November 21, 2007, - 9:53 am
Mid-Week Box Office: Magical “Enchanted” Far Outpaces Nonsensical “Hitman,” Anti-Christian “Mist,” Stereotypical “This Christmas,” Racist, Unbelievable “August Rush”
By Debbie Schlussel
Lots of new choices at the movies, all out today for the big Thanksgiving box office weekend. Also, don’t forget that the EXCELLENT “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” (Read my review and preview) is in theaters nationwide and meant to be seen on a giant theater screen. “Enchanted” is, by leaps and bounds, the best of the new:
* “Enchanted“: I can’t say enough good things about this charming, funny, novel movie that both you and your kids will enjoy and find very entertaining, as I did. This is classic, magical Disney like I remember from when I was a kid. Except, there is a twist–it’s mixed with comedy and lots of parody of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and all the other similar fairy tales. The movie is very briefly animated, but mostly shot with real human actors.
What happens when an animated Cinderella-style character is about to marry her Prince, but then gets shoved into the real-life world of fast-paced, cynical New York, completely unequipped for the Blackberry world of contemporary big-city America, with its nasty divorce fights and other things you don’t see in fairy tale fantasies?
Giselle, magnificently played by actress Amy Adams, finds out. She meets her prince and is about to marry him, when his evil, wicked witch mother, the Queen (played, appropriately, by real-life evil, wicked witch Susan Sarandon) pushes Giselle down a fountain. She lands in a New York sewer and hasn’t a clue how to fend for herself in the real world, when she encounters a divorce lawyer, Patrick Dempsey, and his daughter. Dempsey thinks she’s a crazy woman who’s lost her mind. After all, there are no real fairy-tale princesses who walk around New York in hoop-skirted ball gowns. Still, they take her in to try to help her, at Dempsey’s daughter’s urging.
Soon, though, even jaded divorce lawyer Dempsey comes to believe . . . sort of. As it turns out, the fairy tale Giselle’s advice, traditional values, and outlook on life is wiser and more meaningful than that of the cynical real world New Yorkers. Meanwhile, the Prince, James Marsden, has come through the Times Square manhole to New York (in his princely get-up) to rescue his would-be bride. His right-hand man, secretly working for the Queen, tries to sabotage it.
Magical and funny scenes throughout this one, including one in which Giselle gets rats, cockroaches, and pigeons to clean up Dempsey’s messy New York apartment and cuts up his expensive, fancy drapes, making them into fairy-tale style dresses. There’s also a GREAT line uttered by Sarandon to Dempsey about him (and other modern guys) being a girlie-man, with a woman rescuing him. I agree with the line, but it’s ironic that Tim Robbins’ shrew is uttering it.
Best line in the movie (among many):
Some girl’s crying like we’re on “Oprah.”
Truth in advertising is in the title of the film, though: “Enchanted” is truly enchanting. Take your whole family and enjoy.
* “The Mist“: I’ve already asked, regarding this movie, whether Stephen King hates Christians. This movie is based on one of King’s novellas (“Skeleton Crew“) and starts out like one of those great, classic King silver screen thrillers. But, a third of the way through, it degrades into an anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-U.S. military, pro-suicide rant.
A movie poster designer (the very hot Thomas Jane) and his family lose their power when a storm hits their New England town. They notice a mist spreading over the lake. Jane and his son go into town to get food and supplies, when they become trapped inside the supermarket with other townsfolk and vacationing New Yorkers. They are trapped by the mist and the creatures–giant insects and flying dragons–it spawns. The creatures are killing everyone in their path–anyone who dares go outside. A warning: It’s quite violent, bloody and gross, ie., a body cut in half, etc.
Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), thumping her Bible and blaming stem cell research and abortion, is the classic Tinseltown version of evil, conservative Christian villain. She says we deserved the plague–the mist and its monsters–and its resulting killings and dismemberments. She preaches and screams and rants and raves. Soon, she has whipped most inside the supermarket into a frenzied mob. She demands sacrifices–human ones–and says the soldiers must die. She uses her Christianity, the Bible, and her positions on stem cells and abortion as an excuse for her bloodthirstiness and gets the mob to kill a soldier–he is the sacrifice “for our sins.”
(Uh, sorry, but religious, conservative Christians are the biggest supporters of our soldiers, not the murderers of them. That’s the role of Hollywood, which strongly opposes their every move.)
I’m told by those who’ve read King’s novella, that Mrs. Carmody is a minor figure. But in this, she–the Christian conservative zealot–is a major character. She’s the bigger enemy to mankind, far worse than the plague of giant human-eating and -killing creatures in the mist.
Soon, we learn that–of course–the mist is a result of scientific experiments conducted by the evil U.S. military at a nearby Army base. Yup, it’s all the military’s fault that people are being attacked and eaten by giant bugs and monsters.
In addition to all of this, I hated the ending of this blatant anti-Christian, anti-conservative propaganda film (though some might say there is a redeeming part regarding the military). But I can’t say what the ending is, because Stephen King has threatened to hang me to death by my throat. And I wouldn’t want that.
He and (director/scriptwriter Frank Darabont) already showed he means business, by trying to do the same thing to the conventional Hollywood enemies: Christians, conservatives, and the U.S. military.
* “Hitman“: I wish I liked this movie because it is about a cool hitman (Timothy Olyphant) and has lots of cool guns. But that’s all there is. It’s about the same as most movies based on video games (as this one is): bad.
The plot–if you can call it that–is nonsensical. Something about a Russian leader having a body double and hiring a hitman to kill him or his double–I’m not sure. Then, someone is trying to complete a hit on the hitman and is setting him up. I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe you can. Or maybe you can tell me why a hitman–who has the whole world’s law enforcement authorities, including Interpol inspector Mike (a former love interest on “Desperate Housewives”)–can elude everyone when he has a distinct barcode tattoo on the back of his completely-shaven head. I mean, no-one around the world notices this is the guy with the barcode tattoo they’re looking for?
The whole thing is weird. Add that to the fact that the movie can’t decide what it wants to be. At times it’s a parody of itself. There’s a scene in which a number of men with shaven-bald heads and barcode tattoos on the backs of them surround Olyphant (Agent 47–he was never given a real name, as he was raised from birth to be an assassin) to kill him. He says something about fighting fair, so they all drop their guns and magically pull out two long swords each from inside their pants (and start dueling with two swords apiece).
That’s an exclamation that will go through your head throughout this silly movie. Like I said, the plot is non-sensical, the film is a mess. The guns are cool, but the extreme violence and blood in this movie has no rhyme or reason.
Also, the foreign accents–and there are a lot of them in this–are really bad. The only believable one is that of the Russian actress love “interest,” who tries to come on to Agent 47 but can’t seal the deal (since he’s apparently asexual). Her purpose in the movie is to repeatedly expose her breasts to a guy whose not interested and moviegoers who apparently need that to make up for the rest of what this movie lacks. And that’s it. Add to that, the English guy from “Desperate Housewives” with his crummy pseudo-Scottish accent. And the mean, one-handed guy from “Prison Break” playing a corrupt Russian police honcho with his bad Russian accent.
Only see this if you like guns and shooting, have two hours and ten bucks to waste, and don’t care for a storyline whatsoever. Otherwise, skip it.
* “August Rush“: Why is a movie about August coming out when it’s just getting cold? Well, because August Rush has nothing to do with the summer month. It’s the assumed name of a young boy who is hidden from his mother after she conceives him in a one-night stand. Oh, and the villains in this movie are all evil White men. The heroes, all Black. But I’m sure race had nothing to do with it. Right?
A young kid in an orphanage constantly hears musical compositions and pitches in his mind that others can’t. He insists to a social worker (Terrence Howard) (Good Black Guy #1) that he doesn’t want to be adopted because he knows his parents are coming for him. He’s convinced. Howard takes him under his wing.
Then we flash back to his parents. Keri Russell plays a famous concert cellist touring the country with her evil manager father. One night, at a party, she meets and falls in love with an apparent illegal alien Irish rock singer. They have a one-night stand, and she conceives this child. Also, they’d planned to meet up again, but it doesn’t happen. Her evil father fears the kid will get in the way, so he tells her she lost the kid in childbirth. (Evil White Man #1.)
Meanwhile, her son runs away from the orphanage and is taken in by an evil Bono-look alike character (Robin Williams), who discovers the runaway kid’s musical genius and farms him out for performances and keeps him captive. (Evil White Man #2). He gives him the prententious name, “August Rush.”
Meanwhile, Russell always feels as if her son really never died. She goes to New York and discovers she is right, that her father faked her signature and gave him up. She meets social worker Terrence Howard who helps her try to find her son (Good Black Guy #1, again).
Meanwhile August Rush escapes evil Robin Williams, where he is rescued by a Black preacher and his church members (Good Black Guys #2-50) and put in Giulliard, where he becomes composer prodigy and–at age 10–is conducting a symphonic concert in Central Park.
Magically, the Irish illegal alien rocker who has been searching for his love (and has apparently been in America roaming free and illegally all these years–shocker)–cellist Keri Russell–and cellist Keri who has been searching for her son–now named “August Rush”–eventually and conveniently, all find each other–despite a series of evil White men, and because of the help of the very nice Black men–and live happily ever after. The end.
I’m all for portraying Black Americans in a positive light. But come on. The reverse racist overtones in this movie are pretty stark.
In the end, it does have sort of a pro-life/importance of family message. Mildly entertaining, a little chick flickish, and way too neat and convenient in most parts of the plot. But does have some charm to it.
* “This Christmas“: Although I found this cliched movie–about a Black family that re-unites for Christmas–somewhat entertaining, I cannot understand why so many Black directors/producers/screenwriters make movies about their ethnic group that are filled with the usual negative stereotypes. This one, written and directed by Preston A. Whitmore III, is overloaded with them.
Ma’Dere Whitfield is the single mother who raised her entire family on her own (Steretype #1-though this is born out by truth, since the majority of American Black households are headed by single mothers). Her husband abandoned her and the kids to pursue a jazz career (Stereotype #2). Her two single daughters are sluts (Stereotype #3), and the one who is married is being cheated on (which she knowingly accepts) by her greedy husband who wants her mother to sell her dry cleaners biz so he can get his hands on the money (Stereotypes #4-6).
Her most successful son is a soldier, but he goes AWOL (Stereotype #7) to spend Christmas with the family, pulls a gun on people at a nightclub (Stereotype #8), is secretly married to a White woman (Stereotype #9), whom he got pregnant (Stereotype #10). The oldest son is a loser who pursued a musical career and is being pursued by two Black loanshark hitmen (Stereotypes #11-13). Another son (phenomenal singer Chris Brown) secretly wants to be singer (Stereotype #14). And, oh yeah, mom Ma’Dere is secretly living “in sin” with the church deacon (Stereotype #15).
The film gets points from me since it features one of my fave funk songs, Kool & The Gang’s “Get Down On It” almost in its entirety, in a scene where the family dances in a soul train (Stereotype #16).
In the end, everything works out and ends “happily.”
The soundtrack of this movie is a thorough repertoire of pop classic Christmas renditions, including Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” from which the movie gets its title. The biggest names in the movie are Delroy Lindo and Regina King.
I especially enjoyed watching the movie with an entirely Black audience. The woman sitting next to me–I’m not making this up–uttered many “No you didn’t”s and “You know that’s right”s to the screen, which made it more entertaining.
Tags: actress, America, Amy Adams, August Rush, Black preacher, Carmody, cellist, Central Park, Chris Brown, Christmas, completely-shaven head, composer, concert cellist, Debbie Schlussel Lots, Delroy Lindo, Delroy Lindo and Regina King, director /scriptwriter, director/scriptwriter Frank Darabont, divorce lawyer, Donny Hathaway, Enchanted, even jaded divorce lawyer, food, Frank Darabont, Get Down On It, Hitman, Inspector, Interpol, James Marsden, Keri Russell, King, law enforcement authorities, location, manager father, Marcia Gay Harden, Meanwhile, Mike, Mist, movie poster designer, New England, New York, Oprah, Patrick Dempsey, phenomenal singer, Preston A. Whitmore III, Prince, Queen, Regina King, Robin Williams, rock singer, Russian police, singer, social worker, stem cells, Stephen King, Susan Sarandon, Terrence Howard, Thanksgiving, The Final Cut, The Mist, the Times, This Christmas, Thomas Jane, Tim Robbins, Timothy Olyphant, Tinseltown, U.S. military, United States