August 24, 2007, - 11:27 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Lots of new releases at the box office this weekend, and that includes one of this year’s best films:
* “Resurrecting the Champ“: One of My Top Ten Films of the Year, this movie is so good on so many levels. On the surface, it’s about a sportswriter in Denver who desperately wants to move up in the journalism world. But it’s really about a separated father’s love for his son and how–despite his faults–he works so hard to do right by him and set a good example.
Josh Hartnett (not normally a great actor, but phenomenal in this film) plays the sportswriter who finds a homeless man getting beaten by some thuggish college students and soon discovers the man (Samuel L. Jackson) is a famous former professional boxer down and out on his luck. He aims to write the piece of his life that will put him on the map. But he’s also a loving father who sometimes exaggerates to impress his son. It’s a true story based on an L.A. Times Magazine piedce by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer J.R. Moehringer.
There is an interesting twist in this movie that changes everything. It’s not just about sports and journalism and a father and his son. It’s about honor and integrity and doing right. And it’s got everything: sports scenes, boxing, a good male parent, and an exciting fast-paced story with twists and turns and a good moral message.
And you can take your whole family to see this. Can’t recommend it enough. Simply a great movie. Go see it.
* “The Nanny Diaries“: While entertaining, this is above all a copy of last year’s hit, “The Devil Wears Prada.” And “Prada” was far superior. This one employs cutesy devices like imaginary museum exhibits, magical umbrellas, and fake names like “Mr. and Mrs. X,” all of which take away–not enhance–the story and the movie overall. But it is very mildly funny and entertaining enough, if completely average and overly predictable.
The plot: A college student (played by Scarlett Johansson, in her most unglamorous), unsure of her life’s ambition, becomes a Manhattan nanny to figure it all out. Her boss (Laura Linney) is the typical one-dimensional, spoiled, rich snob that you see in the movies. She’d rather shop and lunch out than take care about her son, for whom she’s planned a truckload of high-brow uber-cultural activities. She farms those tasks out–and the raising of her son, “Grayer”–to the nanny, whom she overworks and verbally abuses. The kid sees the nanny as his real mom. The nanny finally gets her comeuppance and a rich guy in the building as a boyfriend, too. The end.
It’s basically a chick flick without the edge and crispness that “Prada’s” Meryl Streep brought to that film. Same story, same city, same ethos and snobbery, different job. Far more hokey.
* “Dedication“: A weird, emotionally-challenged children’s book writer (Billy Crudup) gets assigned a new illustrator (Mandy Moore), but he can’t handle that he’s finally met the love of his life. So he blows his successful book deal and his relationship, only to get the girl back. The end. The typical chick-flick story, told as a guy-flick in an arthouse way. Not for kids. Lots of obscenity. And you don’t exactly get joy out of seeing childrens’ book authors and illustrators going to porn flicks for inspiration.
* “September Dawn“: I already reviewed this movie a couple months ago, because it was scheduled to be released earlier. But it’s such a dog, they saved it for the dog days of August. Here’s what I wrote:
Although I dislike and extremely distrust flip-flop-flipper Mitt Romney, it has nothing to do with his membership in the Mormon Church. I think most Mormons are good people and loyal Americans of the best kind, though I’ve written extensively about how the Mormon church funneled millions in goods to HAMAS through the Islamic Relief charity.
But you have to question the timing of this movie about the Mountain Meadow Massacre–the massacre perpetrated by Mormons on non-Mormon Christians in America on September 11, 1857. It was documented as a brutal murder of many Christians, except their kids who were too young to remember or become witnesses. Angelina Jolie’s pop, Jon Voight plays the Mormon leader who fomented the massacre, and the movie seems very one-sided, anti-Mormon, and unfairly designed to turn us against Mormons, today. The marketing of it, pushing the auspicious date, September 11th, is disgusting. Mormons are not terrorists. They’re generally good people who love America. Why aren’t there movies like this about Muslims? Hollywood would never dare.
And the long movie plays out like a Lifetime Movie of the Week, starring Mormons. Lots of melodrama, crying, and screaming throughout a Romeo and Juliet-style romance. Skip it.
Tags: America, Angelina Jolie, Billy Crudup, book writer, boxing, cutesy devices, Dedication, Hamas, illustrator, Jon Voight, Laura Linney, Mandy Moore, Meryl Streep, Mormon Church, Mountain Meadow Massacre, Mr. and Mrs. X, Scarlett Johansson, September Dawn, sports scenes, The Devil Wears Prada, The Nanny Diaries