Opening Friday, June 12, is The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, a "reinterpretation" by director Tony Scott (Man on Fire) of the 1974 thriller about the takeover of a train by an armed gang seeking 10 million in ransom. Denzel Washington is the dispatcher matching wits with mastermind John Travolta. Rated R for violence and pervasive language. 106m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
Eddie Murphy plays a driven financial executive who runs into a crisis of confidence in Imagine That. Salvation comes in the unlikely person of his 7-year-old daughter (Yara Shahidi) whose imaginary world seems to offer clues to future business developments. Rated PG for some mild language and brief questionable behavior. 107m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo play a pair of con men in the comic caper film The Brothers Bloom, who enlist the help of a weird heiress (Rachel Weisz) to pull off one final job (aren't they all?). The trailers look like a travelogue. Robbie Coltrane plays a Belgian. Rated PG-13 for violence, some sensuality and brief strong language. 113m. At the Minor.
THE HANGOVER: I suppose The Hangover belongs to the general category of guy comedies, but more specifically it hopes to mine the relatively recently resuscitated genre of R-rated summer comedies. Ever since The 40 Year Old Virgin (the gold standard of the revival) did so well at the box office in 2005 (and made Judd Apatow into a franchise), other films have sought to similarly distinguish themselves from the PG-13 miasma with varying success, such as Wedding Crashers and Knocked Up (also Apatow).
The Hangover certainly has the basics down. Male characters (adolescent men all) are at the center of the story, while women are relegated to the sidelines. There is liberal use of the F-word (or "f---"; I'm trying to be sensitive here, although I think the Journal should stop trying to be an R-rated paper and just jump to XXX) along with the inevitable bathroom humor (such as pissing on the floor), misogyny, fat jokes and ethnic stereotyping, all spiced with liberal use of drugs and alcohol.
The story setup seems overly familiar. Doug (Justin Bartha) is about to wed so he takes off with three buddies for a bachelor party in Vegas. As it transpires, Doug himself is marginalized in favor of his three buddies, all familiar guy-comedy types. The leader is Phil (Bradley Cooper, He's Just Not Into You), who never managed to graduate from his college fraternity despite a wife and child. Along for the ride is Stu (Ed Helms, The Office), a hen-pecked dentist engaged to girlfriend-from-hell Melissa (Rachel Harris, The Soloist) and the child-like Alan (Zach Galifianakis), whose zany dialogue and delivery represent the funnier aspects of the film.
After a night of drinking and inadvertent drug ingestion, the three wake up the following morning remembering nothing, but discovering a chicken, a leopard and a baby in their suite and no Doug. Of necessity, the rest of the film consists of looking for Doug, making phone calls back to the other half of the wedding party, and trying to ferret out exactly what happened during the night, activity that gradually peters out in terms of comic creativity.
The Hangover is certainly not the worst example of the genre but, as usual, it attempts nothing new. Rather than challenging the genre elements, it simply embodies them so the viewer is left to appreciate (or not) how well the stereotypes are fulfilled. The most interesting character is Phil, who projects an anti-marriage attitude but who is discovered to be a different and more complex person underneath. The least interesting part of the film is the appearance of Mike Tyson, who attempts to both fulfill his public image and undermine it but lacks the acting skills to pull it off.
The usual justification for films in this genre is that they cause you laugh and then belatedly analyze why you thought they were funny. That might have worked for me here had I been laughing more.
The reader is certainly welcome to surmise that my reaction here is due to my advanced age, but that conclusion doesn't take into account my still immature mental age and the fact that, no doubt unfortunately, I probably wouldn't have laughed any more at age 25. I didn't have any friends then either. Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material. 100m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.
LAND OF THE LOST: Clearly the Internet site IMDB reads the Journal, because Will Ferrell has now been added to the cast list. It's good to know that I can make a difference as a reviewer, even here in Humboldt County.
Indeed, Land of the Lost is nothing but another Will Ferrell vehicle and the viewer's reaction to the film may well rest on that fact alone. So, in that context, I am not a Ferrell fan. Some might want to skip the rest of the review.
Clearly the film is meant to parody some standard Hollywood film genres, along with the original TV series. In this regard, the film is intermittently successful, although quoting the famous line from the 1956 film Tea and Sympathy ("Years from now when you talk about this -- and you will -- be kind") would not seem to resonate with the target audience. It must have been a sop for us geezers.
Ferrell is Dr. Rick Marshall, a disgraced scientist who finds himself ridiculed on a talk show for his supposed discoveries from the past. But he has one fan: a comely young British scientist named Holly (played by Anna Friel with a charming British accent). Holly urges Rick to complete his invention, a device that opens a portal into an alternate universe.
When it actually works, Rick, Holly and a sort of guide named Will (Danny McBride, Pineapple Express; Tropic Thunder) fall through the portal into another world. There follow various "adventures" in the land of the lost, featuring cheesy digital dinosaurs and such referents as the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge, an allusion to Planet of the Apes, and, especially, Subway. I did appreciate director Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket) giving me an extended Anna Friel Hooters moment, but that wasn't enough compensation for the rest of the dreck.
Actually, to modify my statement about Ferrell, above, I should say that I don't care for the material he chooses. He can be an effective comedian; he is normally completely unsentimental and he is effective at understatement even though he always comes out on top anyway, a sort of "topping from below" of the comedy world (to borrow a phrase from a somewhat different context). In that regard, his best moments here are the non-action scenes where he gets to play off another actor, such as in the interview by Matt Lauer of the Today show that opens the film.
What I want to know though is, did Ferrell get a supplemental salary from Subway? Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language including a drug reference. 106m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
17 AGAIN. Middle-aged father wakes up one day as a 17-year-old, so he tries it on for size. Rated PG-13. 102m. At The Movies.
ANGELS AND DEMONS. In schlocky Da Vinci sequel, swashbuckling religious historian (T. Hanks) travels through pop history to rescue the Catholic church. Rated PG-13. 139m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
DANCE FLICK. Street dancer from the wrong side of the tracks and a beautiful woman are brought together for one reason: an epic dance battle. Rated PG-13. 83m. At The Movies.
DRAG ME TO HELL. Spooks, ancient curses and Satan's eternal evil plague a suburban bank manager. Directed by S. Raimi. Rated PG-13. 99m. At the Broadway.
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST. Spirits of dumped babes open can of Dickensian whoop-ass on barechested rake. Rated PG-13. 100m. At The Movies.
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS. Ragtag crew of monsters must combat an alien robot to save Planet Earth from imminent destruction. Rated PG. 94m. At The Movies.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN. Museum exhibits come to life leading to a history-packed battle of good versus evil. Rated PG. 105m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
STAR TREK. Get the action-packed backstory on Kirk and Spock's rivalry-ridden relationship. Rated PG-13. 127m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
TERMINATOR SALVATION. Young John Connor (C. Bale) leads human resistance to robotic overlords But first he must solve a mystery! Rated PG-13. 115m. At the Broadway and Fortuna.
UP. In Pixar's latest, an elderly gentleman sets out to fulfill lifelong dream despite annoying Boy Scout tagalong. Rated PG. 101m. At the Broadway (2-D and 3-D), Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna (3-D).
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. Film leads up to events of X-Men with story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past. Rated PG-13. 107m. At The Movies.