Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Made of Honor - DVD Review

MADE OF HONOR (*1/2) - Starring Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Sydney Pollack, Busy Phillips, Chris Messina, Kadeem Hardison, Kathleen Quinlan and Elisabeth Hasselback.
Directed by Paul Weiland.

My first problem came in the first five seconds. No good movie has ever began with a Smashmouth song. My next problem came a minute later. When a woman is surprised in a comedy, she has to scream at the top of her lungs for a full minute while bouncing around and spraying mace in the eyes of he who startled her. What Happens in Vegas did the same thing.

The eventual premise is that Tom (Patrick Dempsey) and Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) have been best friends for ten years, but right around the time he's realizing she's the one, she gets engaged to a rugged Scot named Colin (Kevin McKidd). And so we have a role-reversal of My Best Friend's Wedding. So this movie can go one of two directions. Either Colin winds up being a cad and Tom gets Hannah, or Tom learns in the end to let Hannah go and end with a dance with his lesbian friend. And there's no lesbian friend. Or it could go the Sweet Home Alabama way, where Dempsey himself played the good-guy fiance who unbelievably just steps out of the way.

Let's just say around the 75-minute mark the deus ex machina enters, followed by one painfully contrived misunderstanding that felt like it hit the screenwriter one night when he was looking for one more complication before the inevitable ending. The third act is embarrassing for the all the actors to go through the motions of delivering mediocre summer fluff, and it just occured to me the end IS out of a Julia Roberts movie, just not My Best Friend's Wedding.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sex & the City - DVD Review

SEX & THE CITY (**1/2) - Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, Jennifer Hudson, Evan Handler, Jason Lewis, David Eigenberg, Willie Garson and Candice Bergen.
Directed by Michael Patrick King.

I imagine this is just like watching five episodes in a row of the series. And I hear it was a good series. I saw maybe one episode, but fortunately the movie is designed to appeal to those who've never seen it.

I didn't think it was bad. It's a total chick flick. I enjoyed the breeziness to it, the interaction of the characters, at least the main four. We get a five-minute narration/montage basically catching us up to where the series ended. Then the movie starts to mess some of the happily-ever-afters the series left them with.

I was confused by their careers. You never see them working. They're always shopping or traveling or eating out, but they're all rich, especially Samantha. Did she inherit it? Ehh, doesn't matter. The money's there to pay for the obscene amount of clothing changes, like it's one long fantasy of women in their 40's to play dress-up. There's tons of product placement. It's a celebration of excessive consumerism. Its real flaw to me was casting Academy-Award winning actress Jennifer Hudson, who showed that Dreamgirls was her one note. I was surprised. I could almost see it in Sarah Jessica's eyes, the effort it took to carry her co-star in their scenes.

It's long, about two hours and twenty minutes, so it's probably better on DVD, where it does feel like watching five episodes in a row.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kabluey - DVD Review

KABLUEY (***) - Starring Lisa Kudrow, Scott Prendergast, Christine Taylor, Conchata Ferrell, Teri Garr, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Parnell and Angela Sarafyan.
Written & directed by Scott Prendergast.

In the beginning, I thought this was going to be awful. Lisa Kudrow plays a struggling mother who loses her husband to another year of Iraq War duty. She turns to her last resort - her loser brother-in-law - to help watch the kids, her two little terrors. All of this was peddling along without much hope of a decent movie emerging, but it finally got there.

After one day of babysitting, the bro-in-law (Prendergast) proves to be incompetant, so Kudrow deicdes she's rather have him get a job and help her pay for daycare, and his job is to wear the big blue costume of Kabluey, the mascot for Kudrow's company, a dot-com start-up that had 95% of its staff downsized right before construction on their new facility completed.

His job is to stand on the side of a country road and hand out fliers advertising space in the building, probably the least effective marketing he could possibly do besides putting an "Ask Me About Rental Space" sign on the inside of his bedroom closet. It turned into a weird meditation of isolationism, and Pendergrast's low-key direction started to give off that Jared Hess vibe.

Kabluey has a giant head; the size of it forces it to always slump forward, so no matter where Prendergast goes, his mascot looks dejected, a big blue Charlie Brown the morning after the NASDAQ crashed. There's plenty of physical humor, as Kabluey has no hands, so Prendergast must contort to do simple tasks.

It's not one to get overhyped for. This movie snuck up on me, and I liked it for that.

Noise - DVD Review

NOISE (**) - Starring Tim Robbins, Bridget Moynahan, William Hurt, William Baldwin, Margarita Levieva and Gabrielle Brennan.
Writte & directed by Henry Bean.

This is a 30-minute idea stretched to 90 minutes. I liked the set-up, and I felt for the character. Tim Robbins is a guy being driven crazy by excess noise, especially the invasive sound of car alarms. He eventually becomes a vigilante known as the Rectifier, who vandalizes cars that have their alarms go off. He's also so angry anyway that car alarms feel like an excuse for him to go nuts.

I liked the first 15 minutes, and I liked the last 15 minutes, and the movie takes a couple walks around the park in the middle. I feel like more and more indies I've been seeing have been doing that, like they're all based on short story ideas, but they stretch it out to feature length. If they stay short, they know the only way they'll get seen is if they're nominated for Best Live-Action Short and then air on IFC or Sundance Channel. Full-length at least gives them hope of some DVD rentals.

But this movie makes a good case for the pointlessness of car alarms.

Baby Mama - DVD Review

BABY MAMA (***) - Starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Martin, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Sigourney Weaver, Romany Malco, Maura Tierney, Holland Taylor, John Hodgman, James Rebhorn and Siobhan Fallon Hogan.
Directed by Michael McCullers.

30 Rock is a hit partially because Tina Fey is so willing to share the spotlight and concede the floor to her co-stars. Her persona lends itself to being straight man to whoever wanders in. Fey's also demonstrating a good nose for material. Mean Girls was a good movie, 30 Rock won its second Emmy, and now here comes a traditional SNL buddy comedy, except the buddies are women this time around.

Fey plays a career-first woman who suddenly finds herself at age 37 and regretting her single, childless state. She looks into adoption and in-vitro fertilization, but they don't turn out to be viable options. She seeks a surrogate mother, going through a reputable agency, but she lands Amy Poehler's free spirit, who winds being a little bit psycho.

Steve Martin gets a lot of laughs as her new-age boss at an organic foods company. Greg Kinnear is adequate as the obligatory love interest. Other SNL cast members pop up in decent cameos for positive effect.

Is it formula? Absolutely. But at least it's funny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Righteous Kill - Movie Review

RIGHTEOUS KILL (**1/2) - Starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Carla Gugino, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Brian Dennehy.
Directed by Jon Avnet.

See it for the treat of watching DeNiro and Pacino act together in one movie, but it's no Heat. It's nowhere near Heat.

The two men have made some poor choices since their 1995 teaming. They've both had good projects too, but I can't help but look at DeNiro and think "15 Minutes? Hide & Seek?" or at Pacino and wonder "Two for the Money? 88 Minutes?"

I read the original script called for Pacino's character to be a couple decades younger than DeNiro's, and that makes sense. Pacino keeps joking that DeNiro's his role model, things like that. In real life, Al has a couple years on Robert.

It seems a series of criminals who have been getting off on technicalities have been getting murdered, and the killer leaves behind poems. So the cynical cops investigating don't mind the bad guys getting snuffed, but they recognize they have a serial killer out there and they need to stop him. It doesn't take long (and the preview gives this away) for them to figure out that the killer must be a cop as well.

Having seen two Avnet movies within a week of each other (the other being 88 Minutes), I noticed something exploitive about how he treats his women. 88 Minutes had a killer who likes to string his women up and cut them, so that they slowly bleed to death while he's raping them. There's only one main female character in Righteous Kill, and she's a cop who likes rough sex, insomuch that we first think she's getting brutally raped before we find out she's just roleplaying. Carla Gugino must have read the script and muttered, "The things I do to get to work with DeNiro..."

(Which reminds me of the American Express commercial of Tina Fey trying to meet with Martin Scorsese. "I may miss my chance to get kicked to death in a movie." But I digress.)

Righteous Kill was one of those movies where we get an obvious red herring, a more subtle red herring, and then who I thought the actual killer is. But it actually wound up being the subtle red herring. I thought the subtle red herring was too obvious, but with mysteries, I guess it's pretty hard these days to surprise audiences with whodunit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Burn After Reading - Movie Review

The previews we had didn't get much reaction except for Oliver Stone's W. People were groaning and I heard one woman say, "That looks awful." I'm curious because I liked JFK and Nixon, even if Stone was, shall we say, "playful" with the facts.

Other previews: Milk (awards bait for Sean Penn), The International (bland big-conspiracy movie starring Clive Owen), Doubt (looks like a powerful acting tour-de-force with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman), and The Brothers Bloom (looks like a mediocre con comedy).

BURN AFTER READING (***) - Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, David Rasche and JK Simmons.
Written & directed by Joel & Ethan Coen.

I must admit, if I ranked all the Coen brothers movies from my favorite to least, The Big Lebowski would be in the bottom half. I've only seen one movie of theirs I'd thumb down - The Ladykillers - and its main problem was the usually clever dialogue was replaced with over a hundred F-words. Some movies do funny things with this word - Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino come to mind, and HBO had Deadwood - but much more often, it's a lazy screenplay space filler. It's the 21st century's "very."

Now with The Big Lewbowski tending to be the favorite Coen movie of many Coen fans, I've wondered if I need to revisit it. Maybe a ClearPlay version, I don't know. And now Burn After Reading joins The Big Lebowski and The Ladykillers for me as Coen movies where it would have been a better movie if they'd been more creative with the dialogue than a parade of F-words. Without looking it up, as far as I know, this one had the same amount of F-words as Fargo, but it sure doesn't seem like it. Fargo was a better movie.

That aside, it has many elements of classic Coen comedy. Most of the characters are idiots, and the way things spiral out of control is hilarious. Clooney plays a Treasury department employee sleeping with a doctor (Swinton) who's married to an FBI man (Malkovich). Sensitive information about him is accidentally left on a CD at a gym, where two dim employees (Pitt, McDormand) decide to use it for extortion.

My favorite parts of the movie came from David Rasche (who will always be Sledgehammer! to me) as Malkovich's boss. He's keeping an eye on the situation, even though he can't tell what's going on, and he brings regular updates to his boss JK Simmons, who finds it all more confounding.

This isn't one of their best movies. I'd rank it around Intolerable Cruelty or The Hudsucker Proxy or The Big Lebowski, but I can think of half a dozen Coen movies I liked more.

Tobey Maguire set for Spider-Man 4 & 5

So, now that The Dark Knight has set a new standard on what a superhero movie can be, and since Spider-Man 3 is widely considered the weakest installment in the franchise, what are Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire going to do next?

I genuinely hope they make Peter Parker grow up. He can be a freelance photographer in the comic books for decades, but in the movies, he needs a more natural progression. I think the best way to get Peter to grow up is to have Mary Jane get killed in Spider-Man 4. I say that selfishly because I think Bryce Dallas Howard's Gwen would be a better romantic pairing than Kirsten Dunst's increasingly mopey MJ. They could also have him start out at the beginning of SM4 actually affected by the death of Harry.

If I were doing it, I'd write a treatment that has introduces a cousin Osbourn that gets all of Harry's stuff, and one of his business prospects is the movie industry, and a disgruntled employee there is Quentin Beck, who becomes Mysterio. He then tries to make a name for himself going after Spider-Man.

Meanwhile Dr. Connors finally does his regeneration experiement which turns him into the Lizard. Spidey thwarts the Lizard, and now he has two foes after him, but Lizard's more destructive ways get in the way of an elaborate scheme Mysterio had set up, so they hate each other too. Peter eventually finds a cure for Dr. Connors, and he's restored to normalcy while Spidey and Mysterio have a showdown. Mysterio has kidnapped MJ but winds up accidentally killing her. Spidey goes to a dark place, but Gwen and Connors are there to stop him from murdering Beck. Mysterio is exposed and jailed. Gwen can now be there to pick up the pieces with Peter. Ominous final shot shows the Lizard cure is only temporary.

Spider-Man 5 could go anywhere from there. Sandman, Lizard and Mysterio are all still alive. Hobgoblin could pop up, or Electro, or Chameleon, or any of the other supervillains. Even Kingpin, though he's already been in Daredevil. Or maybe Spidey 5 can have some sort of cross-over with the Avengers or some of the X-Men. Anything's possible in this synergous world. I'd only suggest Carnage if I thought they could do him justice, but I hear they might do a spinoff Venom movie, so Carnage would be the perfect villain for that one.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Promotion - DVD Review

THE PROMOTION (***) - Starring Seann William Scott, John C. Reilly, Fred Armisen, Jenna Fischer, Gil Bellows, Lili Taylor, Bobby Cavanale, Masi Oka and Jason Bateman.
Written & directed by Steve Conrad.

This movie spoke more to today's economy than just about any other movie out there, which made the humor sting just a little bit more than if it had been about two hotshots trying to get a CEO spot.

This is about two middle-class guys, decent, dorky, vying for a new management position at their grocery store chain. The movie permeates with their economic desperation. If they don't get this promotion, they'll be stuck. Dead-ended. Slyly, they start undercutting each other at work, while pretending to still be friends.

It has this easy Election-type vibe to it, and the laughs aren't hardy, but they earn the smiles, whether pained or frivolous. Fred Armisen (SNL) is just the kind of nerdy, lazy supervisor you wanna slap. The highlight is the cameo from Jason Bateman as a teambuilding coach, but then, he usually is the highlight.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fall TV Preview

Here is the fall schedule for the networks.

(New shows in caps; excluding those acronym shows)


ABC - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
CBS - The Amazing Race
NBC - Football Night in America
FOX - The Simpsons / King of the Hill

ABC - Desperate Housewives
CBS - Cold Case
NBC - Sunday Night Football (3 hrs)
FOX - Family Guy / American Dad

ABC - Brothers & Sisters
CBS - The Unit

My DVR Plans: Amazing Race*, Simpsons, American Dad

New Shows:
Valentine - a show about Greek gods living in L.A. Dexter's Jaime Murray plays Aphrodite, for one. The premise is enough to make me watch one episode and see how it goes.

Easy Money - It's about a quirky family who runs a payday loan business. Vice Versa's Judge Reinhold and Roseanne's Laurie Metcalf are amongst its cast members. Ehh.


ABC - Dancing with the Stars (90 mins)
CBS - The Big Bang Theory / How I Met Your Mother
NBC - Chuck
FOX - Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles
The CW - Gossip Girl

ABC - Samantha Who? (9:30)
CBS - Two and a Half Men / WORST WEEK
NBC - Heroes
FOX - Prison Break
The CW - One Tree Hill

ABC - Boston Legal
CBS - CSI: Miami

My DVR Plans: Dancing with the Stars*, Chuck, Terminator*, Heroes, Prison Break, My Own Worst Enemy

New Shows:
Worst Week - TV Guide called it the best comedy of the fall, and hailed its star Kyle Bornheimer as a promising talent (I know I've seen him on commercials). It's about a nice guy who keeps having things screw up on him.

My Own Worst Enemy - This feels like the natural follow-show after Heroes. Christian Slater plays a man with two alter-egos, neither of whom are aware of the other, and one of those is a secret agent with deadly enemies. I'm intrigued.


NBC - The Biggest Loser (2 hrs)
FOX - House
The CW - 90210

ABC - Dancing with the Stars results

ABC - Eli Stone
CBS - Without a Trace
NBC - Law & Order: SVU

My DVR Plans: The Mentalist*, Fringe

New Shows:
Opportunity Knocks - A game show where they build a studio in your front yard, and the neighbors are the audience. J.D. Roth (Endurance) hosts.

90210 - The next generation. A sibling set from Kansas moves to Beverly Hills. Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth reprise their roles, but they're now in their 30's.

The Mentalist - Simon Baker (The Guardian) plays a detective who's really good at observation, to the point that people think he's psychic. CBS has had trouble with Tuesdays for a decade, outside of JAG/NCIS. Maybe this conventional crime procedural can be an anchor.

Fringe - TV Guide called it the most promising drama of the fall. JJ Abrams (Alias, Lost) is the creator. It's about a father-son genius team (Joshua Jackson, John Noble) who are recruited to examine paranormal activity. Call it a cross between The X-Files and Alias.

Privileged - A Yale grad gets fired from her NY magazine job, so she heads to Palm Beach to be a tutor for two spoiled girls while she works off student loans. It's compared to the Gilmore Girls teaching the Gossip Girls.


ABC - Pushing Daisies
CBS - Old Christine / GARY UNMARRIED
FOX - Bones
The CW - America's Next Top Model

ABC - Private Practice
CBS - Criminal Minds
NBC - Deal or No Deal

ABC - Dirty Sexy Money
CBS - CSI: New York
NBC - Lipstick Jungle

My DVR Plans: Pushing Daisies, America's Next Top Model *, Dirty Sexy Money

New Shows:

Knight Rider - There was a TV movie a few months ago that got good ratings, so the actual show is coming. I saw the movie and found it boring enough to not see how it ended.

Gary Unmarried - Another sitcom starring an SNL alum as a newly divorced parent. So nice that it follows The New Adventures of Old Christine.

Do Not Disturb - Hijinks at a hotel. Now that Jerry O'Connell's with Rebecca Romijn, he's taken over for John Stamos as king of the quickly-cancelled sitcoms.

Stylista - More than one reviewer has called it The Devil Wears Prada: The Reality Show. It's an Apprentice-style reality show where the contestants are competing for a cush job at Elle magazine.


ABC - Ugly Betty
CBS - Survivor: Gabon
NBC - My Name Is Earl / KATH & KIM
The CW - Smallville

ABC - Grey's Anatomy
CBS - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
NBC - The Office / 30 Rock
FOX - Kitchen Nightmares
The CW - Supernatural


My DVR Plans: Survivor*, My Name Is Earl, Kath & Kim, The Office, 30 Rock, Life on Mars

New Shows:

Kath & Kim - Based on a hit Australia sitcom, it's about a boozy mom who thinks she has the house to herself until her daughter moves back in after she ends her two-month marriage. Molly Shannon and Selma Blair star.

Hole in the Wall - Another Japanese-style game show creation.

Life on Mars - Based on the BCC show about a cop who wakes up in 1973. Jason O'Mara, Harvey Kietel, Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol star. With ER's fading ratings, Without a Trace moved to a new night, and a lead-in like Grey's Anatomy, it's poised to be a hit.

Eleventh Hour - Rufus Sewell plays an expert brought in at "the elventh hour" to help solve tough crimes.


ABC - Wife Swap
CBS - Ghost Whisperer
FOX - Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
The CW - Everybody Hates Chris / The Game

ABC - Supernanny
FOX - Don't Forget the Lyrics!
The CW - Top Model encore

ABC - 20/20
CBS - Numb3rs
NBC - Life

My DVR Plans: Crusoe

New Plans:
America's Toughest Jobs - Reality show where contestants take part in some of the toughest jobs around.

The Ex-List - Elizabeth Reaser (Grey's Anatomy) plays a woman is told by a psychic she's already met the man of her dreams, so she starts looking up all the men she's ever dated to see which one was her soulmate that she let get away.

Crusoe - Robinson Crusoe: the TV show.

=SATURDAY=s are a wash.

*wife shows.

So how will the new crop do? My predictions:

ABC has only two new shows this fall, so I'm guessing Life on Mars will succeed and Opportunity Knocks will fail.

CBS has five new shows. I'm guessing Worst Week will succeed and Gary Unmarried will fail.

FOX has three new shows. I'm guessing Fringe will succeed and Do Not Disturb will fail.

NBC has five new shows. I'm guessing My Own Worst Enemy will succeed and Knight Rider will fail.

The CW has seven new shows. I'm guessing 90210 will succeed and Easy Money will fail.



28 new shows, ten made it.

ABC - Eight new shows, four are returning (Samantha Who?, Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, Private Practice). Cavemen is not.

CBS - Five new shows, one returning (The Big Bang Theory). Viva Laughlin is not.

FOX - Five new shows, one returning (Kitchen Nightmares). Nashville is not.

NBC - Four new shows, two returning (Chuck, Life). Journeyman is not.

The CW - Six news shows, two returning (Gossip Girl, Reaper(mid-season)). Online Nation is not.



ABC didn't have a single hit, but it tried with titles like Karen Sisco (with Carla Gugino) and Married to the Kellys.

CBS scored with Two and a Half Men, NCIS, Cold Case and Joan of Arcadia. It also fell on its face with The Brotherhood of Poland NH.

FOX came out with Arrested Development, a critical hit that stayed on life support for three years. Everything else flopped. Remember a show called Skin?

NBC's sole success was Las Vegas. It crashed and burned with Whoopi and The Lyon's Den (with Rob Lowe).

UPN and WB were still separate networks, but that was the year One Tree Hill debuted. So did The Mullets.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

August - DVD Review

AUGUST (**1/2) - Starring Josh Hartnett, Naomie Harris, Adam Scott, Robin Tunney, Rip Torn, David Bowie, Andre Royo and Emmanuelle Chriqui.
Written by Howard A. Rodman.
Directed by Austin Chick.

I remember August 2001 very vividly. I'd been working for a dot-com company for four months, and in those four months, the NASDAQ went from 5000 to 2000. I watched that dot-com company buy brand-new computers for every new employee, when computers only a year or two old collected dust in the basement. I remember when we were all summoned to a mandatory meeting at a hotel lobby at 3:00pm that day. How naive I was. I had a lot of stuff saved on my laptop, but at 3:05pm, it was all erased. We were divided into three rooms, and me, my boss, my boss's boss, half the company was laid off. That dot-com eventually sputtered out of existence.

This movie captures the 2001 mood. Everyone's falling apart, and while some egoists refused to see reality, their on-paper empires crumbled around them. I think the one I was at had a good model, but it was bought out by a company from India, and after that there was no clear management or direction. Each department had no idea what the other departments were doing.

This had some details of that time that rung true. But it doesn't really address what led to their company's failure, or what their company does. Sure, there's some techno-jargon tossed around, meant to dazzle those who've never been in business or technology, but for the majority of people they'll see through it. I realized halfway through the movie that trying to figure out what Landshark.com does was like trying to determine Chandler's job on Friends.

Josh Hartnett is good at playing a jerk who's spiralling out of control and losing all his money, and he's dragging down his employees with him. It's an unpleasant flashback to an uncomfortable time when people lost everything, without much insight into the how's and why's.

The highlight is David Bowie, but he doesn't show up until the last five minutes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Summer Box Office Winners

1. The Dark Knight - $502.42 million
2. Iron Man - $317.57
3. Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $315.34
4. Hancock - $226.55
5. Wall-E - $217.91
6. Kung Fu Panda - $212.96
7. Sex & the City - $152.44
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - $141.55
9. The Incredible Hulk - $134.5
10. Wanted - $134
11. Mamma Mia! - $131.51
12. Get Smart - $128.29
13. You Don't Mess with the Zohan - $99.68
14. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - $97.83
15. Step Brothers - $97.82
16. Journey to the Center of the Earth - $94.58
17. Tropic Thunder - $83.83
18. What Happens in Vegas - $80.25
19. Pineapple Express - $79.77
20. Hellboy II - $75.39

The Dark Knight will not beat Titanic, but it will take a comfortable second on the All-Time domestic gross list. Three of the top ten are comic-book movies. Five of the top twenty are sequels. Tropic Thunder is sure to pass $100 million and climb a few spots. The Mummy 3 will squeak across $100 million too. I'll revisit it in a month when the numbers have settled.

Modest Break-Eveners: The Happening ($64), Made of Honor ($46)

Low-Budget Success: The Strangers ($52), Sisterhood of Traveling Pants 2 ($41), The House Bunny ($27)

Flat-Out Bombs : Speed Racer ($44), The Love Guru ($32), Star Wars: The Clone Wars ($29), Space Chimps ($28), The X-Files 2 ($20), Swing Vote ($15), Meet Dave ($11), The Rocker ($6), Babylon A.D. ($70 million budget; it'll probably end up getting around $25 million back)

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - DVD Review

MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY (**1/2) - Starring Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Lee Pace, Ciaran Hinds, Shirley Henderson and Mark Strong.
Directed by Bharat Nalluri.

I was looking through things and saw this title, and for a second I'd forgotten I'd just seen a couple days before. It's so light and fluffy and inconsequential, it disappears from the memory like water drops on a hot sidewalk. Most of the cast acts like they're in a farce, so much that I decided it would have been more entertaining to see as a play. This is ideal dinner theater.

Frances McDormand is a 1930's governess, fired from her agency, who snags a client in a spoiled socialite juggling rich men, trying to advance her career as an actress. It almost got made into a movie in the 1940's for Billie Burke (Glenda from 1939's The Wizard of Oz). I can see that.

I liked seeing Ciaran Hinds in a romantic role. I liked seeing McDormand and Adams act off each other. It's deeply, distractingly predictable, and sometimes the high-energy playing-to-the-balcony style got on my nerves, especially when so much time is spent in the apartment. So it was okay. But it would work better as a play.