June 12, 2009, - 1:26 pm
Weekend Box Office: Fun “Pelham” Remake, Charming “Imagine That” for Kids, New Age Crap “Away We Go”
By Debbie Schlussel
A couple of new movie releases that aren’t bad, at this week’s box office, and one awful New Age dud.
* “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3“: This is a remake of a 1974 movie, starring Walter Matthau, Martin Balsam, Robert Shaw, and Hector Elizondo. This incarnation stars Denzel Washington and John Travolta.
I watched the original, last night, and while I liked that, I liked this one much better. It’s fun, fast-paced, exciting, and heart-pounding. John Travolta is good as a villain, and he plays the bad guy in this story about several crooks who hijack a New York subway train, demanding a ransom of $10 million to release the hostages.
Washington plays the schlubby subway traffic controller who negotiates with him. Travolta gives New York City officials an hour to get him the money before he starts killing one hostage a minute.
Travolta claims he’s not a terrorist, but in fact he is. And the Mayor insists on negotiating with him against his advisors’ unanimous advice. It gets from bad to worse, and reminded me of Barack Obama’s desire to negotiate to the Ahmadinejads and HAMASniks. When his “negotiations” with a madman clearly don’t work, his advisors tell him, “you entered his world, now exit it.”
Yes, much of the movie is predictable, but it’s still entertaining and fun to watch. If I had any reservations with it, it’s the obvious things. Primary among them are the many scenes we’re shown of NYPD officers’ motorcade rushing to get the money across Midtown New York in the middle of the afternoon, with the motorcade hitting cars and ** Spoiler Alert ** cops getting severely injured or killed. In the meantime, hostages are killed because of the delay.** End of Spoiler ** Anyone who’s ever been to New York knows that New York traffic at that time of day (and most of the day) is heavy and slow. Why didn’t they just take a helicopter and land on top of a nearby skyscraper? Plus the villain is from Wall Street (more politics of envy class warfare brought to you by the fabulously wealthy in Hollywood).
I could have also done without the digs at Rudy Giuliani (though the original version of this movie was far harsher on then-New York Mayor Abe Beame). The New York Mayor is played by James Gandolfini, who is styled as a fat version of Giuliani (with the bankroll of current Mayor Michael Bloomberg), cheats on his wife, and is a jerk. And he says he doesn’t want to be like Rudy Giuliani in making a speech to calm New York.
But, overall, I liked it.
One other thing: as an attorney, I don’t think a man’s admission, under duress, that he committed a felony–a statement made under the threat of killing people–would necessarily be admissible in court, and if it was, that it would be considered any sort of valid admission.
Note that this movie is not for young kids. It’s bloody and violent and full of f- and s-bombs.
* “Imagine That“: Eddie Murphy is back in his latest comeback attempt vehicle. And it’s not bad. Like most kids’ movies, this is predictable and slightly corny. But, unlike most kids’ movies, it has a storyline that adults can enjoy, and I did. It’s also mildly funny (though some of Murphy’s standard humor from the ’80s seems kind of dated and stale now). I laughed quite a few times. And it’s very cute.
Murphy plays a investment advisor in a brokerage firm, who is in the process of divorcing his wife. His cute (actually, a little too cute) seven-year-old daughter has a security blanket of which she refuses to let go. She talks to three imaginary princesses and a queen via the blanket.
Murphy is competing with a sleazy, oily colleague–who says he’s an American Indian–for advancement at the firm. Soon, Murphy learns that his daughters’ imaginary friends give him brilliant investment advice and predict which companies and stocks will succeed and which will fail.
Even though the man is only 1/32nd American Indian (something we find out at the end), the movie is very offensive and negatively stereotypical in the way it portrays American Indians, and the Native American organizations would be rightfully upset with this movie. You can bet Hollywood would NEVER make fun of Muslims or Arabs this way . . . at least not now in our new post-9/11 uber-tolerance of all things Islamic.
The thing I really liked about this movie is that, unlike many Hollywood offerings, it ultimately shows a competent, loving father spending time with his daughter. Because of that, he finally gets his priorities in line, if at first, he didn’t appreciate his father role.
* “Away We Go“: This is one of the absolutely most awful movies of all time. You know a movie is going to be bad when it starts out with two people in bed during oral sex discussing how one of them “tastes.” Had I walked out them, I’d have been smart, but I was required to watch the whole thing to review it.
This long, boring exercise in New Age BS to the nth degree features an interracial boyfriend and girlfriend (Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski). Rudolph is pregnant and, since they have no friends and not much family, they go on a road trip to choose a place to live and raise their kid. Most of this involves people even more New Age and bizarre than they are and other crazy people in midlife crises.
The only mildly amusing part of this movie was a scene mocking another New Age couple (including homely America-hater Maggie Gyllenhaal), who were so outrageously off the deep end, even pretentious lefties in Hollywood could make fun of them.
Sitting through this was extremely painful. I imagine they force you to watch this over and over in hell. And I think it’s great, um, “programming” for the detainees at Gitmo before the camp gets closed. Watching this truly is torture.