At The Movies
Mr. Magorium'sWonder Emporium
Dustin Hoffman stars as the iconoclastic owner of a magic toy store in search for a successor. You'd have to be a really
little kid to want to hang out at this toy store. With wild hair and an annoying accent, Hoffman looks completely uncomfortable as the childlike eccentric. The movie is totally one-note in its incessant whimsy, except for those few moments when it treads awkwardly toward the topic of death.
Freddie Highmore plays an orphaned musical prodigy who uses his extraordinary talents to reunite with his long-lost birth parents. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell and Robin Williams co-star. Review on Page 22.
Bee Movie 1/2
Jerry Seinfeld's animation project has some pretty pictures and a few good jokes, but not nearly enough. And the story -- about a restless honeybee who sues the human race for making money off of the sweet stuff -- suffers from sitcom attention-deficit disorder. It picks up whenever there's a chase scene, but the rest of the time, it just bumbles along.
A fairy tale princess is banished by an evil queen from her magical, musical animated land, and finds herself thrust into present-day Manhattan. Adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of enchantment, she begins to fall in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer who comes to her aid. Feature and review on Pages 4 and 5.
Fred Claus 1/2
Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti star in the family movie about the sibling rivalry between Old St. Nick and his fast-talking slacker of a brother. The comedy veers awkwardly from shrill, slapsticky humor to diabolical meanness to reheated, snuggly sentiments about the importance of love and family.
Secrets are revealed and bonds tested when the Whitfield family comes together for Christmas for the first time in years. Idris Elba, Regina King and Chris Brown star. Review on Page 28.
Across the Universe
A romantic musical set in the tumultuous 1960s told mainly through "reimagined" Beatles songs performed by the characters. Director Julie Taymor brings a blinding combination of artistic ambition, excess and plain old bad taste, making her latest extravaganza a potential camp masterpiece.
A Mexican restaurant chef becomes the sole confidant of a young, unmarried waitress who finds herself pregnant. It's a tearjerker that earns its sobs with heartfelt emotions, and the co-stars, Eduardo Verástegui and Tammy Blanchard, bring a spark to the relationship between these confused souls.
Robert Zemeckis ("The Polar Express") presents another motion-capture animated film, this time the epic fantasy about the legendary warrior and his battle with the demonic Grendel. This movie is more akin to "300," only with more violence, if that's possible, and lots and lots of nudity. The technology still hasn't improved much, though, as the characters still look distractingly fake and stiff.
The Bourne Ultimatum 1/2
Matt Damon returns as the amnesiac secret agent in this kinetic action sequel filled with political resonance. Director Paul Greengrass builds on the first two chapters with a story that is darker and more cynical, as Jason Bourne confronts the truth about who he was before the government brainwashed him into being an assassin.
The Comebacks 1/2
This slapdash and ultimately tedious parody follows a football coach (David Koechner), with the worst losing record in the history of the sport, as he goes for redemption with a ragtag college team. The movie's low aspirations are depressing because its best gags are agreeably demented.
Dan in Real Life
A strait-laced advice columnist and widower's strict rules for behavior are tested when he falls for the girlfriend of his younger brother. Considering all the talent behind and in front of the camera (a strong cast led by Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche), this is a surprisingly plain, sappy, even insipid comedy.
The movie is often as juvenile and predictable as its title suggests. Yet this dark comedy about a self-help author plotting revenge on his sadistic former gym coach gets honest laughs because of performances that ring universally true. Kudos to actors Billy Bob Thornton, Seann William Scott and Susan Sarandon.
3:10 to Yuma
This remake of a famous Western 50 years ago brings together two of today's most compelling actors, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. The duo star in this intense standoff between law and disorder set after the Civil War. It addresses the sacrifices of soldiers and the ruthlessness of greed, with its center being the relationship between a rancher (Bale), who believes in doing what's right, and the outlaw (Crowe), who believes in doing what's right for himself.
The formidable trio of director Ridley Scott and Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe combine to present an exceptionally crafted and superbly directed movie about the true story of Frank Lucas, a powerful Harlem drug kingpin-turned-informant of the 1970s.
Good Luck Chuck
Jessica Alba and Dane Cook star in this obnoxious and ugly-looking movie about a guy stuck in a pattern of cursed relationships -- all the women he sleeps with end up marrying the next guy they date. He develops a reputation as a good-luck charm, as women line up for a quickie. But he tries to change things when he meets the girl of his dreams, a beautiful if accident-prone penguin specialist.
Halloween 1/2 star
Revamping the influential 1978 shocker for a new generation of viewers, director Rob Zombie offers a film with more sex, more violence, no humor and zero scares. Trying to humanize Michael Myers is a mistake, especially since all Zombie offers is a cliché rewind to a miserable childhood.
The Heartbreak Kid 1/2
Ben Stiller and the Farrelly brothers combine forces again for this knockout with wall-to-wall laughs. A middle-aged bachelor succumbs to pressure from friends and family and rushes into marriage, only to fall in love with another woman while on his Mexican honeymoon. The movie carries a wily edge and boldness, trampling on good taste and political correctness in the chase for laughs.
Based on the hit video game series, a genetically engineered elite assassin finds unexpected stirrings of his conscience and unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a mysterious Russian woman. Review on Page 8.
Into the Wild 1/2
In Sean Penn's adaptation of the best-seller, Emile Hirsch plays to perfection the doomed young man whose restless wanderings in search of nature, beauty and truth left him dead in the unforgiving Alaskan terrain. Penn presents this flawed figure in both his selflessness and selfishness without judging him or turning him into a martyr.
The Kingdom 1/2
An elite U.S. counterterrorism team investigates a deadly attack on an American housing compound in Saudi Arabia. Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner star in this "CSI"-type movie that offers basic characters, simple messages, gruesome details and a bit of slick, slam-bang action.
Lars and the Real Girl 1/2
It might sound like a contradiction in terms to say that a movie about a guy in love with a sex doll is bursting with humanity, but that's really the most apt way to describe this warm and wonderful movie that's filled with deadpan and slyly absurd humor. Ryan Gosling is respectful of both his awkward, fiercely antisocial character and his manufactured and anatomically correct co-star.
Lions for Lambs 1/2
A rumination on war, education and politics from the socially minded Robert Redford. Along with director Redford, it stars Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. The movie's three interlocking stories are awkwardly scripted and, despite the star power, Redford's direction is weak.
Love in the Time of Cholera 1/2
A wildly flawed adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez's sweeping novel about a decades-old romantic obsession. Much of the book's original dialogue is maintained, but the meaning and emotion behind it is often strangely lacking. And while the imagery of Colombia is intricately textured, it's the actors themselves who all too often feel out of place.
No Country for Old Men
The Coen brothers' latest film is set in West Texas, as a man on the run with a suitcase full of money is pursued by a number of individuals. In adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel about crime and carnage along the Rio Grande, the Coens stay mostly faithful to its structure while maintaining much of the book's rhythmically clipped, colorful dialogue. It's vintage stuff for the writing-directing team and their best work in a while.
Reese Witherspoon stars as the wife of an Egyptian-born chemical engineer being held by the CIA as a terrorist. This movie has been made with an awful lot of volume and outrage, but it should've had some intellect and artistry as well. Witherspoon is typically plucky, but the movie has a contrived tone of bravery to it.
Stephen King's The Mist
A small-town community fights to survive when they come under vicious attack from creatures prowling in a thick, unnatural mist. Review on Page 25.
Co-stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are pretty irresistible together as high school best friends on a quest for alcohol, which they hope will help them hook up with girls at a big party before they graduate. The sweetness and awkwardness of their co-dependent relationship is totally believable, and their comic styles complement each other beautifully.
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):
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday.
ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; and 7:30 p.m. Monday.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Hawaii premiere. At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday and Monday.
Paris, je t'aime
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Best Man (Il Testimone dello Sposo)
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
La Comunidad (Common Wealth)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Nov. 29.
World Music Film Series
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa; $5 general, and $3 UH students, staff and faculty (223-0130):
At 7 p.m. Nov. 29.