Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 6/29/12

Ted (R)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale, Giovinni Ribisi. and the voice of Seth MacFarlane

Directed by: Seth MacFarlane

The talented Seth MacFarlane wrote, directed and has the title role in a film about an obscene talking (and acting) teddy bear. Since MacFarlane does the same thing for the animated TV series The Family Guy, the voice and humor (scatological, non-PC jokes about bodily functions, ethnic backgrounds, and familial relationships) are quite similar. The story is that a lonely boy wished upon a star 20 years ago, his favorite toy came alive and a stint on Johnny Carson’s late night show made the duo stars. Still living on the residual fame, the guy is older but hardly grown up, and the bear has become a slightly ratty, boozing, toking, womanizer. Add to this mix a long-suffering girl friend who tells the guy it is time to “grow up,” and “put away childish things,” and you have a film with a thousand one-liners and a pretty big heart.

3  pieces of a grown up teddy bear toast 


Magic Mike (R)
Starring: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

After Channing Tatum told Steven Soderbergh a couple of stories about working as a 19-year-old-male-stripper, a script was created that fit Tatum’s chiseled abs to a “T.” Designed for the female demographic which enjoys spending a couple of hours admiring men’s physiques, the film also titillates by providing an insider’s view to a seedy sexy world where the largest tips come from the neediest women, and a guy’s younger replacement is already queued-up.

3 pieces of male stripping ain’t all glitz and glamour toast


People Like Us (PG-13)
Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

A self-centered corner-cutter who was left out of his father’s will, suddenly gets handed a chunk of change and is directed to “take care of her.” The “her” is his half-sister, a secret that the father took to his grave. Keeping the truth from his newly discovered sibling, the two meet at her AA session, and he soon learns a lot about her life (and troubled son). Since this is a rom-com, a kind of love develops, with her being more flirtatious and him hiding the secret too long. But wait. It all pays off in the third act.

3 pieces of brother’s sister toast


Your Sister’s Sister (R)
Starring: Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt

Directed by: Lynn Shelton

Onstage, this would be one of those one-set, three actor pieces of dramatic farce. The story line is that an alcoholic woman mourning for her dead boyfriend decides to dry out in the family cabin. The boyfriend’s drunk brother appears on her doorstep, and the two “bond” in bed. The guy hides when the sister appears in the early morning, and thus begins a farce filled with the requisite number of choreographed exits and entrances, misheard snippets of conversations, and mistaken assumptions. Slight, corny, and very well done.

3 pieces of was that my sister I saw you with? toast


Bel Ami (R)
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristina Ricci, Kristen Scott Thomas, Colm Meaney

Directed by: Declan Donnellan, Nick Omerod

I’ll say it up front—Robert Pattinson is completely miscast as a nineteenth century Parisian social-climber who beds women who can provide him money, power and influence. In addition, there are too many over-stuffed bodices, scraps of inane dialog, swelling music and Pattinson’s patented “I am thinking” look. The film is a silly waste of time.

1 and 1/2 pieces of a complete waste of time toast




The Artist (PG-13)

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle

Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius

Young people often tell me they don’t like watching silent movies because they don’t have sound and color and the acting seems staged and artificial. All of the above is true with the Oscar-winning, “The Artist” yet it beguiles and entertains because of its archaic style. It is the tale of a 1920’s silent-film star caught in the rapidly evolving technology of a world obsessed with celebrities and technological innovations. His star quickly fades, and soon, his faithful chauffeur and dog are his only friends. All of this happens in scenes stolen from classic films like “Casablanca,” “The Thin Man,” “Seventh Heaven,” “Steamboat Bill Jr.,” and even “Citizen Kane.” The result is decidedly tongue-in-cheek below that pencil-thin-mustache.

3 and 1/2 pieces of mostly silent toast

Mirror, Mirror (PG-13)
Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Arnie Hammer, Nathan Lane

Directed by: Tarsem Singh

In 2006, Tarsem Singh wrote and directed “The Fall” an ambitious film shot on five continents which celebrated movie making, story telling, exotic locals and fairy-tales. Despite some truly brilliant sequences, the film didn’t work as a whole. This time, Singh has created a movie lacking any brilliance at all. It’s as if the suits decided that they should do a clever retelling of Snow White from the Queen’s point of  view, primarily to cast Julia Roberts in her first role as a villain. Problem is, Lana Parilla plays the Queen to perfection every Sunday night on TV’s “Once Upon a Time,” with Ginnifer Goodwin playing Snow White in both the Olde Fairie Tale and the present-day. I blame  the Mirror, Mirror script, the concept, the suits…in fact, I blame everyone involved for this mess.

1 piece of what a darn shame toast

Wrath of the Titans (PG-13)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy

Directed by: Jonathan Liebsman
Remade primarily to gather the extra shekels from “renting” you those 3-D glasses, this film made me wonder if the stars who dot the boulder and volcano-strew landscape made this movie because they like to play poker together off camera. Or maybe it was the big paychecks? There’s way more acting talent than necessary for this pseudo Greek mythology involving an angry Zeus, some angrier sons, and a muscular, but clueless grandson. It all goes in an obvious direction towards an obvious final battle of the gods. (By the way, the gods in this film are technically the Olympians, who overthrew the older generation of Titans in an historic Greek paradigm shift called the Titanomachy).

2 pieces of seen it all before toast 


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