Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: January 7, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads into the January movie season with a heavy heart. He checks out Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest award bait flick, Country Strong. Hint, hint… no one is taking the bait. Then he tries like hell to see Season of the Witch, but the lack of regional press screenings and midnight shows keep him and Nicolas Cage’s mullet sadly apart. What else would you expect from the industry coming back from winter break. After all, this is the time of year that the mega-hits Leprechaun, BloodRayne and Bride Wars came out.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Neil Miller hang out in the Magical Studio in the Sky to discuss what they haven’t seen.


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Studio: Screen Gems

Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements involving alcohol abuse and some sexual content

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Leighton Meester, Garrett Hedlund, Tim McGraw and Kayla Perkins

Directed by: Shana Feste

What it’s about: It’s Crazy Heart with tits… or at least that’s what it wants to be. Gwyneth Paltrow plays an alcoholic country music star who is on the waning side of her career. She’s popped out of rehab early to embark on a comeback tour but has to struggle with her addictions, an overbearing husband/manager and a young upstart who’s set to steal her thunder.

What I liked: While I’m not a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow in the least, I will acknowledge that she does a fine job acting in this film. In fact, the cast isn’t a problem. From Paltrow all the way down to Gossip Girl and internet sex tape star Leighton Meester, the acting in this movie is just fine. Even Tim McGraw, whom I think can hold his own against the other pros, does a decent job.

And the look of the film works, too. The technical side of movie-making is fine in this movie. It’s not award-worthy in this sense, but it very adequate.

Oh, and yes, Gwynnie can sing, in case you missed her performance on Glee a couple months ago. I just don’t know if anyone cares about what she’s singing about in this film.

What I didn’t: The problems with this movie are entirely the fault of writer/director Shana Feste. She reportedly based the character on Britney Spears, which is a stretch considering the full-blown rehab stint and her age. Maybe an older Lindsay Lohan would have been a better inspiration.

But no matter what true-life stories Feste draws from, nothing saves this movie from being nothing more than a crappy movie-of-the-week, hitting every plot cliche you can think of. The story is painfully predictable and plays out like a bad country-western song. The only difference is that no one’s dog dies in it.

The pacing is awkward and unfocused. The musical numbers are crammed into the story, often repeated and then splattered through the third act in a feeble attempt to win iTunes downloads. And finally, the film has as many endings as we saw in Return of the King only without the Hobbits and award potential.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who used to watch crappy made-for-TV movies on The Nashville Network back in its day.

Grade: D

Studio: Relativity Media

Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, violence and disturbing content

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Robert Sheehan and Claire Foy

Directed by: Dominic Sena

What it’s about: Nicolas Cage and his mullet return from the Crusades to find their homeland ravaged by the Black Death. However, they suspect they may be the victim of witchcraft. Along with Ron Perlman, they battle the witch in an effort to bring peace to their land.

What I might like: For as much fun I’m poking at this film for being a first-of-the-year release, I tend to be rather forgiving of its ilk. If a big-budget summer tent pole movie has crappy special effects and lame action, it’s unforgivable. If a movie like Season of the Witch doesn’t live up to the best of the year, it’s entirely understandable.

Also, as much as I poke fun at Nicolas Cage, he’s fun to watch on screen. And even the roles that he phones in are fun to watch. Yes, even Ghost Rider. There’s something inherently entertaining watching him hold his nose as he delivers his lines.

The ads for this film remind me of Van Helsing which, for all the hate, is a film I enjoyed. Damn the bad CG and the silly plot, I might have fun watching this flick.

What I might not: Then I think… It just might not work. Season of the Witch still has a ton of strikes against it – from Nic Cage and his mullet to bad CGI action to being a January release squeaked into the line-up without a regional press screening.

With all that said, by default, Season of the Witch is the best movie of 2011…

…until next week, I’m sure.

Who is gonna like this movie: Nicolas Cage fans and anyone who can forgive a lot of bad special effects.

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? 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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