REVIEW: Date Night

Date Night
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Written by: Josh Klausner
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, and Tariji P. Henson

Modern comedy is often found in the silence, not the punchline.  It’s usually the uttering of a few colorful adjectives followed by an awkward stammer or glare.  When done right, on TV shows like The Office and 30 Rock, it is hilarious.  Date Night plucks its two stars from those two modern TV milestones to try and inject a little bit of comedic energy into a script much in need of it.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a self-proclaimed boring suburban couple.  They are comatose, floating around like a slapstick version of the Burnham family from American Beauty.  Then, thanks to some blatant plot doctoring, they are forced on a life-or-death journey into a New York that is oozing with corruption and filled with vermin played by famous actors.

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REVIEW: A Solitary Man

A Solitary Man
Directed by: Brian Koppelman & David Levien
Written by: Brian Koppelman
Starring: Michael Douglas, Jenna Fischer, Susan Sarandon, and Danny DeVito

You see him in the rear-view mirror, but he’s not looking back.  His eyes look stubbornly ahead at an open highway as his life is under construction.

Those eyes and that face belong to Michael Douglas, who in A Solitary Man plays Ben Kalmen, a disgraced degenerate of a character not unlike those that many other aging actors have done in the past few years.  A once-wealthy Baby Boomer taken from his pedastal of pleasure and placed in a rapidly swirling drain is a popular story when Oscar season rolls around.  Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke did it to their own ends, and now Douglas does it to his own.

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REVIEW: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Written by: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Annette Bening, Juliane Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska

You usually watch a movie about the inner workings of the suburban American family expecting to see it deconstructed, but sitting through Lisa Cholodenko’s bracing, hilarious The Kids Are All Right you watch something strange: it being rebuilt.  Following an economic crisis and subsequent rethinking of what it means to be American, Kids comes at the perfect time.  It rethinks the nuclear family on the silver screen by doing the most daring thing: not mentioning it.

Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Juliane Moore), the two moms at the center of the film, were each impregnated by the same sperm donor.  Now that their daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) has turned 18, her brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) pressures her to contact the donor (Mark Ruffalo).  They do, it’s awkward, and it almost tears the happy family apart.

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REVIEW: Salt

Salt
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Written by: Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofer, and Daniel Olbrychski

In the age of the 3D cash-in, Hollywood has been lax on its movie stars.  Unless you call Sam Worthington, “star” of Avatar and Clash of the Titans, one, you don’t actually find many legitimate celebrities inhabiting these movies for more than a cameo.  You can say what you want about explosions and gun shots flying at you in 3D, but if you don’t have star power behind it, your movie will just be replaced by the next quick sell.

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Summer Box Office Predictions

1. Inception

Release date: July 16th

Plot summary: Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is an agent who has the technology to enter the minds of business tycoons to retrieve their strategies and sell them to the highest bidder. But the mind is no safe place for Dom and his team who find themselves in a place where things can rearrange and people can have powers outside of reality. When a heist goes wrong, one CEO seeks to steal the technology from the thieves attacking him.

Why it will rule: Just a few short summers ago, Christopher Nolan delivered audiences The Dark Knight, a domestic and overseas smash that made $1 billion worldwide and nabbed the attention of critics and mainstream audiences alike. Nolan’s talent lies in making brilliant narratives into dark, compelling films that are popularized by their own quality. Add in Leonardo DiCaprio and his latest success with Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Warner Bros. incredible marketing team for dark blockbusters, it looks to be a hit. All that and the trailer proves that this is going to be Memento mind-bending with The Dark Knight effects squad and July release.

Why it will fail: With the exception of the Batman franchise, Nolan has yet to have a real big blockbuster. Without the branding, and without knowing what it is really about, audiences might turn down this smarter box office fair for more Transformers style blow em’ up blockbusters as entertainment. Also, this movie is missing the Heath Ledger effect.

Estimated box office: $100 million OW / $410 million Domestic

2. Toy Story 3

Release date: June 18th Continue reading