Date Night

Date Night
Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are a self-proclaimed boring couple from New Jersey. Work and parenting dominate every moment of their lives, leaving them in a comfortable but passionless rut. Not wanting to end up like their divorced friends, Phil and Claire opt to do something really special this time for their regular date night away from the kids: dinner at a posh Manhattan restaurant. But when it looks like they won't land a table, Phil fatefully steals the reservation of a no-show couple named the Tripplehorns so that he can treat his wife to a nice evening.

Everything's going great until two thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson) show up at their table and escort them outside. It turns out the Tripplehorns have crossed the city's crime lord and are in possession of a flash drive that he wants back. This leads to one long crazy night where Phil and Claire must outrun some of the city's most powerful and notorious figures, but they also just might put a little spark back into their relationship along the way.

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Leap Year

Leap Year
Apartment stager Anna Brady (Amy Adams) is so frustrated that her longtime cardiologist boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) still hasn't popped the question that she falls for an old Irish legend that claims if a woman proposes to a man during a leap year (on February 29th) then he must accept. Anna secretly follows Jeremy to Ireland where he's attending a conference, but subsequently learns that the luck of the Irish is not all good.

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Give 'em Hell, Malone

Give 'em Hell, Malone
Way back all those many days ago at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, I got a chance to take an early look at Give ‘Em Hell Malone, the noir thriller starring Thomas Jane and Ving Rhames. For all intents and purposes this is a review of the film, though I’m not calling it as such because the film isn’t finished. As we speak probably nothing is happening because Hollywood types generally nap around 3:30pm as I write this, but no doubt during business hours tomorrow people will be talking, wheeling, dealing and trying to weasel more money into or out of the project. What’s missing now is some time in the edit bay, color timing and correction, and a few more music cues. Other than that, the experience is probably pretty close to the final product – unless of course some more money can be put into the film.

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Brothers

Brothers
Susanne Bier's 2005 melodrama, Brothers, was just that, a simple soap opera between a war vet, his wife and his brother, and while Jim Sheridan's update isn't terribly different at its core, its all-American setting quietly places a firmer emphasis on the toll of our current war at home.

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Street Kings

Street Kings
James Ellroy, the self-described “demon dog” of American crime fiction, writes in a baroque, pulp prose style that hurtles along the page like a speed freak in a rocket, an image that I probably lifted from one of his books. In his fiction and nonfiction he rushes forward fast, fast, fast, pausing regularly to do a little scat singing (“a hypodermic full of hyper-hazy, health-hazarding” stuff, from a 1998 short story called “Hush-Hush”), or to blow a hole through the page. He’s a demon dog, all right, with a bite as sharp as his bark.

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Julian Schnabel has made three feature films: “Basquiat,” “Before Night Falls” and now “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” All are biographical, examining the lives of real people, and in each case the protagonist struggles with a condition of literal or metaphorical imprisonment. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mr. Schnabel’s younger colleague in the New York art scene of the 1980s, is trapped by addiction and by his outsider status. Reinaldo Arenas, the gay Cuban poet whose memoir was the basis of “Before Night Falls,” is censored, harassed and locked up by successive dictatorships.

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Bourne Supremacy

Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Supremacy is a serviceable thriller - no more, no less. This may come as a disappointment to those anticipating something on the same level as the surprise hit 2002 movie, The Bourne Identity. Sadly, the cinematic second installment of Robert Ludlum's trilogy falls short of its predecessor in almost every area, except perhaps acting. There's nothing wrong with any of the performances in this movie; it's just that the actors aren't as important as they were two years ago. Action has moved to the fore, shouldering aside plot and character development in order to maintain the frantic pace that director Paul Greengrass believes is necessary to retain his audience's attention.

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
I am unquestionably not a member of the target demographic for Ken Kwapis' (He Said, She Said) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but that didn't prevent me from enjoying it. Although there's plenty of manipulation to be found in this motion picture, that doesn't obscure the inherent humanity of the characters and the sense of emotional honesty that underlies their circumstances. Plus, the film features four strong leading performances from up-and-coming actresses who, at least from the evidence presented here, deserve to become stars. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants contains its share of flaws, but they are not significant enough to mute my enthusiasm for it.

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Lethal Weapon 4

Lethal Weapon 4
Since 1992, when Lethal Weapon 3 became an undisputed box office hit, there has been talk about a follow-up. With the possible exception of the still-unconfirmed Die Hard 4, Lethal Weapon 4 has been the subject of more (often inaccurate) rumors than any other action movie. Creatively, there was no reason to re-assemble the cast, but Hollywood productions are driven by money, not artistic impulses. As a result, it was just a matter of time before Lethal Weapon 4 made the transition from rumors to reality. Once the hurdle of signing Mel Gibson was cleared via a huge pay check, the film was rushed into production.

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Direct Contact

Direct Contact
Dolph Lundgren might not be as famous as Stallone or Schwarzenegger, but he’s still got enough credibility and killed enough people on-screen to be considered one of the great action heroes. Unfortunately, like many of the great action heroes, he’s stuck with DVDs now and hasn’t been seen in cinema for years.

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Snow Buddies

Snow Buddies
I happened to catch a trailer for the straight-to-video Snow Buddies tacked on to the end of another Disney DVD. I had heard of Air Bud, but honestly had no idea that these doggie "Buddy" movies were a whole franchise into themselves. Without the baggage of having sat through the half-dozen other pup movies in the series, I still found myself slack-jawed and smiling at the trailer for this live-action sled-dog puppy adventure, even though the dogs moved their lips and talked like children.

Yes, super-creepy, I'll admit. The only CGI-lipped talking-animal movies that have ever worked in my book are Babe and its sequel Pig in the City. And in Snow Buddies, when they start talking, especially with horrid affected lingos (like the hip-hop spewin' B-Dawg, a new-agey pup named Bud-Dha that says "namaste", etc.) it is THIS close to intolerable.

Then you kinda get used to it.

Then you don't notice it.

It's Disney magic!

Snow Buddies takes a pack of golden retriever puppies from their comfortable home in Fernfield, Washington (yay! Washington State!) and drops them (literally) in Ferntiuktuk, Alaska via an ice cream delivery. There is much fun to be had with the discovery of snow (which doesn't taste like ice cream), the fun of sleeping in a snow cave, and the excitement of meeting a wise old sled dog named Talon (voiced by Kris Kristofferson!).

The human hero in the story is a cute, floppy-haired boy named Adam (Dominic Scott Kay) who desperately wants a sled-dog team, but his father had covered the sled permanently with a tarp since The Accident. Adam prays for five dogs to join his husky pup Shasta so he can have a real team and enter the famous sled-dog race in town. When Shasta (voiced by Dylan Sprouse) brings home the golden retriever pups, his prayers have been answered! But first, Adam has to discreetly train his new team, enter the race in secret, and then ultimately face-off against the evil French-Canadian musher Jean George (John Kapelos—Holy crap! It's Carl the Janitor from The Breakfast Club!) and a handful of international teams (including a Russian with a hammer and sickle logo on his sleeve... um, what year is this?).

Though the parents are as bland as models on a Bounty commercial, and the dog-lips are genuinely creepy, Snow Buddies is actually pretty harmless and cute entertainment for younger kids. It is nowhere near as wretched as Snow Dogs, and doesn't contain any of the emotional trauma of Eight Below (sob!). And heck, even I'll admit I laughed out loud to hear Jean George's evil lead sled-dogs speak in exaggerated French accents (one of them voiced by Lothaire Bluteau of Jesus of Montreal!). With the support of surprisingly recognizable actors doing the critter voices, from Jim Belushi to Whoopi Goldberg to Molly Shannon, Snow Buddies is actually more enjoyable, in a completely benign way, than I ever expected.

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The Thief Lord

The Thief Lord
When Prosper and Boniface's parents die, their aunt Esther attempts to adopt the younger brother, an adorable five-year-old who eventual turns six as the movie progresses, named Bo (Jasper Harris). She plans to send twelve-year-old Prosper (Aaron Johnson) away to boarding school. However, before they can separate the two boys Prosper takes Bo to Venice, the magical city about which their mother often told stories.

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The Last Godfather

The Last Godfather
Young-goo (Hyung-rae Sim) the son of mafia boss Don Carini (Harvey Keitel), is too foolish to be part of the mafia elite. One day, Young-goo comes to his father and is trained by Tony V (Michael Rispoli) to be his fathers successor. A few days later, Young-goo accidentally rescues Nancy (Jocelin Donahue), the only daughter of Don Bonfante, the boss of a rival mafia family. But Vinnie (Jason Mewes), an under-boss of the Bonfante family kidnapped her and fabricates that Young-goo has taken her. Vinnies behavior provokes an armed conflict between the two families.

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Juice
4 Harlem teens, Q, Bishop, Raheem and Steel, are out skipping school one day when they find out an old friend was killed in a shootout at a bar. After this, Bishop tells his friends that they have no respect, or juice. To get some, they rob a corner grocery store, but the lunatic Bishop intentionally shoots the clerk for no apparent reason. They run into an alley where Raheem tells Bishop to give him the gun, they fight, and Raheem gets shot. Only the other 3 know what happened, and Bishop wants to get rid of them too.

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Lock Up

Lock Up
Frank Leone is nearing the end of his prison term for a relatively minor crime. Just before he is paroled, however, Warden Drumgoole takes charge. Drumgoole was assigned to a hell-hole prison after his administration was publicly humiliated by Leone, and has now arrived on the scene to ensure that Leone never sees the light of day.

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Night of the Demons 3

Night of the Demons 3
A group of young criminals accidentally shoot a police officer. To avoid being arrested they hide out in an abandoned house. When they realize that the house is haunted, they start to wish that they had turned themselves in when they had a chance.

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