Mini Reviews: September 26
Below are the Mini Reviews from Cineman Syndicate for five movies opening on September 26, 2008.
CHOKE. Character actor Clark Gregg -- one of those instantly recognizable but anonymous screen faces -- adapts Chuck Palahniuk's novel and the result is among the most unappetizing feature films in recent memory. Sam Rockwell plays Victor, a small-time grifter and big-time sex addict coping with the mental decline of his institutionalized mother (Anjelica Huston) while trying to learn who his father was. The theme that we're all crazy to some extent is born out by flashbacks to Victor's upbringing and his skuzzy present-day exploits. But the gross bits are counteracted by his ultimate humanity and the humor exhibited at the Colonial American theme park where he works. (R) FAIR COMEDY-DRAMA. Director - Clark Gregg; Lead - Sam Rockwell; Running Time - 92 minutes. Capsule review by John P. McCarthy. (Limited opening on September 26.)
FOREVER STRONG. Because no sport should be deprived the inspirational Hollywood treatment, rugby finally gets a chance to take center screen courtesy of this formulaic bad-kid-turns-good saga. Based on actual events but nonetheless twaddle of the first order, the story concerns a rugby star (Faris) at odds with his coach father (Neal McDonough) who DUI's himself into a juvenile detention center and winds up playing for his team's hated rivals. On its way toward inevitable uplift, the film fails to clue us into rugby fundamentals and provides game action shot in shaky, smeary close-ups, thereby turning its central matches into inconsequential displays of confusing movement and noise. (PG-13) FAIR SPORTS DRAMA. Director - Ryan Little; Lead - Rick Faris; Running Time -112 minutes. Capsule review by Nick Schager. (Limited opening on September 26.)
THE LUCKY ONES. The three soldiers furloughed from Iraq and taking a cross-country road trip stateside are certainly fortunate when compared to the audience. The predictable plotting in this well-intentioned salute would be excusable if the dialogue weren't so superficial. With a genial tone and prosaic characterizations, this gloss on the sacrifices of fighting men and women doesn't even make an effort to be probative, saying nothing specific about the Iraq conflict and nothing new about bittersweet homecomings. Although McAdams (Private), Tim Robbins (Reservist), and Michael Pena (Sergeant) are empathetic actors, their performances are inevitably run-of-the-mill. If only war were as harmless as The Lucky Ones. (R) BORING DRAMA; Director - Neil Burger; Lead - Rachel McAdams; Running Time - 113 minutes. Capsule review by John P. McCarthy.
MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA. Spike Lee has consistently defied expectations, so it's no surprise his version of a World War II movie is radically different from anyone else's. Based on James McBride's book, it tells the heart-wrenching story of four black soldiers trapped behind enemy lines who deviate from their mission to rescue a young boy. As always, Lee isn't afraid to make his points bluntly and the film does suffer from some awkward dialogue and overheated melodrama. But it's also one of the most intensely emotional stories the director has ever told and its cumulative power is deeply felt in a beautiful final scene. (R) GOOD WAR DRAMA; Director - Spike Lee; Lead - Derek Luke; Running Time - 160 mins. Capsule review by Ethan Alter.
NIGHTS IN RODANTHE. Nicholas Sparks' sappy novel is the basis for a cut-and-paste romantic diversion that stumbles with gratuitous flashback sequences and a dropped subplot involving leading man Richard Gere. Gere plays a wealthy surgeon who spends a weekend at a picturesque beachfront hotel on North Carolina's Outer Banks. He's there to meet with a litigious widower whose wife died on his operating table. To the handsome doc's pleasant surprise, the hotel is staffed for the hurricane-threatened weekend by a recently separated beauty played by Diane Lane. The storm arrives with a waft of romance before the movie dives headlong into soap opera waters. (PG-13) BORING ROMANTIC DRAMA; Director - George C. Wolfe; Lead - Richard Gere; Running Time - 97 minutes. Capsule review by Cole Smithey.
COPYRIGHT 2008 CINEMAN SYNDICATE LLC
(Choke Poster: © 2008 Fox Searchlight Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)