September 12, 2008, - 4:23 pm
Weekend Box Office: Pointless De Niro, Pacino Cop Flick, Most Annoying Women’s Movie Ever; UPDATE: Hilarious, Entertaining “Burn After Reading”
By Debbie Schlussel
**** UPDATE: “Burn After Reading” Review Added ****
* “Burn After Reading“: This is the best movie out, this weekend. Hilarious, entertaining, funny, and different, I think this is my favorite Ethan & Joel Coen movie yet. And the best part about it is that it’s a great comedic presentation of how inane and inept the CIA is. Also a great commentary about how stupid and shallow some Americans are, willing to sell out their country for some cosmetic surgery.
The talented John Malkovich plays a CIA analyst who quits when he’s demoted. He decides to write his memoirs of life in the CIA and puts it on his computer. Malkovich’s wife, who is having an affair with creepy, philandering Federal Marshal George Clooney (as if), decides to divorce Malkovich. And soon, it ends up in the hands of two dimwitted gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt), one of whom is trying to get money for plastic surgery and both of whom are attempting to blackmail Malkovich.
Could have done without a weird sex chair built by Clooney’s character, but other than that the movie is tight and well done. If anything, it could have used much more Malkovich.
This movie is NOT for kids, and every other word is a four-letter one. There is some graphic violence and blood, but it’s part of the story. A lot of fun. And unlike a lot of movies, it ends at just the right point.
* “Righteous Kill“: This movie is being marketed as only the second one in which Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have extensive time onscreen together (the other was “Heat” and they were not onscreen together in “The Godfather II).
Although mildly entertaining, it’s a rip-off. I can’t give away why it’s a rip-off or it will make the movie pointless. And frankly, it’s pointless anyway. The movie begins with and repeatedly features extensive video of Robert De Niro as a cop, making a video recording about all of his kills (and one frame-up job) as a veteran on the police force. He is corrupt and lawless. Think “Training Day” or “The Shield” or “Dexter.” All the victims were bad guys who got away with it via legal technicalities.
De Niro’s partner is veteran cop Pacino. While it appears they’re trying to hide who is doing the serial murders of criminals, Pacino is loyal to his partner. Meanwhile, two other cops, John Leguizamo and Mark Wahlberg, are hot on the trail of the killer, De Niro.
But there’s that twist, which is just totally off-base. We never really know what is going on and why until the end. And then, when we do, we realize we just wasted almost two hours. Like I said, the movie is mildly entertaining. But the most righteous thing about the movie is when it finally ends (after about three false-alarm endings).
There are some funny lines in the movie, but a lot of it is confusing and a mess. And it’s very crude. De Niro and Pacino were once great actors. But their presence on screen is an exercise in aging-actors-need-another-paycheck co-dependence.
* “The Women“: Sometimes things from 1939 actually are far better and more sophisticated than things from 2008. This movie, a remake of the 69-year-old flick, is one of them.
I never thought it was possible to make “Sex & The City” look like Shakespeare. But this absolutely horrid chick flick does the trick. This is the even more dumbed-down version of the “Sex” chicks ten years later.
Almost two hours of completely stupid dialogue, cackling, overwrought faux-drama, and crying, this wasn’t a guilty pleasure like, say, “Desperate Housewives.” It is just a damn shame . . . and waste of celluloid.
The “plot” (if you can call it that): Meg Ryan plays a rich woman who finds out her husband is cheating on her with the much younger Eva Mendes. Together, she and her mother (Candice Bergen) and her cackling, annoying friends (Annette Benning, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Debra Messing) figure out how to waste two hours of my time in a movie screening room.
Avoid this movie at all cost. Dumb beyond imagination. An embarrassment to even chick flicks. Ugh to the Nth. Pure torture.
What’s that rustling sound I hear? Oh, it’s Clare Boothe Luce, who wrote the original play, turning over in her grave.