‘Rango’ is sharply written, visually stunning fun for entire family
“Rango” is in theaters.
- New films
Director: Neil Burger.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel.
The plot: A copywriter discovers a top-secret drug that enhances
intellect and other abilities.
Director: Greg Mottola.
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost.
The plot: Two British comic-book geeks traveling across the
United States encounter an alien outside Area 51.
Genre: Adventure, comedy.
“The Lincoln Lawyer”
Director: Brad Furman.
Starring: Matthew McConaughey.
The plot: A criminal defense attorney operates out of the back
seat of his Lincoln Town Car. .
- Film roundup
★★ 1/2 (out of four)
“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.” The bad
news, though, is that the filmmakers are still trying too hard. For
every joke that works, there are five overly labored comic
set-pieces that fall flat.
★ (out of four)
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.
The film, assembled in nonlinear fashion, tells the “boy meets
girl, boy loses girl, boy doesn’t get girl back” story of Dean and
Cindy (Gosling and Williams, respectively). As the movie opens, the
couple is roughly five years into their tumultuous marriage. He’s a
balding, chain-smoking alcoholic with a dead-end job, but seems
content with a simple existence. She’s a stressed, frigid,
overworked nurse who is not as content. They have a daughter
together (it is soon established that she is not Dean’s biological
child), and seeking a much-needed escape from domestic pressures,
Dean suggests that Cindy accompany him to a “theme motel” for the
night. From here the film delves heavily into flashback as we
witness the couple’s charming, sexually charged courtship intercut
with their significantly less friendly encounters in the
oppressively blue-lit “future room.” It is a night of pain and
humiliation, and it’s the last that they will spend together.
‘THE KING’S SPEECH’
I must admit some trepidation when approaching films that rely
on what could be perceived as “gimmick” performances — those
“challenging” roles that Oscar voters love but, in actuality, offer
very little to viewers looking for more than mere exaggerated
caricatures (e.g. Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump,” Sean Penn in “Milk,”
Despite the sustained critical raves for Colin Firth’s
performance as the verbally impaired King George VI of England in
“The King’s Speech,” up until seeing it I remained skeptical that
even an actor as talented as Firth could transcend the limitations
of such a role — could craft a fully formed character and
performance that is defined by more than a stammer.
Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 8:47 am
I love it when a movie surprises me. God help me, I love it more
than life itself. You’re having a bad day, you’re going off four
hours sleep, you’re obligated to see a movie that you’re pretty
sure will be mediocre at best — and then BAM, you’re knocked flat
on your ass by a truly transportive movie experience that makes you
visibly giddy with excitement. No sir, there’s nothing in the world
quite like it.
The particular film in question is “Rango,” which I had pegged
as a low-rent “Yojimbo” homage that might be good for a few
disposable laughs but not much else. I was way off, as it turns
out. Easily the best and most genuinely, effortlessly funny
non-Pixar animated film since “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Rango” also
represents a remarkable achievement in modern computer animation.
Presented exclusively in “2D,” the film bursts with eye-popping
landscapes and nuanced character designs — again, perhaps the most
impressive I’ve seen in a non-Pixar animated production.
Arts and Entertainment
Friday, March 11, 2011 8:47 am.