Brideshead Revisited

Like Atonement before it, Brideshead Revisited is one of those astoundingly well-acted literary adaptations that fans of the novel will eat up like Thanksgiving dinner and first timers will likely consider a solid replacement for sleeping pills. This condensed version of Brideshead gives audiences a hyper-dramatic rendition of the book by Evelyn Waugh.

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins represents Martin Lawrence’s attempt at a feel-good family flick, but only feels good when it’s over. Despite some humorous performances from Mo’nique and Mike Epps, the jokes are all old and Lawrence’s performance feels phoned in with a few ridiculous cross-eyed expressions for good measure. The story is painfully predictable, which would be fine if we were laughing so hard we didn’t notice, but unfortunately that’s not the case

Then She Found Me

Before you find yourself walking into Then She Found Me, make sure that A - you’re a woman and B - you’re in the mood for one of those low-budget, character-driven dramas about a woman whose life sucks a little bit more than yours. Keeping those parameters in mind, the film is quite compelling, carried by a solid supporting performance from Bette Midler.

Chapter 27

As a general rule, when an actor gains a lot of weight for a film the movie is generally worth watching (e.g. Syriana, Monster, Bridget Jones’ Diary) - incidentally the opposite can be said of donning a fat suit (e.g. Big Momma’s House , Norbit, Shallow Hal) - so I was surprised that even Jared Leto’s extra 67 pounds of paunch couldn’t save me from wanting to turn the page on the incredibly boring Chapter 27.

Blind Dating

If nothing else, the DVD of Blind Dating really emulated the experience of going on a blind date: you go in with a mixture of hope and fear, you start off pleasantly surprised and then quickly fall into despair when it’s not as bad as you expected…it’s worse. Of course, you’d have to be legally blind to pick this film off the shelf considering its blink-and-you missed-it theatrical run and the resumes of the two headlining stars

The Hottie and the Nottie

Let’s face it, no one is expecting a film starring Paris Hilton to be good, and The Hottie and the Nottie is definitely not “hot.” On premise alone, the film has that straight-to-DVD flavor and Paris’ robotic performance does nothing to improve the vibe. Yet somehow, despite the ridiculously contrived plot, horrible acting, and gag-worthy humor the movie is still hysterical in that train wreck...

Feast of Love

The film’s choppy structure means there is little chance for any character development as attraction is immediately followed by a gratuitous sex scene, marriage, and then divorce, without exploring any of the subtle idiosyncrasies that make relationships relatable and interesting. The film constantly pushes the barrier of reality, especially in scenes intended for comic relief like one where Bradley’s dog is held hostage by his seven-year-old nephew.

The Simpsons Movie

No one is safe from the parodying hands of The Simpsons writers, not even themselves. After sitting through the Itchy and Scratchy movie, Homer asks the audience why anyone would pay for something they get free on TV? The answer is 87 minutes of non-stop laughter, nailing everyone from Walt Disney, Grand Theft Auto, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and of course, the Fox network.

P.S. I Love You

Just in case you were somehow fooled by the previews, let me start this review off with a resounding chick flick alert. If you don’t like movies with somewhat unbelievable premises justified by a dashing leading man, hilarious supporting characters, and tear-jerking moments that will make you cry harder than you did in Stepmom, than stay away from P.S. I Love You.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Translating a classic novel to the screen is always a challenge, but when you’re adapting a book with very few lines of dialogue and a plot driven mostly by character’s lamentations, it’s an almost impossible task. Not to mention that the story spans over fifty years, six hundred women and endless political and emotional turmoil. The producers of Love in the Time of Cholera supposedly had to beg Gabriel Garcia Marquez for the rights to the novel, promising to remain completely faithful to the original story. Thus, instead of generating a coherent script around the heart of the book, the filmmakers tried to squeeze in as many tidbits from the novel as possible, winding up with a jumble of scenes and characters that never really engage the audience.

Lions for Lambs

The problem with turning away from this movie is that you then by default prove the message the film is promoting: that when faced with challenges, our country would rather change the channel than get involved. In that sense, this is the most genius film ever created because it inherently guilts you into seeing it and thinking about the issues it ponders. Ultimately that’s a guilt-trip worth taking, since no matter where you stand, you have stand somewhere, and you won’t leave Lions for Lambs without discussing it.

Gone Baby Gone

For an actor who made his career out of overplayed leading man roles and larger than life off-screen romances, it’s surprising that Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is so gritty and realistic. Affleck gives his film an almost documentary-like feel, from the edgy camera work, to the heavily accented dialogue, to the actors themselves, who are not Hollywood glamorized but unattractive, swearing, sweat-suit wearing real life people.

Rendition

It’s always entertaining when a film gets more publicity for the actors in it than the movie itself…Gigli was the film that Bennifer made, Mr. and Mrs. Smith the film that Brangelina made, and now, Rendition has been hailed as the film that ignited Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal’s clandestine love affair. But those gossip-mongers eager to analyze Reese and Jake’s sexual chemistry on screen are in for a big surprise.

Shoot 'Em Up

What the film lacks in story it makes up for in sheer entertainment value and with such a short runtime, the film ends before that runs out. Head into Shoot ‘Em Up prepared for ridiculous violence and some very poor taste… also be prepared to laugh at said violence and taste. If you can appreciate the film as a stylized tribute to action classics like Woo’s Hard Boiled, you won’t be disappointed. If not, well, no one has a gun pointed at your head, which is more than we can say for Clive.

Good Luck Chuck

Originally written with a PG-13 audience in mind, Good Luck Chuck was revamped when the writers realized how much more they could do with the film’s sexual humor. While the language is realistic and there are a few near-pornographic sequences you wouldn’t want to watch next to your mother, the script still feels caught between two types of movie: the cheesy rom-com and the shocking sex comedy.

3:10 to Yuma

3:10 to Yuma had me at hello when it pitted Christian Bale against Russell Crowe, two of the most intense actors in Hollywood. I anticipated a showdown as nerve-wracking as the finale of Tombstone at the OK Corral, and for the most part, I was satisfied. The plot is as exciting as it is complex, bringing a new level to the typical western by clouding the moral centers of the protagonists.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Somehow teetering the line between horribly offensive and after-school-special, Chuck and Larry lacks the underlying wit that made Sandler’s earliest films such quotable favorites. Sure there’s plenty of potty humor, including an unabashed drop-the-soap-in-the-shower scene, but where there’s an opportunity to be edgy, Chuck and Larry resorts to cliché.

Hairspray

There’s no question that this version of Hairspray will never gain the fanatic following that the Waters’ original earned in the eighties. It’s not as edgy, it’s not as unique and it’s just a little too “family-friendly” for teens to embrace as their own. While the messages about acceptance regardless of skin-color or weight are universal and eternal, the film takes them to an almost preachy level instead of letting the story speak for itself.

Rescue Dawn

If there’s one thing you can’t accuse Werner Herzog of it’s being mainstream (everyone who just clicked onto IMDB thinking, “Werner Who?” just proved my point), so fans may be surprised to see his name attached to a big summer blockbuster like Rescue Dawn. Adapted from Herzog’s Emmy-nominated 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Rescue Dawn hovers between your average POW-escape movie and an art-house pic that will appeal to, but not necessarily satisfy, both types of audiences.

The Verdict: Collector's Edition

In the special features portion of the DVD, Paul Newman says, “There are some people who will say this is a courtroom case which it isn’t… it’s really about the redemption of a human being.” Viewed as such, The Verdict earns all of its accolades, as Paul Newman’s Galvin grows from an “ambulance-chaser,” to a man willing to risk it all in the name of justice.

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