Essentially this year's Moneyball, but set in American football rather than baseball, this fast-paced drama is brightly made with an especially strong cast. But only die-hard fans will be able to drum up much interest in the plot, which is played as if it's the most important thing on earth. This insular approach is seriously alienating for audience members with even the slightest sense of perspective about life. Thankfully, the actors are likeable and entertaining.
It's set over the 12 hours leading up to the NFL draft, when teams select the top players from university teams. In Cleveland, manager Sonny (Kevin Costner) is struggling to hang on to his job, arguing with Coach Penn (Denis Leary) about who should be the first pick. And when he swaps with another team for the top selection, the team owner (Frank Langella) pressures Sonny to take the most highly desired player in the field (Josh Pence). But Sonny has his doubts, and amid backroom dealings and frantic last-minute swaps, he also looks at another promising player (Chadwick Boseman) while making sure the team's current quarterback (Tom Welling) is up to his job. Meanwhile, Sonny and the team's financial manager Ali (Jennifer Garner) are in a secret relationship and have just found out that they're pregnant.
Most of this takes place during phone calls, but director Ivan Reitman manages to make this visually intriguing using whizzy split-screen trickery. And while Garner's character feels utterly irrelevant, like a distraction to the main football plot , she adds the badly needed human interest element, as do two other actresses in smaller roles: Ellen Burstyn and Rosanna Arquette as Sonny's mother and ex-wife, respectively. There are also strong cameos from the likes of Sean Combs as a high-powered agent and Sam Elliot as a sporting veteran. And it's all anchored effortlessly by Costner's affable charm, providing resonance in Sonny's attempt to play a long game while being pushed to make the flashier decisions.
Continue reading: Draft Day Review
What could have been an intriguing look at how Alfred Hitchcock created one of his most iconic masterpieces is instead turned into a gently entertaining romp. We may enjoy watching the twists and turns as this troubled project takes shape, but the script simply never breaks the surface or gives its stars any real depth to play with. So in the end, the most engaging thing about the film ends up being the portrayal of Hitchcock's marriage.
The story starts with the 1959 premiere of North by Northwest, a hit that critics dismissed as more of the same from a master resting on his laurels. So Hitchcock (Hopkins) decides to give them something unexpected, and takes his first foray into horror based on the little-known novel Psycho, a fictionalised story about a real serial killer. Working closely with his wife Alma (Mirren) on every aspect of the film, he is in constant conflict with the studio chief (Portnow) and the chief censor (Smith), who both believe the material is too strong. Meanwhile, Alma is tired of him flirting with his leading ladies (Johansson and Biel), so she takes a side job with a writer (Huston) who wants to be more than friends.
Oddly, neither director Gervasi (Anvil) nor writer McLaughlin (Black Swan) seems interested in getting beneath the surface of their central character, so Hitchcock is little more than the jovial caricature we saw in his TV anthology series. Hiding under layers of prosthetic face and body fat, Hopkins is good but never seems to break a sweat in the role. Which leaves Mirren to steal the film as Alma, mainly by departing from reality to create a more intriguing movie character instead. And Collette adds some spice as Hitchcock's assistant. But as the cast of Psycho, Johansson (as Janet Leigh), Biel (Vera Miles) and D'Arcy (Anthony Perkins) are only given small details to define them, which leaves them lurking uninterestingly around the edges.
Continue reading: Hitchcock Review
That being said, I am probably not the most impartial person to watch Space Jam, the 1996 outing in which Jordan helps the beloved Looney Tunes gang compete in an interplanetary basketball game. However, any die-hard Bulls fan can agree with any Knicks fan on this one fact: Jordan is a terrible actor
Continue reading: Space Jam Review
In Evolution, you get David Duchovny, (former) star of TV's The X-Files who has failed miserably to cross over to any kind of success in film. Julianne Moore, former independent darling before she started making movies like The Lost World and Hannibal. Orlando Jones, 7-Up pitchman and easily typecast goofball. And Seann William Scott, whose most visible role was as a stoner in Dude, Where's My Car?
Continue reading: Evolution Review
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