Saturday, August 19, 2006

Movies opening this week

Accepted (Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Lewis Black, dir. Steve Pink)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
My colleague Carol Cling makes an amusing typo/Freudian slip in her review, referring to the title at one point as Acceptable. And that's a positive review. This is exactly the kind of late-summer comedy you expect - not horrible, but without many redeeming qualities, either. Wide release

Little Miss Sunshine (Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, dir. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
For me, this was the most anticipated movie opening this week, a Sundance favorite that's been getting glowing reviews and seems like the kind of thing I would really enjoy. And I did enjoy it, but I don't think I'd put it down as one of the best movies of the year. As some have said, it's basically an indie version of National Lampoon's Vacation, and the script is rather predictable and full of fairly stereotypical characters. Still, the excellent actors give life to the cliches, and Dayton and Faris have a nice, casual directorial style that soft-pedals some of the story's excessive quirkiness. The ending is still a little too much, and overall the film has an air of trying too hard to be offbeat and loveable, but it more often than not succeeds in that effort almost despite itself. Opened limited July 26; wide release this week

Once in a Lifetime (documentary, dir. John Dower & Paul Crowder)
I saw this movie at CineVegas back in June, and even though I have no interest in soccer I still found it engaging and entertaining. It's got great production values for a documentary, and the 1970s-style graphics to fit the time period put me in mind of another slick documentary, Inside Deep Throat. Like that movie, this is occasionally a little too slick and glib for its own good, and doesn't delve deeply enough below the surface. But it's still informative and fun to watch, and you don't have to be a soccer fan (or even a sports fan) to get something out of it. Opened limited July 7; in Las Vegas this week

Snakes on a Plane (Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, snakes, dir. David R. Ellis)
What else is left to say about this movie? There's "OMG! Snakes on a Plane! Greatest movie of all time!" There's "Don't give in to the hype, it's just a crappy B-movie." There's "Don't give in to the backlash to the hype, it's actually pretty fun." There's "What's this movie about the snakes on a plane or something?" Whatever I say is going to be a repeat of something someone else said, or subject to accusations of either being swept up in the hype or being unfair to the movie because of the hype. So I will just say this: I had fun. I laughed multiple times. I even found occasional parts sort of suspenseful. I doubt I will watch the movie again, or think about it much after the coverage has waned, but it was more enjoyable than the average cheap summer thriller. It's not a "so bad it's good" movie, because it's clearly trying to be bad, with plenty of intentional camp, and when it's actually bad it's really just boring. It should have been 15 minutes shorter, because there actually is a limit to the entertainment value of snakes on a plane. The plot, already paper-thin, just sort of peters out. But Jackson is Jackson, and David Koechner and Kenan Thompson actually offer some pretty amusing supporting performances. When Jackson delivers the famous "I've had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane" line, it's the most obvious awkward insert you can imagine, and that sort of defines the film: awkward, pandering, ill-constructed, but still pretty damn entertaining. Wide release

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

I've been on the lookout for Little Miss Sunshine all summer .. word is now that it might spread wide to hit my little corner of the world Aug. 25 .. I'm not sure what else it has to do to earn truly wide distribution!