January 16, 2014 |
Cloying and smug when it's not being unfunny and crass, the high school reunion comedy "Back in the Day" hits lows with a frequency that suggests a world-class sharp shooter or free-throw king. With every thudding gross-out gag or mistimed bit of sentimentality, writer-director-star Michael Rosenbaum's movie acts as if it deserves a high-five. Instead, this aggressively clichéd tale of Jim (Rosenbaum), a struggling Hollywood actor attending his Midwestern high school reunion, is about as entertaining as watching two guys vomit simultaneously, to name one of the movie's prouder moments of dreary raunch.
January 10, 2014 |
Unspooled in the January dumping ground and not screened for critics, Renny Harlin's "The Legend of Hercules" has preemptively conceded defeat in its duel with Brett Ratner's "Hercules," the other Hollywood project based on the same Greek hero due this year. One of the best-known figures in Greek mythology, Hercules has yet to receive serious cinematic regard. Besides serving as a bit player in films such as "Immortals" and "Jason and the Argonauts," Hercules has been the subject of one wisecracking animated musical from Disney and numerous live-action features straight out of the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" canon.
December 3, 2013 |
Like Wile E. Coyote realizing too late that he's walked off a cliff and is standing on thin air, "Britney Jean," the new studio album from Britney Spears, is marked with so many sleights of hand, dubious lyrics and bombastic but boringly simple melodies that the too-rare levitation of its better moments seems an animation trick. Item one: "It Should Be Easy," a song that practically wallows in its own failure. Featuring a cameo by the album's executive producer, will.i.am, the track casts doubt on his utility, as evidenced by these lazy lines: "Love, it should be easy / It shouldn't be complicated / It should be easy.
September 5, 2013 |
A talented quartet of young actors can't surmount the wall-to-wall clichés that comprise "Mission Park," an earnest, not terribly convincing action thriller as generic as its title. Though writer-director Bryan Anthony Ramirez keeps things moving apace, he trots out so many familiar tropes that it's often like watching a highlights reel from a lifetime's worth of urban crime dramas. The movie, set in San Antonio, finds four childhood friends, who as kids were jointly involved in a botched restaurant robbery, reuniting as 20ish adults on opposite sides of the law: Brothers Bobby (a strong Jeremy Ray Valdez)
June 27, 2013 |
Is there anything worse than a horror movie that isn't scary? Yes - a horror-comedy that's neither scary nor funny. There may not be an actual zombie epidemic, but there is a zombie entertainment plague for sure. "Detention of the Dead" is the latest attempt to cash in on all things undead, as well as all things teenager. Call it genre hedge-betting, I guess. Co-writer/director Alex Craig Mann's witless stitching-up of "The Breakfast Club," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and George Romero - based on a play by co-writer Rob Rinow - is a high school detention scenario in which the virginal nerd (Jacob Zachar)
June 22, 2013 |
In a perfect world, "Devious Maids," a new drama written by Marc Cherry and produced by Eva Longoria, both late of "Desperate Housewives," could be judged simply by its own merits, as an attempt to translate a popular telenovela to American television, in this case Lifetime. Taken as such, "Devious Maids" is just unfortunate - a silly, hyperactive version of "Downton Abbey," relocated to Beverly Hills and populated with as many cliches and stereotypes as can fit upstairs and down.