March 25, 2011, - 5:25 pm

Wknd Box Office: Sucker Punch, Jane Eyre, Diary of Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

By Debbie Schlussel

Here are my reviews of this weekend’s new movies:

*  “Sucker Punch“:  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more pretentious piece of tripe.  So much style, so many cool special effects, and yet so little substance, all of it pure garbage.  This is what you get when they make graphic novels–usually crappy–into even crappier movies.  While this one wasn’t originally a graphic novel, it was written, supposedly, with a “graphic novel” sensibility, according to Zack Snyder, who wrote and directed it as well as several movies made from graphic novels.  The story is ridiculous, but tries to pretend to have us in three different alternative universes . . . or something.  Hey, make us wonder whether three ridiculous stories filled with stupidity are real or made up.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Three stories, all just horrid.

A 20-something girl’s wealthy mother dies, as does her sister, when she accidentally tries to save her from their evil stepfather, who either did or tried to rape the younger sister.  Then, the stepfather takes her to a creepy, corrupt insane asylum, which is either really a brothel or it’s just in her imagination.  We’re not told either way, not that I cared.  The girl, Baby Doll, is scheduled for a lobotomy.  While she waits for that–or while she’s getting it (that isn’t clear either)–we see her being trained to dance as all the girls in the whorehouse are trained to do.  But when she dances–which we never see–everyone is hypnotized, and suddenly all of the girls are in some warrior futuristic world training to kill the enemy and blow up stuff and she-warriors.  That world is supposed to show the girl Baby Doll how to escape the asylum.  We go back and forth between these three stories.  And it’s pointless.

Both leads in this awful movie are Australian because I guess there is a shortage of American actors in Hollywood, these days.  Not that this would be the flick in which they’d desperately want to act.  Co-stars Abbie Cornish, who is not Baby Doll (that’s Emily Browning), but some other character, called Sweet Pea.  Yes, the names are stupid, just like the movie.  Also, it’s amazing this isn’t rated “R,” but only PG-13.  If you let your 14-year-old go to this, you’re an idiot.

Definitely not for kids.  And, for that matter, definitely not for adults either.  Only for morons wanting to feel unduly smart while wasting ten bucks and two hours of life.

THREE MARXES
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Watch the trailer. . .

*  “Jane Eyre“:  Unlike many, I’ve never seen any other movie incarnations of the Charlotte Bronte novel.  But I really liked this version.  Mia Wasikowska, an actress I normally didn’t think much of, really does well in playing Jane Eyre through tragedy after tragedy and struggle after struggle. Michael Fassbender is excellent in his role as her master and love interest.

Yes, it’s essentially a chick flick, but one of the better ones and very classy and well done.  If you’ve read the book, you know the story.  If you haven’t, it’s the period piece story of an English girl whose parents die and whose wealthy relative despises her.  The relative sends her to live in a mean, tough orphanage of sorts.  When she grows up and gets out, she becomes the governess of the young ward of a wealthy English lord and develops romantic feelings for him.  But all is not a bed of roses.

Beautifully shot and well acted.  A little slow, but that’s kind of the typical tempo for pictures involving that slower time period.

THREE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Rodrick Rules“:  This is a sequel to last year’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (read my review), and I liked this one better.  It’s funny, entertaining, and the main character, a middle school boy named Greg, isn’t the unethical creep he was in the first movie.  In this one, he’s actually trying to do the right thing . . . sort of.  It’s fine to take your kids to this, and you might laugh, too.  As I said, it’s entertaining . . . though, mostly for young boys who like grossness and juvenile bathroom humor.

What I didn’t like about this is that the parents are complete morons (as in everything from Hollywood and, unfortunately, as in a whole lotta real life), and the movie encourages younger kids to do dumb stuff to get a lot of hits on YouTube.  How much did YouTube pay for that product placement?

Greg, now beginning his second year in middle school, is no longer the picked on new guy.  Instead, he has to deal with the worst harassment from his older brother, Rodrick, ever.  And he has to deal with idiotic parents who are oh, so clueless while preaching empty moralisms they actually don’t practice or enforce, which makes it maybe not such a coincidence that the mom (Rachael Harris) looks and acts a lot like Sarah Palin.  Greg is also trying to impress the beautiful new girl from California for whom he’s developed a thing.

Not a great kids’ movie, but fine, especially if you have young boys that need to let off some steam.  Make sure they don’t get any ideas from the antics of Greg and his brother, though.

ONE REAGAN-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

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31 Responses

Yay! I am so rapt about “Jane Eyre”. I will definately see it this weekend! Bonus!

Skunky on March 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I think I’ll pop some DVDs in this weekend.
Let’s see, “The Big Sleep” or “Despicable Me”?
I know! Bogey night tonight, cartoons tomorrow. Let’s see..
The Big Sleep, Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon.
Then tomorrow Despicable Me and Monsters, Inc.

Yep, that makes for a great weekend’s entertainment!

Michelle on March 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm

“Sucker Punch” has never been a graphic novel.

C: Writer/director Zack Snyder says he “wrote” it with a graphic novel sensibility. Same difference. Corrected. DS

Christian on March 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm

“a more pretentious piece of tripe”
You keep using that word. I don’t believe you know what it actually means.

That Guy. on March 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Tripe (from the wiki): “Tripe (from French tripe) is a type of edible offal from the stomachs of various farm animals.[1][2]

    Contents [hide]
    1 Description
    1.1 Beef tripe
    1.2 Other animals
    1.3 Unwashed tripe
    2 Tripas
    3 Nutritional Value
    4 See also
    5 References

    [edit] Description[edit] Beef tripeBeef tripe is usually made from only the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe). Abomasum (reed) tripe is seen much less frequently, owing to its glandular tissue content.

    [edit] Other animalsTripe is also produced from sheep, goats, pigs and deer. Sometimes, when it is bright pink, it is goat skin.

    [edit] Unwashed tripeUnwashed (or “green”) tripe includes some of the stomach’s last content, giving it an unpleasant odor and causing it to be considered unfit for human consumption. However, this content is desirable to dogs and many other carnivores and is often used in pet food.[3] Though it is called “green” because it has a high chlorophyll content, in reality it is often greyish brown as a result of other undigested compounds.

    For human consumption, tripe must be washed and meticulously cleaned. It is ideal to boil it for two or three hours in water with salt (1 tablespoon per litre of water) to soften it and also clean it in the process.”

    What’s wrong with Debbie’s use?

    Occam's Tool on March 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for the heads up on wimpy kids. You ALWAYS make great calls when it comes to kid movies. I can safely rake my god son to this with out my sister, his Mom not killing me. Fair play to you.

ceannrua on March 25, 2011 at 9:15 pm

This version of Jane Eyre has great cinematography, direction, and acting. Even if you’re familar with the story, you’ll be impressed by the presentation. A minor quibble: not sure if this was an editing fault, but when Jane is told she has been given a job at a village school teaching the children of villagers, we are taken immediately to what we soon realise is Thornfield Hall – and not the school setting.

Nir Leiu on March 26, 2011 at 4:19 am

    I also liked The Lincoln Lawyer (a clever title when you think about it), despite the fact it was shot on washed-out sludgy video. The rich, deep colors of Technicolor have gone forever (along with honest elections).

    Nir Leiu on March 26, 2011 at 4:22 am

Someday some slacker will watch suckerpunch by mistake and will never be able to figure out what he just saw or for what purpose was the film made? I know I can’t figure out a puzzle where the pieces intentionally don’t fit.

Deep in It on March 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

I get a lot of links here from a seperate website. Everytime I read one of your reviews I die a little inside. You hate everything popular to appear ‘edgy’ and hipster. You follow artistic movies like the second coming of christ. The most worrying thing is your actually paid to review these things.

Oh and Sucker Punch has Cyber Nazis and dragons. Your opinion is irrelevant

someone concerned for the time to come on March 26, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Whatever, “Someone”, sorry if you are just looking for someone to agree with your tastes all the time.

    As a self-proclaimed movie snob who dislikes most American movies, I was very pleased to see that via DS’s reviews that she is a very good reviewer. I even saw some films on her recommendations that I would normally avoid, and I was so pleased to agree with her review (“Taken” comes to mind).

    Oh, and you’re just wrong about her no liking anything “edgy”. I mostly like “edgy” movies and DS has a very edgy streak to her. I mean, if she were the type who just liked films/shows like “The Waltons” or “Little House On The Prairie”, she’d be boring. So you’re just angry and wrong.

    Skunky on March 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Oh, my goodness, that was so funny!

    “You follow artistic movies like the second coming of christ.”

    BWAAAHAHAHAAHAHAAAAAAA!

    She’s Jewish. The Second Coming would be rather upsetting for her.

    You don’t really read her blog much, do you?

    Michelle on March 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I have to agree with you, Sucker Punch was a good movie. Also Debbie, you’re the reason why democrats and liberals hate republicans and conservatives and try to say we’re all crazy extremists. Also Salt(Although at some points unbelievable.) was still a good movie.

    Someoneelse concerned for the time to come on April 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

Movies are sometimes a tax dodge. You lose money on a stupid movie you take it off your taxes? I heard that in the 90’s. Lots of money going into B movies just to get the tax break. I could be wrong, I really heard that though.

Dante on March 26, 2011 at 10:23 am

I saw 2 trailers for Sucker Punch and got a migraine. Didn’t need Debbie Schlussel to tell me that the flick would be a mess.

A movie should be seen as a novel, as a vehicle designed to suspend disbelief with only enough fireworks to make it interesting. If I wanted to dine on junk, I’d eat at Mickey Dee’s.

I’d still check out that movie, though. I’ve seen worse timewasters. (Avatar, anyone?)

The Reverend Jacques on March 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I’m guessing they make movies in other countries to avoid the cost of production imposed by American union shops, while at the same time extol the “virtues” of union labor in this country.

T.Y. on March 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

“Sucker Punch” is everything that is wrong with American films.

Computer generated fakery? Check.

Threadbare story? Check. Extra points if it makes zero sense.

“Cool” items/motifs tossed together in an inexplicable jumble for no reason whatsoever? Check.

Tossing all sorts of conflicting, useless, plot-devices together in a jumble of nonsense is not CLEVER OR INTERESTING.

It doesn’t supplant the plot.

American filmmakers need to go back to the drawing board and basics. You START with a story worth telling, then you build the parts around it TO SERVE THE TELLING OF THE STORY. The props are NOT THE STORY.

pitandpen on March 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Broderick Rules was hilarious. Took my 13 year old son, and I laughed more than he did and I’m 51 years old. Definitely better than the first one, and I liked the first one.

fireheart on March 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

My wife is a Jane Eyre fanatic. She has all the versions ever done on DVD and loved this latest movie. She went twice on opening day.lol Her new favorite. I thought it was good especially considering it was only 2 hrs compared to the longer versions. Her 2nd fav was the Timothy Dalton version. I liked the William Hurt version but I favor all his stuff. Even his character in “The Big Chill”.

samurai on March 26, 2011 at 9:11 pm

While I agree that Sucker Punch is pretty terrible and stupid. The whole snide graphic novel snipe is pretty unnecessary. Sure there are plenty crappy graphic novels out there, just as there are plenty of crappy novels. But to be so dismissive and insulting of an entire medium based on some poor adaptations or movies you don’t like is over-the-top.

Fact is, Zach Snyder is just a bad writer with an unhealthy slo-mo fetish who happens to be a video game and comic book fan. I’m disappointed he’ll be making the next Superman movie, as I really wanted that to be good…

chris on March 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Forget these movies. Watch “Born To Kill” 1947 with Lawrence Tierney and Clair Traver. GREAT movie and great story.

Fred on March 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

So this is the 4th graphic novel-type movie for Snyder. How long is he going to ride this pony? He only did it good one time with 300. Move on idiot.

DonkeyDonk on March 28, 2011 at 8:59 am

Pitandpen:

Go see “The Fighter,” “A Serious Man,” “True Grit,” “Winter’s Bone,” The Social Network,” “The Town,” “The Hurt Locker,” or any number of recent releases. They do an adult body and soul good.

By the way, I’ve seen hundreds of old Hollywood movies. While not all of them are forgettable, all too many are. I’ll take today’s films, thank you. Check.

Seek on March 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Pitandpen and other cynics:

How about seeing movies first before issuing ritual denunciations of the motives of those who make them? I’ve seen literally hundreds of films from Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” Very few have intelligence or production values measuring up to today. In the past year alone, we’ve seen “The Fighter,” “True Grit,” “Winter’s Bone,” “The Town,” “The Social Network” and “Get Low.” From Britain — “Never Let Me Go” and “The King’s Speech.” Not bad at all.

Seek on March 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Great reviews, Debbie, as usual. Sucker Punch is a hateful movie just as you describe it with a vapid plot and corrupt morality. The subtext is one dear to the hearts of liberals: children’s liberation. In particular it panders to 14-year-old girls who might feel trapped with parents (particularly fathers) they judge as misguided or controlling. The plot is little more than a series of video game-styled fantasies which teach Baby Doll in steps to ruthlessly stab, shoot, decapitate, and generally brutalize all the adult men in charge.

In contrast, Wimpy Kid presents appealing middle class values in a middle class setting. The plot is the same as the plot of Leave it to Beaver: kid gets into mischief, his actions backfire, and the kid learns from his mistakes. Following that, repeat to more mischief and more consequences. In the first movie, Greg tries to be slick (what you termed “unethical”). All of his attempts to be cool backfire hilariously, though. The movie had a great message, I thought. Likewise in this movie Greg attempts to ape the way his older brother cuts corners and pulls pranks, and that doesn’t work out either. Despite the subtext of good morals in the movie, there is another more sinister subtext which lies along side: Steve Zahn is a long ways from being a Hugh Beaumont or Robert Young. He’s not only not in charge; he plays a goofy fool, distracted by foolish hobbies and oblivious to his surroundings, exactly where husbands and fathers have been role-placed in our culture.

This is my fourth Jane Eyre viewing, the one I liked least. The Timothy Dalton TV mini-series version was intelligent and scrupulously faithful to the original, long enough to be textured and nuanced. The Orson Welles-Joan Fontaine version was a gem of heightened drama, even with its necessary short narrative space still giving plenty of time to Eyre as child; this is the one I rented to see with my daughter because I always felt it was the most “fun.” The Zeffirelli-William Hurt one had many charms also, such as the powerful portion played by Anna Paquin and a completely new take on Rochester. This latest version, though, added nothing to what has already been done. One word encapsulates it for me: insipid.

Burke on March 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    “Great reviews, Debbie, as usual. Sucker Punch is a hateful movie just as you describe it with a vapid plot and corrupt morality. The subtext is one dear to the hearts of liberals: children’s liberation. In particular it panders to 14-year-old girls who might feel trapped with parents (particularly fathers) they judge as misguided or controlling. The plot is little more than a series of video game-styled fantasies which teach Baby Doll in steps to ruthlessly stab, shoot, decapitate, and generally brutalize all the adult men in charge.”

    To be fair, the men in question were all terrible, abusive people. I think pulling any political meaning from Sucker Punch (or any meaning at all) is a waste of time and disingenuous when considering the material. The real problem with it, other than it just being bad, is that it’s a movie that masks itself as pro-female empowerment when it’s really comes off quite misogynistic.

    chris on March 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Burke, Chris,
      Correct on the sexism, though it’s REALLY sexist against MEN – MISANDRY.
      It’s a GRRL-POWER celebration from the Asylum onwards. (Made all the more repulsive in that vein by the Christ-like self-sacrifice of Baby Doll at the end… )

      I didn’t see the film as intending to hit “children’s Liberation”, since the only character who survived WENT HOME to her parents – It wasn’t so bad after all!

      Something to keep in mind about the combat scenes is that none of the people were REAL. As in, they weren’t even echoes of people who were supposed to exist in Delusion #2, let alone the real asylum.

      As Chris notes, the males were almost ALL vile. The Lobotomist was not; the police were not. All the others deserved what they got, except for Baby doll’s Father – we don’t see what happens to him, if anything.

      I think trying to read anything into this film is really a waste of time – it’s just a showcase for the special effects, and vignettes of action. :-)

      Jean on December 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm

While I disagreed 1,000% on your review of Watchmen, you were spot on with the review of Sucker Punch this time around Miss Debbie.

Even the special effects couldn’t save this movie that’s been done several times before, see Shutter Island.

Thankfully I seen an advance screening of this movie, last Week, otherwise I had plans to cough up $5 to see this one over the past weekend.

trewsdetroit on March 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Disagreed with Watchmen review (since someone else had to mention it, so will I – but there’s SO MUCH wrong with Watchmen – which is the point, of course – there’s no reason to bother deconstructing that work of film-noir horror.)

Sucker Punch was a journey through MADENSS, though – it’s not likely to make sense even when you CAN follow it. (Why you seem incapable of thinking on multiple levels strikes me as odd, but that’s a topic for emails.)

Spoilers follow, for those who wish to see the film still.

The “Sucker Punch” is who the story was actually ABOUT. The lead-in is as you described. Who killed whom and exactly how is hard to tell, but the character, Baby Doll, is just a CHARACTER. The asylum is real; every other sequence is how a fractured mind responds to it. Time is dillated and diluted – the events all occur in a matter of days. Her broken mind is piecing a few things together: This is what happens in the “brothel” sequences. You’ll notice the power dynamics mirror what’s actually being said in the asylum, if you look beyond just the image. High Roller = Lobotmist, who will make it ALL work out well for the evil orderly – the one who RUNS the place, in spite of the MD’s title.
That orderly becomes the club (brothel) owner, with the Doctor (who is so caught up in her fascination with mental illness she is unaware of what’s happening – caught in fancy “treatments”), that she is teaching the girls to survive the horros of the asylum – by “dancing”, which is actually a mental construct here, as we’d say there is a “dance” in the mating game. Similar analogy, if you will.

When Baby Doll dances, no one in her delusion does anything – as said in your review, they’re “hypnotized”. Since it’s not real, they respond to her imagination. And then the delusion within the delusion occurs, as she works on the escape plan. This is where the fantastical combat scenes come in. Whatever her mind is creating, she’s WAY out there now. Probably a result of the psychotic episode she’s having. Steampunk meets Dungeons and Dragons meets zombie movie, depending on which sequence it was. Each step required something be retrieved; each “mission” involved some distractions and some teamwork. Precise details aren’t given, nor do they matter. It’s a psychotic episode; piece together what details you can and enjoy the ride, if you will. And the girls (who are left) do finally make an escape.
Finally, the “sucker punch” is that Baby Doll is just a character in the story – she’s NOT the protagonist. She’s the main character, but not the protagonist. Her escape is in the lobotomy – to escape the pain of killing her younger sister (or being there when it happened, can’t be sure.) Her escape actually brings freedom to ALL the girls, by gettign the Doc to look at the forms, and realize someone’s been forging her name and running the show behind her back. the orderly is arrested, along with his accomplices; the other girl, Maybe Sweet Pea? Is the actual protagonist. She escapes into the world, PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTURBANCE INTACT, mind- but hopefully is going home to her family.

Masterful escapism, minimal story, hot chicks doing incredible combat that never really happened… an excuse for special effects. The madness, like in Alice in Wonderland, is merely to highlight the story. (Yes, Alice was crazy. And based on the story history, it’s likely written by someone with an unhealthy attraction to his cousin – who is “Alice”.)

Not worthy of Marxes, BTW. ;-) Not enough social programming for that to apply.

Jean on December 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm

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