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By | 2008-06-26T09:00:00-04:00 June 26th, 2008|Entertainment|
NEW THIS WEEK

Get Smart
Freshly promoted CONTROL secret agent Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) and his skeptical partner Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) travel to Russia to investigate a nuclear weapons theft. They come face to face with Siegfried (Terence Stamp), leader of the super-covert U.S. organization’s archenemy, KAOS, and sense a larger conspiracy afoot. Carell is brilliant as the brainy, enthusiastic, but bumbling spy in a role that allows him to deliver his lines with dry aplomb while executing perfect slapstick. This well-cast adaptation of the 1960s-era sitcom emphasizes big action scenes, along with silly comedy and a touch of romance. Fans of the old show will delight in the many loving homages sprinkled throughout, but no familiarity with the TV series is required to relish the movie’s absurdity. B+

Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (There are a couple of queer jokes, and one kiss between two of the male stars that, while played strictly for laughs, is still kind of hot. Carell was the gay Proust scholar in “Little Miss Sunshine” and also took over Paul Lynde’s Uncle Arthur role in the movie version of “Bewitched.” Hathaway co-starred in “Brokeback Mountain.” Stamp was a transsexual in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and a seductive bisexual in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Teorema.” Among the supporting cast with queer credits are Carell’s “Little Miss Sunshine” co-star Alan Arkin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Bill Murray.)

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
Kit Kittredge (Abigail Breslin) is an ambitious girl living in Cincinnati during the Great Depression. Her family takes in boarders to get by while Kit focuses on her dream of becoming a writer and having her work published in the local newspaper. As luck would have it, a mysterious crime wave unfolds in town, implicating local jobless men. So it’s up to the resourceful Kit to find out who’s really responsible. Naturally, the casting of charismatic young Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin was a no-brainer for this charming family film. And she’s ably supported by a winning ensemble of character actors like Stanley Tucci and Joan Cusack, who – thanks to the sweet-yet-no-nonsense script and direction – all get a chance to shine. It’s the kind of film that parents and children – boys as well as girls – can enjoy together, a rare treat for adults already tired of loud, brainless summer movies. B+

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Director Patricia Rozema helmed the lesbian-themed films “When Night Is Falling” and “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing.” Breslin co-starred in the queer-inclusive “Little Miss Sunshine.” Tucci played a gay fashionista in “The Devil Wears Prada,” and Cusack co-starred in “In and Out.”)

The Love Guru
Guru Pitka (Mike Myers) is the world’s second most famous Eastern-influenced self-help leader. (Deepak Chopra’s popularity and his Oprah endorsement are forever thorns in the careerist Pitka’s side.) He’s hired by a Canadian hockey team’s beleaguered owner (Jessica Alba) to help the performance of the star player (Romany Malco), whose game has suffered since his wife (Meagan Good) left him for another player (Justin Timberlake). That simple plot is the framework onto which are limply hung the lamest, least-funny gags (people from India sure do have funny names! spraying people with urine is a riot!) that producer and co-screenwriter Myers could come up with. In other words, the blame for this miserable, laugh-free 90 minutes can be laid squarely on his shoulders, provided they’re not shaking with his own laughter while he busily cracks himself up. He seems to be enjoying his own tired shtick quite a bit. You won’t. D-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Alba’s character mentions a brief lesbian fling for the sake of an erection joke. Myers played gay Studio 54 co-creator Steve Rubell in “54.” Timberlake had a cameo as a gay man in Lance Bass’ acting debut, “On the Line.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS

Baby Mama
The script ups and downs – the weakest link in this winning comedy – serve only to highlight how talented Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are at keeping even sometimes-middling material afloat. These women are a comedy force to be reckoned with – a pairing that, given an edgier, less conventional script, would rival the greats of film comedy. They make this sometimes ugly baby a keeper. B

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
It is occasionally enchanting, mostly in its quieter moments when animals like the warrior mouse Reepicheep (Eddie Izzard) and the wise badger Trufflehunter (Ken Stott) lend gentle comic relief. B-

The Happening
The magnitude of the tragedy presented in the movie’s early moments doesn’t balance the weakly explained final act. As “happenings” go, it’s barely there. C-

The Incredible Hulk
The story, co-written by Norton, keeps things on an appealingly human level, despite the larger-than-life antics, and the all-star cast is nothing short of terrific. B

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The supporting cast is terrific, but the film belongs to the superb, sardonic Harrison Ford, who wears the iconic character like a second skin, and at 65, still completely convinces as an energetic, athletic, resourceful, and unstoppable action hero. A-

Iron Man
It’s those wildly exciting battle scenes that keep this popcorn adventure blasting its way through nearly two hours of humor, intelligence, and even political commentary. The first summer movie of 2008 is also going to be the one to beat for sheer excellence. A

Kung Fu Panda
The film nicely sidesteps the pitfalls that have ruined so many recent animated features – namely, sarcastic and pop-culture-heavy dialogue that will easily date the entire enterprise, obnoxious characters, and showy A-list actor voice performances. It relies instead on sweetness, wildly animated kung fu battles, and a cuddly panda to root for. A-

The Promotion
Writer/director Steve Conrad’s stroke of genius was casting Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly, both of whom remain immensely likable even when behaving badly, and who are completely believable as nice guys discovering their inner jerks when the pressure is on. B+

Sex and the City
It is a weirdly ugly movie with flat, badly lit cinematography seemingly designed to emphasize the now-middle-aged cast’s every wrinkle. And it plays like a TV episode, recycling plots and even dialogue from the series, while the flaccid pace and shallow characterizations will not win the franchise any new fans. C-

The Strangers
When the doomed couple make all the wrong moves and suffer the eventual consequences, that’s the least of the surprises. But still, it’s sufficiently creepy and anxiety-ridden, and the shocks don’t stop. You just might not respect your taste in horror when it’s over. B-

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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.