September 4, 2006
NEW THIS WEEK:
At Idlewild, Georgia’s hottest speakeasy – named “Church” – local undertaker Percival (Andre Benjamin) tickles the ivories, and his boyhood friend Rooster (Antwan A. Patton) sings. It is also the place where their lives veer in opposite directions as Percival romances chanteuse Angel (Paula Patton), while Rooster locks horns with psycho gangster Trumpy (Terrence Howard). Benjamin and Antwan Patton are better known as the hip-hop duo OutKast, so it isn’t surprising that the songs in this Depression-era pastiche are anachronistic. That conceit works – musical interludes featuring Hinton Battle’s muscular choreography are spectacular – but the drama never gels. While Benjamin is appealing, he lacks chemistry with his leading lady. His partner Patton fares even worse, coming across as colorless and wooden, and no match for the charismatic Howard.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Macy Gray as one of the club’s singers leads a chorus line in a sexy, sapphic number. Howard appeared in the queer melodrama “Johns,” Gray had a role in “Domino,” and co-star Cicely Tyson was in Hollywood’s watered-down adaptation of Fannie Flagg’s novel “Fried Green Tomatoes.”)
In the summer of 1976, part-time bartender Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) feels as if he is as big a loser as his beloved but floundering Philadelphia Eagles. So when rookie NFL coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) announces open tryouts, scrappy bar league player Papale only reluctantly heeds the call and shocks himself when that audition leads to an invitation to training camp and a chance to make the team. This fact-based Cinderella tale hews closely to the familiar cliches of the inspirational sports drama, but it transcends that hackneyed outline to emerge as far better than average. Wahlberg and Kinnear head an exceptional cast; the on-field action is convincingly bone-jarring; and director Ericson Core does a masterful job in evocatively re-creating the mid-’70s era.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (There is a lot of male bonding, but not a whiff of homoeroticism. Wahlberg starred in “Boogie Nights,” while Kinnear received an Oscar nod for his performance as the gay neighbor in “As Good As It Gets,” and also starred in “Auto Focus,” “The Matador,” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” Co-stars with queer credits include Elizabeth Banks, Kirk Acevedo, Kevin Conway, Michael Nouri, and Paige Turco.)
ALSO IN THEATERS:
“Accepted” is no classic, but it takes smarts to make a movie this dumb be this entertaining.
Kinsey Scale: 1
This would-be comedy clocks in at just under 90 minutes, but it feels endless, probably because there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before far too many times.
Kinsey Scale: 1
Performances are excellent, but it is depressing to see an actor as talented as Rufus Sewell reduced to such a cartoon villain.
Kinsey Scale: 1
Little Miss Sunshine
The outrageous humor is often pitch black, crowned by a show-stopping beauty-pageant climax, yet the comedy is also sweet and affectionate toward its wounded characters. And the ensemble cast is terrific.
Kinsey Scale: 2
World Trade Center
What is remarkable is that while the early scenes – particularly those that use documentary footage – are disturbing, what emerges is something far more optimistic. Instead of dwelling on terror and tragedy, the movie celebrates the triumph of the human spirit.
Kinsey Scale: 1.5