Monday, March 18, 2013

Wknd Box Office: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Call, Stoker

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to chosing good movies to watch yourself!

Wknd Box Office: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Call, Stoker

By Debbie Schlussel

I only really hated one new movie this weekend, but the other two were just okay.

* “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone“: As a kid, my late dad bought me magic tricks, and I used to perform at family gatherings. So, I love magic, magicians, and movies about either or both. And I really wanted–and expected–to love this movie. But I expected too much. After all, I thought a comedy about magicians starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey would be extremely funny–laugh-out-loud funny. But it wasn’t. Not even close. Yes, I laughed a few times, some of it forced laughter. But mostly I sat in silence. Most of the jokes were either lame, not funny, or entirely groan-worthy. I guess that’s why it’s coming out in March and not in May when the real movie season begins. I liked the story, which was entertaining enough, but it was not anything new. If anything, the best thing about the movie was Alan Arkin, who is always terrific in my book.

Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi were nerdy kids who were bullied mercilessly by the kids at school. But they see a videotape of Arkin who is the great magician Rance Holloway, who teaches them how to do amazing magic tricks. Flash forward to modern day, Carell and Buscemi are a popular magic act in Vegas, and they are invited to perform at James Gandolfini’s casino. But, with frosted ’80s big hair and cheesy rhinestone-encrusted costumes, their act becomes dated and predictable and they grow to hate each other. Soon, Buscemi is out of the act, and no one is going to egomaniacal Carell’s solo magic shows. Now, a “street magician” (Jim Carrey) who hosts a reality show, “Brain Rapist,” is the all-the-rage magician. Carell tries to make a comeback and trains with the aging Rance Holloway, who is now in a nursing home.

By the way, if you take your kids to see this, keep in mind that Jim Carey–who isn’t in the movie much–drills into his own head. Not magic. Not magical. Not funny.

As I said, the story is entertaining enough. But I wish it were funnier. If it were, it would get at least TWO REAGANS. But since it isn’t, it only gets . . .


* “The Call: This could have been a great thriller, and it started off that way, but it just was too violent, bloody, and graphic for my taste. At times, I found it coldly sadistic. A man is soaked with gas and burned alive. Another is stabbed repeatedly in more than one scene until he’s dead. And a girl is nearly scalped by a deranged serial killer. The movie leaves little to the imagination as we see the first cutting for the scalping, etc.

Halle Berry plays a 911 operator in Los Angeles. A call she takes results in the kidnapping and murder of a young girl because when the phone is disconnected, Berry calls back, and the ring gives the girl away to the killer. Because of this screw-up, Berry stops working as a 911 operator and is instead a trainer for new recruits. But when a new operator can’t handle a call from a kidnapped teen, Berry springs back into action. A teen girl (Abigail Breslin) is kidnapped from a shopping mall parking lot and locked in the trunk of a car. She has a Tracfone and calls 911 from the trunk, where she is guided by Berry on what to do. This part was interesting because it gives you some ideas on what to do if you ever find yourself in such a horrible situation.

Throughout most of the movie, the two of them converse on the Tracfone, while Berry makes efforts to extract information and attract attention from other motorists, so police can identify the suspect and locate the car. Along the way, two people are brutally murdered by the kidnapper when their suspicions are aroused. He also switches cars, and so on.

I can’t say the movie wasn’t thrilling, entertaining, and suspenseful. It was all of those and definitely wasn’t boring or slow. But it could have been a much better movie without the gore and brutality. I get that bad people do bad things, but do we really need to depict it and desensitize Americans to it even more? Not in my book, and it took away from the movie in my opinion. The best thrillers don’t use guts and gore, they play mind games to scare and thrill you. The violence and brutal stuff is the lazy Hollywood man’s way, and I’m giving the movie a lower rating because of it.

This is definitely not for kids and also features the F-word more than a couple of times and other sexual slang. And I did not like the ending, or find it believable.


* “Stoker“: Absolutely awful. This creepy, pointless waste of nearly two hours of my life I’ll never get back is a must-skip. It was written by Wentworth Miller, formerly the star of FOX’s defunct series, “Prison Break.” He should stick to acting. It was killing porn without a point. And it tried soooo hard–way too hard–to be artsy, different, and cool. And it was none of those. Just pretentious dreck.

Mia Wasikowska is India, the constantly sullen daughter of a man who has just died in a car accident. She and her very cold, selfish mother (Nicole Kidman) live in a mansion in the country with all the trappings of the good life. But India is a geek who dresses like a hipster who is even too hipster for hipsters. After her father dies, an uncle she never knew existed shows up to stay for a while. And while her mother is coming on to her strange new uncle, he is busy killing people–killing the housekeeper, killing a visiting aunt, and then helping India kill the one boy at school who is nice to her. Oh, and then we’re shown a shower scene in which India orgasms to her visions of the killing. Yup, highbrow, classy stuff here . . . if you’re a sycophant to the pretentious. For everyone else it’s an avoid-at-all-cost waste of time.

The filmmakers call this a “thriller.” But there was nothing thrilling about it. Just 99 minutes of slow, boring, painful-to-watch navel gazing accessorized with a lot of blood and far too many meaningless shots of spiders. Stay away. If you like this, you’re a fake.


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