August 17, 2012, - 7:37 pm
It’s August, where movie studios send their non-straight-to-video duds to die a quick death in the movie pet cemetery. And true to that I didn’t really like any of the new movies out in theaters, this weekend.
* “Sparkle“: Even though I didn’t care for this that much, it’s the best of the new movies out today. The movie studio invited me to the Detroit premiere of this to meet and interview star Jordin Sparks (and Urethra, er . . . Aretha Franklin, who isn’t even in the movie). But I took a pass because I just didn’t care. What was I gonna ask her? The movie was filmed in Detroit and funded in part by the Michigan Film Tax Credit subsidy boondoggle, and it’s a less interesting rip-off of the far superior “Dream Girls” (which I did like–read my review). The best thing I can say about this movie is that the clothes, sets, and other period details are fabulous and beautiful. It’s so high-styled. And yet the script is just dull. And some period things I think the movie gets wrong. An Albino Black guy is shown in a tuxedo at a nightclub with cornrows. Did Blacks wear cornrows like that in the early ’60s, circa “Mad Men” to a fancy club like that? I doubt it. One character is shown trying to give CPR to her dead lover. Did they teach kids CPR in those days? I don’t think so. But I could be wrong. The movie has been repeatedly hyped with the claim, “It was going to be Whitney Houston’s comeback vehicle.” But I don’t see it. Houston looks heavy and haggard and has very few line and scenes. And her voice is hoarse throughout. If anyone shines in the movie, it’s Sparks, who does what she can with a milquetoast script and a faint plot. The movie is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, starring then then-unknown Irene Cara.
The story: three Detroit sisters–two by one man and the other by another–are the daughters of a reformed drunk played by “Houston. They don’t know who their dads are, but they are all beautiful and can sing. Soon all three of them are in a singing group with an eager, hungry guy as their manager. But they must sneak out at night to perform because their mother, Houston, is one of those too-strict religious Christian archetypes Hollywood always imposes on us. All three of them conflict with their mother, but the prettiest one, “Sister,” leaves to marry a successful Black comedian who makes his money with racist jokes against Blacks that he performs on TV to White audiences. Sister is abused by the man and uses drugs, and everything becomes a mess.
This movie was slow and boring, but the visually-stimulating costumes, make-up, hair, and set design kept my attention. Also catching my attention, the race-baiting line Sparks’ character says to her sister, “Sister”: “You’ve been busting your butt kissin the asses of White people for the last two weeks, and all you made was $96.” In real life, Sparks’ mother is White, and for the time, $96 for working at a clothing store for two weeks was typical wages, whether or not you waited on the “evil” White folk.
There’s not much that’s offensive here, and there are a scant few funny moments, such as when a boyfriend gives one of the girls a box with a ring, but the ring inside is a cut out picture from a magazine. The singing is okay, but there are no spectacular hits or catchy tunes like you heard on the “Dreamgirls” soundtrack.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “ParaNorman“: I’m more and more disturbed by the ever-quickening downward slide of movies for kids. This movie aimed at young kids is far too scary and creepy for them. And, at the very end, it also pushes homosexuality. Although the 3-D animation is absolutely terrific, the story isn’t. The plot is confusing, silly, and involves a take on the Salem Witch Trials, which young kids won’t understand and shouldn’t know about. I found the movie slow and boring. even though it does have its laugh-worthy moments. The movie is made by the same people who brought us the far superior “Coraline” (read my review) (which is also not for young kids). There are some cool things in this movie, but they are vastly drowned in the crap, creepiness, and all-around weak storyline centering around something that’s far more appropriate for adults.
Norman is a small town New England kid in school who is mocked, ostracized, and shunned as weird because he can see the ghosts of dead people and talk to them, and no one believes him. But, soon, his talent comes in handy when the town comes under the 300-year-old spell of an executed teen girl witch (who was put on trial) once again floods the town with ghosts, zombies, darkness, and possible destruction. At the end of the movie, when all is resolved, when a teen girl hits on the teen jock guy she’s attracted to, he responds, “My boyfriend is a chick flick fanatic.” Do we really need to pimp this stuff on young kids in a movie? It figures that this move was also done in a very cowardly way–at the very end of the movie.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “The Expendables 2“: This wasn’t screened for critics. I shouldn’t have taken the hint. But, instead, I went to last night’s Midnight show, so I could review it for you. And it was utterly unwatchable. Absolutely awful. A bunch of geezer former action stars doing things that just aren’t believable, and you just don’t care because you hardly know what is going on. I didn’t like the first “The Expendables” (read my review), but this makes that look like a masterpiece.
At the beginning, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and some other people storm into a Nepalese prison to free a multi-milloinaire and the loathsome (and very haggard and old-looking) Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then, they are told by Bruce Willis that unless they get some sort of box for him, he will send them to jail. So they take an Asian chick with them to get the box, but then the murderous Jean-Claude Van Damme kills one of their men–a young soldier (Liam Hemsworth), and they want revenge. So they go to Russia to keep him from getting Russian nukes to sell on the open market. Believe me, I’m making it sound better than it is. Far better. So much action, so boring and stupid. And the addition of Chuck Norris doesn’t make it any better.
Don’t expend your time or money on this.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “The Odd Life of Timothy Green“: This is possibly the most cloying, manipulative, maudlin movie I’ve seen in a while. The annoying Jennifer Garner and the usually likeable Joel Edgerton play small town parents who cannot conceive. They are at an adoption agency telling their long, silly story. The night they finally give up on trying to conceive, they decide to pretend for just one more night that they will have a kid. They put all of his qualities on pieces of paper and then into a box, which they bury in their garden. Then it rains, and a boy grows out of the garden. He has leave on his legs, which they hide. They decide to raise him as their own, but he is only temporary. This is another one of those movies without much of a plot. It’s also long, slow, and boring. You’re supposed to say, “aaawww,” at the end. I just said, “oy,” as in “oy, why did I waste two hours of life on this?”
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Expendables 2, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jordin Sparks, Liam Hemsworth, movie, movie review, Movie Reviews, Paranorman, Sparkle, Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables 2, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Whitney Houston