March 2, 2007, - 9:32 am
By Debbie Schlussel
This weekend’s new box office releases are ho-hum, which is why I recommend you go see “The Astronaut Farmer,” far better than the newer selections. (I missed the “Black Snake Moan” screening, but it sounds like I’d have hated it.) Here’s the fare:
* “Zodiac“–It must be the rule that when a set of serial killings is never solved, a ton of movies are made about it. So far, there have been five movies on “The Zodiac Killer,” who terrorized the San Francisco area beginning in the late ’60s, sending letters and codes to San Francisco newspapers: “The Zodiac,” “The Zodiac Killer,” “Zodiac Killer,” “The Zodiac Killer,” and “The Limbic Region.” This one, “Zodiac,” is the sixth version, and comes closest to solving it and identifying the likely killer. And it’s probably the best of the bunch.
Based on former editorial cartoonist Robert Graysmith’s book on the topic, “Zodiac” comes pretty close to solving it. Overall, it’s a good movie. But it’s almost three hours long, far too long to sit through any movie, let alone something that you know has never been solved for certain. Yes, I just spoiled it for you–but it’s not like the whole country didn’t already know the ending. There isn’t one.
The movie starts in the late ’60s. At the beginning of practically every scene, it says, “two weeks later,” “3 months later,” “1 year later,” and so on. It gets a little old, especially–again–with only a “sort of” pay-off at the end.
Jake Gyllenhaal does a decent job playing Graysmith, but miraculously–over two decades–his 20-something character doesn’t age a bit. Ditto for all the others in the movie, including the man believed at the end to be “The Zodiac.” This one won’t get the Oscar for best make-up. That’s for sure.
Also stars Robert Downey, Jr. playing an obnoxious San Francisco Chronicle reporter and something novel for him–a drug and booze addict who was good at his job but lost it all to addiction. Sound familiar? Mark Ruffalo, generally a weak actor, is consistent in his weakness playing police detective David Toschi who investigated the Zodiac murders. And, hey, actor Anthony Edwards–playing another police detective–got his hair back.
I learned something new, too: That criminal defense attorney, Melvin Belli, was in Star Trek. That was discussed in a funny part of themovie.
Bloody, creepy, and lots of killing (not for kids). But still entertaining and thrilling, overall. Gets a little too messy with so many twists and turns toward the end. Also, you must read three quick screens full of writing at the end. Movies are not made for such work. It’s supposed to be a lazy, relaxing, passive experience to go to the movies.
* “Wild Hogs“–Don’t trick yourself into believing this motorcycle joke of a movie has anything to do with “cool.” “Easy Rider,” it ain’t. One of the three worst movies of the year. It figures that Oprah would promote (on her show, today–she loves pandering to John Travolta) this absolute bomb and waste of almost 2 hours of your life you’ll never get back. Four fatso and/or geeky has-been, middle-aged actors (Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy) struggling to stay relevant, say to themselves: “Hey, let’s get together and make a movie about us on motorcycles. That’ll make us look cool.” And, predictably, it doesn’t. It just reminds us that they’re has-beens who aren’t funny and can’t act.
Four middle-aged yuppies hen-pecked or otherwise upset with the way their lives have turned out, decide to go on a cross-country tour on motorcycles. They encounter a gay police officer who thinks they’re gay and a tough motorcycle gang of ex-cons (headed by Ray Liotta–in the “novel” role of playing a criminal thug; gee, he’s never done that before), whom they singlehandedly manage to beat. Riiiiight.
This movie is dumb to the nth degree, gross, and–if you are a middle-aged male upset with your life or henpecked by your wife–will make you feel even more depressed, not less so. Shame on Peter Fonda more making a cameo in this movie. “Easy Rider” called–it wants its good name–and motorcycles back. This one is “Born To Be Mild.” Extremely lame.
Tags: " it ain't, actor, Anthony Edwards, Astronaut Farmer, Black Snake Moan, cartoonist, criminal defense attorney, David Toschi, detective, Easy Rider, editorial cartoonist, gay police officer, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Travolta, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Martin Lawrence, Melvin Belli, Ray Liotta, reporter, Robert Downey, Robert Graysmith, San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle, The Astronaut Farmer, The Limbic Region, the Oscar, The Zodiac, The Zodiac Killer, Tim Allen, weak actor, Wild Hogs, William H. Macy, Zodiac, Zodiac Killer