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Celeste And Jesse Forever Review


Good

With its refusal to follow the usual romantic-comedy formula, this snappy and observant movie is a nice surprise. Not only does it keep us wondering about where it's heading, but it gives the likeable Jones and Samberg much more complex roles than they usually get to play. And the quirky approach combined with some darkly dramatic moments makes it more interesting to watch.

Jones and Samberg play the long-time couple Celeste and Jesse, who have been together since they were in school. Now married for six years, they're starting to wonder if maybe they're just best friends, rather than a couple. So they decide to separate. The main issue seems to be surfer-artist Jesse's lack of ambition but, when he begins to move on with his life, Celeste starts wondering if maybe she's the real problem. Even so, they're still completely involved in each others' lives, which is awkward for their friends Beth and Tucker (Graynor and Christian). Maybe they need some distance.

The film's perspective centres on Celeste's messy journey, which is a bumpy series of conflicting emotions. She works as a lifestyle critic, so her comments on pop culture are hilariously barbed, but as her personal life dissolves she retreats into annoying pot-fuelled wallowing. It's often not easy to watch her, but Jones gives a ruthlessly honest performance that's both funny and disturbing. Her sideplots with her gay boss (Wood), her low-life drug dealer (cowriter McCormack) and a bratty popstar client (Roberts) are nicely played but only tangentially developed.

Continue reading: Celeste And Jesse Forever Review

Alice In Wonderland Review


OK
The visual inventiveness in this film is so impressive that it almost makes up for the ill-conceived script, which tries to turn Lewis Carroll's classic tales into a Lord of the Rings-sized post-apocalyptic adventure epic.

It's been 13 years since Alice (Wasikowska) visited Wonderland, although she now believes it was all a dream. When she falls down that rabbit hole again, she doesn't remember anyone, but they remember her, and soon she's involved in a series of portentous events involving the nasty Red Queen (Bonham Carter), her nice sister, the White Queen (Hathaway), and a mythical dragon called Jabberwocky (Lee). She's helped through this by the Hatter (Depp), a smiling cat (Fry), a blue caterpillar (Rickman), two chubby twins (Lucas) and a white rabbit (Sheen), among others.

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Across The Universe Review


Excellent
Julie Taymor's Across the Universe is a musical that tells its story through a couple dozen Beatles songs and in service of this ambition, it is necessary to forgive a certain degree of yearning nostalgia. The wealth of references and in-jokes -- spare lyrics turning up in dialogue, a rooftop concert, unexpected appearances of Joe Cocker -- may seem cornball or literal, and they sometimes are, but the movie's brand of Beatlemania is unabashedly fannish, too, and understandable in its way. There are plenty of musical acts whose music and lyrics brought to life would not enchant me; don't wake me for the inevitable Light My Fire or Brass in Pocket. But if Taymor and her collaborators can't contain their enthusiasm for referring to as many songs, characters, real-life incidents, and other elements involved in the storied history of the Beatles, I can't say I blame them. I may even giggle along in solidarity.

To wit: Jude (Jim Sturgess) washes ashore to seek out his absent father, and meets raffish Princeton student Maxwell (Joe Anderson). The fast friends wind up in New York's counterculture scene, along with Max's sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), and with a gaggle of musicians, artists, and radicals, navigate the kind of historical sixties tumult often seen in textbooks and TV miniseries. Along the way they encounter psychedelic gurus played by celebrity guests, like Dr. Robert (Bono) and Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard). This may start to sound like excess until you consider the restraint the screenwriters have shown in failing to include any characters named Michelle, Eleanor Rigby, Bungalow Bill, or Rocky Raccoon.

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Zoom Review


Grim
Upon its release, Zoom was instantly reviled not only as one of the worst movies of 2006, but one of the worst movies ever made. As I write this it's hovering as the 15th worst film ever per the IMDB's (admittedly unscientific) "bottom 100," one run below Troll 2.

Is Zoom worse than #17 Phat Girlz? Worse than Glitter (#23)? Worse than Alone in the Dark (#38)? Zoom is hardly a masterpiece, but, really now, it isn't that bad.

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Austin Powers In Goldmember Review


Weak
Goldmember finds Mike Myers returning to his most successful franchise, but desperately running out of steam and resorting to yet another stab at jokes that hit-and-missed the first two times around.

And guess what: They haven't improved with age.

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Prime Review


OK
The title makes no sense - when you hear Prime, you expect a movie about numbers or meat - but the sentiments found in this cute romantic comedy are easily identifiable. Writer/director Ben Younger follows up his stocks-and-bombs thriller Boiler Room with an unpolished but idealistic date fling that sounds like a sitcom setup but has more charm than a television set could contain.

Younger aimed high when casting for his sweet screenplay and attached two marquee names to his personal endeavor. Meryl Streep dons a frumpy wig and horn-rimmed spectacles to create Lisa Metzger, a Manhattan mensch and doting psychotherapist currently treating newly divorced, statuesque blonde bombshell Rafi Gardet (Uma Thurman). Following Lisa's advice to let loose a little, Rafi enters a relationship with David (Bryan Greenberg), a lower East Side painter who happens to be 14 years younger... and Lisa's son.

Continue reading: Prime Review

G.I. Jane Review


OK
So it's a blatant, gimmicky ripoff of Top Gun, but G.I. Jane gave Demi Moore a chance to prove that she had more in her than was on display in Striptease. I don't know if they really beat the crap out of her during the production of this film, but it sure looks like they did. And that's worth two hours of my time.

Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery Review


OK
A rare case of the sequel being far better than the original, the first Austin Powers (Mike Myers as unfrozen and bumbling 60s British superspy in the 90s) is uneven and often not funny, relying on recycled jokes and far-too-broad physical humor. Stick with the second one.

Idle Hands Review


Terrible
It's very frustrating. Teen movies can be good. The original Scream was good (although ruined by a sequel). What are they doing? She's All That? I Still Know? Varsity Blues? I could go on but you'll hit "close" on your browser. The newest teen movie, Idle Hands, is pretty bad.

Devon Sawa stars as Anton, a slacker who sits around his house all day, smoking weed, and watching television. When Anton's parents are killed, a mysterious force takes over Anton's hand. He unwillingly kills his two best friends (Seth Green and Eldon Henson) and doesn't seem that phased by it. I mean, he's worried what more damage he could do, but it doesn't really bother him. His friends refused to go to heaven (too far) and walk around as zombies for the rest of the film, helping Anton control the hand, and save his girlfriend (Jessica Alba, who I wouldn't mind saving).

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Boiler Room Review


OK
America is the land of opportunity, and now more than ever, the opportunity that most Americans are preoccupied with is that of easy money. Our news media is saturated with stories of the instant millionaire, 25-year-old startup CEOs worth nine figures or the crafty investor that bought that startup on IPO and doesn't have to worry too much about his day job anymore either. There are a number of powerful cautionary tales waiting to be drawn from this unwholesome frenzy. Boiler Room tries to tell one of these stories, but sadly it fails to add much to the greed genre established by its two heavily referenced predecessors: Wall Street (1987) and Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).

Boiler Room is the story of Seth (Ribisi), a 19-year-old college dropout obsessed with the American dream of easy money. After concluding rather quickly that college isn't necessarily the fast track to a quick buck, he opens up an underground casino out of his house in Queens, providing a popular service for the local city college kids. After his disapproving father (Rifkin) finds out about the casino, Seth, feeling a repressed need to gain his father's approval, looks into an opportunity to become a stockbroker at the small firm of J.T. Marlin.

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Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Review


Excellent
James Bond is back - NOT! - as one vaguely remembered star of stage and screen might have said.

Instead of Bond, it's super-groovy spy Austin Powers (Myers) making his triumphant return to the silver screen, the British secret agent frozen in the 60's and thawed in the 90's, where/when he returned to active duty. The Spy Who Shagged Me picks up right where the original left off, with Dr. Evil (also Myers) banished to space in his Big Boy statue/spaceship, and Austin settling down with new wife Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley, in a cameo re-appearance).

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Must Love Dogs Review


Good
Hollywood overexposes young starlets, from Lindsay Lohan to Scarlett Johansson, and puts distinguished veterans on pedestals. Yet the industry has no idea how to handle an actress once she reaches her late thirties or forties. Lacking suitable offers for mainstream parts, these talented ladies either pour their fortunes into vanity projects (Salma Hayek in Frida), turn to lower-budget independent fare (Holly Hunter in Thirteen), or dabble in primetime television (The Shield lures Glenn Close, and Teri Hatcher is reborn as a Desperate housewife).

A recent trend finds older but still attractive actresses downheartedly treading water in the dating pool for the benefit of a far-fetched plot. Heather Locklear played a flighty single mom unlucky in love for Hilary Duff's The Perfect Man. Now Oscar-nominee Diane Lane is taking her turn in the barrel with improved results.

Continue reading: Must Love Dogs Review

Now And Then Review


Weak
Let me just start by saying I'm probably not the best person in the world to be reviewing a film about the coming of age of four twelve-year old girls in suburban America. I'm going to give it my best shot--just bear in mind who you're dealing with here.

The cutesy premise of Now And Then is this: Now...Roberta (Rosie O'Donnell), Teeny (Melanie Griffith), Samantha (Demi Moore), and Chrissy (Rita Wilson) are gathering together to help Chrissy through her pregnancy. Then...the characters are the same, only 25 years younger, played by Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffman, and Ashleigh Aston Moore. The film plays out over the summer of 1970 (there's a whole lot more Then than Now), where the girls' perform a seance that leads them to investigate the mysterious death of a 12 year old boy, long since buried in the local cemetery.

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Memento Review


Essential
Amnesia and a murder mystery? Isn't this usually the kind of thing that hackneyed thrillers are made of -- stuff like Unforgettable, so bad you had to scrape it off your shoe the minute you left the theater?

Usually it is. But Memento proves that a skilled director, writer, and cast can take even the most tired of formulas -- the man with the lost memory -- and spin it into something so refreshingly different and new that I don't hesitate to call it one of the best films I've ever seen.

Continue reading: Memento Review

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