July 05--Picks of the Week
(PG-13, 110 minutes, Universal): In this off-kilter charmer, Jeremiah Balakian (played by Nat Wolff) is a high school underachiever with a good head on his shoulders but an inconsistent report card. Jeremiah's earnest principal, John Pressman (Paul Rudd), is so determined to get his misfit star pupil into a good school that he calls up his old college classmate Portia Nathan (Tina Fey), a Princeton admissions officer. John also believes he has discovered a familial connection between Portia and Jeremiah, an adoptee the same age as the child Portia gave up for adoption when she was an undergraduate. Believing that she is Jeremiah's birth mother, Portia's maternal instinct suddenly kicks in. Like director Paul Weitz's excellent "About a Boy," "Admission" is quirky but also a serious film about life, relationships and growing up, with a gloss of humor. As the Princeton professor who's asked to give Jeremiah a recommendation, based on the boy's performance of an awkward ventriloquist skit inspired by philosopher Rene Descartes, says: "Weird. I liked it." Contains obscenity and some sexual situations. Extra: "Early Admission With Tina Fey and Paul Rudd."
Dead Man Down
(R, 118 minutes, Sony): In this boilerplate revenge thriller, two haunted and damaged loners are drawn together by their mutual desire for vengeance. Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) wants to murder the drunk driver who hit her. Her counterpart, Victor (Colin Farrell), is a professional thug whose apartment, across the street from Beatrice's, has a secret room filed with photos, maps, high-tech spy gear and other serial-killer-style paraphernalia. Victor spends his downtime brooding over home movies of a mysterious woman and child and plotting retribution; against whom is not clear. Writer J.H. Wyman and filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev introduce enough stylish eccentricity to keep the tale interesting until the generic bloodbath conclusion. Rather than going to therapy, Beatrice blackmails Victor into becoming her personal hit man after she spies him killing a stranger on his balcony. Two crazy kids with compatible neuroses? This being Hollywood, everything will work out in the end. Contains violence, obscenity, smoking and a sex scene. Extras: "Revenge, Redemption and the Art of Filming Dead Man Down" and other featurettes on staging the film's gunfights and cinematography technique.
Tyler Perry's Temptation
(PG-13, 111 minutes, Lionsgate): Wait, Kim Kardashian is in this? Yes, and she's just dreadful. Even people who have previously demonstrated some acting skill, like Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Vanessa Williams, seem completely at sea here, dragged down by a lazy script and excruciatingly slow pacing. In "Temptation," we meet Judith (Smollett-Bell) and Brice (Lance Gross), childhood sweethearts who grew up in the South, married young and moved to Washington. Brice becomes a pharmacist, Judith starts working for a matchmaker while dreaming of starting a marriage counseling practice, and together they settle into a nuptial funk that's increasingly weighing on Judith. Meanwhile, a smooth social-media mogul named Harley, who's working on a business-related project with Judith, blatantly attempts to seduce her. The "Temptation" drives more than an hour of flirty glances and repetitive conversations between Judith and Harley until anything vaguely adulterous occurs. Still, nothing is as exhausting as Kardashian's whining. Contains some violence, sexuality and drug content. WashingtonPost
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