CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – “The Oranges” suffers from a common problem in these suburban comedies of error in that it assumes we care about these characters who are essentially less interesting than your actual neighbors. Infidelity, bad parenting, friendships collapsing – they’re happening every day on your street. Films like “The Oranges” may think they’re tapping a vein of picket fence peculiarity like “American Beauty” but the result actually plays more like a Showtime sitcom pilot that never got picked up because it was too boring to maintain week to week.
CHICAGO – Adam Sandler is just freaking with us now. His goal is obviously to create the raunchiest, sociopathic and off-putting comedies of all time, and “That’s My Boy” belongs in his Hall of Fame. The A-list cast helps out, including Andy Sandberg, James Caan, Susan Sarandon and Leighton Meester.
CHICAGO – Nothing like a summer surprise at the movies to make the season a little more tolerable. Selena Gomez and the ubiquitous Leighton Meester take a sumptuous trip and brings us along in “Monte Carlo.”
CHICAGO – Anyone who’s been through the dorm situation at a college has probably had a creepy roommate or two. (I sure had my share Freshman year but that’s a long story.) The fact that we have to share so much of our existence with a complete stranger whose only psychological evaluation was during a college acceptance interview is ripe for thriller storytelling. What if your new roommate was crazy? Sounds like the set-up for a fun, over-the-top thrill ride, doesn’t it? Then why is “The Roommate” so damn boring?
CHICAGO – Gwyneth Paltrow was EVERYWHERE promoting “Country Strong” and her return to the spotlight. She reached overexposure with appearances on “Glee,” The Grammys, and “Saturday Night Live,” and culminated it all with a performance of the film’s Oscar-nominated song on the Academy Awards. Lost in all of this was the actual movie. Was it any good? Now you can decide for yourself as it was recently released on Blu-ray and DVD.
CHICAGO – The latest “It” girls and guys have been collected for the “Meeting of the Marketed Movie,” the showcase for the latest actor brands. It’s titled “The Roommate, “ and Leighton Meester (”Gossip Girl”), Cam Gigandet (”Twilight”) and Minka Kelly (”Friday Night Lights”) lead the way.
CHICAGO – Modern country music is actually quite fascinating. Whereas in the classic days of the 1950s to ‘70s, when it was a cult stepchild of popular music, now it occupies the rarified heights of the Justins and Taylors. That is why “Country Strong,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow, is so annoying. It doesn’t even try to be modern.
CHICAGO – “Date Night” is one of the few word-of-mouth hits of 2010; a film that started off reasonably well at the box office but hung around the top ten for months after its release, turning it into an undeniable comedy success. The comedy starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey opened in second place but dropped so slowly that it almost made $100 million (a huge amount for a movie like this one and plus another $50 million internationally). The movie’s loyal fans will love the excellent Blu-ray release from 20th Century Fox.
CHICAGO – It’s senior year for the spoiled socialites of “Gossip Girl” as the second season of the hit CW show finds the characters applying for college amid scandals, new romances (and old ones), and shifting alliances. It’s just another crazy year in the life of “Gossip Girl: The Complete Second Season,” now available on DVD in a gorgeous box set from Warner Brothers.