Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: November 26, 2010

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr loosens his belt and falls asleep on the couch after eating too much turkey. But with three days left in the weekend, there’s always the opportunity to brave the hoards of crazy holiday shoppers to see a movie. It’s time to look at a new Disney princess with Tangled, dance with the divas from Burlesque and go Faster with a piece of the Rock.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as guest host Grae Drake joins him in the Magical Studio in the Sky to discuss this week’s new releases.

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Studio: Disney

Rated: PG for brief mild violence

Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman and Jeffrey Tambor

Directed by: Byron Howard and Nathan Greno

What it’s about: When Rapunzel was born, her hair was imbued with a healing power. An evil witch kidnapped the child to use the healing power to keep her young. After years of being hidden away in a tower, Rapunzel longs to go out into the world. A bandit named Flynn arrives and helps her escape, promising to take her to the nearby kingdom, which puts them on the run from the witch.

What I liked: Tangled represents a return to the classic Disney princess movies, and this really works in the new context of computer generated animation. It’s a cute story that puts a light-hearted spin on a fairy tale that we know in the general form. Plus, by adding the character of Flynn to the mix, the movie is appealing to both boys and girls.

As a fan of 3D, I did enjoy the computer generated 3D experience of this film. The Disney animators aren’t afraid to throw some things at the camera, making the extra dimension work. Plus, it’s cute to watch all the kids in the audience reach up at the screen while you’re in the theater.

Another nice throwback to older Disney films is the fact that this movie isn’t overshadowed by the voice talent. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi star as the main characters. They’re both famous enough to recognize by name, but their voices are rather generic, so they don’t sound like movie stars working to get their voice in a Disney movie.

What I didn’t: Overall, there’s not much that was a problem in this film. If you get bothered by Disney stereotypes, you’ll get annoyed with the setting, characters and basic story structure. Likewise, if you’re a 3D hater, you’ll probably be annoyed with the glasses, but that’d be a matter of taste.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and families.

Grade: A

Studio: Screen Gems

Rated: PG-13 for sexual content including several suggestive dance routines, partial nudity, language and some thematic material

Starring: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet and Julianne Hough

Directed by: Steve Antin

What it’s about: A girl from the Midwest moves to L.A. to make it big in entertainment. There, she gets set up at a burlesque club where she soon becomes a featured performer. It’s basically Showgirls without the lap dancing, graphic rape and other NC-17 shenanigans.

What I liked: I have to admit that I was dreading this movie, but it was a buddy of mine who explained to me that a club like Burlesque doesn’t really exist and never has existed. Rather, it’s a hyper-realistic theatrical fantasy like the Moulin Rouge. In this context, this movie is a hell of a lot of fun.

The production numbers and the music are what makes this film work. Christina Aguilera belts out her songs with gusto, and they play like the bawdy numbers in Chicago and Cabaret. Cher sings a couple songs too, apparently to earn her top billing, and she does a good job.

Burlesque hits the mark for the female crowd, the theater crowd and the gay crowd. And the fact that most of the ladies dance around in their underwear doesn’t make it a waste of time for the straight guys in the audience either.

Oh, and Stanley Tucci with a glitter gun… I’m told this makes any movie better.

What I didn’t: We’ve seen a lot of the story elements before. It’s not that unique of a film, so if you’re going to look at the characters and subplots, you won’t find much there. And while 80 percent of the movie takes place in the club, whenever they’re outside in L.A. proper, the movie loses all charm and interest.

And then there’s Cher, who can barely say her lines through her overly Botoxed skin. I swear, it’s a wonder that her entire face doesn’t shatter like a porcelain mask if she trips. It doesn’t hurt that she’s put on the screen next to Christina Aguilera, who looks fantastic.

Who is gonna like this movie: Women, gay men and straight guys who want to see Christina Aguilera, Kristen Bell and Julianne Hough in their undies.

Grade: B+

Studio: CBS Films

Rated: R for strong violence, some drug use and language

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Berenger, Carla Gugino and Micaela Johnson

Directed by: George Tillman Jr.

What it’s about: Dwayne Johnson plays a man who gets out of prison and seeks revenge against the people who put him behind bars… and the people who made him do The Tooth Fairy.

What I liked: Blasting guns and fast cars.

Yeah, that’s really what I liked. As an action film, the movie works. The cinematography plays to the racing elements, and we get to see Dwayne Johnson return to his strength as a badass, after having played his run in family comedies. Bang bang, this part is good.

What I didn’t: Like many other action films, the story, character and twists are severely lacking in this movie. The filmmakers try to give Billy Bob Thornton his own character arc, but he stumbles through the film like a sequel to Bad Santa. And while I find Carla Gugino totally hot, she chews the scenery in this film more than she did in Watchmen.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who want to see The Rock back in an action movie.

Grade: C

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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