starring Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, and Stephen Dorff. Directed by Tom Brady. Rated R.
I wouldn’t say I have a complete case of Swardson fatigue, but it’s definitely reaching that point. He was pretty funny (maybe even a bit underused?) as one of the bombers in 30 Minutes or Less yet was downright detestable as the faux-German horndog in Just Go With It. His character of Larson – being part of a Happy Madison production – is no doubt closer to the latter. It’s not that I expect a lot from a comedy about someone becoming famous through his shockingly small genitalia (other than a lot of “new” mean-spirited terms for the condition from the ad-libs). I just know how I am – that the one-note joke and its repetition would quickly bore me and lead me to stray my attention away to more important thoughts like better ways I could have spent my time. Swardson is a tactical comedian who deserves to have his moment of A-lister fame, but it sucks that he chose to do it as another acolyte-clown for Adam Sandler’s juvenile crowd. He’s capable of bringing far more talent to the table than they ask for.
starring Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fischer, and Tom Wilkinson. Directed by John Landis. Rated R.
When a fan of film history hears the name John Landis, it’s rather easy for that fan to remember the best of his directorial efforts – An American Werewolf in London, Animal House, Trading Places, the video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” – most of which from the early ’80s. I’m sure only a select few are aware of his more current and disappointingly lackluster contributions like The Stupids, Blues Brothers 2000, or his three episodes of “Psych“. This fact and my just coming off having seen the original Death at a Funeral from 2007 is what makes me hesitant about Burke and Hare. Funeral was also a dark comedy directed by someone with a similar sense of humor and style – Frank Oz. It had some exceedingly funny moments, but the film as a whole felt outdated. Landis has always handled the risque subject matter fairly better than Oz though; perhaps Burke and Hare will feel less like it was made by a lovable grandfather (and hopefully not more from a dirty, old man). The Sweeney Todd-like atmosphere combined with the pair of usually terrific performers Pegg and Serkis might also help.
starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Winslet. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Rated PG-13.
I’ll sidestep the obligatory swine flu comment for this apocalyptic disease thriller and instead turn my attention toward the director and the giant ensemble cast (also included are Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Bryan Cranston, Elliott Gould, Demetri Martin, Enrico Colantoni, and Academy Award nominee from last year John Hawkes). Soderbergh seems to score most with films – like Traffic and Ocean’s Eleven – that juggle a lot of stars. While I don’t consider him to have much of a recognizable style like fellow Oscar-winning directors Scorsese or the Coen brothers, he can be very reliable in pulling out some of the richest acting from his performers (half the acting Oscars of 2000 went to people from his films). Contagion doesn’t look particularly memorable, but it has potential as a sleeper hit.
Also: I know the actress who plays Carrie Anne! Ball State alumni strike again!
starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Morrison, and Nick Nolte. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. Rated PG-13.
I’ve read indications here and there that this film is surprisingly much better than the general premise of cage-fighting suggests. I have no problems with a movie that so strongly goes hand-in-hand with the latest fad as long as there is something worthwhile and lasting to be extracted and experienced from the choice of theme. This is just a prediction, but it seems like the brother-vs.-brother story of Warrior will develop into a tragic outcome with the finale – one that might just open the door for the viewer to conjure some thought-provoking questions about the values and consequences of violent sports, family grudges, and whatever else. Here I was ready to dismiss this flick as another Fighting, and now – after some potentially misleading deep analyzation – my anticipation has rapidly and unexpectedly grown. I’m setting the bar at “nearly Rocky caliber” – let’s see if it gets close.
Return next week for the GM/LM for September 16th, 2011 which will include Drive with Ryan Gosling and Straw Dogs with James Marsden. If you regularly visit Twitter, feel free to follow @gttmovies and @MEIER_in_a_CT for more instant and unadulterated reactions to movies.