June 17, 2011, - 6:32 pm

Wknd Box Office: Green Lantern, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Art of Getting By

By Debbie Schlussel

I wasn’t all that excited by the new movies, this weekend, but the best–and it’s all relative–is the superhero flick.

*  “Green Lantern“:  I like Ryan Reynolds as an actor.  I even like him as a superhero, though he was less charismatic and assertive than I like in my superheroes.  But I wasn’t all that impressed by this movie, which was kind of messy and had a weak story.  It was okay and better than some of the other recent superhero movies I’ve seen recently.  But it wasn’t great.

I liked certain scenes, like the scene in which Reynolds–pre-superhero induction–is a fighter pilot fighting it out in the skies against two computer-operated jets.  That was a rush.  But other parts were just silly, like a scene of animated, old crone “wise men” (and women) who sit atop columns with five-hundred foot long robes on.  That was laughable, though not intentionally.  I laughed out loud.  I also didn’t buy Peter Sarsgaard as the son of Tim Robbins.

And parts of the story were non-sensical and silly.  In the beginning scenes, some intergalactic battle between several green lantern men and some sort of giant villain who looks like an evil version of Sesame Street’s Snuffalupagus.  Then, the screen switches to Reynolds as a pilot, and how he loses control of his plane, losing his company and the entire town an important contract for planes.

Soon, though Reynolds is selected by the green ring of a dying alien who has crashed onto earth.  The ring selected him for some courage that neither he nor anyone can see.  He goes to another planet to train with the other Green Lanterns (over 3,000 of them) from around the galaxy, so they can prepare to fight the evil Snufallupagus.  But Reynolds gives up and goes back to earth, where he must contend with the evil Hector (Sarsgaard), who has turned into a villain with superpowers after coming into contact with the dead aliens body. In the meantime, there’s also his budding romance with Blake Lively, a fellow pilot whose father owns the copmany and is grooming her to run it.

Like I said, the plot is a little ho-hum and messy.  It’s not a tight story.  And there wasn’t a lot of 3-D in it, even though we saw the movie in 3-D.  But there was nothing objectionable, and there wasn’t any sex in it (other than Reynolds waking up next to a woman and running off).  So, it’s family friendly, if a little violent and graphic for kids.  I just thought parts of the movie were dull and slow, while others seemed disconnected and thrown in.

Still it wasn’t a bad movie.  Again, just not a great one.


Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Mr. Popper’s Penguins“:  Jim Carrey stars in this movie squarely aimed at kids.  For adults, it is formulaic, somewhat boring and long, and a little silly.  But it’s fine to take your kids to it.  It isn’t your normal Carrey level of funniness, either.  I laughed, but only less than a handful of times. Also, what kind of kids’ movie talks about Viagra? Huh?

The story:  as a kid, Carrey’s father is never home.  He’s away exploring around the world, always chasing after the next big opportunity and communicating with his son via radio.  But he never comes home.  All grown up, Carrey is a slick real estate developer who uses psychology to trick people into retiring and selling their choice property to him, with the help of his secretary who mostly uses words that start with the letter, “P.”

Carrey is divorced with a son and daughter who aren’t all that into him.  But, one day, he inherits a penguin from his recently departed father.   Soon he has six of them.  They mess up his fancy penthouse apartment, but they bring him and his kids–as well as his ex-wife–back together again.  And they help bring him the last piece of the real-estate puzzle he’s been seeking.

Good to take your kids to see, but for adults, not the greatest kids movie.  Not even close.  This is paint-by-number baby-sitting stuff.  And a little hokey.


Watch the trailer . . .

*  “The Art of Getting By“:  You’ve seen far better versions of this story a gazillion times.  Nerdy loser/loner who hasn’t found his way in the world of high school goes for beautiful popular girl who befriends him and eventually, after lots of angst and drama, they fall in love and sleep together.  The end.  That’s this movie with a whole lotta pretentiousness and fake, overwrought melodrama added for good (er . . . bad) measure.  Per usual, all the high school kids in this movie are geniuses and very mature adults.  And their parents are all irresponsible sluts, morons, or dolts.

One night, the guy falls asleep on the trundle bed on the girl’s room and wakes up to her merciless laughter at his erection.  Later, at a restaurant, the girl  (Emma Roberts–Julia’s niece), asks the boy if he wants to sleep with her, then mocks  and embarrasses him.  Yup, classy movie, and exactly what you want your teens seeing on the big screen.  NOT.

As a kid, I never liked “The Breakfast Club “and thought it was highly overrated.  But that’s Shakespeare stuff, compared to this low-class, pretentious bore I’ve seen done far better a million times before.


Watch the trailer . . .

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23 Responses

Debbie you wrote “He goes to another planet to train with the other Green Hornets”. I think you ment “green lanterns”. Just a heads up. Great reviews otherwise as always.

ceannrua on June 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm

More male bashing right in time for Father’s Day. I am sick of Hollywood turning man-childs, slackers, narcissists, irresponsible types etc. as superheroes. It was ok with “Iron Man” because he was always supposed to be a dark, anti-hero type that was a contrast to the norm. It also works in ensemble works … the Wolverine character is acceptable in X-Men for instance because he is balanced with other stronger, more responsible types. Also, they made the Human Torch in Fantastic Four a man-child egotist, but he was balanced with Mr. Fantastic and The Thing.

But enough with the cads who go on to save the day because they get superpowers, without which they would still be cads and losers. If that isn’t an endorsement of feminist ideology – which attributes all male success to the patriarchy where white heterosexual males accomplish everything by oppressing and ripping off females and minorities – then what is?

What is wrong with taking a guy who has actually worked hard, excelled, achieved, been mature and responsible etc. all his life and making him the superhero, and his superpowers, that he makes responsible use of, are an extension of the success and values that he had before? Whether it is an upperclassman gentleman, an all-American athlete at Stanford or Yale with a 4.0 GPA, a military hero, or a “blue collar hero”, pick a guy who was a real man before he became a superhero! Because the truth is that if you give a selfish loser jerk superpowers, he’d make a mess of things, or become a villain (one of the few things that “Mega-Mind” last year actually got right concerning Hal/Tighten, when Minion warned Mega-Mind not to make Hal into a superhero because “he is 27 years old and hasn’t accomplished anything). Oh, I will tell you what’s wrong with it: feminists want little boys’ growing up believing that good, strong hard-working males are a myth, and that they should just kick back, drink beer, eat chicken wings, watch “The Hangover” a million times and find some female doctor or lawyer to support him (until she gets fed up, kicks him out of the house, and gets the divorce court to make sure that he never gets to see his kids, including his sons so the cycle can continue).

Ugh. I will start sitting out these superhero movies until they start casting actual positive male roles. Until then, there are the older movies – where men were actually allowed to be productive adults – to watch. An old western anyone? Or an old spy, sci-fi or explorer movie? Definitely better than watching Hollywood turn a bunch of guys who in the real world wouldn’t be able to hold a 9 to 5 job into a superhero.

Gerald on June 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

The alien is Abin Sur, who is dying like you said. He gave the pilot, Hal Jordan the ring and the battery of power which charges the ring every 24 hours. Now the NY Slimes blasted the oath the Green Lantern Guardians take. Now while not as memorable a comic phrase as say SHAZAM (knowing how you love Captain Marvel)it still does have something to it, even if that paper calls it cheesy. The oath goes

In brightest day
In blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power

To many of us Hal Jordan was our Green Lantern. But the character goes back in ethos to the 1940’s. Alan Scott was the first GL. Hal Jordan took over in the 1960’s and had been GL until in one series of books he became the evil Parallax. Other GL’s included Kyle Raner and John Stewart (no not THAT one). This one was black and served in the Marines.

Back to Hal, his girlfriend is Carol Ferris. In one series of stories she becomes evil as Star Sapphire.


Bob Porrazzo on June 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Bob Porrazzo, thank you for that background detail concerning Green Lantern. I especially appreciated this comment you made: “The [Green Lantern] character goes back in ethos to the 1940s.” That was exactly my impression of the film. The spirit of this story was from another era, reminding me of the grandly visionary epics of A. E. van Vogt (who wrote in the forties). The images of guardians sitting on high thrones with long robes that you mock, Debbie, were nostalgic for me of what came to be considered pulp. Another element of the story (besides visionary sweep) that made me nostalgic was the conservative emphasis on character which is way too rare.

    Burke on June 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Burke, I guess I can call myself a comic book geek…and i have also seen Superfriends so many times on TV as well as the Filmation cartoons of the 1960’s on DVD, that I just have that knack for knowing about comics. I am wondering though about the Captain America film coming out soon. But compare Marvel and DC, most of my fave superheroes come from DC (Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Captain Marvel, GL, Flash). But I do like Spider Man, Thor, Cap, The Hulk and She Hulk.

      Bob Porrazzo on June 19, 2011 at 8:55 am

    A couple of other points;

    If I remember correctly, Hal Jordan was a daredevil pilot, he was high risk, high reward test pilot, which WAS something that took a lot of courage, bravado, and was high testosterone. I also seem to think (not sure why I think of this) that Hal might have turned to alcohol to deal with his issues. The daughter (Carol Ferris) basically ran the aeronautical corporation for her father, and was subject to the typical male chauvinistic reaction that would have come in the 40s, including from Hal. As much of a simple sky-jockey that Hal was, he and Carol were attracted to each other, and she wanted him to be the main test pilot for Ferris, even though others were more…stable (after WWII, I guess Hal was supposed to be slightly marred by his experiences) and she got a lot of flak for her decision in supporting Hal. The finding of the alien/ring/lantern basically was the beginning of Hal’s path to becoming a better man than he thought he was. So, in my mind, the Hal Jordan GL was always a story of a man rediscovering that he was brave and willing to lay down his life for his country/world, friends and loved ones, which is what the ring was attracted to (self-sacrifice for a cause).

    Just what I remember from the 70s version of GL.

    Geministar on August 2, 2011 at 11:31 am

I love the movie reviews. Too bad the movies suck out loud.

When I saw “Thor”, I saw the preview of “The Green Lantern” and I may have to see that (yikes!!) but I remember liking the images of the previews. I had never seen a 3-D movie and I was impressed by the 3-D. I may have to see “Captain America” (ugh!) and same for that, too.

I think Jim Carrey is severly mentally ill. I can’t even look at him because I think he’s starkers.

Wow. That Julia Roberts’ niece film is one of the reason that I HATE crappy, American movies. People DO make great films but many American don’t know. They waste their time on crappy, contrived, intelligence offending pap. This culture is gross to me and NOT to be celebrated.

LOL on “The Breakfast Club”. I loved that when it first came out BUT would not see it ever again. I agree with DS retrospectively on it NOW. At the time I felt like the film was made for me…but I did always hate the pat, unrealistic ending. Reality rules…and I knew that as a teen!

I recommend (for DVD watching) “Das Weisse Band” (The White Ribbon). Now there’s a flick that’ll put hair on your chest! And I am sure no one has seen my favourite Croatian film “The Trap”…but you should.

Skunky on June 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Skunky, White Ribbon was my favorite film from 2009. I will definitely now rent The Trap since you recommend it.

    Burke on June 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

      Burke, I am so thrilled you will rent “The Trap”. I know you will like it. It’s for people who love a great story, interesting cinematography and paying for actions. Croatian films are my favourite right now.

      Awesome that you loved “The White Ribbon”. Man, that film is eerie and intense…I love my movies that way. The director dropped the ball with the hideous “Funny Games” but “Das Weisse Band” made up for that…even though the director can be sanctimonious in the worst way.

      Thank Rev! 😉

      Skunky on June 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I wouldn`t mind checking out “Green Lantern”: after all, Ryan Reynolds is Canadian and as a Canuck (NOT a VANCOUVER Canuck – I must add), I have to support my people.

The other 2 movies, I couldn’t care less – even though Jim Carrey is also a Canadian and grew up not-too-far from where I used to grow up. Just saying, eh?

Bottom line: this weekend… TORRENT! (This one’s for Skunky.)

The Reverend Jacques on June 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm

A very simple point.

From Wikipedia (and quite accurate from my own knowledge—the VA where I trained was named after this person)—

‘”Blank’ tried once again to enlist but was turned down by the Marines and the U.S. Army paratroopers because he was too short and underweight at 5 feet 5.5 inches (166.4 cm) and 110 pounds (50 kg).[2] The Navy also turned him down for being underweight.[5][6] The United States Army finally accepted him [6] and he was inducted at Greenville[9] and sent to Camp Wolters, Texas for basic training.”

A scrawny, poorly educated young man—a pre-serum Steve Rogers type who never got the super-serum—this fellow became the real life Captain America.

The description above was of Audie Murphy, the most decorated mustang infantryman of America’s greatest infantryman war—WWII.

He was NOT successful pre-war, although he was hardworking. He was no superstar athlete or outstanding individual—until crunch time, for real, came.

The actual “superheroes” can surprise you.

Occam's Tool on June 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    “He was NOT successful pre-war, although he was hardworking.”

    Which makes him the opposite of the irresponsible, lazy, immature, narcissistic man-child slackers who refuse to grow up, throw away every opportunity given to them, and make a mess out of things until they “save the day” in a way that is totally inconsistent with their own lives or character.

    “tried once again to enlist but was turned down by the Marines and the U.S. Army paratroopers because he was too short and underweight at 5 feet 5.5 inches (166.4 cm) and 110 pounds (50 kg).[2] The Navy also turned him down for being underweight.[5][6] The United States Army finally accepted him [6] and he was inducted at Greenville[9] and sent to Camp Wolters, Texas for basic training.”

    He was too short and underweight because of malnutrition during the Great Depression. Lots of people were rejected for WWII service for that reason. And he was poorly educated because he lacked the opportunity for an education that so many are throwing away now. And do you honestly think that these selfish caddish loser characters that Hollywood is now turning into superheroes would be so dead on military service? Please. They’re the sort that would dodge a draft, head to Canada, and become anti-war communist sympathizers.

    You just explained the difference between Audie Murphy and the Hal Jordan character in this movie. Murphy had character prior to joining the Army, and succeeded in the Army because of it. This Hal Jordan depiction – which incidentally has nothing to do with the Hal Jordan of the comic books – had no character before getting the ring. So, even if he wouldn’t have succumbed to the temptation of all that power and become a criminal menace, the idea that he would have possessed traits like maturity, responsibility, reliability, perseverance etc. that he needed to succeed as the Green Lantern is absurd.

    I am just sick of how Hollywood has spent the last 15 years telling us that where successful men are really just a bunch of losers who get lucky, successful women are tough, smart, moral, mature, work hard and earn and deserve everything they get (which is how the Carol Ferris character is depicted in this movie).

    Gerald on June 18, 2011 at 12:20 am

      Gerald, you make a lot of good sense as usual. I liked Green Lantern, but I understand your issue with boy-men-narcissist-characters (Iron Man is a good example, but the bird-geek-boyfriend in Rio is even better) that feminists approve of and promote because they perceive them as being malleable enough to control. You really do have to rent the despicable Rio just so you can see your argument exactly confirmed.

      The difference between Iron Man and Green Lantern is, though, that Iron Man “grows up” essentially by becoming a globally enlightened and compassionate liberal who outlaws all war, whereas Green Lantern grows up by developing real character, courage and a sense of responsibility. One follows a liberal paradigm, the other conservative.

      Burke on June 18, 2011 at 9:59 am

I’m looking forward to seeing “Green Lantern”, actually; the other two I can do without. One thing you have to understand about GL is that he’s not some guy in a cape flying around the city looking for crime and hopefully saving the day. He’s more of a galactic cop, as are his compatriots in the Lantern Corps. I’m sorry you didn’t like it much, Deborah. I’m also looking forward to Captain America next month; maybe that’ll be more to your liking.

Alan on June 18, 2011 at 2:38 am

Excellent reviews in general as usual, Debbie. I disagreed with you slightly with Green Lantern, but not a whole lot. I thought Sarsgaard made an effective villain. He was disgusting and scary even from the first scene before he was transformed. I liked the values of the film, which I thought were conservative. I liked the visionary sweep which was nostalgic for “Golden Era” sci fiction, an important literary period for which America should be proud. I liked the tone, which kept cutsiness, schmaltz, pointless CGI and broad shenanigans to a minimum.

I also liked the message that once one grows up and develops character and then focuses one’s thoughts (one’s “willpower”), one can accomplish anything. This is very American in spirit and is similar to the conservative message behind the recent film Limitless.

Best of all, there were NO TEENAGERS IN THE FILM! That would make any film a gem, but is especially welcome for a story taken from comic books since teens and teen sensibility have infected this genre in particular.

Burke on June 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

In my comic book world, Green Lantern was the most powerful super hero.

pat on June 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Nothing good this weekend. Here’s a good vid.

John P on June 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Debbie, I saw Mr. Poppers Penguins and I was laughing so hard I was crying out of both eyes. All around me kids and adults were laughing the whole way through as well. Formulaic? Perhaps. Hysterical? Absolutely. Two thumbs up.

It did show the obligatory potty humor that all movies show these days, and that was gross, but aside from that, I really enjoyed this movie. Kids movies can be sleepers for adults. Not this one. This movie was fun and funny.

SafeLibraries on June 19, 2011 at 12:42 am

If you don’t like how they destroy the character of Hal Jordan to make the powers make him special don’t look forward to Captain America, excuse me as they are calling it First Avenger as saying America is offensive.

In the comics the ring picked Hal because he was courageous, brave, and dependable. You would think that would be some of the requirements of being a test pilot. Instead of a cad who cries and quits when it gets to hard.

Look what they did to Superman, they made him a dead beat dad, stalker ex-boyfriend and all he did was lift heavy objects. What they are doing to Captain America is worse. I see the giant movie poster every day going to work. It doesn’t even say Captain America, it says Avenge. Every where else in the world the title is “first avenger” because they don’t want to offend anyone and effect the box office by saying America. So I will not offend the movie company by giving them money that says “America” on it.

The director even said that “Steve Rogers is not some kind of flag waving patriot” in an interview. In one anniversary comic Bucky Barnes explained it was not the super soldier serum that made Captain America who he was, it gave Steve Rogers the physical strength to match his patriotic heart and soul.

Hollywood hates America, enjoys destroying anything good about America and it is long time they learned what happens when you bite the hand that feeds you.

ender on June 20, 2011 at 2:23 am

Looks like the people have spoken. Early numbers show GL made $52 million, short of what warners wanted for a $200 million dollar movie. But add at least another $50-$60 million in advertising to that budget and it is a long way from breaking even. It pulled in another $17 million in over seas release. Pretty sad but if they would actually stick to their source material, that has sold well for over 50 years, they would probably do better.

ender on June 20, 2011 at 2:29 am

“As a kid, I never liked “The Breakfast Club “and thought it was highly overrated.”

Wow! I thought I was the only one who didn’t like it. In fact, I didn’t like any John Hughes movies except for Weird Science.

They were all the same thing. One cool person (usually Molly Ringworm) who was surrounded by idiots.

I wanted to strangle anyone who mentioned Ferris Beuller, which was one of the most smarmy, lamest movies in history.

Jeff_W on June 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

Ok I’ll go watch the green hornet thing. Naw I’ll wait for the DVD or bluray.

jake49 on June 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm

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