OPENING THIS WEEK
BUNNY CHOW (NR) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (PG) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.
THEN SHE FOUND ME (R) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.
88 MINUTES (R) Al Pacino sports a goatee and a snappy action-hero name ("Jack Gramm") as an FBI forensic psychologist who finds himself matching wits with a brilliant (aren't they all?) serial killer. Be warned: The movie has already had its share of advance screenings, and the buzz is almost overwhelmingly bad. Also stars Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman and William Forsythe. (Not Reviewed)
10,000 B.C. (PG-13) 10,000 B.C. is the latest movie from Roland Emmerich, the man responsible for bombast-fests such as Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, which should give you a fairly good idea of what to expect. Steven Strait and Camilla Belle play early humans running around in animal furs chasing and being chased by saber tooth tigers, woolly mammoths and other big, scary CGI creatures. There are some appealingly bizarre flourishes toward the end involving possible extraterrestrial influences on a quasi-Mayan/Egyptian civilization, but the movie is mainly just dull, silly (although not enough to be truly amusing) and a bit pretentious. Inexplicably, our grimy, dreadlocked heroes speak a stilted, prosaic English from a time when contractions apparently had not yet been invented. Also stars Cliff Curtis, Joel Fry, Tim Barlow and Nathanael Baring. 2 stars
21 (PG-13) A blander Ocean's 11 meets Good Will Hunting, 21 stars Jim Sturgess as a brilliant but dirt-poor MIT student who's reluctantly recruited by a shady professor (Kevin Spacey) to partake in a card-counting scheme to take Vegas for millions. 21 is an odd and not particularly satisfying kettle of fish, loosely based on a true story but only giving off the vaguest whiffs of anything resembling authenticity. Visually, the movie is a bit drab and dark, a look probably designed to make us think something serious is going on, but that's curiously at odds with a basically jaunty sensibility that seems to aim for (but never quite achieves) the groovy swagger of the Ocean's movies. The film doesn't ever manage to communicate the kids' system very coherently, nor with much energy, and 21 consequently winds up feeling a little like a heist movie without a heist. Spacey, who also produced, is fun to watch as yet another one of those deliciously insidious characters he plays so well, but he's not enough to save the movie. Sturgess' character rises, falls and then does a bit more rising by way of a half-hearted coda, but by that time 21 is simply running on fumes. Also stars Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo, Jacob Pitts, Josh Gad and Sam Golzari. 2.5 stars
BABY MAMA (PG-13) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler offer up a watered-down version of their old SNL chemistry in this inoffensive comedy about a successful businesswoman (Fey) who hires a clueless skank (Poehler) to be the surrogate mother for her child. Nobody plays white trash as well as Poehler (it has something to do with that crazed, Nicholson-ian glint in her eye), but the script plays things too safe to let the comedian be nearly as unhinged as she needs to be. And between Poehler's antics and some juicy cameos by the likes of Steve Martin and Sigourney Weaver, the extremely funny Fey winds up reduced to a straight woman, or worse — a virtual supporting player in her own movie. There are a handful of nice moments (a Young Republican couple bonding with their Wiccan surrogate; "Endless Love" playing over an artificial insemination scene), but what pleasures there are here are nearly forgotten in a ridiculously inept final act full of forced revelations and rushed resolutions. The strong of heart can stick around for the closing credits, which feature some of the most worthless outtakes you'll ever see. Also stars Dax Shepard, Greg Kinnear, Romany Malco, Siobhan Fallon, Maura Tierney and Holland Taylor. 2.5 stars
THE BUCKET LIST (PG-13) Director Rob Reiner layers on the schmaltz, and Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman supply the star power in a meathead's delight that might just have well been called Grumpy Old Terminally Ill Men. Freeman's obligatory opening voice-over sets the tone, cramming in the words "love," "fate" and "folks" in under a minute, as dying roommates Carter (Freeman) and Edward (Nicholson) decide to spend their final months, and a sizeable chunk of the latter's fortune, doing all the things they never got around to doing. Endless footage ensues of the old coots skydiving, getting tattoos, driving fast cars, and popping up in a virtual travelogue encompassing the Taj Mahal, the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China. Freeman's wise but slightly prickly character periodically pontificates on the nature of the world, eventually teaching the meaning of life to the considerably richer but far more cynical Nicholson, and it all feels like the spitting image of a made-for-TV movie. Also stars Sean Hayes and Beverly Todd. 2 stars