As naive insurance salesman Tim Lippe, Ed Helms shows little expansion of his range in Cedar Rapids, but his dunderheaded persona is perfectly suited to this story of a relatively innocent descent into murky moral waters. He’s been appointed by default to attend an awards ceremony in the eponymous city to push his company’s worthiness. His guides are veteran attendees Dean (John C. Reilly), who uses the conference as an excuse to exorcise his attention-needing demons, and Joan (Anne Heche), who uses it as an excuse to get away from her family. There are some nice comic touches in the opening portrait of Tim’s small-town surroundings, and Reilly’s hyper desperation is quite funny. The movie quickly falls apart, though, with the revelation of corruption and a drug-fueled party. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
There’s something sinister beneath the surface of The Adjustment Bureau, and it has little to do with men in overcoats and fedoras forcing people to live out some unseen “Chairman’s” “Plan” for their lives. It’s more the existence of a “Plan” itself, but writer/director George Nolfi has little interest in addressing exactly what that has to do with anything apart from this story of two star-crossed lovers, played by Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, fighting against it to sate their feelings for each other. The material is enigmatic to the point of frustration, especially when the movie’s battle for free will is undermined by the fact that the central characters only seem to fight for a past version of the Plan. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
There’s a strange disconnect between what Unknown says and what it does. It’s hero Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) is supposedly a regular guy who just happens to have selective amnesia (a doctor helpfully explains away any questions of “How did he know that” by saying that the brain is a mystery). He’s also, though, a world-class defensive driver and an expert with firearms and his fists. There’s a reason for it all, sure, but it certainly takes away from the dramatic tension. Meanwhile, Bruno Ganz steals the show as an unpredictable former member of the Stasi who begins to investigate his case. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and DVD/Blu-ray Combo.
An improvement on the first movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is still an uninspired comedy. At least Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is no longer an intolerable ball of egotistical, near-sociopathic behavior. The plot is the stuff of generic kids’ fare: Greg has a crush, tries to get along with his brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) to avoid punishment, participates in a climactic school talent show, and runs around a retirement home in his underwear leading to a group of elderly women to call him a “pervert.” Ok, that last one isn’t typical, and even though the movie–unlike its predecessor–has an actual heart, there’s more than enough of that sort of failed comedy to go around. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
The characters in happythankyoumoreplease are so self-centered and unaware of the world around them that its main just sort of falls into kidnapping a young child because he’s late for a meeting. It’s the story of a group of friends trying to make it professionally and find romance in the Big Apple, and that alone should make you suspicious. Bonus cliché points: The character who kidnaps the kid is a struggling writer. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
There’s no denying that the elements of fascism are present in The Eagle, but the real debate (apart from how it seems to have escaped almost everyone’s notice) is whether or note the movie buys into them. With militaristic, nationalist sentiments to go along with its historically accurate, overt iconography, this is an incredibly irresponsible and despicable movie. At least it’s also a dull and pedestrian one, too. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.