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BTL Staff
By | 2007-12-20T09:00:00-04:00 December 20th, 2007|Entertainment|
NEW THIS WEEK:

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Alvin, Simon, and Theodore (voices of Justin Long, Jesse McCartney, and Matthew Gubler) return to the pop-culture landscape updated – freshly computer-generated for a new generation of animation audiences. The plot, such as it is, involves manager Dave (Jason Lee) turning the singing animals into pop stars, and, in gratitude, the adorable little rodents turning his life upside-down with their destructive antics. Young children will love this sort of thing, but adults will most likely be split into different camps: those who grew up on the Chipmunks themselves, disappointed that the beloved cartoon characters have been tampered with at all, and those who clearly remember that the little guys were pretty obnoxious the first time around, so any modern take isn’t going to be that off the mark. In any case, this is squarely a children’s film, neither great nor awful. Adult enjoyment is an afterthought. C+

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Lee played a homophobic cartoonist in Kevin Smith’s lesbian-themed comedy “Chasing Amy.” Later, the same character shows up having come out as gay in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” Long played a gay gallery assistant in “The Breakup.” Co-star Jane Lynch is an out lesbian, and has also played gay. Co-star David Cross played a gay husband to Portia de Rossi on “Arrested Development.”)

I Am Legend
What was hailed as a cure for cancer instead has decimated humanity, killing almost everyone and reducing the living to vampire-like near-zombies. One exception is Robert Neville (Will Smith), a Manhattan virologist still searching for a cure and broadcasting a radio transmission daily in fading hope of finding other healthy survivors. Smith is excellent, and this apocalyptic thriller is compelling at the start as it limns Neville’s daily routine, fragile state of mind, and memories of the epidemic’s beginnings and the last time he saw his family. Once it becomes a monster movie, the drama loses steam, the suspense and horror inherent in the premise dissipating under an onslaught of creatures that are obviously nothing more than ridiculous computer-generated inventions. B-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Smith played a gay man in “Six Degrees of Separation” and produced the lesbian rom-com “Saving Face.” Co-star Dash Mihok had roles in “Connie and Carla” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Co-star Emma Thompson was in “Angels in America” and “Carrington.”)

The Perfect Holiday
Single mom Nancy (Gabrielle Union) meets underemployed songwriter Ben (Morris Chestnut) and the sparks fly over Christmas. The catch? She’s the ex-wife of a famous rapper and wants to settle down with a “regular guy,” which means that Ben has to lie about selling office supplies instead of songs – not that he sells many of those either. What the movie tries to sell is something else altogether: a rotten rom-com masquerading as a Christmas classic. The uninspired script and dismal direction would like audiences to root for the lovers; but every line of dialogue, every moronic sub-sitcom scrape they get into, every grating, obnoxious supporting character, every mawkish attempt at Christmas warmth, feels more like a yuletide beating than a perfect holiday greeting. So stay far away from this dried-out tasteless fruitcake – unless you’re a family member or close friend of someone in the cast. F

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Features Queen Latifah in several inane cameos as a magical, omniscient narrator.)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

American Gangster
The pace is slow, and director Ridley Scott wastes too much time exploring Roberts’ failed marriage, but electrifying performances from Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and a large supporting cast offset those minor sins. A-

August Rush
It’s a fairy tale, of course, but unfortunately, one that doesn’t seem to want to believe it “is” one – which turns a plot that should feel magical into one that’s frequently laughable. C+

Bee Movie
Jerry Seinfeld gets off a few funny jokes, and Matthew Broderick adds an amiable supporting turn as Barry’s best bee buddy, but this is a mostly a leaden affair, boring for kids and grown-ups alike. C

Beowulf
If the book put you to sleep in high school English class, nothing will prepare you for the jolt you’ll receive once the 3D glasses go on. A-

Dan in Real Life
The three young actresses who play Dan’s daughters are shrill; and a veteran supporting cast is wasted in roles that give them little to do except fill space. Steve Carell generates a few laughs, but those are rarities in this bland and mediocre affair. C-

Enchanted
Disney spoofs itself with this witty, adult-friendly, cockeyed musical fairy tale, albeit shakily at first, as the animated riff on “Cinderella” and “Snow White” is excruciatingly saccharine. But the story soon finds its comic footing as sweet, oblivious Giselle first appalls and then charms Robert. Amy Adams is adorable, James Marsden is hilarious as the dimwitted royal, and Dempsey is his usual dreamy self. B+

Fred Claus
Despite its flaws, the movie is weirdly entrancing, mostly thanks to the attractive qualities the three leads bring to the party: Vince Vaughn’s rumpled, slacker charm; Paul Giamatti’s warmth; and Kevin Spacey’s acid wit. B-

I’m Not There
This is a fascinating, provocative work that requires no real Dylan knowledge to appreciate, though it may frustrate those who crave a traditional linear narrative. A

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
The colorful toy store setting is a child’s dream, while adults will appreciate the fable’s dry wit and surprising poignancy. A sprite-like Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman are wonderful, but Zach Mills and Jason Bateman, as the emporium’s initially skeptical accountant, are downright entrancing. A

The Walker
The mystery itself disappoints, unraveling like a half-baked afterthought, and a talented group of actresses is wasted on undernourished, stereotypical characters. B-

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.