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November 2010
Love & Other Drugs Never Recovers from an Identity Crisis

Part Love Story, part Up in the Air with a smidge of the satirical spirit of Thank You for Smoking, Love & Other Drugs never quite knows what it is, and the story ultimately suffers for it. Truth be told, bothering to label it "good" is probably too strong of praise.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 24, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Tangled Brings Back Some Disney Magic

Disney's update of the Rapunzel story confirms that the studio isn't ready to completely cede its reputation as a maker of solid family-oriented films.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 24, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Dreary Deathly Hallows Won't Win New Fans

The best that can be said for this first half of Deathly Hallows is that it's unlikely to displease fans who have committed themselves to reading and seeing the other Harry Potter tales.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 19, 2010 |
  • comments
 
The Next Three Days Stretches All Bounds of Believability

Unlike in Conviction, where the protagonist places her hope in the law and becomes her brother's own defense counsel, in The Next Three Days Russell Crowe's character decides to go rogue instead by basically borrowing a page from TV's Prison Break.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 19, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Extreme Situation, One-Note Characters Work in Unstoppable

The premise is simple, the execution is competent and the film delivers the requisite amount of crowd-pleasing thrills. And yet, the film feels a little too easy in the depiction of its main characters, who are sketched out with scant information about their motivations.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 12, 2010 |
  • comments
 
The Quest for Truth Fuels Fair Game

Based on the memoirs written by Joe Wilson and his CIA agent wife Valerie Plame, Fair Game showcases their side of a controversial story.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 12, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Morning Glory is a Mostly Sunny, Satirical Take on TV News

Much like 1987's Broadcast News, there's actually a deeper debate that elevates the light and sunny romantic comedy of Morning Glory into something more substantial, namely the discussion of what's "real" news.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 10, 2010 |
  • comments
 
This Generation's Planes, Trains & Automobiles Arrives in Due Date

Much like its R-rated Planes, Trains & Automobiles predecessor that starred Steve Martin and the late John Candy back in 1987, Due Date is also the madcap tale of two guys who would never take a cross-country road trip together, if extenuating circumstances weren't involved.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 05, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Boyle Takes You through the Ringer in 127 Hours

Danny Boyle's 127 Hours takes you through the ringer, sure to elicit audible (and collective) gasps, groans and shrieks before concluding in one cathartic exhale of relief and redemption. It's not the kind of movie to engender multiple viewings, but one is enough to sear it into your mind forever.

 
Monsters Stresses Somber Over Scary

Although it could have resulted in a unique hybrid of different styles, Monsters is unique more for its failure to generate any well-earned emotions—or thrills. Better to rent District 9, Cloverfield or The Host, which work much better on their own terms, than to try to make do with this.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 05, 2010 |
  • comments
November 2010
Dreamworks' Megamind a Familiar but Funny Trip

It's déjà vu all over again with Megamind, yet another superhero story in which super-villains go to great lengths to undermine the good guys. Think The Incredibles, Despicable Me, Shrek Forever After or… well, we've seen a lot of this sort of story recently.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 05, 2010 |
  • comments
October 2010
A Few Scares Found in Paranormal Activity 2

Is there a broader point here? The filmmakers may be saving it for yet another sequel (which is sure to come), although after two films with the same style and approach to the material, one can't help but wonder if the filmmakers have figured out the point of their own story, or if they're just stringing viewers along.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 25, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Hereafter is a Hollow Examination of Life and Death

While celebrated director Clint Eastwood certainly has a knack for choosing compelling thematic hooks for his films, Hereafter, like last year's plodding, passion-starved Invictus, is simply too hollow, hokey and one-sided to make any sort of lasting impact.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 22, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Stone Stumbles in Balancing Moral Questions

Stone is about religion and Christianity on one level, but it's not entirely satisfying on those subjects, nor is it particularly revelatory. The best that can be said is that it raises some intriguing ideas about the nature of faith and our ability (or lack thereof) to do good in the world.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 18, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Conviction Makes Its Case with Feeling

Based on a true story, Conviction delivers a life-affirming message about the pursuit of truth and the love of family. It's a powerful story wrapped in an unassuming package, but its adult language and content make it suitable only for more mature audiences.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 15, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Action Movies Get Better with Age in Red

Like this past summer's surprise hit The Expendables, the bulk of Red's cast may qualify for AARP card-carrying status—Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, etc. But it's a serious mistake to underestimate their strength.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 15, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Melancholy Never Let Me Go Bends Genres

Based on the book by acclaimed novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go is a genre-bending indie drama that blindsides with a shocking revelation about twenty minutes in.

 
Family-Friendly Secretariat a Safe Yet Ineffectual Film

Secretariat is a quintessential family film in this respect: there's nothing to complain about and nothing to rave about. It's safe, conventional, professional; an old-fashioned movie made up of warm fuzzies. In short, Secretariat is as inoffensive as it is ineffectual.

 
Believable Chemistry Elevates Life As We Know It

In Life As We Know It, the latest rom-com to hit theaters, the combined charms of Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, plus a little help from an adorable baby, ultimately elevates what could've been a big-screen sitcom gone seriously wrong.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 08, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Depression Isn't So Depressing in This Funny Story

A film about depression that isn't depressing; how's that for a small miracle? Starring Keir Gilchrist and Zach Galifianakis, It's Kind of a Funny Story is a title perfectly suited to this appealing slice of despondent life, one that comes by its laughs in insightful ways.

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