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

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr feels the weight of the fall movie season. It’s September, and while the kids are heading back to school, he’s playing hooky with Sarah Jessica Parker chick flicks and yet another not-quite-70s-video-nasty remake.

Kevin is consoled by the release of Drive, however, because Albert Brooks as a crime boss makes him chuckle. And his love for 3D and Disney meet head-on in a collision of awesomeness.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as FSR associate editor Rob Hunter joins him in the Magical Studio in the Sky to chat about the new movies of the week. Hint… Rob didn’t see most of the movies, either.

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Studio: Film District

Rated: R for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston

Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn

What it’s about: Ryan Gosling stars as a professional driver who rents himself out to criminals as the man behind the wheel of a getaway car. When he falls for his pretty next door neighbor, her husband comes home from prison, inviting a dangerous element into their lives. Soon, he must step up to protect them.

What I liked: I have never been a fan of Ryan Gosling. In almost every movie I’ve seen him in – from The Notebook to Blue Valentine – I’ve been annoyed with his too-cool, arrogant shtick. But damn if I didn’t think he was fantastic in this movie. He plays an soft-spoken, very understated character, which is a diversion from what he normally plays.

And it’s not just Gosling who is awesome in this film. Carey Mulligan plays the adorable Michelle Williams lookalike perfectly. Bryan Cranston has another fine turn in a supporting role. But it’s Albert Brooks as the former Hollywood producer crime boss that just made me smile.

The pacing of the film is the most impressive thing, actually. It’s expertly cut together in a very self-aware way. Like the pacing of a drive through city traffic, Drive starts and stops, then takes unexpected turns. It moves slowly and deliberately, then rockets ahead like an action movie. All of this is set against a sharp soundtrack that is just retro enough to be cool but not so retro that it feels like a tribute to any decade.

What I didn’t: Not a whole lot. This is one of the great films of 2011. Check this one out as soon as you can.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who want a smart, more dramatic version of The Transporter.

Grade: A

Studio: Disney

Rated: G

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Niketa Calame, Jim Cummings, James Earl Jones and Nathan Lane

Directed by: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff

What it’s about: Disney has converted the 1994 animated classic The Lion into a 3D presentation. The story remains the same, about a young lion cub whose evil uncle takes over the pride, leaving him to fend for himself in the jungle before he grows up to reclaim his throne.

What I liked: It’s The Lion King. That should be enough about this movie to convince people it’s good. It was one of the highest grossing cell-animated films of its time, and it spawned many a merchandising effort and several direct-to-DVD sequels that actually weren’t half bad.

The story is classic, serving as an homage to Hamlet but giving its own story. The characters of Timon and Pumbaa were brilliant comic relief and were responsible for one of the catchiest (and as a parent, eventually one of the most annoying) songs since “It’s a Small World, After All.”

Then there’s the 3D. Some may say it’s unnecessary, and it is. But if you haven’t seen the film on the big screen, now’s your chance. The modern 3D conversion has gotten pretty good, though it’s still a hefty price tag to bring your kids to see this when the Blu-ray will be hitting stores in just a couple weeks.

What I didn’t: While a classic, The Lion King was not the best of the 90s Disney films. It didn’t quite hit the level of Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin. Matthew Broderick was only so-so as the adult Simba, and he looked darn awkward as an adolescent.

The only other caution would be if you have young children that are used to watching this movie on VHS in a rumpus room… it gets intense, and the 3D plus Dolby sound might scare the crap out of the younger and more noise-prone kids.

Who is gonna like this movie: Pretty much everyone.

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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