Movie Reviews

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Summit Entertainment
In Theaters: 09.30
The overly dramatic cancer movie has been done so many times, it’s almost lost the frightening truth behind the disease. However, when director Jonathan Levine adds a sense of reality into the mix by including the humor that permanently resides within the human spirit, the result turns out to be the greatest movie of the year thus far. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Adam, an exceptionally cautious radio programmer who refuses to disobey crosswalk signs or drive on the chaotic streets of Seattle for fear of the deadly consequences. So you can imagine his reaction when he’s diagnosed with spinal cancer and given only a 50-percent chance of survival. With the help of his juvenile best friend (Seth Rogen), reserved girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), coddling mother (Anjelica Huston) and blossoming therapist (Anna Kendrick), Adam discovers who has his best interests at heart while he copes with the life-altering hand he’s been dealt. Gordon-Levitt finally completes the transfer from an adolescent actor to a skilled artist with a lifelong, well laid career path ahead of him as he gives a performance unlike ever before. The multi-layered levels of genuine chemistry between Gordon-Levitt and his co-stars only add to the humanity and the desire for a positive outcome. Writer Will Reiser (who the film’s premise is based on) crafts a magnificent story of family, friends, courage and love that puts a much-needed comedic spin on the genre without coming across as disrespectful or callous. At one moment you’re laughing at the idea of using cancer to pick up women, and next thing you know, you’re holding back tears as you witness the unconditional love between a terrified mother and son. It’s a truly remarkable accomplishment that will have everyone in the audience claiming they’re not crying, they’ve just got something in their eye …Yes, both of them. –Jimmy Martin

Oscilloscope Pictures
In Theaters: 09.16
The initial premise for Evan Glodell’s first feature film appears creative enough to be captivating and appealing all at once. Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) are two friends who spend their days preparing for the apocalypse by constructing flamethrowers and muscle cars that spit fire in preparation for their two-man gang, “Mother Medusa,” to take over the neighborhood once chaos rains over the land. The groundwork appears to be going as planned until Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) and their affection for one another hinders the original plan for social domination. Just as their affection appears to reach its peak, a devastating blow of mistrust sparks a back-and-forth war of revenge that leads to a shocking series of unforgivable retributions. The first two acts of Glodell’s romantic thriller flows consistently with only a few questionable setbacks, but his conclusion amputates itself entirely, as though he decided to make a separate film midstream. The majority of the cast offers concrete performances, but Glodell ought to refrain from stepping in front of the camera due to the fact that his talents clearly reside behind it. The most appealing element of the film comes from Joel Sharpe’s striking cinematography, but his employment of pointless crafty techniques, like multiple split-focus shots, distracts viewers more than it enthralls. –Jimmy Martin

The Guard
Sony Pictures Classics
In Theaters: 09.02
Past writer (2003’s Ned Kelly) and now first-time director John Michael McDonagh serves up a delicious plate of dark comedy with a side of moving drama in the Irish cop dramedy, “The Guard.” Brendan Gleeson (known mostly for his representation of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody in the Harry Potter series) stars as an offensive and selfish Irish police sergeant who doesn’t mind partaking in the finer delicacies of life, such as drugs and Dublin prostitutes. Behind the thick-skinned persona, there actually lies a tender and endearing individual. Just don’t ask him to show it without anticipating a severe verbal lashing. When an American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) arrives in a small Irish town in search of a yacht carrying a cargo of $500 million worth of cocaine, an unruly partnership is formed where both will be offended, but must work in unison in order to crack the case. McDonagh’s screenplay is as offensive as it is entertaining, and that’s perfectly all right with this critic. No one is safe from his crafty dialogue, not even the adolescent victims at the 1993 Texas Waco Siege. Gleeson is absolutely uproarious with his deadpan routine that never spoils and leaves everyone craving more, while Cheadle is right there reminding audiences that comedy is yet another element the actor is capable of perfecting without fail. –Jimmy Martin

ATO Pictures
In Theaters: 08.19
Director Azazel Jacobs attempts to put an original spin on the “overweight high school student who’s teased by his peers as he swoons over the most popular girl” storyline, but actually falls into the same unoriginal plot points as seen in previous endeavors with mixed results. The hefty hero in question is Terri (Jacob Wysocki), a socially inept teenager who lives with and cares for his ailing uncle (The Office’s Creed Bratton) while enduring daily harassments from his insecure classmates. In an act of defiance, Terri consistently arrives late to school dressed in pajamas, which is never fully explained, but it may be best to leave it that way. Terri’s unusual outbursts eventually attract the attention of Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), a charismatic assistant principal who schedules weekly meetings with special students and makes Terri his latest project. It appears Jacobs is unsure whether he is developing a sentimental drama or a charming comedy, which ultimately leaves an unsettling final creation. As always, Reilly is capable of distributing a wide spectrum of acting abilities, which plays nicely with his emotionally topsy-turvy character. However, while Reilly shines, his talents expose the mediocre acting capabilities of Wysocki. –Jimmy Martin

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Magnet Releasing
In Theaters: 09.30
There are two locations in this world you should never misbehave in: Disney World’s Security Offices and the backwoods region of the deep South. Being a smart aleck in either never results positively, especially in the latter. This fact is clearly misrepresented in Eli Craig’s horror comedy, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Redneck best friends Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are on their way to spend a relaxing vacation in their recently purchased cabin in the woods, but after they cross paths with a group of preppy college kids, the standard prejudices (based upon classic horror films) are rapidly fired at the clichéd country boys. In a heroic rescue of one of the students, the helpful hicks are mistaken for vicious kidnappers, and the rest of the snobby suburbanites plan a deadly act of revenge. As a series of miscommunications lead to an increasing body count with formulaic misconceptions to blame, a mystery surrounding the dense forest begins to unravel. Craig delivers one comical sight gag after another by playfully tinkering with the horror genre’s most hackneyed components (i.e. a terrifying chainsaw wielding maniac). Craig perfectly mixes the comedy and horror genres with two charming lead characters appropriately portrayed by Tudyk and Labine. The laughs never stop as Craig hones in on every absurd horror attribute conceivable and generates the funniest gore fest since Shaun of the Dead. –Jimmy Martin