‘Men in Black 3’ forgets the fun
Josh Brolin and Will Smith star in “Men in Black 3.”
- “Men in Black 3”
★★ (out of four)
2012, Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld, U.S., PG-13
“Men in Black 3” is rated PG-13 for profanity, drug references and cartoonish violence.
- New films
Director: Ridley Scott.
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green.
The plot: Explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth.
Genre: Action, horror.
‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath.
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jada Pinket Smith.
The plot: Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman are fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple.
Genre: Animation, adventure.
- Film roundup
★ 1/2 (out of four)
So what happened with “The Dictator”? Did Cohen and Charles find it difficult to transition from the documentary style of “Borat!” and “Bruno” to a more traditional narrative structure, as some have theorized? Perhaps, but in all fairness they’ve still managed to maintain a consistent comic rhythm throughout the film, suggesting that the problems lie deeper. Were they thrown off by the heavily racist nature of their film, which follows a dictator from northern Africa on his quest to reclaim the throne after being replaced by an imposter? Again unlikely, as Cohen and company seem to be truly enjoying themselves as they bask in the afterglow of each new outrageously racist gag.
★ 1/2 (out of four)
Such a film could conceivably be saved by a talented and game cast, but with the exception of Eva Green as the witchy villain, everybody seems to be sleepwalking through their roles. Depp, playing yet another gimmick character in a big-budget Hollywood movie, just looks jaded at this point, or perhaps baked out of his gourd. Either way he’s a bore. Chloe Moretz, usually adorable, appears to have been suffering from chronic constipation during filming. Even Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jackie Earl Haley are wasted in under-written roles. Thus, the whole thing becomes a joyless, pointless exercise in kitsch wherein nobody appears to be having much fun at all — especilally the audience.
“THE CABIN IN THE WOODS”
“The Cabin in the Woods” practices what it preaches, effectively turning the entire genre inside-out by providing not only a point of reference for literally every supernaturally based horror film ever made, but also a complete deconstruction — and, in the end, destruction — of that same filmic universe. (Ultimately, the audience itself is cast in the role of an angry evil god who destroys that which does not adhere to its rigid standards of quality entertainment.
Expectations were surpassed when it became clear that the film wasn’t merely a vehicle for raunchy humor (though it certainly was that as well), but also a surprisingly touching and emotionally mature teen love story that wore its heart on its sleeve. The movie was a tremendous success, launching a franchise that thus far has produced three sequels and four direct-to-DVD spin-offs. More importantly, it was instrumental in setting the standard for character-driven gross-out comedies in the decade that followed, and it is almost inconceivable that filmmakers like Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips would be successful today without the template provided by “American Pie.”
Posted: Friday, June 1, 2012 7:28 am
You ever get to the point where you’re tempted to swear off Hollywood studio pictures forever? I get there sometimes, but then I remember that, although it sounds terribly crass to say, the studio system is capable of producing great work — the best work, even, and I say that as an avid admirer of arthouse/foreign cinema.
Almost any concept, no matter how seemingly stupid or inconsequential, can be turned into something truly special. We’ve seen it happen. As I’ve said before, all you need is some actual talent (it is plentiful, I assure you), a little creativity and, for the love of God, a small modicum of effort. Voila! Instant entertainment.
Friday, June 1, 2012 7:28 am.