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Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card for 11.25.09

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OLD DOGS

Studio: Disney

Rated: PG for some mild rude humor.

Starring: John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Seth Green and Ella Bleu Travolta

Directed by: Walt Becker

What it’s about: Robin Williams plays a sports marketing businessman who learns that he has seven-year-old twins. When their mother needs to go to jail for two weeks, she begs him to take care of them and learn to be a father. He takes on the challenge, but it proves to be a wild time along with his business partner, played by John Travolta.

What I liked: There are times when the slapstick actually works in this film. It’s not often, but it happens. The best part of the film is Seth Green as the marketing protege who never quite makes the grade. Sadly, the funniest scene in the film is when the characters sneak into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo, which we’ve all seen in the trailers. Too bad this happens at the climax, or it would have made a great surprise.

What I didn’t: I like Walt Becker’s first film, Wild Hogs. Sure, it was stupid and inane, but the cast really made it work. With Old Dogs, he tries to make this happen again, but Williams and Travolta have terrible chemistry, and they aren’t supported with the stellar cast that made Wild Hogs work.

The story is needlessly random, including a wildly bizarre scene with Bernie Mac that should have been left on the cutting room floor but wasn’t because it was probably the last thing Mac shot. We’re left with a series of scenes that never really fit together, making the whole experience more like a crappy Eddie Murphy movie.

Sigh… I weep for Robin Williams’ comedy career.

Who is gonna like this movie: Families that want to laugh, no matter what garbage they’re watching.

Grade: D

NINJA ASSASSIN

Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: R for strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language.

Starring: Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Rick Yune and Sho Kosugi

Directed by: James McTeigue

What it’s about: A ninja who has been trained since childhood rejects his clan and escapes, and he is relentlessly hunted for years. When a pretty Europol agent starts uncovering the mystery of this secret ninja society, the ninjas also come after her. Fortunately, our rogue ninja is looking out for her as well. All this culminates to a wicked-cool multi-ninja battle royale.

What I liked: Before I explain what I enjoyed about this movie, you have to understand that the previous three films I saw before this were Precious, New Moon and Old Dogs. Add to the fact that we’re entering into award season which is filled a little too much with “significant” movies. So when I sat down to enjoy Ninja Assassin, I needed a diversion.

And did I ever get one. Who gives a crap about the story. This movie is about one thing and one thing only: ninjas killing ninjas. It’s a bloodbath and super violent. Like the chick from Jerry Maguire, this movie had me at the first decapitation.

Yes, it is heavily stylized, and if you’re familiar with James McTeigue’s other action flick, V for Vendetta, you’ll see a lot of that same style here. But it’s a kick-ass fun action flick and a great escape from weepy, heavy films like Precious.

What I didn’t: I will agree with our illustrious executive editor Neil Miller… this movie does overdo it on the whole CGI blood. I can see where this was necessary for the sheer amount of effect, many of which take place in the virtual world. And I do forgive it to a degree because it’s an homage to the 70s martial arts exploitation flicks that featured real blood of a shade that has never bled out of any living thing on the planet. Still… I don’t like the trend of CGI blood I am seeing.

Also, the acting’s crap and the story is pretty cliched… but who’s watching this movie for story, acting or characters?

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of kick-ass martial arts B-movie fast food.

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).

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