Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card for 07.10.09

FSR's Weekly Report Card


Studio: Universal

Rated: R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen

Directed by: Larry Charles

What it’s about: Sacha Baron Cohen returns to ambush mockumentaries with the Borat-esque feature film about a flamboyant Austrian fashionista who comes to America to become famous by interviewing celebrities and trying to suppress his gay nature.

What I liked: I have a warm spot for movies that go out of their way to offend people. Where Borat was like a crocodile in a river sneaking up on a water buffalo, Brüno comes with lots of fanfare and news stories surrounding it. Miraculously, Cohen and Charles are able to repeat their style of filmmaking by sneaking Brüno into the most unlikely of places.

To say that Brüno is offensive is like saying there’s a few explosions in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Brüno revels in being offensive, going even farther than Borat ever did to enrage its participants. From ambush-style interviews with Paula Abdul and Harrison Ford to an attempt to make a sex tape with Ron Paul, Bruno pushes the limits of good taste and the MPAA.

I personally watched more than two dozen people walk out of the screening, and that warmed my heart. It meant the movie was doing what it intended to do.

What I didn’t: Because Borat caused such a stir when it was released – and afterwards with a flurry of lawsuits – I didn’t think it would be possible for Cohen to dupe anyone else with his antics. I’m glad he was able to, but we are left with a film that has a few more contrived moments, and I found myself guessing which persons on screen were in on the joke.

You’ll never achieve the freshness of Borat because that film flew in under the radar. I had to keep reminding myself of this when I found the movie slowing down.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who pride themselves on the fact that they don’t get offended.

Grade: A-


Studio: Fox Atomic

Rated: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, some teen drinking and drug references, and brief violence.

Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Lauren London and Andrea Savage

Directed by: Chris Columbus

What it’s about: Denis (Paul Rust) is a high school valedictorian who professes his love to Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere), the prettiest and most popular girl in school, in his graduation speech. He also tells off several members of his class and pisses off Beth’s psycho, rage-filled boyfriend. She then shows up at his graduation party and takes him along for the ride for a night of shenanigans he will never forget.

What I liked: I’ve seen a lot of this movie many times before, in films like Superbad and Dazed and Confused. The last day of high school can be a meaningful time for kids, and the PG-13 crowd that can’t get into Brüno will have to let this film be their entertainment this weekend.

Oh, and to answer a debate that has been raging on FSR… Yes, Hayden Panettiere does drop her towel. No, this isn’t a real nude scene. But yes, you do get a glimpse of side-boob.

What I didn’t: Because of its PG-13 rating, I Love You, Beth Cooper really feels flat. Where Superbad and Dazed and Confused dug deep into the real shenanigans that go on during the last high school hurrah, I Love You, Beth Cooper turns into something along the lines of Drillbit Taylor.

Hayden Panettiere is given a chance to headline a movie, but she’s woefully miscast. She’s a cute girl, but she looks 15, which makes anyone over 25 feel a little creepy about looking at her (although she does have a Kardashian-worthy keister). It’s not that she does a poor acting job, but rather her role should have gone to a more sultry actress.

Finally, the characters are irritating in the movie. The geeks are too geeky and never “seal the deal” with any sort of decency. And when we finally get a look at Beth Cooper’s supposedly sympathetic personality, it turns out she’s just a vapid, shallow princess who always needs to be the center of attention, which wasn’t the purpose of the movie.

Who is gonna like this movie: Geeks that fantasize about landing someone like Hayden Panettiere, and anyone who wants to see her side-boob.

Grade: C-


Studio: Sony Pictures Classic

Rated: R for language.

Starring: Sam Rockwell and Sam Rockwell… with the voice of Kevin Spacey

Directed by: Duncan Jones

What it’s about: Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is the lone inhabitant of an industrial facility on the moon, where he mines energy-rich minerals for return to Earth. One day, he discovers a body in a wrecked vehicle that appears to be a duplicate of himself. This leads him into a paranoid hunt to discover a dark secret behind his lonely existence.

What I liked: I’ve seen a lot of science fiction, and I love a good piece of speculative fiction to balance out the summer blockbusters. Moon delivers strongly in the speculative fiction department. It gives us a story that uses fantastic elements to explore the human condition in a way no other story could.

While Sam Rockwell is the only actor you see for the majority of the film, he doesn’t get old. The guy has the acting chops to not only act against himself, but to keep his own delivery interesting even if he’s the only one on screen.

What I didn’t: I’ll admit that Moon runs a bit long, story-wise, even though the run time is less than 100 minutes. A lot of buzz has also been made about the practical effects for the moon base, which some have declared to be amateurish. I disagree, however, and find them very fitting, especially for the retro feel this film has.

Finally, the real distraction in this film was the computer’s emoticons, which make him seem more like Edgar from Electric Dreams than HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Who is gonna like this movie: Sci-fi geeks who enjoy spending time watching art-house type films.

Grade: A-

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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