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By |2008-07-10T09:00:00-04:00July 10th, 2008|Entertainment|

Rambunctious John Hancock (Will Smith) has the powers of a superhero, but not the personality, creating so much mayhem fighting crime that he has become a public nuisance. But when he saves Ray Embrey’s (Jason Bateman) life, the publicist is so grateful that he engineers a superheroic makeover. This action comedy begins with a great cast that includes Charlize Theron as Embrey’s skeptical wife, some awesome effects, and an intriguing premise, but little else. Smith and Theron are wasted, as only Bateman’s optimistic, cheerful, and poignantly clueless Embrey comes across as more than a cardboard character. The humor tends toward the sophomoric, stereotypical, and homophobic. Then, in the last hour, the movie completely flounders as it veers jarringly from comedy into sickly melodrama. C-

Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Though homophobic humor is practically de rigueur for mainstream comedies these days, the jokes in this have a nastier edge. Smith played a gay man in “Six Degrees of Separation.” Theron won an Oscar for her role as lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster.” Bateman starred in “Arrested Development.” Co-star Thomas Lennon was in “Boat Trip” and “Heights.” Co-star Johnny Galecki worked with queer director Don Roos in “The Opposite of Sex” and “Happy Endings,” and was a regular on “Roseanne.”)

The Wackness
Misfit teenage dope dealer Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) just graduated from high school into an uncertain future, while his therapist and best customer, Dr. Jeffrey Squires (Ben Kingsley), smothers his midlife angst in marijuana. United by anxiety and a love of getting high, patient and doctor become fast friends. Tart dialogue, well-developed characters, and atmosphere all trump dramatic incident in this coming-of-age comedy that unfolds at the languid pace of a hot August day. Set during the summer of 1994, as hip-hop and new mayor Rudy Giuliani make competing claims on New York City, the movie perfectly evokes time and place. Kingsley excels as the drug-addled therapist, but it is former child actor Peck who delivers the standout performance, as he poignantly embodies Luke’s loneliness and confusion. B+

Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Kingsley has multiple queer credits, including a role in James Ivory’s “Maurice” and as the father of a gay man in “Lucky Number Slevin.” Co-star Famke Janssen had a recurring role as a transsexual on “Nip/Tuck”; she also played Glenne Headly’s lover in “Eulogy” and appeared in “The Adventures of Sebastian Cole.” Co-star Jane Adams had roles in “Happiness,” “Wonder Boys,” and “The Anniversary Party.”)


Baby Mama
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-

Finding Amanda
Matthew Broderick is never without his sad-sack ability to make humor out of misery (see his “Election” performance for the template), and Snow is as wining a hooker as Julia Roberts was back in 1990. But you know how this ends, and without much-needed gut-busting laughs, what’s the point? C+

Get Smart
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+

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 Edward 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-

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-

It may prove challenging for small children, as it begins as a nearly silent movie, but it should hold the enraptured attention of older kids and grownups. A

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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.