Friday, January 13, 2006

Movies opening this week

Hoodwinked (Voices of Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, Jim Belushi, dir. Cory Edwards)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I'm sort of amazed that this horrible piece of crap is getting some good reviews. This is the perfect example of January dumping-ground fodder, a bargain-basement kids movie with bad production values, pathetic writing and phoned-in voice performances from celebrities. Sadly, many parents will probably take their kids to this thinking it will have elements to amuse them, like the Shrek movies. They will seriously regret their decision. Wide release

Innocent Voices (Carlos Padilla, Leonor Varela, Xuna Primus, dir. Luis Mandoki)
I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that Mandoki has been engaged in Hollywood hackery for most of his career, since this is a polished and often manipulative film that knows exactly how to tug on your heartstrings (it's pretty much impossible to make a movie in which little kids get shot and not make it emotionally affecting). As annoying as that was at times, I think overall the movie worked, and felt more real than something like Hotel Rwanda. Yes, there are stupid contrivances, and the main kid has a retarded best friend, but it did chronicle the horrors that children deal with during wartime (it's set in El Salvador during a long civil war), and illuminate the practice of armies conscripting children. It was even relatively politically balanced; although clearly on the side of the rebels over the government, the movie doesn't portray the guerillas as saints, and ultimately the message is the trite (but true) old hippy-dippy chestnut: War is unhealthy for children and other living things. Opened limited Oct. 14; in Las Vegas this week

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