Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card for 10.02.09



Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: R for horror violence/gore and language.

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

What it’s about: After the zombie apocalypse, only a few people are left to walk the earth. A young man known as Columbus (because he’s trying to get to Columbus, Ohio) teams up with an expert zombie killer named Tallahassee and two grifter sisters to try and find a piece left of humanity… in the form of a Twinkie.

What I liked: While I’ve never been a huge fan of straight-up zombie movies, I have enjoyed this rash of zom coms that have come down the pike, including Shaun of the Dead and Fido. Zombieland does exactly what it needs to… it infuses a healthy dose of fun and silliness with an otherwise distasteful subject matter.

Jesse Eisenberg’s wit and dry delivery gives us a good main character, and it’s a hoot to hear his random list of rules to survive zombie attacks. Woody Harrelson also rocks as the born zombie killer, and there’s an awesome cameo that pretty much makes the movie.

It’s a short run – only 80 minutes or so – and there’s plenty of violence and blood to keep the gorehound happy. Zombieland is just a mess of violent, hilarious fun.

What I didn’t: The film slows down in the middle, but that’s no surprise. There’s only so much of killing zombies that can be filmed at one time. And when the film tries to give some deeper meaning to the characters, it loses its luster. But that only lasts for a little bit.

But I have to ask… with all the R-rated gore, why couldn’t we have a nice nude scene to go with it?

Who is gonna like this movie: Zom com fans.

Grade: B+


Studio: Fox Searchlight

Rated: PG-13 for sexual content including crude dialogue, language and drug material.

Starring: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore and Juliette Lewis

Directed by: Drew Barrymore

What it’s about: Bliss (Ellen Page) is a seventeen year old girl living under the control of her conservative Texas mother. As part of her rebellion, Bliss abandons her stuffy beauty pageants to get involved with a roller derby team. After a rough start, Bliss soon discovers she not only loves the sport but is a key player on the team.

What I liked: I was dreading this movie after seeing the trailer a couple times. However, I found myself warming up to it when I saw the screening. Ellen Page gives us a different character than the wise-cracking Juno, and Marcia Gay Harden is fantastic as her overbearing mother.

This is a basic coming-of-age story that’s loaded with cliches and story elements we’ve seen many times before. However, it’s done well, so kudos to Drew Barrymore as a first-time director. Framing all of these familiar plot devices in a ring with tough chicks wearing miniskirts and fishnets made things totally okay in my book.

Also, a big shout-out to the Ohio Roller Girls, who attended the screening in Columbus. I always welcome that sort of thing.

What I didn’t: While the movie is fun and many of the cliches are forgivable, there are some that lay it on a bit thick, including the young love storyline with Bliss’s cheeky boyfriend.

And while I liked Barrymore’s directing, she really should have stayed behind the camera. Giving herself a small role as one of the roller derby teammates was too much of a temptation to be focused in the spotlight.

I know it seems weird that I’m giving a decent grade to a girl power movie, but at least I’m not gushing over Twilight.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who like coming-of-age movies and roller derby fans.

Grade: B


Studio: Overture Films

Rated: R for some language.

Starring: Michael Moore

Directed by: Michael Moore

What it’s about: Michael Moore renounces capitalism, blames our country’s economic woes on the entire Republican party (and two or three Democrats), finds priests who label capitalism as evil, demands that we become a socialist nation and does a couple lame stunts to prove he’s serious.

What I liked: If you can’t already tell, I’m not a big Michael Moore fan. I think he’s a hypocrite and a whiney little bitch who hides behind the documentary label only when it’s convenient for him. He’s one of the biggest freaking capitalists on the planet, and he’s up to his same old tricks with this film.

With that said, I will give him credit that he skewers some folks on the Democrat side of the aisle along with plenty of Republicans. He does point out some serious issues facing Americans today, though I wasn’t always sure why these were capitalist ideals that caused the problems.

This movie is not without its funny moments, but they are only fleeting. And the funniest parts of the movie – like the fake Cleveland tourism video – aren’t even his doing. He just passively takes credit for them.

What I didn’t: All politics aside, this movie was all over the map. It lacked the focus that earlier films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko had. We see all the same things retreaded, like people being evicted, Moore trying to ambush CEOs with an interview and his prattling on and on about his “home town of Flint, Michigan.”

Moore has really jumped the shark, making millions of dollars while investing in a Who’s Who list of corporate greed while trying to continue to paint himself as the little man. His nasally sing-song narration is almost as irritating as Megan Fox dialogue, and his ego is so huge in this film that the stunts he pulls near the end of the film are treated like it was something significant.

Regardless of my economic loyalties, I was bored in this movie. The guy rarely stayed on topic, and the film overstays its welcome by about 20 minutes. There was little creativity we saw in Roger & Me. Instead, it’s just the same shit, different movie.

Who is gonna like this movie: Die-hard fans of Michael Moore and socialists.

Grade: D

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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