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Effective 21 a Cautionary Tale of Greed, Gambling

Winning big isn’t that easy, unless you happen to be a math whiz with a knack for counting cards. Based on the true story of MIT students who actually managed to beat the Vegas system, 21 is a slickly crafted cautionary tale of greed and gambling.

It's a Waste of Time to Meet Bill

Meet Bill appears to be somewhat aimed at kids, but its content makes it only appropriate for adults. For those and many other reasons, it should have simply been left in pre-production purgatory. In other words, don’t meet Bill.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • July 17, 2008 |
  • comments
Another Heist Movie, Another Bank Job

Loosely based on the 1971 bank robbery at Lloyd's Bank in Marylebone, London, The Bank Job is directed by Australian Roger Donaldson. It's a heist movie, pure and simple, with some throwbacks to the '70s.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • July 17, 2008 |
  • comments
College Road Trip Well Worth the Ride

It is a rare and beautiful thing when a movie can truly capture the imagination of audiences ages three to seventy-three, but Disney’s new College Road Trip manages to do just that.

Charming Actors Save Penelope by a Nose

What ultimately lifts Penelope from been-there-seen-that, “believing in yourself” status are the charming performances from leads Christina Ricci, James McAvoy—and even Penelope’s hideously superficial mother, played by Catherine O’Hara.

Disappointing Stop-Loss the Latest Iraq War Drama

Stop-Loss, the latest in a growing line of disappointing dramas about the Iraq war, centers around the flight of an AWOL soldier. On the day he thinks he’s returning full-time to civilian life, he’s told instead to head back to Iraq.

Abuse, Poverty Portrayed in Slow-moving Sleepwalking

With the basic elements of most Lifetime made-for-TV movies, a slow-moving Sleepwalking keeps getting worse as the minutes tick by. Not only is the writing formulaic, but the situations are so unbelievably horrible that even when redemption seems in sight it never materializes.

Slow Narrative Flavors a Bland Blueberry Nights

In his first English-language driven project, award-winning Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai has created a movie that, despite its lush visuals, is only mildly interesting. The acting is good, but this isn’t enough to give depth to a film with such a slow narrative and clunky dialogue.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • July 03, 2008 |
  • comments
Vantage Point Gives Action Film Genre a Fresh Look

What could have been a forgettable thriller, Vantage Point instead gives the audience something to puzzle over. Such a film certainly takes advantage of the current popularity of “tell the story out of order” television shows like “Lost.”

Clichéd Drillbit Hardly Apatow's Sharpest Work

Producer/screenwriter Judd Apatow has quickly made a name for himself as the bankable funny guy in Hollywood. But without the right material, (see Drillbit Taylor) it may not be easy to maintain this Midas touch.

Roll Out the Welcome Mat for Meet the Browns

Generous in its spirit and sweet-natured in its ribbing, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns offers a strong endorsement of Christian faith and perseverance while delivering plenty of laughs.

Bonneville Road Trip Barely Makes It

As the debut of writer/director Christopher Rowley, Bonneville—but only barely. It’s full of the usual road trip clichés (the road-tripping gals pick up a handsome hitchhiker and one falls in love with a trucker), but it lacks substance.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • June 26, 2008 |
  • comments
Definitely, Maybe Defies Predictable Rom-Com Experience

Unlike the mindless frivolity of Fool’s Gold or the by-the-numbers cuteness of 27 Dresses, Definitely, Maybe is a well-conceived love story that doesn’t insult your intelligence. Seriously.

Darkness Pervades a Thought-Provoking Spiderwick Chronicles

The typical magical, fantasy-type outlook pervades The Spiderwick Chronicles' dark worldview. Creatures, spells and potions, and flying and time travel abound. But there are also some interesting spiritual parallels that are worthy of discussion.

Charlie Bartlett an Excellent Case Study on Today’s Teens

Charlie Bartlett is a well-made, funny but sad, targeted look at the very real emotions that plague our children. It is an enlightening case study on the cynicism, meaninglessness, relativism, disillusionment with authority, and desperate search for authenticity that teens deal with daily.

Stale Story Hurts Spectacle of 10,000 B.C.

10,000 B.C. works as sheer spectacle, but its story is forgettable. Its unknown actors make an impression because of their striking looks, but it’s hard to fathom what their future roles might be based on this special-effects driven extravaganza.

No Cinematic Treasure Found in Fool's Gold

In Fool’s Gold, one might expect more of the comedy and chemistry Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson first had in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. But a hokey script has quickly washed away any hope of striking rom-com gold twice.

Wacky Be Kind Rewind Has Lots of Laughs

Be Kind Rewind starts as a tale about the passing of the torch and serves as a wistful look at the fading days of video-rental shops. It evolves into a sci-fi slapstick comedy before settling into a series of cinematic recreations that play like gag reels. Yet somehow, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Home Is Where the Hum-Drum Is in Roscoe Jenkins

How so many talented actors ended up in Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins is a mystery. Many of the big names have only a few lines and are wasted in a film that just leaves viewers cold.

Kick The Bucket List to the Curb

“Find the joy in your life.” That’s the bottom-line message of director Rob Reiner’s The Bucket List, delivered by one of two characters who are facing death and trying to find meaning in their existence. But the film reflects another saying as well: “Everything old is new again.”

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