The Other Guys

The Other Guys
Ever the old fall-back of comedy writers looking to push their budgets a little higher, the mismatched buddy-cop routine has had a steady stream of releases over the last 40 years. Most recently, Kevin Smith's 'Cop Out' proved to be exactly that, reminding audiences that wit, words and set-up still rule in the land of a thousand one-liners. Given that truth, director Adam McKay ('Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy', 'Step Brothers') has assembled a scenario ripe for laughs – and some thinly-veiled social commentary for good measure.

Essentially an underdog story – always a formula for riling up arm-pumping audiences, McKay's 'The Other Guys' traces the titular other guys in New York's Finest – the men behind the scenes, filing paperwork for the action-hero detectives who steal the headlines and drive muscle cars. Rather than turning the clichés and conventions inside out, 'The Other Guys' steps back and presents a fairly straight-forward anti-action movie. It builds on classic action sequences we've all seen before – cars ploughing through buses, high speed chases and so on – but does so from the perspective of two characters least likely to be involved.

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The Town

The Town
Somewhat less generic than its title, “The Town,” directed by Ben Affleck from a script he wrote with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard, is a solid, minor entry in the annals of Boston crime drama. Not as florid as “The Departed” or as sadly soulful as “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” — or even as sticky and gamy as “Gone Baby Gone,” Mr. Affleck’s previous film — it is essential viewing for connoisseurs of dropped r’s, close-cropped hair and aerial views of the city that used to call itself the hub of the universe.

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American Teen

American Teen
American Teen, which has captured audience awards and drawn standing ovations at film festivals from coast-to-coast, is the latest example of a growing genre called "DINO" (Documentaries In Name Only). Combining candid footage with staged events, DINO directors assemble everything in the editing room, freely scrambling the chronology and cutting as they see fit. The goal is less to provide a slice of reality than it is to approximate a fictionalized version of that reality. DINOs are the motion picture equivalent of reality television, and American Teen is among the most accomplished to come along yet. In fact, it's so adeptly assembled that it has been picked up by a major distributor (Paramount) with an eye toward opening it in more than just art houses. The target audience isn't the usual "stodgy" crowd but the MTV post-music video generation. This is The Real World on a more ambitious scale.

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Breach

Breach
No matter how compelling and intriguing a real-life story may be, it doesn't necessarily translate into an equally compelling and intriguing motion picture. Breach is a case in point. Based on the widely publicized case of turncoat FBI agent Robert Hanssen, which dominated headlines in late February 2001, the movie succeeds at being a thriller with few thrills. With an end that is predetermined (and revealed to anyone who might be in the dark in the opening scene, a news clip of John Ashcroft announcing Hanssen's arrest), there's little room for suspense. Billy Ray's chronicling of Hanssen's capture has its high points, but it's a little on the dry side. Thank god for Chris Cooper.

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Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated
I want to give actor-turned-director Liev Schreiber credit for making his behind-the-camera debut a film that means something to him. One can easily see how Everything Is Illuminated could be a deeply personal effort. Unfortunately, the meaning a project has for a director is not always conveyed to an audience. This is one such case. This movie is sloppy and disjointed - an unsatisfying melodrama built upon a shaky foundation of contrivances, coincidences, and plot holes. Although there's an aura of sincerity that keeps the picture from teetering into the "bad" category (it stays rooted in mediocrity), it fails more often than it works, and sitting through the 110-minute running length can be a tedious experience.

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Importance of Being Earnest

Importance of Being Earnest
The chief pleasure to be found in any version of Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest, is the dialogue, and Oliver Parker's re-interpretation is no different. All of the great lines are here: "The very essence of romance is uncertainty", "To lose one parent...may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness", "Thirty-five is an attractive age. London is full of women of the highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years", "All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his", "Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately, in England at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever." The downside to Wilde's delight in toying with language is that he doesn't pay much attention to details like characterization or plot development. To the degree that these are present, they are afterthoughts, included simply to provide structure.

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Die Hard with a Vengeance

Die Hard with a Vengeance
Perhaps the best way to describe the third segment in the popular Die Hard series is by comparing it to the previous two. That should give an adequate assessment of how far the adventures of John McClane (Bruce Willis) have fallen. The original Die Hard took place in the confined space of a high rise building. The first sequel widened the field to an airport. This one zigs and zags all across New York City. Apparently, the greater the scope, the less engaging the movie. Then there's the character of Holly McClane, played with warmth and appeal by Bonnie Bedelia. She and John had a lot of interaction in the original. In part two, they were separated by the few thousand feet, but she was still there, circling Dulles International Airport in a plane low on fuel. In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Holly is nowhere to be seen. These things, amongst larger issues (like script quality), help explain why the second Die Hard wasn't quite as good as the first, and why this installment doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the 1988 and 1990 episodes.

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Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow
By another name, Broken Arrow is Speed gone nuclear. Yet, despite all the explosions, violence, special effects, and other choreographed excesses, this film doesn't have quite the same impact. It's fun, to be sure, and the wild ride doesn't let up for a moment, but the level of tension isn't quite as high. It probably has something to do with the premise -- after all, the threat of a nuclear holocaust isn't quite as unique an idea as a bus that will blow up if it decelerates below 50 mph.

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Breakdown

Breakdown
Breakdown is the latest in a seemingly endless traffic jam of thrillers that opens strong but finishes abominably. Although the first reel-and-a-half tantalizes with the possibility of a tense, high-octane ride, the film veers off course and runs out of gas all-too-quickly.

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Idiocracy

Idiocracy
Originally titled The United States of Uhh-merica, Judge is sending a strong message about our potential quality of life if we continue this way. Unfortunately, the format Judge has chosen to discuss his views is film. Unfortunately again, he forgot to include a continuously leading plot line.

While the movie Idiocracy is pretty sharp around the edges, the tale that goes with it is dull, doesn’t push the story along, and lacks in continuity. I know you can’t always get what you want but there are so many odd twists and turns and repeats of events in this film that is seems some of the “adventures” that happen to the main character are merely the means in which to get to the other societal jab Judge wants to make. Now, it’s his film, so I don’t fault him for wanting to make the jabs, I just wish the presentation was a little more subtle in transition and useful. The main character, Joe, played by Luke Wilson ends up in jail about three times, Maya Rudolph’s character floats conveniently in and out of the story, and towards the end the most obvious and predictable events do take place.

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All or Nothing

All or Nothing
The film begins with a day nearing end. Rachel, the daughter in the first family, is shown working in a nursing home. Phil, her father, is shown driving people around in his taxi. Penny, Rachel's mother, is shown working as a cashier at Safeway store alongside Maureen, the mother in the second family. When Penny leaves work, she bikes home to find her eighteen-year-old son Rory in a fight with a local boy for taking his football. Rory is a lazy, obese, ill-mannered teenager who stays home all day and doesn't work. Complications with Rory's obesity arise when after an altercation with a gang of youths playing "Piggy in the Middle", he ultimately runs out of breath, begins to hyperventilate and is hospitalised after suffering a heart attack.

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Don't Say a Word

Don't Say a Word
In 1991, a gang of thieves steal a rare $10 million gem, but in the process, two of the gang double cross their leader, Patrick Koster (Sean Bean) and take off with the precious stone.

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Gerry
The characters drive to a remote location to hike at a site marked "Wilderness Trail". As they start, they see some other hikers passing by. After some walking, talking, and an impromptu foot race, they decide to head back. Before long, they realize that they are lost. That night, they build a campfire.

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The Beast

The Beast
The film begins when a couple disappear while having a romantic night out on a yacht near the Pacific Northwest resort community, Grave's Point. The next day, local fisherman Whip Dalton (William Petersen) finds the empty lifeboat from the missing yacht and finds a large claw stuck into the boat. Whip sends the claw to a university to be analyzed and it ends up in the hands of marine biologist Dr. Herbert Talley (Ronald Guttman), who comes to Grave’s Point claiming it is from the tentacle of a Giant squid. The island harbor master Schuyler Graves (Charles Martin Smith) tries to hire Whip to kill the squid, but he refuses, so Graves sends out Lucas Coven (Larry Drake) instead. Coven succeeds in slaying the squid and the carcass is promptly sold by Graves to Sea Land Texas owner Osborne Manning (Denis Arndt).

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Mercy
A young novelist tries to write about love, but realizes he will first need some real-life experience before taking on the subject.

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November Christmas

November Christmas
A young father asks for pumpkins at the local farm stand. In August? No. the farmer replies. The farmer ruminates on the odd request and gets involved with strangers for the first time since his sons death long ago.

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