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walk the line

Walk the Line, the bioflick detailing how Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix will get an Oscar nod for this role. Just watch.) grew into the country music star who would eventually team with, and marry, second or third generation country music star June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) is truly one of the best of the year. If both stars don't get nominations, something is very wrong. The only problem with the film, for Cranky, was that it stops short of "A Boy Named Sue"

ice harvest

The Ice Harvest teams director Harold Ramis with start John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, all names who haven't disappointed in the past, so how could it miss? They miss big time. Everyone who crosses paths with a stolen $2 millions kills or gets killed in a film that redefines the word "dreadful." As in 'so painful to sit through that we didn't want to relive the experience long enough to write a review'. Trust us. Settle for the TV spot. It's much more entertaining than this bomb.

Mrs Henderson Presents

Mrs Henderson Presents stars Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins as the owners of a rundown London theater who discover a money making catch in the local obscenity laws -- nudity is OK as long as nobody moves. Thus comes a standing stock still all nude review and that's about that for an otherwise average picture.

syriana

Syriana stars George Clooney in a film tailor made for us left wing liberals to love. It's got all the points (we) like to make about Big Oil and the Middle East -- though "Syriana" is not the fictional country involved here -- and is only missing one relatively minor thing . . . a story. There's something about "pinning it all" on a CIA agent (Clooney) but the rest of it was quite beyond our feeble brain.

Ah, wait, the answer to what the story is, is in the teevee commercial!! What a stupid place to put it.

bee season

Bee Season with grownups Richard Gere and Juliet Binoche in title roles is more the story of their gifted daughter (Flora Cross), who works her way up the ladder to a finalist berth in the National Spelling Bee competition. It's a perfectly average and OK film, assuming (you) didn't grow up on endless reruns of The Honeymooners. If you did, you'll understand as the end credits roll

Breakfast on Pluto

Breakfast on Pluto stars Cillian Murphy and Liam Neeson via director Neil Jordan. We've been in the entertainment biz for close to three decades, live in a city filled with and have worked with plenty of gay people. This wish-it-were-a-comedic-film, about an abandoned baby boy who grows up to be a queen, is about as gay as it gets. So much so that it had virtually no entertainment value for us.

chicken little

Chicken Little with voices by Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn and Don Knotts is a classic Disney 'toon in that, if you have single digit kidlets to bring to a big screen feature, you'll have as much fun watching them as you would paying attention to what happens on screen. What happens on screen, picking up post CL's "the sky is falling" debacle is thin from an adult POV. Then again, we didn't lug kids and don't function well at ten ayem on a Saturday morning so our lack of enthusiasm is tempered a wee bit. If you've got preteen kids, lug 'em.

derailed

Derailed stars Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston, both business folk on a commuter train who decide to do the nasty. Just for fun. Blackmail ensues, thanks to bad guy LaRoche (Vincent Cassel). Expect a big surprise twist ending. Expect to forget everything about the flick in 24 hours. We did.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

For years we've stressed that you shouldn't have to read the book to get the movie. Even after three earlier films, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire mandates that you do. It's a terrible standalone flick with nothing but bells and whistles on top of this year's Professor of the Dark Arts tries to kill Harry story. Been there. Done that. As much as we loved the last one, this one's a stinker (unless you've read the book first)

jarhead

Jarhead stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx. Like some arthouse films this one, set against the first "blink and you missed it" Gulf War has absolutely no story to speak of. In those cases, like art house films, it is heavy duty character work that makes a film worth watching. Problem here is that every time something actually happens in the screenplay, it happens to characters we don't know and/or care about. Lest we be accused of being unpatriotic, remember that a bad film has nothing to do with real people. Donate your ten bucks to the local USO.

kid & i

Tom Arnold's real life neighbor, Eric Gores, is afflicted with cerebral palsy. Eric wants to make movies, like Tom did in True Lies. So Tom got the movie -- The Kid and I -- made. It's a thoroughly uninteresting flick, with almost enough cameos to make you want to wait for the next surprise appearance. Still. We give props to Arnold for having a great big heart. Wait and rent.

thumbsucker

Those who adore the arthouse will do so for Thumbsucker, which will be a great rental for everyone else a couple of months down the line. This is the last film we saw before our back went bananas and we can't be any more enthusiastic other than making the rental reco. Guiding the normal viewer is, after all, the reason we got into the biz eleven years back.

lord of war

Lord of War puts Nicolas Cage into the unthinkable role of arms dealer to African despots... and Cage pulls it off. Add to the despicable job description a life long career as a liar -- inherited from a father who claimed Jewish heritage to get out of the USSR -- a model quality wife (Bridget Moynahan) and a younger brother (Jared Leto) being broken into the family business and you've got yourself a major surprise. Don't know how writer/ director Andrew Niccol (The Terminal, Truman Show, Gattaca) manages to pull it off every time, but he does. Ian Holm co-stars.

everything is illuminated

Everything is Illuminated sends Elijah Woods to the Ukraine in search of his family's roots. As funny as it is serious -- we're dying to spill its best joke, about a dog (your only hint) but we won't. Those who prefer the arthouse already know its coming. Those who want a better than the usual popcorn flick should seek this out.

zathura

Zathura is this year's output from the creators of Jumanji. Unlike the other flick, this one (under guidance of director Jon Favreau who scored big last year with Elf) spends money on special effects. Take the kids. Be surprised how much fun the film is for adults, too.

thing about my folks

The Thing About My Folks stars Peter Falk and Paul Reiser as father and son on a road trip, post the dumping of the former by the wife/mother (Olympia Dukakis). Alienated for years, the trip binds them and heals wounds yadda yadda yadda.

There are more four letter words here than we've ever heard coming out of Jewish mouths (yes, the characters are...) in fifty years of membership in the Tribe. It is distracting. It is offensive. More important, it is distracting and offensive. Yeah -- so much so we had to write it twice.

transporter 2

Transporter 2 returns Jason Statham to whatever the heck his character is supposed to be, other than a really good driver. The first movie was such an incredible waste of time, save for the talents of the driving stunt coordinators, that we shouldn't have been surprised that it made a zillion bucks. This time, though, there is actually a story (!) attached to the driving stunts, involving a really rich dude, his kidnapped son and a biological weapon. Not necessarily in that order. Buy a really big popcorn and veg out.

underclassman

Underclassman stars Nick Cannon as the undercover cop (sorta kinda) who goes back to high school. Don't ask us what for. The script is such a stinker that the film was streaking towards the top of one of Cranky's lists even before one character gets shot through the shoulder and then is Miraculously Healed In The Next Scene -- even the bullet hole in her blouse is sealed! Lousy script. Sloppy direction. Absolutely the Worst of the Year (though we've been warned that there's something even worse coming next month.)

 

constant gardener

The Constant Gardner stars Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. Based upon the John le Carré novel. A rabble rousing activist is murdered in her African stomping grounds and her meek husband demands answers, despite British politicos who would prefer to look the other way. Those who adore films that would be feted in film school, and that means a lot of critics, will endure this film with a big smile on their faces. Those of us who can't stomach endless, unending, endless, tedious, slow paced, endless films will pray for death. Can't fault the acting, though. The film offered little to keep us interested.