New to Blu ~ SJP, Carrey, Panda, and Mirren

Every now and then (not often) I miss a movie as it passes through theaters.  I’ve weaned myself off of Netflix so rely on Redbox to help me catch up.  This week I caught up with a few films that now inhabit the ‘box.

Here is the first “New to Blu” entry — small capsule reviews of movies that are being released to DVD/Blu-Ray.

I Don’t Know How She Does It

The Facts:

Synopsis: A comedy centered on the life of Kate Reddy, a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids.

Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Christina Hendricks

Director: Douglas McGrath

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: 89 minutes

TMMM Score: (2/10)

Review: Insignificant entry on Parker’s resume that looks cheap, sounds cheap, and feels cheap.  Parker needs a good kick in the pants to tell her that she’s no Julia Roberts/Sandra Bullock and doesn’t have a niche market that she is successful with.  I’d love to see her take on a dark role that can allow her to try something new.  Kinnear and Brosnan are both asleep at the wheel here…much like the direction.  Only Hendricks has a few nice moments…but even she ends up sounding like she’s lampooning the script.  Totally skippable.

 

 Mr. Popper’s Penguins

The Facts:

Synopsis: The life of a businessman begins to change after he inherits six penguins, and as he transforms his apartment into a winter wonderland, his professional side starts to unravel.

Stars: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond

Director: Mark Waters

Rated: PG

Running Length: 94 minutes

TMMM Score: (4/10)

Review:  Like Sarah Jessica Parker, Carrey is another actor that is stuck in a rut of his own making.  I’ve always been a fan of the Mr. Popper stories (I still remember those damn songs and the tap-dancing in CTC’s stage version all those years ago) but this telling of the story is heavy on the schmaltz and silly.  That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for that in a film about six penguins living in a winterized apartment but it’s all done so dopey that you won’t want to go along for the ride.  Lansbury must really be blowing there her Murder, She Wrote cash…otherwise I can’t see why she took the time for this film which puts her in some pretty unflattering costumes.  Carrey needs to start taking supporting roles…that rubber face that used to break box office records now just looks creepy.

 

 Kung Fu Panda 2

The Facts:

Synopsis: Po and his friends fight to stop an peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past.

Stars: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Gary Oldman

Director: Jennifer Yuh

Rated: PG

Running Length: 90 minutes

TMMM Score: (6.5/10)

Review:  Not being a huge fan of the first film, I can still appreciate the superb computer animation that this film employs.  However hard I try though, I still don’t find myself being taken with these characters.  Both movies have left me a squirming little watch checker – and I normally quite enjoy these off the wall animated films.  What appealed to me more in this entry was the backstory and underlying theme of inner peace…which is a big topic to make interesting and attractive to the younger set.  Voice-wise no one really stood out for me, save for Jean-Claude Van Damme whose character even gets to do one of his signature moves.  Speaking again to the animation, it really in pretty fantastic and I only wish I had seen this in 3D in the theaters.

 

The Debt

The Facts:

Synopsis: The Debt is the powerful story of Rachel Singer, a former Mossad agent who endeavored to capture and bring to trial a notorious Nazi war criminal—the Surgeon of Birkenau—in a secret Israeli mission that ended with his death on the streets of East Berlin

Stars: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastian, Marton Csokas

Director: John Madden

Rated: R

Running Length: 113 minutes

TMMM Score: (7/10)

Review: An overall solid spy thriller, this remake of Ha-Hov (a 2007 Israeli film) was most notable for me for having yet another knock-out performance by Chastain who had quite the 2011 (Chastain also made an impression in The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, Texas Killing Fields, Coriolanus and The Help this last year).  She appears here as the younger version of Mirren’s character.  Thankfully for the audience the movie has their character as the central focus for most of movie and Chastain/Mirren do not disappoint in keeping us with them.  The film does get a little muddy when the focus shifts to your typical “espionage” elements…fast getaways, close calls, missed opportunities are all part of the proceedings here and they are presented in a straight-forward manner that helps propel the film along.  Director Madden trusts his actors and a good script to get the job done and the results are above average.  Successfully introducing some genuine twists into these films is difficult and the movie got my heart thumping a few times.