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October 2007
Jane Austen Book Club is Mediocre at Best

These days we certainly seem to be mad about Jane … Jane Austen that is. Yet it's hard to imagine either the author or her fans particularly enthusiastic about The Jane Austen Book Club, the latest entry in the ever-growing list of Austen-themed films.

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Spiritual Allegories Abound in The Seeker

Based on the novel by Susan Cooper, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising is the first film adaptation of the author's five-book series. Apparently the filmmakers have softened the overtly magical elements of the books and instead emphasize bravery, faith, discernment and unity.

  • Eric & Lisa Rice |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Marriage, Morality Get a Beating in The Heartbreak Kid

In The Heartbreak Kid, all the Farrelly Brothers seem to be concerned about is pushing the proverbial envelope and taking potshots against marriage, which makes the film merely a rude and crude excuse to exercise the full limits of the “R” rating.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Bleak, Beautiful Jesse James Is Worth a Look

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford examines how entertainment culture exploits historical truth. The result is a beautiful, slow-paced examination of the wages of sin, and the conflicted role of the public and its view of history.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Pimentel's Life and Work Portrayed in Music Within

Portrayed by Ron Livingston, Richard Pimentel is largely credited with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Music Within, written by novice screenwriters and directed by the equally inexperienced Steven Sawalich, tells his story.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • October 01, 2007 |
  • comments
September 2007
The Game Plan Lays the Cute on Thick

While bordering on the cheesy and laying the cute on thick, The Game Plan is still a fairly solid choice for amusing family entertainment. What’s refreshing is the noticeable lack of curse words and rude humor typically used to cover up plot holes.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 28, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Cultures Clash, Worldviews Collide in The Kingdom

In The Kingdom, the underlying theme is that all people are basically alike with the same loves, hates and desires. The problem is that it tries too hard to make Islam noble and beautiful. A film showing just as many scenes of praying, kneeling and supplication in an American church would never get made.

 
Trade Is Troubling in More Ways Than One

Trade, an uneven drama about human trafficking, deserves begrudging respect for raising the public’s awareness of troubling subject matter. The film nevertheless suffers from awkward melodrama and feeble dialogue.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 28, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Good Luck Chuck Takes Filmmaking to the Gutter

The Greek meaning of entertain is “to inform with delight.” Lord willing, a new generation of filmmakers will begin turning the pendulum and elevating the hearts and minds of their patrons, rather than bringing them further into the gutter with films like Good Luck Chuck.

 
Into the Wild May Be Penn's Best Yet

Sean Penn is one of the most talented screenwriters and directors in Hollywood, and this film may be his best yet. It’s longwinded and a bit rambling, and he romanticizes what most will consider a reckless, self-indulgent quest. But it’s a very worthy film nonetheless.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • September 21, 2007 |
  • comments
September 2007
Unpatriotic Tone Obstructs In the Valley of Elah

This left-wing propaganda film preaches the following message: If you are stupid enough to send your son to war in Iraq, there’s a high chance he will do drugs, torture the enemy for fun and turn so psychotic that he’ll learn to cooly murder his fellow soldiers for no good reason.

  • Eric & Lisa Rice |
  • September 21, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Language, Violence Weaken a Well-Crafted Brave One

With the white-knuckle suspense of Flightplan, the “keep it real” radio host vibe of Talk to Me, and the terrifying psycho-thriller shock effect of Mr. Brooks, The Brave One is a well-crafted, entertaining film marred by excessive foul language, violence and a dark worldview.

 
Beatles Fans Might Enjoy This Trip Across the Universe

If you’re looking for a straightforward narrative—and musicals aren’t your thing—you’ll want to bypass Across the Universe. But if you’re a big Beatles fan and love all things ‘60s, this is definitely worth the trip. Goo goo g’joob.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • September 14, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Head the Other Direction from Eastern Promises

With its excessive violence, sex, voyeurism, language and dark worldview, Eastern Promises is a film that takes moviegoers in a very sad direction. All families should walk away from this one. Fast!

 
Long, Slow and Dull ... This Party Is a Drag

Even with the star power of Richard Gere and Terrence Howard, The Hunting Party is so cynical and profane that it largely fails to entertain or inform. This “hunt” is long, slow and dull—a party full of unlikable people that make a night at home a preferable alternative.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 14, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Plenty of Action, Not Enough Plot in 3:10 to Yuma

Even under the careful eye of director James Mangold, the script for 3:10 to Yuma lacks a focused, coherent plot. And without that, even stellar performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale can’t make up the difference.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 07, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Stephanie Daley Takes a Hard Look at Teen Pregnancy

This film could have easily been melodramatic, which would have relegated it to an “After School Special.” Instead, Stephanie Daley offers an excellent character study and a glimpse into the world of teenage pregnancy—with a powerful message about why it should be avoided at all cost.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • September 07, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Shoot 'Em Up a Gratuitous Spectacle of Violence

You wouldn’t think a movie could be this bad with acting talent like Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci. But action-hero movie send-up Shoot 'Em Up gives new meaning to the word “wretched.”

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • September 07, 2007 |
  • comments
August 2007
Hollywood Caters to Basest Instinct in Old Skool

Once again, Hollywood caters to its basest instinct with another uninspired, insulting and cheaply-made rip-off—Kickin’ It Old Skool. It’s Big meets The Bad News Bears (remake) meets a very bad skit from Saturday Night Live.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • August 31, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Balls of Fury - an Exercise in Truly Tasteless Humor

Sometimes a low brainpower movie is the perfect escapist entertainment. But even then, ping-pong farce Balls of Fury still doesn’t deliver. After all, the filmmakers’ idea of a good laugh is making fun of an Asian (because he’s Asian), a fat guy (because he’s fat) or an elderly man who swears a lot (because he swears a lot).

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