There certainly are other reasons, but the bottom line is this: we may be entering an era when going out to the movies is akin to taking part in a ritual Ill call toxic cinema. Anyway, here is Uncle Michaels take on nine new offerings:
Happy Endings: A quirky, off-beat ensemble comedy-drama in which myriad straight, gay, confused, greedy, and conniving people search for self-expression (filmmaking, music), adoptive children, adopting parents, and unrequited love. A little too long at 128 minutes, its still a clever, attention-holding, beautifully acted, nicely written and directed (by Don Roos) effort to keep an audience thinking about lifes little mysteries. With Lisa Kudrow, David Sutcliffe, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Bobby Cannavale, Jason Ritter, Jesse Bradford, Steve Coogan, and Laura Dern.
The Aristocrats: A hilarious documentary in which a hundred familiar comics (Whoopi Goldberg, George Carlin, Carrot Top, Robin Williams, The Smothers Brothers, Rip Taylor, Pat Cooper, Mario Cantone, Phyllis Diller, Gilbert Gottfried, et. al.) each tell the exact same classic vaudeville joke that is considered the dirtiest joke ever created. Amazingly, the movie works both as entertainment and as comedy education.
The Island: Cloned humans are ripe for body part plucking in director Michael Bays failed look at a future dystopia. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are two clonees who escape their protective bubble and end up in a movie that goes from interesting science fiction to an utterly absurd and dreadfully familiar movie world of car chases and explosions. Half a good movie the first half.
March Of The Penguins: A beautifully photographed, mostly fascinating documentary that follows a year in the life of penguins in Antarctica as they march, mate, and get eaten by seals.
Apres Vous: A very pleasing French romantic comedy in which a good Samaritan (a head waiter) finds his life more complicated after he rescues a sad sack from suicide and the guy instills himself in the waiters life. The great Daniel Auteuil stars.
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: A relatively faithful adaptation of Roald Dahls delightful tale of a poor young boy who finds riches he didnt expect when he visits Willy Wonkas chocolate factory. Johnny Depp blends Michael Jackson, Carol Channing, and Boy George in a very creepy interpretation of Wonkas persona. The movie has few songs, but great visuals. Theres a distance to the film that never lets it properly play out, but its worth a look nonetheless.
The Wedding Crashers: Too many vomit jokes, too much reliance on gay (as in homosexual) punchlines, and a very bland ending ruin what begins as a giddy buddy comedy about two divorce mediators (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn) who crash weddings to meet women. Wilson and Vaughn make a good comic team, but the steam runs out of the movie because its basically a one-joke idea.
The Fantastic Four: More comic book silliness as four space explorers get zapped by microwaves and find that each have separate, albeit, wild new powers (invisibility, can create fire, built like a mountain, elasticity). Back on Earth they dont know what to do with their powers and the movie goes downhill from there. Virtually no story-line and definitely no surprises.
Dark Water: A single mom rents a haunted apartment in Manhattan and, the price of lodging in NYC being what it is, she doesnt move out when the spreading stain on her ceiling turns out to be a hallmark of somebodys craziness. This one even has the curious kid who makes friends with the mysterious stain upstairs. Pointless and laughable. By Michael Calleri ALT Movie Editor
Kids have it easy. They can review a movie in a phrase. It was awesome is one example. Or it sucks is another. My nephews Anthony and Matthew (12 and 13 respectively) love mixing it up with me about their favorite films.
Since were in mid-summer and Ive got a slew of movies with which to catch up, review-wise, I thought Id give an uncle kind of spin to kidspeak. I should note that the box office this season hasnt been kind to the major Hollywood studios. Ticket sales are flat. Come up with a reason on your own or pick one from the next sentence, but for some reason, movie-going has lessened in appeal.