Friday, February 29, 2008

Movies opening this week

The Other Boleyn Girl (Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, dir. Justin Chadwick)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I think I have a relatively high tolerance for silly period pieces, but this one is simultaneously too silly and not silly enough. A ridiculous, trashy soap opera I could maybe get behind (I did find bits of Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Showtime's The Tudors entertaining), and a serious historical drama and character study would certainly be worthwhile. But this movie is neither, and despite Portman's feisty performance, it just ends up in a boring middle ground. Wide release

Penelope (Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Peter Dinklage, dir. Mark Palansky)
I saw this at CineVegas over the summer and was entirely underwhelmed, although it was perfectly harmless. I like Christina Ricci a lot, but she kind of coasts through this role, and the movie is a lot of warmed-over Tim Burton-style whimsy. It also has a tension between its family-friendly fairy-tale style (it's rated PG) and some more adult themes and plot elements. Overall it's a pleasant time-killer, but entirely forgettable (I'm lucky I could remember this much to write about it after eight months). Wide release

Semi-Pro (Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin, dir. Kent Alterman)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I really do like Will Ferrell, and I thought Anchorman was very funny. So I expect more from him than your typical slapdash mainstream comedy, and he has not delivered lately. He seems to be on autopilot with this one, although it's better than Blades of Glory, and the scene where Ferrell's character fights a bear has a certain absurd energy to it (I also love Kristen Wiig's deadpan performance as the bear trainer). I'd say that I have higher hopes for Ferrell's next collaboration with Anchorman and Talladega Nights director Adam McKay, but after this early screening report, I'm not so sure. Wide release

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