Reviews New Movies Opening March 11th 2011

The latest reviews from Paul Byrne, including Company Men, Battle: Los Angeles, The Resident, Hall Pass and more…

HALL PASS (USA/16/104mins)

Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Jenna Fischer, Richard Jenkins.

THE PLOT: Sudeikis and Owen Wilson play a pair of fairly happily married Joes, both cursed with a wandering eye when it comes to the ladies. The former goes a step too far perhaps when he’s arrested in his car for, eh, masturbating. And so it is that their good wives (Fischer and Applegate) suggest a week-long hall pass…

THE VERDICT: It’s been a long, long time since the Farrellys have enjoyed the kind of commercial or critical success that came with their early, pioneering trio of comedy classics (Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary), although their criminally underrated 2007 remake The Heartbreak Kid was a definite return to form. And the brothers continue their rehabilitation here, with a movie that is a lot softer and safer than those earlier offerings, but the gag-rate is high. RATING: 3/5


Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Starring Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Pena, Ne-Yo.

THE PLOT: It looks like the end of the world as we know it – only we know this kind of alien attack well, a platoon of grunts (of every colour, creed and target market) setting out to rescue a group of civilians holed up in a police depot as LA, and the rest of the world, gets hammered nasty ETs coming gunning for our water. Bill Hicks almost gets his longed-for Arizona Bay, but this is one war American military might are going to win. Dammit.

THE VERDICT: If Michael Bay had been given District 9, he might have bloated it up into something like this. A simple blend of Independence Day and Black Hawk Down, as Aaron Eckhart gives us his best, looking-for-redemption G.I. Joe. whilst nasty alien hardware comes gunning for our water supply. No cliché gets left behind, as Battle Los Angeles presses all the right nuclear buttons. The earth didn’t move for me though. RATING: 2/5


Directed by John Wells. Starring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Mario Bello.

THE PLOT: As the corporate rug is pulled from underneath them, a bunch of men react in different ways. Young gun sales agent Bobby (Affleck) reckons ignoring the fact is the best way forward. His boss, Gene (Jones), flips out when he hears of the bloodletting at his company. Longtime employee Phil (Cooper) meanwhile realizes he’s a little long in the tooth to land another job, and so settles for school-crossing guard. The lack of finance, and the dent to self-image, soon takes its toll though…

THE VERDICT: Shades of Up In The Air, as we follow those corporate mid-fliers who suddenly find themselves the victims of downsizing, first-time feature director Wells (a major name in TV – The West Wing, ER, Southland – hence the prestigious cast) delivering up a sobering snapshot of our times. It’s a postcard from the edge that many people will feel to be too close for a comfortable night out at the cinema, but this is a cinema release that will undoubtedly have a healthy after-life. RATING: 3/5

THE RESIDENT (USA/16/90mins)

Directed by Antti Jokinen. Starring Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Aunjanue Ellis.

THE PLOT: Swank plays sexy young, separated doctor Juliet Dermer, who moves into a swanky loft apartment that just seems too good to be true. And soon, it proves to be just that, as strange bumps in the night reveal that Juliet is not the only one with a key.

THE VERDICT: The still-fit Swank is quite something, having managed to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role not once but twice – and both times, through some incredibly unlucky/un-clever movie choices, has promptly faded back into so-so movies and near-obscurity. Twice. With two Oscars under her belt. Yowsa. And now Swank’s luck, and run of box-office duds, looks set to continue with The Resident, a film that, from its premise to its cheesy poster, looks like classic straight-to-video fodder. RATING: 2/5

FAIR GAME (USA/12A/106mins)

Directed by Doug Liman. Starring Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Sam Shepard, Ty Burrell, Bruce McGill, Michael Kelly.

THE PLOT: True-life political skullduggery of the highest order, as CIA agent Valerie Plame (Watts) finds her cover blown by White House officials. The main motivation for the expose would appear to be a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece by her husband, Joseph K. Wilson (Penn), stating that the Bush administration had sexed up their intelligence about weapons of mass destruction as they prepared to invade Iraq.

THE VERDICT: The sometimes-great and quite often bonkers Doug Liman (Go, The Bourne Identity, Jumper) takes a fascinating true-life tale and turns it into a midly intriguing movie. Based on Plame’s 2007 memoir Fair Game: My Life As A Spy, My Betrayal By The White House and Wilson’s The Politics Of Truth, there’s a lot to like about this movie – from the first-rate leads to Liman’s admirable goal of digging deep into Plame and her husband’s sometimes tricky home life, both before (think True Lies) and after the Capitol Hill attack (think Bourne and beyond). So, why didn’t I really love it? RATING: 3/5

NORWEGIAN WOOD (Japan/IFI/133mins)

Directed by Anh Hung Tran. Starring Rinko Kikuchi, Kenichi Matsuyama, Kiko Mizuhara, Tetsuji Tamayama, Eriko Hatsune, Kengo Kora.

THE PLOT: After his best friend commits suicide, 19-year old Watanabe (Matsuyama) heads to Tokyo, where he bumps into – and falls in love with – the deceased’s fragile girlfriend (Kikuchi). Fragile enough to disappear when Watanabe inadvertently triggers a memory of her dearly departed, leaving the dazed and confused, but plainly lucky, young lad to fall in love with the quirky Midori (Mizuhara).

THE VERDICT: Based on Haruki Murakami’s eponymous 1987 international bestseller, director Anh Hung Tran takes his sweet time in telling this tale of love and loss. The ambience is helped more than a little by Johnny Greenwood’s soundtrack, sitting nicely alongside the hipper-than-hip jukebox selection. It’s a tad long, but, given yourself over to this haunting tale, and there’s melancholy magic afoot. RATING: 3/5


Those clever clogs at the Screen on D’Olier Street are marking Paddy’s Day by playing host to some of the better Irish films of recent years, as well as some old favourites.

The schedule consists of His & Hers (Mar 17th, 2.10pm); Waveriders (17th, 3.45pm); Garage (5.15pm) and, winding up the festivities, a double helping of Alan Parker’s international hit The Commitments (17th at 6.45pm and the 18th at 7.30pm).

Full information at