Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: April 1, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr recovers from a full day of watching Armageddon back-to-back to crawl back to the multiplex. He re-lived the last eight minutes of Source Code over and over, thoroughly confusing himself. Then he stumbled into the theater next door to learn about the true meaning of Easter from Russell Brand and James Marsden. Things take a decidedly creepy turn when he watches Insidious and wets himself more than once. This led to a very unfortunate scene while he watched the sexual-predator cautionary tale Trust. No one would believe him it was just wee wee.

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 Shannon Hood to talk about this week’s movies and play a sneaky April Fools Day joke on the loyal listeners.


Download this Episode

Studio: Summit Entertainment

Rated: PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright and Russell Peters

Directed by: Duncan Jones

What it’s about: Duncan Jones follows up his quite brilliant Moon with another piece of speculative fiction about a soldier who is given the power to re-live the last eight minutes of a train ride before it’s blown up by terrorists. As he tries to discover who blew up the train so the authorities could prevent further attacks, he tries to save the doomed passengers.

What I liked: This year has been a great year for speculative fiction. It’s also been a great year (so far, at least) for original films. Sure, cinemaphiles will bemoan the onslaught of sequels, remakes, adaptations and reboots coming this summer, but for now we have a neat slate of wholly original movies coming down the pike.

What worked for Jones’ Moon works here. He manages to tell a human drama in the midst of fantastic elements. The pacing is solid, and the looping storyline does not get tedious or old. Jake Gyllenhaal also takes a step towards showing that he can carry a movie both with star power and as a potential romantic lead. He’s come a long way from Donnie Darko.

In the end, I saw a lot of the twists in Source Code coming, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. It’s basically an extended Twilight Zone story, but I like that sort of thing.

What I didn’t: The only real weak spot in this whole film was Michelle Monaghan. In my opinion, she’s like the female Luke Wilson, who has been attached to some pretty big movies but has never given me a reason to think she’s anything more than a pretty face for a much more charismatic co-star. She doesn’t drag down the movie or anything, but I can say I wouldn’t risk my life to save her on an exploding train.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of speculative fiction and well-played Twilight Zone type stories.

Grade: A

Studio: Universal

Rated: PG for some mild rude humor

Starring: Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, James Marsden, Elizabeth Perkins and Chelsea Handler

Directed by: Tim Hill

What it’s about: E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) is next in line to be the Easter Bunny, but he’d rather make it big in Hollywood as a drummer. So he escapes Easter Island and travels to the land of broken dreams, meeting up with thirtysomething slacker Fred O’Hare (James Marsden), who is trying to find his own way in life. Oh, and a delusional chick back on Easter Island is planning a coup against the bunnies.

What I liked: If you listen to most of the reviews out there, you’ll think that Hop is the worst film to be released since… well, since Sucker Punch. Never mind the fickle nature of reviews. Neither Hop nor Sucker Punch are as bad as everyone says they are. After all, they’re not Big Momma’s: Like Father Like Son or anything.

Hop is a harmless movie that offers a nice slice of fun for the kids. It’s short and sweet, and James Marsden helps move the comedy along while Russell Brand more-or-less phones in his performance in voice-over form. The animated elements are cute enough, and there are some laughs. Plus, the kids will enjoy it, and that’s why anyone will see this movie this weekend.

What I didn’t: With all that said, Hop is far from great. It works as a kiddie film, but it’s nothing that anyone over the age of ten is going to enjoy. Plus, the story is a real mess, forcing plot points and characters together like too many jelly beans in a plastic egg. When these plot elements end up exploding all over the screen, you’re left with nothing but jelly beams all over the floor. And considering E.B. can poop jelly beans… well, you get the idea.

If you can stomach a cross between The Santa Claus sequels and Alvin and the Chipmunks, you can take your kids, but don’t get caught creeping in the theater alone. It’s a kids movie, after all, perv!

Who is gonna like this movie: Children who believe in the Easter Bunny.

Grade: C

Studio: FilmDistrict

Rated: PG-13 for thematic material, violence, terror and frightening images, and brief strong language

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Angus Sampson and Ty Simpkins

Directed by: James Wan

What it’s about: A family runs into a crisis when their son goes into an inexplicable coma. After a barrage of medical tests, they turn to a more paranormal answer. Of course, it doesn’t help that their house – and the boy in particular – seem to be haunted by a whole slate of evil spirits. As they dig deeper in to the family’s past, they uncover some terrifying truths about what has happened to their son.

What I liked: I’ve seen so many horror films over the years that when one actually makes the little pricklies crawl up the back of my neck, I take notice. Insidious is a very simple film made with an older sensibility. It relies on a fantastic and bipolar sound mix to build tension, along with some great cinematography and creepy imagery.

Director James Wan opts for more simple special effects, showing the ghosts and spirits the way you would in a film made before digital manipulation. This might look cheesy to some folks today, but it is an incredibly effective technique. Remember those creepy-ass twins from Danny’s vision in The Shining? Yeah, that’s what Wan does in this film, and it is damn freaky.

Insidious isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and it really pushes the buttons it should.

What I didn’t: The film does unravel a bit in the third act, but that’s not uncommon for a movie like this with such a great set-up. I can forgive a lot of what happens near the end in terms of effects and predictability simply because the rest of the movie is so effectively done.

Who is gonna like this movie: Horror hounds.

Grade: A

Studio: Millennium Entertainment

Rated: R for disturbing material involving the rape of a teen, language, sexual content and some violence

Starring: Liana Liberato, Clive Owen, Noah Emmerich, Catherine Keener, Viola Davis and Jason Clarke

Directed by: David Schwimmer

What it’s about: Fifteen-year-old Annie has started an online relationship with a boy named Charlie, only it turns out he is a middle-aged sexual predator instead of a high school student. After Annie is assaulted, her family goes on the warpath to find Charlie and struggle to rebuild their family trust.

What I liked: Considering how edgy movies are nowadays, the serious approach to online predators is actually a really gutsy move to make. Trust deals with some extremely raw issues, and director David Schwimmer manages to not pull his punches but not sensationalize the crimes on the screen or off it.

The key in this film is the acting, and the lead of Liana Liberato does a fantastic job as Annie. Only fourteen years old when she made this film, Liberato manages to nail the emotional fragility of a teenage girl while walking that tightrope between adulthood and childhood.

What I didn’t: When the movie hits a tipping point, the film ceases to be Annie’s movie and suddenly belongs to her parents. While Clive Owen and Catherine Keener do fine jobs in the roles, the movie becomes less interesting from the parents’ perspective. We dip into cliche a bit too much, and after seeing their huge gaps in responsible parenting in the beginning of the film, it’s hard to not blame them for the mess the family is in.

Who is gonna like this movie: Parents and teenagers may or may not, but they should see it together.

Grade: B

Want to see what Kevin had to say about the Oscars this week 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).

Read More from Kevin Carr
Get Film School Rejects in your email. All the cool kids are doing it:
Previous Article
Next Article
Reject Nation
Leave a comment
Comment Policy: No hate speech allowed. If you must argue, please debate intelligently. Comments containing selected keywords or outbound links will be put into moderation to help prevent spam. Film School Rejects reserves the right to delete comments and ban anyone who doesn't follow the rules. We also reserve the right to modify any curse words in your comments and make you look like an idiot. Thank You!