Opening Friday, August 3 is the concluding film of the Bourne trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum , which began in 2002 with The Bourne Identity . These spy thrillers, based on the novels of Robert Ludlum, are on my all-time top five list for this genre (which, pending my actually seeing Ultimatum , only leaves two others). I largely credit Matt Damon for elevating this series above the genre norm, and he returns here as a Jason Bourne who may be recovering his memory. That spells bad news for his CIA handlers. I was very sorry to see the wonderful Franka Potente eat it early in The Bourne Supremacy , but Julia Stiles was very good in Supremacy and she returns here as na?Øve agent Nicky Parsons. Sadly, I will be in Maryland this Friday and will not get to see the film nor review it. The rest of you, enjoy. Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action. 121 m. At the Broadway, Minor, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
From Walt Disney comes Underdog , a film about an ordinary beagle that acquires superpowers, including the power of speech, due to a scientific experiment gone wrong. As he has to save a city, the superpowers may come in handy. Based on the cartoon and TV series, Underdog is voiced by Jason Lee ( My Name Is Earl ). The film also features Alex Neuberger from Running Scared , Peter Dinklage and James Belushi. Rated PG for rude humor, mild language and action. 94 m. At the Broadway.
On the movie musical front, Once is the winner of audience awards at the 2007 Dublin International and Sundance Film Festivals. Filmed in the streets of Dublin, the story is about a street musician (Glen Hansard, The Commitments ) with a guitar and a recent heartbreak who meets a piano playing Czech woman (Mark?©ta Irglov?°). Will they make beautiful music together? Don't expect a Dreamgirls extravaganza, just a good small-scale film. Rated R for language. 95 m. At the Minor.
Saturday Night Live strikes again as Andy Samberg slithers to the big screen in Hot Rod as stuntman Ron Kimble, who wants to jump over 15 school buses with his motorcycle to raise money for his ornery stepfather's (Ian McShane) heart operation. Why can't SNL people stay where they belong, on the small screen? Despite the presence of McShane and Sissy Spacek, I won't miss reviewing this film. Rated PG-13 for crude humor, language, some comic drug-related and violent content. 98 m. At The Movies, Mill Creek and the Fortuna.
Also opening is Bratz , based on the fashion dolls who love to shop. As the four friends enter Carrie Nation High, Jade (Janel Parrish), Chloe (Skyler Shaye), Yasmin (Nathalia Ramos) and Sasha (Logan Browning) have to struggle to remain close in the face of those high school mean girls. Rated PG for thematic elements. 120 m. At The Movies.
NO RESERVATIONS: I'm not completely sure why Hollywood remakes of foreign films so often miss the mark, taking the charm out of the original or reducing sharp material to a bland, safe storyline. In any case, No Reservations , a remake of the 2001 German film Bella Martha ( Mostly Martha ), while not a bad film on its own, lacked the charm and hard edges of the original, even though the German screenwriter Sandra Nettelbeck is given co-writing credit here. Perhaps one reason is that adult relationships often seem more mature and complicated in European films. In No Reservations , the romantic comedy arc involving uptight, driven top chef Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and loose, Italian opera singing sous-chef Nick (Aaron Eckhart) follows the familiar Hollywood story clich?©s, with the principals sometimes acting more like teenagers than two people who have been around the block a few times.
Happily, half of the film involves the attempt by Kate to raise her sister's 9-year-old daughter Zoe (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine ) after her mother is killed in a car crash on the way to visit Kate. This part of the narrative is much more interesting than the romance and, partly thanks to Breslin's acting, makes No Reservations a better film than the romantic clich?©s might lead you to think. Along the way, this part of the story deals nicely with the difficulty of being a single parent (the biological father was never in the picture, except, apparently, for the fun part) while trying to have a career in a very competitive business. Having lost my mother when I was six, and remembering the difficulty my father's mother and sister had trying to relate to me, I thought the film pegged the difficulty that Kate and Zoe faced in forming a relationship, a path made more difficult by the nature of Kate's career.
So, go to the film for this storyline along with the delicious looking dishes coming out of Kate's kitchen and suffer through the romantic comedy and lame therapy scenes. Then rent Mostly Martha and see whether I'm just one of those snob critics who always prefer European films. Rated PG for some sensuality and language. 115 m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE: I'm sure I was the only person in the movie theatre who had never seen a single episode of The Simpsons , and perhaps the only one in Humboldt County, Calif., and the whole country. So, for better or worse, The Simpsons Movie is virtually my only exposure to Homer, his family and neighbors, and that's the perspective of this review.
I must say that I was totally taken by the irreverent tone and the cultural commentary of the Simpsons' world. This is the second animated film, along with Ratatouille , that has delighted me in recent weeks; I'm not sure what's happening to this animation-phobic guy. There is a story of sorts having to do with lake pollution, the EPA and Homer saving Springfield from his own screwup. But I was more taken in by the religious commentary (when Grandpa collapses in church, Homer scans through the Bible but doesn't find any answers), the focus on the hypocrisy of "family values," the environmental issues and the commentary on our government, all handled with clever and pointed humor. For those of a particular political bent, what's not to like about a President Schwarzenegger who presses a button blindly because he was elected "to lead, not to read." Or watching the inept attack forces of the government try to destroy Springfield, only to be foiled by a motorcycle-riding Homer?
Somehow, amidst the humor, in fact, embedded in it, is a tale about what it means to be a father and husband as well as a member of a community. The Simpsons Movie is created by veterans of the TV series, including director David Silverman, eleven writers with connections to the show and the familiar voices of Dan Castellaneta (Homer and a gaggle of other characters), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart and others) and Harry Shearer (Schwarzenegger and some 13 others). I'm not sure that the film will drive me to ever watch the TV show, but I now have an appreciation for The Simpsons and I'll always have Springfield in my heart. Or somewhere. Rated PG-13 for irreverent humor throughout. 97 m. At the Broadway, Minor, Mill Creek and the Fortuna.
I KNOW WHO KILLED ME: Lindsay Lohan the person has had a bad week (or so). Lindsay Lohan the actor isn't faring much better. Evidence: I Know Who Killed Me , which could only have been made as a Lohan vehicle, and another recent release not screened for critics and which my partner Claudia once again refused to attend with me. On the other hand, this film validates my attendance at Captivity , because I can now say that while I Know is truly awful, it is not as bad as the former exercise in torture porn. And poor Lohan: she's mostly inept in I Know , but when it comes to bad acting, she can't hold a candle to Elisha Cuthbert.
To be fair, Lohan has a lot of help here: the script is ludicrous, the dialogue ridiculous, and the direction a pretentious joke. At least Lohan spends less time being tortured in the film than was the case with Cuthbert, and a lot more time writhing around a pole in a strip joint. Lohan is Aubrey Fleming, an aspiring writer, who disappears one evening while out with friends and who is subsequently found in a field severely mutilated. But wait — is she actually the stripper Dakota Moss, who hails from the wrong side of the tracks and who claims that the real Aubrey is still in captivity? As with Captivity , the ending will come as no surprise to viewers. Some of the scenes between Aubrey/Dakota and Aubrey's mother (Julia Ormond) are briefly effective and, to be fair again, Lohan's acting is better than anything else about this film. That's not enough reason to go, however. Rated R for grisly violence including torture and disturbing gory images, and for sexuality, nudity and language. 115 m. At the Movies.
EVAN ALMIGHTY: Unfunny Christian-lite treacle-comedy about suburban Hummer-dumbo who wants to pave over paradise. But Morgan Freeman — er, God — commands him to build an ark instead. Rated PG. 105 m. At the Broadway.
HAIRSPRAY. Movie based on Broadway show based on movie. J. Travolta, Q. Latifah, C. Walken reinterpret the John Waters classic, adding singing and dancing and such. Rated PG. 123 m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX: Rebel rebel — in round five of the series, Harry and the gang buck government orders and found their own secret society, so as to better combat Voldemort, the big baddie. Rated PG-13. 148 m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY. Madly-in-love gay couple (A. Sandler, K. James) pretend to be New York City firemen. Or maybe it's the other way around. Rated PG-13. 125 m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
LICENSE TO WED: The Rev. Robin Williams don't want them kids gettin' married till they've been through the pre-marriage wringer. Rated PG-13. 110 m. At The Movies.
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD: In the latest and perhaps last installment of B. Willis' "Die Hard" franchise, there's a bunch of computer stuff that's gonna asplode the world. Rated PG-13. 130 m. At the Broadway.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END: The action moves to Singapore, where Davy Jones (Nighy) and Capt. Jack (Depp) continue their battle, with the profession of piracy in danger of extinction. Rated PG-13. 178 m. At The Movies.
RATATOUILLE: Pixar alert! An animated Parisian rat with a preternatural talent in the kitchen dreams of earning his Michelin star. Rated G. 120 m. At The Movies.
SICKO: Shock documentarian Michael Moore's latest takes on the health care industry. Rated PG-13. 123 m. At the Broadway and the Minor.
TRANSFORMERS: Acclaimed auteur Michael Bay's masterpiece. A poignant, nostalgic ode to '80s-era Saturday morning cartoons. Also, a bunch of shapeshifting robots blow each other up. Rated PG-13. 154 m. At the Broadway.
WHO'S YOUR CADDY? If Outkast's Big Boi wants to join your chichi country club, you'd better welcome him with open arms. Rated PG-13. 103 m. At The Movies.