March 1, 2013, - 5:41 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Sweeney, 21 and Over, Jack the Giant Slayer

By Debbie Schlussel

Two out of three ain’t bad. Here are my reviews of what’s new at movie theaters, this weekend.

* “The Sweeney“: My biggest complaint about this movie is that many of the characters speak in a very heavy Cockney English accent, which is difficult to decipher. I also had problems with the glorification of a bad cop. On the other hand, the movie is very entertaining, has a great plot, and is a very suspenseful thriller.



Based on a British TV show, the Flying Squad (a/k/a “The Sweeney”) of London’s Metropolitan Police is a hard-charging law enforcement unit that foils bank robberies and major thefts. One of its most grizzled veterans, played by the always excellent Ray Winstone, isn’t exactly honest but he has his charm and the movie roots for him. He skims off of the recovered loot and makes his own rules. There is something to be said for acting like criminals in order to catch them, but he goes too far and is under investigation by the internal affairs investigator with whose wife Winstone is having an affair. The wife, as well as Winstone’s nephew, work on the Sweeney squad. The Sweeney detectives try to figure out who is behind a jewelry store robbery in which a young customer is executed. They chase after the man who Winstone believes is the culprit, a career criminal Winstone has put behind bars time and again. But is he really the man behind it all? What is really going on here?

Lots of action, car chases, guns, shooting, and thrilling adventure. You definitely won’t be bored. I watched an online critics’ screener of this on little sleep at three in the morning, and I was riveted. While I don’t like the idea of cheering for a dishonest cop, I couldn’t help but join the filmmakers in cheering for him to beat the rap and the criminals, even if the plot resolution (regarding who is behind the robberies) is a little confusing and a tiny bit of a letdown.

This English film is largely in arthouse theaters. If you can’t find it there, it’s a definite candidate for Netflix or DVD when it’s available.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “21 and Over“: This movie by the makers of “The Hangover” (read my review) makes “The Hangover” look like a masterpiece. This is so absolutely awful, I can’t even make it sound as bad as it is. Complete and utter garbage. I hate every single character and actor in this movie. Forever. It’s just gross, disgusting, lewd, vulgar, and not funny at all. I laughed like maybe three times at the most. If your idea of “hilarious” is a teddy bear glued to a naked Asian guy’s penis, while two of his friends stretch it and pull it off, then this is your movie, and please stay miles away from me. If your idea of “funny” is an Asian kid eating tampons, you’ve got a screw loose. Also, two guys running around naked with tube socks tied around their penises–this is funny how?

The “story”: three friends from high school get together when two of them surprise the third on the night of his 21st birthday. They want to take him out to celebrate and get drunk, but he needs to get to sleep early for his morning interview for medical school. The friends take the third guy, “JeffChang,” out anyway, get him drunk, and then can’t find the way home to where he lives because they don’t know the address. Instead, they are on a wild goose chase all night, including getting tortured and branded by a Hispanic sorority, whose members force two of the guys to make out with and fondle each other while naked.

Yup, Hollywood is getting classier and classier.

This movie is an IQ test for America. If you wasted $10 and two hours of your life to see it, you failed. If you liked it on top of that, you not only failed, you’re a lowlife. How many idiotic “parents” around America will buy their kids tickets to see this? Far too many. That’s why this country is down the drain.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Jack the Giant Slayer“: I thought I would hate this, but it was really much better than I expected, and it was much more faithful to the “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairy tale than I expected. Although I thought it was a little too scary and violent for kids, I liked it. It is a little long and slow and the CGI (Computer Generated Imaging) is very obvious. Still, it’s rare these days when a Hollywood movie based on a fairy tale doesn’t reverse things and make the woman the masculine character and the man the chick. That’s why I liked this. Jack is still the hero in this one, and the princess (which I don’t remember from the original fairy tale) is rescued by him. You never see that anymore. It’s nice when the men are masculine and the women are feminine, instead of playing unbelievable she-men swashbucklers slaying men three times their size.

Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a poor farm hand who trades his uncle’s horse to a monk for magical beans. The monk, who is trying to escape the evil suitor of the princess, tells Jack not to get the beans wet. He warned the princess’ suitor that the beans are of black magic. We learn they are the relics from the days when King Eric had to get rid of the warrior giants from the kingdom so the people could live in peace. But one of the beans falls through the cracks of Jack’s uncle’s house, and a rain storm gets the bean wet. Soon a stalk grows through the house and the princess is stuck in it. Jack must climb the stalk with the King’s men to try to rescue the princess. The king of the giants has a second head, which comprises a retarded character. I could have done without that absurdity. And the movie gets a little carried away. But overall, it wasn’t bad as far as retelling of fairy tales goes in the movies today.


Watch the trailer . . .

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27 Responses

I really like Ray Winstone. He’s one of my favourite actors to watch. I may give that flick a go. I’ll prolly end up agreeing with DS. She has an uncanny way of feeling the same about most movies as I do. (I struggle with the thick cockney accent too…and Scottish ones are the WORST!!!)

I recently saw a few films I SHOULD have re-checked her reviews for BEFORE I saw them (“Hansel & Gretel:Witch Hunters”…this one I knew of BEFORE but went for a family member, “Contagion” and a dreadful & digsuting “In Darkness”) and reading her reviews AFTER was like reading my annoyed mind (after the fact). I could have saved time and annoyance if I only re-checked her archives before watching.

“21 & Over” seems like chinese water torture to me. I will NEVER watch blatant dreck like that. I’d watch “Dirty Dancing” (my all-time most hated movie I’ll NEVER watch EVER!!!) before that and that will NEVER happen.

No good films lately. It sucks.

Skunky on March 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Skunky – Have you seen Winstone in “Ashes” (2012)? He plays a Alzheimer father, totally different from past roles.

    Rochelle on March 3, 2013 at 10:25 am

      No I haven’t Rochelle. I really appreciate the recommendation. I’m gonna put it on my Netflix queue. Much thanks!!

      I really love his acting. I really like actors who can actually act. I’m not an anglophile but it seems these days the Brits are really bringing it!

      Skunky on March 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm

The kid inside me wanted to see the Giant movie. Now I will probably see it on the big screen.

samurai on March 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hmmm…the day before my U of Illinois in Chicago interview for Med School, I went out and saw a movie, ate popcorn, and went to sleep to be alert for the interview. I got in.

Anyone who thinks that some Magna Cum Laude and above ace science student is going to get drunk and go to a Medical School interview with a hangover is crazy. I was lucky in that I was on the waiting list for the 6 year med program at Northwestern when I was 17 and had some idea what to expect for my med school interviews, in retrospect.

Too bad that Jack the Giant killer is too violent for kids.

Occam's Tool on March 1, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Thanks for reviewing a possible kids movie, Debbie, by the way.

Occam's Tool on March 1, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I don’t plan on wasting any money seeing the movie, but I gotta admit that I laughed at some of the trailer of that 21 and over movie. But, I am probably overdue for a visit to the vet. (sick puppy)

RT on March 2, 2013 at 2:10 am

The Sweeney – its Cockney rhyming slang. The Flying Squad – Sweeney Todd – hence “the Sweeney”. Sweeney Todd was a fictional Victorian murderer.

I couldn’t even get through your review of the 21 movie… horrible (not your review, the movie).

The true God, the God of Abraham, has warned us: “Anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates.” – Psalm 11:5

Isn’t so much of the product of Hollywood teaching us to love violence – to be entertained by increasing amounts of it?

So please be careful what you watch, what you allow inside your head.

sue on March 2, 2013 at 4:34 am

Gee, I wonder if the giants are meant to be stand ins for the Republican establishment?
Hollywood is just lame, and without a decent Republican in office to undermine they’ve gotten disgustingly fat and lazy.
Burn Hollywood Burn.

Frankz on March 2, 2013 at 8:22 am

I really enjoyed “Jack the Giant Slayer.” The difference between this and the recent crass, profanity-filled “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” is day and night. In this movie (as opposed to the recent H & G, for example) there’s no swearing, no prurience, no sneaky liberal subtexts–feminist or otherwise. It’s an otherworldly adventure story full of marvels and mixed with decent, wholesome values.

It’s not a perfect film. Bryan Singer is a gifted director, but he’s not Jackson, Spielberg or even Harryhausen. There’s a lot of obvious CGI and that can be distracting because the effects never feel completely real (as Debbie points out). But some decisions the filmmaker made worked well. For example, I liked the fact that all the giants were distinct, each with their own character, instead of just being generic monsters.

I didn’t feel the story was “padded” as some critics have charged. It’s important to realize that this film is based more on the fairly lengthy English tale “Jack the Giant Slayer” probably more than Grimm’s German “Jack and the Beanstalk.” There’s an intersection between these two traditional tales, but the British story is longer. One difference I remember from the German and British versions is that in “Jack the Giant Killer,” there was a two-headed giant, each head with a separate personality. That always fascinated me as a child, and I liked that they included this detail in the movie (even if Debbie wasn’t overwhelmed by it).

Burke on March 2, 2013 at 8:23 am

It’s important to separate a film’s entertainment value from its message.
Many thoroughly entertaining movies have dubious messages.

‘Jaws’ by way of a silly example is an entertaining movie but not a big favorite amongst environmentalists.

I’m sure ‘Jack the GOP Slayer’ is no Jaws and I’m not 14 so this one goes directly to the waste bin unopened.

Frankz on March 2, 2013 at 9:03 am

Debbie is right about Ray Winstone in Sweeney – Great movie.

Rochelle on March 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

So tell me again what you REALLY think of 21 and Over? LOL Great review.

DaveB on March 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

(4) Marx’s + (4) Obamas + (4) bin Ladens = Jeebus Chrito I’m surprised the theater didn’t explode from the sheer stupidity. Check yourself, Debbie. There may been bedbugs in the seats, too …

Jack on March 2, 2013 at 10:14 am

I have a few comments about the violence in “Jack the Giant Slayer.”

First, it’s rated P3-13, so there’s no confusion: This film isn’t intended for small children.

Second, the original literary version of “Jack the Giant Killer” is pretty “violent.” There are a lot of beheadings and stabbings. Like the children characters in this film, I enjoyed having this particular story read to me repeatedly, and my mother was, for a while, a little worried about me because I seemed to have such an obsession for this kind of “violence,” as well as a fascination with monsters. But I’ve grown up not violent at all—in fact, my friends can vouch for the fact that I’m more bookish and introspective than thuggish.

Third, there’s a difference between the violence of this film and the violence of “Hansel and Gretel,” where heads exploded, guts were poured out and blood spattered everywhere. That was gratuitous. Besides, the kills in “H & G” seemed more about being cool or attaining celebrity status, not about protecting the princess and kingdom, and there was just an undercurrent suggesting tawdry motives in the film. So that made a difference.

Fourth, feminized pacifism is a liberal value, and that value can be regarded as menacing if you understand its intent. At the end of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” the bad guy is defeated after a furious battle, and Alice is about to make the kill and then she declares something to the effect of, “No. He will be reeducated instead.” I thought of Mao and his camps and the way liberals try to seize the higher ground by banning all violence and teaching us all to be ubersensitive girl-creatures in the liberal mold. “Any child caught with a toy gun will be placed in a detention center until he has been properly shaped”: that sort of thing. No, I’m not a war-monger, and I’m sympathetic to Debbie’s wariness about violence used for the purpose of sensationalistic titillation, but I also understand the mythology behind liberalism, and feminized pacifism for males as well as females is part of it.

Burke on March 2, 2013 at 10:57 am

Debbie, do you get “combat pay” for sitting thru drek movies? How do you keep your head from exploding when you watch these sewer films? I harken back to the days when children were seen and not heard. Our entire pop culture is geared to people under 21, chronologically, and 10 in maturity.

JeffT on March 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm

CGI has ruined the movies. There’s just no other way to say it. Yeah, there are enough regulations already, but I wish that movie studios would posting a “real content” percentage for each movie they release. Sounds like “Jack the Giant Killer” has about 15 percent.

Many of these CGI-enhanced movies are little more than cartoons, and even that term isn’t really accurate. If you want to call the polygons and spheroid junk that Pixar churns out “animation,” that is. Real animated movies (i.e. Heavy Metal, Transformers 1986, etc) may not be masterpieces, but they are still head and shoulders above what passes for children’s entertainment today.

Sta t us MoNk ey on March 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm

“Why? Because I’m Asian?We don’t all know each other you racist MF’rs…oh wait.I do know this guy.”


“I mean technically,he is doing what you asked.He’s gettin down”


I think I failed the D.S. IQ test. 🙁
I hate movie trailers.they’re so misleading.They suck you into believing the whole movie is as good as the preview.

ebayer on March 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm

So 21 & Over is Shakespeare for today. Good to know.

Robert on March 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Me thinketh thou doth protest to much.

    ebayer on March 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Debbie since you bragging about it can you bring over your screeners for Sweeney and 21? I agree they both look good. It’s nice to see a mainstream movie like 21 finally address honor killing. You can rewatch them with me and then I will take you out for ice cream.

A1 on March 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

I saw a film at the theater this last week, “Dark Skies,” that I liked. Debbie didn’t review it, commenting last week that since it wasn’t previewed for critics, it was probably something pretty horrendous. There’s some truth in Debbie’s comment, because not allowing a film to be previewed sometimes does reveal some worry by producers that the film won’t be liked by critics. Since I often disagree with the mainstream critics anyway, though, not being previewed tends to have the opposite effect on me than it does on Debbie; it piques my curiosity.

In any case, I wound up liking the film, and I just thought I’d mention my positive reaction in case someone might be interested in seeing it. There’s a solidly conservative subtext about family in the story that I liked, and I also enjoyed the parts in the film that show how bad neighbor kids can have an unwholesome influence on the children. The main concept of the film about extraterrestials was also weirdly original, and I enjoyed that, too.

Burke on March 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm

ebayer-I wasn’t being sarcastic or complaining but being fairly literal. Shakespeare’s plays are filled with sexual references, dirty jokes, and other very adult content. Romeo and Juliet is a pretty good example of this, as is nearly everything out of Iago’s mouth in Othello. His plays didn’t start out as high culture but were the dick and fart jokes of the day, written in poetic form. The Globe itself was in a seedy location, as next door was a brothel. The Bard was simply the day’s equivalent to Kevin Smith or Judd Apatow, but far more gifted.

Robert on March 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm


    ebayer on March 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Robert, what are you on? Just because Shakespeare, in some of his plays, indulged his audiences with vulgar gags, it does not follow that someone with not a bit of artistry becomes like Shakespeare because he too offers such gags.

    skzion on March 3, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Debbie and I have different artistic sensibilities, and value different sorts of topics

It is, therefore, incredible how often I find her reviews absolutely right on. Yesterday I again watched a movie she reviewed very favorably: Departures, a Japanese film from a couple of years back that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. I had already seen it a couple of times, but even on a third viewing it gave me great pleasure. Naturally, the inept and stupid AO Scott from NYT hated it.

skzion on March 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

21 Was a pretty ok movie geared towards younger gen and crude in humor but funny, pretty much what happens in college

21$4eva on August 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm

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