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By |2008-03-20T09:00:00-04:00March 20th, 2008|Uncategorized|

March 17, 2008

NEW THIS WEEK

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who
Realizing that an entire world is contained on what looks like a speck of dust, Horton the elephant (voice of Jim Carrey) risks derision and worse from neighbors who refuse to believe that something they cannot hear or see can possibly exist. Meanwhile, in microscopic Whoville, the mayor (Steve Carell) faces a similar dilemma when no one else believes that the community is in danger. While a tad overlong, this animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ classic fable is mostly a delight as it supplements eye-popping computer graphics with clever homages to old-school cel cartoons. Witty enough to amuse adults as well as tots, the tale also benefits from a strong cast. Carrey and Carell are terrific, but Carol Burnett as Horton’s stern kangaroo nemesis is pure genius. A-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Carell played a gay man in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Among the co-stars, Will Arnett guest starred on “Will & Grace.”)

Never Back Down
Transfer student Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) and rich kid bully Ryan McCarthy (Cam Gigandet) have nothing in common but anger management and daddy issues, which have left both young men addicted to solving their problems with their fists. Jake is trying to change, but after Ryan humiliates him at a party, he prepares for a final showdown by training in mixed martial arts. On the surface, this ham-fisted teen action yarn doubles as a message movie that insists that fighting is no way to answer life’s difficulties. But it undercuts its own message by practically becoming fight porn when its gorgeous young men parade their ripped abs as they kick, punch, and gouge each other, the camera lingering lovingly on the flowing blood and blossoming bruises. C-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Besides the young men’s abs, there is a short scene of two girls making out and a throwaway line that suggests one of Jake’s male classmates is gay. Faris had a recurring role on “Undressed” and appeared in the homoerotic horror film “The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks.”)

Sleepwalking
James (Nick Stahl) is a simple, slow-moving construction worker who, as a teenager, ran away with his sister Joleen (Charlize Theron) from their abusive father (Dennis Hopper). Now, with the sudden disappearance of the troubled Joleen, James finds himself caring for her 12-year-old daughter Tara (AnnaSophia Robb). Together they hit the road, eventually returning to James’ childhood home, where almost nothing has changed, especially the cruelty of the family patriarch. It’s a bleak story, one where less obvious, one-note direction and a script that allowed for its characters to be more than stereotypically depressed indie-movie white trash would have helped a lot. But this woefully miserable tale of child abandonment and resilience is way too heavy on the high drama and too light on real human moments. It could use a wake-up call of its own. C

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Theron played lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster.” Co-star Woody Harrelson played a gay man in “The Walker.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS

The Bank Job
A talented cast is wasted on undernourished roles, characters so thinly sketched that their dangerous predicament generates very little suspense. C

College Road Trip
If there was any question about a happy ending, then remember that this is a sweet-natured, squeaky clean family comedy from Disney – in other words, a college-themed film for the same 8-year-olds who love “High School Musical.” B

Definitely, Maybe
This is the rare romantic comedy that is smart as well as funny, populated by well-rounded and likable characters, and that ends with a wholly satisfying payoff. A

Fool’s Gold
Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson share little chemistry, perhaps because what is no doubt supposed to be his rakish charm comes across as pure sleaze. C-

Jumper
The regular-Joe superhero concept is clever, particularly as embodied by David’s cynical rival Griffin (Jamie Bell). But with wimpy Hayden Christensen and wan Rachel Bilson in the leads, it is impossible to care much what happens to feckless David or his whiny girlfriend. C-

Juno
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

The Other Boleyn Girl
What might have been a riveting look at a king’s tragic mistreatment of these women is instead a weepy romance, as the Boleyn girls fall hard for the doe-eyed royal, a sensitive lover who just happens to have a short attention span and access to a chopping block. C

Penelope
Christina Ricci and James McAvoy make as adorable a couple as could be asked for in a grown-up fairy tale – one that’s also suitable for more sophisticated kids – and even curmudgeons may find themselves rooting for the pair by happily-ever-after’s end. B+

The Spiderwick Chronicles
While it’s probably too intense for the under-5 set, their older brothers and sisters will appreciate the excellent special effects, almost nonstop action, the many fabulous creatures, and the ingenious – if sometimes hilariously prosaic – ways the kids find to battle the goblins. A-

Vantage Point
Once the conspiracy comes into full focus, it is so complex and so all-encompassing that the tale becomes laughable, made more so by ludicrous chase scenes, stiff dialogue, and the absence of strong characters. C-

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.