EAT PRAY LOVE. Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir about food, love and finding religion is adapted by writer/director Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, Glee) with Julia Roberts journeying from NYC to Italy, India and Bali. Not yet rated. Opening at the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.
THE EXPENDABLES. Writer/director/actor Sylvester Stallone stars in a super-macho action flick about mercenaries (played by a slew of famous action stars) on a mission to overthrow a South American dictator. 103 m. Rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language. Opening at the Broadway and Mill Creek.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. Michael Cera (Juno, Arrested Development) stars as Scott Pilgrim, who battles his new girlfriend's "seven evil exes" in an homage to manga directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead). Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references. Opening at the Broadway and Mill Creek.
Arcata Theatre Lounge has a pair of film-related events coming up: On Friday, Butter Music Brazil's All Tribes Film and Beats Gathering presents shorts, plus the documentary Laya Project and dance music. On Saturday La Dolce Video celebrates its first anniversary with a pair of cult movie classics and other fun. Read about both parties in this week's Calendar section. On Sunday ATL continues the sequence of J. K. Rowling adaptations with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth in the boy wizard franchise.
-- Bob Doran
THE OTHER GUYS. I actually found myself chuckling at times while watching The Other Guys, which was a pleasant surprise. This genial comedy is a send-up of both the buddy cop film and the macho police movie, and if the humor occasionally flags, the film manages to recover.
The opening sequence, involving Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson as over-the-top macho guys, sets up the main part of the story, which involves mild-mannered police accountant Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell), who is the butt of department jokes. His long-suffering partner, Terry (Mark Wahlberg), wants to fit into the macho police culture, but the fact that he shot Derek Jeter (Derek Jeter) by mistake while on patrol at the ballpark, costing the Yankees a championship, has limited his credibility. Allen, by contrast, is happy with his desk job.
Of course, they fall by accident into a major case involving investor fraud, and this happenstance provides the main plot line and much of the film's humor. But this is not a sharply satiric film about financial dishonesty -- the most trenchant zingers in this area are reserved for the end credits.
Rather, this is, as you might expect, a Will Ferrell vehicle. I'm not particularly a fan of Ferrell's brand of offbeat humor, but in this role he creates a credible and often funny comic persona. While much of the humor derives from the bumbling mishaps of the partners, there are some genuinely funny lines here and there. One of my favorites is delivered by a TV newscaster who, after Allen and Terry arrest crooked investor David Ershon (Steve Coogan), says, "Is this a case of financial profiling?"
Much is made as well of the fact that milquetoast Allen is married to the very attractive Dr. Sheila Gamble (Eva Mendes), who he treats like a homely loser. Michael Keaton provides good support for Ferrell and Wahlberg as their precinct captain. If you stick around until the end credits are over, you'll be treated to a somewhat funny final scene between Wahlberg and Ferrell. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material. 107m. At the Broadway, Fortuna, Mill Creek and the Minor.
STEP UP 3D. For a brief moment while watching this film I thought I was experiencing a re-imagining of Busby Berkeley's Gold Diggers of 1933. In Berkeley's film, a group of stage performers lose their theater for failure to pay the rent and the subsequent story is a backstage musical involving getting back the space. In Step Up 3, a group of competitive dancers are about to lose their rehearsal space just before the big world competition for failure to pay the rent.
Alas, the parallel proved to be superficial, and this film has none of the social commentary of the earlier film. Instead, it is yet another dreary example of the underdog competition film cast from the same mold that has tediously and tirelessly spawned so many others. In this case, the story follows a group of hip-hop street dancers called the House of Pirates trying to win the top prize at the world finals. The barriers to their success, always overcome, involve losing their rehearsal space, internal betrayal and the usual nasty guys, here the House of Samurai, out to destroy them and take the title themselves.
The film is a series of big, highly produced dance numbers punctuated, unfortunately, with attempts at plot. Besides the obvious primary conflict, involving the competition, the story stumbles through two romances, the dialog for which is embarrassingly corny even for this genre. Also, it turns out that the leader of the Pirates, Luke (Rick Malambri), is an aspiring filmmaker putting together digital footage of interviews of his dancers.
As usual, the only real interest in these films comes from the skills of the performers and the dance numbers themselves, and in this regard the film works, often quite well. Perhaps the most interesting choreography is also the simplest: Moose (Adam G. Sevani) and Camille (Alyson Stoner) struggling to make a romantic connection, perform a nice homage to a mix of Fred Astaire's "I Won't Dance" played from an ice cream truck. It's a reminder of the place of dance musicals in American film and a hint that a production number can actually advance the plot.
Presumably this film is aimed at a much younger audience than I represent. The young woman in front of me spent about half the film on her cell, possibly texting her friends about how great the film was. Or maybe she was wondering where the 3D version was playing. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. 107 m. At the Broadway (in 2D) and Fortuna (in 3D).
Note: I feel compelled to respond to certain aspects of the letter from Bob Burger regarding my review of Salt, published in the Aug. 5 issue, that don't involve opinion. To begin with, I'm much too old to grow up; I must have missed the maturity gene. And, I have never played a video game in my life. Neither home computers nor such games were anywhere in sight when I was trying to grow up. The fact that Jolie performed her own stunts is well documented and easily researchable.
-- Charlie Myers firstname.lastname@example.org
CATS AND DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE. See, it's a play on the name of that Bond girl "Pussy Galore." For kids! Rated PG. 85m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
CHARLIE ST. CLOUD. Charlie's academic future is cut short after a tragic accident. Rated PG-13. 99m. At the Broadway.
DESPICABLE ME. Can cute kids turn an evil madman (voiced by Steve Carell) into a good guy? Rated PG. 95m. At the Broadway, Garberville and Mill Creek.
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS. Your mission: to find the biggest idiot you can and bring them to dinner. Rated PG-13. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
GROWN UPS. Adam Sandler reunites with childhood friends to celebrate maturity... not! Rated PG-13. 113m. At the Broadway.
INCEPTION. Still not sure what happens when you die in the fourth level and your top stops spinning, but Leonardo is a total dream-boat. Geddit?!? See it a dozen more times. Rated PG-13. 148m. At the Broadway, Fortuna, the Minor and Mill Creek.
SALT. Angelina plays the hottest CIA agent ever. Rated PG-13. 100m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
SORCERER'S APPRENTICE. Old magic dude recruits young magic dude to, ummm, battle evil. Nic Cage's most Mickey Mouse role to date. Rated PG. 109m. At the Broadway.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. Two teenagers conceived by artificial insemination search out their birth father and introduce him to their two mothers. Rated R. 106m. At the Broadway.
TOY STORY 3. Woody and Buzz toy around for the first time in over a decade. But what happens when their kid prepares for college? Rated G. At the Broadway.
TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE. Team Edward! No, Team Jacob! What's a girl to do? Rated PG-13. At the Broadway, Garberville and Mill Creek.