Tuesday, June 18 2013, 10:55 AM MDT
Recommended Films for April 26 - May 2
1. Jurassic Park 3D (PG-13)
2. Oblivion (PG-13)
3. The Sapphires (PG-13)
4. 42 (PG-13)
5. Evil Dead (R)
1. The Croods (PG)
2. Oz the Great and Powerful (PG)
3. Life of Pi (PG)
4. Beautiful Creatures (PG-13)
5. Wreck-It Ralph (PG)
1. Upstream Color (NR)
2. No (R)
3. MUD (PG-13)
4. The Sapphires (PG-13)
5. Trance (R)
Pain and Gain
2 out of 5 Stars
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwaybe Johnson, Anthony Mackie
Recommended To: Michael Bay apologists, those anxiously waiting for Bad Boys 3.
Synopsis • A trio of not-so-bright bodybuilders kidnap a wealthy restaurant owner in hopes of stealing a piece of the American dream. Things don’t go as planned.
Review • Pain and Gain is an action comedy based on real crimes including gruesome murders. For the purpose of the film the criminals, a trio of bodybuilders played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwaybe Johnson and Anthony Mackie, are clueless dimwits pumped up on bad motivational speeches and illegal substances. The tone makes it hard to tell if director Michael Bay is making a satire or a straight comedy. In a sense it doesn’t matter because regardless of the film’s intentions it’s far too long to be effective. Bay is known for making long films and Pain and Gain fits right in line with that tradition as it takes 90 minutes of material and extends it into a 130-minute movie. Even the trio of audience members who had laughed their way through the first half of the film fell silent for the second half. The tone doesn’t change. Not even when the violence reaches its zenith. There isn’t a moment when Bay holds up a mirror to the audience and asks, “Should you really be laughing at this?” No, with Pain and Gain when the audience gets restless it isn’t because they’re uncomfortable with what they’ve been laughing at, it’s because they’re bored.
The Big Wedding
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Justin Zackham
Starring: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton
Recommended To: Those looking for a run-of-the-mill wedding movie with a predictable script and more than its share of spray on tans.
Synopsis • Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton), who have been divorced for a decade, pretend to happily married for the benefit of their adopted son to avoid upsetting his religious biological mother.
Review • Like most wedding films focuses on various dysfunctional aspects of all the family members involved. About the only thing that differentiates The Big Wedding from any other wedding film is that it is ‘R’ rated. This allows the dialogue to be a bit more colorful than what you’d have seen in Father of the Bride or My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Not that the film benefits from the additional vulgarity, brief nudity or sexual themes. The cast, which includes Amanda Seyfried, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Katherine Heigl and Ben Barns is predictably charming, but no one works up a sweat as director/writer Justin Zackham’s script only goes skin deep. It’s better than Little Fockers, but that’s not exactly saying a lot.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland
Recommended To: Those looking for an above average drama with strong performances from Matthew McConaughey and a pair of fresh-faced child actors.
Synopsis • A pair of young teens discover a fugitive hiding in an abandoned boat and agree to help him while he waits for the love of his life to come and find him.
Review • Director/writer Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) returns with another interesting character study that relies heavily on the talents of his cast. Matthew McConaughey, who seems to be having something of a renaissance, is well cast as the charming, but dangerous fugitive called Mud. He’s appropriately rough around the edges and just soft enough to be sentimental. As good as McConaughey is the film would fall flat if it wasn’t for the fine performance from newcomers Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. The duo has a wonderful natural chemistry that grants the audience access into their rustic world. One of these days Nichols is going to craft a masterpiece. For now we’ll make due with another strong character driven drama.
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Starring: Jason Bateman, Paula Patton, Alexander Skarsgard
Recommended To: Those looking for a challenging drama that addresses the side effects of living in a technologically connected world.
Synopsis • Disconnect weaves together the stories of Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough), a reporter looking for a story, Cindy and Derek (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard), a married couple trying to take back their stolen identity and Ben (Jonah Bobo) is a teen on the wrong end of a prank.
Review • Disconnect is a rather grim look at the impact that the internet can have on a person’s life. It has some very interesting ideas from screenwriter Andrew Stern. Stern goes a little too far out of his way to connect all of the stories together and of the characters aren’t given much of an arc, but and the cast of familiar faces under the eye of director Henry Alex Rubin does a fine job of handling the material they have been given. The final act of the film does stray into melodrama as everything comes unraveled; it still delivers its message loud and clear. I particularly liked aspects of Cindy and Derek’s story and wish it had built up to a stronger finish. Despite these flaws Disconnect is worth a look even if only to see Jason Bateman in something other than a comedy.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)