Following a screening at the Wild Rivers Film Fest, the locally shot Humboldt County opens commercially on Friday, Sept. 26. The story involves a medical student who finds himself in the midst of marijuana farmers. In Humboldt? No way. Rated R for drug content and language throughout. 97m. At the Broadway and Minor.
Eagle Eye features Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan under the evil control of an unseen woman who tracks their every move. Kind of creepy. Co-starring Billy Bob Thornton. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and for language. 118m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Fortuna and Minor.
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, Nights in Rodanthe finds Adrienne (Diane Lane) and Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere) attracted to each other when trapped together by a storm. Don't blow it, Richard. Rated PG-13 for some sensuality. 97m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
A firefighter (Kirk Cameron) agrees to enter a faith-based counseling program in a last ditch effort to save his marriage in Fireproof. Rated PG for thematic material and some peril. 122m. At the Broadway.
MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL: One of two "romantic" comedies opening locally last weekend, My Best Friend's Girl tries hard for a new twist on an over-exposed genre. With rare exceptions, though, such films just can't escape the cycle of boy meets girl, boy gets girl despite obstacles, boy screws up and loses girl (okay, sometimes the girl screws up) and finally boy regains girl, usually improbably, after enduring the tortures of love lost.
This version's attempted twist is to go down the Judd Aptow path (but not too far) whereby love is achieved by increasing the volume and quantity of insulting language and crude behavior. Dane Cook is initially quite effective as Tank, a bad-date-for-hire guy who makes the dumped loser look good by contrast. But it's ultimately a one-note performance.
The main narrative has his best friend and roommate Dustin (an adequate Jason Biggs) hiring Tank to show his ex, Alexis (Kate Hudson), a really bad time. Do you think Tank and Alexis will fall for each other?
There are a few laughs along the way, but the saving grace of this film is Hudson, who turns in a very good, believable comic performance as the tough-minded Alexis. But come on, Ms. Hudson, surely you can call your shots better than this. Alec Baldwin puts in an appearance as a women's studies professor who is Tank's amoral dad.
The film ends with a silly restaurant scene that some may find amusing; others can while away the time looking for the nod to The Graduate. Rated R for strong language and sexual content throughout, including graphic dialog and some nudity. 101m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
LAKEVIEW TERRACE: Here's an instance where the script almost single-handedly sinks the film. This is particularly puzzling because director Neil LaBute began his career as a very good playwright and became a very good screenwriter (In the Company of Men; Your Friends and Neighbors). I guess he just needed the money and held his nose while directing Lakeview Terrace.
I mean, what would you think might happen when a slew of cops arrive, jump out of their cars with guns drawn to find a guy holding a gun on a seemingly unarmed cop? Not here. Maybe the L.A. police have taken sensitivity training. And when an injured person is put in an ambulance, does the driver usually wait while the injured party's spouse declares his love? He does here.
Otherwise, we get to see Samuel L. Jackson glower a lot as the black cop/single dad who can't abide an interracial couple (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) that has moved in next door and decides to make their life miserable. He succeeded with me as well. The fact the screenwriters felt compelled to reveal his motivation only further weakened a sad enterprise. Rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, violence, sexuality, language and some drug references. 110m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
VICKI CRISTINA BARCELONA: I know it's pathetic, but I'm so grateful that I finally get to see a film made for odd people like me. VCB may be set in Barcelona and Oviedo, but it takes place firmly in Woody Allenville, and there are few places I'd rather visit. As usual, it is about failed or unfulfilling relationships, damaged people and loss of direction, themes that Allen and the excellent cast handle with subtlety and effective acting choices.
Somewhat naïve American friends Vicki (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson in her third Allen film) summer in Barcelona, where they become entangled with artist Juan Antonio (an effortlessly sexy Javier Bardem). For the engaged Vicki, it's a potentially life-changing one-nighter, but Cristina ends up living for a time with Juan and his volatile ex-wife, Maria Elena (a wonderful Penelope Cruz).
Meanwhile, their host, Judy Nash (Patricia Clarkson), is stuck in an unhappy relationship with hubby, Mark (Kevin Dunn), and Vicki reluctantly agrees to marry superficial fiancé Doug (Chris Messina) in Barcelona.
This plot may seem all too familiar, but what distinguishes an Allen film is the specificity with which he deals with relationships and individuals. Johansson actually has the most difficult challenge as a young woman whose goals are indistinct, and she handles it nicely. Ironically, Vicki ends up as the most conflicted person in this world, and Judy and Doug's marriage may well be a blueprint for her own. Highly recommended. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexuality, and smoking. 96m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
GHOST TOWN: Easily the better of the two romantic comedies that opened last Friday, Ghost Town, which leans in the screwball direction, actually adds a bit of a twist to the genre. But what floats my movie boat is the top-notch acting by British comic Ricky Gervais (The Office) and the other half of the romantic duo, Téa Leoni (along with a solid performance by Greg Kinnear).
The premise is intriguing if not particularly new. When anti-social dentist Bertram Pincus "dies" for seven minutes during a routine colonoscopy, he discovers he can see and hear dead people, all of whom have unfinished business. One is former cheating husband Frank (Kinnear), who wants Pincus to prevent his widow, Gwen (Leoni), who lives in Pincus' apartment complex, from marrying human rights attorney Richard (Billy Campbell).
While the unromantic, solitary Pincus and the glamorous Gwen are not a match made in romantic comedy heaven, he falls for her and she likes his wry sense of humor (totally lacking in Richard) and overlooks his previous jerky behavior toward her.
The scenes between Gervais and Leoni are completely delightful, a bit reminiscent of ’30s screwball comedy, but in a modern context. Of course, Gwen discovers his original motivation and the budding relationship seems doomed. The film ends with the promise of a romantic revival. But if you want your romances tied up with a kiss or even marriage, you may be disappointed. However, your disappointment is my happiness. Wait, that doesn't sound right. Rated PG-13 for some strong language, sexual humor and drug references. 102m At the Broadway.
BABYLON A.D. The future is home to a war-torn world and sexy mercenaries who save the day. Rated PG-13. 90 m. At Fortuna.
BURN AFTER READING. CIA agent's memoir lands in hands of unwise gym employees intent on exploiting their find. Rated R. 95 m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and the Minor.
DARK KNIGHT. Batman walks the line between hero and vigilante when he faces the Joker to save Gotham once again. Rated PG-13. 152 m. At The Movies.
FLY ME TO THE MOON. First ever 3-D animated film follows flies that stow away on the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Rated G. 125 m. At Fortuna.
HOUSE BUNNY. Playboy Bunny teaches an awkward sorority about the opposite sex. Rated PG-13. 97 m. At The Movies and Fortuna.
IGOR. Lowly hunchback lab assistant dreams of becoming bonafide scientist. Rated PG. 86 m. At the Broadway.
MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR. Family battles against China's ruthless tyrant Dragon Emperor. Rated PG-13. 113 m. At The Movies.
RIGHTEOUS KILL. Veteran NYC detectives must solve the murder of a notorious pimp before they retire. Rated R. 101 m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. Yet another epic Star Wars movie, but this time it's animated. Rated PG. 133 m. At The Movies.
THE WOMEN. Circle of female friends is nearly broken because of a scummy cheating husband. Rated PG-13. At Mill Creek, The Broadway and Fortuna.
TROPIC THUNDER. Self-absorbed actors working on epic war film get caught up in real life combat. Rated R. 108 m. At The Movies and Fortuna.
WALL-E. Robot love/adventure story from the director of Finding Nemo. Rated G. 98 m. At The Movies.