November 12, 2010, - 4:45 pm

UPDATED – Wknd Box Office: “Unstoppable,” “Morning Glory,” “Tamara Drewe,” “Skyline”

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE, 11/13/10, 10:10 p.m.: SCROLL DOWN FOR “Skyline” REVIEW, Just Added

“Skyline” was not screened for critics, generally a sign it isn’t good.  But you never know, and I’ll try to say it over the weekend and report back.  Here’s what I saw:

*  “Unstoppable“:  While this isn’t the greatest, most exciting action thriller ever made, it’s adequate, entertaining, and enjoyable.  It’s also predictable and decidedly anti-corporate America, with a CEO who’d rather risk people dying than ruin a multi-million dollar train (which isn’t realistic because any CEO knows he’d be in for millions more in lawsuits and bad publicity).

Idiots working at the yard of a private rail company let a train go without putting on emergency brakes.  The unmanned train won’t stop and is carrying poisonous cargo, which could kill many people if the train crashes and the fumes are unleashed.  Rosario Dawson plays a supervisor trying to stop the train.  The workmanlike Denzel Washington and ruggedly hot Chris Pine play working-class employees on board another train, trying to stop the runaway train from jumping the rails and killing people.

Washington is a father who is on the outs with one of his Hooters waitress daughters because he forgot her birthday (gee, how much did Hooters pay for this very friendly product placement?).  He’s an experienced train engineer.  Pine isn’t.  He got his job through family connections in the union, and it’s his first day on the job.  He is distracted by issues in family court dealing with a restraining order against him with regard to his estranged wife and child.  All of those things are side issues to the main story here, the runaway train and their efforts to stop it.

As you may know, this isn’t Washington’s first outing in a runaway train movie, as he starred in the more exciting “Taking of Pelham 1-2-3″ (read my review) (a remake of the exciting original).  While some of the story in this movie (allegedly based on a true story) strains credulity (Pine jumping from a speeding truck to an even faster, speeding train with an injured leg), it’s entertaining enough to fill two hours without much offense . . . other than making corporate execs look like morons and insensitive creeps in typical Hollywood, anti-business fashion.  And, yes, this anti-business movie comes from Rupert Murdoch’s and Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal’s 20th Century FOX.  In case you didn’t know, nearly every news report–and there are many in this–has the logo of local FOX stations emblazoned in giant letters across the screen.

TWO REAGANS
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* “Morning Glory“: More like Morning Sickness. This absolutely awful, dopey, saccharin chick flick romantic comedy is barely comedic and the characters made me want to slit their wrists even more than I wanted to slit mine sitting through this.

Rachel McAdams’ morning TV show producer character is so highly annoying and neurotic, you simply can’t take it. That makes it even more surprising that the most dull actor in Hollywood, Patrick Wilson, wants to “date” (euphemism) her. Real-life Vietnam draft-dodger Harrison Ford takes out his stupid mid-life crisis man-earring to play a respected journalist and former network news anchor who begrudgingly hosts a very low-rated network morning show with Diane Keaton. The show is in danger of cancellation, and McAdams will lose her job if that happens.

While there are a few–very, very few–funny lines, it’s mostly stupid, slow, and boring. Not to mention, uber-predictable. Ford realizes that stupid morning show fluff is real journalism far better than his own hard-hitting investigative reports and the ratings zip up. Day saved. Coulda told you that before I suffered through this high-fructose corn syrup. The only worthwhile funny part–very mildly funny–was when a photo of Jimmy Carter’s face was on the news, with the accidental notation under it that he’s a sex offender. Not worth 1.5 hours and ten bucks of your life for that.

Skipworthy to the Nth.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* “Tamara Drewe“: This entertaining, laid back movie is predictable and definitely not for kids. But it’s still light and amusing. It follows several characters in the British countryside, whose lives intertwine in adult ways.

There is a successful writer who has a country home and hosts aspiring writers for retreats on which to write their own books. He, however, is a cad and is cheating on his doting wife (who helps make his books a success, manages his career, and hosts the retreats) with a younger woman.

Meanwhile, the farm next door is being readied for sale by the young journalist, Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton), who grew up there. She has gotten plastic surgery to remove her beak of a nose and is now very comely. She has several affairs with characters in the movie, but the farmhand whose family used to own the property is the one who longs for her and believes he’s her true love. She, however, has other ideas and is into a famous rock star she’s been assigned to cover.

Two young town girls are in love with the rock star and spy on the him and his new journalist love, trying to wreak havoc.  It’s kind of like a Woody Allen movie with a happy ending and very heavy, hard-to-decipher English accents (and one stereotypical American).

ONE REAGAN
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Watch the trailer . . .

**** UPDATE, 11/13/10, 10:10 p.m.: Just returned from seeing “Skyline,” and while I can see why they didn’t screen it for critics, it wasn’t bad. I’ve seen far worse, and I liked it much better than “Morning Glory” (see my review above).

Eric Balfour (whom you will recognize from TV’s “24″) and Donald Faison (whom you’ll recognize from TV’s “Scrubs”) are childhood friends who’ve reunited at Faison’s luxe Los Angeles high-rise condo. Faison is a showbiz success and has invited Balfour and his girlfriend to visit for a party and to try to convince him to join him in L.A. Soon, however, mysterious lights begin descending from the sky, which turn out to be outer space spaceships and giant monstrous aliens. The light hypnotizes and consumes people, and the monsters are invading apartments and killing people, in addition to destroying Los Angeles. What will they do? How will they escape? Will they escape?

This is my kind of movie, until the ending, which was grotesque and not necessary, though I could see it. It should have ended prior to that scene, but otherwise, it really wasn’t that bad. It was entertaining and definitely an escape. Plus, I loved the way it was shot.

ONE REAGAN
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Watch the trailer . . .

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16 Responses

Saw ” Fair Game” today I was looking forward to your review, I hated it.

Frank on November 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Good review, Debbie, of Unstoppable. I myself preferred this film to last year’s Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. I was not expecting much after seeing the trailers, so I was happily surprised. Like you, I found the anti-corporate parts of the script annoying, not just with the company manager who is frantic about the railroad’s stock decreasing, but also the subplot involving laying off workers into early retirement in order to avoid costly benefit packages–which to me is an indictment of unions more than of business.

I liked Morning Glory more than you. Yes, the Rachel McAdams character was unlikable and neurotic–reminiscent of the bloodless Faye Dunaway executive in Network. Only in this film she wears a perpetually cute happy face. I found what I took to be a weirdly and deliberately unflattering portrait interesting. I also like the spanking the movie gave to stuffy elites who consider MSM evening news–with all of its liberal bias, please!–somehow superior to junky morning chickified infotainment. It’s all corrupt and rotted, so let’s not have any more condescension.

I also saw Skyline. It was a pretty generic monster movie, cheaply made, and without memorable characters. I myself like monster movies and long for a return of an era when movies like The Thing, Them, The Crawling Eye, Man From the Planet X and Brain From Planet Arous are released in a regular way. So I was happy to see this new movie myself (Rotten Tomatoes gives it only 13% approval, though).

Burke on November 12, 2010 at 9:45 pm

No Denzel movies for me – typical Black “star” ready to throw the Race Card any second,if the slightest thing irritates him.

Phineas on November 12, 2010 at 10:48 pm

While some of the story in this movie (allegedly based on a true story)

And in the ‘true’ part the guy that Washington plays is white. If this was reversed we’d never hear the end of it. Hollywood never tires of trying to get us to worship at the alter.

Ernest on November 13, 2010 at 5:18 am

    While some of the story in this movie (allegedly based on a true story)

    And in the ‘true’ part the guy that Washington plays is white. If this was reversed we’d never hear the end of it. Hollywood never tires of trying to get us to worship at the alter.

    Ernest on November 13, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Reply

    Do you mean “worship at the altar?”

    Miranda Rose Smith on November 14, 2010 at 9:51 am

      @MRS (with the pretty name)…
      “to worship at the alter”
      alter, as in different from the norm or true
      a different reality
      -Hollywood wants us to worship a different reality-
      actually makes sense, don’t you think? ;)

      theShadow on November 14, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Your description of “Unstoppable” reminds me of a movie with a similar plot from 1985. In “Runaway Train,” Jon Voight and Eric Roberts play a couple of escaped convicts who hop on board a moving out of service train, in which the only other passenger is a cabin girl played by Rebecca DeMornay. As luck would have it, the engineer suffers a heart attack, keels over and dies, and the only way to stop the train from eventually crashing is for one of the three of them to somehow climb into engine car from the passenger car they’re in and hit the breaks. This is complicated by the fact that Voight’s character has a broken arm, and it involves climbing around the side of a speeding locomotive in order to get to the door. Although a bit far fetched, It’s a fascinating character study and I highly recommend it.

Irving on November 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Thank you for the Skyline update. I’ve wanted to see it prior to it coming out. After your review, I will definitely go see it (since this is my kind of movie also). I am glad it isn’t/wasn’t going to be like the War of the Worlds remake or Independence Day.

Pats on November 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

No, she won’t show a useless hatred toward Harrison Ford, no he’s one of our most respected actors. He defined our modern image of the dashing rogue.

“Real-life Vietnam draft-dodger Harrison Ford”

Darn it. What’s next your gonna say the movie was produced by the America hating Bad Robot, who hired Canadian (also America hating) Evangeline Lily instead of a decent American actress.

Give it up Schlussel. Hating every actor in Hollywood and just cynically saying a movie is so boring you left is not good criticism. Look, I played the cynic critic for a year and even I could actually find enough to say about a film without going through through the closets of the cast to find the single thing they did to offend you.

On an unrelated note, oh my god look at Chris Pine’s eyes in that poster. I haven’t seen such unnaturally blue photoshopped eyes since Daniel Craig gazed triumphantly on a German tank with his blue laser emitting eyes in Defiance.

Yep on November 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

hi debbie. here is an interesting article in the nyt: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/world/europe/13sarrazin.html?_r=1

the subject of the article has been truthful and brave but, as always, the new york times slanted the article to make that person look bad. kudos to this man! (and to you too, for trying to prevent europe from becoming eurabia.)

r on November 14, 2010 at 4:28 am

We haven’t seen a movie for over 5 years. They do not know how to make good movies anymore. No more good story lines. Also the Hollywood left always manages to put in their view of things and want to make criminals look good and decent people look bad.

Fred on November 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Thanks! Debbie.
Love the movies too…

Augusto on November 15, 2010 at 4:35 am

I have a little different take on three of the four movies you have reviewed here.

Skyline was terrible. See my video review below
http://blip.tv/file/4376870

Morning Glory had potential…but Harrison Ford is NOT funny. See my review below.
http://blip.tv/file/4373926

Unstoppable is brainless but it pretty exciting. I didn’t like the herky jerky camera movement and mashine-gun editing.
See my video review below.
http://blip.tv/file/4374059

Brett Martin on November 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

Skyline started great and went down hill from there. The characters were forgettable and you developed no liking for them. The ending was done poorly. The best part was the FX.

spaceship22 on November 15, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Debbie

If you want to see a great film noir movie. Try “Born To Kill” 1947 with Lawrence Tierney and Clair Trevor. WHAT A MOVIE. Tierney also made other films around that time that are very good. Much better than what Hollywood puts out today.

Fred on November 16, 2010 at 1:01 am

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