Thursday, June 4, 2009

Movie Reviews: Three June Releases

Beginning with these three reviews, I now include each movie's MPAA rating and release date.

The Hangover

From Todd Phillips, the director of Old School and Road Trip, this new comedy follows four men who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. After a night of gambling and partying, the three groomsmen (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) wake up the next morning not remembering a thing -- and unable to find the groom (Justin Bartha). The script could have been a bit tighter, and Heather Graham's role as a stripper is far too small. But there are plenty of hilarious moments as the groomsmen encounter a variety of problems retracing their steps in hopes of reuniting with the groom in time for the wedding. Look for a fun cameo by former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson -- playing himself. [Rated R; Opens June 5]

Grade: B+

The Proposal

I am not a fan of the average romantic comedy/chick flick. The scripts are usually so predictable, you can foresee the ending from the point of the opening credits. And this new comedy from director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses) is definitely predictable. It also suffers from some pretty sad "unspecial" effects that look like they are from the 1970s. But this film ends up rating above-average for the genre thanks in large part to its very appealing stars, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

Bullock plays a bitchy executive editor-in-chief of a book publishing company who forces her submissive assistant (Reynolds) to marry her in order to avoid being deported to Canada. He grudgingly accepts by negotiating a trade to get his desired position as editor at the company. When the immigration authority investigates, the two are forced to spend the weekend with his parents in Alaska in order to sell the lie. But will their feelings for each other change as they spend time together outside of the office? Finding out is worth the price of admission -- especially due to a great comic turn by Betty White as Grandma Annie. [Rated PG-13; Opens June 19]

Grade: B

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Man on Fire) brings us the remake of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, the 1974 heist film which starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. As with the original, the screenplay is adapted from the book by author John Godey. Once again, armed men hijack a New York City subway train, hold the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turn an ordinary day's work for a transit worker into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.

This time around, Denzel Washington portrays the dispatcher and John Travolta plays the leader of the hijackers. Scott forces some distracting production techniques on us, and also expects us to ignore a couple of ridiculous oversights. But Washington and Travolta both give commanding performances -- and there is plenty of suspense as the clock ticks down for negotiators to meet the hijackers' demands.

James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) portrays the mayor of New York City, who is under pressure to address the hostage crisis. Is the actor finally able to separate himself from the television role that made him so famous? I think he may be on his way. [Rated R; Opens June 12]

Grade: B

1 comment:

  1. Saw The Hangover tonight, and thought it was great! Would give it an A minus. Agree with comment that the script could have been a bit tigher, but the jokes and cast were excellent!