Along with pronouncing our favorite films, it’s that time of the year when most critics seek revenge for having to sit through films that test the theory “no one makes a bad movie on purpose.” Going through the list of over 200 pictures I saw this year, I found that most received only two out of four stars. Most of my colleagues in criticism seem to agree with that assessment. While no one would admit to liking mediocrity, still it seems to dominate the motion picture art form.
That said, it’s difficult for me to say something negative about the work of others (a unique temperament for a movie reporter). So, even though I’m going to go all Addison DeWitt (the acerbic critic from All About Eve) in this article, I want to stress that those involved in these monstrosities, I mean films, are talented and I mean nothing disrespectful toward them or their abilities. It’s the concepts of these movies and their final cuts with which I take exception. So beware; in the words of Bette Davis, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Oh, and click on the links to read my full reviews.
27 DRESSES. This wasn’t a movie, it was a lab experiment. It’s as if Dr. Frankenstein spliced together parts of unsold sitcoms, then jolted his monster to life with bolts of crudity and crassness. By film’s end, I wanted to lead the angry mob up the hill to torch the castle. PG-13
THE LOVE GURU. Mike Myers is a funny man. But he also admits to digging up a laugh wherever it can be mined. With his latest film, Mr. Myers is not content with potty humor; he spends much of his time in the sewer. R
OVER HER DEAD BODY was a comedy about a dead woman who haunts her man’s new girlfriend. It was an attempt to make a movie star out of a TV star (Eva Longoria Parker). Ms. Longoria Parker attempts to rise to the big leagues by playing an obnoxious ghost (the most unlikable screen character of recent memory). It’s quickly apparent that whatever helped her on Desperate Housewives is missing on the big screen. She actually sucked the energy out of her scenes. PG-13
RELIGULOUS follows political humorist Bill Maher (Politically Incorrect) as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God. “Religion must die so mankind can live.” So says Mr. Maher at the end of his docu-diatribe In his polluted assessment of religion, Bill Maher managed to avoid discussions with theologians or folks versed in public speaking. Not once does he give an example of religious people adding a positive to the culture or our world. Never does he see the life-changing transformation of knowing Christ, only the corruption by those who use religion for their own ends. What’s more, one gets the impression that Mr. Maher would have people of faith boiled with their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through the heart. Bah, humbug. R
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is making most critics’ best lists. Well, I’ve been wrong many times in my life. Now it’s their turn…It just doesn’t seem that long ago that I viewed another wedding movie steeped in family conflict – Margot At the Wedding. What an uplifting little charmer that was (he said with an air of sarcasm). While I am desperate for an insightful drama from the land that giveth an abundance of superhero action adventures, both Margot and Rachel disappoint because they revel in their melancholy spirit. They do, however, serve a purpose. Both of these movies remind the filmgoer that unless your patriarch is Dracula and Jeffrey Dahmer is your cousin, your own family ain’t all that bad. R
THE INCREDIBLE HULK. The Hulk was a dud, with its brooding lead character nearly as grumpy as Reverend Wright. This sequel is not much better. He’s The Fugitive on steroids, a moping brute from Marvel Mountain, unhappy about his destiny. (Funny, I seem to be the only superhero happy about having super powers.) He’s not fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. He’s just fighting to keep adolescents from thinking about the plot. PG-13
THE DARK KNIGHT. Writer/director Christopher Nolan breathed new life into a stale franchise with his Batman Begins back in 2005. Alas, my main complaint with his follow-up is a familiar one, having to do with the film’s violence. (Not sure how they managed a PG-13 with its overwhelming amounts of intense, brutal, and sadistic savagery.) As I’ve said several times, it just seems to take more and more desensitizing screen tumult to make audiences feel something. What’s that say about us? PG-13
LEATHERHEADS. George Clooney and Renée Zellweger star in this romantic comedy set against the backdrop of America’s nascent pro-football league in 1925. With more than a wink and a nod to His Girl Friday, handsome Clooney and hubba-hubba Zellweger banter with zesty repartee seldom seen in today’s movies. With its brassy score, golden hue look, and award-worthy art and set decoration, plus a witty script that incorporates the right touches of zaniness, whimsy and heart, the production is one of the best of the year…Now for that ointment-covered fly. Mr. Clooney profanes God’s name in nearly every film he stars. He does it here, as well. And to prove that women are just as emancipated as men, Ms. Zellweger also uses the profane term. PG-13
In the grand scheme of things, profanity falls short as one of the great no-nos. Right? Wrong! Showing reverence toward the Almighty, which includes not taking His name in vain, is right at the top of the list of Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20. This ruling comes before coveting, adultery and, yes, killing. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:4 NIV). Will somebody please tell George Clooney that?