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April 2010
Oh Baby, This Back-up Plan is Bad

Even if someone manages to suspend disbelief and buy into this lamely conceived plotline, there's nothing about The Back-up Plan that has any resonance in the real world. Not only is the dialogue unbelievable from the get-go, but the characters are just plain kooky.

 
The Losers Lacks Passion and a Point

Written by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt and based on a series of comic books, The Losers wants to pay homage to its comic roots but never gives us a reason to care about its characters or to believe this story needed a big-screen adaptation.

 
Clichés Notwithstanding, The Perfect Game is Still a Hit

Based on a true story, The Perfect Game isn't exactly a revelation in the narrative department. But what eventually elevates it from your standard-issue baseball flick are its underlying themes and winning performances from the leads.

 
Death and Dark Comedy Collide in Death at a Funeral

Other than giving Luke Wilson an opportunity to star in something other than those annoying AT&T commercials, there was really no need to revisit the story of a family funeral gone seriously awry in Neil LaBute's remake of Death at a Funeral.

 
Graphic Leaves of Grass Not for the Faint of Heart

Despite boasting a sharp and consistent wit and laugh-out-loud moments, Leaves of Grass is not for the faint of heart. Ultimately, this is a graphic morality tale about the extreme lengths people will go to for money, the consequences of greed, and the fatal ends of trying to control situations within sinful pursuits that we never really could control to begin with.

 
Even Comedy's Dynamic Duo Can't Save Date Night

Somehow in the midst of bad writing and a hackneyed case of missing identity that grows increasingly sillier as Date Night goes on, Steve Carell and Tina Fey still shine as two suburbanites trying to keep their marital spark alive with a little night-on-the-town spontaneity.

 
Letters to God Something to Write Home About

Letters to God might not be the most cinematic film viewers will see this year, but it's a faith-affirming story competently told. Viewers tired of having their beliefs assaulted whenever they watch a movie will take comfort in this production, which, for a change, affirms what they believe and demonstrates the power of their shared faith.

 
Moral Lessons Found Lacking in Well-Acted Runaways

If The Runaways is nothing we haven't seen before in terms of its story arc, it's also notable for strong performances from Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Michael Shannon. However, the debauchery and hedonism on display make the film difficult to watch.

 
The Last Song Has a Familiar Refrain

The Last Song, written for the screen by novelist Nicholas Sparks and starring Miley Cyrus, is treacly, preposterous and full of clichés. It's also moving and, for the most part, family-friendly, focusing on themes of human failure and forgiveness.

 
Futile Clash Leaves Titanic Sense of Disappointment

The ads for Clash of the Titans suggest epic entertainment, superb special effects and the catch phrase of the year so far—"Release the Kraken!"—but there's nothing epic about Titans other than the sense of disappointment it leaves in viewers.

March 2010
How to Train Your Dragon is a Fun, Feisty Ride

Considering its intricately crafted animation and heartwarming story, you'd think How to Train Your Dragon was Pixar's latest flick. But it is a DreamWorks project, and it's refreshing to see a movie that doesn't rely on a slew of pop culture references and lowbrow humor to entertain.

 
Narcissism Rears Its Ugly Head in Greenberg

For a film that tries so hard to make a grand statement about the messiness of humanity and how "hurt people hurt people," there's something incredibly contrived and hollow about Greenberg, the latest from writer/director Noah Baumbach.

 
Mutiny Should be Declared on the Joyless Bounty Hunter

These days, getting the girl looks a little different with Gerard Butler on the scene. Officially kicking Mr. Sensitive to the curb, his character's idea of a fun night involves throwing his ex in the trunk and carting her off to jail for a cool 20k in The Bounty Hunter.

 
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Starts Strong but Weakens

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is fitfully funny, and at times is surprisingly fresh in its take on adolescence. But the film slips into standard comedy fare a bit too often, keeping it from being the breakout comedy it threatens to be early in its running time.

 
Hurt's So Good in The Yellow Handkerchief

The Yellow Handkerchief is a small but potent story of human failing and the power of forgiveness. Although Kristen Stewart and her young male co-star Eddie Redmayne do fine with their roles, it's William Hurt who walks away with the film.

 
Green Zone Might Make You See Red

Before Green Zone, Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon teamed for two of the Jason Bourne films to much better effect. Although the third Bourne film revolved around issues, its main concern was a character. Green Zone is about an issue—the Iraq War—rather than about its characters.

 
Brooding and Heartbreak Go Hand in Hand in Remember Me

For whatever reason, trouble and tragedy seem to follow Robert Pattinson's characters wherever they go. First as Edward Cullen, the vampire who sparkles in the sunlight in Twilight. And now, as Tyler Hawkins, a brooding young man straight out of J.D. Salinger's imagination.

 
No Need to Attend Our Family Wedding

Urban comedy-dramas (popularized by Tyler Perry) have become a niche staple of the spring and fall movie seasons. Our Family Wedding is another addition to this growing sub-genre, and it most certainly has to rank among the worst.

 
Tim Burton's Wild Imagination Put to Good Use in Alice in Wonderland

Given that Tim Burton has been the guy responsible for everything from the lovable Edward Scissorhands to the grisly Sweeney Todd, it's not surprising that Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland would be a perfect vehicle for his unconventional filmmaking.

 
Flimsy Finale, Depraved Behavior Doom Brooklyn's Finest

Brooklyn's Finest is tough going. Its solid performances (Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes) and hints of redemption make it better than many bad-cop dramas. But it spends too long wallowing in depraved behavior to qualify as recommended viewing.

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