Dan Etheridge

Dan Etheridge

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Veronica Mars Review


Good

Funded by fans, this follow-up to the cult TV show feels a lot like an extended reunion episode. But even those unfamiliar with the series will enjoy the twisty plot and smart dialog, plus the sparky Kristen Bell in the title role. And while there are rather too many characters for a stand-alone movie, they all feed nicely into the central mystery.

After escaping from the run-down seaside town of Neptune, California, nine years ago, Veronica (Bell) has become a New York lawyer. But just as she's on the verge of landing her first proper job, an old friend is murdered back home, waking her investigatory instincts. The worst of it is that her ex Logan (Dohring) is the prime suspect, so Veronica heads home to help him clear his name. Her private eye dad (Colantoni) just rolls his eyes when she slips back into her old mystery-solving role, working with her pals Mac, Weevil and Wallace (Majorino, Capra and Daggs). But three other classmates - Gia, Cobb and Dick (Ritter, Starr and Hansen) - are also involved. And the fact that she keeps putting off her return to New York annoys her boyfriend Piz (Lowell).

The most refreshing thing about this film is the way filmmaker Thomas refuses to play by the usual rules. Bell may have been offered a dream job, but we fully understand why she's blowing it off to help her friends. And the whodunit plot is just intriguing enough to hold our interest: we don't really care who the villain really is, but it's fun to watch Veronica dig through the clues and challenge every level of authority. And the script gleefully stirs in red herrings, side-plots and lots of suspicious-looking characters.

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The Nines Review


Good
In the opening moments of John August's The Nines, an actor (Ryan Reynolds) drinks, drives, scores some crack, hangs out with a hooker, and totals his car. This series of events reverberates through the film, not so much in its literal consequences -- the story is told through three overlapping segments, only one of which features the actor character -- but rather the scene's jittery disorientation. Barely a moment goes by when someone onscreen isn't feeling confused or ill at ease. Following his accident, the actor is confined to a quiet house arrest, supervised by a cheery PR agent (Melissa McCarthy) and eyed by a stay-at-home mom neighbor (Hope Davis), but this mundane imprisonment starts to feel more like a sort of purgatory. Is it the drugs? The lack of drugs? Are the two seemingly benign women in his life actually part of something greater or more sinister?

We leave the scene before Reynolds finds definite answers, but the three primary actors recur in each of the subsequent sections, playing different characters. In Part II, Reynolds is a TV writer trying to cast his actress friend McCarthy (playing a version of herself, a popular supporting player on Gilmore Girls) in a new series over the objections of a network executive (Davis), who wants to hire an actress with a development deal (it goes almost without saying that said actress also happens to be skinnier and more generic, and is played by frequent network TV guest-star Dahlia Salem, and that the character's name is also Dahlia Salem). Later, in Part III, we see Reynolds and McCarthy as characters in that series, with Davis popping up in another vaguely antagonistic part.

Continue reading: The Nines Review

Buying The Cow Review


Terrible
Any film that equates Bridgette Wilson with a cow has our curiosity piqued, but this godawful sex comedy (about, naturally, the pitfalls of marriage, not cattle) starts off weak and ends up even worse, with one juvenile antic following after another. In fact, calling this a sex comedy is an insult to real sex comedies (American Pie). In fact, it's kind of insulting to cows.

Overnight Delivery Review


Good
What, you think you've seen all of Reese Witherspoon's movies? This little gem all but vanished from theaters, but thanks to heavy rotation on cable, it's easy to catch one of young Reese's funniest roles -- as a stripper, no less! -- in Overnight Delivery.

Now available on DVD, the film follows the time-tested "stop the package before it gets to the girlfriend" plot, with Paul Rudd as our hapless cross-country traveller, trying to save the ultimate breakup letter from reaching its intended (Taylor), who turns out (of course) not to be cheating on him. Wacky hijinks ensue -- most of them being quite funny. Larry Drake's even-more-hapless delivery man (on his first day of work) faces off with the deadly duo. A serial killer runs across our hero's path. The gang runs out of money and has to dine and dash (with disastrous effect), and even Witherspoon's car takes a turn for the worse as it plummets from a cliff. This is a Road Trip that works equally well as a date movie (in fact it's one of my wife's favorite guilty pleasures, and mine too for that matter).

Continue reading: Overnight Delivery Review

Dan Etheridge

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