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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.

nanny diaries

The Nanny Diaries stars Scarlett Johansson, a (literal) passerby in a park, who is drafted into professional kid watching service by rich, self-absorbed New Yorkers (Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti). Godawful.


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...

no country for old men

No Country for Old Men is notable more for the Coen Brothers production credit -- these guys rarely disappoint -- as well as Tommy Lee Jones in a lead role. He's not the poor shlub who finds $2.4 millions in Mexican drug money and must run from that mob. No, Tommy just cleans up the mess. The chase and the killings yield a great sit until you realize that the Coens have no ending for the thing. The film then falls apart fast.

Perfect Stranger

Perfect Strangerstars 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 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???

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.

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.


Slipstream, in the art houses, is the debut production by an writer/ director/ actor named Anthony Hopkins. It is a must see, if only to perfectly illustrate the kind of absolute film school think crap we've been railing about for the last 12 years. If you wanna see a perfect example  of a terrible sit, here  you go.

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.

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.


steal a pencil

While we don't usually review foreign language films -- y'all never read them -- we did plant for an (at least on paper) seemingly unbelievable love story of a man and  his wife and his girlfriend, all of whom were imprisoned in the same Nazi concentration camps in World War II. Perhaps we couldn't conceive the gall of someone making such a story up . . . Except that the story of Steal a Pencil is absolutely true -- Find this film. Bug your local arthouse or cineplex to book it and then be very surprised to watch one of the best love stories to hit the big screen in a very, very long time.


High school friends need one last blast at "getting some" before they're separated for college. Thus is the reason for Superbad. Every sixth word starts with an "f". Every third sentence is a joke. Once you allow the film to regress you to age thirteen or so, it's a pretty funny sit. Seriously, idiot funny. The green reco font is not a mistake, now that you're warned about language

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.

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.


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)


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.


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.

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.

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The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and this website is Copyright © 1995-2015 Chuck Schwartz. All Rights Reserved. Articles and interviews by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of and ©, ®, ™ their respective studios. Used by permission. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award™(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. All Rights Reserved.