Here are some mini reviews of advance screenings I've seen this week. The following movies will be released nation-wide over the course of this month.
Greg Mottola, director of 2007's Superbad, is back at the helm with another strong showing. Set at a Pennsylvania adventure park in 1987, this coming-of-age story is a highly-entertaining and well-acted slice of life. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart light up the screen as co-workers who meet that summer and may find love. The entire supporting cast -- including Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig -- are equally good. And the fun 1980s soundtrack plays an important supportive role as well. Be forewarned: more of a 'dramedy' than comedy.
Observe and Report
Seth Rogen's comic talents are wasted on the second mall cop movie of this short year (after the successful Paul Blart: Mall Cop). We really didn't need this second dose. Late in the movie, a minor character says, "I thought this was going to be funny...but it's just kinda sad." I couldn't agree more. It's sad that this is billed as a comedy. For the most part, the script is not funny. And it was actually painful to watch the once-intriguing Ray Liotta portray a police detective in this mess.
Based on a true story, Robert Downey, Jr. plays Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and Jamie Foxx is homeless schizophrenic musician Nathaniel Ayers. The two form an unlikely friendship as Lopez tries to help Ayers off the streets in order to give him a safer environment to fully regain his musical talents. Both actors are excellent -- and director Joe Wright (Atonement) gives us a gritty view of not only L.A.'s homeless community, but also the harsh realities of schizophrenia. But Wright also over-uses visual filler to stretch out the story. I have to wonder if the many delays in releasing the movie (which was originally slated for last year) were due to some re-working to pad the story.
Note: If you haven't seen my reviews from last month, click on the March archive on the left. The four films showcased there are still in theaters.