In case you missed the movie trailers, giant accident-inducing billboards, or other ridiculous mass advertising (every new film even has its own facebook ‘like’ page) and can’t decide which flick you will feel the least upset about spending your hard-earned fifteen bucks to see…check out these brief synopsis and my even briefer personal star ratings! For what it’s worth…in theaters now:
COWBOYS & ALIENS- 2 Stars
1875. New Mexico Territory. A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano. PG-13, 1hr 58 min. Directed by Jon Favreau
Bottom Line: Favreau seems determined to inject the same joy and self-awareness he brought to his Iron Man films, but his lead here seems less willing (or able) to play along. All of the best moments (many involving Harrison Ford or Sam Rockwell) play as beside the point UNTIL in the final third; after an onslaught of silly, belated exposition; we realize that there wasn’t ever much point to begin with.
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE- 4 Stars
At fortysomething, straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream-good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his “perfect” life quickly unravels. Worse, in today’s single world, Cal, who hasn’t dated in decades, stands out as the epitome of un-smooth. Now spending his free evenings sulking alone at a local bar, the hapless Cal is taken on as wingman and prot? to handsome, thirtysomething player Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling).
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei. PG-13, 1hr 57 min. Directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Bottom Line: Probably the biggest surprise of the summer (It’s either this being great or Thor not sucking). This is a romantic comedy that did not make me throw up in my mouth at all. Yes, sometimes it stops playing like a movie and becomes a little sitcom-ish, but when it does it is top notch sitcom-ish, the best kind of contrived, with surprises and old school screwball scenes that’ll make any audience rightfully roar. The directors Ficarra & Renqua have pulled off two amazing tonal balancing acts in a row. First, they brought heart (even romance) to an over the top pitch black comedy (the underseen: I Love You Phillip Morris). Now they’ve somehow made a movie that is both edgy and profoundly sweet.
HORRIBLE BOSSES- 3 Stars
For Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) into dust. Quitting is not an option, so, with the benefit of a few-too-many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con (Jamie Foxx), the three friends devise a convoluted and seemingly foolproof plan to rid themselves of their respective employers… permanently. There’s only one problem: even the best laid plans are only as foolproof as the brains behind them.
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Day. R, 1hr 37 min. Directed by Seth Gordon
Bottom Line: Jason Bateman continues to do dark and dry better than any comedic actor out there. It’s his chemistry with the other two knuckleheads that makes this movie work. Yes, the plot lines are a tad rudimentary, but I would never deny a movie with a Snow Falling on Cedars reference a positive review. That would just be against company policy.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES- 3.5 Stars
A single act of both compassion and arrogance leads to a war unlike any other — and to the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The Oscar-winning visual effects team that brought to life the worlds of Avatar and Lord of the Rings is breaking new ground, creating a CGI ape that delivers a dramatic performance of unprecedented emotion and intelligence, and epic battles on which rest the upended destinies of man and primate.
Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox. PG-13, 2hr. Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Bottom Line: One of the better straight forward effects movies I’ve seen in a while. Absent of many surprises sure but also free of groans and embarrassingly blatant green screen moments. This is a big popcorn movie made with near Spielberg-ian efficiency.