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BTL Staff
By | 2007-08-16T09:00:00-04:00 August 16th, 2007|Entertainment|

August 20, 2007

NEW THIS WEEK:

Daddy Day Camp

Charlie Hinton (Cuba Gooding Jr.) attempts to resurrect the “Driftwood” summer day camp he attended as a child, a facility that’s now near bankruptcy and in major disrepair. Its rival, a moneyed, plush camp called “Canola,” is full of arrogant, spoiled rich kids. Charlie takes out a second mortgage on his home and sinks it into the camp as it struggles to survive, but Canola’s owner is determined to destroy Charlie’s dreams – the kind of fake problem used by screenwriters to set the stage for lots of flatulence, vomit, and poop jokes, most of them written for and aimed squarely at a preteen audience. This movie has more than its share of those gags and little else. Neither wild enough to earn many laughs from children, nor interesting or smart enough to give adults something pay attention to, it’s worse than being stuck in a mosquito-infested tent. D-

Kinsey Scale: 0 (Gooding Jr. played starred in the gay-themed comedy “Boat Trip” and played a gay man in “As Good As It Gets.”)

Rush Hour 3

Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) holiday in France for this third installment of the action-comedy franchise. Chinese triads are once again causing trouble for the crime-fighting duo by critically wounding an ambassador and then kidnapping his daughter after she’s swept off to Paris for safekeeping. And once Tucker and Chan arrive in the City of Lights, it’s one big helping of “ooh la la” cliches after another. But the dumb gags are amiable, the action sequences are serviceable, and the two leads are a weird, box-office-friendly combination of endearing and embarrassing. It’s definitely a lazy film, in spite of its elaborate action sequences, but at least it’s not offensive. B-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (The script contains several harmless gay jokes that are simply part of the mix of this movie’s scattershot approach to friendly insulting of all types of human difference – including the two main characters’ constant race-baiting.)

Stardust

When a star falls from the sky, it is revealed to be a beautiful woman, Yvaine (Claire Danes). Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) wants to bring her back to his village to impress a girl, but others in pursuit have deadlier motives, in particular, elderly witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), who hopes to literally capture Yvaine’s heart. Based on Neil Gaiman’s best-selling fantasy novel, this adult fairy tale offers a sometimes awkward mix of romantic enchantment and lowbrow comedy. Most of the cornball comic digressions fall flat, but overall this is an appealing, suspenseful, and lively affair, thanks to Cox and Danes’ amiable chemistry, Pfeiffer’s wonderfully deadpan performance, the winning central story, and the evocatively rendered magical land populated by fallen stars, witches, murderous princes, unicorns, and flying pirate ships. B

Kinsey Scale: 2 (Robert De Niro plays a flamboyant, but closeted, cross-dressing pirate. Ian McKellen is the narrator, while Rupert Everett has a supporting role. De Niro co-starred in “Flawless”; Pfeiffer appeared in the musical “Hairspray”; Danes was in “Evening,” “Stage Beauty,” and “The Hours”; and Everett and McKellen both boast numerous queer roles, and are openly gay. Among their co-stars with queer credits are Sienna Miller, who played Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick in “Factory Girl,” and Jason Flemyng, who had a role in “Hollow Reed.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

The Bourne Ultimatum

Motivation and characterization are sketchy at best, but it scarcely matters, as director Paul Greengrass amps up the adrenalin and suspense in this stylish, globetrotting adventure. The action rarely flags, and Damon is superb, rendering Bourne’s most outlandish actions completely believable. A-

Bratz: The Movie

The dolls are horrible, but this movie is no less toxic to impressionable minds. Racial and ethnic stereotypes abound, as does the idea that, vicious or nice, all girls are basically shallow. Also, what kind of message does it send when the Bratz get even with mean girl Meredith by turning mean themselves? D-

El Cantante

Strangely enough, Hector Lavoe’s artistic process and whatever forces motivated him to destroy his life with heroin are neglected, so the finished product goes nowhere new, only coming alive when Marc Anthony sings and Jennifer Lopez dances. But when that music stops, so does the movie. C-

Hairspray

The songs are infectious, costumes and set design are eye-popping, and director/choreographer Adam Shankman leads the ensemble through some wicked dance moves. The entire cast – led by adorable newcomer Blonsky and a surprisingly endearing John Travolta in the drag role of Tracy’s mother Edna – appears to be having a blast. A

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Audiences expecting a lighthearted romp through a magical teenage fantasyland will get a big dose of angst and adolescent brooding instead. That’s not to say the film shortchanges viewers on adventure or action – both of which are in plentiful supply – but the higher the stakes in the war of good vs. evil, the darker the tunnels the maturing characters have to travel. In other words, leave the little ones at home. B+

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

The movie is kind of like a dopey friend who tries hard to understand “the whole gay thing” and puts his foot in his mouth along the way. A lot. B-

Live Free or Die Hard

As always, Bruce Willis excels in a role that perfectly fits his sardonic, “regular Joe” persona. John McClane is less action hero than blue-collar, stand-up guy determined to set aside personal safety and fear to get the job done. A

No Reservations

What it lacks in originality, however, it more than makes up for in solid, nonshowy performances by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Abigail Breslin (only Aaron Eckhart is occasionally annoying as the faux-opera-singing free-spirit) and gently affecting moments of aunt/child bonding. While it’s not the sophisticated movie meal some might hope for, it’s not a trite, greasy, junk binge either – it’s more like comfort food. B

Ratatouille

Sophisticated enough for adults and full of cute comic animals children will love, it’s that rarest of dishes: an animated feature any age will happily eat with a spoon. A

The Simpsons Movie

The laughs come steadily, with the “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon that opens the film and Homer’s interactions with his porcine companion providing particular hilarity. The only downside is that even though the movie is nearly 90 minutes long, many beloved regular characters are relegated to little more than cameos. A-

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.