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Abduction stars Taylor Lautner, who lets his eyebrow do the talking in a film that will thrill 12 year old girls each time he takes his shirt off. Our audience of grown ups was laughing hysterically at an insistent and far too serious screenplay about a high school senior who finds out, the hard way, that his parents are CIA spies. The film goes off course as soon as a bald bad guy utters the words "There's a bomb in the oven!" In this case, there's a bomb on the big screen.

African Cats

African Cats, in which an African river divides a pride of lions from a gang of cheetahs . . . that's as close as a West Side Story reference as you're going to get, folks . . . will remind those of parenting age of school nature movies. Except that this one is good for teaching kidlets about Death. Do Not bring any three year olds to this film. It's bloody enough to scar 'em for life. on the plus side, the cinematography is gorgeous.

art of getting by

Remember senior year? When colleges have sent acceptance letters and no one cares about school anymore? The Art of Getting By isn't about that kind of senior year. In it Freddie Highmore perfects the art of, well you know to the astonishment of his classmate friends. Of course he has no friends either so that twist opens up all sorts of wonderment in the 18 year old of the title. Strictly for those who prefer arthouse fare3.

Attack the Block

Attack the Block is, if you can get through South London accents a good SF sit about a gang of thugs and one of their victims (!) defending a housing block against an invasion of aliens that kinda look like obese wolf-dog breeds.

battle la

Beastly is a god awful reboot of the old Beauty and the Beast tale. This time out, a self-centered pretty boy (Alex Pettyfer) is cursed by a witch (Mary-Kate Olsen), exiled by his appalled dad (Peter Krause) and redeemed by a girl (Vanessa Hudgens) he never paid attention to at school. Neil Patrick Harris, as a blind tutor, brings some levity to this awful film


Beginners is the unknown film release that should be seen by all those who think we have not the slightest idea what we're doing.

It's a god-awful stinker for close to all of its first half. The back half rights itself but, hey, it's your money. Spend it only if you dare.

Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph and, frankly, is wet your pants (sic) funny. Non stop gags as a group of bridesmaids decide to party like, well, the guys from The Hangover. It's rude and raunchy humor and highly recommended (as long as you have no right wing hang ups).

Burning Palms

Those who think that reviewing films is an easy gig must watch Burning Palms a couple of times back to back. Five non-related stories set in the areas around Los Angeles; of miserable people in miserable situations facing miserable outcomes. This film will deliver a miserable 2 hours in the dark.


Ceremony stars Michael Angarano as a guy intent on disrupting the impending nuptials of former flame Uma Thurman. He gets a long forgotten pal (Reece Thompson) to foot the bill for the rental car and trip - ostensibly to rekindle the friendship. Thurman's role is really minor and the overall film just isn't all that interesting.


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third in the franchise based on kiddie novels by CS Lewis. Do not start with this one if you haven't read the books or seen the earlier films (which probably means you don't have kids).

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian stars a dead on perfect Jason Momoa (fanboys think Barry Windsor-Smith over John Buscema) in an origin story that feels like half a dozen Robert E Howard stories compressed into two hours -- all battles, no monsters and all the background stories of the supporting characters is left on the edit room floor.

And we wouldn't have missed it for the world. Conan wallpapers here

The Family Tree

The Family Tree stars Dermot Mulroney as Jack, a man so work obsessed that wife Bunnie (Hope Davis) finds comfort in the arms of their neighbor, Simon (Chi McBride). Meanwhile their sexually confused daughter (Brittany Robertson) and gun-nut/ Jesus freak son (Max Thierot) get their own sets of storylines as this film gets way too complicated for director Vivi Friedman to handle. Names Keith Carradine, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, Selma Blair, Rachel Leigh Cook and Jane Seymour all deliver good roles and are equally matched by new faces John Patrick Amedori, Madeline Zima and Evan Ross. This should have been a major motion picture but it's not. It is a terrible sit.

Fireflies in the Garden

Fireflies in the Garden disposes of A-list star Julia Roberts early on. Then it becomes a flashback filled story of a son's (Ryan Reynolds) battles with his dad (Willem DaFoe). At least that's what we think. More confusing is the casting of Hayden Pantierre as the younger version of a character later played by Emma Stone, who looks nothing like HP. The film is just one long, big mistake. Leave it be.

garden of eden

Hemingway's The Garden of Eden is based on an unpublished novel  by the legendary writer, discovered  after his death. It details the extended honeymoon of writer David Bourne (Jack Huston) and his beautiful wife, Catherine (Mena Suvari). Wife's gift to her husband is the beauteous Marita (Caterina Murino). Yeah, like that . . . until it isn't.


Glee... the 3D Concert Movie is a recording of last summer's live tour featuring a whole mess of now out of work actors (who got fired because their characters graduated). Not screened for us press geeks..

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is a good old fashioned disappointment. If you're expecting some hot, naked sex scenes, well, it's a joke we won't reveal. The overall film is a totally average sit. It is less funny than it is sexy and it isn't all that sexy so there you have it.

green lantern

Green Lantern has all the effects you want; actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are spitting images of their comic book characters Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris (so are Peter Sarsgaard and Mark Strong as Hector Hammond and Sinestro for that matter) but the film is a really dull sit. It's built to set up a trilogy but this movie has way too much background and not enough action. Wallpapers here

Griff the Invisible

Griff the Invisible stars Ryan Kwanten as an office dweeb who dresses up as a superhero at night and finds love . . . hey, we don't write these things. The lovely Maeve Dermody is a wee bit off the rocker as well. More romance than superhero flick and worth waiting to rent.

happy thankyou more please

HappyThankYouMorePlease "got the big buzz at a film festival." Three stories run in parallel and most are not grounded in anything resembling reality. Those who detest the usual cineplex releases will love being bored silly by this release

harry potter

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Finally, it is over. Death and Destruction and everything else that can be packed in is packed in. On the other hand, Part 1 was so awful that we now have no idea why the most powerful wizard in the world can't do something as simple as cast a spell to rebuild an old school from rubble. It's all proof that Brit education is just as lousy as ours. . . if we could remember Part One we'd know what was going on


Hop stars James Marsden as a guy who once saw the real Easter Bunny. As a grown up, he is paired with the EB's son (Russell Brand). Bunny the second doesn't want the job but there is a nutty little baby chicken who does and . . . that means war! If you have kids to bring, do so. The little ones next to us were bouncing up and down, clapping and giggling and having the bestest time. Cranky enjoyed the film's humor as best we could but, hey, we're Jewish <g> Wallpaper downloads here

How Do You Know

How Do You Know stars Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson. No review. Why? Disabilities and wretched weather do not mix. But the film is courtesy writer/director James L Brooks, perhaps the most brilliant creative mind in the highbrow comic field. Brooks created the Mary Tyler Moore show in 1979 and The Simpsons in 1990. His film successes include Terms of Endearment and As Good As It Gets. We've got high hopes.


Insidious stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Ty Simpkins. It is the kind of scareflick we prefer -- no slice 'n' dice in this story of dead souls on the astral plane trying to cross back to our reality. The suspense builds and builds and builds and be very glad we don't give away the ending. . .  which we hated (but telling you why gives it away and we will never do that). [$6]

in time

In Time stars Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in an OK SF thriller all about trying to stay alive past 25 in a world where your body is programmed to die at 26. Unless it doesn't. Way too difficult to explain, folks. That said the film is a good date flick that will do great once you can watch the DVD again and again to catch the details.

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is a new adaptation of what could have been the very first chick flick, if there had been such things in the middle of the nineteenth century. Cranky's a middle aged, straight guy. We were bored silly. Ladies with control over their men (or guys who want to earn points) go here.


The documentary Jig is a peek inside the World Championships of Irish Step Dancers and get this: all judging is subjective and thus there is no criteria or rules for picking winners. Not every film about Irish dancing is going to wow you like a Lord of the Dance, especially one which spends its first eighty minutes documenting rehearsals for what, ultimately, will be a 35 second performance. Sheesh.

Larry Crowne

Larry Crowne, co-written and directed by star Tom Hanks is adequate for those of us (like Cranky) in middle age . . . what? like a 40 or 50 something without kids in tow is going to see Transformers? Julia Roberts smiles beautifully in the film but adequate is adequate. Larry Crowne is a flat out dull sit.

The Ledge

The Ledge puts a man on the ledge of a building . . . he doesn't want to be there, but if he doesn't jump, a woman he loves will be murdered. The cop trying to talk the guy off the ledge has family problems all his own,, as well. Apparently the film is being pushed as a test of religious belief vs. non-belief . . . we found it to be a decent thriller. Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, and Terrence Howard are the star names you'd recognize


Limelight is a documentary history of NYC's most famous club of the 1980s and its sister club, The Tunnel. Cranky partied in both locations and had a great time in both. That doesn't mean you'll have a great time watching this dull as dishwater history, 'cuz you won't. Pass it by.

Lord of the Dance

Lord of the Dance brings Michael Flatley's worldwide dance phenomenon to the big screen. For those that have seen the show live, memories will be kindled. For the rest of us, PBS has hashed the format into a pulp and leaves this film looking pretty much like everything else we've seen on TV. (except for the talking head that interrupts asking you to support public television, not present here.)

Louder Than A Bomb

For those who would be anywhere but in a theater watching Pirates of the Caribbean -- we mean those who prefer the arthouse scene and you know who you are -- there is a terrific battle of high school poetry teams in Louder Than A Bomb. We wrote the previous sentence with a straight face. Carrying in our biases when we watched this film, we were truly entertained by the real life events documented within. That's what the best docs do and this is one of them. Find it. Be very surprised.

Margin Call

Margin Call dramatizes the last day of the financial firm (allegedly) Lehman Brothers, as they realize that high risk mortgages they've packaged as marketable securities (like stocks) are totally worthless. A-lister Stanley Tucci is the trader who figures out that the end is near, just as the firm downsizes his gig out of existence. We viewers get to see how our retirement portfolios went up in smoke while the traders on screen made millions, The film is far too dry (that means dull) and the facts too infuriating for us to label the film as entertaining though a cast including Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Mary McDonnell, and Demi Moore kept our eyes focussed on the big screen.


Megamind is a big been there done that 'toon, in 2D and 3D. With stars Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt and Tina Fey, the plot is so similar to summer's Despicable Me that the kid next to reviewer Susan Granger recognized it. Susan's review here and a whole messa wallpapers here

The Mighty Macs

The Mighty Macs offers Carla Gugino and Ellen Burstyn as the name stars, the former as the new basketball coach of Catholic women's college Immaculata, the latter as Mother Superior of the financially failing institution. While slanted towards young girls, this also true story is very entertaining. Non Catholic parents may have to explain something about different religious views but none of that got in the way of this viewer's enjoyment (FYI, a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn...)

Morning Glory

A dateflick for us grown ups, Morning Glory stars Harrison Ford as a network evening news anchor demoted to "Daybreak," a morning show that looks a lot like a second rate Today Show. Rachel McAdams is the new exec. producer and views this as her big shot. The hassle of trying to get Ford to go his job provides most of the comic oomph (as does Diane Keaton as the co-anchor. The film is as fun as it is uneven. It'll be a better rental but, as the way-too-serious and somewhat awards-worthy films roll out in the just started Oscar wannabe season, if you're looking for something fluffy and disposable for an evening, this is it.

page one

There was a time a year or three back when The New York Times teetered on the edge of bankruptcy as the Internet erupted as a legitimate, and much faster and accurate, news source. Luckily, Page One documentary cameras were filming day in day out at the Times and the result is a remarkable and riveting documentary that feels nothing like a documentary by the time it's done.


Paul stars Seth Rogen. No, this E.T. doesn't fart -- that's left to all the humans whose path the alien star crosses. The film is a consistent chuckle, meaning take a date and see it with a good sized crowd. It won't be worth the time or money any other way . . . unless you indulge in certain things herbal. Then you'll have an even better time -- no, you don't need it and yes, we gave up weed a long time ago. It is what it is.

People vs. George Lucas

The People vs. George Lucas, a documentary moving from city to city is the best of this genre since Trekkies. Lucas and his creation is praised to the Heavens... until the coming of Jar Jar Binks. If fanboys can't find it in a theater, wait and buy it PPV or on DVD. It's fun.

Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides

We walked into our screening of Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides bearing a feeling of dread. We'll save you the time by noting that the last two episodes bored us silly and got a whopping $0 rating. Imagine our surprise when we walked out of this one with a big smile on our face. Featuring Blackbeard and Mermaids and Zombies. (Oh my). Spanish buccaneers as well. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a sloppy ride of a movie, but we enjoyed the ride this time out. As well as the thumbs up we've got tons of wallpaper downloads starting here plus a special set sized for the oversized laptops that seem to be popping up everywhere we go. (click here)

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood stars Amanda Seyfried with the twist being that the big bad wolf is now a werewolf that Gary Oldman comes in to hunt. Julie Christie is Grandma. Cranky liked it. All the other critics didn't.Wallpapers here


Half a dozen (give or take) spelunkers -- cave explorers -- get trapped far below the earth's surface and have to find a way out in Sanctum, a so-so film which offers up pictures as spectacular as the script is underdeveloped. Add the thickness of Down Under accents and all the film's background is pretty much lost quickly. Were it not for the spectacular images we'd say pass. But those images, coupled with what story survives, makes Sanctum a recommended film if you see it on an IMAX screen. We'd build wallpapers of some of that imagery, but none of it is in the press material so now you've got to go <g>


Tangled is available in both 2D and 3D and, whichever you choose, Disney's remake of the old Rapunzel tale is well worth the time and money. Truth: In it, cat-burglar Flynn Rider (Zachary Levy) climbs up and breaks into the tower occupied by the lovely captive Rapunzel (Mandy Moore). Rapunzel promptly takes Rider hostage. In return for freeing her from captivity, the pair embark on a whole mess of exciting adventures! Add a pair of anthropomorphic animals for that patent-pending Disney  touch and you'll have one darn good time in the theater. Take the li'l ones. Then Download Wallpapers here


The Tempest stars Helen Mirren in Shakespeare's drama of an exiled royal family, a magical storm, and political machinations that make everything better. Twisted to have a female royal pulling the strings may make traditionalists cringe; concentrate on the centuries out of date English and take the ride (better yet, wait to rent so you can go back and forth).

Tron Legacy

Tron Legacy, again stars Jeff Bridges and properly recaps the original story (in which a video game world turned out to be real), brings "real" danger to the our world and adds effects which seriously kick . The new story? Simply that the TronWorld has realized that there is another reality -- ours -- to conquer. Only the Son of the Creator (Garrett Hedlund) can stop the coming invasion. In these weeks filled with Oscar wannabees, this is where you go for the simple popcorn fix (assuming you can afford the costs of cinema popcorn... sheesh!) download wallpapers here

True Grit

True Grit, via Joel & Ethan Coen darn well should win the Best Cinematography Oscar because it's beautifully filmed. The story of a 14 year old girl (Hailee Steinfeld) who hires an alcoholic marshal (Jeff Bridges) to hunt the killer of her dad is, unfortunately, just plain dull. Matt Damon plays a Texas Ranger coincidentally hunting the same murderer.

Your Highness

Your Highness stars Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman. Two knights - one an idiot and the other a stoner - quest to rescue the idiot's bride to be (Zooey Deschanel) from an evil warlock. Both are bested by Portman's character, the sole survivor of a village the warlock destroyed. Occasionally funny but, even as a stoner comedy, "occasionally" isn't enough.

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The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995-2011 Chuck Schwartz. All Rights Reserved. Articles and interviews by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All Rights Reserved. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of and ©, ®, T their respective studios. Used by permission. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy AwardT(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. All Rights Reserved.