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Charlie St Cloud [aka Death & Life Of Charlie St Cloud] Review


Grim
Another solid performance by Zac Efron is flattened by bombastic filmmaking; this weepy drama couldn't be any more obvious if it tried. It's impossible to imagine that the director of Igby Goes Down made this glossed-over mess.

Charlie (Efron) is a golden boy with a sailing scholarship to Stanford, an adoring little brother (Tahan) and a glamorous, hard-working single mum (Basinger). But when Sam dies in a car crash, Charlie spends the next five years wallowing in his grief. He's also able to see dead people, including Sam, whom he meets every evening for baseball practice in the woods near the cemetery where he works as caretaker. Then adventure sailor Tess (crew) returns to town to prepare for a round-the-world race and suddenly Charlie is doubting his lonely life.

Continue reading: Charlie St Cloud [aka Death & Life Of Charlie St Cloud] Review

October Sky Review


Good
This true story (well, based on one anyway) tells the tale of Homer Hickam, a go-nowhere coal miner's son who, in the late 1950s, decides to take up amateur rocketry for no discernable reason. Secretly, this is a movie about overcoming adversity and fatherly love, and the sentiment is heaped on so high you can't help but shed a tear. Stand By Me meets The Right Stuff.

Ladder 49 Review


Excellent
Firefighter movies resemble westerns in the singular fact that I can see one decent one every five years or so and be completely satisfied. Ladder 49 happens to be an excellent flame jockey adventure, a stirring audience-pleaser that accurately captures the fear, fearlessness, and physicality associated with entering a burning room and, possibly, not exiting. Relatives of firefighters will embrace it lovingly, while the rest of us will appreciate its unquestionable sincerity.

At the same time, Ladder and its creators make no bones about the fact that the film is pushing our emotional buttons. It manipulates our heart strings and tugs at our tear ducts in its quest for inspirational cinema. Admittedly, it's a bit slick and overdone, but it's difficult to fault a picture that wears its intentions on its soot-stained sleeve and holds the serviceman position of firefighter on such a lofty pedestal.

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Bulletproof Review


Terrible
Adam Sandler's foray into action-hero land was ill-advised and, mercifully, short-lived. Bulletproof was his sole attempt to enter the buddy-cop genre (though he's playing the criminal to Wayans' cop here, but that's beside the point), and thank God. A few trademark Sandler gags aside, Bulletproof is so riddled with holes it's ridiculous. The good news: it's 84 minutes long.

Domestic Disturbance Review


Terrible
You would think it'd be a sure bet that a drama with the title Domestic Disturbance would at least be better than its laughable name. But frankly, Domestic Disturbance may as well be called Movie Theater Disturbance. Or, more specifically, Cookie Cutter Clichéd Thriller. This retread of barely suspenseful nail-biters from ten years past (think Pacific Heights and the like) is one lackluster sleepwalk of a movie.

An obvious John Travolta vehicle, it features the healthy-looking, tanned, hit-or-miss star as Frank Morrison, a loving but divorced father who is earthy enough to build wooden boats for a living, and honest enough to not charge a profitable fee. He's nice. He loves his young son Danny (a natural Matthew O'Leary), and is dealing with his ex-wife's (Meet the Parents' Teri Polo) marriage to rich investor Rick Barnes (a stale Vince Vaughn, playing a whole other kind of psycho).

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Beyond The Sea Review


Good
Three major Hollywood studios have released musical biopics within a six-month time frame. If nothing else, Tinsletown's newfound obsession with influential musicians demonstrates that studios are as attracted to good ideas as flies are to animal droppings. I can imagine executives chattering in their cluttered offices, scrambling to claim ideas before their competitors. "Hey, Universal is making a Ray Charles movie," they might say. "That's a really good idea. Quick, lets do the same thing with another famous musician."

While neither Ray nor De-Lovely are comparable to animal droppings (how could they be with Taylor Hackford and Irwin Winkler directing), a third helping of musical biopic ihas become somewhat indigestible. I can indulge in a biography of Ray Charles; I can stomach an exploration of Cole Porter; but after Beyond the Sea's portrayal of yet another famous musician, I need some Tums. That's not to say the film lacks artistic merit, it's just the victim of bad timing. This time, Bobby Darin (Kevin Spacey) is the musician in focus. He lived a successful -- albeit complicated -- life as a singer and actor until his death at the age 37... pretty decent considering he had a heart condition that was predicted to kill him as a teenager.

Continue reading: Beyond The Sea Review

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