My wife and I went to the Carmike-12 theater near us, as I have four passes I need to use before the end of the year. I was shocked our chosen title was not there, so we raced to the nearby, just-opened Cinemark-14, which had our chosen title on three screens. This was around 6:00, so I got tickets for the 7:30, and then we went out to eat.
It's not reserved so I wanted to make sure we were back by 7:10 to be in line for when seating started. Now this is when I learned that of the 14 screens, 7 of them only seat 112. That ain't big. Had I known that, I might have gone for a different showtime, to see it in one of the 207 or 293 seaters. So they'd already let people into our theater, and we wound up on the third row. Fifth row center is my favorite, but it was fine.
FIRED UP - This formula comedy could have easily been made in 1984 starring Andrew McCarthy and Rob Morrow. Two buddies decide to got o cheerleading school to be amongst all the hot chicks. The two guys are Nicolas D'Agastino and Eric Christian Olsen. Not sure who D'Agastino is but Olsen played young Harry in Dumb & Dumberer. I think they're supposed to be college-age but Olsen looks like he's 30. Sexual hijinks ensue. Looks awful. Opens March 20.
BRIDE WARS - Best friends Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway have dreamed of their perfect wedding since they were little girls, at the Plaza. Then due to a scheduling mishap by Candice Bergen, they get booked on the same day. Each tries to sabotage the other's wedding so they can be the one who has it at the Plaza. Both actresses are doing the formula paycheck thing so they can keep doing their indie projects I'm sure. One scene has Hathaway in full bridal gear bursting on Hudson walking down the aisel with her father, and Hathaway tackles her. No thanks. Opens January 9.
CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC - Isla Fisher, who stole the show in Wedding Crashers, gets the starring role as a shopaholic who must now figure out how to be thrifty once all her cards are maxed out and she finds herself in mountains of debt. In these tought economic times, I don;t really feel like seeing a spoiled rich girl charm her way into getting all her debt paid off. Opens February 13.
DANCE FLICK - This parody movie from the Wayans actually made me laugh out loud a couple times. It's a send-up of Save the Last Dance, Step Up, How She Move, and their matriarch Flashdance, and unlike those Epic Movie yahoos, the Wayans have a plot in mind and clever twists on what they're satirizing. I look forward to renting it. Opens February 6.
PUSH - Heroes: The Movie. Chris Evans can move objects with his mind. Dakota Fanning can see the future. Djimon Hounsou is the big baddie who wants to exploit their abilities. It looks like junky, guilty-pleasure fun, with the potential to be terrible. Opens February 6.
VALKYRIE - Finally we get a genuinely promising movie. I've seen the preview a few times, and I'm already sold on seeing Tom Cruise, Ken Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, et al, plotting to kill Hitler for director Bryan Singer. This is Branagh's third time playing a Nazi that I can think of, but the first time he's one of the good ones. Opens December 26.
And then we got to our feature presentation.
TWILIGHT (***) - Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elisabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Taylor Lautner, Cam Gigandot and Sarah Chalke.
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke.
My advanced knowledge: I read the first 140 pages of the book, so I had an idea how the first act would go.
Twilight is The Notebook of 2008, a shamelessly schmaltzy romance that is nevertheless entertaining on its own merits. It success hinges on its leads, and I wouldn't say Kristen Stewart (Bella) and Robert Pattinson (Edward) equal Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, but each inhabits their character with just the right amount of quirk and conviction.
17-year-old Bella has moved to Forks, Washington, the most overcast town in the continental US. Her dad is Chief o' Police of this little town, and she has moved here to free up her mother to travel with her new husband. It's a rare movie that shows the teen daughter genuinely getting along with her divorced parents and her new stepdad. Bella suffers new-girl-in-school syndrome, but she makes friends easy enough, except for one exception, the pale Edward Cullen, who acts like he despises her.
After a few days, Edward reintroduces himself, and they start to get along, but when Edward miraculously saves her from getting hit by a van, Bella's mind starts to swim. Who is this guy really?
Those expecting the sex and/or violence associated with recent vampire flicks will be disappointed. Most deaths appear off-screen or cut away right before the killer vampires strike, some of it due to budget and some to keep it in PG-13 bounds so as not to alienate its core audience. It's mainly a relationship melodrama, with two people getting to know each other, where one of them happens to be a vampire.
I look forward to seeing what the bigger-budgeted sequel will do, mostly because my wife enjoyed it so much. Guys, bring a date. Don't be the guy who sees Twilight by himself.