May 31 2013

The Kings of Summer

Coming into his own, Joe (Nick Robinson), is a young teen wrestling with hormones, the loss of his mother, a father who’s hurting from the loss of a spouse (Nick Offerman), and the all typical teen angst one can imagine. So, as school comes to a close for the year, Joe and his friends Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and Biaggio (Moises Arias) decide to run away and build a home of their own deep in the woods; they’ll have to fend for themselves, live off the land, let their beards grow and become men. But wait, there’s Kelly (Erin Moriarty), Joe’s love interest, remember teen hormones right? When push comes to shove will the brotherhood be broken, what about the indigenous copperhead snake issue, and how does Biaggio really make such fluffy mashed potatoes in the wild?kingsofsummer Hilariously sharp written dialogue inspires the 14 year old in all men and makes for a must see comedy providing for witty insight to how boys and men deal with love, loss, and personal struggles while the chips are down. Of course a degree of suspension of disbelief needs to be engaged to really let things play out. Needless to say underplayed and dry humor is king, right in Offerman’s wheelhouse, Robinson, Basso, and Arias tee things up nicely delivering the goods line after line, and bit parts from Megan Mullally, Eugene Cordero, and Marc Evan Jackson add just the right amount of spice to bring the laughs home. Intrinsically charming, see this for fun! The Kings of Summer is rated R.

May 31 2013

Now You See Me

F.B.I. agent Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), layman and tough guy, is assigned the case of tracking four up and coming magicians, J. Daniel Atlas, Merritt McKinney, Henley Reeves, and Jack Wilder (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco), suspected of committing a series of impossible crimes. Due to the international status and unusual nature of the crimes Rhodes is assisted by Interpol agent Alma (Melanie Laurent) and exposer of secrets Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Meanwhile, the magicians are supported by financial heavyweight Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and a mysterious benefactor who’s intentions aren’t entirely clear. The idea is to outsmart the criminals who’ve already placed themselves ten steps ahead of their marks, but this will mean learning to think like a magician and trying to observe all the angles. Will Rhodes be able to catch up or will these deviant masterminds disappear without a trace?nowyouseeme Conceptually interesting at the outset it’s unfortunate that the screenwriters aren’t aware of the basic magic fact “in order for magic to be fun you can’t expose the secret.” The instant an illusion is revealed that sense of awe or reverence is completely lost. There exists the slight chance an audience member might have respect for the method that was chosen to make the magic happen, although as the classic magic text of Maskelyne and Devant “Our Magic” explains, this is highly unlikely and ultimately weakens the art. So, is it any surprise a film based on exposing secrets would be any better? In short, nope, in fact it’s kind of like a soda that’s been left out to lose its fizz for a week, still sweet but lacking the real pizazz to hold our attention. Furthermore, lack of character development leaves the audience with little or no connection to the leads, in this case we just don’t care for anyone and the final reveal makes the whole operation feel cheap and un-earned. Cheese Whiz anyone? Maybe a rental. Now You See Me is rated PG-13

May 24 2013

Fast & Furious 6

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), high end criminal, badass, and fast car driver, is living on a remote island halfway ’round the world hiding from extradition to the U.S.. It’s the good life for Dom, until he’s visited by Officer Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) of the U.S. Government who has a unique proposition. Hobbs has evidence of a criminal mastermind who’s currently building one of the world’s most powerful weapons, but wait, there’s more, Hobbs also has proof that Dom’s ex, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is in on the deal. Oooh, now it’s about family, and it’s about to get personal. Dom must assemble his team of mercenary drivers from around the world to put an end to this criminal (Luke Evans), the payoff being full pardons from the U.S. for all. It’s time to come home, but first he’ll have to drive fast and furious!FastFurious So let’s be clear about this, the twisting screenplay here is totally ridiculous, but the way storylines from all previous Fast & Furious films are woven together makes for a fun watch, and yet, you can come in completely cold on this one and still keep up. Acting wise, nobody’s getting an Oscar, but well choreographed action and fighting, over the top stunts, and artful high speed driving make this one heck of a ride– at times eliciting laughter as much as cheering from the audience. Director Justin Lin knows where Fast & Furious belongs on the Mensa scale (low), but doesn’t insult the audience along the way and instead lets the good times roll. As far as popcorn chomping fun, thrills, chills, and spills go this one’s hard to beat. Surprisingly worth your while, and stick around for the credits for even more fun. The Fast & Furious 6 is rated PG-13.