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August 2010
Sweet and Sour Mix in The Switch

This is a comedy about bodily fluids, with a few funny moments that unfold during the switch that give the film its title. But this is also a character-driven comedy about a man's slow awakening to the possibility that he's found someone he can spend his life with, and a responsibility to someone other than himself.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 20, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Uplifting Get Low Gets High Marks

An uplifting story of guilt, repentance and reconciliation, Get Low is a low-key work that is profound in its simplicity.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 16, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Journey Leads to Selfish Awakening in Eat Pray Love

That we are to be moved by the big-screen version of Elizabeth Gilbert's yearlong journey of self-discovery in Eat Pray Love is absurd. That the memoir on which it's based (and is reverent to) has become a phenomenon is downright disturbing.

 
Testosterone-Fueled Expendables is One Lame Throwback

Like watching Simon LeBon attempting to bust a move while singing "Hungry Like the Wolf" during a Duran Duran reunion tour, you can't stop wondering why 64-year-old Sylvester Stallone, who wrote, directed and stars in The Expendables, simply didn't quit while he was ahead.

 
Storytelling Slacks in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Gamers will understand the structure and hodgepodge approach to storytelling in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—or so I'm told—but the rest of us, who demand a smidgeon of narrative and stylistic consistency, will wonder what this film has wrought.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 13, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Ferrell's Just Coasting in an Uninspired Other Guys

For anyone who loves Will Ferrell's brand of absurd man-child humor, you get more of that in The Other Guys—but only in fits and starts. If his early films felt consistently inspired, this one follows the trend of feeling more like a work-for-hire. Ferrell's just coasting here, as is the whole movie.

 
Harsh Realities Aren't Whitewashed in Artsy Kisses

Though many independent films favor an equally bleak canvas for telling such a sad story, Kisses is striking and beautifully conceived thanks to gorgeous black-and-white photography and an enchanting score, even when the storyline turns dark and dangerous.

July 2010
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Should've Gone Straight to Video

Aside from Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me, kids have really gotten the short end of the cinematic stick this summer. And sadly, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which is so bad it should've gone straight to video, doesn't exactly up the ante.

 
Charlie St. Cloud is More Creepy Than Weepy

The trouble with Charlie St. Cloud is that the screenplay tries to be so many things (part Field of Dreams, part The Sixth Sense, part The Notebook), that it doesn't do anything particularly well, including generating the necessary waterworks to win over its target demographic.

 
Sexual Jokes Coarsen Dinner for Schmucks

Dinner for Schmucks, a remake of the French farce The Dinner Game, expands on the original in many ways that improve the story, but it adds a heavy dose of sexual content that prevents the film from being easily recommendable.

July 2010
Dad Steals the Show in Sister Story Ramona and Beezus

The latest adaptation from Walden Media of a beloved series of children's books is unobjectionable G-rated family entertainment. It's not very cinematic, nor is it memorably performed by its lead actresses, but a charming performance by John Corbett as the girls' father helps the film immensely.

 
No Depth of Action-Flick Flavor in Salt

The standard Angelina Jolie summer action flick is a generic retread of better work from waning genres, and Salt is no different. This Manchurian Candidate meets The Fugitive isn't so much a throwback to a Cold War thriller as it is a relic.

 
Creepy Comedy, Heartfelt Emotion Don't Fully Mix in Cyrus

Cyrus is a peculiar mixed bag. To say it's a complete failure would be unfairly reductive, though it doesn't fully succeed either. There's something very interesting going on here that can't be denied, yet neither can the sense that it fails to form into a complete whole.

 
Not Quite Dreamy, Inception Gets an 'A' for Effort

Inception, the new film from director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento) is complex, and its story about exploiting the dreams of others has rewards for those who can follow its story across multiple levels. But ultimately, it doesn't quite coalesce.

 
Nothing Remotely Spellbinding About The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Even with Jerry Bruckheimer's name attached to the project, there's nothing remotely spellbinding about The Sorcerer's Apprentice. It's a classic case of a clunky, horribly clichéd story further destroyed by a series of outlandish stunts and less-than-superb CGI trickery.

 
Despicable Me Doesn't Distinguish Itself From Better Alternatives

Despicable Me bears some resemblance to Pixar's The Incredibles and has some of the irreverence of the Shrek series, but feels more like a missed opportunity than a home run.

 
Airbender Ends Hopes for Shyamalan Resurgence

Director M. Night Shyamalan could use a hit, but his latest film, The Last Airbender, based on a Nickelodeon cartoon, is likely to cement his reputation as a filmmaker who peaked early and then crashed and burned.

June 2010
With Eclipse, Twi-Hards Have Met Their Perfect Match

From a purely technical perspective, Eclipse gives its devoted fanbase plenty to cheer about. Not only is the production value far more upscale, but the CGI has drastically improved, making it feel more like a blockbuster than a made-for-TV movie. As far as the storytelling goes, there's also far more at stake.

 
Lazy Grown Ups Still Good for a Few Laughs

The new Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups is the movie equivalent of a skit that airs between 12:30 and 1 a.m. on Saturday Night Live. A lot of it falls flat, but if you're in a forgiving mood, you might find yourself chuckling despite your better judgment.

 
Tom Cruise is King in the Royally Entertaining Knight and Day

With this summer's light-as-air but still thoroughly enjoyable popcorn flick Knight and Day, Tom Cruise should officially be back in the audience's good graces. After all, this is the Tom Cruise we all like—funny, charismatic and yes, slightly unhinged.

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