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illegal tender

Illegal Tender is a tolerable but just OK flick about gangsters gunning for a mother and son (Wanda De Jesus and Rick Gonzalez); the former looking to finish previously unfinished business and getting a nasty surprise when the latter fight back.

rocket science

Rocket Science stars Reece Thompson in a genial comedy about a stuttering high school debater that will vanish before any reg'lar folk get to see it. We did see it as the first of a triplet of films, just before torrential rains hit New York and we tripled over in pain. For those who wish to remember the name, this will be a fair rental a couple of weeks down the line.

descent

Descent stars Rosario Dawson in what is perhaps the most unpleasant sit of the year. In it, the star plays a college student whose life goes to hell when screaming "ENOUGH!" isn't enough to stop what becomes date rape. Rape is flat out wrong, folks. Don't get confused about that. What comes next, when her character gets the chance to take revenge? Even hard core film student geeks will turn away. You are warned.

war

Jet Li in War pits Chinese Triads against Japanese Yakuza with an FBI agent (Jason Statham) and hired killer (Li) in between. Not screened until Friday morning because the direction is a mess. Don't worry about missing the first 5 minutes 'cuz there a flashback recap about 3 minutes later. A good plot twist ending is wasted as the film takes no time to get an audience involved with Statham's heroic arc.

A Mighty Heart

A number of years ago a journalist named Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) was kidnapped in Pakistan, held hostage and later murdered. Angelina Jolie stars as Pearl's wife Mariane in a recreation of those events and it's Bombs Away for A Mighty Heart. Jolie is in full WATCH ME ACT mode -- the rest of the film is a lot more interesting. But not enough to spend first run cash. Cineastes only.

aqua teen hunger force

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon The Movie Film (ltd) expands the Comedy Central [adultswim] series into an 87 minute swath of foul language, lousy animation and an impossible to follow story fit only for those who are stoned out of their minds. Yet another piece of junk fit for a grindhouse.

Are We Done Yet?

Are We Done Yet?, the sequel to the very successful Are We There Yet? screened at the same time as Grindhouse, forcing us to opt for the adult fare. If you loved the first film in this sequence, you probably have the kidlets banging on your legs to take 'em to this sequel, which looks remarkably like a Tom Hanks bomb (a remake of a Cary Grant 50s hit) of a lot of years back. But that's just us.

away from her

Away From Her offers a knock-out performance from the (now) rarely seen Julie Christie whose character, after 40+ happily married years to a university professor (Gordon Pinset), loses her mind to Alzheimer's disease. If you've experienced the loss of a loved one to the disease you really don't need to get your emotional guts ripped out all over again.

beyond the gates

Beyond the Gates is the third depiction of Rwandan genocide we've seen in the past year or two. This film has the strongest dramatic story, involving a teacher (Hugh Dancy) and a Catholic priest (John Hurt) who have to decide to flee when the UN says so or stay behind. Honestly? Had we not been through genocidal depiction twice we'd give a strong recommendation -- if you've got a strong stomach. Of the three, this is the best written, clearest explanation of why the slaughter happened,up against a dramatized story.

Black Sheep

Black Sheep stars a herd of very hungry people eating sheep. You'll never think of ordering lamb chops again BUT comedy wise it's a pretty funny flick. Find it. See it.

The Condemned

The Condemned stars WWE wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as one of ten hard core killers (except for the one that isn't) kidnapped and dropped on a Pacific island. One will get off the island with a commutation of sentence. Everyone else will be dead ... and the world gets to watch on a pay per view Internet broadcast! Yep, it's The Running Man for a new decade [those older than us can input the name of the their generation's film here] but not nearly as interesting

day watch

Day Watch is a beautiful to look at Russian language sequel to something called Night Watch. Having something to do with Lords of Good and Evil and who runs the day and night and who sucks blood or whatever, the film fairly begs for dubbing (instead of subtitles). Between the pix and the titles, Cranky had no idea what the heck was going on! If you loved Night Watch you know if you want to see this one.

fantastic four rise silver surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, considering how we hated FF movie #1, this is a rare treat: a sequel that is better than the original. Not our quote, though we agree, with a fellow critic who liked the first one! Not screened until the night before release but then, it didn't have to. Laurence Fishburne stars as the voice of the Surfer.

Firehouse Dog

Firehouse Dog may run a wee bit long (111 minutes) for single digit kidlets but this family film, about the (literal) fall of a toupee wearing, A-list movie star mutt into service at a firehouse was a pretty good sit. Kids'll love the dog. Grownups will find several tongue in cheek gags for (us).

Fracture

Fracture stars Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling in two hours of "I shot my wife. Prove it" garbage. We've endured some painful sits in the last twelve or so years . . . this may be the most painful and unbearable (meaning boring) sit of the bunch.

introducing the dwights

Introducing the Dwights is a great showpiece for actress Brenda Blethyn, as a cafeteria worker who dreams of a career as a stand up comedian. It is a good pick if you prefer the arthouse, and can battle through the competing British and Australian accents.

lonely hearts

Lonely Hearts (ltd) stars John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Salma Hayek and marks two weeks running that grownups can sit and enjoy a very satisfactorily enjoyable movie. A post WWII cop flick involving the theft of war widow's checks and the occasional murder or two. Suffice it to say that we enjoyed this flick quite a bit. Find it and see it.

macbeth

For the elite, you are welcome to a new version of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, set in modern Melbourne, Australia. Would that the dialog was cleaned up (just a little) so that those of us who only know the key quotes can figure out the story, despite the thick Australian accents. For your consideration. We say pass.

meet the robinsons

Meet the Robinsons was seen and not reviewed by us because of medical junk you don't really want to know more about.

If you have kids, take 'em. If you have seen everything else you want to see and don't mind 3-D glasses and want a very pleasant surprise, hie thee to a theater.

That means it's funny and enjoyable and worth the hassle of the 3-D glasses.

nancy drew

Nancy Drew whose books were, to girls of our generation was the equivalent of the Hardy Boys, comes to the big screen but put us to sleep. Either it's because we're male or because of an early Saturday morning screening time - never a problem in the past - but this just didn't work for us.

Next

Next stars Nicolas Cage as a man who can see the future and has to stop a nuclear bomb from taking out a metro city. Only problem? He can only see his future and has no plans to be anywhere near a nuke blast. It's a Phillip K. Dick's story by way of Marvel Comics X-Factor/Multiple Man.

In other words: Next...

Perfect Stranger

Perfect Stranger stars Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, she as an investigative reporter and he as some kind of high powered advertising executive. The screenwriter buries so much detail into the script that it requires a full two minutes of recap at the end of the film just to make sure the lucky audience knows what the heck was going on. Granted, there's a murder to be solved, and we didn't figure out who dunnit BUT this otherwise OK dateflick could have been a lot more fun to watch if someone who saved the $12 normal NYC ticket price had spent that money on a babysitter -- you read that right -- one kidlet squall all through the big reveal wrecked our sit.

The Reaping

The Reaping stars Hilary Swank and is, perhaps, the more modern equivalent of the kind of horrorflick you would have had at a grindhouse, sans body parts flying around the screen. Swank's character exists to prove that "holy" plagues have scientific explanation, in this case the ten plagues of Exodus rip through a feeble screenplay. Only the locust effect is spectacular. You want cheap thrills, choose the Grindhouse instead.

Redline

Redline stars Eddie Griffin in a story that sounds like a mini Cannonball Run, set between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Producer Daniel Sadek used his own cars including a Phantom Rolls Royce, Lamborghini Murcielago, Enzo Ferrari, Ferrari F430, Ferrari Scaglietti and two Mercedes SLR McLarens. Sadek's $450,000 Porsche Carrera GT is actually crashed during one sequence.

But it wasn't screened for us press grunts. Gee, maybe y'all got enough of a car fix from the Grindhouse bomb???

shrek the third

Shrek the Third stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas; returns Rupert Everett, Julie Andrews, John Cleese and Larry King to the saga and adds Eric Idle, John Krasinski, Justin Timberlake, Ian McShane, Amy Sedaris, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Regis Philbin to the continuing story of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and the biological imperatives of baby making and baby raising while dealing with quests and coup d'etat and all sorts of fun stuff. Funny script but lacking all the visual gags that made earlier editions great.

Slow Burn

Slow Burn stars Ray Liotta and wasn't shown to us press grunts until the morning of the day of theatrical release. That's never a good sign.

The complicated story, involving a district attorney or two, a gang banger and some kind of real estate deal ... we couldn't possibly begin to explain -- and we have press notes to explain it (to us!) -- tries to do way too much and, essentially, shoots itself in the foot. Don't bother.

TV Set

The TV Set stars Sigourney Weaver and David Duchovny, both of whom we'd guess writer/director Jake Kasdan may have called uncle or auntie (Jake is son to film A-list name Lawrence Kasdan). That's the only way to explain their presence in this terrible film about television pilot season. We were in the biz and we get all the inside stuff. The thing is just terrible, though Justine Bateman has a bit role and delivers that well. OTT, avoid the big screen and wait for the cheapest rental possible.

Snow Cake

Snow Cake stars Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman in an arthouse tale of an autistic woman and the Brit driver who brings news of the death of her daughter.

We're trying hard not to give details because this is all acting. Short of a major plot twist in the last five minutes -- we didn't make it through, sorry -- the film is strictly for art house philes.

 

and  then came love

And Then Came Love stars Vanessa Williams as a single mom who decides to track down the identity of the sperm donor father of her l'il boy. What is supposed to be a clever romantic comedy is a terrible sit.

Vacancy

Vacancy stars Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple who checks into an empty motel in the middle of the night after their car breaks down. No porn on the telly, just snuff flicks ... shot in the very room they're staying in! A scareflick so badly written we wondered if the creators of this wreck had ever seen a modern era horrorshow (sic). The best we can figure from the press notes, the thing was written by someone for whom English wasn't the primary language. Those who live for finding continuity mistakes can't miss the whopper dropped by Wilson in the first ten minutes of the movie (as to why he got off the highway)

wendell baker story

The Wendell Baker Story, which stars Luke Wilson, Eva Mendes and Owen Wilson (with a surprise cameo by an ex-SNL star. We'll tease) is a middling dateflick about a low rent con turned, uh, hotel entrepreneur. Frankly? If you lug a date and can't get into Shrek or Pirates, go here.

waitress

The very lovely Keri Russell steals Waitress by, honestly, being way too pretty for the title role. Said waitress, finds love while locked in a loveless marriage. For those who prefer the arthouse, the film did gangbusters at the Sundance festival. For everyone else, it's an OK rental.

       
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