Theatrical Releases This Week
Rock of Ages
Director: Adam Shankman
PG-13; 123 mins
Rock of Ages tells the story of small town girl Sherrie and city boy Drew, who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. Their rock ‘n’ roll romance is told through the heart-pounding hits of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Whitesnake and more. (Synopsis by Warner Brothers)
Little more than an overly long episode of “Glee” that panders to children of the 80’s. What should have been a ripe opportunity to poke fun at the over-the-top theatrics of the era falls way short by trying to take itself seriously. The best part may be the enthusiasm the cast has for the performances.
That’s My Boy
Director: Sean Anders and John Morris
R; 116 mins
While still in his teens, Donny (Adam Sandler) fathered a son, Todd (Andy Samberg), and raised him as a single parent up until Todd’s 18th birthday. Now, after not seeing each other for years, Todd’s world comes crashing down on the eve of his wedding when an uninvited Donny suddenly shows up. Trying desperately to reconnect with his son, Donny is now forced to deal with the repercussions of his bad parenting skills. (Synopsis by Sony)
Of all Sandler’s recent films, this one has the most promise. Then again, after his latest works the bar isn’t just set low—it’s fallen off and lying on the ground. For Samberg’s sake, I hope there is something salvageable here, but my confidence is low. It can’t be worse than “Hot Rod” right?
Director: Wes Anderson
PG-13; 97 mins
Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore — and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl. (Synopsis by Focus Features)
Check out my review on The Dagger later this week.
DVD Releases This Week
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Director: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
PG-13; 95 mins
Nicolas Cage reprises his role as Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. In this gritty new vision for the character, directed by Neveldine/Taylor (Crank), Johnny is still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter – but he may risk everything as he teams up with the leader of a group of rebel monks (Idris Elba) to save a young boy from the devil…and possibly rid himself of his curse forever. (Synopsis by Sony)
Dear IRS, we promise that if you relieve Nicolas Cage of his tax burdens, we will not allow him to make any more Ghost Rider films. Thank you, America. An unfathomably boring mess from start to end. Don’t ever see this.
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds
Director: Tyler Perry
PG-13; 111 mins
A successful, wealthy businessman, Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry) has always done what’s expected of him, whether it’s assuming the helm of his father’s company, tolerating his brother’s misbehavior at the office or planning to marry his beautiful but restless fiancée, Natalie (Gabrielle Union). But Wesley is jolted out of his predictable routine when he meets Lindsey (Thandie Newton), a down-on-her-luck single mother who works on the cleaning crew in his office building. When he offers to help her get back on her feet, the chance encounter with someone so far outside his usual circle ignites something in Wesley. This one good deed may finally spark his courage to exchange the life that’s expected of him for the life he’s always really wanted. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
It is commendable that Perry is trying to stretch his craft into dramatic territory. It is unfortunate that this overly long, generic film is the result. The best part is Thandie Newton, who manages to keep the film’s pace from coming to a screeching halt.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Director: Guy Ritchie
PG-13;, 128 mins
Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large-Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris)—and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder-a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes as he spins a web of death and destruction-all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history. (Synopsis by Warner Brothers)
Doyle purists will once again decry the “new” Holmes and his brawn-over-brains routine. While it’s an enjoyable film, the main draw again is Downey and Law over the actual story. Another quintessential Ritchie film – especially in the reliance on “bullet time” fights.
Director: Agnieszka Holland
R; 145 mins
From acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland, In Darkness is based on a true story. Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Lvov, a Nazi occupied city in Poland, one day encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto. He hides them for money in the labyrinth of the town’s sewers beneath the bustling activity of the city above. What starts out as a straightforward and cynical business arrangement turns into something very unexpected, the unlikely alliance between Socha and the Jews as the enterprise seeps deeper into Socha’s conscience. The film is also an extraordinary story of survival as these men, women and children all try to outwit certain death during 14 months of ever increasing and intense danger. (Synopsis by Sony Pictures Classic)
A tough watch because of the subject matter, not the filmmaking. The film’s structure is genius, using every minute to distinguish the characters humanity. It’s a different take on the WWII genre that is well worth your time.