FSR’s Weekly Report Card for 01.23.09

FSR's Weekly Report Card


Studio: New Line Cinema

Rated: PG for fantasy adventure action, some scary moments and brief language.

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sienna Guillory, Eliza Hope Bennett, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren and Andy Serkis

Directed by: Iain Softly

What it’s about: Brendan Fraser plays a Silvertongue, which is someone who can bring books to life simply by reading them. Years ago, he lost his wife into a book called “Inkheart,” and several characters (both good and bad) emerged when she went in. Now, he and his daughter are searching the world for the book to rescue his wife again. However, when the discover a copy, this leads the characters who were let out to capture him in order for him to use his Silvertongue talents to make them more powerful.

What I liked: Ever since the Harry Potter series became the biggest thing in children’s literature and movies alike, the studios have been trying to find the next big thing. This was the last big-budget adventure that New Line green lit before being absorbed by Warner Bros. As a piece of family-friendly adventure filmmaking, it works to a degree. I enjoyed seeing some icons from children’s literature come to life – from unicorns to flying monkeys.

What I didn’t: Sadly, Inkheart is going to have to really pull success out of its butt to be the next Harry Potter. The execution of the movie is where things fall apart. I would have expected the film to start out in the books and to have a healthy dose of in-book fantasy elements. Unfortunately, we never go into the book and only see the characters when they come out (and often imperfectly). There’s too much sitting around and talking and not enough adventure.

Also, the twists and turns in the plot were far too easy to figure out, and the ultimate twist should have been figured out by the characters long before the events of the film. Things work out too easily, and things don’t even follow their own rules.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who love Brendan Fraser and the original book… or maybe not.

Grade: C


Studio: Overture Films

Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language.

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, James Brolin and Richard Schiff

Directed by: Joel Hopkins

What it’s about: Harvey Shine is a musician who scores commercials. Yeah, it’s a living… until he loses his job and his life falls apart around him. On a trip to London to see his daughter married, she drops the bomb that she wants her step-father to give her away. With his life in shambles, he meets a single woman who conducts surveys at the airport (Emma Thompson). They strike up a weekend romance, and Harvey suddenly finds hope in his last chance.

What I liked: After I got past the whole Punky Brewster mentality of this film (i.e., the manic depressive nature of the storyline), I really enjoyed the movie. In short, it’s a sweet little love story, and it doesn’t get beyond its own purpose. The film steps into these people’s lives, tells a warm-hearted story, and gets out. Both Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson do fine jobs acting, and they were both deserving of their Golden Globe nods, and they should be a little bitter about their Oscar snubs.

What I didn’t: The plot is laid on a bit thick in the beginning. In some ways, it reminds me of Dustin Hoffman’s other film that begins with his life falling apart – Tootsie. When things finally take a nice upturn, I kept expecting the movie to crush all the hopes and dreams. Fortunately, it doesn’t although I doubt the characters’ relationships will remain sweet much past the final credits.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who like arthouse flicks with a heart of gold.

Grade: B+


Studio: Paramount Vantage

Rated: R for language and some sexual content/nudity.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, Bobby Cohen and Kathy Bates

Directed by: Sam Mendes

What it’s about: Frank and April Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) are a young couple who seem to have it all. They’re in love, and Frank is on his way up the corporate ladder with his housewife secure in suburbia. However, both of them find suburbia boring and yearn for excitement in an otherwise humdrum life. Their wandering eyes and crimes of the heart (and flesh, at times) come back to bit them eventually.

What I liked: Like many films of award season, Revolutionary Road is an exceptionally made film. The acting is great, and the cinematography is pristine. And while I’m not a big fan of the films with the theme of “Oh, woe is me. I live comfortably in suburbia,” this one kept my interest to a degree. And at least Kate Winslet kept her clothes on for this one.

Finally, the character that I liked the best was Michael Shannon’s part as the mentally off-set friend of the family. He turns in a great performance and actually voices the opinion of the audience.

What I didn’t: There was just way too much whining in this movie. I, personally, enjoy living in the suburbs. I’m not much for the bohemian lifestyle, so I don’t think I’m missing it, as it is portrayed in this film. The characters are utterly unlikable, and I felt no sympathy for them. Boo hoo. Quit your whining.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who hate the suburbs or are dying to see Kate and Leo back together again on screen.

Grade: B-

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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