Movie Reviews – May 2012

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Bully
The Weinstein Company
In Theaters: 04.13
The controversy swirling around The Weinstein Company’s refusal to accept the “R” rating delivered by the MPAA for the harsh language found within their documentary that analyzes the bullying crisis (after a compromise in editing, the rating was reduced to “PG-13”), has already garnered the film more notoriety than anyone could have possibly imagined. Hopefully this unforeseen spike in interest can help carry its message to even more individuals across the country. Rather than inundating audiences with debatable statistics and dramatizations, Director Lee Hirsch entrenches viewers directly into the heart of the problem by observing multiple tales of bullied children in their daily encounters from the bus stop, to the classroom and back home. Nothing is left out. It’s heartbreaking to witness—not only the endured physical abuse, but also the psychological and verbal attacks. However, the most sickening element comes from school officials too disconnected to realize the gravity of the situation, especially in the case of Assistant Principal Kim Lockwood of Sioux City, Iowa, assistant principal, who comes across as condescending to a pair of concerned parents. As candid interviews with parents of children who have committed suicide surface, the reality of what’s going on becomes much more evident. The power behind Hirsch’s film is the first step in a direction of change that can give those who have had enough the courage to overcome their problem rather than give up completely. This film needs to be added to the curriculum as mandatory viewing in every school district for the benefit of students, teachers and parents. –Jimmy Martin

The Cabin in the Woods
Lionsgate
In Theaters: 04.13
Warning! Do not read this review yet. Instead, stand up, drive to the nearest movie theater and experience this perfect blend of horror and comedy without any spoilers or background information. Have fun … and welcome back! Wasn’t that one of the most unique terror experiences you’ve encountered in quite some time? It’s a shame Drew Goddard, even with the crafty script assistance of Joss Whedon, had to watch his creation sit on the shelf for over two years as executives debated on how to market this revitalization to the horror genre during MGM’s financial misfortunes. Thank the heavens Chris Hemsworth gained popularity as the Norse god of thunder in Marvel’s Thor, which paved the way for the production to see the light of day. Hemsworth, who once again brings his comical charm to the screen, is supported by Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams and Fran Kranz as they play a group of twenty-somethings vacationing in a remote cabin that is not exactly what it appears to be, but the duo of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford may be able to explain the secretive scenario. As the situation clearly and purposely becomes the campy horror film the simple title insinuates, Goddard and Whedon pay homage to just about every worthwhile film that defined the genre. From Evil Dead to Hellraiser, anybody who appreciates the blood and guts of cinema will walk out of The Cabin in the Woods with nothing but an ear-to-ear grin. Now, are you ready to go watch it again? –Jimmy Martin

The Raven
Rogue Pictures
In Theaters: 04.27
The latest trend in Hollywood is to take historical figures and create wildly fictitious backstories for them. Audiences will see Abraham Lincoln battle vampires next month, but, before that mayhem arrives, James McTeigue invites viewers to consider that the last days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life actually revolved around the poet chasing a serial killer whose murders mimic the death and darkness found in Poe’s literary classics. Poe (John Cusack) finds himself broke, consistently intoxicated and out of creative ideas, but that doesn’t stop him from repeatedly professing his affection for his true love, Emily (Alice Eve), even with the strict opposition of her gun-toting father (Brendan Gleeson). With all this disdain overshadowing the author’s life, fuel is only added to the fire when a crime scene eerily resembles Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and he is swiftly partnered with Detective Fields (Luke Evans) to catch the culprit. As the body count soars with more resemblances to other works, including The Pit And the Pendulum and The Mystery of Marie Roget, the stakes are raised when Emily becomes the next potential victim. McTeigue delivers a thrilling blend of fact and fiction that allows Cusack the opportunity to envelop himself within the eccentric mind of one of the greatest writers of all-time. At times, the project is too simplistic for its own well being and lacks the sustenance required for a truly horrifying multi-tiered crime caper, but the gritty cinematography merged with an exciting retelling of history makes for an enjoyable experience that forces patrons to ponder the truth behind Poe’s last breath. –Jimmy Martin

The Three Stooges
20th Century Fox
In Theaters: 04.13
Remember when the Farrelly Brothers made enjoyable comedies like Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary? Man, those were the days. Ever since their glory years, the quality in the siblings’ filmmaking has subsequently diminished and their attempt to recapture the hilarity of Larry (Sean Hayes), Curly (Will Sasso) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) is a new low for the directing duo. Rather than modernizing the antics of the three accident-prone orphans to adapt with the evolution of comedy that has occurred over the last 78 years, a sloppy storyline mixed with irritating Vegas-worthy impersonations is all that is offered. The only contemporary contribution from the Farrelly Brothers’ is the inclusion of the entire cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Granted, the idea of making a feature-length film comprised of three short films reminiscent of the Stooges’ origins was imaginative, the fact that the shorts are still connected with a “save the orphanage” plot wrecks the innovation, especially since The Blues Brothers did it better. It’s a shame the Farrelly Brothers have fallen so far from grace. At one point, they were the go-to guys for adult amusement, but now we’re handed a trio of morons squeezing babies to produce streams of piss in order to drench each other. Thank you, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, it’s been a long time since I wanted to beat somebody with a hammer immediately after watching a film, but I’ll refrain from going to prison for murder since your eyesore concluded with a “do not try this at home” warning. That was a close one! –Jimmy Martin

Undefeated
The Weinstein Company
In Theaters: 02.17
Sports documentaries can easily become a dime a dozen, but documentarians Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin have unearthed an unbelievable story of hope, courage, prospect and unconditional love from an unlikely source. In the poverty-stricken suburbs of Memphis, Tenn, Bill Courtney has dedicated a portion of his life to coaching high school football. As a volunteer coach, Courtney has seen a lot of oddities come from the game, but nothing could have prepared him for the lack of instruction and teamwork he walked into when he agreed to lead the Tigers from Manassas High School, who haven’t won a playoff game in over a century. With a team on the brink of destruction after six arduous seasons, Courtney’s coaching tactics begin to show promise as the players launch into a season that may leave an everlasting legacy with their school. The adoration and compassion Courtney has for his players is magnetic, especially for a father/husband who has his own family waiting at home. Undefeated exquisitely highlights the difficulties of being a teenage athlete in an underserved community, hoping to escape with a sports scholarship and break the chain of discontent. It’s heartrending to witness these students have their dreams of prosperity potentially hindered by unacceptable grades or physical injuries. Lindsay and Martin have scored by pulling off an unforgettable tale that only offers inspiration and deserves cheers. –Jimmy Martin