It’s GOT ME/LOST ME time! GO! GO! GO!
(It would be fun to help run a skydiving business just to be able to say something like that every day, wouldn’t it?…)
starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and Sam Rockwell. Directed by Jon Favreau. Rated PG-13.
I decided at the beginning of the summer that there would be no better choice for a visit to the drive-in theater than this movie. Drive-ins are abundantly soaked with the reminiscence of the ’60s – a time when sci-fi adventures both cheap and corny were littering silver screens across the country. What an enhancement to the flying UFOs in the film’s starlit sky to add an actual starlit sky and authentic fresh air to the house of the film’s audience! Throw in Mr. Han Solo Harrison Ford playing up his signature rugged grumpiness with curiosity, the production team of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and an executive producer credit for Steven Spielberg, and what do you get? A bona fide reason to go to the drive-in. Let’s also not forget that Favreau (the Iron Man movies) is directing while the lead is played by the most recent James Bond (Craig).
I almost saved this desired outing for Super 8, but decided this film was a better fit after I questioned the screen time of Abrams’ alien (as it turns out, rightly so). If there’s a double feature of C&A followed by – oh, I don’t know… – Captain America, there will be no griping from me.
starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Rated PG-13.
The more I learn of this film, the less interested I become. In the beginning, there is what appears to be a fairly strong cast – Carell (“The Office“), Gosling (Blue Valentine), Moore (The Kids Are All Right), Stone (Easy A), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler), and Kevin Bacon (X-Men: First Class). Once the stun of the star power wears off, there’s the atrocious trailer, consisting of tired echoes of The 40-Year-Old Virgin (and probably Dan in Real Life – don’t know, haven’t seen it), a lame jab at the Twilight movies (Why not discuss “Speidi” while you’re at it?), and leaving with Stone gawking at Gosling’s abs. Stop – my sides; you’re knockin’ me dead.
Finally came the info I needed to make it an official skip: the direction team of Ficarra and Requa. They received a bulk of their A-list attention after penning the surprise foul-mouth hit Bad Santa, but their first co-directing effort appeared last winter with the Jim Carrey-headlined limited release of I Love You Phillip Morris. Morris‘ story about the homosexual relationship that fueled the most successful con man ever (to be permanently imprisoned) makes a far better read than Ficarra and Requa’s adaptation is to watch. Unless the duo recently learned how to firmly handle the crew they’re provided for a picture, Crazy, Stupid, Love. could cause me logical, reasonable hate.
Oh, and Katy Perry’s not the only singer debuting as an actor in a feature-length film this week.
starring Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, and the voices of Jonathan Winters and Katy Perry. Directed by Raja Gosnell. Rated PG.
Nearly every old school cartoon under the pale moon has been given the film treatment – Flintstones, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Scooby-Doo,… you name it. It was only a matter of time before these odd, little (Communism-inspired?) critters from Hanna-Barbera were given theirs.
Like Enchanted and Elf before it, the plot involves the foreign creatures’ journey to that American land of Oz: New York City. A bulk of the flick will take place here – for sure not to pass up the opportunity to make a generalizing comment or two about an NY citizen’s mental health – before the Smurfs defeat that evil sorcerer Gargamel (played by “Simpsons” voice regular Azaria) and return home safe and sound. In case insane New Yorker jokes aren’t really your thing, maybe you can instead delight in the constant Gargamel slapstick or the repeated “‘Smurf’-as-a-bleep” profanity substitution joke that wasn’t even original when “Family Guy” tried it.
… It’s way easy to give this film a hard time before it opens, but it does look smarter than, say, either of the Alvin and the Chipmunks or Garfield movies. The director Gosnell has specialized in family films for some time now (He also made the Scooby-Doo films and the surprise top-grosser Beverly Hills Chihuahua). The cast of live actors appear to be pleasant fits, and other than veteran comic Winters as Papa and singer Perry as Smurfette, the voice cast includes Alan Cumming (Gutsy), Fred Armisen (Brainy), John Oliver (Vanity), George Lopez (Grouchy), Anton Yelchin (Clumsy), Kenan Thompson (Greedy), Paul Reubens (Jokey), B.J. Novak (Baker), and Jeff Foxworthy (Handy). Then there’s the list of live cameos a la the Muppets films which I’ll allow you to research with the link above.
The whole thing will certainly be rather dumb for anyone above a certain age, but as a former owner of the “Smurfs” village and figurines, I’ll still want to rent it.
starring John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, and Nick Frost. Directed by Joe Cornish. Rated R.
I’ve read some fairly good things about this British sci-fi comedy in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, but to borrow from the hip-hop pioneers Public Enemy, I just don’t believe the hype. From what I can gather, the film essentially is Shaun of the Dead – just substitute the “schlubs” for “gangsta youths” (except for Frost who is undoubtedly both in heart) and the undead for aliens. Attack looks much darker and jumpier than Shaun, and – maybe as a result – the laughs seem much more sparse. There may be a badass line to be found here and there and an actor or two worth keeping track of in the future, but there’s no way this will trump or come close to matching the earnings of the aliens movie it’s competing with at the box office.
starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, and Liam Cunningham. Directed by John Michael McDonagh. Rated R.
I had no clue that A) writer-director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) has a brother who is also in the entertainment business, and B) his brother is now the writer-director of a comedy-thriller starring Gleeson as well! I became a giant fan of Martin’s work after seeing the Broadway production of his twisted dramatic play “The Pillowman” – I have to wonder how (if at all) John Michael’s work will differ. Gleeson is an underrated film actor (though he’s recently won an Emmy for HBO’s “Into the Storm“) who proved to be a phenomenal match for Martin’s various material in In Bruges. The set-in-his-ways dunderhead cop he appears to play here is a great departure from Bruges‘ educated hit man, and Cheadle’s American federal agent might make a good straight man for Gleeson to play off.
Let’s just hope the movie is as smart as the filmmaker probably thinks it is.
Return next Monday or Tuesday (I always shoot for Monday) for the GM/LM for August 5th, 2011 which will include The Change-Up with Ryan Reynolds and Rise of the Planet of the Apes with James Franco. If you regularly visit Twitter, feel free to follow @MEIER_in_a_CT and @gttmovies for more instant and unadulterated reactions to movies.