Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Capsule reviews of films playing the week of March 23 

Page 5 of 6

LITTLE FOCKERS Let me get this straight. Dustin Hoffman deemed the script for Little Fockers so awful that he refused to participate until new scenes were written for him. And here he is now, having agreed to a revised screenplay that has him uttering lines like "You can pick your nose, but only flick the dry ones, not the wet ones." Needless to say, that's a long way from the likes of "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me ... Aren't you?" and "I'm walking here! I'm walking here!" Then again, Little Fockers is pretty much the basement for most of the accomplished actors squirming up there on the screen. Even those charitable folks (like me) who didn't think Meet the Parents' first sequel, Meet the Fockers, was a sign of End Times will feel the comic desperation in this outing. There's admittedly a chuckle here and there, but they quickly get buried by painful sequences like the one in which Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) sticks a needle into father-in-law Jack Byrnes' (Robert De Niro) erect penis, or Greg's young son projectile-vomits onto his dad. As in How Do You Know, Owen Wilson proves to be an unlikely saving grace, but enough is enough. This franchise has run its course and made its millions, but now it's time for it to fock off. *1/2

RANGO The pleasures of Rango are vast enough to wash away the bitter aftertaste left by any of the feeble family films of late, although I suppose I should hasten to add that this isn't a kid flick by any stretch of the imagination: Instead of a G rating, it sports a PG, and I daresay even a PG-13 wouldn't have been out of the question. Then again, that's perfectly in line with a work that in its finest moments comes across as a Coen Brothers film with anthropomorphic animals instead of flesh-and-blood humans. Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski has teamed with The Aviator scripter John Logan and re-teamed with Johnny Depp to fashion a frequently warped and always humorous quasi-Western in which a chameleon (voiced by Depp) who had previously enjoyed the comfy life of a family pet winds up in the dusty town of Dust, where he gets elected sheriff after convincing the locals that he's one tough hombre. Rango is so imaginatively realized in terms of its camera angles and backdrops that the sense of detail brings to mind a live-action flick rather than an animated one — it's no surprise to see ace cinematographer Roger Deakins (True Grit) listed in the closing credits as "visual consultant." As for the narrative, it's a film buff's delight, expertly incorporating elements from, among others, Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns, Cat Ballou, Apocalypse Now and even Chinatown. ***1/2

RED RIDING HOOD The idea of combining a werewolf tale with a whodunit is an interesting one, and the notion of adding layers of Freud and feminism onto the wolfman saga is positively genius. These angles have been tackled before (The Beast Must Die and The Company of Wolves, respectively), but Red Riding Hood ambitiously tries to conquer the lycanthrope tale on both fronts. A well-cast Amanda Seyfried plays Valerie, a young medieval maiden whose village has long been plagued by a werewolf. A visiting moral crusader (Gary Oldman, in camp mode) reveals that the wolfman is actually someone from the village, and this causes everyone to view their neighbors with suspicion and — shades of The Crucible — hurl accusations of witchcraft. Had director Catherine Hardwicke and scripter David Johnson buried themselves in the lore and atmosphere of their setting while accentuating the legend's leaps into sensuality, violence and the allure of latent desires, it could have worked beautifully. Instead, the focus is on the love triangle between Valerie and the village's two cutest boys (Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons), and while the teen angst that Hardwicke brought to the original Twilight was appropriate, here it creates a modernity that's at odds with the rest of the film. After all, it's hard to bury oneself in the moody period setting when the central thrust remains that Valerie basically has to choose between Justin Bieber and a Jonas Brother. **

THE TOURIST A smug and chilly Angelina Jolie stars as Elise, who's being tracked across Europe by Scotland Yard due to her association with a wanted man named Alexander Pearce. The mysterious Pierce instructs Elise (via letter) to throw the authorities off his trail by befriending a complete stranger and making them think that he's actually Alexander Pearce. Elise settles on vacationing math teacher Frank (a crushingly dull Johnny Depp), but the ruse works too well, as a criminal kingpin (Steven Berkoff) also falls for the deception and orders his goons to kill Elise and capture Frank. I haven't seen France's 2005 Anthony Zimmer, but it's hard to believe it's as clumsily constructed as this idiotic remake. The Tourist is the sort of lazy picture that relies on an absolutely unbelievable coincidence to set the whole story in motion; from there, it only grows sillier, with characters behaving in illogical ways no matter what the situation. Of course, there's also a predictable twist ending, one so goofy that you hope at the outset that the filmmakers will avoid the temptation to go down that road. Instead, they gleefully embrace that temptation, putting the final period on a multiplex trip that's only slightly less annoying than a case of Montezuma's revenge. *1/2

Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events


www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2019 Womack Digital, LLC
Powered by Foundation