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Girls Gone Wilder: "Spring Breakers," "Application," and "The Croods" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 01 April 2013 10:47

Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Benson in Spring BreakersSPRING BREAKERS

At the screening of Spring Breakers that I attended, I counted eight viewers who walked out of the movie, and stayed out, well before the end credits rolled. In all honesty, I’m amazed the tally wasn’t higher than that. The movie being touted in print and in trailers promises a rowdy, randy romp in the sun with built-in audience-grabbers: Disney princesses acting nasty! James Franco with cornrows and grillz! But the movie that writer/director Harmony Korine has actually made – despite, indeed, its also being a rowdy, randy romp in the sun – bears so little relation to its cheeky, borderline-innocuous advertising campaign that patrons can be easily forgiven for feeling badly misled and deciding to bolt. It would be like going to see Dumbo and instead getting Gus Van Sant’s Elephant.

 
Buddies Hack It: "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" and "The Call" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 17 March 2013 17:04

Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey in The Incredible Burt WonderstoneTHE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE

A mere week after the release of Oz the Great & Powerful, the garish, boring box-office smash that’s neither great nor powerful, Misnomer March continues with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a comedy about warring Las Vegas magicians that’s awkwardly cast, overly sentimental, and decidedly not incredible. Yet considering how roundly disappointing the 2013 film year has been thus far, you can still have a fair amount of fun at director Don Scardino’s outing, despite this slapstick with heart being scattershot at best, and despite the movie almost appearing apologetic about its most unexpected and mordantly funny bits.

 
Wizard of Blahs: "Oz the Great & Powerful" and "Dead Man Down" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 09 March 2013 20:08

James Franco in Oz the Great & PowerfulOZ THE GREAT & POWERFUL

As numerous effect-heavy entertainments have proved over the years, few film actors, and even fewer good ones, look altogether comfortable performing in wholly pixelated landscapes opposite wholly digitized characters. Yet I’m not sure I’ve seen any star look less connected with his artificial environment than James Franco does in Oz the Great & Powerful, director Sam Raimi’s mega-budgeted and intensely disappointing prequel to The Wizard of Oz.

 
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fumble: "Jack the Giant Slayer," "Phantom," "21 & Over," and "The Last Exorcism Part II" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 03 March 2013 12:59

Nicholas Hoult in Jack the Giant SlayerJACK THE GIANT SLAYER

It happened to Hansel and Gretel. It happened to Red Riding Hood. It happened to Snow White. (It happened to a couple of Snow Whites, actually.) And now it’s Jack, of “... and the beanstalk” fame, who’s getting a pricey, kitschy, effects-filled makeover, serving as protagonist for director Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer. At the rate this trend is going, I can hardly wait for the inevitable big-budget updating of The Pied Piper with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard, and Harvey Fierstein taking on the role of a lifetime in The Frog King.

 
The Agony of the Ecstasy: "Snitch" and "Escape from Planet Earth" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 24 February 2013 11:48

Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon, and Dwayne Johnson in SnitchSNITCH

As a film star, Dwayne Johnson possesses a lot of gifts – or, at least, sufficiently impressive gifts for what his résumé has required. Though God knows he’s physically intimidating, Johnson is also our most thoroughly genial of ass-kickers, with even his most violent of big-screen endeavors leavened by a welcome lightness of touch and hint of amused self-mockery. And as he has proved in all those bland family entertainments over the years, Johnson still manages to appear game and committed in movies that don’t deserve his considerable charisma, often salvaging entire scenes through unexpectedly silly gestures or readings that show just how inventive a comedian he can be. (I was happy for 10 whole minutes following his brief channeling of co-star Michael Caine in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. They were about the only 10 minutes during the movie in which I was happy.)

 
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