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By | 2008-04-03T09:00:00-04:00 April 3rd, 2008|Entertainment|

After leading his men into an ambush in Iraq, Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) is happy to leave the service behind. But the army involuntarily extends his duty as part of its “stop-loss” program, and the decorated soldier goes AWOL, determined not to return to the war zone. This cheesy, often incoherent melodrama lets down Phillippe and the rest of a strong cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum. Undoubtedly meant as a critique of stop-loss, the film instead insults the very combat veterans it purports to defend. King and his friends’ post-traumatic stress expresses itself in rage, delusion, violence, and alcoholism, a portrayal that suggests these men – too far gone for civilian life – are only fit to be cannon fodder. D

Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (His commanding officer tells King that being gay would be one of his few avenues out of stop-loss. Director Kimberly Peirce is lesbian, and her first film was the award-winning Brandon Teena biopic, “Boys Don’t Cry.” Phillippe played a bisexual in “Gosford Park,” and had an early role as a gay teen on the soap “One Life to Live.” Gordon-Levitt starred in “Mysterious Skin” and “Latter Days,” and played a gay student in an episode of “That ’70s Show.” Co-stars with queer credits include Timothy Olyphant, Linda Emond, Abbie Cornish, and Alex Frost.)

MIT professor Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey) has designed a foolproof method for winning at blackjack, counting cards to turn casinos into cash machines. Preferring to remain in the background, he recruits students, including Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), to work the scheme, a deal that comes off beautifully until casino security chief Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne) smells a rat just as Campbell asserts his independence. If there were such a thing as a master class in mediocrity, this lame, utterly predictable drama would be it. Spacey and Fishburne phone it in; their young co-stars are all photogenic but so bland as to be personality-free. Every machination of the plot is completely predictable. Even worse, every line of dialogue and virtually every shot is a complete cliche. C

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Spacey played a gay man in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and was the object of an unbalanced closet case’s desire in “American Beauty.” Fishburne appeared in “The Color Purple.” Co-star Kate Bosworth was in “The Rules of Attraction.”)


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

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who
Witty enough to amuse adults as well as tots, the tale also benefits from a strong cast. Jim Carrey and Steve Carell are terrific, but Carol Burnett as Horton’s stern kangaroo nemesis is pure genius. A-

Drillbit Taylor
This high-school-themed movie never rises above a junior high school mentality. Everyone involved deserves detention. C-

Never Back Down
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-

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

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-

10,000 B.C.
Steven Strait and Camilla Belle are beautiful but blank, a pair of Stone Age mannequins who are not nearly as lively as the mammoths, saber-toothed tiger, giant, emu-like birds, and other computer-generated creatures they encounter. 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 27th anniversary.