liked both Sam Rockwell & Scarlett Johansson although I don’t always enjoy their work. On the other hand, personally, a little of Mickey Rourke goes a long way for me and there’s a lot of him here.
THE JONESES Rated: 8
The concept/setup is unique but I won’t spoil the little surprise here beyond saying that the obviously successful & very attractive family made up of a husband & wife plus their late teen son and late teen daughter make a big impact on their new Washington State or Georgia (!) suburban community soon after they move there at the start of the film. [According to the credits, these are the two states where the film was shot.] The title refers to the phrase/concept “Keeping up with the Joneses” and the film illustrates the perils of trying to do so.
I’m generally neutral about both Demi Moore (ST. ELMO’S FIRE - ‘85, GHOST - ‘90) and David Duchovney (KALIFORNIA - ‘93, Television’s THE X FILES 1993 - 2003, & THE TV SET - ‘06) but really liked both here. Each is near their fiftieth birthday but both are in great shape and easily pass for forty or so which I’m guessing is the age of their wife & husband characters. While she is undeniably attractive, I’m no fan of Amber Heard although she fits this part of the daughter and is up to the task. I thought she was awful in NEVER BACK DOWN (‘08) but acceptable in THE INFORMERS (‘08). On the other hand, I really liked Ben Hollingsworth as the son. I was unfamiliar with him until now but hope to see him again soon. Both Gary Cole (NBC television’s MIDNIGHT CALLER -1988-91) & Glenne Headly are very effective in hefty supporting roles.
Nobody is going to accuse it of being very original, special or award-worthy, but it is good summer movie fun and is clearly aimed at groups outside the fanboy demo that is so popular with film makers currently. If you are attracted to it by its obvious elements, I suspect you’ll come away pleased.
I have mixed feelings about Tom Cruise. What I surmise about him as a person makes me cringe but I like his on-screen persona. Of his films, my favorites are RISKY BUSINESS - ‘83, TOP GUN - ‘86, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY - ‘89, A FEW GOOD MEN - ‘92, JERRY MAGUIRE - ‘96, MAGNOLIA - ‘99, and I find MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE I, II, & III - ‘96, 2000, 2006 diverting. Further, I loved his cameo as Les Grossman in TROPIC THUNDER (2008) and as the same character on the 2010 MTV Awards Telecast. His willingness to kid his own image for major comedic effect is smart.
The rest of the cast is good enough without standing out except for one of my personal favorites, Marc Blucas. As Fireman Rodney, he sparkles and proves that’s he’s ready for bigger parts and challenges.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT Rated: 9
While a serious drama at its core, it also contains some delicious and subversive humor causing me to laugh out loud several times.
In only very limited at this July 13, 2010 writing, it goes into wider release over the next several weeks. Seek it out and don’t miss it.
The acting by the five leads, (Annette Benng, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson) is as good as any acting you’ll see anywhere. All these top billed actors are worthy of serious year-end Award recognition as is co-writer/director Lisa Cholodenko (LAUREL CANYON - 2002).
I have a spot reserved on my 2010 Top Ten List for THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT.
THE LAST EXORCISM Rated: 8
The first third or so of the film introduces us to preacher/exorcist Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) then shows him performing one of his routine exorcisms on teenaged Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) while her concerned/troubled father, Louis Sweeter (Louis Herthum) and skeptical brother, Caleb Sweeter (Caleb Landry Jones), along with the documentary’s director and cameraman, observe. It goes well; the Devil is displaced; the crew and the exorcist pack up and leave. Then the trouble starts!
Telling more would reveal too many spoilers but careful attention should be paid to Nell’s drawing/paintings since they provide peaks into future events. Before the end, a certain terrific film from the sixties featuring somebody’s baby is evoked before the end credits roll! Be warned that I found the ending a bit abrupt.
I hated THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (‘99) and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (‘09) and am not fond of all the other pseudo-documentaries they enabled or spawned. Further, I’m not a fan of the plentiful, low-budget slasher/horror genre so the odds of me liking THE LAST EXORCISM were minuscule. Although the style, budget and look are similar to some of those, this is far superior in every way. Imagine my surprise at finding it clever, smart, subversive and thoroughly entertaining.
The writing by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland is really smart. Based on their work here, I now plan to see the upcoming release of THE VIRGINITY HIT (Oct 2010) which they co-wrote and co-directed. German born director Daniel Stamm did a solid job and really captured the texture & feel of the area around Baton Rouge. Obviously produced on a very limited budget, every dollar is right up there on the screen thanks to the director and everybody else involved. In particular, Cinematography by Zoltan Honti, Music by Nathan Barr, Production Design by Andrew W. Bofinger, & Casting by Lauren Bass are commendable.
Lastly, notable among the nine listed producers is Eli Roth, best known for his supporting actor stint in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009).
THE LAST SONG Rated: 6
As the father, Greg Kinnear is quite effective and I enjoyed the performance of young Bobby Coleman as the brother.
In the middle of the film, accompanied by a car radio, Miley sings part of a song on screen and is very effective. For her, vocally, that’s it until the end credits. Surprisingly, the song used over the end credits is undistinguished.
LEAP YEAR Rated: 7 1/2
The best thing about it is the cast. Amy Adams (JUNEBUG - ‘05, ENCHANTED - ‘07) & Matthew Goode (MATCH POINT - ‘05, THE LOOKOUT - ‘07, A SINGLE MAN - ‘09) make a great team and should seek out other projects for working together again soon. They are as likeable as they are attractive.
LETTERS TO JULIET Rated: 8
As the lead, Amanda Seyfried (MAMMA MIA! - 2008, DEAR JOHN - ‘10) is at her likable & loveliest best as she continues her rise to real stardom. Australian Christopher Egan is a bit bland in a bland supporting role but is certainly well cast and does exactly what was required to be effective. In the other male supporting role, Mexican Gael Garcia Bernal (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN - 2001, BAD EDUCATION - ‘04) is amusing and I enjoyed seeing him all-cleaned-up in a main stream film for a change.
Saving the best for last, Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave (MORGAN! - ‘66, CAMELOT - ‘67, ISADORA - ‘68, ATONEMENT - 2007, F/X Televisions’ NIP/TUCK 2004-09) is radiant and completely winning. She deserves another Oscar acting nomination and the only question I have is whether she should be considering for support or lead. I say, size up the competition in both categories when the time comes and pick the one giving her the best chance.
MORNING GLORY Rated: 7 1/2
The real joy of MORNING GLORY is Rachel McAdams. She proves right here that she is quite capable of carrying a major film on her beautiful shoulders. For me, this is easily her most significant work to date with the possible exception of her outstanding breakout performance in THE NOTEBOOK (2004). In major support, Harrison Ford & Diane Keaton get ample opportunity to show why they are enduring stars. A favorite of mine, Patrick Wilson (LITTLE CHILDREN - 2006 and several more) is charming and attractive in a part that calls for just that and nothing more.
I really like the song used on the soundtrack at the end of the film. It’s named “Strip Me” and is performed by Natasha Bedingfield. It is quite infectious and gives the film a boost right where it needs it. If original, I’d like to see it get an Oscar nomination as best song.
At the end of MORNING GLORY, I left the theatre smiling and content.
NEVER LET ME GO Rated: 9
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME Rated: 4
I am a big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal (OCTOBER SKY - ‘99, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - ‘05) and am glad he got what I would expect to be his biggest payday to date for this. I won’t even try to evaluate his performance here but I am glad it was him in the part rather than Johnny Depp. Jake’s British accent was consistent but why bother. He was obviously in excellent physical condition, clearly up to the task of appearing to do the stunts and he left the more obnoxious scene-chewing to Ben Kingsley & Gemma Arterton. Ms Arterton is attractive but she appeared to have been goosed in many of her scenes and I got very tired of her sing-songish line delivery and eye-popped expressions.
I assume director Mike Newell did it only for the money also & suspect he delivered exactly what Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and the Disney Folk dictated. Surprisingly, he is same man that directed the wonderful FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL in 1994.
I couldn’t find one single similarity.
This wasted the longest 116 minutes of my weekend.
REMEMBER ME Rated: 3
I’m still willing to give Robert Pattinson (the TWILIGHT films 2008, ‘09, ‘11) the benefit of the doubt. He is attractive in a young Robert Mitchum (THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER - ‘55, HOME FROM THE HILL - ‘60, CAPE FEAR -‘91, and many more) kind of way and seems to have some screen presence. With a decent script and a competent director, who knows? In this one, he is sullen & distracted. I liked female lead Emily de Raven on ABC television/s LOST (2004-10) but found her annoying here. [Note: The only film I can recall liking that includes a scene where the lead actress vomits on camera is Robert Altman’s BREWSTER McCLOUD (1970).]
I consider it irresponsible for teen favorite Robert Pattison to be shown smoking in half his scenes and wonder if Tobacco Institute money changed hands to make it happen.
When the girls leave the city, the trouble starts.
All the principals get their moments and if you like them, you will be rewarded to some degree.
SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE Rated: 3 1/2
Let the record show, I’m not easily offended and loved the AMERICAN PIE (1999, 2001) films, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (‘98), and much of the many Judd Apatow writing oeuvre, especially WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY (2007) to name but a few that pushed the boundaries of acceptability with laugh inducing success.
This little pile of caca is another matter. The unrelenting foul language and awkward situations are present to shock rather than to serve the plot or provide laughs. I was just repulsed.
The premise of a far less attractive male catching the fancy of a knockout female is rich with possibilities, all wasted here. The main problem is that somebody forgot that the male would have to have some less-than-obvious sterling qualities that the female would see while others couldn’t/didn’t/wouldn’t. The male, as played by Canadian born Jay Baruch, is dull, in poor physical and mental shape, has no ambition, and is unattractive in almost way. The female, as played by British born Alice Eve, is beautiful, accomplished, well adjusted and, most of all, a nice person. I didn’t believe for one second that she’d be attracted to him. Consider it a fantasy of the male screenwriters, I guess.
I hate films such as this where there is not a single grounded person present. When everybody depicted is wacky, off-putting, ill-tempered or demented, it just doesn’t work for me. The actors are not at fault although I question selecting Jay Baruchel as the lead. I can’t really judge the writing since I didn’t read the script, but I found the directing by British born Jim Field Smith sloppy & excruciating.
All the above aside, I suspect young males, including those who find a way around the Restricted rating, will love it. To others, I offer this as Fair Warning!
SHUTTER ISLAND Rated: 9
THE SOCIAL NETWORK Rated: 10
Justin Timberlake is still best know (so far) for his music making, especially as a member of boyband NSYNC, but he is just exactly right as Napstr founder Sean Parker. His acting style is different from the two stars and that is just as it should be since his character’s origins and educations are equally different from theirs. Armie Hammer, new to me, dazzles/fascinates as he plays the Winklevoss twins, Cameron & Tyler, with a body doubling assist by successful male model Josh Pence. Even with knowing in advance that one actor plays both twins, this is amazing cinema magic and totally seamless trickery. Rooney Mara makes her relatively brief screen count as Erica Albright, the girl who caused Mark Zuckerberg to launch Facebook by rejecting him, at least according to the script. As I write this, Ms. Mara is filming the English language remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009 & 2011) in the title role of “Lisabeth Salander”. (Not incidentally, David Fincher directs that as well as this.)
STONE Rated: 2
This is an awful movie. I give it a “2” by default. I can not think of one single good thing to say about it. If there’s a theme, I missed it. I only rate films lower than “2” when I hate everything about them including their theme. The basic plot is simple enough but convoluted crap is layered on to the point where total confusion is likely to occur for anybody with the misplaced determination to try to follow this junk.
I thought both lead male performances were as mannered as they were self indulgent. I suspect both actors are way beyond taking direction from anybody but themselves at this point in their careers so maybe director John Curran shouldn’t shoulder all the blame. Can it be that Robert De Niro has forgotten how to act? Here he seemed to be trying to blend the jerk he played in NEW YORK, NEW YORK (1997) with his grouchy grandfather character from the FOCKERS films (2000, 2004, 2010). And Edward Norton! He never let me forget for a moment that he was ACTING. Both men seemed to think they were on stage rather than on set facing a camera and the dialog was as endless as it was pointless. I still don’t have much of an opinion about Milla Jovovich but I suspect she came close to projecting the tone the writer had in mind. She is very loose and seemed to be having fun despite the sordid subject matter. As written and played, it seemed to me that Frances Conroy belonged in a different film entirely. Maybe best known for her work in television’s SIX FEET UNDER (2001-05), as written/edited, nobody on earth could have made this character work. For no good reason, both actresses did the tobacco industry proud by their incessant puffing throughout and I hope they were well compensated for same.
THE TOWN Rated: 9
From the stars right down through extras, the cast is amazing. Ben Affleck, directing himself, gives the best performance of his career. He builds on his excellent work in HOLLYWOODLAND (2006). Rebecca Hall (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA - ‘08), Jon Hamm (AMC Television’s MAD MEN -2007-10+), Jeremy Renner (THE HURT
All technical components are as good as it gets including expert editing from Dylan Tichenor (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - ‘05); original music by Harry Gregson-Williams (MAN ON FIRE - ‘04) & David Buckley; cinematography of Robert Elswit (BOOGIE NIGHTS - 1997).
UNSTOPPABLE Rated: 8
The three leads deliver exactly what is required. They are attractive, believable and likable. Denzel Washington hasn’t always been a favorite of mine, but I liked him in this almost as much as I did in my two favorite performances of his career, MAN ON FIRE (2004) & ANTWONE FISHER (2002). Chris Pine proves that STAR TREK (2009) wasn’t a fluke and gives every indication that he will become a major leading man and successful action star. The career of Rosario Dawson (EAGLE EYE - 2008) will benefit significantly from her work here.
Director Tony Scott deserves high praise for understanding the material and getting the tone & pace just right. Among my earlier favorites from him are TOP GUN (‘86), DAYS OF THUNDER (‘90), and MAN ON FIRE (2004). When it comes to selecting a director for a big budget action film, he would have to be near the top of every producer’s wish list. The efficient and lean script is from Mark Bomback (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD - 2007) and is based on events that occurred in 2001. The editing, musical scoring, cinematography and sound are expert. Given proper/necessary promotion, consideration for award metal is merited and likely.
VALENTINE’S DAY Rated: 5
The two most prominent actors in terms of both plot and allotted screen time are Ashton Kutcher (television’s THAT 70s SHOW - 1998-2006, and WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS - ‘08) & Jennifer Garner (television’s ALIAS 2001-06, and 13 GOING ON 30 - ‘04). Both are appealing, attractive and lovable, as usual. They are used to frame the story…more or less.
Since I love Julia Roberts (PRETTY WOMAN - 1990, CLOSER - 2004 & many more), I enjoyed her brief scenes and appreciate the fact that her story featured a mild surprise. Bradley Cooper is a good match for her and I’d like to see them together as a romantic team with a strong script. Eric Dane, best known for television’s GREY’S ANATOMY 2006-10 so far, is quite well cast as an aging pro-football player and his character’s secret comes as a welcome surprise although it has zero prep in the script. Patrick Duffy, also from television’s GREY’S ANATOMY, is dull and wasted as a jerk. Where has Topher Grace (TRAFFIC - 2000, SPIDER-MAN 3 - 2007) been?! It’s good to have him back and looking hale and hearty. Jessica Alba (FANTASTIC FOUR - 2005) is good enough as Ashton’s would be mate. As usual, I found Jamie Foxx (RAY - 2004) grating. Predictably, teenager Taylor Lautner (THE TWILIGHT SAGAs) made the young girls in the audience squeal as planned when he first appears. Current music & Grammy sensation Taylor Swift is cute and energetic, actually too energetic. If directed, she could have real big screen potential. Credited director here, Garry Marshall, who has passed his peak, must have been taking a nap during the filming of her scenes.
WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS Rated: 6
I’ve rarely been so aware of blatant product placement. I don’t really object in many cases such as the prominent Bed Bath & Beyond sign that caught my eye but it seemed appropriate and natural. However, the scene where one character offers another a Heineken (beer) plays almost like a television spot and paused the flow of the action for a closeup of the bottle. Further, am I the only one that cringed when real life throat cancer stricken actor Michael Douglas clearly enjoys a large cigar?! Also, Josh Brolin is filmed smoking cigars and Susan Sarandon puffs away on cigarettes for no apparent plot point reason. Like it or not, these actors are role models and I consider their on screen tobacco use irresponsible and objectionable. My guess is that money changed hands between the Tobacco Institute and the producers and/or actors. GROAN.
YOU AGAIN Rated: 4
While the two older leads, Jamie Lee Curtis (HALLOWEEN - ‘78, PERFECT - ‘85, TRUE LIES - ‘94) & Sigourney Weaver (ALIEN - ‘79, WORKING GIRL - ‘88, COPYCAT - ‘95, AVATAR - ‘09) ) do have some decent moments and are in excellent shape, much of what the writer and/or director had them say/do just made me uncomfortable. Younger co-lead Kristen Bell, probably best know so far from 64 episodes of television series VERONICA MARS (mid-20000s), is growing on me. She has several upcoming projects. The other younger co-lead, Odette Yustman, is new to me. She is attractive, energetic, game & as good as the material allows although I doubt that she’ll ever become a favorite of mine. On the other hand, the male fiance of the piece, James Wolk well may become a favorite of mine, critics, and many others. Unfortunately, his Fox September 2010 Television Series, LONE STAR has just been canceled after only two episodes aired to poor ratings. He’ll be back. I’m a big fan of Kristen Chenoweth. Her multi-mediumed career gems include originating “Glinda” in WICKED on Broadway & guest stints on television’s GLEE (2009). Her performance in YOU AGAIN will not make her highlight reel. I’m a big fan of Kyle Bornheimer and he avoids embarrassment in support here as Tim. So far, his best showcase was the 16 episodes of 2009 television series, WORST WEEK. If good luck brings him the right part in a hit, he can easily become a big star. Here’s hoping. Lastly, speaking of embarrassment. I was embarrassed for Bette White. Until now, I had never thought about her teeth…I’ll leave it at that.
...more to come!
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