Bill Beyrer
Former Contributor

WRITTEN BY Bill Beyrer

Are We There Yet?

Amidst the avalanche of big holiday releases and expanding Oscar bait, studios tend to treat January and early February as a cinematic trash can, dumping all the leftovers into a big heap just hoping we’ll all go digging for scraps. After two back to back clunkers this time last year, Ice Cube is back, this time taking an all too familiar formula and forming a family friendly film that won’t have you asking Are We There Yet? But rather, is it over yet?

Darkness

...it’s not like red and green can be traded for blood red and gang green, can it? Is it inappropriate that a horror movie is opening nationwide on Jesus’ birthday? I thought about it, it really isn’t. Dimension struck gold before this time of year. Two times in row! How easily we forget Scream and Scream 2. But I’m sorry Dimension; you won’t see similar business this horror holiday.

Little Black Book

For years Brittany Murphy was a great, slightly pudgy, character actress. After shedding her portly features and appearing as Eminem’s love interest in the film 8 Mile Murphy has taken a break from actually acting and has headlined a bunch of comedies catering to the MTV crowd. The latest in her little vacation from an actual acting career is the romantic comedy Little Black Book.

Imaginary Heroes

Writer/Director Dan Harris, whose credits include penning two Bryan Singer helmed comic book adaptations (X2: X-Men United and the upcoming Superman Returns), creates this indie tale of Imaginary Heroes; rather than spitting out another form of the “super” kind. Nothing spells independent cinema like WASPy suburbanites with boatloads of issues...

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Unrated, Uncut, & Uncalled For!) & Wake Up Ron Burgundy

After 2003's surprise hit Elf, it is no shock that “Saturday Night Live” alum Will Ferrell is a hot commodity in the comedy department. His follow up to that holiday hit is Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, a mildly amusing take on local television news broadcasters in the seventies.

Million Dollar Baby

There has been nothing but huge buzz surrounding Academy Award winning director Clint Eastwood’s latest film. Is Million Dollar Baby worth all the critical hype? I don’t think so. I can see why it’s getting the attention... but its originality sucker punches you in the face and you barely have time to recover.

The Door in the Floor

Four time Academy Award nominee Jeff Bridges and Academy Award winner Kim Basinger star in this tale of young love, philandering children’s authors, bad parenting, and depression in the upscale Long Island community of the Hamptons. Based on the first third of the John Irving novel A Widow for One Year, the film does contain some decent performances and good cinematography, but sadly this recipe falls victim to looking good on paper. In truth, The Door in the Floor should have remained shut.

Coach Carter

Sports movies always seem to find themselves a large audience. When they are presented in such a way specifically catering to the prime demographic of young folk, it’s almost certain that it will be a hit. Enter MTV Films with their latest addition to the cinematic realm of youth pandering. Coach Carter creates a new millennium hybrid of Dangerous Minds and Hoosiers that beats its message into you like a Pistons/Pacers steel cage match.

First Time Caller

Extraterrestrial life forms have been the subject of many films since the silent era. Goofy men in suits, tear jerking puppets, acid bleeding face rapists, and occasional appearances from the “Fresh Prince” just keep us lining up to indulge our fantasies. What is this fascination we have with the thought of intelligent life living somewhere off in a galaxy far far away? More importantly, can an independent film spin this science fiction phenomenon into a light-hearted farce that is worth watching? Damn right it can! From some of the creative minds behind Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” comes First Time Caller, a hilarious and thought provoking romp where just about anything is possible.

The Bourne Supremacy

The cast is all top notch, the story is clever and sharp, and Director Paul Greengrass’s stylistic execution is sinister and real. All of these elements come together in making a very good movie. It’s not the best thing to come out this year, and it won’t hanker for golden attention, but for your hard earned money it’s nothing short of sheer entertainment.

De-Lovely

I have not been a fan of this latest Hollywood endeavor to resurrect the musical genre. Moulin Rouge was a baroque MTV coloring book while Chicago took itself way too seriously. Both flicks were annoyingly fabulous with even more annoying lead actors in the main roles. De-Lovely succeeds where both have failed by letting the music tell the story rather than to break into a big bawdy musical number...

A Love Song for Bobby Long

With stellar performances from stars John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, and the unknown Gabriel Macht, A Love Song for Bobby Long goes above and beyond to serenade you into submission. For about two hours you will laugh, you will cry, and above all you will think.

Eloise at Christmastime

I can’t possibly express how much I really hate this movie. I mean seriously, I really really hate this movie. It’s so frickin’ full of itself it makes me want to puke. I understand the Christmas movies are supposed to be, occasionally, all holly jolly. This Christmas flick was too merry - I’ve seen potheads who smiled less. It’s no wonder people blow their brains out during the holiday season, they have to sit through “wholesome family entertainment” like Eloise at Christmastime.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Unrated Director’s Cut

I wasn’t a fan of The Chronicles of Riddick when the film opened in theatres this past June. There were things missing, and half the flick was way over my head. Things just happened and one was left to assume most of the time. There were too many unanswered questions. Now after revisiting the film, with fifteen minutes of additional footage restored, I can safely say that now I like it. Why they didn’t stick with this version to begin with is beyond me.

Seed of Chucky

I may warm up to Seed of Chucky over time, but it’ll be a long wait. Chalk it up as another flick this year that looked good on paper but ended up bad in execution. If you didn’t grow up fearing your “cabbage-patch” dolls would jump up and kill you as a result of the series, stay away. Even if you did, be careful. Like its title “character,” this Seed should have been aborted!

In Good Company

This year we have seen two massively huge duds featuring Dennis Quaid and we most likely have one more on the way, but Quaid is saving his best for last. In the new film In Good Company he is all but impressive. His performance alone will wash away your memories of apocalyptic blizzards, broken down airplanes, and definitely make you forget The Alamo.

The Grudge

The whole remaking Japanese horror thing started back in 2002 with the successful adaptation of The Ring. Now, two years later, another Japanese horror flick is getting the Hollywood treatment. This go around it’s The Grudge being remade by the very same director who directed the original, Ju-On: The Grudge and its sequel.

Grand Theft Parsons

Johnny Knoxville leaves his “Jackass” career behind him and embarks on an endeavor he has yet to attempt - being the leading man. In making this movie, filmmakers took a big gamble throwing Knoxville front and center, but let me tell you, it works like gangbusters.

National Treasure

National Treasure is not seeking any serious critical attention nor is it likely to make a huge dent in the world of cinema. It is however a smart, entertaining little adventure through American history. When this gets released, you’ll have a choice: National Treasure, an animated sponge, or Renée Zellweger pandering for more golden attention. Go with National Treasure. Maybe you’ll learn something.

Woman Thou Art Loosed

Last week a small independent film from Magnolia Films surprised us all after it debuted in the top ten on less than five hundred screens with little to no major publicity. So there has to be something about this film that brought the masses out to view it, right? Well if there was, I sure didn’t see it. Woman Thou Art Loosed is no more impressive than a Lifetime original motion picture.

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