Saturday, August 26, 2006

Movies opening this week

Beerfest (Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, dir. Jay Chandrasekhar)
Despite the generally vulgar and sophomoric nature of their humor, I have a soft spot for the Broken Lizard guys, and I generally enjoyed their last two films, Super Troopers and Club Dread (and, to be perfectly honest, chuckled at the handful of Broken Lizard-esque moments in Dukes of Hazzard, directed by BL's Jay Chandrasekhar). I came to Super Troopers thanks to its underground cult hit reputation, and was a little disappointed, and came to Club Dread expecting very little and was pleasantly surprised. So I approached Beerfest with mild enthusiasm and came out of it with mild disappointment. Like Dukes, it had a couple of funny moments, and the troupe approach everything they do with such enthusiasm that you can't help getting caught up in it sometimes. But the premise seemed much more limiting than their other films, and the story was too conventional and linear to allow for enough amusingly weird diversions. I still think these guys are talented, and I like the idea of a cohesive comedy troupe consistently making mainstream films, which is rare, but I think this one is a dud. Right after Club Dread came out, I read an article that said BL had a project about philosophers set in ancient Greece in the pipeline, and that sounds just weird enough to be awesome. Wide release

Idlewild (Andre Benjamin, Antwan A. Patton, Terrence Howard, Paula Patton, dir. Bryan Barber)
I've never been an OutKast fan, but they are always pushing boundaries in music and are clearly continuing to do so in movies. Although this has been on the shelf for perhaps two years and has been getting mixed reviews, I was still excited to see it because it's obviously like nothing else out there. And the aspects of it that actually were unique and genre-bending I thought were fascinating. The musical numbers are vibrant and exciting, both visually and aurally inventive, and the combination of hip-hop and swing-era styles works very well. Barber is a music video guy who knows how to make music cinematic, and whenever he's doing that the movie is great. But for a musical, there's not nearly enough music, and the long dramatic stretches are inert and boring, even though Terrence Howard makes a great menacing villain. The plot (essentially two plots, one for Benjamin and one for Patton) is paint-by-numbers predictable, which doesn't matter when the music starts, but that's not nearly often enough. Watching the wonderful Busby Berkeley-style production number that Benjamin does over the closing credits was probably the most fun I had at the whole movie, and that's too bad. Wide release

Invincible (Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, dir. Ericson Core)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I am so not the target audience for inspirational, based-on-a-true-story sports movies, although they occasionally get me. This is a totally mediocre example of the genre, so if you like that sort of thing, maybe wait for video. Wide release

No comments: