‘Iron Man’ gets the job done with thrills and fun

[rating=3]Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb
Director(s): Jon Favreau
Writer(s): Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway

Robert Downey Jr. is 'Iron Man'
Robert Downey Jr. is ‘Iron Man’

Kicking off a movie season that just keeps getting earlier, Iron Man rocks and roars into summer as the latest Marvel comic book film to score big at the box office. Former Oscar nominee Robert Downey, Jr. stages a blazing comeback as Tony Stark, bad boy weapons expert turned hero, by donning a mechanical super suit that’s powered by the world’s classiest pacemaker. The suit is Downey’s most constant costar throughout the film as Iron Man flits back and forth between close-ups of Downey and then of the suit flexing and flying, thus ensuring maximum audience drooling.

Read more‘Iron Man’ gets the job done with thrills and fun

‘The Last Samurai’ in a masterful period piece

Tom Cruise in 'The Last Samurai'
Tom Cruise in ‘The Last Samurai’

[rating=4]Starring: Ken Watanabe, Tom Cruise, Tony Goldwyn, Masato Harada, Koyuki
Director(s): Edward Zwick
Writer(s): John Logan

The first time I saw the trailer for The Last Samurai, I could not suppress a chuckle. Tom Cruise seemed comically larger than life, dressed-to-kill as a samurai. Here is a man who does not know his limitations, I thought. Does he realize he’s… um, not Japanese? Alright, I confess, I sided with Nicole (and her career) after the breakup. Until I heard that Ken Watanabe had received an Oscar nomination, I wasn’t even remotely interested in what seemed like another film driven by Cruise’s ego.

Read more‘The Last Samurai’ in a masterful period piece

‘Duplex’ is a horrible film starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore

Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore star in 'Duplex'
Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore star in ‘Duplex’

[rating=1]Starring: Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel
Director(s): Danny DeVito
Writer(s): Larry Doyle

Anyone who has ever seen a film that Danny DeVito has directed, produced, written or starred in knows that DeVito has a certain brand of humor. It’s a bit off-putting, a bit different and sometimes completely off the mark. His critically panned Death to Smoochy was all these things with the exception that it was exceptionally entertaining. Duplex is all these things and nothing else.

Read more‘Duplex’ is a horrible film starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore

‘Looney Tunes: Back in Action’ is fun for the kiddies

Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman join Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny for 'Looney Tunes: Back in Action'
Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman join Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny for ‘Looney Tunes: Back in Action’

[rating=3]Starring: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Heather Locklear, Joan Cusack
Director(s): Joe Dante
Writer(s): Larry Doyle

Looney Tunes: Back in Action preys upon our deep-rooted childhood love of good ole Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and all their harebrained rivals in what would otherwise be a silly, lackluster film. Back in Actiontakes us behind-the-scenes on the Warner Bros. lot to enjoy a world where cartoons and humans attempt to live together in relative harmony. And unlike Space Jam, the stars of this film are the animated bunch while the humans follow their lead.

Read more‘Looney Tunes: Back in Action’ is fun for the kiddies

‘Win a Date with Tad Hamilton’ is a bit of a loser

Topher Grace, Kate Bosworth and Josh Duhamel in 'Win A Date With Tad Hamilton'
Topher Grace, Kate Bosworth and Josh Duhamel in ‘Win A Date With Tad Hamilton’

[rating=2]Starring: Kate Bosworth, Topher Grace, Josh Duhamel, Nathan Lane, Sean Hayes, Ginnifer Goodwin, Gary Cole
Director(s): Robert Luketic
Writer(s): Victor Levin

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! attempts to draw on our secret fantasies of dating movie stars but falls short. At worst, an effort in voyeurism, its attempt to become a cutesy romance is awkward and weak. The story centers on a love triangle that includes celebrity bad boy Tad Hamilton, a Piggly Wiggly checkout girl named Rosalee Futch and her best friend Pete. Pete’s lack of last name in the film only foreshadows the problems in the plot.

Read more‘Win a Date with Tad Hamilton’ is a bit of a loser

‘The Shape of Things’ goes from stage to screen with entertaining grace

[rating=3]Starring: Gretchen Mol, Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, Fred Weller
Director(s): Neil LaBute
Writer(s): Neil LaBute

Rachel Weisz and Paul Rudd star in 'The Shape of Things'
Rachel Weisz and Paul Rudd star in ‘The Shape of Things’

The Shape of Things first sparked my interest when it was playing off-Broadway on the New York stage. I found it curious that film stars Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz were giving the stage a shot in roles that seemed completely out-of-character. I missed the chance to see the story unfold on stage, only to find out that it was debuting in theaters shortly after with the original cast.

The film opens with a rebellious MFA student Evelyn (Weisz) surveying what she has deemed “fake” art in a museum. She plans to deface a sculpture to make a point. Paul Rudd enters to stop her as Adam, an anxious, nerdy museum guard. Somehow, a quirky courtship begins.

Read more‘The Shape of Things’ goes from stage to screen with entertaining grace

‘Calendar Girls’ has its moments, but not many

Call me crazy but I love movies about old people. They just seem more interesting, more mature. A person can only stand so many films agonizing about the confusion and reckless fecklessness of youth before reaching the breaking point. Perhaps, that’s why Calendar Girls drew me in with its witty group of English gals, a comedy billed as the female The Full Monty.

Read more‘Calendar Girls’ has its moments, but not many

Past and Present

Leatherface in 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' 2003
Leatherface in ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ 2003

Remember way back when, when I was terrified of seeing the original Texas Chainsaw Massacrebecause I’d barely survived the remake? Michael Sheridan, Tail Slate’s very own creator, wasn’t going to let me off that easy. He insisted I watch both films, then compare and contrast and oh, yea, live to tell the tale.

Well, I finally got the balls (not literally) to see the original. I swear, though I can’t remember who it was, that someone told me 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic. When I think of classics, I think of Psycho or Hitchcock’s The Birds. These are movies that, though made back in the day (in other words before I was born), still manage to scare the living bejeezus out of me.

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Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton are wonderful together in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton get cozy in 'Something's Gotta Give'
Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton get cozy in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’

[rating=3]Starring: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet
Director(s): Nancy Meyers
Writer(s): Nancy Meyers

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton are characters that hit close to home in Something’s Gotta Give, a film that asks what if Jack and Diane got together and fell in love in a Nancy Meyers film? Jack is Harry Sanborn, a womanizer in his 60s who only dates women in their 20s. Diane Keaton is Erica Barry, an accomplished but neurotic playwright who hasn’t dated in quite a while and wears turtlenecks… in the summer. Harry, of course, is dating Erica’s 20-something daughter, Marin.

All relationships have their obstacles.

Read moreJack Nicholson and Diane Keaton are wonderful together in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’