Despite a number of exhilarating surfing sequences, the interesting true story of surf legend Jay Moriarty is transformed into another dull Hollywood biopic. Painfully family-friendly, it's all so relentlessly smiley and sun-kissed that we wonder where the real story and characters are amid the sticky schmaltz. Even so, it's so beautifully shot that it holds our attention, especially when the cameras are riding the waves.
By the time he was 9 years old in 1987, Jay (Timberline) was already an expert on the tides in his home town of Santa Cruz, California. Watching the surfers every day, he longs to get out there himself. His mother (Shue) is a sleepy alcoholic and he never knew his father, so he adopts salty old surfer Frosty (Butler) as a mentor, even though he's not sure he wants the job. Especially since he's doing everything to avoid his own wife (Spencer) and baby. But Frosty sees Jay's natural talent, and seven years later Jay (now Weston) has the confidence to ask Frosty to teach him how to ride the mavericks, mythical monster waves that only come along every few months.
With its absent father and drunken mother, the script never feels like more than an after-school special, complete with a bat-wielding bully (Handley) and a surf babe (Rambin) who chastely flirts with Jay whenever they meet. Frosty even sets Karate Kid-style pointless tasks for Jay to teach him the bigger picture. But this set-up is so trite that we never have even the slightest doubt about where it's going. And the characters all feel like cliches rather than real people. The three women are especially wasted, but at least they add spark to their roles.
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Shy, artistic 8-year-old Sally (Madison) moves across the country to live with her architect dad Alex (Pearce) and his designer girlfriend Kim (Holmes) in a massive old Rhode Island mansion. But she soon starts hearing strange noises, and after discovering a boarded-up basement studio, things start getting a bit freaky. But how can she convince her sceptical father and the stepmum she doesn't trust that there's something in the house that wants to tear the family apart? Even after the handyman (Thompson) is attacked, Alex continues his renovations so he can lure a buyer (Dale).
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Continue reading: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Review
It's been a year since Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley), and Susan (Anna Popplewell) Pevensie have been to the magical land that they once ruled as kings and queens. However, 13 centuries have passed in Narnia, and a race of humans known as Telmarines have overrun the kingdom. They have systematically killed off almost all the creatures, and rule by blood and violence. Within the court, Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), brother of the late King Caspian IX, has taken over and threatened the life of the true, titular heir (Ben Barnes). With the help of the returning foursome, Prince Caspian will rally the remaining Narnians, leading them to victory over their evil oppressors.
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Wahlberg even boasts the ideal name: Bob Lee Swagger. The surname ensures he's all attitude. The fact that he goes by three monikers means he's a bona fide presidential assassin, situated in a class above Lee Harvey Oswald.
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The film remains, next to Field of Dreams, one of the world's oddest baseball movies. Roy Hobbs (Redford) is a child wunderkind at the game. After playing some ball at a carnival, he's summarily shot in the chest by a femme fatale (Barbara Hershey), who is clearly working for agents that want him not to be the greatest player of all time, which Hobbs says he aims to be.
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Wendell Baker (Luke Wilson) has charm oozing from his pores but can't do much more than make friends with it. He makes fake IDs with his friend, Reyes (Jacob Vargas), for illegal aliens that just jumped the fence. Wendell also has a woman who loves him, but of course, he can't tell her he loves her back. That girl is Doreen (Eva Mendes), who runs into the arms of a grocery store owner (Ferrell) when Wendell gets sent away. When he returns, settled on getting his life straight and winning Doreen back. He is set up to work in an old folk's home, ample for his dreams of owning his own hotel one day. Trouble comes when he uncovers a scheme to fake old people's death and actually send them away to be slaves at a small farm house, owned by the mother of Neil King (Owen Wilson), the head nurse and a supreme sleaze bag. With the help of three wily retirees (Seymour Cassel, Harry Dean Stanton, and Kris Kristofferson), Wendell plans to win back the girl and uncover the scheme.
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Director Andrew Adamson makes his live-action debut here after the two Shreks, but it's an easy transition for him, given that a good portion of the film has a CGI/character complexity ratio about as high as the last few Star Wars films. Although Narnia doesn't lend itself well to the cheeky pop culture reference-o-rama that Shrek did, it shares those films' same treacly sentimentality and market-researched plasticity.
A consummate leftist, Beatty was always into politics and into political filmmaking, or films that took on big topics at least. So, the question must be asked why he would decide to star as one of the most flamboyant, vain gangsters of all time, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. Not only did he act in the film, he was the reason it started. Beatty wrangled up James Toback to write the thing and then snagged Barry Levinson to direct the picture, and decided that the focus of the film should be the end of Siegel's career/life.
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Oh yeah, and there's this movie she's in, an adaptation of the beloved 1973 novel How to Eat Fried Worms. I remember loving this book when I was a kid, but today I can't really remember the actual plot (except there was a lot of worm-eatin' in it). Maybe that's for the best. The word is that the film has taken some liberties with the book, but aside from modernizing the story, I couldn't really tell you what was different.
Continue reading: How to Eat Fried Worms Review