Monday, June 27, 2005

CRASH, KICKING AND SCREAMING, SITH, LONGEST YARD Reviews

Our local newspaper has a Friday column called "Everybody's aCritic." For one month, three readers are sent tickets to newreleases then they write a 150 word review. My name was drawn for this past month. It's hard to say much in 150 words but here are my contributions for May.

CRASH



Crash is about racial prejudice in America. Director Paul Haggisdoes an excellent job of portraying the huge number of characters by giving us just enough of a glimpse into their lives to sympathize with them while simultaneously seeing how their prejudices control them.

The strength of the film - its scope - is also its weakness. It attempts to show that racial prejudice goes in all directions. In trying to cover so much, it inevitably shortens and sometimes cheapens the story.

With a cast including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, and BrendanFraser, it's surprising that the stand out performances come from lesser known actor Terrance Howard and hip-hop artist Ludacris. The scenes these two share are some of the most powerful.

With violence, language, and brief nudity, this is no family film.But if you want a thought provoking perspective of race relations in America, I highly recommend this movie.

KICKING AND SCREAMING



This is a movie about relationships. The father/son relationshipbetween Phil, (Will Ferrell), and his father, Buck (Robert Duvall), plays out like sibling rivalry. Phil is still learning how to be a father to his own son. Buck has issues with Mike Ditka – don't givethat too much thought. Actually, any analysis of this film is over analysis.

The plot pits Phil against Buck as coaches in the local youth soccerleague. Phil has never had the athletic drive of his father but sees this as a way to finally beat the old man. Most of the humor is derived from Phil's various stages of humiliation as he spins out ofcontrol with an unfamiliar competitive drive.

Predictably the plot leads to a sort of reconciliation, though we're not overwhelmed with the life lesson as is often the case with family comedies.

With many amusing moments, this is a fun film.

STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH



Ah, Star Wars is back. It's back with its stunning special effects, cool aliens, fast moving battle scenes, emotional resonance, and great dialogue…

OK, scratch those last two.

But Star Wars is indeed back with the third and final installment ofLucas's prequel to his original trilogy. What can I say that hasn't been said?

It is the best of these last three. It is much darker and less humorous, though it does have some amusing moments. It is an appreciable close to the series. We get to see the emergence of Darth Vader, everyone's favorite villain, and the set up for the original Star Wars.

The acting – well, did I mention the great special effects? There are some really good actors in this movie, but only so much can be accomplished with Lucas's famously bad dialogue. This film, like the other five, is a fun ride and little else.

THE LONGEST YARD



Starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Burt Reynolds, this snore festgave me eyestrain from excessive rolling.

Think of every sports movie cliché. Now, combine that with every prison movie cliché. Mix in a bit of Hogan's Heroes and you've got The Longest Yard.

Now, I feel a little unqualified to comment on this movie as I never saw the original but I know a turkey when I see one and this past weekend I did. There are very few labored and predictable humorous moments in this alleged comedy.

The film is riddled with plastic moments of inspiration, usually highlighted by dramatic music and one or more characters walking in slow motion towards the camera.

It does have one bit of brilliance. A clever product placement device makes this film an almost 2 hour commercial for McDonalds.

Save your money. Wait for it to come out on cable.

2 comments:

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