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opening this weekend [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]

May 10, 2013

YellowBrix

"The Great Gatsby"

Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language. 141 minutes. H

If any piece of classic American literature should be depicted on film with wildly decadent and boldly inventive style, it's "The Great Gatsby." After all, who was the character of Jay Gatsby himself if not a spinner of grandiose tales and a peddler of lavish dreams?

And Baz Luhrmann would seem like the ideal director to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald's story to the screen yet again, to breathe new life into these revered words, having shaken up cultural institutions previously with films like "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!" This is the man who dared to stage the iconic balcony scene in a swimming pool, so mixing in a little Jay- Z amid the Jazz Age standards strangely makes sense.

But in Luhrmann's previous films, there still existed a fundamental understanding of the point of the stories he was telling; beneath their gorgeous trappings, they still reflected the heart and the purpose of the works from which they were drawn.

His "Great Gatsby" is all about the glitter but it has no soul - and the fact that he's directed it in 3-D only magnifies the feeling of artificiality. His camera rushes and swoops and twirls through one elaborately staged bacchanal after another but instead of creating a feeling of vibrancy, the result is repetitive and ultimately numbing.

"Peeples"

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug material and language. 95 minutes. HH

The people of "Peeples" make a better impression than most collections of oddballs in the weary mold of comedies centered on meeting the prospective in-laws.

They still overstay their welcome, though.

With a long, boring buildup that finally pays off with scattered laughs in the second half, "Peeples" also manages to leave a better impression than the "Tyler Perry Presents" tag on the posters might imply.

This is broad comedy, but nowhere near as broad - or boorish and shrill - as producer Perry's family adventures (for disclosure's sake, there are screechy relations here, but Perry's Madea fortunately isn't among them).

Craig Robinson moves up from caustic supporting player on "The Office" to show himself an engaging romantic lead in the chubby, lovable, gregarious Jack Black school.

Kerry Washington lightens up from heavier drama as the love of his life, a daddy's girl whose daddy, naturally, doesn't approve.

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