The documentary Bully arrives in theaters after much hullabaloo — it initially received a restricted rating from the Motion Picture Association of America due to the presence of a handful of curse words, sparking a social media campaign embraced by many celebrities — again confirming the marketing prowess of Harvey Weinstein. After unsuccessful attempts to reclassify the film as PG-13 Stateside, the mogul’s distribution company, the Weinstein Company, is releasing the movie unrated, and the AMC Theatres chain is allowing minors with a note from their parent or guardian to see the film — a reflective and affecting but still flawed cinematic entreaty which inveighs against teen-on-teen harassment.
Bully is constructed to elicit emotional response, for sure, and there’s an agonizing poignance to some of its pedestrian eloquence, which outstrips most scripted heartbreak. Yet for every illuminating interview tidbit and additional moment of discerning remove — as when director Lee Hirsch lingers on a near catatonic kid, allowing an audience the possibility of contemplating a seething future rage — Bully also seems to miss an opportunity to dig a bit deeper, psychologically, mainly because it doesn’t elicit explanations of mindset from those doing some of the bullying. This would crucially underscore the ineffectiveness and socially unacceptable nature of this behavior, show that this kind of acting out stems from its own type of trauma, and also illustrate that roles are often flipped later in life — with victims becoming victimizers, certainly emotionally if not physically. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. For more information on the film, click here. (The Weinstein Company, unrated, 98 minutes)
A generation or two ago, fantasy genre adventures like Wrath of the Titans still had some semblance of DNA connection to their B-picture forebears, the matinee serials that featured swashbuckling, sword-slinging heroes and backlot action shenanigans. Now, they’re just enormously budgeted machines, tent-pole franchises designed to necessarily wow with state-of-the-art digital wizardry and seemingly interchangeable heroes and circumstances. Such is the case with this inoffensive and slick if still rather middling upgrade over 2010’s Clash of the Titans, which ladles mythological spectacle on top of silly end-of-the-world boilerplate, and puts its characters through an effects laden steeplechase that squeezes out a few moments of synthetic bedazzlement that evaporate upon exiting from the theater. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Warner Bros., PG-13, 99 minutes)
For my latest DVD/Blu-ray column, over at ShockYa, I take a gander at the “Totally Irresponsible” version of Jonah Hill‘s bawdy The Sitter, the controversial first season of AMC’s The Killing, the documentary In the Garden of Sounds, a bunch of concert DVDs, a South African zombie flick, and more. Again, for the fun full read, click here.
The topic of this forthcoming memoir, Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them, actually came up when I interviewed Frank Langella a few years back (he was working on it even then), and despite the obvious relish with which he spoke of delving back into his early years, and various relationships, I confess I’m a bit struck by some of the specific bits (affairs with the much older Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor, plus saucy, suggestive phone conversations with Bette Davis) and news regarding its imminent arrival.
Not unlike William Hurt, Langella is an intellectual heavyweight who can cut an intimidating figure if he so chooses, quoting Shakespeare and other works to test the depth of your reading list, and comfortable arguing a question to test your mettle. In the twilight of his years, he’s obviously been put in a somewhat
reflective position, starting with the in some respects sublime Starting Out in the Evening, as well as Frost/Nixon, which he played on both stage and screen. Langella only dishes dirt on those who have passed, but a lot of folks were in his estimation “a bore,” it seems, which I think again reflects his interests and basic personality. (He has to be a cat person, I’m guessing.) I also don’t imagine there’s a chapter on Cutthroat Island… though I’m sure that would be kind of awesome too, actually, if there was.
The United States’ military forays into the Middle East over the past decade-plus have resulted in a fair number of big screen dramas of domestic re-entry, but few have the thoughtful delicacy of the quiet, lived-in Return, whose very title has a relaxed connotation that the movie robustly embodies. Spurning crazy outburst or demonstrative dramatic flair for something more measured, fragile and almost ineffable, writer-director Liza Johnson‘s narrative feature film debut is built around a standout performance from ex-Freaks and Geeks and ER star Linda Cardellini, as well as a nice supporting turn from Michael Shannon. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Focus World, R, 97 minutes)
The latest young adult literary property and blockbuster-teen-film-franchise-in-waiting, The Hunger Games will certainly make a mint (weekend showings
have already been selling out around the country), and likely rally many
fans of the book series to its defense, but more inquisitive minds will
find its cinematic adaptation lacking in some, if not many, crucial
Adapted by director Gary Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins from the latter’s bestselling novel of the same name, the film unfolds in a post-apocalyptic future, on the ruins of what was once North America and is now a super-nation known as Panem, divided into a dozen districts. As a twisted annual punishment for a past anti-federal uprising, each compliant district holds a lottery in which one adolescent boy and girl apiece are selected to compete in a televised “tribute,” known as the Hunger Games, in which there is but a single survivor.
After her younger sister is chosen, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) impulsively volunteers to take her spot and represent the impoverished District 12; baker’s son Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), meanwhile, is chosen as her male counterpart. Whisked off to the fancy Capitol by Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks, sporting a wardrobe seemingly nipped from Helena Bonham Carter in Alice in Wonderland), Peeta and Katniss are soon introduced to their assigned mentor, former winner (and current lush) Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson).
After a regimented system of combat and survival training, the contestants are released into a cordoned off wilderness, and the bloodletting begins. Combatants from the elite Districts 1 and 2, located closest to the Capitol, are the aristocratic blue-bloods of this game, training in special academies for years before the competition. Katniss, though, is a skilled hunter with the bow and arrow, and repairs deep into the forest to try to outwit and outlast the others. Peeta at first seems willing to sell her out to the others for his own temporary advantage, but soon a powerful alliance and burgeoning romance between the pair blossoms, perhaps forcing a change in the Hunger Games’ rules.
Taking its inspiration from television’s Survivor, American Idol and many other sources, including The Running Man and 2001’s Series 7: The Contenders, The Hunger Games on the surface seems interested in exploring darker human appetites and impulses that feed so much of our present-day tabloid culture. Except that it doesn’t really exploit or explore anything it sets up, instead diddling around with sappy, sub-par teen romance. Haymitch makes mention of playing nice for the cameras in order to curry sponsors, but there’s no real follow-up with this, nor an explication of the events’ rules, or how the televised extravaganza fits into the broader dystopian society. Ross’ vision for this story is very programmatic, and its finale — a fight against three remaining contestants on top of a Frank Gehry sculpture in the middle of a field — is so predictable as to almost elicit yawns.
Basically, the film seems oddly disengaged from the potential richness of its conceit, and interested in little more than a parallel-world representation of the distracting spectacle in which its sub-class is forced to participate.That its politics are shapeless and its social commentary less than trenchant is perhaps hardly surprising in the grand scheme of things, given the hundreds of millions of dollars which distributor Lionsgate wishes to mine from the property, in the form of this movie, its sequels and all sorts of merchandising spin-offs. Still, at a certain point, does mere baseline structural proficience stop being enough for audiences? The Hunger Games just sets its sights on “good enough,” and ergo achieves that result in listless fashion.
Equally problematic is the visual scheme Ross and cinematographer Tom Stern (Million Dollar Baby, J. Edgar) employ, which favors wildly restless, tightly framed hand-held camerawork and close-ups that undercut any potential thrill or pop in the movie’s additionally blandly staged action sequences. For the first forty-plus minutes this is fairly interminable. It settles a bit — once settled in the Capitol, the filmmakers seem less eager to prove how wild and desperate circumstances are for the average citizen — but never comes across as more than a strange masking technique, a substitute for deeper characterization.
Some of the supporting players definitely enliven the proceedings — Banks, Stanley Tucci and especially Harrelson — but they’re still interlopers from a grander world we know little about. Lawrence is a fine actress, as evidenced in Winter’s Bone and Lori Petty’s The Poker House, but she seems a bit too perfect and un-rough-around-the-edges as Katniss. Different strokes, I realize, but a pertinent point of comparison is Saoirse Ronan in Hanna; she anchored that film, physically and emotionally, but also retained a certain feral or socially maladapted quality stemming from her having been raised alone in the woods by her father. Katniss comes from what used to be (and basically remains) rural Appalachia, but seems a bit too at ease with the circumstances around her, burdened by neither wonderment nor the fear of an animal who is lower on the food chain. (Lionsgate, PG-13, 142 minutes)
Owing equally to a skin-tight body suit and unnerving thousand-yard stare, Kristanna Loken made quite an impression in 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. While she didn’t quite skyrocket up the ranks of Hollywood demand from there, she’s nevertheless worked steadily — including in a fair amount of genre material, as with Uwe Boll‘s BloodRayne and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Her latest movie is The Legend of Awesomest Maximus, a decidedly bawdy, National Lampoon’s-minted spoof of 300, Gladiator and other mythology-laden, sword-and-sandal action epics. Loken co-stars opposite Will Sasso and Sophie Monk, playing the former’s gold-digging, politically-minded wife Hotessa, who, while trying to goad her oafish husband into action, may also be carrying on an affair behind his back. I recently had a chance to chat one-on-one with Loken about Awesomest Maximus location filming in conservative Utah, sex scene spoofs, and her efforts to expand upon and control her own career, via the formation of her own production company. The conversation is excerpted over at ShockYa, so click here for the full read.
Simple grace is a quality rarer in modern films than one might expect, as is the yard-by-yard, in-the-trenches slog of messy human connection, absent a lot of cathartic speechifying. Both are on rich display in French import The Kid With a Bike, however, the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and a Best Foreign Language Film Golden Globe nominee. With their latest movie, fraternal portraitists Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne deliver a compelling character study of adolescent emotional dislocation, shining a light on the weight of both nature and nurture.
The Kid With a Bike centers, as one might surmise, on a title character, 11-year-old ward of the state Cyril (newcomer Thomas Doret, an acting neophyte), and his relationship with Samantha (Cecile de France), a hairdresser who is granted part-time custody of him via weekend furloughs, and finds herself surprised at how determined she is to help him. Spare but never without thought and care, the Dardennes’ movie unfolds on a precipice of loss and confusion, teetering in the wind. It’s a stirring reminder of the variety of divergent paths that life affords each of us, and how the more nuanced consideration of those choices and decisions can be corrupted by the white-hot heat of overriding emotion. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. For more information on the film, meanwhile, click here. (Sundance Selects, unrated, 87 minutes)
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi‘s A Separation sucked up a lot of the oxygen regarding the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submissions heading into the ceremony a couple weeks ago, and, indeed, ended up taking home the Academy Award. But writer-director Joseph Cedar’s Footnote, the official Israeli entry, and one of the final five nominees, is an equally stirring work. The winner of the Best Screenplay award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the movie locates the universality in an incredibly specific arena, telling the story of a latent rivalry between father and son professors, each of whom has dedicated their lives to different branches of Talmudic study. I recently had a chance to chat one-on-one with the 43-year-old award-winning filmmaker, talking with Cedar about comparisons of his movie to A Separation, life inside the Oscar bubble and reverse immigration. The conversation is excerpted over at ShockYa, so click here for the full read.
Husband-and-wife filmmaking tandem Chris Kentis and Laura Lau made a splash, both figuratively and literally, with 2004’s Open Water, which unfolded almost entirely in the ocean, and could very loosely be described as the Blair Witch Project version of Jaws. Telling the story of a pair of stranded divers, it was a nervy, low-budget movie that tapped into fear in a visceral, primal way. It was also very profitable, raking in $54 million internationally against production costs that were less than one percent of that. So it’s been a surprise that the pair have been away so long.
That was not by design, said Kentis at a recent press day for Silent House, their much buzzed-about new thriller which straddles the intersection between home invasion flick, paranormal/haunted house film and psychological drama. Two films in particular — a passion project on the downing of the USS Indianapolis during World War II, and American City, a drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans — kicked around in development hell for many years, never coming to fruition. Lau and Kentis also dutifully worked up one new screenplay each year, but nothing gained final traction.
It was only after a producer familiar with Open Water, Agnes Mentre, ran into the pair’s lawyer, Sue Bodine, and inquired about Kentis and Lau that they finally found the sliver of luck they needed to get a movie back on the big screen. Mentre had secured remake rights to the Uruguayan film La Casa Muda, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as part of its Director’s Fortnight line-up and would eventually go on to be that country’s official Oscar Foreign Film submission, and sensed that the pair would be a good match with the material, which unfolds in streamlined, real-time fashion, mimicking a single take.
The film is a heady experiment anchored by a star-confirming turn from Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), and its release this weekend stands poised to test Olsen’s burgeoning “It Girl” status, as well as help disrupt — along with holdover box office champion The Lorax — the supposed theatrical dominance of Disney’s ballyhooed John Carter. I had a chance recently to sit down and chat one-on-one with married co-directors Kentis and Lau, so for the excerpted conversation, over at ShockYa, click here.
A Kiwi-shot period piece Western which details the odd, thawing relationship between a
vulnerable kidnapped woman and her uncouth captor, Good For
Nothing is a movie which tells a pretty simple story but leaves
its quiet mark — to the extent that it imparts one — chiefly via the
unfussy naturalistic performances of its leads. Lacking much in the way
of narrative dynamism, the film should chiefly appeal to genre
There’s nothing wildly revelatory about the performances of Cohen Holloway or Inge Rademeyer (above), the latter of whom vaguely recalls Kate Beckinsale. They each show a certain gift and comfort with silence, though, which not all actors possess. If only the movie trusted them enough to spend more time with them instead of dawdling with an in-pursuit posse subplot that doesn’t pay off, Good For Nothing might amount to something a bit more special and memorable. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. For more information on the movie, meanwhile, click here. (Screen Media/Mi Films, R, 93 minutes)
The idea of sexual swinging, or committed couples swapping partners, opens up all sorts of rich avenues for exploration of feeling, but the London-set comedy Swinging With the Finkels does so little of substance or sincerity with the subject that one starts to yearn for the comparative honesty of a lonely hearts drama with a forlorn guy swigging a beer and staring at a computer screen. In fact, the movie evinces no particular reason for existing other than to seemingly provide its pleasant but half-heartedly invested cast with paychecks, and perhaps serve as the answer for the trivia question of in which film Mandy Moore mock-masturbates with a cucumber.
Ellie (Moore) and Alvin (Martin Freeman) are a young, married white-collar couple seemingly suffering from a bit of the seven-year itch. Friends Peter (Jonathan Silverman) and Janet (Melissa George) are little help, the journey into parenthood having thrown something of a speed bump into their relationship. Seemingly because one attempt at “spicing it up” in the bedroom went awry (she wore sexy lingerie and lit mood candles, and he donned a fireman’s costume… ha!), Ellie and Alvin make the (entirely il)logical jump to swinging, eventually settling on a seemingly normal couple (Angus Deayton and Daisy Beaumont). After the Saturday night deed is done, things proceed but, magically, don’t get immediately better for Ellie and Alvin. What’s a committed but sexually frustrated couple to do?
Swinging With the Finkels is supposedly rated R, but it’s quite possibly the tamest R in recent memory, especially for a film dealing with matters sexual. Director Jonathan Newman’s movie is definitely the “fem” version of a swingers’ tale, with relationship mechanics valued much more over any possible prurient interests. Problematically, though, it also exists chiefly as a collection of nipped sitcom contrivances, from Ellie’s theatrically gay coworker (who gives her the initial idea of partner-swapping) and a montage of “zany” bad fits who respond to Ellie and Alvin’s sex ad to a forced-uncomfortable sequence in which an old person (in this case Ellie’s grandfather, played by Jerry Stiller) dispenses sex advice. Wow, how novel.
The script digs into none of these scenes with great aplomb, and it additionally requires Ellie and Alvin’s friends to nonsensically implode their marriage by having Peter tell Janet about a one-off affair, merely so there is some minor element of introduced contrast to Ellie and Alvin’s plight. Two grossly overwritten office pals of Alvin also serve this function, and an extremely flat shooting style and hammy music cues additionally do the material no favors. Somewhat unexpectedly, The Finkels manages to make both stanch, devoted monogamy and quiet singlehood look attractive — no small (or purposeful) accomplishment for a movie about swinging and its churned-up feelings.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Swinging With the Finkels comes to DVD presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound audio track and optional English subtitles. Under motion menus, divided into 10 chapters, the DVD’s supplemental features consist only of its trailer and a 10-minute short film, Sex With the Finkels, which apparently served as the movie’s inspiration. So no, Moore fans… there’s no behind-the-scenes interview material about that cucumber scene. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. D+ (Movie) C- (Disc)
An irreverent reboot of the late 1980s TV series that helped launch the career of Johnny Depp, 21 Jump Street only half-heartedly scratches the surface of the more intriguing comedy of young male anxiety at which it hints, preferring instead to target broader laughs. If it gets bogged down a bit in its dutiful inclusion of procedural and action hijinks, the movie still sails on the strength of some of its joke writing, and the chemistry and smart use of its stars, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Sony, R, 110 minutes)
For my latest DVD/Blu-ray column, over at ShockYa, I confess how unsettling I find Channing Tatum’s moustache in The Son of No One, plus take a gander at Dirty Girl, a tribute to Bernie Mac, 50 Cent’s latest stab at screenwriting, the memorably titled Nude Nuns with Big Guns, and more. Again, for the fun full read, click here.
Bryan Cranston, Anna Kendrick and Miles Teller have joined the cast of Roger Dodger director Dylan Kidd’s tentatively titled Get a Job, it was announced today by distributor CBS Films. They join a cast that already includes Alison Brie, Jay Pharoah, Brandon T. Jackson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Filming commences in Los Angeles next week, based on a screenplay by Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel. The movie is billed as a multi-generational comedy about four recent college graduates who discover the gaping chasm between their lofty expectations and the crushing realities of adulthood.
The day has arrived, for a 7 p.m. Eastern smackdown of the Rat and his minions. Romp well, compadres, and restore order to the hoops world. Game face!
An inoffensive but hardly essential piece of occupational boosterism, American Teacher provides a look at the public education crisis in the United States through the eyes of those often lambasted or pilloried as somehow being a bigger part of the problem than of the solution. Directed by Academy Award-winning director Vanessa Roth, the documentary spotlights the extraordinary personal sacrifices that a lot of instructors make by choosing to teach — as well as how qualified and otherwise passionate people are sometimes driven from the field by the rocky shoals of hard-knock financial reality. Many of the subjects here are inspiring, but, sadly, American Teacher comes off as more of a staid, herky-jerky stump speech than a fiery and clarifying call to action.
Supposedly narrated by Matt Damon (I say supposedly only because it sounds very little like the Oscar-winning actor, as if he’s trying to drain the personality and tone out of his voice), the film purports to chronicle the stories of a quartet of teachers — Harvard graduate and New Jersey elementary school teacher Rhena Jasey; seventh grade Texas gym coach and history teacher Erik Benner; pregnant Brooklyn first grade instructor Jamie Fidler, herself the daughter of a teacher; and Jonathan Dearman, a role model at a predominantly African-American San Francisco high school. American Teacher gives each of these individuals an actual arc; they’re speaking on their personal experiences, and what teaching has both meant to them and, in different ways, cost them. This is an interesting tack, one not often associated with nonfiction films of a certain persuasive mien. Interspersed with their recollections and insights, though, is a wide variety of other talking-head footage, which comes across as scattershot in its inclusion and placement.
American Teacher is at its best when underlining what those who lamely trot out the tired old cliche that “those who can do, while those who can’t teach” fail to acknowledge or even entertain — namely, that teaching, for those who are truly invested in the work, is among the most intellectually rigorous occupations. After all, teachers are constant, active decision makers — not only working to circumvent certain social constructs, but developing, sometimes even on the fly, relatable ways to not only impart information but also a complementary, contextual reasoning of why these facts and skill sets are important.
Too frequently, though, the movie loses sight on this theme, slipping off into statistical homilies (that 46 percent of teachers are out of the field within five years, for instance, which creates additional structural costs and places even more enormous strains on dwindling resources) that are related, yes, but hijack the movie’s emotional momentum. Good teachers — the ones that inspire and open your eyes to a world of both possibilities and responsibilities larger than you’d heretofore considered — are an invaluable commodity. By showing how we’re failing those charged with actually developing our kids, American Teacher has the chance to locate an unexpectedly emotional connection to the sedate issue of education. Too bad, then, that it loses focus and takes its eyes off the prize, unnecessarily substituting macro lessons when its localized examples pack more of a punch.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, American Teacher comes to DVD presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, with optional English SDH captions and a Dolby digital 2.0 stereo track that more than adequately handles the title’s straightforward aural demands. Under a motion menu, the movie is divided into nine chapters, and contains a limited slate of bonus material in the form of excised interviews. Additional expert outtakes, running about five-and-a-half minutes, allow Linda Darling-Hammond, Mark Bounds, Carina Wong, Brad Jupp and Sabrina Laine more time to opine on adolescent education (Darling-Hammond ruminates on teaching being regarded as a feminized profession, and why that may have something to do with a historical lack of respect accorded it), and again sometimes compares American schooling to education aboard. Four minutes of extra interview material with the teacher subjects further expands their respective backstories, while an additional 12 minutes of interview material highlights what great teaching looks like, as characterized by Darling Hammond, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and others. For more information, or to purchase the DVD via First Run’s website, click here. If Amazon is totally your thing, however, click here. You can also learn more and get active via AmericanTeacherMovie.org. C (Movie) B (Disc)
Not only for helping launch the careers of erstwhile Mouseketeers Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera has the Disney Channel proven enormously successful at peddling impeccably groomed, smoothly packaged, sexually non-threatening pre-teens. Miley Cyrus (pre-salvia and stripper pole) and any number of other entertainers have cut their teeth on peppy and demonstrative sitcoms that peddle cuddly pat-drama fantasies and occupy the exact opposite end of the spectrum that shows like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Gossip Girl did and now do. Those series have the effect of pulling along pre-pubescent adolescents into teenage drama prematurely, while a lot of Disney series and made-for-TV movies aim to have a dampening or delaying impact. Diff’rent strokes, you know?
Geek Charming‘s story charts Dylan (Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland), a well-off girl who meets cute with A/V wallflower Josh (Matt Prokop) when he rescues her expensive handbag from a mall fountain, and subsequently agrees to be the subject of his new documentary. Ahh, though, therein lies the rub. While Sarah views this as just another cool and important piece of publicity and brand extension that will benefit her campaign for the local title of “Blossom Queen,” Josh is out to craft a hard-hitting look at popularity. As he gets to know her more and Sarah drops her guard a bit, Josh sees a girl he believes to be more interesting than the facade she’s crafted. Will he be able to convince her to let him show that girl to the world, however?
Scripted by Elizabeth Hackett and Hilary Galanoy, and directed by Jeffrey Hornaday, Geek Charming is a light and fluffy piece of entertainment, an inoffensive showcase for its onscreen talent and below-the-line artisans as well, with its colorful costuming and set design. Think of one of the conflicts in Reality Bites — when Winona Ryder’s character finds her video work compromised by Ben Stiller’s corporate jockey — and put a slight spin on that, cross-pollinate it with High School Musical, subtract songs, add feel-good moralizing, romantic myopia and artificial sweetener of your choice, then serve chilled. It’s a snore for anyone over 18, really, but Hyland and Prokop are attractive and engaging enough to keep things moving along and interesting for the movie’s intended audience.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case with a sleeve printed on recycled paper and in turn stored in a cardboard slipcover, Geek Charming comes to DVD in two different packagings, the best being a two-disc combo set which also includes 10 bonus episodes selected from over three seasons’ worth of the Disney Channel show Shake It Up, as well as a pair of matching little charms, which seem like an innocuous throw-in aimed at the tween girl demographic. The movie itself is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, with consistent colors and no edge enhancement or grain issues, and a Dolby digital 2.0 stereo mix. If you’re expecting a hard-hitting behind-the-scenes expose on Hollywood entertainment production or cast interviews about the nuances of their characters, however, you’re looking in the wrong spot, mates. C (Movie) C+ (Disc)
A colorful, vivacious and faithful CG-animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss same-named children’s book, The Lorax delivers a peppy juvenile adventure along with an underlying ethical message that advises against greed and rampant overconsumption. Some talking heads on the far right side of the political spectrum have already decried this part of the movie as indoctrination, but the fairly innocuous moral slots in comfortably with a burgeoning eco-consciousness that should make the film a solid commercial performer with family audiences, even if it rather heartily leans on kid-pic conventions, and there’s a fundamental disconnect between story elements as discussed and actually rendered. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Universal, PG, 85 minutes)