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Mississippi Yearning: "The Help" and "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 14 August 2011 12:16

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis in The HelpTHE HELP

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s much-loved bestseller, The Help concerns the tenuous relationships between black domestic workers and their privileged white employers in early-’60s Mississippi, and it’s a fairly obvious movie, with director Tate Taylor opting for broad brushstrokes over subtlety, and the occasionally wrenching drama sitting, rather uncomfortably, alongside klutzy jokiness. Yet offhand, I can’t think of another popular entertainment whose flaws matter less than this film’s, because everything that’s lacking in the picture is more than made up for in the fearless, emotionally precise, and oftentimes devastating portrayals of Taylor’s cast. The Help is easy to complain about, but all it takes is one of the magnificent Viola Davis’ fierce, tearful stares – or a blast of Octavia Spencer’s anger, or a flash of Emma Stone’s heartbreak, or a burst of Jessica Chastain’s joy – to make your complaints feel positively moot.

 
Fate Accompli: “Final Destination 5” and “30 Minutes or Less” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 14 August 2011 12:12

Nicholas D'Agosto and Emma Bell in Final Destination 5FINAL DESTINATION 5

Because the quality has been noticeably, if not altogether damagingly, dipping with each new installment, there was reason to expect Final Destination 5 to be the horror series’ most tired and underwhelming entry to date. Yet like some long-running TV series that suddenly finds new life after years of going through the motions, this fifth in the popular Death-has-been-cheated-and-he’s-pissed franchise is a terrific return to sick-joke form, the most enticingly queasy and legitimately funny Final Destination since the second outing in 2003.

 
Swap Meat: “The Change-Up” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 06 August 2011 18:13

Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds in The Change-UpTHE CHANGE-UP

The Change-Up, in which Jason Bateman’s discontented husband and father magically swaps bodies with Ryan Reynolds’ perfectly contented slacker dumb-ass, is an appallingly smutty and juvenile slapstick. In the segment that finds Reynolds (in Bateman’s body) preparing a late-night feeding for his pal’s infant twins – with one tot seen playing with butcher knives and the other reaching into the blender and sticking his tongue into an electrical socket – it features one of the most painfully unfunny scenes in cinema history, and I’m not excluding any given scene in Sophie’s Choice or Schindler’s List.

 
It Came from Outer Space, Y'All: "Cowboys & Aliens," "Crazy, Stupid, Love," and "The Smurfs" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 31 July 2011 16:51

Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in Cowboys & AliensCOWBOYS & ALIENS

A full six writers are credited with the script and screen story for director Jon Favreau’s sci-fi/Western hybrid Cowboys & Aliens, which, based on the evidence, averages out to them contributing roughly half a fresh idea apiece. And I’m including the inspiration to call its saloon-keeper, rather than its doctor, "Doc."

 
Comic Boink, Comic Blank: “Friends with Benefits” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 24 July 2011 08:50

Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake in Friends with BenefitsFRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

Modern romantic comedies are in such generally dismal shape that I feel ungrateful for wishing that Friends with Benefits were better than it actually is. But while it’s impossible to fully dislike any movie that finds a nitwit shrieking “John Mayer is our generation’s Sheryl Crow!” or features a couple making a solemn vow on the Bible app of the woman’s iPad, I left director Will Gluck’s latest thinking that the film had just missed its mark. And that, after two frequently hysterical features in a row (2009’s Fired Up!, Gluck’s directorial debut, and last year’s Easy A), its helmer had just missed his trifecta. Damn it.

 
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