DRIVE ANGRY

Another movie in the Nic Cage cash grab series…this one isn't actually too bad. A trashy action flick that doesn't take itself too seriously and clearly understands it's not gunning for any oscars this fall. Pretty much a Grindhouse movie about a guy who escapes from hell to kill the cult leader that killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. Yup. I can't make this stuff up. This DRIVE is a lot more fun than it should be an worth taking…but you will probably hate yourself in the morning.

Stormy Curry

THE HELP

Seldom have so many tears been shed in the service of such an
emotionally inert ersatz entertainment. If this movie had a theme
song, it'd be “One Note Samba” for its two-dimensional cardboard
characters tilling the same patch of thin soil over and over for
almost two-and-a-half hours like the longest high school civics lesson
you ever sat through. Villains without nuance, saintly blacks with
hardly a human flaw, and a heroine who functions as a plot device:
like CRASH, this is a Hollywood “issues” movie (bound, no doubt, for a
Best Picture nomination) that talks over its characters to the
audience, allowing us to feel superior without doing any of the work
toward genuine understanding. From this ham-handed approach, we
“learn”, for example, that (all) whites were not just racist, but bad
parents, bad spouses and bad friends. Bryce Dallas Howard chews on her
part impressively, but the resulting waspishness and that of her
circle makes STEEL MAGNOLIAS look subtle. Long-suffering Viola Davis
does the Noble Black Woman schtick admirably, but it becomes a drag
long before the ending. Or I should say endings: this thing wraps up
so many times, it's as though it contains its own sequels. Not to
mention the easy resolutions: Having trouble persuading black folk to
speak frankly? Just ask a second time. Got cancer? Remission is just a
few screenplay pages away. Some ten years ago, Tony Kushner wrote a
musical drama about largely the same subject matter, called “Caroline,
or Change”. It showed what can be done to make this rich vein of
material fresh and insightful. That approach might have given this
movie the Help it needed. — Jeff Schultz

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK

Similar in tone to co-writer Guillermo Del Toro's PAN'S LABYRINTH —
but without the historical setting or fascism critique — this is a
movie that wants to be scary, yet lets its good taste get in the way.
It's as if DRAG ME TO HELL were remade as an art film, all brooding
architecture and muted conversation. Yes, there are monsters and
screams and ominous whispers in the dark. But this house-of-demons
tale (with its inevitable here-we-go-again coda) is stale stuff. Guy
Pearce and Katie Holmes barely register as the parents. The kid,
Bailee Madison, does ok — she's like an eleven-year-old Christina
Ricci. But it isn't clear whether her ordeal comes simply from being
unwillingly plopped down into a long-haunted mansion — or if the
savagery is somehow brought forth by the little girl's emotional
imbalance as a child of divorce. Turgid and forgettable. — Jeff Schultz

THE CHANGE UP

With funny actors like Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, The Change Up should have been a home run. Instead it's only a double. Most of the laughs come in the first half when stressed out married father of three Bateman switches bodies with slacker soft core porn starring Reynolds. It starts going downhill as both men become douches with their newfound lives…to the point it stops being funny and gets a little creepy. Married Bateman plans to hook up with office hottie BUT IT'S OK BECAUSE IT ISN'T HIS BODY! Reynolds plans on banging friends wife but doesn't ONLY BECAUSE SHE HAD THAI FOOD AND IS ON THE CRAPPER! Laughing yet? That being said, there ARE some solid laughs thanks to the two leads, in a movie that should have been a whole lot better. A decent rental or bargain movie.

Stormy Curry

THE HELP

I need some HELP. After hearing raves and buzz about this movie, I really wanted to love it. Unfortunately I seem to only like it and I'm not sure why I didn't love it. It seems to have all the ingredients of a great movie. The oppressed overcome incredible odds to tell their stories and rise above their station to show heroism and dignity their “superiors” don't possess. The acting is somewhere above first rate. Viola Davis is the early frontrunner for Best Actress. She undergoes a DeNiro-like transformation in her portrayal of Aibileen, the maid whose story gets the ball rolling for Emma Stone's Skeeter. Bryce Dallas Howard should get a supporting actress nod for showing that evil can come wrapped in a pretty ribbons and bows. Kudos also to Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney and Octavia Spencer. The script is first rate and the direction is understated and appropriate in tone. Having heaped on all that praise, it's hard to explain why I though this was good, not great. Maybe it was the unspoken message that these Black maids needed a white woman to throw off their symbolic chains. I'm still not sure, but I didn't leave the theater thinking, “Wow, that was awesome!”. THE HELP is solid and occasionally great, but not the best movie I've seen all year. — Alan Yudman

CRAZY STUPID LOVE

Well, one of those words is correct. A five star cast is completely wasted in a dollar store movie with a garage sale script. The first half hour hums as Steve Carell learns his wife wants a divorce and winds up getting dating lessons from Ryan Gosling. So far so good. Then the wheels fall off as Crazy spins too many subplots with minor characters, begins to take itself too seriously, and leaves no cliche unturned. At one hour and forty minutes, this thing feels twice as long. By the time it wraps up in a very sub-sitcom way, we are left wonder: did these fine actors LOVE their paychecks? Were they CRAZY when they agreed to do it? Or just STUPID? Life is too short for movies as bad as this.

Stormy Curry

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Iconic, fantastic and fun. Just three words to describe RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. I've read reviews and posts calling this a remake. Don't believe it! RISE is new and fresh. And it RISES above the lame Mark Wahlberg version of the original Charlton Heston original. This is an “origin story.” We know the apes took over, but how did they do it? All is explained here. The first half of the movie is a touching drama as James Franco desperately tries to save his Alzheimer-stricken father. Science becomes science fiction and Caesar is born and becomes “Ape 1”. Franco has never been better. I'm not a fan, but he's found his niche here. But the real star here is Andy Serkis and CGI. Serkis is the actor who puts on the blue motion capture suit in so many movies and brings humanity to non-humans. He is wonderful here. CGI comes in by giving personality to the apes in a completely natural way. Once the apes break free, the movie spins in a wild roller coaster ride of revenge. That half of the movie raced along almost too fast for me. It almost seemed like it was from another movie, but with pleasing results (unlike the horrid Hancock which was two distinct movies smashed together). I can't wait for the sequels! — Alan Yudman

CAPTAIN AMERICA

After the bummer that was Thor, I had concerns that Captain would follow suit. Boy was I wrong! Marvel not only gets it right, it also gives us the best movie in the Marvel universe since the first Iron Man. It all starts with the character and you love this guy and his nobility when he's a 90 pound weakling and when he becomes a super soldier. Briskly paced, great action, amazing set pieces, and even some emotional moments make THIS the superhero movie of the summer. Note to other studios: this is how you do it…and do it well. America…f**k yeah!

Stormy Curry

FRIGHT NIGHT

Anton Yelchin plays another kid named Charlie, but with a different
spelling (“-ey”) and less successful results. For one thing, the actor
is now 22 and a little too old to play a high school student; he's
starting to look like a gaunt Russian. Yelchin is a talented young man
but somewhat introspective, and here he lacks the adolescent boy-next-
door innocence that made William Ragsdale so fresh-faced in the
original. This new Charley is less likable — frankly, meaner — and
his fatal neglect of a good friend is never really mitigated. That
good friend, by the way, is our good friend Christopher Mintz-Plasse,
who makes any movie he's in better and who here has a pretty juicy
part. He's still a dork with that almost liquid way of talking, but we
see he's now been around the block a few times. Colin Farrell is
virile, thirsty and horny, but does not erase the memory of Chris
Sarandon's menace. (Farrell lives alone this time — no gay subtext
“roommate”.) And you might call the actor who plays Peter Vincent
“David Tennant as Russell Brand”. There are at least 4 good uses of
3D, including proof that sunlight is bad for vampires. But if you see
it in 2D you'll be fine. — Jeff Schultz

ATTACK THE BLOCK

The droll British humor and cleverly framed social commentary of SHAUN
OF THE DEAD reappears here in the guise of an alien invasion movie.
It's a comedy, not a blockbuster, so we not only forgive the
inexpensive special effects, but actually embrace them as effective
enough to set the scenes and clever enough to overcome the low budget.
Playing in theatres during the London social riots gives ATB a
remarkable timeliness, especially if you think of the aliens as
“invading” anarchist-delinquents intent on destroying everything in
their path, fought back by the disparate members of a downscale London
neighborhood determined to take back their block. The accents are
thick and sometimes incomprehensible, but you always know what's going
on. Notable screen debut: Alex Esmail, as “Pest”, who gets much of the
comic relief. The kid's a natural. — Jeff Schultz