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September 2009
Love Happens Routinely Overstates the Obvious

In the same way a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, a movie probably shouldn’t be judged solely by its title. But in the case of Love Happens (starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart), trust me, your gut is probably right.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 18, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Damon Weighs in with Great Performance in The Informant!

As whistle-blower Mark Whitacre in The Informant!, Matt Damon is 30 pounds heavier than he was as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity, so it's appropriate that The Informant! is a weightier film. But it ain't heavy.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 18, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Blindingly Bad Whiteout Is a Blizzard of Balderdash

Kate Beckinsale’s career once looked promising, but her willingness to take paycheck jobs like Whiteout isn’t helping her career. Was she so blinded by the story that she couldn’t see how disastrous the final result would be?

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 14, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Apparently 9 Is the Bleakest Number

Considering that an animated account of "the end of the world as we know it" was already done so well and winningly in last year's Wall·E (Pixar), 9 just doesn’t add anything new to the perilous conversation.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 09, 2009 |
  • comments
 
All About Steve Can Be Summed Up in Three Letters: B-A-D

If you can overlook the lowbrow attempts for a laugh, there’s a very good message hidden deep, deep down in the very bad comedy of All About Steve. Unfortunately, 98 minutes is far too long to waste trying to find it.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 04, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Workplace Comedy Extract Labors for Laughs

Extract is better than some of the coarse R-rated comedies this year, but it's also surprisingly insubstantial given its moral content. The film does offer a few mild laughs, but the potentially offensive material is abundant throughout.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 04, 2009 |
  • comments
August 2009
Final Destination Characters Meet Eye-Popping Endings

The Final Destination is the fourth film in the horror franchise about people who try to cheat death, but it's the first installment filmed using Real-D 3D technology. The three-dimensional presentation takes the decimation, decapitation and disgust to depressing levels.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 31, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Not Much Story to Tell in Taking Woodstock

By the end of Taking Woodstock, despite some worthy craftsmanship, this look at how Woodstock came to be actually has the inverse effect of its likely intent: less historically significant without much of a story to tell.

 
Formulaic Adam Offers Few Surprises

Formulaic to a fault, indie-romance Adam is clearly headed in one direction. It over-dramatizes milquetoast conflicts while offering up almost zero surprises en route to a predictable conclusion. Well, until a complete U-turn at the end.

 
Shorts Packs Several Tall Tales into One

While its charms may be fewer for anyone over the age of 10, Shorts is an eccentric, time-jumping adventure that merges comedy, sci-fi and a short treatise on the dangers of too much technology into one mostly family-friendly movie.

August 2009
Quentin Tarantino's Latest a Mostly Self-Indulgent Battle

Proving he's far more blood-thirsty than any of the vampires wholeheartedly embraced by pop culture these days, famed director Quentin Tarantino leaves no opportunity for over-the-top, gratuitous violence unturned in his latest work, Inglourious B*sterds.

 
Post Grad Doesn't Earn High Marks in Reality

Instead of giving the storyline the gravitas it deserves, Post Grad quickly goes Little Miss Sunshine with way too much screen time dedicated to the main character's quirky family, the sort only dreamed up for movies in the first place.

 
District 9 Disappoints Despite Inspired Genre Mash-Up

In an inspired genre mash-up of sci-fi, horror and documentary styles, District 9 looks to tackle relevant themes related to the War on Terror (and the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, specifically) through a parabolic lens.

 
The Time Traveler's Wife Gets Lost in Translation

There's plenty that's lost in translation from book to the big screen in The Time Traveler's Wife—like a rhyme or reason to the time travel itself, anything in the way of character development, or depth of human emotion.

 
Visually Dazzling Ponyo Worth a Peek

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, Ponyo also includes some distinctive, dazzling visuals—a trademark of director Hiyao Miyazaki—but its magical moments don't overcome its weaknesses in storytelling.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 14, 2009 |
  • comments
 
G.I. Joe Rolls Snake Eyes

G.I. Joe's reported $175 million budget can be seen up on the screen, as some of the film's special effects are effectively eye-catching. But viewers are left with a story that feels half-formed at best. Apparently not much of that $175 million went to the screenwriters.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 10, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Julie & Julia Serves Up a Delicious Comedic Diversion

In addition to fantastic acting from all of the leads (Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci), the skillful direction and winning screenplay from Nora Ephron help seal the winsome appeal of Julie & Julia.

July 2009
Crude Humor Drags Down Funny People

Funny People, the latest Judd Apatow shock comedy, doesn’t have enough of a positive message to overcome its stream of bawdy stand-up comedy and profanity-laced script. Additionally, the film’s excessive length only magnifies its negative elements.

 
Aliens in the Attic Lacks Anything Resembling Imagination

This movie's banal title pretty much tells you everything you need to know. There are aliens in the attic, and there's no compelling reason for the audience to care. Surely Hollywood can offer far more substantive and entertaining kiddie fare, can't it?

 
Rom-Coms Get a Refreshing Spin in (500) Days of Summer

While adherence to romantic-comedy genre rules and staples lacks the inspiration of its premise, the refreshing spin of (500) Days of Summer is found primarily in first-time director Marc Webb’s style.

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