News Column

Movies: Saved By the Stars

August 8, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 08--"2 GUNS" (R)

2.75 out of 4 stars

DENZEL WASHINGTON, MARK WAHLBERG, BILL PAXTON, PAULA PATTON

In a situation that's becoming all too common, the appealing stars of this buddy-cop film have to overcome a slapped-together story that doesn't make much sense.

But these aren't ordinary lead actors. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg use likability and sheer will to battle the disjointed and illogical script, and they are largely successful.

It takes a while for viewers and even the characters to figure out that both men are good-guy law enforcement types, since they're both undercover with different groups of bad guys.

A bank robbery and other things proceed well enough, but some really odd detours pop up. There is an entire team of naval officers trying to steal millions from drug dealers and a DEA agent who gets turned on by CIA officials who are stockpiling millions of dollars.

Throw in the head of a Mexican drug cartel played stylishly by the talented Edward James Olmos and a few others with dogs in the fight, and it's hard to tell the players without a program.

But because so much of the movie is the eg0-bumping of the two leads, it's almost possible to say that the story doesn't really matter.

Put it this way: If there had been a real crackerjack of a script to go with these stars, this could have been a gem.

Instead, it's just a fun romp where the stars matter and the details don't.

Rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity. 109 min. [MC, PV, RA]

"THE SMURFS 2" (PG)

1.5 out of 4 stars

HANK AZARIA, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, JAYMA MAYS

Most moviegoers understand that the main function of sequels is to squeeze more dollars from a movie or franchise that worked the first time out.

This lame, uninspired and flat film starring the blue cartoon creatures is proof that the pursuit of more ticket sales doesn't require a quality product.

It isn't so much that the notion of a second Smurfs adventure is a bad idea, it's that the producers put such little thought, talent and creativity into the movie this time out.

When the big ideas are angry cats, loopy birds or a bamboozled Smurfette letting her rude flag fly, it's a loser from the get-go.

The very young will still giggle at the sight gags, but even toddlers will grow bored of the silly Gargamel and the misadventures of the blue boys in this weak sequel.

Rated PG for rude humor and action. 105 min. [MC, RA, RF]

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