‘The Five-Year Engagement’ desperately needs more laughs

Jason Segel, Emily Blunt and Rhys Ifans in ‘The Five-Year Engagement

I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt.

I became a big fan of Jason Segel’s after his recent work in Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

I’m a big fan of director Nicholas Stoller, after Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek.

So what the heck happened to their newest collaboration, The Five-Year Engagement?

I’m still wondering, more than a day after leaving the auditorioum as I shook my head over what I’d just seen.  The problem is, I went to see a movie marketed as being “from the producer ofBridesmaids, and this just wasn’t nearly funny enough.

Read more‘The Five-Year Engagement’ desperately needs more laughs

‘Safe’ treads familiar action ground… but has a few good punches

[rating=3]Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, Anson Mount, Chris Sarandon, James Hong
Director(s): Boaz Yakin
Writer(s): Boaz Yakin

Jason Statham stars in 'Safe'
Jason Statham stars in ‘Safe’

Mei (Catherine Chan) is an extraordinary child in an ordinary schoolroom in China.

Her father disappeared long ago, her mother is ill, but she has an incredible brain.  One that processes information faster than most computers, and she can remember anything, instantly.  As a result she’s to be relocated to a special school, but before that can happen, she’s taken by a crime organization (we’re never told if it’s the Triads, or the Tongs, or what) and told that she will work for them or they will have her mother killed.

Read more‘Safe’ treads familiar action ground… but has a few good punches

‘The Lucky One’ was lucky to have Zac Efron

Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in ‘The Lucky One’
Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling co-star in 'The Lucky One'
Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling co-star in ‘The Lucky One’

There have been seven adaptations of novels by author Nicholas Sparks thus far, with more on the drawing board.  I’ve seen four of the six previous offerings and the formula was the same in all.  Man and woman meet through unusual or extraordinary circumstance.  There is chemistry between them very quickly.  There is tragedy involved at some point.  There is loss involved at some point.

The question becomes, do the people who are taking the vision of Sparks and bringing it to the big screen manage to get the maximum mileage from this formulaic story he recycles?

Read more‘The Lucky One’ was lucky to have Zac Efron

‘The Three Stooges’ is laugh out loud funny

Kate Upton is unlike any nun you know in 'Three Stooges'
Kate Upton is unlike any nun you know in ‘Three Stooges’

[rating=3]Starring: Sean Hays, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Sofia Verara, Jennifer Hudson, Larry David
Director(s): The Farrelly Brothers
Writer(s): Mike Cerrone and the Farrelly Brothers

What we know today as the Three Stooges actually began existence as Ted Healy and His Stooges, aka Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen, among other aliases.

Read more‘The Three Stooges’ is laugh out loud funny

‘Snow White: A Deadly Summer’ is a bad apple

Starring: Shanley Caswell, Maureen McCormick, Eric Roberts, Tim Abell
Director(s): David DeCoteau
Writer(s): Barbara Kymlicka

Shanley Caswell stars in 'Snow White: A Deadly Summer'
Shanley Caswell stars in ‘Snow White: A Deadly Summer’

It’s been 75 years since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it seems like everyone except Disney is taking advantage. Capitalizing on the release ofMirror Mirror comes Snow White: A Deadly Summer on DVD.

This version brings things into the modern day, and its contribution to the legacy pretty much ends there.

Read more‘Snow White: A Deadly Summer’ is a bad apple

‘Monsieur Lazhar’ is a lesson worth learning

Sophie Nelisse listens intently in 'Monsieur Lahzar'
Sophie Nelisse listens intently in ‘Monsieur Lahzar’

[rating=3]Director(s): Philippe Falardeau
Writer(s): Philippe Falardeau, based on the stage play by Evelyne de la Cheneliere

Simon (Neron) and Alice (Nelisse) are among the students in the class of Martine Blanchard at a Montreal elementary school and they are at recess when Alice reminds Simon it is his turn to get milk for the class. As he hurries to complete his chore, Simon finds himself standing outside of the classroom, peering in through the window in the door and what he sees shatters his world.

Their teacher has hung herself.

Read more‘Monsieur Lazhar’ is a lesson worth learning

‘Lockout’ will have you wanting to escape

Guy Pearce takes a smoke break in 'Lockout'
Guy Pearce takes a smoke break in ‘Lockout’

[rating=2]Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Lennie James, Peter Stomare, Tim Plester
Director(s): James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Writer(s): Stephen St. Leger & James Mather & Luc Besson – From an original idea by Luc Besson

The thing is, normally if someone is making a film based on “an original idea by Luc Besson”, you have high expectations.  Besson, the genius behind such favorites as Leon: The ProfessionalLa Femme NikitaThe Fifth Element and The Transporter is clearly brilliant, a serious talent and capable of creating film and film ideas that can rivet the audience to the screen.

But something went wrong here.

Read more‘Lockout’ will have you wanting to escape

‘Damsels in Distress’ is a welcome return of the terrific Whit Stillman

Megalyn Echikunwoke, Greta Gerwig and Carrie MacLemore in 'Damsels in Distress'
Megalyn Echikunwoke, Greta Gerwig and Carrie MacLemore in ‘Damsels in Distress’

From this point forward, it should be known as the “Deafening Silence.”

I’m referring to the 13 year absence of the talents of writer/director/producer Whit Stillman from the big screen.  We have not seen nor heard nothing from him since The Last Days of Disco danced off into the sunset in 1998.  Now he’s back and in a big way with Damsels in Distress, a look at an unique gaggle of female students at a university that is now co-ed.

Read more‘Damsels in Distress’ is a welcome return of the terrific Whit Stillman