The big opening on Friday, March 27 is the computer-animated Monsters vs. Aliens, which is being released in 3-D. Susan Murphy (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) grows to 49′1″ after being conked by space junk on the way to her wedding. Captured by the military, she is housed with other monsters who become assets when an alien lands in a UFO. Other voices include Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Kiefer Sutherland. Rated PG for sci-fi action, some crude humor and mild language. 94m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Fortuna and Minor.
A change of pace is provided by Two Lovers, a romantic comedy set in Brooklyn starring Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow as two troubled people struggling to find a relationship. Trouble is, they don't know where to look. Also starring Vinessa Shaw and Isabella Rossellini. Rated R for language, some sexuality and brief drug use. 110m. At the Minor.
The Haunting in Connecticut is another horror thriller "based on the true story" of a family's brush with the paranormal. Starring Virginia Madsen. Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of terror and disturbing images. 92m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
12 Rounds stars professional wrestler John Cena as a detective who must solve 12 puzzles in order to get his kidnapped girlfriend back from a terrorist. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action. 108m. At the Broadway.
I LOVE YOU, MAN: Based on the trailer and other information I had garnered before this film's opening, I had high hopes. After all, I was the weirdo in the orphanage who could pronounce the long words in books the other kids brought me. In high school, I was the odd man out from the wrong side of the tracks with no car, a job as a soda jerk, and no dates. In college, I quickly discovered that majoring in math just put me in the company of other loser geeks. Then, in my senior year, I was asked to leave the local frat I had managed to join for being caught making out in the chapel. I mean, I thought that was a guy thing. As a coup de grace, my acquaintances during my working life have been a bunch of effete intellectuals and women.
So, a film about a guy on the verge of marriage who has to go on "man dates" in order to find a Best Man for his wedding seemed tailored for someone like me. Finally, I thought, I was going to learn guy speak and discover a world that had long eluded me.
Paul Rudd, who plays the guy-less would-be groom Peter Klaven, is the perfect casting for the feminized man who needs a dude to fulfill his gender potential. After several bad man dates, he finds the perfect tutor in Sydney Fife (Jason Segel, who had his turn as the feminized guy in Forgetting Sarah Marshall). And, as this is a bromance, the bride Zooey (Rashida Jones) becomes a secondary character. The engagement happens early on and there is only a brief hiccup in their trek to the altar.
The real relationship, and romantic comedy arc, involves Sydney and Peter; indeed, their altar scene is the center of the film's climactic scene. The film is reasonably funny, along with the requisite number of silly scenes. I must say though, I'm not sure I learned much about being a guy and, for the record, the Best Man at my last wedding was a woman. Clearly I'm hopeless. Rated R for pervasive language, including crude and sexual references. 104m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
KNOWING: Most of the time, movie trailers tell you too much about the film. In the case of Knowing, however, the trailers totally fail to give the viewer the real flavor of the film. As I watched the long, drawn-out, ridiculously sentimental ending of Knowing, I thought that perhaps that director Alex Proyas (I, Robot) was actually a pseudonym for Steven Spielberg. That which turns me off, though, may be the very quality that attracts other viewers and I may be the only person I know who disliked Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The film's premise is actually interesting. In 1958, an elementary school decides to bury a time capsule to be opened by a new generation of students in 50 years. One class is chosen to provide material for the capsule; each student draws a picture to be placed inside. You can tell it's the 1950s because, in addition to the teacher's outfit, the students are all happy, enthusiastic and obedient.
That is, except for one strange girl whose picture consists of lines of numbers and who is later found hiding in a closet with bleeding fingers. Jump to 2008 where Caleb (Chandler Canterbury, Benjamin Button at age 8) is living with his astrophysicist father John Koestler (a generic Nicolas Cage) and attending the same elementary school. And, wouldn't you know it, Benjamin gets the strange page of numbers when the capsule is opened and the contents distributed to his class.
Benjamin also seems to see and hear strange figures who appear near his house. In due course, John (whose mental acuity seems to improve with copious amounts of alcohol) discovers that groups of the numbers predicted major disasters, such as 9/11, right down to the number of dead. Even worse, there appear to be three more such disasters coming shortly. At this point, Knowing becomes a disaster film and even though John discovers that the numbers also pinpoint the GPS coordinates of the disasters, he is unable to prevent them.
When the final disaster seems to predict the total destruction of humanity, the film turns in a new quasi-religious direction. That may be your cup of tea. Rated PG-13 for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language. 130m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.
DUPLICITY: Duplicity drew me in almost immediately; it's nice to see a well-made commercial film that is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. Director Tony Gilroy, who was responsible for the fine Michael Clayton in 2007, establishes both the film's tone, narrative structure and pace at the start.
As the film opens, Ray Koval (Clive Owen) comes onto Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) at a Middle Eastern barbecue. He charms her into the sack only to awake well after the sexual encounter to discover he's been drugged and some sensitive documents stolen. It transpires that she works for the C.I.A. and he for MI6.
In due course five years later, they meet cute again (she pretends not to remember him) and eventually concoct a scheme to play off two multinational corporations against each other for their own profit. But whether they can really trust each other is open to question, a doubt established in a series of flashbacks that become increasingly closer to the film's present time.
This is standard caper film fodder, but the story here is more clever than most such films. Additionally, Roberts and Owen have good chemistry and play off each other expertly. As you might expect in a caper film, things don't work out as planned.
Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti have nice turns as the heads of competing corporations. Sure, the film is ultimately fluff, but it's very entertaining fluff. These days, I'll take that. Rated PG-13 for language and some sexual content. 125m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
CORALINE. Girl finds a secret door leading to a parallel, better reality. But there's a catch. Rated PG. 100m. At The Movies.
GRAN TORINO. Veteran/racist/retired autoworker versus the local Asian gang-bangers. Rated R. 116m. At The Movies.
HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. Women, men and their relationships. Rated PG-13. 132m. At the Broadway.
HOTEL FOR DOGS. Kids faced with "no pets" rule in their new foster home convert abandoned hotel into foster home for doggies. Rated PG. 100m. At The Movies.
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Girl kidnapped by prison escapee and his crew equals blood and gore. Rated R. 109m. At Broadway.
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 and Fortuna.
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, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Orphan from slums of Bombay who rocks India's Who Wants to be a Millionaire must clear his name of cheating before claiming his prize. Rated R. 121m. At The Movies.
TAKEN. Former spy launches one-man war to bring down gang that kidnapped his daughter. Rated PG-13. 91m. At the Broadway.
TYLER PERRY'S MADEA GOES TO JAIL. High speed freeway chase lands Madea in front of a judge; her attitude lands her in jail. Rated PG-13. 103m. At The Movies.
WATCHMEN. More vigilante superhero drama in film adaptation of sinister comic book series from the 1980s. Rated R. 162m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.