Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 3/16/12
21 JumpStreet (R)
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Brie Larson
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Fans of the 80’s TV show will remember that Johnny Depp was part of a team of youthful-looking cops who go undercover in schools, colleges and other teen hangouts in order to get the bad guys. This time, the story is played for laughs, and the best ones are the those you don’t see coming—some slipping in silently, and others arriving with the sound of crashing cymbals and trumpeting police cruisers. The mis-matched cops were a swaggering (but insecure) bully, and a chubby, (but insecure) nerd with braces in their high schools, but now, undercover, their roles are reversed. Stuffed with cameos from the original show, and blessed with truly comic actors, directors who like sight gags and (gasp) an intelligent script, this one works really, really well.
3 and 1/2 pieces of this street jumps toast
Casa de Mi Padre (R)
Starring: Will Farrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Gensis Rodriguez
Directed by: Matt Piedmont
Farrell builds up a sweat trying to make this 10-minute Tele-novela parody into an hour and a half feature—but it’s not enough, and after the first few chuckles, even the subtitles get in the way. It involves a proud man willing to fight for his ancestral hacienda against his brother’s drug gang. Ridiculous sight gags, like wooden horses, drooping painted landscapes and miscued sound effects are supposed to be funny—but they just seem contrived.
1 and 1/2 pieces of rent Three Amigos instead toast
Jeff Who Lives at Home (R)
Starring: Jason Sigel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon, Rae Dawn Chong
Directed by: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass
The brothers who made this film, have a penchant for brotherly foibles, and in this movie the siblings onscreen are a cocky, Porsche-driving paint salesman and a slacker, pot-smoker who still lives in their mom’s basement. The basement dweller has become obsessed with the notion that everything is connected in some way, and he just has to decipher the “signs” to understand what’s going on. For example, when he learns that the angry guy on the other end of the phone who dialed the wrong number is looking for “Kevin,” the slacker goes on a quest to follow anyone with that name. The actors, script, direction and chemistry in this film are a marvel to behold.
3 and 1/2 pieces of brotherly magic toast
Thin Ice (R)
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Lea Thompson, Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban, David Harbour
Directed by: Jill Sprecher
The comparisons with the Coen Brother’s masterpiece Fargo are obvious—a salesman in the snow-bound North needs cash and hatches a complicated plan that results in unexpected deaths—but, to paraphrase, “I saw Fargo, and this ain’t no Fargo.” The behind the scenes story is even juicier, with the studio chopping half an hour from the film, adding a voiceover to explain what’s missing, and re-editing the story line so much the original writer/director unsuccessfully tried to have her name removed from the credits.
1 and 1/2 pieces of “this ain’t no Fargo” toast
NEW ON DVD
The Descendents (R)
Starring: George Clooney, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
Directed by: Alexander Payne
It’s nice to have a comedy for grown ups (and I mean real grown ups, not college sophomores), that has a melancholic George Clooney grappling with grief and anger and love and duty as the patriarch of an Hawaiian family whose ancestors were whalers and plantation owners but whose children use their I-pads wearing flip-flops, and who just lost their mother in a senseless boating accident.
3 and 1/2 pieces of Oscar-bound toast
My Week With Marilyn (R)
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Remayne, Kenneth Branagh, Dougray Scott
Directed by: Simon Curtis
In the summer of 1956, an Oxford grad’s first job is as a gopher on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl” starring the unlikely paring of Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. The fellow kept a diary, and, 40 years later, he offers it as proof that Marilyn not only kissed him but said she loved him as well. Michelle Williams is Marilyn Monroe personified, and that is worth the price of a ticket all by itself.
3 and 1/2 pieces of an Oscar nod to Michelle Williams toast
Young Adult (R)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Jill Eikenberry
Directed by: Jason Reitman
A prolific writer of YA novels, is fixated on the “high-school boyfriend who got away” and become a happily married father. The single-minded writer returns to her home town to steal the guy from his musician wife, and she allies herself with the nerd who was bullied all through school. The film works because Theron plays the caustic, amoral, former prom queen straight, and if you expect her to learn something about what’s really important in life, you’ll discover why this film, with the same director and writer who made “Juno” work so well, is headed for an Oscar nod.
3 and 1/2 pieces of Charlize Theron toast
The Adventures of Tintin (PG)
Starring the voices of: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Spielberg’s first animated film has allowed him to be comical, witty and wise. Using the classic Belgian comic books created by Herge’ in 1929, Tintin is a plucky young reporter who travels to distant lands with his faithful dog Snowy, and the constantly swearing, inebriated seaman, Captain Haddock. They are on a quest to uncover the secret of “the Unicorn,” a sailing ship model coveted by the villainous Sakharine. Along the way they must survive murderous thugs, plane crashes, sinking ships, impregnable tanks, endless deserts, and bursting dams. The result, in motion-capture performances, is Spielberg enjoying making movies again.
3 and 1/2 pieces of Tintin triumphant toast