Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: December 16, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes rogue and infiltrates his local IMAX theater. First, he scales the wall of the plus-sized building and slides in undetected through the air vents. He slowly lowers himself into a theater seat to enjoy an early screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of a wild crowd of six-year-old kids for the early screening of the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. To deal with the psychological damage, Kevin then stumbles into the Sherlock Holmes sequel and later finds an extra seat in Young Adult, where he can imagine that his chubby caboose could land a hottie like Charlize Theron.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Click here to listen as Kevin gets chip-faced with Grae Drake from CNN, Movies.com and the Popcorn Mafia.

Studio: Warner Bros.

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

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong and Eddie Marsan

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

What it’s about: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson return in this sequel to the 2009 hit. Again directed by Guy Ritchie, this film sees Holmes and Watson trying to solve a mystery that involves the notorious Dr. Moriarty trying to take over a portion of the European economy.

What makes the grade: It’s not too common to find a movie that has been made in the same tone and spirit of the original film. And while Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows doesn’t quite take itself as seriously as the first film, it pretty much delivers the same kind of movie. And the lighter tone makes it a little more fun.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have fantastic chemistry, and they play around a little more with this movie. It’s thoroughly enjoyable if you like the sort of pop action delivery that Ritchie is known for. There are some fantastic action sequences, including a brisk bullet-time chase in the woods.

What fails: While all the same elements that made the first film fun are in this new movie, all of the pitfalls are as well. This includes the fact that the plot becomes needlessly convoluted at times, especially considering how simple the story really is. And, of course, fans of the original Sherlock Holmes books will still turn their noses up at the more goofy and obnoxious version in these films.

Finally, as awesome as it is to see Moriarty in this film, we don’t get the payoff as quickly as I’d like. There are a couple good tete-a-tetes with Moriarty and Holmes, but they come rather late in the game.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who thoroughly enjoyed the first film.

Grade: B+

Studio:20the Century Fox

Rated: G

Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate, Justin Long and Matthew Gray Gubler

Directed by: Mike Mitchell

What it’s about: Dave Saville takes the Chipmunks and the Chipettes on a tropical cruise for a vacation. However, bickering and mischief cause them to fly overboard on a kite, with Dave trying to catch them in a hang glider. All of them are then stranded on a desert island which they have to escape before a volcano explodes and destroys everything above water.

What makes the grade: Anyone who knows me knows that I have a certain affinity to the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Sure, they’re just kids movies, but as a parent, I enjoy watching them with the family and enjoying their reactions. This sequel includes a lot of the cuteness that worked in the first two films. Plus, the chipmunked songs on the soundtrack are pretty cute.

This movie is proudly G rated, aiming for the kiddies in the audience and offering a merciful 85-minute running time for the grown ups.

What fails: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked reeks of an excuse to have a sequel. The first act is nothing more than an unabashed advertising campaign for Carnival Cruise Lines, offering very little plot of logic. Between Chipette dance offs and Alvin trying to pick up ladies at the craps table, it’s a mess of a film.

The second act isn’t much better, featuring nonsensical plot twists and far too many Castaway jokes (which were excruciatingly old when that Super Bowl commercial aired four or five years after the movie came out). The ending of the film comes together better than the beginning, but it is too little too late.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids who still like going to G-rated movies.

Grade: C

Studio: Paramount

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence

Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Josh Holloway

Directed by: Brad Bird

What it’s about: Pixar director Brad Bird takes a stab at live-action thrills in the fourth Mission: Impossible movie. Ethan Hunt and his team are disavowed after a bombing at the Kremlin, and they must go rogue to uncover a plot to start a nuclear holocaust.

What makes the grade: Not only was Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol a surprisingly fun movie, it is easily the best action movie of 2011. Forget Fast Five and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. This movie makes more sense, has more non-stop action and features more than just fast cars and robots blowing shit up.

The story is really pretty simple, giving us a throwback to the 80s Cold War thrillers. It’s never hard to follow (unlike some of those aforementioned action films or its main competition at the box office this weekend), and the cast works well together. There’s enough humor, but it’s also riddled with amazing action moments that hit hard and fast.

This week, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is in an exclusive IMAX run, paired up with the IMAX prologue to The Dark Knight Rises. Like The Dark Knight, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol has gorgeous IMAX footage that makes it worth the extra scratch on the ticket price. If you wait until next week and see it in a standard screen, you’re missing out.

What fails: Nothing. This is a near-perfect action movie.

Who is gonna like this movie: Hopefully everyone.

Grade: A

Studio: Paramount

Rated: R for language and some sexual content

Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt and Elizabeth Reaser

Directed by: Jason Reitman

What it’s about: Charlize Theron stars as a writer of teen literature who decides to head back to her home town to try and land her high school sweetheart, who just had a daughter.

What makes the grade: I’ll admit that there are some laughable moments in this movie, though I would hardly call it a comedy (even if the studio and the filmmakers would). Patton Oswalt steals much of his scenes from Theron, playing the voice of reason to her insanities. The film isn’t terrible, but it didn’t leave much of an impact on me either way, really.

What fails: The wretchedness of Theron’s character is point of this movie, and I’m okay with wretched characters. However, there has to be something for me to connect with emotionally. Theron’s character isn’t the only awful person in the mix. This film is populated with horrible people, or at the very least stupid people who make horrible decisions.

There are several points in this film where it could have really gone dark, but it pulls its punches. And there’s no growth in the character… only acceptance of her own wretchedness. I didn’t hate Young Adult, but I couldn’t connect with it, no matter how hard I tried. It was the quintessential “meh” movie for me, and that’s worse than being a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad film.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who like to see wretched characters making awful decisions.

Grade: C

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

Rated: R for language

Starring: Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly

Directed by: Roman Polanski

What it’s about: Two married couples meet to reconcile a fight between their sons, which left one of them seriously injured. As they try to remain civil, tempers flare, and more fighting results.

What makes the grade: As a parent in the modern age, I am constantly faced with people who try to be overly civilized. There is a time for mediation and calm approaches, but the pop psychology garbage of talking everything out can be a little silly sometimes.

Carnage shows, albeit in a somewhat contrived fashion, where civility can break down when honesty comes into play. It’s also a very funny movie, presenting some hilariously real reactions among the parents in the room. Add the fact that the actors doing this little dance of crumbling civility are top-notch and deliver at every level.

What fails: This is based on a play, and like most films that are based strictly from one-room plays, the dialogue can seem rather stilted. It also tries to bite off more than it can chew trying to justify its already scant 79-minute running time. I suppose were this a 40-minute movie, it would have been absolutely brilliant.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who like dark comedy and get annoyed with the over-intellectualization of parenting.

Grade: B+

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!