Spring 2011 Movie Preview: I Am, Hall Pass, The Adjustment Bureau, Sundance

I Am: From Ace Ventura to the meaning of life

Even by the outsized standards of Hollywood, Tom Shadyac (pronounced shade-e-ack) is an amazingly successful director. The man behind Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty and The Nutty Professor (among others), Shadyac (right) raked in millions of dollars by producing silly but critic-proof comedies that made the masses howl. Then in 2007, he had a serious, life-threatening bicycle accident, with his prolonged recovery shifting his entire perspective on life. Once healed physically, Shadyac grabbed a camera and a crew of four, and traveled the globe quizzing the smartest humans he could find on the ways of modern man. What he found flipped his entire understanding of life on its head. The resulting movie, a documentary called I Am, looks like an entertaining, thoughtful account of Shadyac's search for meaning. The director of Ace Ventura hunts the meaning of life? This I have to see. I Am is currently slated for a February release, but probably won't filter down to Bay area screens until later in the spring or early summer. —Joe Bardi


Whatever gets big buzz out of Sundance. Right now, I'm hearing good things about The Greatest Story Ever Sold, Hobo With A Shotgun and My Idiot Brother, but you never know until they show...

Film festivals. In addition to heavy-hitters Gasparilla International Film Festival (March 24-27) and Sarasota Film Festival (April 7-17), also be on the lookout for the Channelside Cinemas-hosted India Film Fest (Feb. 18-20) and the always-classy Ybor Festival of the Moving Image (March 23-28).

Hall Pass (Feb. 25). It's been a long time since directors the Farrelly Brothers made anything as good as There's Something About Mary, one of the best comedies of the 1990s, but these folks are capable of greatness. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudekis as two dudes who get a week off from marriage, only to see their wives live it up more successfully than they do. (Caveat: The trailer looks stupid.)

The Adjustment Bureau (March 4). Matt Damon and Emily Blundt in what looks like a flashy update of the excellent Dark City. But can it be anywhere near as compelling?

Battle: Los Angeles (March 11). Yet another yarn about an alien invasion of earth, this one starring Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez. Will it be more Skyline or Independence Day? And is either a good thing?

Cedar Rapids (March 11). The Office's Ed Helms further mines his dork-with-a-heart-of-gold shtick in the story of a desk jockey who gets sent on his first industry junket and goes hog-wild (parties, drinking, awkward sex) after falling under the spell of John C. Reilly. The trailer makes this one look like the best comedy of the spring.

Paul (March 18). The latest from Superbad director Greg Mottola features an excellent cast (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Jane Lynch and Sigourney Weaver) with Seth Rogen providing the voice of the titular character, a smart-ass, culture-wise alien trapped on earth and looking for a ride home.

Sucker Punch (March 25). I have no idea what it's all about, save that it's directed by Zach Snyder (Watchmen, 300) and doesn't feature a single animated owl.

Source Code (April 1). A sci-fi mindbender about a soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) who investigates a suspicious train derailment by using a technology that allows him to jump into the body of a person on the train for the last eight minutes before he died.

Arthur (April 8). Russell Brand stepping into Dudley Moore's signature role? If anyone can pull it off, it's got to be Brand, whose outlandish public persona should work as a modern-day update of Moore's lovable drunk.