This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne including The Lucky One, American Pie Reunion, Safe, Silent House and more…
THE LUCKY ONE (USA/12A/99mins)
Directed by Scott Hicks. Starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart, Jay R. Ferguson, Adam LeFevre.
THE PLOT: Efron plays U.S. Marine Lorgan Thibault, returning to Colorado after his third tour of duty in Iraq, and clinging to the one thing that kept him going all this time – a found photograph of a woman he’s never met, and who he believes has been his good luck charm. And so he vows to track the woman down, and is soon at the Louisiana door of Beth (Schilling), happy to take a job at her family’s kennel business in the hope of getting to know his dream girl. Naturally, Logan doesn’t tell Beth all about the photograph, and how it has saved his life. Because, you know, she would run a mile.
THE VERDICT: Based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks – the man who brought us Dear John, The Last Song and The Notebook – The Lucky One sees Efron still hoping to make that leap from tween idol to romantic lead. It didn’t quite work for him with last year’s saccharine Charlie St. Cloud, and it ain’t working here either. The bright Sparks, it would seem, only has one good story in him, and he delivered it with The Notebook. The Lucky One is closer in tone and banality to Dear John, and, as such, will only be enjoyed by dumb girls and their obedient boyfriends. RATING: 2/5
AMERICAN REUNION (USA/16/112mins)
Directed by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg. Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann Wiliam Scott, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Chris Klein, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Natasha Lyonne, Shannon Elizabeth.
THE PLOT: The old East Great Falls gang – Jim (Biggs) Michelle (Hannigan), Stifler (Scott), Oz (Klein), Vicky (Reid), Kevin (Nicholas), Heather (Suvari), Finch (Thomas), Nadia (Elizabeth) and Jessica (Lyonne) – attend their 13th high school class reunion. And to see just how badly each of them has aged. Which is pretty much what we’re doing here too. Naturally, Biggs ends up naked in the kitchen again. Only this time, we get the full frontal, just to show how far comedy has come. And how low Biggs has sunk. It’s Scott who gets all the best lines, and Levy – as the now single Jim’s Dad – who steals most of the scenes.
THE VERDICT: It’s very easy to be cynical about this particular high school reunion, given that just about everyone involved has seen their careers go ever so steadily down the pan in the last 13 years. And we’ve had eight helpings so far, including, most recently, four straight-to-DVD spin-offs. Still, at least the producers weren’t going to have to bargain too hard to get the likes of Biggs and Reid on board, whilst the handful still in gainful employment – Hannigan, Scott, Levy, Coolidge – have never been all that precious about their work. Hey, if Shannon Elizabeth can get a reported $600,000, it’s got to be worth for those who people actually remember. Even vaguely.
The resulting film isn’t quite the half-baked mess you might expect, with the cast seemingly enjoying the opportunity to revisit their glory days, but the novelty wears thin long before the end credits. Even as the cameos mount up. Simple fact is, the filling isn’t quite so hot this time. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Boaz Yakin. Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke James Hong, Anson Mount, Chris Sarandon, Joseph Sikora, Igor Jijikine.
THE PLOT: Statham plays Luke, a former cop turned cage fighter punchbag, going underground after failing to go down in the second round of his latest bout – and now he’s got some very heavy betters out for his blood. In another part of town, 11-year old Chinese math genius Mei (Chan) has been smuggled into New York to work the numbers racket on a couple of safes, and everyone wants the little tyke on their team – the Chinese, the Bolsheviks, the crooked cops, the crooked mayor. Naturally, these two bedraggled and haggled outcasts find one another…
THE VERDICT: Writer-director Boaz Yakin puts the pedal to the metal pretty early on, and he never lets up thereafter, having Statham dispense bad guys like an epileptic swatting flies, speeding up one-ways the wrong way, and delivering quips such as “I never collected garbage – I just disposed of it!”. Through it all, Statham is his magnificent self as yet another decent man on fire. Safe follows the traditional Bruce Lee blueprint – a killing machine with a heavy heart and a blatant soft side has humiliation and hurt heaped upon him until, hey, he just can’t take it anymore. And so, with a cheer from the crowd, Statham merrily kicks forty shades of shit out of every scumbag we’ve hissed at during the film’s opening act. What’s wrong with that? RATING: 3/5
REVIEWS BY PAUL BYRNE