News Column

Movies: Not on the Right Track

October 3, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 03--"RUSH" (R)

2.75 OUT OF 4 STARS

DANIEL BR HL, CHRIS HEMSWORTH, OLIVIA WILDE

Hearing some critics call this "the best Ron Howard film ever," I was ready to be blown away by an all-consuming competition between two Formula 1 race car drivers.

I'm sad to report that instead of loving it, I just liked it.

The film does a good job showing the rivalry between two very different kinds of drivers: the flashy, adventurous James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and the mousy, hardworking Niki Lauda (Daniel Br hl).

For this film to realize its potential, the two actors would have had to give searing performances. Instead, they're just OK good enough to tell the story without grabbing you the way the star of a compelling film needs to.

On the plus side, Howard does a nice job providing enough racing footage to make the film exciting, but no so much you need to be a gear-head to enjoy it.

It all adds up to a likable film, but it's a long way from love.

Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use. 123 min. [MC, PV, RA]

"DON JON" (R)

3 OUT OF 4 STARS

JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, JULIANNE MOORE, TONY DANZA

This is a tour de force from writer, star and director Joseph Gordon Levitt that works on several different levels, though it comes with a warning.

It's a tale that involves main character Jon's fascination with pornography, which is shown in brief snippets as the story is introduced.

Essentially, it's a story of how interactions with two very different women teach a womanizer that real connections also involve the heart and the mind.

It's a very funny and stylized film, built around the way Jon's emotionally sterile life changes when he gets serious about women. The first of those is played by Scarlett Johansson, who is both scorchingly hot and spot-on in her portrayal of a "Housewives of New Jersey" type a catch for the titular womanizer. It's fun to watch Jon get corralled by a fetching young woman looking to find herself a man she can manage. It's an act that alters how he deals with his family, his friends and even the priest at his confessional.

Things change when he meets a slightly older woman (Julianne Moore), who slowly helps teach him that real love needs to be part of the happiness equation.

Gordon Levitt has an adept touch at directing, making Jon's gradual transition one that moves in both a humorous and methodical progression on screen. But take caution: If pornography isn't something you want to see, this is one you might want to avoid.

Rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use. 89 min. [MC, PV, RA]

"CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2" (PG)

2 OUT OF 4 STARS

BILL HADER, ANNA FARIS, WILL FORTE

There is some quality creativity in the names and shapes of food animals, but this sequel pales in comparison to the original.

In the first film, a young inventor makes a machine that rains food all over the world. In this sequel, the machine is being salvaged on an island where it's created a wild array of food-based animals, from taco-diles to squeaky-sounding strawberry critters.

Youngsters might enjoy the wild food-beasts romping back and forth, but a story about an evil inventor quickly grows tiresome.

In the end, this movie lacks the creativity and fun of the original.

Rated PG for mild rude humor. 95 min. [MC, PV, RA]

"BAGGAGE CLAIM" (PG 13)

2 OUT OF 4 STARS

PAULA PATTON, TAYE DIGGS, JILL SCOTT

A sappy story and a woefully pedestrian plot ruin the charm that lead actors Paula Patton and Derek Luke bring to this mess.

The premise is one that this reviewer will never understand: A beautiful character who just can't find herself a date.

Patton is said dateless beauty. She is also an a flight attendant on the verge of losing her cool because her youngster sister is beating her to the altar. Could it get any worse? Sure. She can't even find a good man to take to the wedding.

In an effort to help, a bevy of friends at the airline send out alerts each time one of her old beaus is traveling. This sends her flying after them, and subjects her to what's supposed to be a hilarious string of unfortunate misadventures. Unfortunately, the misadventures are just not funny.

Patton is pretty, talented and deserves much better than this.

Rated PG 13 for sexual content and some language. 96 min. [MC, RA, RF]

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