Page 60 - AustinChronicle

Basic HTML Version

60
T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
JULY 25, 2014
a u s t
i n c h r o n
i c
l e
. c om
team, where he must learn to work in a group and be
less of a showboat. Often breathtakingly beautiful,
as well as wittily written to entertain both children
and adults,
Planes: Fire & Rescue
still falls flat. The
astonishing feats of aerial maneuvering and sumptu-
ously rich depictions of burning forests can be visu-
ally pleasurable and cinematically impressive, but
Planes: Fire & Rescue
is just too mundane, its narra-
tive never able to expand beyond the art. Obviously,
an enormous amount of effort was invested in this
project. Unfortunately, those good intentions resulted
in the creation of a largely unimaginative, if still mildly
entertaining, work.
(07/18/2014)
HH
– Louis Black
Alamo Lakeline, Alamo Slaughter Lane, Alamo Village,
CM Cedar Park, Hill Country Galleria, CM Round Rock,
Southpark Meadows, CM Stone Hill Town Center,
Flix Brewhouse, Highland, Gateway, iPic, Lakeline,
Moviehouse, Tinseltown North, Tinseltown South
J
the PurGe: AnArchy
D: James DeMonaco; with Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zoë Soul,
Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Michael K. Williams, Edwin Hodge, Keith
Stanfield. (R, 104 min.)
The inevitable sequel to last summer’s
The Purge
,
which struck an unlikely chord with its outlandish
yet provocative premise – supposing a near-future in
which social order is maintained by way of an annual
lawless free-for-all –
The Purge: Anarchy
wisely broad-
ens its focus to several sets of characters on the
streets of Los Angeles. There’s Shane (Gilford) and
Liz (Sanchez), two dumb kids stranded by car trouble;
Eva (Ejogo) and Cali (Soul), a mother and daugh-
ter whose plans to hunker down prove futile; and
Sergeant (Grillo), a Punisher-like vigilante whose con-
science ultimately gets the better of him. They reluc-
tantly team up with one another in order to make it
through the night. Returning writer/director DeMonaco
brings a welcome sense of momentum to the film,
which doubles as its own best metaphor by inviting
audiences to cheer on its annual dose of bloodshed
as much as question its moral value.
(07/18/2014)
HHHH
n
– William Goss
CM Cedar Park, Hill Country Galleria, CM Round Rock,
Southpark Meadows, CM Stone Hill Town Center,
Flix Brewhouse, Highland, Gateway, iPic, Lakeline,
Metropolitan, Moviehouse, Tinseltown North
tAMMy
D: Ben Falcone; with Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy
Bates, Allison Janney, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass. (R, 96 min.)
Ever since her coming-out party in 2011’s
Bridesmaids
, Melissa McCarthy has basked in the
benevolent glow of the people’s goodwill. In short:
Most of us dig her. What could possibly go wrong?
She metaphorically cashed the blank check of her
meteoric success to mount this modestly budgeted
comedy with her husband, first-time director Ben
Falcone. But what that unfettered creative control has
wrought is … not good. In fact, it’s pretty awful. The
misbegotten
Tammy
goes all in with its namesake
character (McCarthy), who is irreversibly established
as being thoughtless, unperceptive, and destructive.
And the film’s shift away from flat buffoonery isn’t any
more successful. At one point, Tammy has a make-
over thrust upon her because this is a movie, and
people in movies get makeovers. Even, apparently,
when the filmmakers have carte blanche to be differ-
ent, aim higher. But foreknowledge doesn’t make the
fact any less irritating.
(07/04/2014)
HH
n
– Kimberley Jones
Alamo Lakeline, Alamo Slaughter Lane, Alamo Village,
CM Cedar Park, Hill Country Galleria, CM Round Rock,
Southpark Meadows, CM Stone Hill Town Center,
Gateway, Metropolitan, Tinseltown North
trAnSForMerS:
AGe oF extInctIon
D: Michael Bay; with Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey
Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, Bingbing Li, T.J.
Miller, Sophia Myles, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Mark Ryan, John
Goodman, Ken Watanabe. (PG-13, 165 min.)
“You can’t keep spending money on junk to
make new junk!” tanned teen Tessa (Peltz) pleads.
neIGhBorS
D: Nicholas Stoller; with Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave
Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jerrod
Carmichael, Halston Sage, Craig Roberts. (R, 91 min.)
A perfunctory revenge comedy,
Neighbors
is
elevated by lively, naturalistic performances by Seth
Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents reluctant to
admit they’re no longer young or hip. When a rowdy
fraternity (led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco) moves
in next door, the married couple is confronted with
their own irrefutable grownupness. Soon enough, a
late-night noise complaint kicks off a war between
the neighbors. Lavishly detailing each fresh sabotage
and skimping on pretty much everything else, direc-
tor Nicholas Stoller sorely miscalculates his film’s
strengths (Rogen and Byrne) and its weaknesses (frat
boys). Amusing enough, but weirdly joyless,
Neighbors
brings little new to the table. Gross-out comedy has
become an ever-elevating game of one-upmanship,
wherein one film’s turd joke becomes another’s tidal
swell of diarrhea. Is there a ceiling to this sort of
entertainment? To this viewer at least,
Neighbors
found the ceiling by bumping it ad nauseam.
(05/09/2014)
HH
– Kimberley Jones
Movies 8, Lake Creek 7
J
oBvIouS chIld
D: Gillian Robespierre; with Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann,
Gabe Liedman, David Cross, Richard Kind, Polly Draper. (R, 84 min.)
At the start of the film, a struggling Brooklyn
stand-up comic named Donna (Slate) delivers a
mighty riff on vaginal discharge. Call it a statement of
purpose, and possibly a dare, on the part of writer/
director Gillian Robespierre. Soon after we meet
her, Donna gets dumped. Sad and sloppy-drunk, she
sleeps with a stranger, gets pregnant, and decides
to have an abortion. Emotionally troubled but consti-
tutionally tough, Donna keeps going about her days,
which luckily include regular drop-ins from her plain-
spoken best friend, Nellie (Hoffmann, divine). There’s
also a watered-down love interest – a wholesome,
pressed-khakis type (Lacy) – but this is Donna’s story,
and Slate is so dynamic, so 100-proof potent, that
it’s easy to be entirely smitten with her. An indie film
about abortion that comes snuggled in the broad
strokes of a quirky relationship comedy,
Obvious Child
begs the question: Why aren’t more films this clever
and winning?
(06/20/2014)
HHHH
– Kimberley Jones
Arbor
PlAneS: FIre & reScue
D: Bobs Gannaway; with the voices of Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie
Bowen, Curtis Armstrong, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook,
Wes Studi, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Stacy Keach, Cedric the
Entertainer, Danny Mann, Barry Corbin, Regina King, Anne Meara,
Jerry Stiller, Fred Willard. (PG, 84 min.)
The Walt Disney crew is beyond expert at turning
out these clever, funny, appealing, 3-D, animated
films. This sequel to last year’s moderate hit
Planes
finds the race-winning plane Dusty learning that his
gearbox is permanently damaged and irreplaceable.
No longer able to race, Dusty joins a fire-and-rescue
Glue), later resonates with depth and feeling when
it segues into the real world. It all fits together in a
way you don’t see coming. Kudos to the filmmakers
for connecting the pieces to make such a funny and
sharp animated movie that speaks to kids and adults
alike. To quote the once ordinary, now extraordinary
Emmet, “Everything is awesome!!!” Indeed, it is.
(02/07/2014)
HHHH
n
– Steve Davis
CM Cedar Park, Hill Country Galleria, Movies 8, Lake
Creek 7, Tinseltown South
J
MAleFIcent
D: Robert Styromberg; with Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto
Copley, Brenton Thwaites, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno
Temple, Sam Riley. (PG, 97 min.)
Sure,
Maleficent
is too damn cute in that slap-
happy, Disney sort of way, and overly pretty, too (lush
landscapes, fascinating creatures) – especially the
damn prince and princess (Thwaites and Fanning),
who would be considered too noxiously perfect for
even a television ad. Still, the damn thing works, and
the visuals are stunning. It’s Angelina Jolie, however,
literally bursting across the screen and dominating
every scene she is in, who brings it home.
Maleficent
is what it is, but it is effortlessly good at it. The
story intrigues, and the characters involve us. Even
the damn princess, too perfect by half, is engag-
ing. I’m unfamiliar with
Wicked
, but this film takes
the
Sleeping Beauty
story and twists it completely
around in unprecedented ways, imaginatively placing
all the known elements of the story in different con-
texts, and thereby completely recasting this familiar
fairy tale into a more poignant and resonant work.
(06/06/2014)
HHH
– Louis Black
CM Cedar Park, CM Round Rock, Lakeline, Tinseltown
North, Tinseltown South
J
MIllIon dollAr ArM
D: Craig Gillespie; with Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal,
Aasif Mandvi, Pitobash, Darshan Jariwala, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill
Paxton. (PG, 123 min.)
Sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) – whose
boutique agency, which he runs with his partner Aash
(Aasif Mandvi), is about one bounced check away
from shutting down – is on a late-night beer binge,
when he alights on a solution: He’ll go to India, throw
a contest to find a couple of promising cricket bowl-
ers, and turn them into major-league pitchers. Based
on a true story, Bernstein’s scheme – called the
Million Dollar Arm – is a brilliant marketing strategy,
but this is a Disney movie, so the messaging mostly
sticks to the timeless triumph of the underdog.
Madhur Mittal plays the anxious, upright Dinesh;
Suraj Sharma is the loose-limbed, pizza-loving Rinku.
They’re both funny and endearing, but the film –
though undeniably crowd-pleasing and, yes, even a
touch tear-jerking – is more interested in the redemp-
tion of Hamm’s perma-scowling jerk, blind to its big-
gest asset.
(05/16/2014)
HHHH
n
– Kimberley Jones
Movies 8, Lake Creek 7
A MIllIon WAyS to dIe In
the WeSt
D: Seth MacFarlane; with Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda
Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah
Silverman, Christopher Hagen, Wes Studi, Matt Clark. (R, 115 min.)
Hollywood’s barbarian at the gate, Seth
MacFarlane (
Family Guy
,
American Dad!
) continues his
assault by stepping into the role of the leading man
of his live-action feature,
A Million Ways to Die in the
West
. Overindulgent, although not grievously enough
to scuttle this irreverent comedy, MacFarlane throws
everything at the wall and sees what sticks (spoiler:
It’s mostly excrement). MacFarlane’s comedic voice
comes through loud and clear as Albert Stark, a
nebbishy sheep farmer on the 1882 frontier. When
his girlfriend (Seyfried) dumps him for the foppish,
well-to-do proprietor of a mustache emporium (Harris),
Albert astutely decides he’ll be better off moving
to San Francisco … until Anna (Theron) convinces
him to stick around for another week, which the pair
spend happily evading various deathtraps. Although it
seems foolish to discredit something for its surfeit of
humor, MacFarlane can only improve as a filmmaker
by honing his storytelling skills and swallowing some
anti-diarrheals.
(05/30/2014)
HHH
– Marjorie Baumgarten
Movies 8, Lake Creek 7
J
hoW to trAIn your
drAGon 2
D: Dean DeBlois; with the voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett,
Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kristen
Wiig, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harrington. (PG, 102 min.)
Distinguished by its quick wit, scenic vistas, and
an admirable championing of a loner-nerd hero, the
first
How to Train Your Dragon
was a startlement and
a seduction. Sequels usually spell the blues, or the
blahs, but this one defies expectations yet again,
displaying gaspingly good 3-D animation, and a real
depth of emotion, too. I laughed, I cried, I longed for
a pet dragon of my own. The sequel carries over the
leads from the original (and Cressida Cowell’s source
book series) – young Hiccup (Baruchel), a peacemon-
ger stranded among a clan of spear-rattling Vikings,
and his faithful dragon Toothless – and writer/director
Dean DeBlois (
Lilo & Stitch
) knows he’s got a good
thing going with their dynamic. Toothless is so vividly,
viscerally animated, I worry a child will look askance
at her own humble dog and peevishly wonder why
Fluffernutter can’t fly, or at the very least breathe fire.
(06/13/2014)
HHHH
n
– Kimberley Jones
CM Cedar Park, Hill Country Galleria, CM Round Rock,
Gateway, Lakeline, Metropolitan
JerSey BoyS
D: Clint Eastwood; with John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich
Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken, Mike Doyle, Renée
Marino, Joseph Russo, Freya Tingley. (R, 134 min.)
A great Broadway musical book combined with a
journeyman directing job by Eastwood makes for a
very pleasurable narrative journey, though one would
be reluctant to overpraise its accomplishments as
a film. There’s not much new to the rise-and-fall,
music-biz story: Four wayward guys come together in
New Jersey, name themselves the Four Seasons, and
rise to conquer the pop music world, even as their
personal relationships begin to fray. Most outstanding
is the cast – especially John Lloyd Young, who won a
Tony for originating the Frankie Valli role on Broadway.
At 84, Eastwood’s wild days of visionary cinematic
extravaganzas are behind him. The bad boy has gone
mainstream, his daring, once-reliable lunatic prefer-
ences decidedly neutered in this entertainingly told
yet surprisingly traditional Hollywood musical effort.
Jersey Boys
is fun, but its perversity originates in the
connections to the film’s studio pedigree, rather than
Eastwood’s brigand ways.
(06/20/2014)
HHH
n
– Louis Black
Tinseltown South
J
the leGo MovIe
D: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller; with the voices of Chris Pratt, Liam
Neeson, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman,
Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Alison Brie. (PG, 100 min.)
Smart and savvy,
The Lego Movie
takes the clas-
sic dilemma of every Lego owner – to follow the
instructions or not to follow? – and constructs a
wild-ride fantasy of colorful, interlocking plastic bricks
only to deconstruct it in the most amazing way pos-
sible. What initially appears to be a nonsensical
story about an ordinary minifigure named Emmet,
who joins forces with a cadre of Master Builders to
save Legokind from the evil Lord Business (who’s
plotting to take the snap out of things with Krazy
f i lm
l i s t i n g s
D: Richard Fleischer; with Charlton Heston, Leigh
Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten,
Brock Peters, Paula Kelly, Edward G. Robinson.
(1973, PG, 97 min.)
Summer Movie Nights.
A
world suffering from massive overpopulation
and eradicated food supplies eats a mysteri-
ous food product called Soylent Green. Luckily,
you don’t have to, as the meat merchants of
Micklethwait have whipped up a fancy Frito pie
special to assuage your hunger. @Micklethwait
Craft Meats, 1309 Rosewood, Friday, 8:30pm.
Soylent Green
D: Alex Proyas; with Rufus Sewell, Kiefer
Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt. (1998,
R, 100 min.)
Two Thumbs Up: Ebert’s Picks.
Stunning visuals highlight this story in which a
city’s inhabitants are the victims of some cosmic
experiment being conducted by a race of aliens.
(Double bill:
Crumb
.) (*) @Stateside at the
Paramount, Thursday, 9:35pm; Friday, 7:15pm.
Dark City
Check Film Listings online or on your
mobile device for full-length reviews,
up-to-date showtimes, archives, and more!
austinchronicle.com/film