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August 2008
“Traitor” Explores Religion, Terrorism to Little Effect

A story about Islamic terrorists infiltrated by a Muslim explosives expert with ties to the West, Traitor manages to be unsatisfying as a thriller, dreary as a thought piece, and somewhat offensive in the amount of screen time it spends as a terrorist apologia.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 28, 2008 |
  • comments
Feel-Good “Longshots” Is Winning Family Fare

If someone would’ve told me that rapper Ice Cube and Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst would one day team up for an inspirational, family-friendly movie such as The Longshots, I wouldn’t have believed them.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for Finding True Love

As a romance, the main message is that finding love is what matters most in life. It’s a “chick flick,” to be sure, but one that will be appreciated by that audience—especially those of a certain age.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • August 21, 2008 |
  • comments
Fly Me to the Moon Isn't One Giant Step Forward

As the third space-themed, family-friendly film of summer 2008, Fly Me to the Moon falls somewhere in between the far superior Wall·E and the lackluster Space Chimps in terms of sheer quality.

Tropic Thunder Skewers Hollywood Cliches

Tropic Thunder, a new comedy from director and star Ben Stiller, is profane, crude and politically incorrect. It's also uproariously funny—the year's best comedy—and has a winning performance from Robert Downey Jr.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 13, 2008 |
  • comments
No Clear Answers Found in The Counterfeiters

Based on Adolf Burger’s wartime memoir, The Devil’s Workshop, The Counterfeiters wisely keeps its focus on the far more nuanced character of Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch—an unlikely protagonist who insists that to survive, you must adapt.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • August 07, 2008 |
  • comments
Three Years Later, the Traveling Pants Still Fit

Proving that popular books can be beautifully adapted for the big screen, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 has all the verve and spunk of the original as the four friends are now wrestling with being college-age girls.

Funny, Entertaining Pineapple Express Is Also Super-Bad

Pineapple Express serves as a stark contrast to (and improvement over) the recent Will Ferrell misfire, Step Brothers. While both push the limits of R-rated humor, Step Brothers is wholly reliant on its crudity in a way that Pineapple Express is not.

Aimless Mummy 3 Never Comes to Life

For the Mummy series, the third time offers no charm. Neither darkly compelling nor thoughtfully entertaining, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is an also-ran.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 01, 2008 |
  • comments
Politics Gets Some Comic Relief in Swing Vote

Weary of the 24/7 coverage of the upcoming presidential election and wondering if your vote really makes a difference anyway? Swing Vote is timely and just cynical enough to garner a few much-needed laughs as the race lingers on.

July 2008
X-Files May Work for Fans, but not Newcomers

The sight of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson assuming well worn roles will be enough for true fans of the series. But those who are new to the franchise may find themselves wondering whatever drew people to The X-Files to begin with.

More of the Same for Ferrell and Reilly in Step Brothers

If you are a Will Ferrell fan who can overlook the film’s flaws and ignore the non-stop coarseness, there may be some laughs in Step Brothers for you. If not, the trashiness greatly overshadows the funny.

A Lot to Learn from American Teen

Even if your little Tommy or Sally is more virtuous than the teenagers seen here, at the very least it's fair to say that while levels of conduct vary, American Teen honestly portrays how every teenager feels—and does so in compelling fashion.

Powerful Dark Knight a Solid Superhero Film

Driven by Heath Ledger's solid performance, The Dark Knight strengthens the franchise’s reputation under director Chris Nolan, who lays a stable foundation for future films in the series.

Mamma Mia! Makes Lively ABBA Tunes Seem Dull

Before watching the screen version of Mamma Mia!, I couldn’t imagine any way to make the music from ABBA seem boring. Yet suffering through Meryl Streep’s and Pierce Brosnan’s failed attempts to deliver these upbeat standards has changed my mind.

Space Chimps Isn't Out of This World

In Space Chimps, not only is the low-grade CG on par with most Saturday morning cartoons, but the lack of vitality and movement in the characters themselves stands in the way of any sort of human connection.

It's a Bumpy Journey to the Center of the Earth

Films that appeal to the family are so rare that whenever one comes along that doesn’t impress as much as it should, it’s tough to break the news. Walden Media's Journey to the Center of the Earth is such a film.

Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II Not Quite Golden

Fans of Director Guillermo del Toro’s other films will detect a certain sameness to some of the creatures shown in Hellboy II. It also lags a little with special effects taking prominence over story and character development.

There’s Not Much Incentive to Meet Dave

The nicest thing anyone can say about Meet Dave is that thankfully, it’s not as bad as Norbit. Once again, Eddie Murphy tries potentially family-friendly fare and this time ends up not quite a total bomb—but close.

Will Smith Can't Save Hancock

Will Smith’s latest certainly isn’t boring or lacking energy. If anything, it overcompensates. But all the bells and whistles eventually can’t distract from the fact that Hancock completely falls off the rails halfway through.

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