Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 2/08/13
Side Effects conspiratorial, Identity Thief steals bad jokes
Side Effects (R)
Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta Jones
Directed By: Stephen Soderbergh
There are several important “issues” at the core of this tale of a wife’s treatment for suicidal depression with an untested prescription drug. The director has carefully crafted the film so the audience will see conspiracies galore, including Big Pharma, avaricious physicians, manipulative patients, publicity hungry attorneys, and mood-creating advertising gurus. Added to this is the complexity wrought by the just released from prison husband, “framed” for an insider stock-trading deal. A bloody murder occurs. The wife is supposed to have committed the crime while taking the untested psychotic drug, and the third act tries to tie up all of the what-ifs in this whodunnit.
3 pieces of creepy sophistication toast
Identity Thief (PG-13)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, John Cho
Directed By: Seth Gordon
The premise is promising—a seemingly wealthy woman named Sandy spends her money freely because she’s stolen the real Sandy’s identity and excellent credit rating. When the real Sandy (a guy of course) realizes his world is quickly disintegrating the authorities just shrug and say “it happens all the time,” so he decides to track the ersatz Sandy down in her Miami spending area. The movie, however, is nothing but a misuse of comedic talent, saddling the stars with caricatures, sight gags, bodily function jokes, and a road trip crammed full of quirky situations and extraneous characters. Skip it.
1 piece of excruciatingly unfunny toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
Starring: Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Geraghty, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, John Goodman
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Whip Whitaker is a commercial airline pilot who uses drugs, booze and sex the evening before his Orlando departure. When the plane literally turns belly up, catastrophe is averted by Whip’s coolness under pressure. Saving the lives of almost all 102 people onboard, Whip confronts his reluctant hero status with rationalizations galore. In a classic addictive personality fashion, he begins to believe that the drugs and vodka are what made him “loose” enough to perform the incredible feat of flying. Not surprisingly, others have a decidedly different take on Whip’s addictions. The entire movie is exceptional, with some of this year’s best acting onscreen, and Zemeckis and his special effects guys making us wonder once again “how did they do that?”
3 and 1/2 pieces of intriguing storylines toast
Alex Cross (PG-13)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Jean Reno, Rachel Nichols
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Tyler Perry told Stephen Colbert that he uses his famous character Medea as “the anaesthetic” to make audiences receptive to more substantial issues, but in Alex Cross, the lackluster plot, performances and dull screenplay are what put audiences to sleep. Playing a character made popular in a dozen James Patterson novels, and two previous R-rated films starring Morgan Freeman, this time, Perry and his filmmakers play it very, very safe. Everything seems low budget, with Cleveland, Ohio acting as the stand-in for Detroit, and the inane poster tag-line reading “don’t ever cross Alex Cross.” Say what?
1 piece of must skip toast
Celeste and Jesse Forever (R)
Starring: Andy Samberg, Rashida Jones, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
Demographics dictate that rom-coms about couple breaking up are “hot” right now, and the Celeste in the title should know—she’s a professional trend-analyzer. Trouble is, she only sees these trends after they’ve peaked, and therefore she doesn’t see the couple’s break up coming. She’s a workaholic, he’s a laid back surfer type (waves not internet) who still has a crush on Celeste after the breakup and therefore decides (in classic rom-com stupidity) to start a relationship with someone he doesn’t really care about to make his ex jealous. Can you guess where this is going, Do you want to tag along and hear lines that are so trite you can simultaneously say them along with the characters. That’s up to you, but I predict the trend to watch this flick will be over very, very soon
2 pieces of gets an R-rating for using words not allowed on the TV shows the stars come from toast
Here Comes the Boom (PG)
Starring: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Bas Rutten, Harry Winkler
Directed By: Frank Coraci
Like a primer about how schools can save music and art programs from the chopping block, the answer provided is to have your overweight biology teacher don spandex and enter the ring to fight for big bucks in mixed-martial-arts competitions. The audience doesn’t just wince at the physical pain the would-be music program savior has to endure, we cringe at all the belabored sight gags dragged in from the old Zookeeper script (which had the same star and director).
2 pieces of what genre is this movie? toast