According to accepted wisdom, any action movie worth its salt must have an interesting villain. Lockout pits a group of featureless villains against a hero who seems to feel as apathetic toward humanity as much as they do. Snow (Guy Pearce) is scornful, sardonic, and would rather be anywhere than trying to save the President’s daughter (Maggie Grace) when a riot breaks out in a prison orbiting the Earth. The movie has a lot of unintentional virtues like its setup, including a series of ridiculously death-defying escapes (The last one is a doozy), but when its hero is off-screen, the premise’s silliness starts to seem exactly that–silly. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
As I never had much of an affinity for Larry, Moe, and Curly, the Farrelly brothers’ The Three Stooges is at once not my cup of tea and just for people like me. It’s a sincere updating, complete with all the slapstick, sound effects, and sing-songy introductions of the original stooges; I’m not too impressed with it. Fans might revolt at some (or most) of this. The plot, about a murder for hire, is nasty, and some of the jokes are off-putting. The cast does a fair enough job recreating the original performers. The movie isn’t needed or wise, but there are a few solid laughs from some flimsy jokes. It’s the embodiment of mediocre comedy. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Two best friends decide to have a child together without any potential entanglements that come from marriage or a romantic relationship in Friends with Kids, and since this ends up being a fairly predictable and formulaic romantic comedy, the end results should be pretty obvious. Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt, who also wrote and directed the movie) and Jason (Adam Scott) are walking, talking clichés, and Jason’s motivation to go along with the plan is never really clear. Things get a little more honest just before the final act starts, but everything before it is just going through the motions. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Casa de mi Padre is a one-joke movie. Fortunately, there’s more to that joke than you might expect. Will Ferrell plays Armando, the incompetent son of a rancher, who, with his brother (Diego Luna), tries to save his father’s ranch from a ruthless drug lord (Gael García Bernal). The joke is that the entire movie plays out like a deadly serious telenovela, complete with all sorts of cheap production values, poor editing, and histrionic performances. Oh, and almost everyone speaks Spanish. Even though there is more material for humor than the material suggests, it does run out fairly quickly. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
We get something of an anomaly for the first two acts of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: A man and a woman who seem to have no proclivity toward becoming romantically involved. Alfred (Ewan McGregor) and Harriet (Emily Blunt) have to work together to make the dream of a rich sheikh (Amr Waked) come true: to introduce salmon to a desert valley in Yemen so that the sheikh can fish. There’s no sexual or romantic tension between Alfred and Harriet, so the eventual turnaround is even harder to swallow. No one involved seems to know what to do with this material. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.