Despite the fact that this too-soon spin-off feels like a mere cash-in on the Disney Cars/Planes marketing machine, this sequel is actually a lot more fun than expected. Not only is the animation witty and sometimes even exhilarating, but there are some solid messages in the story. On the other hand, there's also the continuing problem of making movies in which the central characters are inanimate objects with cute faces drawn on them. But never mind: see the movies, buy the toys, keep the kids happy!
After the globe-hopping race in 2013's Planes, the new champ Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) sees his new celebrity career grounded when he develops a problem in his gearbox. He can still fly, but the torque required for racing stunts could do him in. So he decides to retrain as an aerial firefighter to help his local airfield maintain its certification in time for the annual Corn Festival. In training, he is mentored by veteran chopper Blade (Ed Harris), working alongside his starstruck fan Dipper (Julie Bowen), the noble Windlifter (Wes Studi), the sassy Dynamite (Regina King) and the genius mechanic Maru (Curtis Armstrong). But a raging wildfire is threatening the nearby Fusel Lodge, and the local park superintendent (John Michael Higgins) doesn't want to shut it down with so many stars as guests.
The best touch here is to make Dusty utterly full of himself, never listening to any advice before charging in unprepared for the next challenge. It's predictable and underdeveloped, but it makes this chirpy crop-duster far more interesting, and adds some unexpected diversions in a plot that otherwise heads exactly where it has to go. Meanwhile, the screenwriters pack the dialog with witty puns and some snappy verbal and visual gags that allow the actors to give their vehicles a bit of personality, even if some of this is merely ethnic stereotyping or simplistic hero/villain morality.
Continue reading: Planes: Fire & Rescue Review
Straight-A student and valedictorian Henry Burke is set to gain a scholarship into university, things really couldn't be better for him. However when he finds himself in detention it brings on a chance meeting with one time friend and prominent stoner Travis Breaux that leads to another chance meeting, this time with Mary Jane. His first time with the drug looks to be a positive one, however this is soon marred the next day as his school principle institutes a zero policy drug policy and administers a mandatory drug test for all students.
Henry is caught between two opinions: fail the drugs test, get expelled and lose his scholarship to MIT or team up with Travis to beat the system. Not wanting to jeopardise his future without a fight, the duo team up to steal a high powered blend of ganja from law student turned drug dealer Psycho Ed and spike the school bake sale's brownie supply, getting the whole school - faculty included - to a whole new level of stoned. With every brownie consumed the boys have to contend with the intoxicated student body as well as an enraged Psycho Ed who really starts to live up to his name as he tails the pair for stealing his stash. The stakes are high as they must find a way to keep their half-baked plan from going up in smoke.
Starring: Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, Cody Longo, Adhir Kalyan, Matt Bush, Mykelti Williamson, Sean Marquette, Yeardley Smith, Michael Vartan,Curtis Armstrong, Luis Chavez, Alicia Sixtos, Mary Birdsong, Julia Ling, Camille Mana, Brett Kelly, Andrew Wilson, Erica Vittina Phillips, Joseph Julian Soria & Nadine Crocker
Director: John Stalberg
Sparkle is our eponymous star, set to shine in this tale of rags to riches as she rises to achieve her ambition of becoming a musical force. A musical prodigy from an affluent area of Detroit, Sparkle must overcome issues that are tearing her family apart whilst following her own musical ambitions. One of three sisters to a single mother, Sparkle tries to balance a new romance with music manager Stix whilst dealing with the unexpected challenges her new life will inevitably bring as she and her two sisters, Sister and Dolores, strive to become a dynamic singing group during the Motown era.
Continue: Sparkle Trailer
Curtis Armstrong Nikki Nelson / "2#115#Source="
In many ways, it's hard to figure out exactly why. It's not, on the surface, particularly well made. It doesn't feature an exceptional amount of skin. Nor is it even really all that funny. It even has Ted McGinley in it. But it's about nerds, and for better or worse, that's a subculture that doesn't easily let go of its icons. Especially pioneering ones, like this film.
Continue reading: Revenge Of The Nerds Review
We all fell in love with word crunchers through the 2002 documentary Spellbound. Watching little kids get put through self-induced and parental intellectual hell inspired awe, sympathy, and a new respect for a literate faction of population that doesn't normally gain that much publicity.
But spinning off a fictional story from this reality has its challenges. Now that we've all seen the real thing, a technical accuracy has to be met. There's also the difficult balance between maintaining realism and building an entertaining enough story to keep you focused.
Continue reading: Akeelah And The Bee Review
Foxx's tribute, solidified whenever he breaks into Charles' signature grin, goes beyond mimicry to find the soul of one of America's most gifted songwriters. You'll undoubtedly leave Ray talking about Foxx's career performance. The discussion may continue right up until Oscar night.
Continue reading: Ray Review
If you're looking for a review of "Cursed" or "Man of the House" in your newspaper this morning, you're not going to find one -- in any newspaper anywhere. Opening in theaters nationwide today, these two movies have been kept hidden from critics because, to be blunt, the studios think they're garbage and want to rake in as much money as they can before word gets out.
Of course, nobody will admit to this at Dimension Films or Columbia Pictures, which are releasing the junkers. But it's no coincidence that every movie Hollywood doesn't screen in advance -- either by not holding previews until the night before opening or not holding them at all -- is largely lambasted once critics and audiences have caught up with it.
Continue reading: Man Of The House Review
Have campus comedies really reached the point where fashionable, ante-upping gross-out gags are obligatory? I mean, do we really need a movie in which bulldog semen is served in pastries to unsuspecting frat jerks?
I ask only because "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" has such hilariously droll dialogue and such a witty, charismatic lead in Ryan Reynolds (of TV's "Two Guys and a Girl") that it's just bursting with untapped crafty comic energy that has been redirected toward the lowest of the lowbrow.
Reynolds emits an aura of smarmy charm in the title role of consummate collegiate slacker Van Wilder who, after seven years as Big Man On Campus and $40,000 in tuition, has been cut off by his fed-up father (played by Tim Matheson in one of the flick's many nods to "Animal House").
Continue reading: National Lampoon's Van Wilder Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
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