March 2, 2007, - 9:32 am

Weekend Box Office: Interesting, but LONG Murder Thriller; Horrid Fatso Has-Beens on Bikes

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.

zodiacmovieposter.jpgwildhogsmovieposter.jpg

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.

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5 Responses

I make it a point to avoid fat Travolta Scientologist movies. William H. Macy is a good actor, though.

lexi on March 2, 2007 at 10:59 am

Debbie:
One of my pet peeves about films the past 10 years or so is that too many of them are far too long. Is it directors egos that pushes them to go past the 2 hour mark time and again? Russell Baker once wrote (paraphrasing) “a film should not go past the normal capacity of a human bladder.”

Ripper on March 2, 2007 at 11:41 am

I’m not sure I want to see Zodiac just because it contains one of the Gyllenhaals.
But, from what I have read on the case Graysmith lacks credibility and is a shady character. His main case was against Arthur Leigh Allen, but from what I’ve read not a shred of evidence ever linked him and in fact later DNA tests cleared Allen.
Black Snake Moan looks like it should really be called “See Christina Ricci in Her Panties for an Hour” from the trailers I’ve seen.
Wild Hogs sounds like “City Slickers on a Cycle.”
“WILD HOGS” MAKES “CITY SLICKERS” LOOK LIKE A MASTERPIECE. “BLACK SNAKE MOAN” IS CHRISTINA RICCI TOPLESS FOR MOST OF THE MOVIE, PLUS A BIT OF PUNK JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SO YOU NAILED THAT ONE.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Jeff_W on March 2, 2007 at 1:29 pm

time to go out and rent howard stern private parts its been 10 years since the big release ,maybe you can find the special bonus dvd with the deleted footage and we all know debbie listen to W4 in her hometown and listen to howard in the morning as a teenager

PNAMARBLE on March 2, 2007 at 5:11 pm

I havenÔø?t seen Wild Hogs yet but will see it on DVD. After travelling and camping nearly cross-country on a motorcycle in the 70′s, IÔø?m glad about the idea of this movie, although I could do without gross jokes.
These guys are near the age of Vietnam vets, whose youth and life innocence was lost serving their country. For all those guys who went to Nam while most went to college and avoided the draft, this movie may be a fun escape to their youth, of trips never taken. The photo of them together under their rain tarp reminds me of photos IÔø?ve seen of the young American troops in Vietnam.
The open road holds its greatest adventure in oneÔø?s youth. For those who missed it, the movie Wild Hogs sounds like a road adventure of male camaraderie and maybe understandable goofiness.
IT’S ONE OF THE WORST MOVIES OF THE YEAR. PLAIN AWFUL. DID YOU NOT READ MY REVIEW. I ACTUALLY SAW IT. IT’S NOT A FUN ESCAPE AT ALL. HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUNG AMERICAN TROOPS IN VIETNAM. NOT GOOFY, JUST STUPID.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

USWoman on March 4, 2007 at 11:09 pm

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