6 SOULS (R) The trailer for this stylish flick goes from psychological thriller to serial killer chiller before landing on exorcism scarefest. A forensic psychiatrist (Julianne Moore) treating a patient (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) with multiple personalities discovers each of his identities is a murder victim. Then, apparently, the devil shows up. Directing duo Mans Marlind's and Bjorn Stein’s subsequent feature, Underworld: Awakening beat this flick into U.S. theaters by over a year. With Jeffrey DeMunn and Frances Conroy.
56 UP (NR) 2012. Michael Apted, who has helmed entries in two huge franchises, Bond (The World Is Not Enough) and The Chronicles of Narnia (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), began documenting the lives of several seven-year-olds in 1964. Every seven years, he returned to update their stories. In this latest entry, these now 56-year-olds discuss their lives, families, work and the series itself. Not having seen any of these films remains one of the bigger failures of my cinematic life; perhaps I can finally correct it. (Ciné)
ADMISSION (PG-13) Despite teaming Tina Fey, who unsurprisingly supplies this heartfelt comedy’s biggest laughs, with the preternaturally appealing Paul Rudd, Admission lacks the former’s sharply satirical bite and strands the latter with only his goofy cool comedy to clothe him. Portia Nathan (Fey), a Princeton admissions officer, learns the son she gave up for adoption, Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), is applying to her school from John Pressman (Rudd), a single, world-traveling dad. Portia then skirts the ethical boundaries of her position to help Jeremiah get into Princeton, while romantically dallying with John on the side. Acting-wise, Admission is well-armed, with Fey and Rudd being joined by Lily Tomlin, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn and newcomer Travaris Spears, who steals a couple of scenes as John’s adopted son, Nelson. Nothing about Admission is comically or narratively surprising, yet like most Paul Weitz movies (his best being American Pie, About a Boy and In Good Company), the overwhelming geniality makes this comically gifted underachiever hard to dislike. Admission should make your DVD Waitlist.
ARGO (R) Ben Affleck’s career revival continues with Argo, earning Best Writing and Best Picture Award from the Academy, as well as a Golden Globe. Revealing the once classified story of how the CIA rescued six American hostages in the midst of the Iranian Revolution, Argo is both an intriguing modern history lesson and a compelling, old-fashioned Hollywood thriller. Affleck has collected one hell of a cast—John Goodman, Academy Award nominee Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler, Victor Garber, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina and many more recognizable faces—but its greatness is a sum of all parts—directing, writing (by first-time scripter and newly minted Academy Award winner Chris Terrio) and acting.
THE BRASS TEAPOT (R) A magical fairy tale for the post-2009, economic meltdown world, The Brass Teapot is going to have to do some serious balancing not to fall off the tightrope upon which it’s walking. A young couple (Michael Angarano and Juno Temple) discover a brass teapot that gives them money when they hurt themselves. Being unemployed with no serious options in the near future, the couple goes into masochistic overdrive. The trailer just keeps trotting out familiar faces whose names you can’t quite remember, and the jokes seem a little too sitcom-y.
THE CALL (R) Until a final act that is so predictably out of character for Halle Berry’s heroine, The Call knows exactly what it is; a pulpy genre thriller; and excels at its sole task of generating as much entertainment as possible via suspense. After feeling responsible for the death of a teenage girl, veteran 911 operator Jordan Turner (Berry) is reluctant to take another emergency call. But when another teenager, Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), is kidnapped by the same nondescript white guy, Jordan makes it her mission to save this victim. Considering the leads interact via telephone for the majority of the movie, it was smart to cast a beautiful, if strangely bewigged, Academy Award winner and a cute, all grown up former child nominee. Couple those two talented actresses with the claustrophobia and helplessness of the central locations, and the audience is treated to a pretty gripping first two acts; the last act is not awful, just an uncreative, poor relation to its predecessors. Director Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist, Transsiberian) gets as much tension as he can out of this script and should have his first bona fide hit to show for the effort. Answer this Call.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (R) Robert Redford directs Robert Redford in Robert Redford’s latest feature. After a young journalist (an unkempt Shia LaBeouf) interviews the recently captured leader of the Weather Underground (Susan Sarandon), he finds himself on the trail of another suspected member of the long-dormant domestic terrorists. The cast for this movie is huge: Redford, Sarandon and LaBeouf are joined by Julie Christie, Sam Elliot, Brendan Gleeson, Terence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte and Chris Cooper. So, why’s this movie coming out in April?
THE CROODS (PG) Despite its underwhelming trailers, The Croods stands out as one of the best non-Pixar animated family films released in the last few years. A family of cavemen—dad Grug (v. Nicolas Cage), mom Ugga (v. Catherine Keener), teen daughter Eep (v. Emma Stone), dumb son Thunk (v. Clarke Duke), feral baby Sandy and grandma (v. Cloris Leachman)—are forced on a cross-country road trip after their cave is destroyed by the impending “end of the world.” Fortunately, Eep meets Guy (v. Ryan Reynolds), whose developed brain filled with “ideas” might just help them all survive. Most cute family fun pics feel rehashed and overdone; The Croods does not. Its characters successfully, though unbelievably, combine the Flintstones with the Simpsons, and the voice acting, particularly by Cage, Stone and Reynolds sparkles. Cage was an inspired choice, for a role one would think is practically written for Kevin James. Most animated features, with their paint-by-numbers plot and rote, child-pleasing gags lose an adult’s attention within minutes of beginning. The Croods held my rapt attention for its entire entertaining run time and left me considering potential plots for its inevitable, disappointing sequel.
DJANGO UNCHAINED (R) Not many auteurs can take an academic cinematic exercise and turn it into one of the year’s most entertaining spectacles like Quentin Tarantino can in this Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay. Slave Django (Jamie Foxx) is freed by dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Christoph Waltz, the single greatest gift QT has given American movie audiences). Together the duo hunts bad guys and seeks Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who belongs to plantation owner Calvin Candie (Golden Globe nominee Leonardo DiCaprio). For a critically acclaimed award nominee, Django Unchained is an ultraviolent blast. Every bullet creates an unbelievable explosion of blood, and every actor gives a gleefully energetic performance. DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson have a particularly grand chemistry. Modern cinema’s biggest cinephile-cum-director again proves how great a genre film can be. QT continues to bring exploitation flicks from the grindhouse to the multiplex and the award shows. Few modern movies convey their creator’s delight as a QT film does; one knows he is making movies he wants to see, not movies to which he thinks audiences will flock. Sure, detractors will slam Django Unchained for its bloody violence and offensive language, but it’s most notable for a perfectly rare combination of art and entertainment.
EVIL DEAD (R) The buzz generated from the Evil Dead screening at SXSW was deafening on Twitter, leading some fans (me included) to worry about the risk of over-hype. Still more fans were divided over the hiring of Diablo Cody to write the screenplay. Nevertheless, the trailers for director Fede Alvarez’s update of Sam Raimi’s cult classic are powerfully intense; if the resulting film is even close, this flick could be the new gem for which horror fans have long been dreaming. The plot remains largely the same; a group of friends (including “Suburgatory”’s Jane Levy and Thumbsucker’s Lou Taylor Pucci) visit a cabin in the woods where they discover a Book of the Dead which calls forth some really evil spirits. I cannot wait.
EVIL DEAD II (R) 1987. With the remake arriving in theaters (and Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful blowing up at the box office), there is no better time to catch up with Bruce Campbell’s groovy, quasi-hero, Ashley “Ash” J. Williams. Raimi and Campbell revisit the cabin in the woods, putting poor Ash through even more deadly calisthenics as he battles evil incarnate and his own hand. If you’ve never seen Evil Dead II, what are you waiting for? Get to Ciné and see it on the big screen. (Ciné)
• G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (PG-13) G.I. Joe: Retaliation is everything that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was not. The second Joe movie is also the movie for which my inner child has been waiting since 1987. Mostly ignoring Stephen Sommers’ 2009 misfire, this franchise reboot introduces three new lead Joes: Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and my childhood favorite, Flint (D.J. Cotrona); Duke (Channing Tatum) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park) are pretty much the only other Joes to reenlist for the sequel. Featured Cobra players—Zartan, who appears as the President (Jonathan Pryce) for almost the entire movie, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson)—plot to break Cobra Commander, much improved from the first movie, from a super-secret prison. (Sadly, no love is shown for Destro in this prison break.) But the plot is inconsequential. G.I. Joe blows stuff up real good. Director Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2 and 3) proves as proficient filming action stunts as kinetic choreography. The mountainside ninja battle is an exciting sequence that could’ve been ripped right from the popular 80s cartoon. G.I. Joe: Retaliation has just the right amount of stupid smarts (and Bruce Willis) to be a nostalgic blast of action.
GIRL RISING (NR) Young girls from around the world tell their stories of arranged marriages, child slavery and other heartbreaking injustices which they work to overcome with education. Each girl's story was written by an author from her native country. (Georgia Museum of Art)
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (R) Wondering how Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters made it to theaters is a far more interesting way to spend the action fairy tale’s sub-90-minute runtime. The fabled origin of Hansel and Gretel is well-known. Two kids are left alone in the forest and stumble upon a witch’s candy house; the kids kill the witch. Dead Snow’s Tommy Wirkola imagines what happens next, as Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) grow up to be traveling hunters of deadly witches. Apparently, the biggest, baddest witch (Famke Janssen) is hatching a plot that requires Gretel, due to a not-so-surprising mid-film reveal. Renner deserves better starring roles than this, or the ones in The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. He needs a role to highlight his dry delivery and superheroics. Arterton’s pretty and British, but her Gretel is an interchangeable part that could have been played by many a former Bond girl. Wirkola also seems to have some difficulties with tone, shifting from mean and callous to slapstick in seconds. Perhaps the presence of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as producers pushed the movie to be funnier than it needed. Hansel & Gretel will be forgotten soon.
• THE HOST (PG-13) What Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novels did to horror, she does to science fiction in The Host. (Twilight was horror without the horror; The Host is science fiction without those pesky tropes particular to science fiction.) Alien invaders have conquered Earth. Most of humanity has had their bodies taken over by an extraterrestrial tenant. (How do you know if someone’s possessed? Their icy blue Fahey eyes.) When the invaders implant a soul named Wanderer into the body of Melanie Styder (Saoirse Ronan), Melanie fights back, eventually convincing/leading Wanderer to Melanie’s human family and friends, a group of desert-living rebels led by William Hurt. Once there, Wanda, as the humans call her, falls for one boy, while Melanie continues to love Jared (Max Irons). You knew Meyer would work her love triangle (or in this case, love rectangle?) into the plot somewhere. Writer-director Andrew Niccol has had varying levels of success in the science fiction (his peak seems more and more to have been his first feature, Gattaca), and The Host’s flaws don’t belong so much to him as to Meyer. Niccol only had so much flimsy material with which to work; his resulting film feels empty, sparsely populated and worst, boring.
IDENTITY THIEF (R) Unfortunately, stars Melissa McCarthy (an Oscar nominee for Bridesmaids) and Jason Bateman are better than this more-annoying-than-funny odd couple road comedy. With two kids and another on the way, Sandy Patterson (Bateman) is struggling to make ends meet. Having his identity stolen by friendless Diana (McCarthy) only further aggravates his financial distress. In desperation, Sandy travels to Florida to bring his tormentor to justice. Inexplicably and unnecessarily on their heels are a couple of drug enforcers (Genesis Rodriguez and Tip “T.I.” Harris) and a mean ass bounty hunter (a pretty much wasted Robert Patrick). Strangely, the gags work best when Bateman’s straight man and McCarthy’s manic criminal bond rather than fight. Too bad the mean-spirited comic scenarios cooked up by screenwriter Craig Mazin (Scary Movies 3 and 4 and The Hangover: Parts II and III) lack originality. The punch lines lack the subtlety that brings out Bateman’s greatness. Director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong and Horrible Bosses) and his hilarious stars have done and will do comedy better.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (PG-13) Another reteaming of director Bryan Singer with his Public Access/Usual Suspects/Apt Pupil/Valkryie scripter, Academy Award winner Christopher McQuarrie, should be more exciting, intriguing and lasting than Jack the Giant Slayer. While far from a bad fantasy film, this retooled telling of the classic children’s stories, Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and the Beanstalk, does little to fire the imagination once the credits roll. We all know the story: young Jack (Marcus Hoult, whose romzom Warm Bodies showed loads more creativity) gets some magic beans, from which a giant beanstalk grows. At the top of the leafy, green ladder is a land full of giants who have a taste for human flesh. Of course, this new telling has to involve a love interest, headstrong Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who Jack sets out to rescue. The mostly British cast is top-notch—Ian McShane as the king, Ewan McGregor as the king’s number one guardsman, Bill Nighy as the voice of the lead giant—and Stanley Tucci’s always a swell villain. Jack the Giant Slayer will kill an afternoon pleasantly enough (and better than last summer’s fairy re-tale Snow White and the Huntsman), but the special effects-acle lacks any lasting magic.
JURASSIC PARK 3D (PG-13) This once fantastic adventure from Steven Spielberg may not have aged as well as some of the filmmaker’s earlier fare, but let’s see what a third dimension can add. The dinosaur effects, deemed state-of-the-art in the early '90s, look dated and nowhere near as integrated into the frame of action as those of 2006’s King Kong. Writer David Koepp adequately adapted Michael Crichton’s bestseller, but the absence of several extraordinary sequences (the aviary, the river) is noticeable. The cast still includes Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Attenborough. Winner of three Academy Awards, all technical.
LIFE OF PI (PG) Having last thought of Yann Martel’s novel when I read it nearly 10 years ago, the ineffective trailers for Ang Lee’s adaptation failed to remind me of how wonderful and energetic Pi Patel’s life had been. I recalled a shipwreck, a lifeboat and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The imaginatively conceived and beautifully told work of art created by Brokeback Mountain Oscar winner Lee, who certainly deserved the award he received this year for Best Director, reminded me of the many, small joys that add up to make the life of Pi. Do not let the underwhelming previews deprive you of one of the year’s most moving, most artistic films of the year. The opening anecdote relating the origin of Pi’s name conjures up the modern fairy tale magic of past crowd-pleasers Amelie and Hugo. Newcomer Suraj Sharma, stranded for lengthy sequences with nothing but a tiger for a costar, and the ever-excellent Irrfan Khan (most recently seen in The Amazing Spider-Man) deliver delicate performances.
LINCOLN (PG-13) Historical biopics do not come much more perfect than Steven Spielberg's take on our 16th president's struggle to end slavery by way of the Thirteenth Amendment. Rather than tell Abraham Lincoln's life story, screenwriter Tony Kushner chose the ideal, earth-shattering month upon which to focus. He populates Spielberg's 19th century hallways with living, breathing figures of American history like Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), but the film will be remembered and lauded as another platform from which newly minted three-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis can solidify his claim to the title of greatest living actor. He uncannily becomes Lincoln with such ease; he also humanizes a larger-than-life figure we tend to treat far too reverently. Awards are sure to come. His authentic performance keeps Spielberg's best film since 1998's Saving Private Ryan from falling into the hagiographical trap. (UGA Tate Theatre)
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (R) Olympus Has Fallen feels like a relic from the bygone era of the 1980s, where audiences were satisfied by old-fashioned, bloody action movies wherein stone-faced heroes faced off against despicable bad guys without obfuscating their violent exploits with frenetic camerawork. Too bad director Antoine Fuqua’s latest flick isn’t the new Die Hard, as this Gerard Butler-saves-the-president actioner easily bests John McClane’s latest misfire. Disgraced Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler, who needs to stick to action movies) is the only person in America who can save the President (Aaron Eckhart) after North Korean terrorists take over the White House. The movie relies quite heavily on Butler’s manliness. Luckily, no one is more badass than the Scot best known as 300’s King Leonidas (when he’s not wooing Katherine Heigl or Jessica Biel). The supporting cast keeps up better than usual, which should not surprise considering the presence of Morgan Freeman (as the Speaker of the House), Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell and Cole Hauser. With a franchise-worthy new hero and a well-choreographed, well-shot focus on physical conflict, Olympus Has Fallen kicks butt better than the muscular bulk of recent action movies.
ON THE ROAD (R) Has it really been almost 10 years since Walter Salles' wonderful Che Guevara biopic, The Motorcycle Diaries? Salles, who also directed Central Station, brings Jack Kerouac's seminal novel to the big screen, and sadly, most of the buzz revolves around Twilight's Kristen Stewart's nude scene. Everyone should be more excited to see Sal Paradise (Sam Riley, Control's Ian Curtis), Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) and Marylou (Stewart) cross the country and meet a cast of characters played by Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, Elisabeth Moss, Terrence Howard and more. (Ciné)
THE OTHERS (PG-13) 2001. Having only watched The Others once, I remember very little about Alejandro Amenabar’s old-fashioned ghost story. (Though an admitted horror fan, ghost stories aren’t exactly my bag.) Nicole Kidman plays the overprotective mother to her two photosensitive children in Amenabar’s nod to Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor) appears as the father, absent due to World War II, and Fionnula Flanagan plays the new nanny. Winner of eight Goyas, including Best Film and Best Director. (UGA Tate Theatre)
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (PG) First and foremost, Sam Raimi’s The Wizard of Oz prequel is no Wizard; it’s not even Return to Oz, the very dark, very underrated 1985 sequel. Disney’s latest family blockbuster reveals the wizard’s own cyclonic entry to Oz. Carnival magician and con man Oscar Diggs (James Franco, whose performance is nothing if not inconsistent) meets three witches—Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams)—who believe him to be the great wizard whose appearance in Oz was prophesied. In the void left by the recently deceased king, Oscar must determine which witches are wicked and which are good. Raimi trots out his usual visual wizardry, and Oz is as successful as his first Spider-Man entry once it gets going. The middle act gets a bit logy as the good people of Oz prepare for battle via sewing montages. The climax is filled with whiz-band special effects, used effectively, and ties in well with the classic film being emulated. I just wish Raimi had chosen to make his Wicked Witch via makeup, like the original’s Margaret Hamilton, as opposed to CGI. Oz won’t make anyone forget the original, but it doesn’t shame its memory either.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (R) David O. Russell’s dram-rom-com and multiple Academy Award nominee does everything but disappoint. Pat (Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a state mental hospital after a violent incident involving his estranged wife and another man. Maybe too soon after coming home, Pat meets Tiffany (Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Jennifer Lawrence), who lost it after the death of her husband. Instead of exacerbating each other’s unhealthy flaws, the relationship between these two cracked souls heals both, much to the surprise of everyone, including Pat’s parents (dual Oscar nominees Robert De Niro and Animal Kingdom’s Jacki Weaver). Besides I Heart Huckabees (which deserves reevaluation) and Russell’s infamous tirade, The Fighter, the filmmaker has one of the strongest filmographies of any of the acclaimed auteurs first discovered in the 1990s. Silver Linings Playbook has an awkward edge—you keep waiting for Pat and Tiffany’s house of cards to collapse—that makes even the smallest successes so much sweeter. Russell’s fiery demeanor and beautiful writing certainly ignites his actors; Cooper and Lawrence give two of the year’s most generous and honest performances. Silver Linings Playbook should not be missed. (Ciné)
SPANISH SHORT FILM FESTIVAL (NR) UGA students organized this two-day festival of award-winnng short Spanish films, all with English subtitles. Each night features five or six short films introduced by film professor Dr. Richard Neupert and romance languages professor Dr. Catherine Simpson. (Ciné)
SPRING BREAKERS (R) Harmony Korine is a challenging filmmaker. His first script, Kids, became Larry Clarke’s latest cinematic controversy in 1995; then Korine started directing his own critically divisive films like Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy. His newest film has met with, again, divided critical acclaim and bigger box office glory thanks to the headline grabbing casting of Disney teen queens Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as half of this bikini-clad criminal quartet. Broke college students Faith (Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Hudgens) and Cotty (the director’s wife Rachel Korine) rob a fast food joint to fund their spring break trip to Florida. In St. Pete, the revelers get arrested and involved with local rapper and drug dealer, Alien (James Franco in cornrows and grill), who has beef with a former buddy (Gucci Mane). Korine has described his film as hyperreality, a good word for this oddity that viciously whips from gritty realism to vivid fever dream. The bloody, neon climax, scored by Drive’s Cliff Martinez and Skrillex, calls to mind the violently surreal hit indie videogame, Hotline Miami. Whether or not Korine has anything important to say about this hedonistic rite of passage, what he does say is wickedly stylized and superiorly captivating.
STOKER (R) Best known for Oldboy, Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook makes his English language debut with an eccentric Highsmith/Hitch-mocktail written by the star of “Prison Break,” Wentworth Miller. A strange teenager, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland), has recently lost her father (Dermot Mulroney) in a car accident. The day of the funeral, her prodigal uncle, Charlie (Matthew Goode, Watchmen), appears to live with India and her grieving mother, Evie (Nicole Kidman, who is beginning to specialize in these china doll fragile mother figures). But Charlie brings with him secrets, and the more India learns, the more fascinated she becomes. Many of Park’s previous features have dealt with cultural taboos, and he does not shy away from the uncomfortably unconventional here. The film’s early subjectivity (is there more to Charlie or is India just imagining things?) neatly blends into the revelatory final act. The performances are showy and unnaturally appropriate, much like the film itself. Kudos to the exceptional sound design, which stood out like a scenery-chewing supporting character. Stoker is more accessible than many of Park’s Korean films but do not underestimate its oddness. (Ciné)
SWITCH (NR) 2012. This documentary takes a non-biased look at what it would take to transition away from oil and coal-based energy to cleaner, more modern energy sources. (UGA Cindy Rooker Fireside Lounge)
TRANCE (R) Cool. Academy Award winner Danny Boyle’s latest recalls his grittier, edgier films like Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Shallow Grave. (Boyle is also reteaming with his Shallow Grave and Trainspotting scripter John Hodge.) An art auctioneer (James McAvoy) goes under hypnosis, courtesy of a pretty doctor lady (Rosario Dawson), to discover what happened to a lost painting. He better come up with an answer fast because criminals played by Vincent Cassel won’t wait forever. Boyle may not always craft a winner, but his films are rarely boring.
• TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION (PG-13) Is it possible for a filmmaker to “jump the shark?” If so, Tyler Perry’s Temptation might be that point for Atlanta’s multi-hyphenate filmmaker. He cast Kim Kardashian, for goodness’ sake. And wait for Brandy’s climactic reveal. It’s the sort of melodramatic gem that could turn this dreck into popular camp were it less dull. A marriage counselor, Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who feels neglected by her nice guy, pharmacist husband, Brice (Lance Gross), waltzes off with a handsome, ripped billionaire, Harley (Robbie Jones), after he offers her the good life of shopping, drugs, sex, etc. By the time Judith’s religious mother (Ella Joyce) wanders in to preach at her daughter (and the audience), it’s too late. Old Judith done let the devil in. Remember that post-Basic Instinct period of the early-to-mid '90s when a new erotic thriller was coming out each week? Well, imagine one of those Basic rip-offs minus all the risqué, headline-making sexuality; substitute a sermon instead, and you’ve got Temptation. Unfortunately, Perry seems too caught up in making easy box office cash to worry that much about reinforcing stereotypes. He’s probably got another hit, but at what cost? Not enough to outweigh his millions upon millions of benefits.
WRECK-IT RALPH (PG) 2012 was a good year for animation, including Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and now Wreck-It Ralph. In Disney's latest, Wreck-It Ralph (v. John C. Reilly), the bad guy from popular arcade game Fix-It Felix Jr., decides he wants to be a good guy. Leaving the safety of his own regenerating world, Ralph enters a Halo-ish first-person shooter named Hero's Duty in search of a medal. Too bad Ralph is better at wrecking things than fixing them. This cute, inventive cartoon boasts several creative game worlds like the cavity-friendly candyland of Sugar Rush and a treasure trove of Easter eggs for lifelong and newer gamers. Director Rich Moore definitely learned a thing or two from his time working on the inside joke-heavy worlds of Matt Groening, "The Simpsons" and "Futurama." The voicework by Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling and more is top-notch, but one expects that level of competence from a high-profile animated feature. It's the plentiful heart and laughter Wreck-It Ralph offers viewers of all ages, gamer or not, that sets it apart.