Outtakes

Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area.

ANGER MANAGEMENT (PG-13) Another drab installment of recycled humor starring Adam Sandler, the most typecast comic actor of our time. Sandler plays Dave Buznik, a neurotic who struggles to masquerade his angst by being non-confrontational. And after an altercation with a flight attendant, Dave is court ordered to participate in an anger management program. His therapist, Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), takes an unconventional approach in treating him. Jack Nicholson is the only new element in this formulaic Sandler flick. The plot relies on the same mold as his other films. Reoccurring characters and gags are aplenty. Also stars Marisa Tomei, John Turturro, Kevin Nealon and Woody Harrelson. —Corey Myers

A MIGHTY WIND (PG-13) From Waiting to Guffman to Best of Show to this slight but splendid send-up of resurgent retro-folkies, Christopher Guest's movies have increasingly come to resemble exquisitely crafted miniatures, perfectly detailed and each set in a specific sub-culture of America. These delightful little films are commonly thought of as mockumentaries, but there really isn't all that much mocking going on. Guest and long-time co-conspirators Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Eugene Levy know their subject matter inside out, and — even when it borders on the insipid, as in the ersatz '60s folk music on display here — treat it with great care and affection. The movie plays things loose and naturalistic, with even the best and craziest zingers delivered in a deadpan manner so bone dry it sometimes takes a second or two for the sheer hilarity of what's just transpired to sink in. Even if A Mighty Wind isn't quite up to the standards of Guest's previous work, it's still a treat, and better than 99 per cent of what passes for comedies out there in the Megaplexes this summer. Also stars Catherine O'Hara and Parker Posey.

AUSTRALIA: LAND BEYOND TIME (PG) The film takes us Down Under to the flattest, driest continent on earth, immerses us in parched, otherworldly landscapes and introduces us to tons of incredibly odd and supremely adaptable animals 1/2

BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (PG-13) A far more satisfying spin on modern gals grappling with Old World cultural values (and cliches) than My Big Fat Greek Wedding. At the center of the story is Jess (Jesminder to her parents), a nice Indian girl who just wants to follow her dream to play soccer, much to the dismay of dear old mum and dad. Much of what follows is fairly predictable but ultimately winning stuff. Director Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach) toys with scores of cliches and conventions, but manages to transcend them all by keeping a firm grip on the bottom line: creating appealing and believable characters, and giving them an interesting and convincing world to live in. The movie gives us a little bit of everything, crossing smoothly from genre to genre and packing all of its elements tightly together in one groovy little package: romantic comedy, coming-of-age drama, sports movie. Stars Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Anupam Kher.

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE (PG-13) Steve Martin and Queen Latifah star in what the previews reveal to be the standard Hollywood comedy that starts with a wacky Internet match-up but winds up with Ms. Latifah as helper-to-the-rescue a la Mrs. Doubtfire. (Not Reviewed)

BRUCE ALMIGHTY (PG-13) You've seen the trailers and you get the drift: Jim Carrey is endowed with omnipotent power when God decides to sit back and let him run the show for awhile. It's a premise that should have led to great comedic things, but it's almost completely wasted by a lazy, by-the-numbers script that doesn't do a single thing we weren't expecting. There's a nice moment toward the beginning where Carrey parts the waters of a bowl of tomato soup, but it's all downhill from there. It's still fun watching Carrey bounce around and mug for the camera, but the movie simply lacks the imagination to provide any support or follow-through. It all feels like a weak sitcom and makes for one of the most lifeless projects the actor-comedian's ever been involved with. Also stars Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.

CHICAGO (PG-13) Rob Marshall pulls out all the stops in this lavish, big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical about a 1920s chorus girl who shoots her lover, goes to jail and becomes a big celebrity. Taking place simultaneously in gritty reality and in the projected fantasies of its characters, the movie cleverly folds its story into a series of show-stopping musical numbers. Stars Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John C. Reilly and Taye Diggs.

CONFIDENCE (R) Ed Burns is the black hole at the center of yet another heist movie recycling familiar bits and pieces of Tarantino, David Mamet and old fashioned film noir. Burns is smooth but bland as Jake Vig, a slick grifter who eventually fleeces the wrong guy and winds up working a scam by way of paying off a debt to a very strange little gangster (played to the hilt by Dustin Hoffman. The film's plot ultimately just boils down to the convoluted mechanics of the various scams and heists that occur, and the characters simply aren't appealing or human enough to make us really care about too much of it. Doug Jung's lazy script relies way too heavily on flashbacks and voice-overs, and director James Foley lights it all in ghoulish reds and greens right out of Glengarry Glen Ross, but doesn't quite know how to save the movie. Also stars Rachel Weisz, Paul Glamatti and Andy Garcia. 1/2

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