Saturday, January 10, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me discuss these movies with Las Vegas Weekly Managing Editor Ken Miller in this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast.

Bride Wars (Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen, dir. Gary Winick)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Make no mistake: This is a terrible movie. But I think I was hoping for something a little more go-for-broke terrible, rather than the simply mundane terrible that's the actual result. It's so easy to hate this movie that it's almost not worth the effort, although the combination of Kate Hudson's embarrassing career, the rampant condescending sexism and Hollywood's absurd obsession with ostentatious weddings is quite the toxic blend. Honestly, I had been sort of looking forward to this movie since seeing the trailer, because something this repellently awful is really quite fun to tear apart. But it was glossy and light enough not to be as despicable as something like Seven Pounds, which has higher pretensions to saying something important. I'm appalled by the movie's message, but it's not delivered with enough conviction to get me really riled. However, I'm happy to let MaryAnn Johanson do the talking. Wide release

Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, dir. Clint Eastwood)
I like Clint Eastwood, I really do, but I think he is getting a pass here, big time, thanks to the memories this movie evokes of his past tough-guy efforts. It's a clumsily written, predictable story (aside from the mildly interesting ending), with awful dialogue and some questionable acting from the supporting players. Eastwood's playing with his own image, but I don't think it comes off as clever or really has anything to say about lone-man-against-the-world movies. There is a small school of thought arguing that rather than an actual Clint Eastwood macho-tough-guy movie, it's a satire of same. I don't buy this argument, but it can be interesting to contemplate. (This AV Club podcast teases it out intelligently.) Really, this is a trite movie about a crotchety old guy whose heart warms thanks to his spunky teenage neighbors, full of silly old-timey racial epithets and some pretty broad stereotypes. If it weren't for Eastwood and the added poignancy of this possibly being his last performance, no one would be paying attention. Opened limited December 12; wide release this week

The Unborn (Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet, Gary Oldman, dir. David S. Goyer)
Here we have the perfect illustration of the January dumping ground: the shitty chick flick for women, and the shitty horror movie for guys. Marginally better than Bride Wars, this is nevertheless a waste of time, a perfectly disposable horror movie devoid of any scares that don't come from the ever-present jump moment, full of plot holes and indifferent performances, and with many supposedly creepy effects moments (the dog with the upside-down head) that just look silly. Goyer gets a lot of credit for writing or co-writing a handful of decent superhero movies (the first two Blades, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), but he was also at least partly responsible for Jumper and Kickboxer 2. This is firmly in that latter camp, and doesn't bode well for Goyer's supposed next directorial outing, the Magneto spinoff movie. Wide release


Anonymous said...

Definitely wanna see Gran Torino. Warning: Do not waste your money on "Unborn". Better yet, don't waste your money on that movie.

Times are too tight to throw good money after bad movies.

Anonymous said...


Clint Eastwood sings, in character, as Walt Kowalski (The Guy That Ends Things), about the Ford Gran Torino during the end credits of Gran Torino.

Josh, can you explain what the director was going for here?

Josh said...

Man, I wish I could explain what the director was going for at any point in this movie. The whole thing seemed like a mess to me.