Malcolm McDowell, Dr. Seuss and more

New and current releases

Page 2 of 7

BONNEVILLE (PG-13) A chick flick for the over-50 set, this warm, fuzzy and thoroughly formulaic outing focuses on three women-of-a-certain-age transporting a loved one's ashes cross-country. Jessica Lange is the sensitive, grieving widow, Joan Allen is the prim and proper companion, Kathy Bates is the good-natured earth mama, and each role lazily conforms to the basic screen personae with which each of these actresses is most commonly identified. The women talk about their lives, squabble over issues big and small, hug, cry, and hug some more. Love and loss are encountered in a variety of predictable ways, montages play out to assorted popular tunes, and a long future on the Lifetime channel is assured. Also stars Christine Baranski, Tom Skerritt, Victor Rasuk and Tom Amandes. 2 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

CHARLIE BARTLETT (R) Precocious, privileged Charlie (Anton Yelchin) is booted out of prep school and forced to join the unwashed masses at public school in Charlie Bartlett — a movie that seems determined to recycle Rushmore for a new generation. After being subjected to some cursory bullying, Charlie too-quickly learns to make friends and influence people by supplying them with various highly coveted prescription drugs and playing shrink to his classmates in the boy's bathroom. Robert Downey Jr. is both believable and borderline dangerous, but there's not much else about Charlie Bartlett that's particularly convincing. Too many of the characters are lazily written (the school bully, the depressed loner, the slow, fat kid), the movie's sense of ironic detachment comes and goes (the drug pushing is sometimes played for laughs, sometimes for pathos), and the quirks are often uncomfortably forced. Also stars Kat Dennings, Tyler Hilton and Hope Davis. 2.5 stars

CLOVERFIELD (R) The pitch here would barely fill a cocktail napkin — Blair Witch meets Godzilla — and the film never really makes a stab at expanding that conceit. The first half-hour introduces us to both the bogus concept (amateurish shaky-cam footage supposedly translating as a more credible, intensified reality) and to the disposable characters, a bunch of shallow yuppie twerps attending a going-away party for one of their pals. We're forced to sit through endless, headache-inducing footage of these non-entities standing around making small talk before things summarily start blowing up, and the big, bad monster initiates the extended (but not particularly exciting) chase scene that is Cloverfield. We're supposed to believe that everything we're seeing is being shot by one of the characters on his camcorder, but badly framed shots and nonexistent editing can only be excused so far. The giant monster is a huge guilty pleasure (I particularly liked the smaller, even more repulsive creatures that drop from its limbs like lice) — but, a few special effects aside, this mess looks like anyone could have made it, and not in a remotely interesting way. If this is the future of filmmaking, brace yourself for what comes next. Stars Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller, Jessica Lucas and Mike Vogel. 1.5 stars

DEFINITELY, MAYBE (PG-13) This sweet but not exactly starry-eyed romantic comedy challenges us to figure out which of its multiple dreamgirls is the real Ms. Right, keeping us guessing long enough to qualify as the Where's Waldo of rom-coms. Ryan Reynolds stars as a vaguely dissatisfied dad telling his precocious young daughter about how he met her mother. The twist here is that Reynolds relates a tale involving a trio of old flames, giving all of the women pseudonyms in order to prolong the suspense and keep the identity of the woman he'll eventually marry a secret until the last possible moment. The three women — conveniently color coded as a blonde, a brunette and a redhead — are all equally adorable and receive roughly equal screen time, so it's pretty much anyone's guess whom Reynolds will wind up with. The movie overstays its welcome by at least 15 minutes, but it's still nice to see a romantic comedy that doesn't get completely dragged into the pitfalls of formula or fall all over itself aping the new rom-com standards established by Judd Apatow and the Farrelly Brothers. Also stars Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz, Kevin Kline, Derek Luke and Abigail Breslin. 3 stars

Scroll to read more Events & Film articles

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.