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Not funny, people 

Apatow's mopey mess, plus Moon shines and The Collector tortures

click to enlarge MOON
  • MOON

Previews

Opening Friday, August 7 is Julie & Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron, reuniting Meryl Streep (Julia Child) and Amy Adams (Julie Powell) in a film about the famous PBS chef and a woman who tries to spice up her life by trying to cook all 524 recipes from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Adams and Streep, what more do you need? Well, there’s also Stanley Tucci as Child’s husband. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some sensuality. 123m. At the Broadway.

Based on the action figures, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a live-action film set in the future that shows the creation of the Cobra Organization and the formation of the G.I. Joe team. With Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Rachel Nichols, Marlon Waylons, Sienna Miller and others. Rated PG-13 for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout. 118m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Minor.

The Girl from Monaco is a French thriller about a Parisian lawyer (Fabrice Luchini) who travels to Monaco for a case but gets very distracted by sexually aggressive party girl Audrey (Louise Bourgoin). His bodyguard, Audrey’s ex, complicates the situation. Those French! Rated R for some sexual content and language. 95m. At the Minor.

A Perfect Getaway is a thriller involving two vacationing couples (Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, Kiele Sanchez), Hawaii, psychopaths and murdered tourists. Don’t forget your lei. Rated R for graphic violence, language including sexual references and some drug use. 97m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

Reviews

FUNNY PEOPLE: I thought that Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin was one of the better examples of what I have labeled, to the vocal displeasure of some women I used to know, “the brain-dead guy film,” and it was actually funny. While Knocked Up didn’t measure up to the earlier film, it wasn’t bad.

I don’t care for Adam Sandler’s brand of humor, but 50 First Dates and especially Punch-Drunk Love were all right, and as he’s playing a standup comedian who has a limited time to live in Funny People, I thought I might enjoy a darker Sandler. Unfortunately, despite a few intermittent chuckles, I found this film to be ridiculously long and tedious with a patchwork plot that just didn’t hold together.

There are at least three films here. One involves comic George Simmons (Sandler) who at the film’s beginning is diagnosed with a rare, fatal blood disease. Understandably thrown off his game, he befriends (in a way) and mentors struggling novice comic Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a relationship that provides what coherency the film achieves and represents its most interesting aspect.

Ira lives with two other “funny people,” one of whom (Jason Schwartzman) stars in a successful sitcom and beds lots of women in a lame subplot. When George discovers he’s cured, the film becomes a story of his attempt to get back together with ex-wife Laura (Apatow’s real life wife Leslie Mann) who is now remarried to Aussie hunk Clarke (Eric Bana), a plotline that seems uncomfortable with the presence of Ira.

Okay, show biz success turns guys into total jerks even if they get lots of women, and when you look closely at comics in particular, you can see the tracks of their tears. This theme has been explored more successfully before (The King of Comedy, for example). And somehow, given the peculiar tone of the film, all the penis jokes, admittedly a staple of stand-up comedy, seemed somewhat gratuitous, unlike those in Virgin.

Apatow fans may enjoy this film, but I didn’t and, for the record, Claudia nodded off periodically when the four young children in front of us allowed. She was lucky. Rated R for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality. 146m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

MOON: *Moon* is a modest, low-key, effective science fiction film that, in its own way, makes as much a comment on our corporate world as Food, Inc.

Set sometime in the future, the film opens with an ad from the Lunar Corporation boasting about how they have cleaned up Earth’s environment by harvesting energy on the dark side of the moon. The film then cuts to Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell, Snow Angel; Frost/Nixon) who is completing a three-year contract overseeing the operation from a lunar station whose other occupant is a computer named Gerty, voiced by the mellifluous Kevin Spacey.

Sam is counting down the days until he gets to return to Earth and reunite with his wife and daughter. But following an accident in a lunar vehicle, Sam wakes up to discover there are two Sam Bells. Clearly, the situation on the moon is not what it seemed to be, and first-time feature writer/director Duncan Jones (who is David Bowie’s son) uses the increasingly strange situation to explore the lengths multinational corporations will go to ensure their continued existence and profitability.

Shot at UK’s Shepperton Studios, Jones eschews the extensive use of CGI typical of the sci-fi (or is it SyFy?) genre, putting the emphasis on the thematic material and the acting. Rockwell is very effective in the dual roles of Sam, registering with subtle facial expressions his growing realization of his situation, and writer Jones manages to create a genuinely suspenseful film from his modest premises. Kudos to all involved. Rated R for language. 97m. At the Minor.

THE COLLECTOR: Shopped initially, according to several Internet sources, as a prequel to the Saw series, The Collector is firmly in the torture porn horror sub-genre. Based on the one Saw film I went to (the first), Collector has much of the sadism of the Saw films but not the cleverness. Perhaps the ending twist that sets up a sequel has just gotten a little old and more than a little obvious.

The first sequence occurs during the opening credits and sets up the basic plot. A randy, inebriated couple returns home at night looking forward to drunken sex. But the bedroom romp is interrupted when a strange box is discovered in one of the rooms. Of course, despite all logic, the husband opens it and a look of horror crosses his face.

The film then cuts to the main storyline wherein handyman Arkin (Josh Stewart, "Dirt" TV series) decides to rob a wealthy family's house that he’s been remodeling because his wife desperately needs money to pay off loan sharks. Unluckily, when he breaks in, he discovers that someone is already there and torturing the parents. The youngest daughter is nowhere to be found and the oldest, Jill (Madeline Zima, the sexy underage temptress in "Californication," not that it takes much to tempt David Duchovny’s character), is out on a date. Worse, he discovers that the house has been extensively booby-trapped with all manner of slicing, dicing, and piercing mechanisms. Apparently, the masked man behind the torture (Juan Fernandez, not that you ever see his face) had a lot of help from a film crew.

The rest of the film involves Arkin’s attempt to save himself and the family. As you would guess from the genre, and the fact that director Patrick Melton wrote Saw IV and V, there is the requisite amount of torture and blood as the film wends its way to the preordained conclusion. At least there's a plot. Rated R for pervasive sadistic bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity. 88m. At Broadway and Mill Creek.

Continuing

ALIENS IN THE ATTIC. This family fantasy film finds a group of kids trying to fight off alien invaders out to destroy the Earth. Rated PG. 86m. At Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

G-FORCE. Government-trained guinea pigs out to save the world. With the voices of Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. At Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

THE HANGOVER. Getting severely trashed with your bros at a Vegas-based bachelor party can have serious consequences, especially when no one remembers what happened. Rated R. 100m. At Broadway.

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE. The Hogwarts boy wizard saga continues. Don’t mess with Voldemort. Rated PG. 153m. At Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS. The gang makes a rescue mission for Sid that takes them into a mysterious underground world where they have close encounters with dinos and generally run amuck. Rated PG. At the Broadway and Fortuna.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN. Museum exhibits come to life leading to a history-packed battle of good versus evil. Rated PG. 105m. At The Movies.

ORPHAN A husband and wife who recently lost their baby adopt a 9-year-old girl who is not nearly as innocent as she claims to be. Rated R. 123m. At the Movies.

THE PROPOSAL. When a high-powered book editor faces deportation to her native Canada, she declares she's actually engaged to her assistant, who she's tormented for years. Rated PG-13. 108m. At the Movies and Fortuna.

PUBLIC ENEMIES. A Depp-alicious true crime drama set during the dawn of the FBI. Rated R. 140m. At the Movies.

STAR TREK. Get the action-packed backstory on Kirk and Spock's rivalry-ridden relationship. Rated PG-13. 127m. At the Movies.

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. Once again, Sam Witwicky finds himself in the middle of the war between the Autobots and the Decipticons with the fate of the universe at stake. Rated PG-13. 151m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

THE UGLY TRUTH. A romantically challenged morning show producer is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent to prove his theories on relationships and help her find love. Rated R. 97m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

UP. In Pixar's latest, an elderly gentleman sets out to fulfill lifelong dream despite annoying Boy Scout tagalong. Rated PG. 101m. At The Movies.

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