February 18, 2011, - 5:38 pm

Wknd Box Office: Unknown, I Am Number Four, Cedar Rapids

By Debbie Schlussel

The relative best movie this weekend is aimed at teens and kids.  The rest are skipworthy for various reasons.

“Unknown”:  Read my review column.  Liam Neeson plays a man whose identity has been stolen from him and who is targeted by a hit squad after waking up from a coma.  What could have been a great Hitchcock-esque conspiracy thriller collapses under the weight of ideological baloney promoting the “virtues” of Muslim illegal aliens and attacking agri-business.  Again, read my complete review.


*  “I Am Number Four“:  This Disney movie is great for teens and kids and is devoid of any sex or other objectionable stuff usually contained in teen movies.  And the first half or so of it was pretty good.  Only in the last third did the movie become a little too messy.

John (Alex Pettyfer),  looks like an all-American high-school-aged teen boy.  But he’s not what he seems.  In fact, he’s an alien–not an illegal one, but an extra-terrestrial one.   His father (Timothy Olyphant) isn’t his father either.  He’s a soldier from the same planet, looking out for John and protecting him from the alien killers who’ve killed most of John’s planet and have arrived here, trying to kill the few survivors, all of them kids, who’ve escaped to Earth.

As the alien assassins come closer to finding John, he and his faux-father escape to a small Ohio town, where John befriends a cute fellow high school student interested in photography, who has a blog with photos.  Olyphant’s job, in the age of the internet, is to zap all photos and videos of John posted online, lest the alien assassin team find him that way.  John also befriends an ostracized student whose father was obsessed with aliens and UFOs and mysteriously disappeared years ago.  And then there are the jealous, competitive jocks.

Telling you more would give away the movie, but it wasn’t bad.  And the scary looking aliens aren’t just scary, in a few scenes, they are funny.  Not a great movie, but if you’re a teen, it’s good enough.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Cedar Rapids“: This was one of the crappy movies Michigan residents paid for with the generous Michigan Film Tax Credit. I hated it. It’s nothing more than a dumb, long, slow boring attack on small town life, small town values, conservatives’ social and family values, and chock full of dumb and sick jokes.

Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, and Anne Heche (who looks better in red hair, her color in this movie) play Midwestern insurance agents at a convention. The naive, unworldly (is there any other way Hollywood sees middle America?) Helms is sent there from his small town, after the top agent in his office is found dead from asphyxiation during a perverted sex act. Helms, himself, is sleeping with his former school teacher, Susan “Sigourney” Weaver. When Helms gets to the convention, his assignment is to win his insurance agency the top rating it wins each year.

But, instead, Helms ends up sleeping with the married Heche, getting drunk, and skinny-dipping in the hotel pool. This displeases the religious conservative head of the insurance convention and the body that gives out the multi-star ratings. But, no worries, because Helms learns that this man allegedly has gay sex or some other such impropriety and can be blackmailed and bribed into giving Helms’ insurance agency the highest rating.

And Michigan taxpayers spent their money on this because . . .? I’m not sure. Skip this.

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Watch the trailer . . .

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9 Responses

Such a shame that in this day we have to actually seek a decent and entertaining film amid the chaff being made today. I’m old enough to remember going to the theater and actually being confident that I was going to be entertained without being preached to or being debased for my beliefs and opinions. When you read the bio’s of the Hollyweird types, alot of them come from small towns in fly-over country. I don’t understand why or how they erase their heritage so easily, and conform to their insular communities now.

Kent on February 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Excellent review of Unknown, Debbie! You got right to the heart of the message which is pro-Muslim, liberal (the Arab prince is specifically described as a “progressive” whose aim is to eliminate all world hunger) and anti-capitalist. I hated this movie. Now which critic besides you, I wonder, will take on this movie’s naive and corrosive core? Crickets. In addition, the “hero” is unappealingly played as overly emotional and inept–far from what Neeson did in Taken.

Your review of I Am Number Four is spot on. It’s unobjectionable in content, but it’s geared to teens (and therefore is dumbed down to their level and oriented to their narcissism).

Burke on February 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Unknown and #4 have pretty cool posters!… but Cedar Rapids?

Seriously, a man-dog-servant carrying a bunch of luggage for his female masters…
…Good Greif!


theShadow on February 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Every second after every first Hollywood movie describes Arabics and Moslems as contemplative,kind, mustachios gentlemen(“Syrianna”, “Kingdom” and so on). Compare with the portraits of Jews in “Serious Man”, in “Big Bang Theory”, etc, etc….

Lev Shmukler on February 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Thanks Debbie for more great movie reviews. Always on target.
I can’t wait for the day when this bizarre distorted presentation of all Muslims as perfect and peaceful is outdated! We need more honesty.
I pray for that day to come soon.

Cat K on February 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm


There is a VERY disgusting article in the March 2011 issue of Vogue on Syria’s “First Lady” Asma Assad. (And by the way, the article had to be written in another dimension because the way they described EVERYTHING about Syria was as if it is a lovely country, full of culture and as open and free as USA.)

They refer to that POS as Asma al-Assad. Isn’t the “al” a modifier for a MALE head of the family? If one is gonna promote such dreck, shouldn’t they at least KNOW that as long as they are going to pimp Islam as so benign and moderate? I know it’s Vogue, but one would reckon they would have learned (and retained) such knowledge when Princess Diana was with Dodi Fayed.

Anyway. this article has to be read to be believed. Vogue REALLY is a magazine taylor-made for modern day Marie Antoinettes. What a deplorable rag.

You would NEVER know Bashar al-Assad was named in the top 10 each year of the World’s worst dictators. What a effin disgrace!!!!

Skunky on February 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Skunkys comment is beyond repulsive. If You actually read the article it was about a Syria that believes in diversity and religious freedoms. Syria is a place where Catholics and Moslems live side by side in harmony. Its a secular society where religions and their holidays are celebrated by all. Stop your narrow minded rants and get a clue. No one is claiming that Syria is the US but with support they could be a useful ally and they have been on the front lines against Islamic fundamentalists for 30 years.

    mari on February 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I Am Number Four is basically an incoherent cartoon. And why was Diana Agron dressed like a 70-year old in calico dresses and sweaters?


Mildred Smith on February 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

Don’t knock calico. It’s very practical.

Michelle on February 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

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