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Surrogates Review


OK
Lean and sleek, this futuristic thriller propels us entertainingly through its story without pausing for breath. Perhaps director Mostow was hoping we wouldn't notice how clunky the script is, with its rudimentary dialog and paper-thin plot.

It's been 14 years since a scientist (Cromwell) invented surrogates, robots controlled by brainwaves that let us experience anything. Now some 99 percent of the population has one, and people spend their lives in darkened rooms living virtually. Then FBI Agent Greer (Willis) and his partner Peters (Mitchell) discover that a guy (Noseworthy) has a weapon that can kill both surrogates and their human controllers. But the hunt for this weapon opens old wounds with the humans-only religious fanatics who live on reservations and follow the word of their Prophet (Rhames).

Continue reading: Surrogates Review

The Proposal Review


Good
As brightly enjoyable as this film is, there's no escaping the fact that it's yet another formulaic rom-com. Bullock and Reynolds have enough chemistry to keep us smiling, even though we never buy it for a second.

Margaret (Bullock) is a ruthless editor in New York whose efficient assistant Andrew (Reynolds) can't stand her. But when Margaret finds out she's being deported back to her native Canada, she talks Andrew into marrying her. To convince the probing immigration agent (O'Hare), she accompanies Andrew home to see his parents (Steenburgen and Nelson) in Alaska. And over the course of the weekend, their plan begins unravel even as they begin to see each other as humans for a change.

Continue reading: The Proposal Review

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Review


Weak
Of all the misguided movie genres, the modern family film is the most disingenuous. While it argues that it's merely providing "quality" entertainment to those underserved by Hollywood's obsession with sex and violence, the truth is that most G- to PG-rated fare is far more insidious. Applying a sugar-coated Saturday morning superficiality to what's supposed to pass for pleasantries, the Tinsel Town machine still finds a way to manufacture out all the fun. Disney's disappointing live action comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua can be accused of a great many faults -- indirect racism, single digit IQ writing, past-tense pop culture awareness -- but one thing it cannot claim is an ability to reach beyond its typical tween demographic.

Chloe (the voice of Drew Barrymore) is the most pampered pooch in all of sunny LaLa Land. Her owner (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a rich cosmetics titan who indulges her pet's every non-human whim. When the mogul needs to fly off to Europe to launch her new line, she must rely on her prissy, high strung niece Rachel (Piper Perabo) to mind her valuable canine. Showing just how responsible she is, our substitute sitter instantly accepts an invitation to weekend in Mexico, and takes Chloe along for the unnecessary ride. Dognappers eventually hijack the hound, and it's up to an ex-cop German Shepherd (voiced by Andy Garcia), a good natured landscaper (Manolo Cardona), and his frisky Chihuahua Papi (voiced by George Lopez) to rescue the four footed female before it's too late.

Continue reading: Beverly Hills Chihuahua Review

Traitor Review


Weak
Can a thriller really be a thriller without thrills? Better yet, can an international spy story really succeed by purposefully getting us to sympathize with the enemy? That's the double edged sword being wielded by Jeffrey Nachmanoff with his new film Traitor. Even the title offers yet another bit of bifurcation -- on the one hand we have a deeply religious man (Don Cheadle) working with terrorists to blow up Americans. On the other, we see how he uses his faith as a means of undermining the group's most violent objectives. Of course, this doesn't make the tale interesting or exciting. Sometimes, just being different doesn't save you from being dull.

Samir Horn (Cheadle) was 12 when his cleric father was killed by a car bomb. After years struggling with Islam, he becomes an explosives expert, working within a radical faction. When FBI agents Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) and Max Archer (Neal McDonough) storm their headquarters in Yemen, Samir and his cohorts are jailed. Soon, he is befriended by Omar (Said Taghmaoui) who recruits him to join his latest mission. Under the guidance of leaders Fareed (Aly Khan) and Nathir (Raad Rawi), Samir will construct 50 bombs, each one destined for a trip on a U.S. cross-country bus come Thanksgiving. As a man of conscience (and secrets), involvement in such a plot will test every fiber of his being -- and his loyalties.

Continue reading: Traitor Review

The Shaggy Dog Review


Weak
In the summer of 2003, Disney scored with its update of Freaky Friday, employing the talents of gifted writer Leslie Dixon (Mrs. Doubtfire), Jamie Lee Curtis, and a pre C-cup Lindsay Lohan. The movie not only was a surprise box office hit, but very funny. Lohan deservedly became a star, a fact people are starting to forget, and we re-discovered Curtis's crack comic timing.

Now, with Pixar and DreamWorks making family films kids and parents cherish for different reasons -- The Incredibles being a prime example -- Disney would have been smart to stick to the formula that earned Freaky Friday over $110 million at the box office and critical kudos. It doesn't seem that difficult.

Continue reading: The Shaggy Dog Review

Senseless Review


OK
Really a showcase for Wayans's physical comedy talents (which are prodigious), this silly comedy about a hard-working underpriviledged college guy who gains super senses thanks to an experimental drug, is as senseless as they come. Fun to watch at moments, though.

Bandits (2001) Review


Weak
If you start a movie by telling people how it's going to end, well, telling us how it gets there better be one hell of a good time. And to be sure, Bandits begins with its ending, but the story leading up to the dramatic finale is just about as lame as they come.

Doing time for unknown crimes, Joe (Bruce Willis) and Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) are milling about the clink one day when our hunky inmate Joe engineers a daring escape, taking his milquetoast pal Terry along for the ride. Within a few nights on the lam, they've engineered a plan for a new kind of bank robbery -- kidnap the bank manager at his home, spend the night at his house, then waltz in with him first thing in the morning and abscond with all the money.

Continue reading: Bandits (2001) Review

The Last Shot Review


Very Good
This is a sometimes hilarious sometimes flat takeoff on the allure of Hollywood make believe and the mystical green light of production. As a spoof of inside customs and practices of the film industry, it's a telling and whimsical satire put together by obvious insiders. As a factory for jokes, it varies, it wobbles, it tickles but most of all it finally brings a laugh to theatres at a time when something comedic is sorely needed.

It's well known or, at least, widely surmised, that the teamster's local, the union that drives the wheels of production, is mob controlled. So when often-overlooked FBI agent Joe Devine (Alec Baldwin) suggests to his superiors that the way to take down local mobster Tommy Sanz (Tony Shalhoub) is to lure him into a sting operation based on the illusion of a new Hollywood production, he's given the Bureau's green light.

Continue reading: The Last Shot Review

I'll Be Home For Christmas Review


Good
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for the Disney Channel set. Surprisingly engaging, I'll Be Home for Christmas is no Citizen Kane, but it is lively family fare. Sure, the jokes are pretty lame, but you get that cute little Jonathan Taylor Thomas on screen and you gotta fall in love, right?

Bringing Down The House Review


Very Good
More than a decade after Steve Martin lost control of his own home in Housesitter, another of his patented Poor Sap characters is in similar trouble. This time, instead of a spunky, conniving Goldie Hawn acting as unwanted tenant, a sassy, street-smart, badass Queen Latifah is movin' on up. Thankfully, Martin and Latifah make for a good high-concept Hollywood odd couple that keeps all races and ages laughing, in director Adam Shankman's speedy, funky -- and politically incorrect -- comedy.

Martin, in a plain, white guy role that's getting a bit tired, is tax attorney Peter Sanderson. He's got a fairly palatial suburban home, an ex-wife, two kids... and a chat room buddy named "lawyergirl." Peter quickly learns that making friends on the Internet can be a bitch -- his dream girl ends up being an ex-con named Charlene (Latifah), a sly loudmouth who's served time for armed robbery. Through some not-so-gentle blackmail, Charlene enlists Peter's legal aid and moves into his house and life.

Continue reading: Bringing Down The House Review

Walking Tall (2004) Review


Good
Ironically, Walking Tall runs short. Credits included, the testosterone opera two-fists its way through 77 sweat-soaked minutes, and it's just enough. You won't be hungry for seconds by the time the last baddie hits the floor, but you won't be checking your watch repeatedly, either.

Let's not sugarcoat it. Tall remains a one-note genre picture specifically tailored to its shining star - The Rock. For what it is, though, Tall is quite good. It has fun with its limitations. It boasts strong fight choreography and interesting direction by Kevin Bray, who keeps the spotlight on its charismatic and camera-friendly leading man.

Continue reading: Walking Tall (2004) Review

The Negotiator Review


Good
Too long by half, this would-be tense thriller is bogged down by dull exposition and a plot that's supposed to be intricate... but turns out to be pretty obvious in the end. What's all the hubbub about? Spacey and Jackson are fine, but their perfromances are hardly inspired -- as we're reminded all too frequently that these aren't mind games being played by two hostage negotiators, this is an acting workshop. A decent rental, but otherwise DOA.
David Hoberman

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David Hoberman Movies

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

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This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

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Where the 2011 reboot felt effortless in the way it recaptured that warmly anarchic Muppets...

21 and Over Movie Review

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The writers of The Hangover stick with the same formula for this university-aged romp about...

The Muppets Movie Review

The Muppets Movie Review

Using their long absence from the screen as a premise, this film astutely taps into...

The Fighter Movie Review

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Director Russell significantly ups his game with this visceral drama based on the true story...

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Surrogates Movie Review

Surrogates Movie Review

Lean and sleek, this futuristic thriller propels us entertainingly through its story without pausing for...

The Proposal Movie Review

The Proposal Movie Review

As brightly enjoyable as this film is, there's no escaping the fact that it's yet...

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Movie Review

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Movie Review

Of all the misguided movie genres, the modern family film is the most disingenuous. While...

Traitor Movie Review

Traitor Movie Review

Can a thriller really be a thriller without thrills? Better yet, can an international spy...

The Shaggy Dog Movie Review

The Shaggy Dog Movie Review

In the summer of 2003, Disney scored with its update of Freaky Friday, employing the...

Eight Below Movie Review

Eight Below Movie Review

When you see the phrase "inspired by a true story," you assume the accompanying movie...

Beauty Shop Movie Review

Beauty Shop Movie Review

Television shows spin-off characters all the time - Matt LeBlanc leaves Friends for Joey and...

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