In the latest take on life "redo," Matthew Perry (of Friends fame) stars in 17 Again as Mike O'Donnell, a middle-aged father that wakes up one day to find himself returned to the ripe young age of 17, yet still in the year 2009. Zac Efron (High School Musical 1-3) stars as Perry's young counterpart, who must face fact that his older life wasn't so bad after all. Rated PG-13 for language, some sexual material and teen partying. 102m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.
A more unusual comedy coming to town is Sunshine Cleaning, a story about the lengths a broke mom will go to pay for her son's education. Amy Adams (Doubt, Charlie Wilson's War) portrays the mom, who teams up with her slacker sister, played by Emily Blunt (another Charlie Wilson's War alum), to start up a crime scene clean-up service to get those bills paid. Whatever it takes, huh? Rated R for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use. 92m. At the Minor.
Also opening this weekend is State of Play, a remake of a 2003 London crime thriller TV series. The U.S. take on this dramatic mystery stars Russell Crowe as Cal McAffrey, a brash newspaper reporter on a mission to crack a conspiracy involving murder, collusion and a congressman. Rated PG-13 for some violence, language including sexual references and brief drug content. 127m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
Two comedies, one thriller and now, to round out the openings, one action flick entitled Crank: High Voltage, a continuation of the 2006 flick Crank. Jason Statham (Transporter 3, Death Job) returns as hitman Chev Chelios to continue his battle against his rival, a Chinese mobster that stole his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered one. Rated R for frenetic strong bloody violence throughout, crude and graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language. Sweet! 95m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
This week also brings the 42nd Annual Humboldt Film Festival, which has bragging rights as the oldest student-run film festival in the world. The movie bonanza opens Sunday with Local Filmmakers Night, a "fun raiser" for the Humboldt Film Commission featuring food, drink and a menagerie of local film and media shorts. Monday night features a 4/20 special, "The Dark Side of the Rainbow," a screening of The Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon as accompaniment. Wednesday brings a Damon Packard workshop/screening and Experimental Film Night, Thursday the 23rd features Tom McPhee and Documentary Night, Friday has Brian O'Halloran and Narrative (Fiction) Night and Saturday the 25th is the final day and will feature the Best of the Fest. Get starttimes and details at humboldtfilmfest.org.
-- Emily Hobelmann
OBSERVE AND REPORT: As the opening credits roll in the latest Seth Rogen vehicle, Observe and Report, a slow-mo montage of shopping mall patrons pretty much captures everything writer/director Jody Hill has to say about humanity in this tedious, mean-spirited film: Shoplifters toss contraband into their bags; fat people shovel food-court junk into their yaps; white-trash yokels with mullets emerge from Hot Topic or wherever. It's funny cuz, y'know, mullets are ridiculous. Ridiculous!
This mall is the jurisdiction of our comedic antihero, Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen), a racist, bi-polar security guard with aggression issues and delusions of grandeur. Oh, excuse me: He's the head of mall security, and as such it is his sworn duty to protect people -- especially Brandi (Anna Faris), the hottie at the cosmetics counter -- from the flaccid spectacle of a serial flasher.
Ronnie's attempts to nab the perv and nail the hottie are complicated by the arrival of a real cop, Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta). So Ronnie rallies his security guard underlings, who consist of two dorky, gun-nut brothers and a Hispanic dude with a Jheri curl and a lisp (Michael Peña, who appears to be doing an impression of Tim Meadows in The Ladies Man, for some unknown reason). And, sigh, the showdown is on.
Rogen, who's carved out a niche as the lovable, stoned Teddy-bear type in movies like Knocked Up and Pineapple Express, gets a much darker role here. He repeatedly calls a Middle Eastern mall employee "Saddam," for example, and when he finally gets a date with Brandi, he ends up humping her limp, drunken body while ignoring the crusty puke puddle on her pillow.
I'm guessing Hill was shooting for the kind of sardonic nihilist played so deliciously by Walter Matthau in The Bad News Bears and Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa and the Bears remake, but he misses the mark. Such dark comedy requires intelligence and an undercurrent, however faint, of genuine humanity. Observe and Report, with its labored attempts to offend, offers nothing beyond clichéd fashion disasters (aren't those Hot Dog on a Stick outfits a gas?) and hammy, bit character one-upsmanship. Ultimately, Ronnie just seems like a dick in a turtleneck.
At one point he decides he wants to become a real police officer, so he goes through all the obstacle courses and preliminary exams. Afterwards, Detective Harrison happily informs him that he failed his psychological exam. During their exchange, another officer emerges from the supply closet where he'd been eavesdropping and, looking ashamed and dejected, says, "I thought this was gonna be funny, but it's actually kinda sad." Gotta agree with you there, bro. Rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence. 86m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
-- Ryan Burns
ADVENTURELAND. Recent college grad must abandon his dreams of world travel for lack of funds, but still has mad adventure at his new amusement park job. Rated R. 106m. At the Broadway.
DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION. Goku and friends must use powerful DragonBalls to battle for earth against evil forces. Rated PG. 85m. At the Broadway.
DUPLICITY. CIA officer and M16 agent leave intelligence world to pursue big-time money, only to wind up in steamy romance mixed with espionage-style mystery. Rated PG-13. 125m. At The Movies.
FAST AND FURIOUS. Fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto returns to L.A. and to his feud with agent Brian O'Connor, all while pushing the limits of what's possible behind the wheel. Rated PG-13. 108m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
GRAN TORINO. Veteran/racist/retired autoworker versus the local Asian gang-bangers. Rated R. 116m. At The Movies.
HANNAH MONTANA THE MOVIE. Hannah Montana's popularity reigns, so Miley takes a trip home to rediscover her roots. Rated G. 102m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT. Family moves to Connecticut to have a nice place to treat their son for cancer, but too bad their new house is haunted. Rated PG-13. 92M. At the Broadway.
I LOVE YOU MAN. Straight dude embarks on series of "man-dates" to find a suitable best man for his hetero wedding and ends up in a serious bromance. Rated R. 105m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Fortuna and the Minor.
KNOWING. Professor finds terrifying predictions of doom in time capsule; now he must prevent said predictions from coming true. Rated PG-13. 122m. At Mill Creek, Fortuna and Broadway.
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS. Ragtag crew of monsters must combat an alien robot to save planet earth from imminent destruction. Rated PG. 94m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
PAUL BLART: MALL COP. Mall cop must man up to save the day when Santa's helpers at the mall stage a coup. Rated PG. 91m. At The Movies.
RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. Vegas cabbie and UFO expert must save two teens with supernatural powers from exploitation by evil peeps/aliens. Rated PG. 99m. At the Broadway.
TAKEN. Former spy launches one-man war to bring down gang that kidnapped his daughter. Rated PG-13. 91m. At The Movies.
WATCHMEN. More vigilante superhero drama in film adaptation of sinister comic book series from the 1980s. Rated R. 162m. At The Movies.