Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Dec. 15 | Film Clips | Creative Loafing Charlotte

Film » Film Clips

Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Dec. 15

by

comment

Page 4 of 6

THE OTHER GUYS It makes sense for a film like, say, An Inconvenient Truth or Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to end with a plea to our sense of activism or with a mountain of hard data about the evils of unchecked capitalism. But what to make of The Other Guys, featuring closing credits that are packed with statistics concerning government bailouts and the glaring discrepancy between the average salaries of CEOs and the rest of us poor clods? No matter: The film's ample laughs had already dried up long before this ode to Michael Moore muckraking. That's a shame, because for its first hour, The Other Guys is a very funny movie, as two desk cops, meek Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and hotheaded Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), are provided a chance to step up once New York's finest (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson) are put out of commission. Ferrell holds his excesses in check more than usual (though still not enough to my liking), and he and Wahlberg prove to be an amusing team — whether scripted or improvised, their banter is often top-grade. But humor largely vacates the premises during the second half, as the emphasis is placed more on autopilot action sequences and, worse, a topical, torn-from-the-headlines scam that's an ill — and dull — fit for this sort of raucous outing. **1/2

RED One of the better action spectacles of recent vintage, Red is a smart, slick endeavor that gets added mileage from its cast of seasoned screen vets. How seasoned? The arithmetic mean of the five top-billed stars' ages is 59; throw 93-year-old supporting player Ernest Borgnine into the equation, and the calculator starts to overheat. Based on the DC comic book, this plays like a wink to Danny Glover's classic line from the Lethal Weapon series: "I'm too old for this shit." In Red, these aging ex-agents (played by Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren) are definitely not too old for the challenges placed in front of them, all of which stem from the fact that they've been marked for termination for shady reasons. Frank Moses (Willis) is one of these former CIA hotshots trying to save his own skin, a task made more difficult by the fact that he also has to protect the innocent woman (a winsome Mary-Louise Parker) inadvertently mixed up in these dangerous dealings. By employing imagination in all facets of the production, Red manages to avoid being lumped together with another recent title with AARP credentials: the generic, geriatric The Expendables. Besides, in a celebrity smackdown between Sylvester Stallone and Helen Mirren, my money's on the great Dame. ***

SECRETARIAT Until the Sports Illustrated subscription runs out at the Walt Disney Studios offices, I expect audiences will continue to be privy to cookie-cutter yarns centered around notable achievements in the sports world. Secretariat is the latest from the studio stable, and it relates the truly remarkable story of the magnificent racehorse that set records while winning the Triple Crown in 1973 (and simultaneously appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated while doing so). The races are exciting, but to get to these sequences, we're forced to wade through a lot of vanilla material about the difficulties faced by Secretariat's determined owner (typically reliable Diane Lane) and flamboyant trainer (John Malkovich, taking neither his role nor the movie seriously). Despite these tepidly staged interludes, the overall picture isn't quite as bland as, say, The Rookie or Miracle. Still, the staidness made me long for the studio's earlier sports flick Alive — at least that one had rugby players munching down on each other. **1/2

THE SOCIAL NETWORK Like the screwball comedies and film noir staples of yore, The Social Network exhibits an extraordinary gift for gab. Words fly like machine gun strafes, and arguments generally end with the more verbally adroit speaker standing over the other person like a wave that's managed to tumble a surfer. If screenwriting was considered a sport, Aaron Sorkin's script wouldn't just be competing for movie awards but for Olympic gold as well. One of the best films of the year, this is the fascinating story of how Harvard nerd Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) created Facebook and in the process became the world's youngest billionaire. Yet this isn't an inspiring movie about an underdog beating the odds as much as it's a prickly mishmash of how one person's insecurities led to material gains even as his personality remained stuck in an arrogant, off-putting zone. Director David Fincher keeps the proceedings moving at a rapid clip, a task made easier by Sorkin's breezy, biting dialogue and great performances by the entire cast. But a quick pace isn't the same as a hurried one, and The Social Network takes its time in showing how one loner was able to unite 500 million friends, even as he remained perpetually hidden on the other side of the cold, glaring screen. ***1/2


Creative Loafing Charlotte Pick

Recover - CBD Roll On by Leef Organics

5% Bitcoin back
Roll-on relief by Leef Organics is a unique roller ball that includes cold-pressed, broad-spectrum whole plant CBD blended with wild crafted herbs, all on a mission to bring relief. Click for product details.
Earn bitcoin for shopping with Creative Loafing Charlotte

Add a comment

Creative Loafing Charlotte Pick

THRIVAL Liquid Superfood - CBD Extract

5% Bitcoin back
The THRIVAL CBD formula by Leef Organics is unlike any other cannabis-based wellness product on the market. A daily dose of this superfood helps bring overall wellness to the body. Click for product details.
Earn bitcoin for shopping with Creative Loafing Charlotte