January 8, 2010, - 4:03 pm

Weekend Box Office: “Leap Year,” “Dr. Parnassus,” “Youth in Revolt,” “Broken Embraces”

By Debbie Schlussel

There’s nothing particularly spectacular at the movie theater, this weekend.  Not even close.  In fact, they’re pretty much all skipworthy.  “Daybreakers” was not screened for Detroit-area movie critics, so I didn’t see it (thus, no review).

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*  “Leap Year“:  This formulaic, predictable rom-com (romantic comedy) stars Amy Adams as a professional Boston woman, who has been dating a weaselly-looking cardiologist (Adam Scott, who weirdly looks like Liza Minnelli) for four years without getting a marriage proposal.  Frustrated by that, she plans to travel to meet him in Dublin, Ireland, where there is a tradition of women proposing to their men on a leap year’s February 29th.

Most of the rest of the movie is Adams engaged in a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” style odyssey to get to Dublin amidst bad weather, missed trains, cows blocking the road, and a car that drives into a lake.  Adams hires a struggling small town Irish bar owner (Matthew Goode) to drive her to Dublin and is constantly fighting with him, but soon, they become attracted to each other, and you can guess the rest.

I was surprised to see Ireland portrayed as such a backward place without cell phones, computers, or much in the way of advancing beyond 1970.  Even people in small towns there have cell phones today, but not in this movie, where characters rely on payphones and the kindness of strangers.  Plus, scenes of old Irish men telling corny jokes also seemed dated.

I guess it doesn’t really matter, since the movie–while not offensive in any way–was kind of silly and slow.  Still, it was mildly–very mildly–entertaining, while mostly lame.

HALF A REAGAN
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*  “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus“:  This was Heath Ledger’s last movie, or, rather, he died in the middle of making it, which adds to its messiness.  This Terry Gilliam film is not his greatest, but it has his hallmarks–fantasy and fantastic, magical images and scenes.  But, unlike his other films with these, this wasn’t a tight story, like, say, the far superior “Brazil.”  Instead it was just aimless, with too many stories, dead ends, and tangents.  Having two other actors–Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law–play Ledger’s character adds to the aimlessness and confusion here.

The movie is about a former monk (Christopher Plummer) who is now a wizard of sorts, traveling around modern-day London, performing his sideshow with his teen daughter and a midget (Verne Troyer, who isn’t bad here).  But, soon, we learn that the wizard is an ageless man from hundreds of years ago how made a deal with the devil.   He lives forever, but when his daughter turns 16, she becomes the property of the devil.

While traveling, his daughter and the two others in his show see a man hanging from a bridge (Ledger).  They rescue him, and he helps them fight the devil and gain a larger audience for their show.  He is mysterious, and they are suspicious of him.  The show has a mysterious mirror, a portal to a fantasy world (the “imaginarium”), which plays out audience members’ fantasies and fears and gives them a moral choice to make that could decide their fate.

Like I said, the movie–while entertaining and visually fantastic–is too messy, has too much going on, and doesn’t have a tight or even minimally interesting story to tell. Mildly entertaining.

HALF A REAGAN
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*  “Youth in Revolt“:  This dark comedy mocks religious Christians, so it lost me.  Michael Cera plays a teen nerd obsessed with a girl who lives nearby.  Her parents, religious Christians, are morons–yup, typical Hollywood anti-religious propaganda.  Cera has an alter ego, Francois, who convinces him to engage in all form of chicanery, mischief, and bad deeds, to get the girl’s attention.  He burns and destroys his mother’s trailer home, breaks into a girls school, and otherwise acts foolish.  And I’m making it sound way better than it is.  Plus, the dialogue is filthy.

TWO MARXES
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*  “Broken Embraces“:  This arthouse film, starring Penelope Cruz, is in Spanish with English subtitles.  While it is visually beautiful and stylistically stunning, the story isn’t that great, and it’s slow.  Plus, I must mention the exception to the “visually beautiful” description.  I really didn’t need to see an 80-something man have sex with Cruz.  Gross.  Figures, since it’s directed by Roman Polanski apologist Pedro Almodovar.

Cruz plays a working class secretary who marries a much older, very wealthy industrialist.  He funds a movie production to satisfy her desire to become an actress, but she soon falls in love with the director and begins an affair.   The industrialist gets his gay son to spy on them and take videos.  Cruz and the director escape to a weekend at a resort, where extremely depressing, bad things happen to them.  The movie is told by the director, who is telling a 20-something man about his mother, who also worked on the film in which the industrialist’s wife starred.  He is spurred to tell it, years later, upon news of the industrialist’s death.

HALF A MARX
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30 Responses

Why should you care if it’s anti Christian, they worship a false messiah and false prophet, and have been At the front of anti semetism for more than a millenia. There are plenty of verses in the new testement that advocate anti semetism. ID like to post them but I’m sure you’ll ignore them and delete the post since you have to stay in good standing with the christians since they are the leading religion. Not to mention Martin Luther but that man sure did hate Jews, and he’s the father of protestentism.

Nak on January 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Martin Luther called Jews “The children of the devil” after unsuccessfully converting them to his religion centuries ago.

    Matthew on January 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Nak, you sound like a Muslim on jihad trying to divide and conquer. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. brought civilization to the countries that practice them, and those civilizations advanced. You don’t see Buddhists blowing themselves up to kill others.

    All except Islam, which is a barbaric religion that brings destruction, violence, and evil whereever Muslims conquer or attempt to conquer.

    JM on January 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

Jesus said the same thing to the ruling Jewish preists.

Nak on January 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I feel brave tonight…I’m going to try to rescue the thread! Back to the MOVIES, people, please! You can fight your religious war elsewhere!
With that said, the review of “Leap Year” brought to mind “Matchmaker” with Janeane Garofalo. I liked her performance;it was a bit crustier Irish rom/com with some charming characters.
I only made it through 10 minutes of “Sunshine Cleaning” so I’d like to see Adams in something good-I may wait for the rental, though.
I have no interest in any of the other new releases, but will be watching “Patton” on Bluray tomorrow. I’m set.

Douglas Q on January 8, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Adams was great in that live action Disney movie about the animated princess who comes to life . . . I forget the title.

gmartinz on January 9, 2010 at 12:50 am

Good reviews as usual, Debbie. I went out and saw the movies you reviewed and pretty much agreed with all your comments except that Leap Year that you found only “mildly entertaining” I found exceptionally cute. The main “plot” it seemed to me wasn’t so much the travel across Ireland as watching the two highly watchable leads Adams and Goode sweetly fall in love. A nice aspect was there wasn’t a single anti-American, anti-corporate, anti-conservative dis in the film which is rare. Also, most romantic comedies are targeted almost exclusively for females and against men and include absurd fantasies and mean-spirited resentments geared for females and against males; this movie did not and was exceptionally evenhanded. Yes, it’s a genre romantic comedy and includes the usual genre mechanics of wedding scenes, forced kisses, awkward bedroom incidents, etc. But the good chemistry and attractive personalities of the two leads made the film, for me, touching and romantic.

Revolt of Youth was, in my opinion, repulsive from start to finish. Do you like watching parents smushing potatoes in their own faces while high on “shrooms”? Ha ha. How about seeing a parent socked in the jaw when he scolds his son for using drugs with his friends in the living room? Ha ha. Disgusting, slimy–yet to my dismay the teens in the audience all laughed uproariously through the film. This is a fantasy not so much for teens in general, but more for bratty teens who hate and feel superior to adults (is that the majority?)

Dr. Parnassus movie was overly ambitious and incoherently rambling as are all of Gilliam’s stories, including Brazil which you mentioned liking when on the Mike Church show this week. This film contains–as do all his films, including Brazil– a strong subtext of naive romanticism and many slams against what liberals imagine to be the perverse values of capitalism and conservative authoritarianism. The film is all about dreams, good liberal ones versus bad conservative ones. Note in the film, for example, the caricature of an example of an evil and false dream like joining the police force–presumably for the titillating experience of committing “violence,” it’s suggested. Twelve Monkeys is my favorite Gilliam, but even that made insurance company CEOs the evil leaders of a future dystopia.

I also got a chance to see Daybreakers which you didn’t see because it wasn’t prescreened. The movie was a stylistically directed and tonally distinctive sci fi-horror-thriller. If you can accept the high concept of vampires becoming the new middle class in America, it’s very satisfying and amusing. The horror (including extreme gore) and special effects are excellent; the degraded humans turned into primitive vampires were truly scary. There is no humor or lightness; the attempt was to create a serious “vision.” It reminded me in atmosphere of another Ethan Hawke sci fi movie, Gattaca, which I didn’t like as much because there were no good monsters as there were in this movie.

Burke on January 9, 2010 at 8:17 am

Debbie, this is a consecutive…3rd weekend of junk at the movies. thank you, you are saving me tons of cash.

The Micheal Sera movie looked gawd awful. and Ireland!! those people have more industry and growth than america does.

Nak, I am fully open minded to possiblity christians may have a “false religion” if its false when I get to heaven I will ask God to convert to whatever he wants. I do not and cannot defend some of the boners christians pull, go see Rick Warren. perfect example of a nutcase. Nak, why dont you call islam a false religon like I do??

lindap on January 9, 2010 at 9:17 am

perhaps I’ve been overexposed to him throughout my life but the photo in “BROKEN PROMISES” reminds me of Michael ‘I love children'(but only boys), Jackson. running from the police.

Just a schmuck on January 9, 2010 at 10:37 am

Liza Minelli, lol.

Joe on January 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

You mean that isn’t Jackson?

Joe on January 9, 2010 at 11:53 am

Nak, the men who wrote the Bible were Jews, you ignorant, lying moron.

Daniel Middleman on January 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Maybe the old testement, but the NT was put together by Christians

Nak on January 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Nak,

All the Disciples and Jesus himself were Jews. All the original followers were Jews, it wasn’t until Paul came along did Gentiles accept Jesus, and even then, Peter and others said they had to be circumcised (become Jewish) before being accepted as one of The Way.

I will pray that God removes the hate from your heart. If you don’t mind please read Isaiah 53.

David on January 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    David,

    Isaiah 53 refers to Israel, not Jesus.

    fugitive67 on January 10, 2010 at 1:54 am

Anyone with Bluray, I encourage you to check out “Patton” It was even better looking than I thought it would be. George C. Scott made Patton real. I mentioned to my boss that I would be watching “Patton” this weekend and it turns out that his father served under Patton in France. Tiny world.

Douglas Q on January 9, 2010 at 5:47 pm

David if there’s one thing that never works, it’s prayer. There are several million people in the 30’s and 40’s who found that out the hard way.
Anyway, problem is Debbie is a Jew who by defenition rejects Jesus as the messiah, therfor she should not care if a movie is anti Christian since to her the entire religion should mean nothing.

Nak on January 9, 2010 at 6:19 pm

You lie. “Goyim” means non-Jew and nothing more or worse. Jews have never advocated genocide. All of the stories of war and conquest in the Old Testament were either defensive or old-fashioned geo-political. None, not one were about Jews engaging in racial murder for the sake of killing non-Jews. If your real name is Josh Stern you need a psychiatrist, if not, you are a liar. Christians and Jews do share a heritage up to a point and the dividing line is the divinity of Christ but the uniting force is defense of the West and a common desire to survive Jihad and the lunacy of the left. You appear to have a very different agenda or to be off your meds or both.

rachelle on January 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Rachelle, you rock!

Jews & Christians, we are both the sons of Isaac.

Debbie, you rock too!

Bobby, the Zionist Gentile on January 9, 2010 at 9:25 pm

What about the massacre of the Midianites Rachelle? Moses has them all killed including young boys and women who have been with a man, while the virgins were to be taken for the soldiers enjoyment, this is the same Moses who came down with the commandments then proceeded to have 3000 people killed.
Also there those who think the only true Jews are Christians sine the Messiah has already come and fulfilled the prophecies of the Torah.

My main point however from way back in other posts is that the Bible and Torah and Koran are all full of heinous verses and horrible laws that any reasonable person would do away with. Say what you will about Islam at least they actually follow their holy book to the letter, you seem to have forgotten how many verses are in the bible advocating all manners of horrible things that a supposedly loving God would have us do. If the Holocaust was allowed to happen there is no benevolent power out there.

Nak on January 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Pretty much correct on Martin Luther. Of course the Lutheran church has long since reformed that non-doctrinal stance. As for the New Testament being anti-Jewish, that is sheer nonsense. Distinction is made with Jews and Gentiles, that is all.

pat on January 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm

In Several Gospels in the NT, The Jews are referred to as the enemies of Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew the Jews took blame on the death of Jesus. “His [Jesus’s] blood be on us and on our children!” (27:25).

Nak on January 10, 2010 at 1:48 pm

From a Jewish scholar:
“The true meaning of Matthew 27:25, like any other Bible verse, is found within the context in which it is written. When looking at the context of Matthew’s Gospel (specifically, chapters 26 and 27) it is quite obvious that the entire Jewish race was not totally responsible for having Jesus crucified. Matthew 26 and 27 informs the reader that one individual and three distinct groups were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. They are (1) Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Jewish authorities (Matt. 26:14–16; 47–50); (2) the Jewish leaders. This group was made up of Caiphas the High Priest, the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. They united to form the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem which tried Jesus on the charge of blasphemy (Matt. 26:47, 57–67; 27:1–2, 5, 18, 25); (3) the Romans, comprised of the Procurator Pontius Pilate who handed Jesus over to be crucified and the Roman soldiers who actually nailed Jesus to the cross (Matt. 27:11–37); (4) the Jewish mob of Jerusalem. Though their role in Matthew 27 seems passive and subordinated under the control and influence of the chief priests and elders, their guilt in the death of Christ cannot be overlooked. They had the opportunity afforded them by Pilate to have Jesus released, but they chose instead a criminal named Barabbas (Matt 27:17, 20–26).”
Since the New Testament was written entirely by Jews, i will go with this interprestation.

pat on January 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    As to the responsibility of the Jewish crowd for the death of Jesus, there are a number of interesting theories not often discussed in polite society because, well, because it just isn’t often polite to mention that the Jews weren’t in the habit of killing each other when the Romans were so much better at it.

    My favorite explanation for the crowd scene turns on the odd, actually unique name of the theif who was spared due to the unique intervention of the Jewish crowd that never before or after was given the chance to save one of their own. Let us parse the name “Barabbas.” Guess what? It isn’t a normal name. Never occcurred again in all of Jewish history. Indeed, in Aramaic and Hebrew of the first century (and a bunch of centuries since) it is merely a title. Care to know what it means oh Jewish Scholar? When you measure out blame for the execution of Jesus by the Romans for treason by the cross — a strictly Roman method of execution? Well Barabbas means “Son of the Father.” It is an honorific that very well could be a reference to Jesus. It surely isn’t Aramaic for Sidney. Consider that the Romans, soon to be Romanm catholics surely didn’t mind executing the “King of the Jews” as he was labeled on his cross but they darn well didn’t want to take all the blame for killing their own newly recognized Son of God (get it, son of the father).

    Ask your average six year old for an explanation about blame and guilt. He can explain how the kid in the next chair made him spill his milk or trip the teacher. Who else was around for the Romans to blame? The Irish? Sure, the Jews, who were soon to be all but oblitererated and exiled by the Romans — masters of most of the known world — manipulated their Roman masters into killing one of their brother Jews because the Romans didn’t want to kill that particular Jew, even though they had surely no problem whatever killing thousands upon thousands of other Jews. Sure, if you believe that, you might want to buy a brand new bridge in Brooklyn from a Mr. Barabbas. All you have to do is find him.

    rachelle on January 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm

One scholars assesment? There are plenty others who take the anti semetic approach instead.

Nak on January 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm

One scholars assesment? There are plenty others who take the anti semetic approach instead.
There’s still the little matter of the bible being as bad as the Koran

Nak on January 10, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Nak you are enjoying this divide and conquer thing aren’t you?

Ken Blazek on January 11, 2010 at 9:16 am

Debbie — you were right on about Revolting Youth — I mean Youth in Revolt! I wish I’d read your review before wasting my time and money on it — yuck! It sure would be refreshing if a movie would portray practicing Christians as nice, reasonable people!

MOMinMINNESOTA on January 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

What a waste of a weekend.

JulieJ on January 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Hi Deb,

Saw ‘Leap Year’ on an a long airplane flight from Honolulu to Salt Lake City in between “Book of Eli” and that Mel Gibson vengence movie, so I guess it was a nice switch from the blood and guts of the other two flicks. I like Amy Adams, even though I could not figure out why her character liked that gay doctor (the Liza Minelli). I thought the Irish were charming in a traditional way, kind of a throwback, although it probably would have worked better if it was set in the 80s, pre-computer and cell phone era.

Dave on June 8, 2010 at 7:07 pm

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