Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: April 9, 2010



Studio: 20th Century Fox

Rated: PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference

Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mila Kunis, James Franco and Mark Wahlberg

Directed by: Shawn Levy

What it’s about: Steve Carell and Tina Fey play the Fosters, a married couple whose relationship has stagnated. They decide to spice things up by hiring a babysitter for the kids and heading out to Manhattan for a night on the town. After stealing a reservation, they are mistaken for two criminals, which throws the Fosters into a night of underground criminals, covert ops and crooked cops.

What I liked: On the whole, Date Night plays out exactly like you’d expect, a spotlight for NBC’s Thursday night television stars. Both Steve Carell and Tina Fey are very funny in this picture, and their interaction with the rest of the cast works great. There are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, even for the most cynical movie watcher.

When it comes down to the basics, this film lives and dies by its cast, and fortunately it has a good one. Plus, anyone out there with a thing for Tina Fey gets to see her in some more revealing outfits than you’re used to seeing on 30 Rock.

In addition to Carell and Fey, the supporting cast of Date Night is pretty excellent. There’s Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Ray Liotta and William Fichtner. But it’s James Franco and Mila Kunis who steal the show in their short but achingly funny scene.

Ultimately, it’s far from a perfect movie, but Date Night is a safe bet for a date night.

What I didn’t: For as good as Carell and Fey are with the rest of the cast and in their solo moments, they have close to zero chemistry with one another. I attribute this to each of them being too used to headlining their own TV show with all other actors focused on them. It’s not a ego issue as much as it is neither being used to the normal give-and-take of another alpha actor in the mix.

Finally, it seem that most movies include a scene that goes on far too long or is totally unnecessary. Date Night is no exception. As much as I enjoyed watching Tina Fey in a stripper outfit, that particular moment (and you’ll know it when you see it) overstayed its welcome big time.

Who is gonna like this movie: Couples on date night.

Grade: B


Studio: Apparition

Rated: PGR for language, drug use and sexual content — all involving teens

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat and Scout Taylor-Compton

Directed by: Floria Sigismondi

What it’s about: Kristen Stewart plays Joan Jett, the 70s rocker who launched the teen all-girl band The Runaways. With a story more focused on lead singer Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), we see the band in their early days and climb to fame under the tutelage of crazy record producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). It’s sex, drugs and rock and roll in the heyday of the 70s music scene.

What I liked: The thing that really carries this film is the performances. Kristen Stewart is passable as Joan Jett. At least she doesn’t grunt and spasm her way through this role like she does for Bella Swan in the Twilight movies. But the real star is Dakota Fanning in a much more grown-up role, which she nails. Channeling both the image of Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, Fanning plays young sexpot Cherie Currie in such a way that watching the Volturi scenes from the upcoming Eclipse will be exceedingly awkward.

Bu the real scene stealer in this movie is Michael Shannon whose Kim Fowley is incredible. He captures the manic rebel nature of the 70s rock scene with such passion that I dare anyone to not want to join him for the party. He is the reason this movie might be remembered.

What I didn’t: Although I’ve heard plenty of Joan Jett’s music over the years, I’m not what you’d call a fan, and that’s who this film is made for. Once you strip away the sex, drugs and rock and roll, you have a very basic musician biopic that really doesn’t cover any new territory.

So fans of the band or the musicians in the band should be fascinated by this. Everyone else will probably see this as the standard genre pic that it is.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who want to relive the heyday of the 70s rock scene.

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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