Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: April 8, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr spends a long day in the multiplex, checking out a variety of films from alcoholic romantic comedies to nature documentaries with elephants and orangutans. He drinks himself silly and hits on Greta Gerwig in Arthur, narrowly escapes being killed by ass-kicking teen assassin Hanna, narrowly escapes getting his arm bitten off by a tiger shark in Soul Surfer and peeps in on Natalie Portman undressing for a swim in Your Highness. Too bad she’s pregnant now, ‘cause Kevin just ain’t into that scene.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Kevin is joined in the Magical Studio in the Sky by Elisabeth Rappe from Chud.com and Film.com.


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Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references

Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Nick Nolte and Greta Gerwig

Directed by: Jason Winer

What it’s about: In this remake of the 1981 film with Dudley Moore, Russell Brand plays an eccentric ne’er-do-well billionaire heir who doesn’t want to grow up. When he’s told he has to marry a woman in the proper social circles or lose his inheritance, Arthur falls in love with a nice girl from Queens and faces the possibility of taking care of himself.

What I liked: Not a huge fan of the original Arthur, I didn’t think this version was skewering any sacred cows. In essence, it’s a very similar film, only it treats alcoholism a little differently for today’s politically correct audience (as well as recovering alcoholic star Russell Brand).

Arthur has heart, and it definitely has some cute moments, usually spearheaded by Greta Gerwig or Helen Mirren, both of whom are far more charming than Brand is as the title character. Like the original, Mirren steals the show as Hobson.

What I didn’t: Like many movies that serve as vehicles for big stars, how much you’ll enjoy Arthur is directly relateable to how much you can handle Russell Brand. I know some folks find him to be a comedic genius. I just wasn’t feeling it in this film. It’s not that I was irritated with him or hated his comedy like I would were Dane Cook to have been cast in the role. I just didn’t find it all that funny with Brand in the driver’s seat.

Who is gonna like this movie: Audiences who don’t remember the original film and don’t mind too much Brand in the brand.

Grade: B-

Studio: Focus Features

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander and Olivia Williams

Directed by: Joe Wright

What it’s about: Saoirse Ronan stars a girl whose lives with her father in the woods, learning to fight, hunt and kill. Her father’s training her for a mission, which she soon embarks upon, targeting a CIA agent with a checkered past.

What I liked: Two words can describe what I enjoyed most about Hanna: sequences and soundtrack.

Like a David S. Goyer film, Hanna has some brilliant moments when taken on their own. There are some fantastic action scenes which really get your blood pumping. Pair this with a kick-ass soundtarck by The Chemical Brothers, and you have the potential for a hip, exciting action film.

What I didn’t: Sadly, Joe Wright isn’t an action director. He’s an arthouse director known for movies like Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Watching this movie, I got the feeling that he saw films from Michael Bay, Tony Scott and Peter Berg and decided he wanted to show them the right way to do an action movie. So he did an action movie the way he knew how.

The result is an action film that can’t break free from the arthouse, steeped in a European flavor that won’t click with American audiences. The movie doesn’t know what it wants to be, and it gets lost on its own journey.

Also, since when was it considered scarier to have a sexually ambiguous man as a ruthless assassin. That’s the new black in films now, apparently. Tom Hollander and his band of skinheads were just silly, and his track suit screamed of desperation… not from the character, but from the costume designer and Joe Wright.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who want an arthouse action film that’s not made by Christopher Nolan.

Grade: C-

Studio: Universal

Rated: R for strong crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, violence and some drug use

Starring: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel and Justin Theroux

Directed by: David Gordon Green

What it’s about: Two brothers of a king of a mythical land embark on a quest to save the wife of the older brother from an evil wizard. Along the way, they smoke a lot of week and tell a lot of dick jokes.

What I liked: Okay, Natalie Portman in a thong. That was pretty nice to see on the big screen. Aside from that, the funniest moments in the trailer are still somewhat funny in the finished film. It’s too bad I hadn’t already seen them in the trailers.

Oh, and there were some boobs. Not from Natalie Portman, unfortunately, but I can’t be picky.

What I didn’t: After seeing this movie, I said to a friend on Twitter that man cannot live by dick jokes alone. Later on television, I said, “Some movies are just dumb.” This about sums up my thoughts of Your Highness. It has its moments, but it relies too much on throwaway profanity and copious amounts of penis references.

The film feels like Year One in the Middle Ages, in which there was once something good on paper but everything got lost in translation. Danny McBride fails to carry a movie any farther than a single scene. James Franco phones in his performance, along with the normally adorable Zooey Deschanel. The only one who seems to give any quality in her performance is Natalie Portman, which is a shame because this film is slumming it even more than No Strings Attached did a coupe months ago.

Who is gonna like this movie: Stoners who go to Renaissance festivals.

Grade: D

Studio: FilmDistrict

Rated: PG for an intense accident sequence and some thematic material

Starring: Dennis Quaid, AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood and Craig T. Nelson

Directed by: Sean McNamara

What it’s about: This is a true story about a young surfing competitor who survives an attack by a tiger shark. After dealing with her physical trauma, young Bethany Hamilton is determined to surf again.

What I liked: As far as family-friend shark attack movies go, Soul Surfer works. It’s not a great film, but it does have many inspirational themes to it, and it pushes the right buttons. Sure, it pushes those buttons too many times and holds them down too long, but it works for kids and families.

The look of the film is quite good, including the shark attack and the copious amount of surfing footage. AnnaSophia Robb holds her own as an actor alongside veterans Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and Craig T. Nelson. Overall, Soul Surfer has the feel of a faith-based direct-to-video film released in theaters with a bigger cast and more money behind it.

What I didn’t: While inspirational and mostly harmless, Soul Surfer is a bit too close to the original story. The film runs too long, and it lays its message on really thick. It’s like putting sugar on your Capt’n Crunch in the morning… it’s sweetness overkill. For a cynical bastard like myself, that’s a bit hard to swallow at times. Add the somewhat softball faith message as well, and it had plenty of eye rolls from me.

Oh, and Carrie Underwood makes her acting debut in this film. She shouldn’t quit her day job as a pop country singer.

Who is gonna like this movie: Tweens and families, especially young, Christian girls.

Grade: B-

Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: G

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Dr. Birute Galdikas, Dame Daphne Sheldrick and a bunch of apes and elephants

Directed by: David Lickley

What it’s about: This 40-minute IMAX film spotlights two groups of people who have made it their mission to save animals. Dr. Birute Galdikas runs an organization in Borneo to raise orphaned orangutans. Dame Daphne Sheldrick runs a similar organization for orphaned elephants in Africa. Morgan Freeman narrates this short look at the process of raising animals to be released back into the wild.

What I liked: It’s been years since I have seen a film that was shot and released specifically for the IMAX 3D experience, and it was very refreshing to do so. After so many blow-ups, it’s nice to see an actual 70mm presentation that was shot for 3D and mastered in the large format. This movie looks fantastic and really puts you in the yard with elephants and orangutans.

It also has a nice message with a good heart. There’s not too much preaching, which can be a problem with nature documentaries. Instead, the movie simply tells the stories of the challenges and day-to-day life of the people working with these wild animals.

Born to Be Wild runs only 40 minutes long, and it’s got some cute animals in it, so it makes for a nice outing with the kids, even younger ones who can keep the glasses on for the equivalent duration of two Dora the Explorer episodes.

What I didn’t: Nothing really jumps out at me to dislike about the film. It’s not perfect or a standing ovation picture, but it serves its purpose and looks mighty nice.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and families.

Grade: A-

Want to see what Kevin had to say about this week’s new releases? Check out his interview on FOX…

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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