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Mostly All Right 

Gay parenting film a hit; Charlie St. Cloud a miss

click to enlarge Charlie St. Cloud
  • Charlie St. Cloud

Previews

THE OTHER GUYS. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star in a parody of cop/buddy/action flicks directed and co-written by longtime Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers). Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson show up as a macho cop duo. 108 m. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material. Opening Friday at the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and the Fortuna.

STEP UP 3D. Can't say that I remember the others, but this is apparently the third in the Step Up franchise, all films about the world of "street" dancing, which looks a lot like breakdancing. New York is the setting as Luke (Rick Malambri) and Natalie (Sharni Vinson) and their breakdancing crew prepare for an international contest. As noted in the title, it was shot in 3D, but it will only be shown in 2D here. 97 m. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. At the Broadway and Fortuna.

Morris Graves Museum's First Thursday Film Night has Between the Folds, a documentary about artists and scientists who practice super advanced origami.

The Arcata Theatre Lounge's monthly Ocean Night, presented by Ocean Conservancy, Humboldt Surfrider and Humboldt Baykeeper on Thursday, is subtitled Rise Above Plastics. They'll have two docs: Bag It, about the trouble with plastic bags and plastics in general, and Shelter, about an Australian surfers' commune. And as an added bonus: The Absynth Quintet plays after the movies. Friday, ATL screens Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi classic Alien, with Sigourney Weaver battling creepy space monsters.

Saturday, Aug. 7, Queer Humboldt and Arcata Theatre Lounge present 8: The Mormon Propo$ition, a film by Reed Cowan (who grew up in Utah, gay and Mormon) about the big money involvement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the campaign for Prop 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative. A dance party hosted by Where's Queer Bill follows the screening.

-- Bob Doran

 

Reviews

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. It was an unexpected pleasure to see this film show up locally. A hit at the 2010 Sundance Festival, The Kids Are All Right had a limited release beginning on July 9 and has garnered almost universal acclaim. Lisa Cholodenko's (High Art; Laurel Canyon) film deserves the accolades. The cast is excellent and it's a very funny film until it isn't. The script by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg is both intelligent and very wise about the nature of relationships.

The story centers on a lesbian couple, Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) who are raising two teenagers. Joni (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Alice in Wonderland) is 18 and about to go off to college. Her younger brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson), has become curious about his sperm donor dad. At age 15, he can't legally pursue the matter so he convinces his reluctant sister to call the sperm bank.

The discovery that both their mothers used the same donor, and his entry into the family's life, sets the primary narrative in motion. Primarily, this is a story about the difficulty of maintaining a long-term relationship. Sometimes, two people can go a long time making compromises and not thinking too deeply about their current status. Then an unexpected element causes a major disruption and the two people find themselves without an anchor to each other.

Such is the case here when donor Paul (Mark Ruffalo) seeks a relationship with his biological children. Nic, a medical doctor, is particularly upset. Depicted as a controlling parent, she keeps a short rein on the kids and her partner, Jules. Paul, a free spirit who dropped out of college, becomes a nightmare for her as he eases into the lives of Joni, Laser and Jules. She sees herself losing control of the children she raised and also faces the increasing assertiveness of Jules.

Bening does an excellent job of making the viewer not like her character, while Ruffalo's Paul is so easy-going and likeable that you can hardly help rooting for him over the uptight Nic. But while this summary may sound serious, the film handles its subject with appropriate humor and satire. Why, Laser asks his parents, do they like to watch gay men porn films? Their fumbling response has something to do with the complicated nature of sexuality and the fact that lesbian porn usually features straight women.

The story takes a very serious turn when two of the people decide on a very unwise course of action. As it turns out, one just doesn't become a parent overnight, and it's not just sexuality that's complicated, but everything else about a relationship as well. Unhappily, individuals often overlook taking responsibility for their actions until they've destroyed something valuable. Sometimes a bridge to something new and also valuable can be built, but not always.

The film's title hints at the story's ending and reminds the viewer that this is also a coming-of-age narrative. It's a film you don't want to miss. Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use. 106m. At the Minor and the Broadway.

 

CHARLIE ST. CLOUD. It's hard to know what to make of this film. It's sort of a romantic comedy with a major fantasy component. At times, it seemed like a strange riff on Truly Madly Deeply, the fine British film about letting go that starred Juliet Stevenson. None of this is meant as negative commentary, but, unlike the script for The Kids Are All Right, here the script just doesn't meld its various elements very well.

When we first see Charlie (Zac Efron, High School Musical), he and his young brother, Sam (an effective Charlie Tahan, Nights in Rodanthe), win a sailing race, and we discover that Charlie has a scholarship to Stanford in the fall. The brothers are clearly close, and since their father deserted them some time ago, Sam is anxious about losing Charlie as well. Shortly thereafter, Sam is killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver while Charlie is driving. Charlie himself flatlines but is miraculously brought back to life by a paramedic at the scene, a recovery that will figure later in the story.

Jumping ahead five years, it comes as no surprise that Charlie has been unable to move on; taking a manual job at a cemetery, he has permanently deferred his Stanford scholarship. Of course, he no longer sails. At this juncture, the film enters partially into the realm of fantasy as well as romance.

Working at the cemetery, he meets (re-meets as it turns out) Tess (Amanda Crew), who is in the final stages of training for an around-the-world sailing race. They form a relationship that seems destined to be short-lived as the race begins in a week and Charlie still can't let Sam go. But once again, the film takes a leap into another reality.

I had a major problem going with the film at this point, and the ending seemed much too pat. Too bad -- there are some interesting elements here if only they had cohered. Furthermore, once the final twist in introduced, there's something creepy in retrospect about the relationship between Charlie and Tess. And what is this, the summer when cute guys with great bodies feel compelled to whip off their shirts at the slightest provocation? Charlie St. Cloud is an interesting miss. Rated PG-13 for language including some sexual references, an intense accident scene and some sensuality. 99m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

-- Charlie Myers

 

Continuing

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, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

DESPICABLE ME. Can cute kids turn an evil madman (voiced by Steve Carell) into a good guy? Rated PG. 95m. At the Broadway 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. Upon further review, it's probably all an allegorical reference to the 1986 New York Mets who, by defeating the Red Sox in the World Series, literally stole the dreams of the poor people of Boston. Is it coincidence that "Dom Cobb" and "Darryl Strawberry" both start with the letter "D?" We think not. So deep. Must see again. Rated PG-13. 148m. At the Broadway, Fortuna, the Minor and Mill Creek.

RAMONA AND BEEZUS. That impressionable tyke from the Beverly Cleary books conspires to save the family home, irritating older sister in the meanwhile. Rated G. 104m. At the Broadway.

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 and Mill Creek.

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.

 

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Charlie Myers

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