Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Capsule Movie Reviews: "Green Hornet," "Mother and Child," more

Mother and Child
Writer/director Rodrigo Garcia's script has its issues -- some seriously clunky dialogue and a plot that embraces cliche and goes EXACTLY where you think it will. That said, the second hour really opens the characters up, and there are some uncommonly sensitive payoffs. And the acting ensemble is pretty fantastic, including twin lead performances from Annette Bening and Naomi Watts, the latter who takes a total cliche and makes her real and interesting. But also much love to Kerry Washington, Shareeka Epps, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Cherry Jones. Worth a Netflix rental...and your patience. B

Not really at all my cup of tea, probably having more to do with lead actors John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill than anything else. But the plot also hinges on Marisa Tomei's character being REALLY oblivious, which I guess is a plot point, but it's still frustrating. Still, I respect the way the movie dealt with its plot head-on at the end and didn't shortchange any of its characters. Get me two actors I actually like in the leads and I'd probably have really loved this. B-/C+

The Green Hornet
The story could've used another pass or three through the writers room -- it's essentially Pineapple Express grafted onto the usual superhero origin story; the goals of the Green Hornet's whole enterprise are murky at best; and Cameron Diaz's character is completely out to sea. But I ended up liking it due almost entirely to the lightness, energy, and humor of the execution. We could've easily gotten another dire, serious (though tightly plotted) superhero movie, but instead we got a buddy comedy that didn't take itself at all seriously. The 3D adds exactly nothing, so avoid it if you can, but Michel Gondry does have a good instinct for wringing comedy from action. Even if he does need a quick tutorial on how damage and injury affects the human body. B

Season of the Witch
It's not like I didn't know exactly what to expect. But even for a terrible movie, this one was pretty dire. It's going to come as a shock, but Nicolas Cage really phones in his performance here. Of course, so does Ron Perlman. And everybody else, really. Maybe Stephen Graham just couldn't be assed to cycle out of his Al Capone/Boardwalk Empire accent for this piece of crap movie, and who could blame him? It still means we have to listen to A Brooklyn Mook in King Arthur's Court. Also, the CGI could not be worse, and the makeup on Christopher Lee belongs in a particularly cruel Monty Python sketch. D+

The Losers
You can see how this might've been an enjoyable action comedy. Certainly Chris Evans and Columbus Short brought their charisma to play. But the movie's hamstrung, pretty much from the beginning, by a stilted narrative flow, vague main characters, and a too-casual attitude towards violence and death. Also, how far down the "Who you want/who you get" ladder do you have to go before your male lead ends up being Jeffrey Dean Morgan? What a complete black hole that guy is. C-

Hot Tub Time Machine
I can't believe some people are recommending this as even a guilty pleasure. At BEST it's a lazy wannabe-Hangover with a couldn't-be-less-interested John Cusack. At worst, it is a comedy killing fields where half-jokes about '80s culture and lady-hating men co-mingle with plot conceits stolen from South Park and Pleasantville. Craig Robinson is the only person doing good enough work to deserve better. Even Lizzy Caplan can't save it. LIZZY CAPLAN! D+


JA said...

Wait, Lizzy Caplan is in HTTM? Well now I have to watch it, Joe. I wish you hadn't even told me that! Damn you!

Joe Reid said...

I definitely think you should watch it.

Robert Hamer said...

I also couldn't understand the praise for Hot Tub Time Machine, since 90% of its material was made up of Steve Pink nudging the audience and saying, "Eh? The Eighties? Amiright?"

Walter L. Hollmann said...

"the plot also hinges on Marisa Tomei's character being REALLY oblivious, which I guess is a plot point, but it's still frustrating."

Yes. That drove me crazy. I liked the movie enough, but every time I think of it, I think of Marisa Tomei, and I get annoyed. WHICH SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Ah, Mother & Child - so flawed, and so entertaining. My older sister was laughing way too much (she thinks it should be billed as a comedy) but the performances really are golden (and Cherry Jones as a nun=win) - Annette, Naomi and Kerry really do fine work.