At the Movies
Failure to Launch
Matthew McConaughey plays a 30-something slacker who still lives with his parents. They hire Sarah Jessica Parker to lure him out of the nest. Zooey Deschanel and Kathy Bates co-star. Review on Page 23. (PG-13)
The Hills Have Eyes
A remake of Wes Craven's 1977 cult flick about a family stalked by a group of mutant killers. Craven is co-producer, and the director is Alexandre Aja, who helmed last year's French horror hit "High Tension." The cast includes Emilie de Ravin of "Lost." Review on Thursday's Entertainment page. (R)
Johnny Depp tops this 17th-century English drama about the rise and fall of writer John Wilmot, a k a the Second Earl of Rochester, whose thirst for debauchery led to an early death. Wilmot has a passionate affair with a young actress (Samantha Morton) and writes a scurrilous play that lampoons the monarch who commissioned it, Charles II (John Malkovich), leading to his banishment. Review on Page 21. (R)
Set in contemporary Moscow, an uneasy truce dating back to medieval times between the forces of light and darkness is threatened by a powerful Other that may tip the balance and plunge the world into a renewed war. Review on Page 22. (R)
The Shaggy Dog
Another remake, this time of the 1959 Disney classic. A top-secret serum turns a high-powered district attorney (Tim Allen) into a pooch. Before he can become human again, he must stop the evil forces behind the serum. Kristin Davis, Danny Glover and Robert Downey Jr. co-star. Review on Page 22. (PG)
G General audiences.
Disney's first totally computer-animated movie is a nice little trifle that's too chicken to do anything but play it safe. The story is a mishmash of pop-culture references woven into a not-so-irreverent tweaking of fairy-tale conventions.
Based on the popular children's books, the animated film follows an inquisitive monkey as he travels to the big city to find his human friend. The movie remains very much within its own candy-colored universe and stays true to the light-hearted spirit of the beloved books. It's ideal for kids ages 4 to 8, which may make it tedious at times for the parents sitting alongside them. Jack Johnson's songs are meant to be the "voice" of the cute lil' fella.
Originally a Franco-Anglo animated feature, and retitled, shortened and redubbed by American actor voices, a dog and his animal friends embark on a quest to find three magic diamonds in order to keep an evil sorcerer from deep-freezing their enchanted land forever.
Emma Thompson stars as a magical but tough nanny who shapes up a family with seven badly behaved children. Thompson and director Kirk Jones' twisted, dryly British sense of humor often makes the movie surprisingly funny. Unfortunately, the visual effects look jarringly cheesy.
PG - Parental guidance suggested.
Two teenage girls try to help a mermaid capture the heart of a hunky lifeguard at their neighborhood beach club. Heartfelt but clunky, this mermaid-out-of-water story offers enough female-positive messages to make it worthwhile viewing for 'tween girls.
Paul Walker is a researcher in Antarctica who takes his small scientific expedition to recover their pack of sled dogs they left behind more than six months ago after they were caught in a storm. Charting the struggle for survival of the dogs, this movie represents achievements in directing (Frank Marshall), editing, cinematography and, most of all, animal training.
The Pink Panther
Steve Martin plays Inspector Clouseau in this remake of the Peter Sellers 1960s original. The bumbling French detective takes on a mystery involving the death of a soccer coach, a missing diamond ring, and a femme fatale pop star (Beyoncé Knowles). The movie is sporadically funny, and Martin engages in his silliest screen behavior since "The Jerk."
PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate from children under age 13.
A troubled New York cop (Bruce Willis) must escort a squirrelly convict (Mos Def) from jail to court, but dangerous forces are out to stop them. Helmed by "Lethal Weapon" director Richard Donner, this routine movie pushes Willis and Def through a ceaselessly exciting, though often outrageous, gauntlet of grit and grime.
Big Momma's House 2
Martin Lawrence goes back undercover in his disguise as a grandmother built like a brick house, this time to be a nanny for the three kids of a suspected killer. You get just about every fat joke ever made in the movie, and the plot doesn't hold much interest. But if you're a fan of Lawrence's manic comedy, this is for you.
Alyson Hannigan stars in a parody of modern romantic comedies from a couple of the writers of the successful "Scary Movie" series. The jokes come so fast and furious that part of the entertainment is merely keeping score. The movie works on the philosophy that if you didn't think the last joke was funny, wait 30 seconds and it'll find you a movie you were dying to make fun of.
When his family is kidnapped by a ruthless criminal mastermind, a bank security specialist (Harrison Ford) is forced to find a flaw in his own system and steal $100 million. It's a great-looking movie, but this supposed thriller contains little suspense, and Ford, at age 63, is too old for his role.
Fun With Dick & Jane
Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni star as a materialistic couple who, when he loses his job in an Enron-like scandal, go on a crime spree to make ends meet. The movie's a light, likable distraction, and the two actors share a good comedic rapport.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This action-packed sequel chronicles the teenaged Harry's participation in the TriWizard Tournament, while simultaneously unraveling a sinister conspiracy, discovering girls, and later confronting a grotesquely reborn Lord Voldemort. British director Mike Newell has crafted a film full of images that are vast and wondrous, but strangely detached and obviously artificial.
Peter Jackson's latest fantasy masterpiece is an eye-popping remake of the 1933 original. While the special effects and action sequences are first-rate, the film's greatest achievement is the tenderness with which it conveys the love and longing between the gorilla and the actress. Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black and Andy Serkis (who works his motion-capture magic again as the Great Ape) star. (The film won three technical Oscars.)
Queen Latifah stars as a shy woman diagnosed with a fatal illness who decides to let loose on a European vacation. Unabashedly feel-good and life-affirming, the movie turns ridiculous towards the end but mostly manages to avoid being completely maudlin thanks to the luminous Latifah.
The New World
Director Terrence Malick settles in and takes his time telling the story of the settlement of Jamestown, Va., in particular his interpretation of the classic tale of Pocahontas and her relationships with adventurer John Smith and aristocrat John Rolfe. While the film is beautiful to look at, it's also lacking in narrative drive and character development, almost defiantly so. But your perseverance will be rewarded.
Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion
The writer/director/actor reprises his grandmother character from last year's surprise hit "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." This time, Perry's Southern matriarch tries to organize a family reunion while caring for a runaway and counseling her nieces through their relationship troubles. It's another helping of earnest but amateurish entertainment, an unwieldy hodgepodge of prayer, punchlines and "Mommie Dearest" histrionics.
Milla Jovovich stars as a genetically altered woman with martial arts skills and chameleon-like abilities trying to protect a boy from a government out to kill him. The movie wants desperately to be a provocative, high-concept futuristic action thriller, but it's overstyled, deafening and incoherent.
Walk the Line
The movie follows the late, iconic country music star Johnny Cash's rise to fame, drug addiction and romance with his future wife June. Joaquin Phoenix inhabits his role fully, with a raw intensity and a blaze in his eyes, and Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon is in the role she was born to play, with her radiance, charm and maturity showcased to perfection.
The White Countess
An epic love story between a blind American expatriate and a fallen Russian countess, set in Shanghai in the late 1930s. The final offering of the hugely successful Ismail Merchant-James Ivory film team, it's an immaculately produced period piece, set in an exotic location, with a cast full of classy actors led by Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson.
The World's Fastest Indian
Anthony Hopkins stars in the true story of a New Zealand man who, at age 68, took his classic 1920 motorcycle to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to try to break the world speed record. Hopkins has a ball with the role, playinga complete ingenious joy of a man with nothing left to lose.
R - Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
This kinetic documentary, part concert film, part impromptu comedy show, is as friendly and down-home as the title suggests. Chappelle proves that his comic allure cuts naturally across racial and generational lines. The musical highlights include thunderous performances from Kanye West, a reformed Fugees, Dead Prez, and the Roots.
Final Destination 3
A high school student who failed to stop a roller-coaster ride that killed several of her friends, teams up with a schoolmate in a race against time to prevent the Grim Reaper from revisiting survivors of the first tragedy. The series aims for squeamish, appalled laughter as the teens die in grisly, elaborately choreographed death traps, mocking the conventions of the standard stalk-and-slash movie.
Director Eli Roth takes an avant bloody cue from Asian cinema with this harrowing tale of three Eurotrip backpackers who wind up in a Slovakian hell house where obnoxious tourists are hacked to pieces. It's a clip reel of sicko tableaus. The torture scenes are inventively disgusting, but the narrative linking one murder to the next is sketchy.
Imagine Me & You
It's a light, romantic comedy with a lesbian twist. Set in London, a bride-to-be is attracted to her wedding florist, and since her fiancé's friend has fallen for the florist, it allows the both of them to conveniently meet later. Piper Perabo, Lena Headley, and Matthew Goode star.
Woody Allen's latest film is the story of a former tennis pro who climbs into the world of the British upper class through his engagement to one of his wealthy tennis students. But then he falls for a sexy American actress who is dating his future brother-in-law. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson star in this cool, watchful, and ultimately overcautious moral tale.
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Dame Judi Dench is the title character who buys a theater during wartime London and, with the help of her showman partner (Bob Hoskins), puts on a popular -- and scandalous -- revue with nude women in tableau settings. Dench makes the wealthy widow an adorable and appealing figure, and director Stephen Frears gives us a sweet, old-fashioned study of time and place and one unsinkable woman.
Steven Spielberg directed this true story of a secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and kill the Palestinians behind the '72 Summer Olympics village attacks. It's a morally complex story about morally agonizing matters, with both sides' characters evoking both compassion and repugnance.
Paul Walker plays a low-level mobster who's told to recover and dispose of a gun used in the fatal shooting of a corrupt cop during a bungled drug buy. But when he ignores his bosses' instructions, he unwittingly puts his entire family in immediate danger. Writer-director Wayne Kramer loads up on gruesome carnage, flashy, hyperkinetic cuts and other camera techniques.
A look at love through the lives of three Los Angelenos, as they search for an emotional connection. Based on Steve Martin's novella, it stars Martin, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. The film blandishes with pretty things and convincing emotion even as it shies away from committing. Danes, however, is consistently wonderful.
The Squid and the Whale
Writer-director Noah Baumbach reworks his own memories as a child of divorce into a small, sharply observed period piece, set in an upscale, intellectual area of Brooklyn in 1986. Two brothers take up separate sides with their writer-parents, their marriage on the rocks due to her infidelity and his arrogance. The performances of Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, in particular, are exquisite to watch.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Actor Tommy Lee Jones directs this moralistic and non-linear tale of a Texan taking the corpse of his Mexican best friend across the border south to bury him, accompanied by the patrolman that killed the man. Barry Pepper, January Jones and Melissa Leo co-star.
Felicity Huffman plays a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual who takes a cross-country road trip with her estranged teenage son. Huffman shows astounding range and grace in playing a battered soul, bruised by the conflict between inner longings and societal expectations. Her character is alternately detestable, empathetic, charming, cruel and disarming. The film is accessible and fun, while also deep and affecting.
This sequel starring Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman continues the centuries-old feud between vampires and lycans. It features the same green-gray color scheme, the same metallic tinge, the same self-serious characters over-emoting while running around in black leather dusters, trying to destroy each other.
Art House | Revival
THE DORIS DUKE THEATRE, HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
900 S. Beretania St.; $7 general; $6 seniors, students and military; $5 Academy members (532-8768):
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
Review on Page 10. At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday; 7:30 p.m. March 13; 1 and 7:30 p.m. March 14 to 16.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Bird of Paradise
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday and March 13.
Four Frightened People / South of Pago Pago
At 12:30, 3:45 and 7 p.m. Sunday.
The Romantic Englishwoman
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. March 16.
"THE HEALING WORLD" FILM SERIES
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa,; $5 general and $3 for UH students, faculty and staff (223-0130):
Touch the Sound
At 5 p.m. Sunday.
At 7 p.m. March 16