After Thwarted Kidnapping Plans, Whitmer Calls for Unity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]


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By |2008-01-17T09:00:00-05:00January 17th, 2008|Uncategorized|

First Sunday
Desperate for money, best friends Durell (Ice Cube) and LeeJohn (Tracy Morgan) break into a church, meaning to relieve it of its building funds. The caper quickly turns into a hostage situation when they interrupt Pastor Mitchell’s (Chi McBride) church committee meeting and discover choirmaster Rickey (Katt Williams) holding practice. Slow, tone deaf, and completely predictable, this is more calamity than comedy, populated as it is by unfunny gags and rank stereotypes instead of characters. Ice Cube, McBride, and some of the supporting cast manage to transcend the bad writing and deliver decent performances, but Morgan’s shrill, annoying turn dominates every scene. Williams garners the only laughs with the flamboyant and presumably queer Rickey’s acerbic quips. D

Kinsey Scale: 2 (In addition to Rickey, another character is a transgender masseur, in a scene that uses LeeJohn’s homophobia as a punch line. One of the church ladies is clearly a man in drag. Co-star Keith David was in “Johns.” )

The Kite Runner
Long ensconced in California after fleeing Afghanistan as a boy during the Soviet occupation, Amir (Khalid Abdalla) reluctantly returns to Kabul. As a child, he witnessed the rape of his best friend (and servant’s son) Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) and said nothing, but in trying to save Hassan’s young son from the Taliban, he gets a shot at redemption. This richly atmospheric drama – with China standing in for Afghanistan and the San Francisco Bay Area playing itself – limns not just heartrending conflict but also conflicting cultures. English actor Abdalla is excellent as a lifelong moral coward who finally learns to transcend fear, but the soul of the movie lies in the moving performances of Afghan children Mahmidzada and Zekeria Ebrahimi, who plays the young Amir. B+

Kinsey Scale: 2 (Hassan’s attacker is portrayed as an adult still preying on young boys, presumably having grown into a gay pedophile.)


Alvin and the Chipmunks
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+

Christopher Hampton has written a literate, haunting script, the handsome period drama getting an extra lift from Keira Knightley and James McAvoy’s wrenching performances as the heartbroken couple. A

The Bucket List
Director Rob Reiner continues to retreat from the wit of movies like “When Harry Met Sally” and set up shop in a world where cheap sentimentality and cliches take the place of real comedic human interaction. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson seem to be having a good time, but it’s unlikely that you will. C-

Charlie Wilson’s War
Because the movie is based on the true story of real people, starring likable A-listers, it’s a dark comedy that never gets dark or politically pointed enough. Only the hilariously caustic presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman as a disgruntled CIA man keeps this “War” from turning into a total misfire. C+

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 Patrick Dempsey is his usual dreamy self. B+

The Golden Compass
The computer-generated images, from imagined cities to floating airships to the animal “daemons” that represent each person’s soul as an entity that lives outside the body are gorgeously rendered and completely bewitching. A

The Great Debaters
Directed by Denzel Washington, this inspirational story is based on real events and packs an emotional punch, so long as it concentrates on the team and the debates. But when the focus widens to include Tolson’s labor organizing activities and a lynching, the tonal shift is jarring, as the drama deflates into a dry, if worthy, history lesson. B-

I Am Legend
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-

A smart script and standout performances, especially from the immensely talented Ellen Page, lift “Juno” out of the teen romantic comedy heap and make it an engaging, female-centered alternative to “Knocked Up.” A

No Country for Old Men
Its darkness is necessary and keeps the film from descending into irony and detachment, something its creators, the Coen Brothers, have been accused of in the past. Not this time. They created possibly the best film of their already-acclaimed career. A

P.S. I Love You
It is an odd love story in which flashbacks to the marriage reveal a less than happy union. No surprise there: she’s a shrew, and her grating Irish mate comes across as a strapping, handsome version of the Lucky Charms leprechaun. A talented cast and some beautiful locations are wasted on this dreck. D

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
It’s extremely gory but fiendish fun, a meditation on evil, revenge, irony, and futility that could only be made by a director as willfully weird as Burton. Consider it a twisted holiday gift from both a director and star who were seemingly destined to bring out each others’ strengths. A

There Will Be Blood
Though Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is overly mannered, the drama provides a searing, unforgettable portrait of avarice – at least until it goes off the rails in its ridiculous final scenes. B+

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
This family film’s quality lies in its solid production values and its ability to straddle the expectations of audiences on either side of the generation line – both a sweet fantasy for children and a parable about growing up that adults will find unexpectedly moving. 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 27th anniversary.