The makers of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie have insisted that they've trimmed all the ludicrous, overcomplicated fat of the second and, mostly, third movies, put the focus back on humor and the fun of swashbuckling and sought out to make an easily digestible family film. And while it's true that this movie is extremely straightforward and definitely easy to digest, it's also one of the most lifeless and least memorable "action" movies I've ever seen.
Fans of the films of Pedro Almodovar need no encouragement or discouragement to go see this movie. Nor do fans of Penelope Cruz, unless you're the kind who only likes her in Sahara and maybe Bandidas and that's it. We certainly can't blame you for liking those films (well, maybe a little bit), but you owe it to yourselves to watch Cruz in all of her films, including her four films by Almodovar. This latest finds Cruz in fine form as the secretary who becomes her boss's mistress who wants to be an actress and falls in love with her director, but it's a twisty, weaving path. The film is not linear, flashing back between the present day -- where the director, now blind, makes a living writing screenplays with his assistant and her son -- and the past, where Cruz meets him, and they have a torrid affair that is suspected by her jealous lover. And it is soap-tastic.
Have you ever bit into a Jelly Belly jellybean, expecting it to be something tasty, like Toasted Marshmallow, but instead it's something nasty, like Buttered Popcorn? I totally got ready for marshmallows when I saw a news story that announced that there was a trailer out for the movie G-Force. I was like, "Awesome! Finally, a full trailer for the sure-to-be-excellent computer-animated movie about a team of five crime fighters in bird suits, based on the Japanese cartoon of the same name that I grew up watching!" Then I clicked the link, and the taste of Buttered Popcorn jellybeans filled my mouth. G-Force the movie is something totally, totally different, and totally, totally nauseating.
As I walked out of a screening for Woody Allen's new film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, a friend cracked that Allen only gives us a decent film every 10 years, and implied that VCB had successfully staked its claim as the decade's quota. Me, I'm not so sure. Certainly Allen's prior two films, Match Point and Scoop, weren't anything to write home about. But it's tough to say if VCB is the triumph we've all been waiting for.
More casting has been announced for Rob Marshall's planned big screen adaptation of the Tony-winning musical Nine. According to today's Hollywood Reporter, Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman are reportedly climbing aboard the train. (Dench and Kidman? Three guesses what company is producing the movie and the first two don't count. Hint: The company's namesake rhymes with whinesign. Already cast are Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren and Marion Cotillard, though no word if Cotillard actually will bother to do her own singing this time. Now, I've admittedly never seen a stage production of Nine, based on Fellini's great film 8 1/2 in case you were unaware, but while Maury Yeston's score is fine, this is not a show that screams commercial appeal. Hell, would a re-release of 8 1/2 itself even be profitable? Nine isn't a crowd pleaser such as Chicago and even one that would seem tailor made to be one can land with a thud when it's transferred as poorly as The Producers was. I love movie musicals, but I fear if Hollywood goes crazy making films of ones that seem doomed to fail, they may disappear yet again.
Pineapple Express underachieved on its opening weekend, causing the Watchmen-addicted Zach to incorrectly predict it would unseat The Dark Knight. I challenged him, stating that Tropic Thunder would be Batman's nemesis. He said I was crazy, and I was -- like a fox! Let's look at this logically: On one hand, you have a stoner movie. They're having a resurgence thanks to Judd Apatow and company. On the other hand, you have a movie that, in the name of satire, makes fun of Blacks, Asians, and the mentally challenged. It also has a Scientologist using more Jewish stereotypes in his performance than a Mel Brooks movie on crack. And let's not forget the gory war violence and farts! How could anybody predict that Middle America would resist this movie?! You don't need to be Miss Cleo to get this one. While I wrestle Zach for the one measly dollar I've won, which he refuses to pony up, here are this weekend's box office numbers.