Thursday, July 28, 2005

Movies opening this week

Murderball (documentary, dir. Henry Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Although I was disappointed in buzz documentaries Mad Hot Ballroom and March of the Penguins (which I saw a few days ago after glowing recommendations and found not much more interesting than a special on Animal Planet), Murderball kept my interest throughout. It's got strong personalities and a clear narrative thread, although it does drag in places. It was one of the bright spots at CineVegas and, along with The Aristocrats, one of the allegedly enthralling recent documentaries that lives up to its hype. Opened limited July 8; in Las Vegas this week

Sky High (Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, dir. Mike Mitchell)
Call me crazy, but I found this to be the best superhero movie of the summer. Although I'm in the extreme minority in my disappointment with Batman Begins, I doubt I'll be alone in thinking that this movie does everything that Fantastic Four set out to do, only much better. It's funny and family-friendly, it teaches little lessons and it gets in plenty of in-jokes for superhero fans. Yes, it's a Disney movie, so it's pretty predictable and sometimes hokey, and it plays at times like a pilot for a TV series (which it may very well end up being). But even if the kids are sort of bland, the supporting cast is great, with Russell the perfect square-jawed do-gooder, plus former Kids in the Hall Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald, the great Bruce Campbell, even Cloris Leachman in a one-scene part. It doesn't surprise me at all that the duo who did the rewrite on the script are veterans of Kim Possible, one of my favorite TV guilty pleasures. Like Kim Possible, this has an allegorical take on high school, an infectious sense of fun and a way of being clever without losing its heart. At the risk of sounding like a shill, it's fun for the whole family. Wide release

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