Low-brow humor abounds in the anti-comedy ‘Your Highness’
Natalie Portman, Danny McBride and James Franco star in “Your Highness.”
- New films
“Water for Elephants”
Director: Francis Lawrence.
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon.
The plot: Set during the Great Depression, veterinary student
Jacob Jankowski abandons his studies after his parents are killed
in a car accident. Taking up with a third-rate traveling circus,
his bond with a difficult animal begins to turn the show around,
though his feelings for the star performer prove dangerous since
she’s the wife of the sadistic ringmaster.
“Madea’s Big Happy Family”
Director: Tyler Perry.
Starring: Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine.
The plot: Madea helps her niece Shirley rally her five
preoccupied children so they can hear about their mother’s health
Genre: Comedy, drama.
- Film roundup
★ (out of four)
“Sucker Punch” is not just a “bad movie.” We see bad movies
every week, and we forget about them and move on. “Sucker Punch,”
on the other hand, will live on in infamy long after you and I are
dead. Beyond just wasting your time and boring you out of your
skull, this is a film of such mind-bending awfulness that it could
conceivably change how you approach the very art of filmmaking. It
is bad on a very fundamental, very rare and almost theoretical
level. I cannot recall the last time a film actually made me feel
as though I had just been violated.
Imagine if Quentin Tarantino decided to make a Western-themed,
animal-populated, animated reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s
“Yojimbo” by way of Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown,” and you’ve got a
pretty good idea of what “Rango” is all about. Like a
kiddie-friendly version of “Pulp Fiction,” the movie approaches its
story from a deep-meta, borderline-postmodern perspective, and
successfully filters an entire genre through the lens of pop
consumerism. This is the Western reinvented as interactive
entertainment, tailored to an audience that has been inundated
since birth by the romantic myths of pop culture.
“Hall Pass” is easily their funniest, most charming and most
genuinely heartfelt comedy since their 1997 magnum opus. Many of
the funniest gags involve raunch-flick staples like pot brownies
and public masturbation, but the filmmakers often get a surprising
amount of mileage out of familiar material. The story moves along
at a brisk place, and the Farrellys resist the temptation to turn
their buddy flick into a mere reworking of “The Hangover.”
Where to begin? For starters, the film takes the deadpan tone of
a serious, old-school epic, making it feel like the most lifeless
and uninspired adventure movie of 1957. (Watching Macdonald’s film,
my mind couldn’t help but wander to Neil Marshall’s similar but
vastly superior “Centurion,” which, in contrast, embraced its
tawdry nature with infectious enthusiasm.) There is no rousing
spirit or good-natured fun to be found in “The Eagle,” which is a
slow-moving, dreary affair that has the attitude of an Old
Hollywood production without any of the actual spectacle.
Posted: Friday, April 15, 2011 8:17 am
Another possible sign of the end times: It seems that our
multiplexes are in danger of being overrun with meta-level
exercises in self-aware genre filmmaking. Strange thing, that,
because this time last year I would have thought such a prospect a
dream come true, if completely at odds with Hollywood’s bottom
line. After all, in this increasingly post-modern, ironic-chic
world, genre retrospective is becoming an invaluable tool to
connect audiences not only to the immediate story being told, but
indeed an entire rich history of genre lore.
But, as we’ve seen in the past couple months, audiences’
appetite for meta movies appears to have been sated with “Rango.”
The sci-fi ode “Paul” more or less bombed, and “Your Highness,” a
pot-comedy riff on fantasy flicks (and, arguably, stoner movies
themselves), will have a very difficult time recouping its modest
Friday, April 15, 2011 8:17 am.