Film » Film Clips

Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Jan. 11

by

comment

Page 5 of 9

NEW YEAR'S EVE This waste of energy proves to be even tougher to take than director Garry Marshall's previous all-star holiday romp, Valentine's Day. As in that film, numerous familar faces take part in superficial vignettes all centered around the title holiday. Although it squanders any intriguing potential for a May-December romance, the storyline in which a cocky messenger boy (Zac Efron) helps a depressed woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) fulfill her New Year's resolutions is the best episode primarily thanks to Pfeiffer, the only person in this entire film investing any genuine emotion into her character. At the other end of the spectrum is the thread in which two pregnant women (Jessica Biel and Sarah Paulson) and their husbands (Seth Meyers and Til Schweiger) are eager to win the sizable cash prize given by a local hospital to the couple who produces the first baby of the new year; this is the most godawful of all the segments, and not just because someone yells out, "May the best vajayjay win!" Among the other less-than-scintillating tales are a real snoozer in which a sympathetic nurse (slumming Oscar winner Halle Berry) tends to a dying man (slumming Oscar winner Robert De Niro) whose only wish is to see the ball drop; the dramatically inert episode about a glitch in the Times Square ball, made watchable only by the likable turns by Hilary Swank, Hector Elizondo and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges; a piece in which a slacker (perpetually annoying Ashton Kutcher) who hates the holiday is trapped in an elevator with a singer (Lea Michele) desperate to escape; and a piece in which a caterer (perpetually annoying Katherine Heigl) is angry at the boyfriend (Jon Bon Jovi) who ran away from her a year ago but has now reentered her life. I can hardly wait for Marshall's Arbor Day. *1/2

PUSS IN BOOTS Stanley Roper was arguably the funniest character on the long-running TV series Three's Company (not a difficult feat, admittedly), but that didn't mean it was wise to yank him and the missus out of their supporting stints on that hit show in order to place them front and center in a sitcom (The Ropers) that barely lasted a year. Similarly, Jennifer Garner's Elektra worked well in tandem with Ben Affleck's blind superhero in Daredevil, but absolutely no one cared when she was given her very own starring vehicle. So even though Antonio Banderas' Puss in Boots owned the Shrek franchise from the moment he was introduced in the second film, that was no reason to elevate him to, erm, leading-cat status in Puss in Boots. Certainly, the fault doesn't rest with Banderas, who's as game as ever. But this animated effort wants to have it both ways: It retains the sort of tiresome, snarky humor that defined the Shrek series while also trafficking in the type of obvious morals found in more traditional toon fare. The end result is a listless movie that doesn't have much to offer beyond keeping the kids quiet for 90 minutes. The plot concerns the uneasy alliance between Puss, the equally accomplished Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek, re-teaming with her Desperado co-star) and the annoying Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) as they attempt to first steal three magic beans and then the fabled Golden Goose. There are a handful of amusing exchanges ("I thought a cat always landed on its feet." "No! That's just a rumor spread by dogs!"), but for the most part, the stale wisecracks are on the order of "First rule of Bean Club: You do not talk about Bean Club." With soft lobs like this, it's clear Puss in Boots is one movie that was declawed before it even got close to the screen. **


Add a comment