THE HANGOVER PART II

The first Hangover left me with a headache. But while I don't think it
deserves its reputation, there is a dizzy dream/nightmare-like quality
to the original that's missing here, entertaining as the sequel is.
Other critics have slammed Part II for being repetitious. Certainly
it's got the same structure. Yet as the boys try to piece together
what happened the night before, the predicaments in which they find
themselves and the level of hysteria they engender aren't as fizzy as
the initial go-round. When Ken Jeong drops out early on, it's a big
loss. Fairly late in the game, Paul Giamatti shows up briefly and
gives the picture the slap in the face it needs. In between, the
“outrageousness” is pretty tame, with the big sight gag just another
chick-with-dick switcheroo (repeated, of course, in the snapshots
beside the credits). Zach, Ed, and Bradley play well off each other;
we're happy for them when it all comes out ok. But don't look for
gear-stripping anarchy. — Jeff Schultz

BRIDESMAIDS

Kristin Wiig has had outrageous success on Saturday Night Live. Her characters are like fish out of water, always the oddball. Her movie career has been middling at best. PAUL was a disaster. And her other films have not given her enough to do to show off whatever talent she may have. Frankly, I've been pretty unimpressed with her talent. So, in BRIDESMAIDS she has taken things into her own hands. Co-writing the screenplay with Annie Mumolo, she has found a winning formula of laughs and warmth that play to her strong suits. This is Wiig's movie. Her Annie is a receptacle for life's ills. Everything happens to her and now that her best friend is getting married, things can only get better. Now wouldn't THAT be unfunny. Of course things get worse in continuously hilarious ways. Bad Brazilian food, a “can you top this” battle at the engagement party, drunk and high on a plane. And that's just the beginning! The supporting cast is great, especially Melissa McCarthy who is comic genius in every one of her scenes. But Wiig shows a real talent for comic acting I've never seen from her.. slapstick, physical.. she's the real deal. And BRIDESMAIDS is the real deal. Your invited to laugh out loud at this party! — Alan Yudman

THE HANGOVER PART 2

Why mess with a good thing? THE HANGOVER was so over the top funny, outrageous and enjoyable, Todd Phillips and the gang decided to just stick with what works. In THE HANGOVER PART 2 it all works just as well as in Part 1. The premise is the same.. bachelor party, waking up in a hotel room, someone is missing and the search for answers. The jokes are just as outrageous, Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis have the same fantastic chemistry and Ken Jeong steals every scene as Mr. Chow. Some critics complain it's the same as the first one.. a cookie cutter approach to movie making. Sometimes, it's good to stretch things, move things in a different direction. But in this genre, with these characters, that would have been a mistake. Bring along a bottle of aspirin, because your sides and your head will ache with laughter from this HANGOVER! — Alan Yudman

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

First and foremost, this is not a critics movie. And by that I mean it's a no brainer that has one reason to exist: to take audiences on a fun ride. Unlike the last two, this one loses a lot of the overdone FX and goes with the basics: simple yet interesting story, cartoon action sequences, and Depp taking center stage. Makes me laugh that many of the top critics have dumped all over this one, and many are the same who couldn't stop praising a piece of crap summer movie involving crystal skulls. At least this one delivers what's expected and doesn't treat the audience like they're morons. If you liked the other three movies, ignore those dunderheads and get on board!
Stormy Curry

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Masturbating on screen is generally reserved for porn. But there's
another kind of self-love, the kind that trumpets one's erudition.
Since as far back as Manhattan, Woody Allen has been invoking greater
artists than himself to be reflected in their stardust. Here, his
references are a mile wide and an inch deep — a checklist of Big
Names (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Dali, etc.) in whose world Owen
Wilson magically finds himself. Many of the scenes seem more like a
college lecture (Jazz Age Intellectuals 101) than a story. The film's
message is that nobody's happy with the age they're living in; we all
wish we had been born into a previous, “better” era. For Owen, 1920's
Paris is the ideal; for 1920's Parisians, it was the Belle Epoque; for
Epoquers, it was the Renaissance. (Get it?) Wilson's present-day
fiance and future in-laws are also casualties of the shallow
screenplay: it's never a good sign when you know everything about a
character in their first line of dialogue. Rachel MacAdams has a
thankless, annoying role made worse by no discernible reason why she
and Owen would have ever gotten together. The in-laws (Kurt Fuller and
Mimi Kennedy ) are shockingly two-dimensional. Wilson himself stays
relaxed and engaged and is the best thing in the picture along with
lovely cinematography. — Jeff Schultz

SOURCE CODE

It’s Groundhog Day meets Inception with a hint of those “choose your own adventure” books we read as kids. SOURCE CODE is a surprisingly fun ride with depth that I was not expecting. Jake Gyllenhaal is top notch as the soldier trying over and over again to stop and identify a bomber who has/will/is taking out a train. Twists where we expect them followed by twists where we don’t, SOURCE CODE will keep your attention until the end/beginning/future? Worth it.
Stormy Curry   

PAUL

Paul is dead. After more than an hour of jaw droppingly bad story, writing, acting, and execution I had to pull the plug on this alleged comedy. What's more shocking is that this alien comedy was written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. They along with Bill Hader, Jason Bateman and others are wasted in this laughless comedy. Seth Rogen once again proves that he can take a bad movie and turn it into something more awful…and he's just doing VOICEOVER work! It's ET with fart jokes and bits that were done much better on ALF. You have been warned.

Stormy Curry

BRIDESMAIDS

O Promise Me…that the summer will be filled with movies as good as
this one. So much more than the Apatow-for-girls R-rater I was
expecting. From the first shot — nakedly graphic but ridiculous sex
between Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm — there were guffaws coming out of
me like the bodily fluids from the food poisoning scene. The ads and
poster (and the title) indicate an ensemble piece, and it is in the
sense that its very large cast is so well cast even tiny parts
sparkle. (Michael Hitchcock, when is someone going to give you a
showcase?) But super as hefty tomboy Melissa McCarthy and “straight
man” Maya Rudolph and sensitive-guy Chris O'Dowd are, this is really a
star vehicle, and it's Wiig's story all the way through. She's risen
to the occasion (and to her credit as co-writer) by taking what makes
her so funny in sketch comedy and humanizing it. (Don't worry; she's
still a scream.) A two-hour comedy is a difficult thing to pull off,
but this one never drags. And the end is quite touching. Lump in the
throat footnote: this was Jill Clayburgh's last film. — Jeff Schultz

PRIEST

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the HG, why the Hell was this
movie made? A dreary dystopian drama along the disappointing lines of
The Book of Eli, it suffers most from a star who is not up to his
thespian vows. Has there ever been a lead performance so vacant? Paul
Bettany is going for stoic and stolid, but his pale, internalized turn
sucks more life from this movie than all the genuine vampires
combined. The sets look more like storyboards, and the photography is
so relentlessly dark as to lull you to doze — until the blasting
score jolts you into another Asian-style fight scene (complete with
Crouching Tiger-like preternatural leaps) in which overwhelming
numbers of monsters are vanquished and the hero always gets away. (The
clumsy editing doesn't help: if a creature is shown flying within
inches of its prey, the target should not, in the next shot, be seen
running off with a big lead on his pursuer.) On the plus side,
Christopher Plummer looks just right with his Inquisitorial face, and
Brad Dourif's two short scenes liven things up briefly. Creepy Josh
Wingate isn't on screen enough, either. In the end, though, this
PRIEST doesn't have a prayer. — Jeff Schultz

THOR

The God of Thunder is more like the God of a light drizzle. THOR is visually breathtaking. Too bad the story is not. In the beginning, it tries to give the audience a synopsis of Norse Mythology that is apparently important to the story, but quite confusing if you are not playing close attention. After THOR is banished to Earth, the fish out of water theme takes over for a bit, but never is as fully developed as Chris Hemsworth's physique. He should get props for commanding a role that is so “un-heroic”. Natalie Portman is miscast as a physicist. Kat Dennings is annoying. Tom Hiddleton as Thor's brother Loki (that's a villain's name?) isn't menacing at all. As a result you never get a sense of doom, and that means you are never quite sure what THOR is saving us from. But, this is a superhero origin story, so some of this could be forgiven once we see the Hero be the Hero. But Kenneth Brannagh takes that away from the audience. In every one of these movies, there is that first moment of awe where you see the Hero for the first time. You never really get that in THOR. When he does appear it's in the middle of a special effects maelstrom that hides what you are so desperately trying to see. In Iron Man there were two of these. When he comes out of the cave for the first time, and when he lands in the village and fights off the “Taliban”. No such moment here. In the continuum of these movies that take comics from our youth and try to make them real-life action movies Christopher Nolan's BATMAN stands as the best, and ELEKTRA as the worst. THOR is somewhere closer to ELEKTRA, not worthy of a God or even a mere mortal. — Alan Yudman