Movies.ie reviews the latest flicks hitting cinemas this Christmas week…
Directed by Paul Weitz. Starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbara Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Alba, Harvey Keitel, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo.
THE PLOT: Greg/Gaylord (Stiller) is next in line to the Byrne throne – whether he wants it or not. And so his father-in-law (De Niro) comes to visit, to help celebrate his twin grandchildren’s fifth birthday – but, more significantly, to check out whether his son-in-law is worthy of carrying on the alpha male role. Whether Greg likes it or not.
THE VERDICT: Not quite Shred The Third, but this is still a lot of smart, talented people doing cheap, shoddy, panto work. The core gag – playing on the fear of meeting the in-laws (originally conceived by Emo Phillips, no less) – has been well and truly bled dry by now, and so, the writers have to come up with some material. Such as erectile dysfunction – courtesy of Alba’s medical supplier and her bag of pharmaceutical tricks. Which sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is. RATING: **
Directed by Rob Letterman. Starring Jack Black, Jason Segal, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Chris O’Dowd.
THE PLOT: It’s a story that seems almost written with CGI in mind, clergyman Jonathan’s Swift tale about a man who finds himself on an island populated by people under 15cm in height crying out for some hi-tech computer wizardry. Updated, that unwitting giant is slacker newspaper mailroom monkey Lemuel (Black), who gets to be King Kong for a while for a largely British cast. Connolly is the king, crap actor Tate his queen, and cuddly Chris O’Dowd is the military fly in the ointment.
THE VERDICT: You know you’ve got a comedian’s love-in underway when Jason Segal is your romantic lead. The man looks like a mechanic. With a drinking problem. The gags here are largely aimed at kids, and right up until the misfiring singalong finale of War, they’ll love it. Parents would be better off waiting in the lobby. RATING: **
Directed by Peter Weir. Starring Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan, Colin Farrell, Dejan Angelov.
THE PLOT: Based on the memoir of Slawomir Rawicz (the truth of which is now being disputed), Peter Weir’s latest film follows a group of prisoners execute a daring and grueling escape from a Stalinist Siberian gulag in 1942, and then making their way to India.
THE VERDICT: Weir is one of our finest filmmakers (Picnic At Hanging Rock, Gallipoli, The Truman Show), and he’s naturally drawn a solid cast, including the great Ms. Ronan and Mr. Sturgess. The Dublin distributor didn’t send out an invite for the screening, so, a quick ring around to other critics drew that old chestnut, mixed reviews. The critics I actually respect didn’t like it all that much though. RATING: n/a
Directed by Alicia Duffy. Starring Jack Gleeson, Imogen Jones, David Brazil, Austin Moulton, Lara Persain, David Wilmot.
THE PLOT: Having lost their mother, 12-year old Dara (Gleeson) and his older brother Eoin (Brazil) are dropped off by their father (Martin Firket) to live with their aunt Valerie (Persain) in the wilds of France. In the nearby woods, Dara meets Bella (Jones), whose family have just moved into a nearby sprawling, creaking chateau. Dara quickly falls in love. Bella doesn’t. It’s the countryside. They’re kids. They’re isolated. There will be blood.
THE VERDICT: Making her feature debut, Alicia Duffy was “inspired more by the tone than the narrative” of Sam Taylor’s novelThe Republic Of Trees – which should give you some idea of the dreamlike, lateral-thinking world she creates for her young protagonists here. Duffy captures beautifully the terrifying bliss of that first kiss – and how young love can go so devastatingly intense. Think, My Life As A Horndog. Jack Gleeson is a revelation too… RATING: ****