FSR’s Weekly Report Card for 01.16.09

FSR's Weekly Report Card


Studio: Lionsgate

Rated: R for graphic brutal horror violence and grisly images throughout, some strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language.

Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue and Edi Gathegi

Directed by: Patrick Lussier

What it’s about: A psychotic miner cuts through the population of a small town with a pix axe.

What I liked: It’s the first full-length 3D slasher film since Friday the 13th Part 3. It’s rated R, and it delivers on everything you’d want from a brutal slasher film. You have pick axes stabbing people in the head… in 3D. You have body parts being lopped off… in 3D. You have a midget woman being killed by a psycho… in 3D. You have a hot chick, totally naked, running from the killer in 3-frickin’-D.

What I didn’t: Well, this is another slasher movie remake, so it has that run-of-the-mill feel to it. While the 3D experience is awesome, mainly for the gimmick aspect, I would imagine the film loses a lot of its luster without the third dimension. After all, the characters and plot twists are about as two dimensional as a standard print would be.

Who is gonna like this movie: Robert Fure and any other hardcore slasher movie fan.

Grade: B+


Studio: Columbia

Rated: PG for some violence, mild crude and suggestive humor, and language.

Starring: Kevin James, Keir O’Donnell, Jayma Mays, Raini Rodriguez, Shirley Knight, Stephen Rannazzisi, Peter Gerety and Bobby Cannavale

Directed by: Steve Carr

What it’s about: Paul Blart is an overzealous security guard for a popular mall. He still lives with his mother and his daughter from a failed green card marriage. On the day after Thanksgiving, Paul finds himself the last line of defense against a group of criminals who plan to rob the stores in the mall of their credit card information.

What I liked: This movie is stupid, and not always in a bad way. It’s a typical January release, as it’s not going to win any awards and would have been crushed in the holiday box office. However, if you’re looking for some slapstick, the last half of the film definitely has its moments. I’ll admit, I like watching a fat guy fall over a lot.

What I didn’t: The first half of this movie is pretty dreadful. The filmmakers try to put a lot of character development into it, and it fails miserably. While things do pick up in the second half with pratfalls and PG-rated action, you have to wade through some lame story to get there. Also, as much as I adore Jayma Mays, she’s wasted in this movie. It’s as if the filmmakers just said, “Stand there, look pretty and bat those enormous eyes of yours.

Who is gonna like this movie: Pre-teens and anyone who likes to watch fat slapstick.

Grade: C+


Studio: DreamWorks

Rated: PG for brief mild thematic elements, language and some crude humor.

Starring: Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Don Cheadle, Johnny Simmons, Kyla Pratt, Troy Gentile, Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon

Directed by: Thor Freudenthal

What it’s about: Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin play orphans who start collecting stray dogs in the city and keep them in an abandoned hotel. When their foster parents discover their hotel for dogs, they risk losing their new family.

What I liked: We’ve had a lot of dog movies of late, and I will admit that I am a sucker for puppies on screen. This doesn’t hold a candle to Bolt or Marley & Me, but I did enjoy watching the dog antics. Oh, and now that Emma Roberts is growing up, she’s got a whole Miley Cyrus thing going, which makes me feel dirty.

What I didn’t: We might be seeing too many dog movies, with this being the fourth big dog release in the last three months. Ultimately, the dogs are a MacGuffin, and the real story is about the orphaned kids, and the human element isn’t all that interesting. Plus, the movie hammers the point home too hard, making all-too-obvious connections between the orphans and the stray dogs. I get it, already!

Who is gonna like this movie: Dog fans and the family crowd… and the pervs who want to see Emma Roberts reach the end of puberty.

Grade: C+


Studio: Fox Searchlight

Rated: R for pervasive language, some strong sexuality including dialogue, nudity, and for drug content.

Starring: Jamal Woolard, Derek Luke, Angela Bassett, Naturi Naughton, Antonique Smith and Anthony Mackie

Directed by: George Tillman Jr.

What it’s about: The relatively short life and times of rapper Biggie Smalls, aka the Notorious B.I.G. We begin with his life in the ghetto, move into his drug dealing days, through his rise to fame with Sean “Puffy” Combs and his death in the midst of the East Coast/West Coast feud.

What I liked: This is a solid drama, and we haven’t seen a really great musician biopic in a while. I appreciated the fact that the filmmakers showed Biggie in a less-than-favorable light at times, including his thug life and drug dealing days. Also, I have to give a huge shout out to Naturi Naughton as Lil Kim, who is smoking hot and a great substitute for the real Lil Kim, who has had so much plastic surgery that she looks like Joan Rivers.

What I didn’t: Even though this film shows the harder side of Biggie Smalls, it is a bit of a puff piece (no pun intended). The film’s producers include Sean Combs as well as Biggie’s own mother, so don’t expect it to be overly critic of his life. After all, Biggie Smalls was a thug and a criminal. He might have made a huge impact on hip-hop, but he was still a sleaze bag. I’d be careful before letting your kids idolize this guy.

Who is gonna like this movie: Biggie Smalls fans and people dying for a new musician biopic.

Grade: B


Studio: Paramount Vantage

Rated: R for violence and language.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner and Mark Feuerstein

Directed by: Edward Zwick

What it’s about: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell play Jewish brothers in Russia during World War II. The family takes to the forest to escape the Nazis and the Russian army. There, they take in dozens of refugees, build a society and learn to fight a bit of guerilla warfare against their oppressors.

What I liked: Like most of Edward Zwick’s films, this movie doesn’t keep things simple. It shows the struggles that everyone faced in WWII, even those on the run. The acting is impeccable, and both Craig and Schreiber do fine jobs in the lead roles.

What I didn’t: The movie runs a bit long and has some focus problems in the middle. It does seem hopeless at times, but what do you expect from another Nazi award film. Finally, the Russian accents are so good and thick that it’s hard to understand the dialogue at times.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who like award films and stories about Nazis, which we’ve had a lot of lately.

Grade: A-

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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