Paul Byrne reviews movies opening in Irish cinemas this week
BAD TEACHER (USA/16/91mins)
Directed by Jake Kasdan. Starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, John Michael Higgins, Phyllis Smith.
THE PLOT: Diaz’s hardheaded, high-living and self-centred Elizabeth Halsey is bailing on the John Adams Middle School, having found the very rich dupe of her dreams. Only the rich dupe’s mum is waiting at home, having convinced her son to call off the wedding. And save himself $16,000 a month. And so Elizabeth has to drag herself back to JAMS, without her top-of-the-range sports car, determined to raise the money for a boob job so she can ensnare another wealthy boyfriend. Just like the new teacher in town, Timberlake’s Scott being a naïve heir to a fortune.
THE VERDICT: It’s wise of Sony to move the release date of Bad Teacher forward a week to this coming Friday, and away from competing head-on with The-Hangover-meets-My-Best-Friend’s-Wedding that is Bridesmaids. The latter will undoubtedly become one of the sleeper hits of the year, whilst Bad Teacher… well, it’s unlikely to have that pretty a report card at the end of term.
Trying to do to school days what Bad Santa did to Christmas, Bad Teacher is, on the surface, all good, unclean, non- family fun, but there’s a sense of mild desperation here. Those aren’t laughter lines, they’re stretch marks. RATING: **
THE BEAVER (USA/5A/90mins)
Directed by Jodie Foster. Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Riley Thomas Stewart, Cherry Jones.
THE PLOT: The pressures of work, and an unhappy home life, are getting to Walter Black, and all too quickly, his life turns into a country song – he’s out of the family home, he’s out of the family business, he’s out of booze. So, naturally, he tries to top himself in a dingy motel room. Only a beaver glove puppet he fished out of a dumpster earlier on in the day suddenly takes charge, becoming a life coach to Walter just when he thought he no longer had one. Naturally, his family, and work colleagues, aren’t quite so sure.
THE VERDICT: It’s a condition known in S&M clubs as The Reverse Gere, but a man putting his hand up a rodent’s ass was always going to be a hard sell to Joe and Joanna Sixpack. With or without Mel Gibson’s very public meltdown. It’s a meltdown that can’t help but add extra baggage to his onscreen woes here, lending The Beaver another layer of darkness. Just not enough to lift this intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying little drama far beyond a curiousity. RATING: **
GREEN LANTERN (USA/12A/114mins)
Directed by Martin Campbell. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Temuera Morrison.
THE PLOT: With the universe under severe threat from a brand new enemy called Parallex, the centuries-old peacekeepers the Green Lantern Corps decide the man to save the day is headstrong test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) – the first human the protectors of peace and justice have enlisted to their force. Is Hal the missing piece of the puzzle, or just a smartass human who would rather sit around all afternoon looking at naked pics of his beloved childhood sweetheart (Lively) on the net…?
THE VERDICT: Man, the initial trailers for DC Comic’s attempt to get a slice of the big comic-book blockbuster action were pretty much laughed off the internet. And if the subsequent trailers were a little less laughable, at least those early warning shots didn’t lie – this is a mess. A big, green, gooey mess. Only Mark Strong comes out smelling anything like roses. Clearly, when it comes to comicbook blockbusters, it’s not easy being green. Just ask Edward Norton. Or Eric Bana. Or Ryan Reynolds. RATING: **
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
THE MESSENGER (USA/15A/110mins)
Directed by Oren Moverman. Starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jenna Malone, Eamonn Walker, Steve Buscemi.
THE PLOT: Returning from Iraq, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Will (Foster) is teamed up with Captain Tony Stone (Harrelson) for the unenviable task of informing families of those soldiers who won’t be coming home. One such unwitting widow is Olivia (Morton)…
THE VERDICT: It’s been around for two years now, and possibly wouldn’t have reached us at all if it wasn’t for Harrelson’s and the screenwriters’ Oscar nominations, but let’s be glad that the Academy does some good every now and then. And helps a smart, complex but deeply rewarding film like The Messenger get through. The performances, especially Harrelson, Morton and Foster, are a lesson in less is more. RATING: ****
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
Directed by Francois Ozon. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Fabrice Luchini, Karin Viard, Judith Godreche, Sergi Lopez.
THE PLOT: It’s 1977, in a provincial French town, and trophy wife Suzanne (Deneuve) is called upon to run her husband’s umbrella factory when he’s taken hostage by angry workers. When her husband (Luchini) finally returns, life can’t go on as before. It’s no more Mrs Nice Bimbo. Something former union leader Maurice (Depardieu) is all for, given that he still carries a flame for his ex-…
THE VERDICT: Based on the popular 1980 play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy, the great Ozon was also partly inspired by being approached to make a biographical film of Nicolas Sarkozy and partly by his experiences following Socialist Party candidate Segolene Royal during France’s 2007 presidential election. Happy to keep the 1970s setting, and to adapt the visual style of Jacques Demy, Ozon has delivered a sweet farce that brings out Deneuve best performance in years. RATING: ****
SWINGING WITH THE FINKELS (UK/USA/16/84mins)
Directed by Jonathan Newman. Starring Martin Freeman, Mandy Moore, Melissa George, Jerry Stiller, Jonathan Silverman.
THE PLOT: Having decided their dull suburban life is a little too dull and a little too suburban, Sarah (Moore) and Martin (Freeman) decide a little swinging with another couple might just add a little spice to their lives. Only it doesn’t. Or ours, for that matter.
THE VERDICT: A feature-length upgrade for Newman’s 2008 festival fave short Sex With The Finkels, with a fairly respectable cast, there was always the hope that this just might be a little gem. But, no such luck, Moore, Freeman and co. flapping and faffing around like, well, spare pricks at a swingers party. RATING: *