Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 4/13/12

The Three Stooges (PG)
Starring: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopolous, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson.

Directed by: Peter and Bobby Farelley

You could say that watching the Three Stooges cartoonish mayhem is an acquired taste, but to me, they are about as funny as a poke in the eye with a sharp shtick. In this film, the burlesque-style antics begin on the steps of an orphanage, where the Stooges grow up, acquire those trade-mark haircuts, and choreograph their incessant bullying. You can’t tell that this film took over a decade to make, with musical-chair directors, writers and actors, because all we get is three guys imitating the three (or four or five, depending on how you count them) originals who entertained depression-era audiences with their two-reelers. I guess this is an homage, but bringing in the cast of TV’s Jersey Shore as straight-men falls as flat as an uncharged seltzer bottle.

2 pieces of doesn’t woik toast


The Lockout (PG-13)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Peter Stormare, Maggie Grace
Directed by: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Convicted of a crime he did not commit (where have I heard that line before?), a government agent, is shipped off to a space-station prison. After the required number of fights and beatings, the wise-cracking, bad-ass, has a shot at redemption. His task? To rescue the President’s beautiful daughter  from the kidnappers who took advantage of her improbable sightseeing tour (plot-device anyone?) of this maximum-security Botany Bay.

1 and 1/2  pieces of completely unbelievable toast


Cabin in the Woods (R)
Starring: Kristen Conolly, Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford

Directed by: Drew Goddard

Advertised as “the smartest horror film in years,” it isn’t. The set up is familiar—five stereotypical college kids on a weekend camping trip in a remote cabin are terrified by unexplained phenomenon. In the classics of this genre, the kids lives are on the line and the stakes are high. This time, two mad scientists are watching the kids every move, and controlling the haunted house’s special effects while reciting inane dialogue stolen from better films. The result is like watching a reality TV-show where the producers manipulate the “contests” for the TV viewing audience, but no one cares who “wins.”

1 and 1/2 pieces of  so-what toast


In Darkness (R)
Starring: Robert Wieckiewicz, Krystopf Skonieczny, Michal Zurawski, MAria Shrader, Herber Knaup, Marcin Bosak

Directed by: Agnieszka Holland

This is one of those “based-on-a-true-story” Hollocaust movies where an ordinary citizen goes to extraordinary lengths to protect complete strangers from certain death. The focus of the film, is a Polish sewer-worker and part-time burgler, who uses the underground system as both escape route and hiding place for his loot. The man’s life changes when comes upon Nazi storm troopers killing Jewish women. He realizes that there is money to be made from hiding Jews in his sewers, but as he comes to know a few of them as human beings, he becomes their protector. Bealtifully filmed, with heart-breaking performances, this film was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar last year.

3 and 1/2 pieces of contrasting darkness and light toast


The Raid: Redemption (R)
Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Yayan Ruhian
Directed by: Gareth Evans

The Welsh director has compiled a hundred minutes of  blood spattering punching, slapping, gouging, kicking, breaking, smashing, slashing, crashing, martial-arts mayhem that will raise the testosterone levels of fans of this genre. The story line shows what happens when a heavily armed Indonesian SWAT Team is assigned the task of clearing a drug gang out of a 15-story apartment building. When they battle to the fifth floor, the bullets run out, and they must go hand-to-hand against highly trained, machete-wielding bad guys.  Lots of slo-mo closeups of death and dying. Most of us can skip it
1 and 1/2  pieces of slash and burn toast


October Baby (PG-13)
Starring: Rachel Hendrix, John Schneider, Tracy Miller
Directed by: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin
When a college student collapses onstage, doctors discover that she suffers from a rare condition brought on by a difficult birth after her birth-mother’s failed abortion. The filmmakers label this a “faith-based drama.

Unavailable for preview



Iron Lady (R)

Starring: Meryl Steep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Coleman
Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Meryl Steep has once again won an Oscar for absorbing the persona of someone and bringing it to the screen. This time around, it’s the charismatic British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. This conservative whirlwind never let distractions (including family and friends) get in her way. Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided to have Thatcher be shown dictating her memoirs, and the story is told in flashback. So we see a tired, worn-out and throughly aged dowager at the beginning instead of the super-woman who went to Parliament and rose to become the “Iron Lady” personified.

2 and 1/2 pieces of Streep could have almost done this solo toast


We Bought a Zoo (PG)

Starring: Matt Damon, Thomas Haden Church, Scarlett Johnsson, Patrick Fugit, Elle Fanning

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Recent movies about someone running a zoo (or aquarium, circus or museum) always seem to  include poop jokes and a critters acting like humans. Surprisingly, this film manages to avoid those clichés, and offers us heartfelt, family fare. The protagonist is a recently widowed newspaper columnist who decides all of the squabbles he has with his kids will be settled if they buy a zoo. So he does. Coming along with the animals, huge food bills and lots of biologicals, is a group of hippie-style workers including a beautiful female zookeeper. The resulting movie is fine. But with Cameron Crowe in the director’s chair, it’s surprisingly ordinary.

2 and 1/2 pieces of animals act like animals instead of humans toast