May 4, 2007, - 6:58 pm
Weekend Box Office: Crybaby Superhero, Pan-Terrorist Propaganda, Poker-Playing Romance, Depressing Alzheimers, Chick Flicks Galore
By Debbie Schlussel
This week is chock full of debuts, several of which I’ve already reviewed at length, today. (There are three chick-flicks: “Spiderman 3,” “Lucky You,” and “Waitress.” Here’s the rundown:
* “Spiderman 3“: 3rd installment of the Marvel Studios series is overstuffed movie with too many plots, characters, and villains. The crybaby superhero has grown tired. Read my complete review column.
* “Civic Duty“: Absurd message of this equally absurd movie: If you observe and report suspicious behavior on the part of strange Muslims that appears to be terror-connected, ignore it. Otherwise, you are a bigoted, mean, insane loser. A poor rip-off of “Arlington Road.” Read my complete review column.
* “Lucky You“: Although the chick-flick romance part of this Vegas-based movie is cheesy, the poker-playing part is interesting. It helped me–a complete poker ignoramus–to understand more about poker. But for the poker ignorami like me, a little more explanation of the game might have helped (like what the knocking on the table means).
“Munich” star–and I don’t think we can forgive him for starring in that horrid anti-Israel/pan-terrorist silver screen lie–Eric Bana plays a skilled poker-playing hustler who meets Drew Barrymore, a songstress at a restaurant, and uses her for the last bit of money she has, in a desperate attempt to qualify for and afford the entry fee into the World Series of Poker. He soon falls for her and realizes she brings him luck. But his biggest demons are his risky poker-playing style and his estranged world champion poker-player father (Robert Duvall).
Will he make it into the giant poker tournament? How will he do? This is the most poker-centric film I can remember recently, even more so than last year’s “Casino Royale.” If you like poker, you’ll probably like this. Charming, entertaining, light–if a bit sappy.
* “Waitress“: This chick-flick, which debuts this week in New York and Los Angeles (and the rest of the country, in the coming weeks), is getting a lot of buzz. It is the brainchild of the late Adrienne Shelly, the actress who was murdered in her New York office by an illegal alien who tried to stage it as a suicide. She wrote, directed, produced, and co-stars in it.
While it is charming and interesting, it is overall an anti-male movie, in which all men are creeps, cheaters, mean, incompetent, crotchety, or multiples of those. Consider it the hickish version of “Beaches,” and if you are a guy, skip it.
Keri Russell plays a Southern wife and waitress, who discovers she is pregnant by Earl, the controlling, scumbag husband she hates. She bakes fantastic, unusual gourmet pies with funny names relating to her hatred of her husband and the life she is stuck in. The pie diner in which she works is sort of like a 2007 version of “Alice” (the ’70s and ’80s TV sitcom about “Mel’s Diner”), but its biggest seller is her wonderful pies that are out of this world.
She begins an affair with her gynecologist, a nervous doctor from Connecticut, who is married. But all through the affair, she realizes that though he gives her the love and attention she needs, she desperately needs to get out of her loveless, trapping marriage. It’s hard to be convinced that this seemingly smart, independent woman would marry such a creep to begin with.
It’s a little more cheery than my description, but not much more. “Desperate Housewives” is better. Strangley, Keri Russell goes in and out of her Southern accent throughout the movie, making her less believable in the character. Best part of this movie is Andy Griffith, who co-stars as the wealthy man who owns the Pie Diner.
* “Away From Her“: This one is also open in New York and Los Angeles, today, with roll-out release nationwide in the next few weeks. There’s no way around it–this movie is extremely depressing and then some. If you know someone who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, it is more so.
A retired college professor’s wife (Julie Christie) begins to experience the disease, and she convinces him to commit her to a nursing home, despite his objections. He (Gordon Pinsent) loves her and feels he will lose her forever. And that’s what happens. She falls in love with another Alzheimer’s-stricken man (Aubrey) at the home and forgets who he is. And that’s the happy part of the movie. It goes down hill from there. Also co-stars Olympia Dukakis.
It was very obviously made in Canada. I could have done without the gratuitous comment against the War in Iraq (“Don’t they remember Vietnam?”), which had absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
Whoever thought movies were a fun, escapist adventure from humdrum life had nothing to do with making this sad, depressing onscreen tale. Still if your relative is slowly dying of the disease, you may enjoy that you may not have it as bad as the characters in this movie. Excellent acting and very convincing . . . unfortunately.
* “The Invisible“: This thriller debuted last week, but was not screened for critics. I paid to see it on my own, this past week, and I somewhat enjoyed it. I’m surprised they didn’t let critics take a jab at it ahead of time.
A wealthy, smart high school senior in Seattle is murdered by his drug-dealing, crime-spree-engaging female classmate, after he is falsely accused of snitching on her to police. But is he really murdered? It turns out, he isn’t dead yet, but dying. He is invisible to his classmates, friends, and all who are investigating his disappearance and looking for his body. Without her seeing or hearing him, he must convince his hoodlum would-be-killerette to tell police where his body is, as he will soon die.
This movie is far more engaging than my description. It is thrilling and engaging. But it is also violent and bloody and not for kids. Perhaps late teens may be able to see it, but I’d advise against that and recommend it for adults only, despite the PG-13 rating, which I think is quite liberal given the nature of this film. No big stars in this. Biggest name is Marcia Gay Harden, in a co-starring role as the dying boy’s mother.
Tags: actress, Adrienne Shelly, Alice, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's disease, Andy Griffith, Arlington Road, Away From Her, Canada, Casino Royale, Civic Duty, college professor, Connecticut, Debbie Schlussel, Drew Barrymore, Eric Bana, Gordon Pinsent, gynecologist, I, If, Iraq, Israel, Julie Christie, Keri Russell, Los Angeles, Lucky You, Marcia Gay Harden, Munich, New York, Olympia Dukakis, Robert Duvall, Seattle, Spiderman 3, The Invisible, Vegas, Vietnam, waitress