Theatrical Releases This Week
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Director: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
On his way to the store to buy wood glue, Jeff looks for signs from the universe to determine his path. However, a series of comedic and unexpected events leads him to cross paths with his family in the strangest of locations and circumstances. Jeff just may find the meaning of his life…and if he’s lucky, pick up the wood glue as well. (Synopsis by Paramount Vantage)
After seeing Jason Segel work his talent in last year’s ode to “The Muppets,” I have confidence he can sell this movie. This is shaping up to be a whimsical, warm, and surprisingly funny film. Early reviews for the talented Duplass brothers film are largely positive.
21 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
In the action-comedy 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier – and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind. (Synopsis by Sony Pictures)
Not many films can look like a train wreck in previews but still manage to be enjoyable. This might be that film. This slapstick romp is fueled by its own ridiculous premise and suffers from a weak first half, but regains traction by the end. Perhaps best enjoyed by a select audience (there was someone that wanted to see this re-booted, right?), it manages to combine a high school comedy and a buddy movie into something that is at least watchable.
Director: Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin
Set in the inner-city of Memphis, Undefeated chronicles the Manassas Tigers’ 2009 football season, on and off-the-field, as they strive to win the first playoff game in the high school’s 110-year history. A perennial whipping boy, in recent decades Manassas had gone so far as to sell their home games to the highest bidder, but that all changed in the spring of 2004 when Bill Courtney, a former high school football coach turned lumber salesman, volunteered to lend a hand. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
Rounding out a strong week of new releases, this year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary is not going to win any awards for professional filmography. However, it does have an inspirational core that outshines its technical weakness. An emotional ride through the eyes of boys on the cusp of becoming men that breaks from the mold of a traditional sports film.
DVD Releases This Week
The Adventures of TinTin
Director: Steven Spielberg
Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures present a 3D Motion Capture Film, “The Adventures of Tintin,” directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Jamie Bell as Tintin, the intrepid young reporter whose relentless pursuit of a good story thrusts him into a world of high adventure, and Daniel Craig as the nefarious Red Rackham. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
Previously reviewed by The Dagger.
Happy Feet 2
Director: George Miller
Happy Feet Two returns audiences to the magnificent landscape of Antarctica in superb 3D. Mumble, The Master of Tap, has a problem because his tiny son, Erik, is choreo-phobic. Reluctant to dance, Erik runs away and encounters The Mighty Sven-a penguin who can fly! Mumble has no hope of competing with this charismatic new role model. But things get worse when the world is shaken by powerful forces. Erik learns of his father’s “guts and grit” as Mumble brings together the penguin nations and all manner of fabulous creatures-from tiny Krill to giant Elephant Seals-to put things right. (Synopsis by Warner Brothers)
Unfortunately, this sequel can’t decide what it wants to be, and ultimately falls flat. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that it isn’t a particularly bad film, it is just horrendously uninspired. The little ones who were fans of the first film may still find something to love, but most of them have probably outgrown this tale. Fun fact: director Miller is the same man responsible for two and a half of the Mad Max films, tales we will never outgrow.
Director: Alexander Payne
From Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning “Sideways,” set in Hawaii, “The Descendants” is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries. (Synopsis by Fox Searchlight)
Previously reviewed by The Dagger.
Director: Lars von Trier
Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland). Meanwhile, the planet, Melancholia, is heading towards Earth… Melancholia is a psychological disaster movie from director Lars von Trier. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
A mind-bending rumination on depression and the end of the world which can be firmly classified as an “art” film, and might be too esoteric for most viewers. For each person that enjoys it, two are going to be chased off. Lars von Trier is best known for his skilled assessments of being human and this is no exception. Love or hate, it will stay with you after watching, if only for the emotional impact.