August 14, 2013

Movie Dope

Short descriptions of movies playing in and around Athens...

2 GUNS (R) After a summer of superheroes, giant robots and giant-er special FX, these two guns loaded with humor-piercing banter, accurately shot by two dead-eyes like Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, are a welcome change of pace. (Red 2, another comic book adaptation with similar tonal aspirations, wasn’t as consistently successful at the action-comedy changeup.) DEA Agent Bobby “Beans” Trench and Navy Intelligence Officer Michael “Stig” Stigman are two unlikely partners. Both believe the other to be a law breaker. When they unwittingly steal $43.125 million from a shadowy organization, represented by Earl (Bill Paxton at his homily sociopathic), they must trust one another again to clear both their names. Wahlberg’s first venture with director Baltasar Kormakur, the decent crime thriller Contraband, had little of the charm or wit of this thoroughly entertaining buddy action comedy. Washington and Wahlberg have great chemistry, and the latter shines. He’s as goofily funny as he was in The Other Guys. Kormakur smartly stays out of the way, confidently allowing his leads and supporting cast (Edward James Olmos, Paula Patton, James Marsden and Fred Ward) to do the heavy lifting. 2 Guns is loaded and hits the bull’s eye with every shot.

AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS Who is writer-director David Lowery? Well, he edited Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color. He also really likes Terrance Malick. An affinity for Malick isn’t a character flaw (if it is, color me guilty), but I hope his feature debut isn’t as derivatively arty as its trailer and buzz suggest. Outlaw Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) escapes from prison to reunite with his former partner, Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), and their daughter. With Ben Foster and Keith Carradine.

THE CONJURING (R) James Wan has directed several horror films since bursting on the scene with the original Saw. Insidious looked like it would be his masterpiece, but a mushy final act stole the goodwill generated by a wonderful setup. Not so with Wan’s The Conjuring. An excellent haunted house-cum-demonic possession movie, this film, much like Pacific Rim, excels in its genre because of its innocence and its lack of cynicism. Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) investigate the things that go bump in the night. Most times, a rational explanation solves the case; sometimes, it’s something paranormal. The occurrences in the Perron family’s new house are not just paranormal; they’re malevolent. Wan stages the Perron’s haunting with utmost care for mise-en-scene and framing. Don’t expect a lot of CGI ghosties. From the font in the opening credits, the film harkens back to the 70s and places itself not as a wannabe, but as a peer next to such modern classics as The Amityville Horror and (dare I type it) The Exorcist. Horror movies don’t get much better than this flick nowadays.

DESPICABLE ME 2 (PG) As far as animated sequels go, Despicable Me 2 has more creative life in it than might first be thought; it’s way better than Cars 2. Gru (v. Steve Carell) may no longer be a master criminal, utilizing his freeze rays and other diabolical inventions to raise his three adopted daughters—Margo (v. Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (v. Dana Geier) and Agnes (v. Elsie Fisher). When a new super villain steals a dangerous, experimental serum, the Anti Villain League – represented by sweet potential love interest Lucy (v. Kristen Wiig) – enlist Gru’s assistance. Watching this enjoyable kiddie flick with a kid definitely increases the appeal of the little yellow Minions, whose roles have been enlarged with their own spinoff in the works for 2014. Carell’s Boris Badunov accent still entertains and warms the heart, as does little Agnes. A little long, even at 98 minutes (remember when Disney cartoons clocked in under 80?), Despicable Me 2 has no shot at surpassing expectations like its underdog predecessor, and its appeal to anyone over ten probably depends on one’s tolerance for the Minions. Still, it’s a funny movie for kids and parents. On a hot or rainy summer day, that’s more than good enough.

• ELYSIUM (R) Science fiction offers a rich canvas upon which ambitious authors and filmmakers can point out the flaws in modern society via a far-off future. Think Orwell, Bradbury, Kubrick, etc. Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp certainly sees the polemical advantages of sci-fi. Unlike his near perfect District 9, his immigration parable, Elysium, rarely ventures past its bleak concept to become an entertaining movie. In 2154, the Earth has gone from third rock from the sun to third world. Orbiting in the skies above the planet is Elysium, where the wealthy live forever thanks to breakthroughs in medical technology. An ex-con turned factory worker, Max De Costa (Matt Damon), gets sick in an industrial accident and seeks a means to get to Elysium. Tricked out with an exoskeleton that makes him stronger and nearly invincible, Max goes all Terminator until he gets to Elysium, run by ice-cold Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster). District 9’s Sharlto Copley impresses as Delacourt’s psychotic merc, Kruger, though his accent’s incomprehensibly thick. With Blomkamp’s mastery of ultraviolence, cyborg tech and high concept satire, the South African could be a new (and improved?) Paul Verhoeven, were he to also equal the Dutchman’s exuberant sense of overkill. 

EPIC (PG) Epic, from Ice Age and Robots director Chris Wedge, is like Star Wars in a forest; wait, that would just be Return of the Jedi. Still, another monomyth should be less exciting than this animated family film based on the William Joyce book, The Leafmen. Unbeknownst to humanity, the forests are protected by the Leafmen, who constantly do battle with the Boggans, led by Mandrake (v. Christoph Waltz). When M.K. (v. Amanda Seyfried) is magically transported to the world of the Leafmen, she must team up with wizened soldier Ronin (v. Colin Farrell) and young turk Nod (v. Josh Hutcherson) to ensure the survival of the forest. Stunningly animated, Epic could be an American attempt at Miyazaki—bigger, blunter, more action, less subtlety, more Pitbull (whose voicework is better than expected). Nevertheless, the movie does far too little to avoid Star Wars comparisons; it practically invites them. See bird racing (pod racing) and the two slugs (humorously voiced by Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari) who give off a distinct R2D2/C3PO sidekick vibe. When Star Wars isn’t being referenced, it’s The Lord of the Rings. I’d still rather sit through Epic than most kids’ movies.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 (PG-13) The unlikeliest blockbuster franchise of all-time (especially considering it survived a first film directed by Rob Cohen) has enough gas left in the tank for several more entries. (The pre-credits stinger is a doozy of a game changer). Following the international hijinks of Fast 5, Furious 6 (according to the opening title) puts Dominic “Dom” Toretta (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and the rest (Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot) on the heels of big bad Shaw (Luke Evans), as they seek to recover Letty (Michele Rodriguez) and attain pardons all around from Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). These movies keep improving under the direction of Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan. It’s arguable that Furious 6 is the best of the high gloss bunch. If a muscle car mag filled with bikini-covered boobs and chrome was adapted into a movie, this flick would be it. This live action comic book sags a little in the talky, plot-driven sections, but gets back on crazy course whenever the gang gets behind the wheel for another ridiculous car chase. Dom even flies! Simply sit back and enjoy Mr. Dom’s Wild Ride.

FRUITVALE STATION (R) Fruitvale Station enters theaters having established quite a pedigree, picking up Sundance’s prestigious Grand Jury Prize (and Audience Award) plus the Best First Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Writer-director Ryan Coogler based his feature debut on the real life events that occurred to Oscar Grant, played by “Friday Night Lights”’ Michael B. Jordan, on the last day of 2008. With Chad Michael Murray, Kevin Durand, Melonie Diaz and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer.

GROWN UPS 2 (PG-13) With nary a grown-up in it, this sequel to Adam Sandler’s second biggest box office hit of all time is worse than its sub-par predecessor. Former Hollywood bigshot Lenny Feder (Sandler) moves his family back to his tiny hometown, but rather than spend time with them, he mostly hangs out with his childhood besties—Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Higgins (David Spade)—and some meathead hangers-on (including Nick Swardson and Shaquille O’Neal). Grown Ups 2’s biggest accomplishment is how worthless it is. “Jokes” fail to land. I lost track of the “guys like boobs” moments; they were simply too many. Likability and funny are not one and the same. Argue all you want about what a great guy Sandler is, because at this point in his career you’ll find it impossible to convince someone he’s still funny, or better yet, relevant; The Internship was more of both. On a gags to chuckles ratio, Sandler ranked behind James, Rock, Spade (yikes), Colin Quinn and maybe, just maybe, Jon Lovitz. That being said, it’s already a box office smash, the monster from the depths that’s destroying the much more entertaining Pacific Rim. Good job, America.

THE HEAT (R) After taking far too long to warm up, this buddy cop comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy hits its stride when it counts. Uptight FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Bullock) needs the help of foulmouthed, unpopular Boston cop Shannon Mullins (McCarthy) to take down a dangerous drug lord. Bullock and McCarthy don’t have Fey/Pohler chemistry. The just under two hour comedy needs about 45 minutes for its actors/characters to lose enough of their flaws for the jokes to stick. McCarthy flails too wildly early, while Bullock’s too tightly wound for comedy. Nevertheless, enough cannot be said about how refreshing it is to watch a buddy cop comedy starring two women; “Cagney & Lacey” has been off the damn air since 1988, for crying out loud, and still no campy remake? Unlike a sillier, lesser comedy, writer Katie Dippold and Bridesmaids director Paul Feig never explain away Ashburn and Mullins’ tough, brash exteriors as shields needed to survive their male dominated profession. Ashburn’s just weird and Mullins grew up with four brothers (Michael Rapaport, Bill Burr, Nate Corddry and, yes, that is Joey McIntyre). The Heat may not be smoking, but after a barren first act, it’s pretty darn funny.

I’M SO EXCITED (R) Almodovar is back! The trailer for I’m So Excited doesn’t explain much, but it certainly is Almodovarian. Three flight attendants lip sync and dance to The Pointer Sisters’ titular hit, and that’s about it. Apparently, a technical failure has doomed the flight, leaving the pilots and crew to attempt everything in their power to make their passengers last moments as pleasant as possible. Don’t be surprised when Almodovar muses Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz pop by. (Ciné)

THE INTERNSHIP (PG-13) As a follow-up to stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s Wedding Crashers, this movie would have killed in 2007. Of course, the economy hadn’t quite tanked at that point, so the tale of two down-on-their-luck salesmen forced to tackle a Google internship wouldn’t quite have had much relevance—not that a buddy comedy from Vaughn/Wilson has much relevance in 2013. The movie made me feel as if I’d stumbled upon a big budget training video for new Google employees. Sadly, most training videos are unintentionally funnier (just check out any edition of the Found Footage Festival for proof). Due to its still likable (if not bankable) stars and a laudably creative end credits sequence, The Internship leaves one feeling better about the movie than it deserves, being that it's a two hour chore through which to sit. Were the movie the least bit funny—rather than a mere vehicle for Vaughn and Wilson to mug at the camera—and thirty minutes shorter, it might garner a mild recommendation for a lazy cable viewing. In its current state, do with this movie what the movie folks at Google should have done: say no.

JOBS (PG-13) Man, this Steve Jobs biopic comes with some sketchy pedigree. Ashton Kutcher stars as Jobs, who went from college dropout to founder of Apple to Apple reject to Apple savior. One assumes a great Jobs biopic is out there, but the writer-director of the amiable Swing Vote, Joshua Michael Stern, probably won’t be behind the camera, and everyone knows/hopes Kutcher won’t be in front of it. Hopefully, Josh Gads will come out of this unscathed.

KICK-ASS 2 (R) Having read Mark Millar’s comic sequel to his own Kick-Ass, I’ve been growing steadily more excited as the trailers have revealed a seemingly faithful adaptation. As imitators are inspired by the antics of Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is plotting revenge for the death of his gangster father. My hopes dropped a little at learning writer-director Matthew Vaughn was not returning, but he allegedly hand-picked replacement Jeff Wadlow (Cry_Wolf and Never Back Down). Co-star Jim Carrey has been refusing to do publicity due to the Sandy Hook tragedy. 

THE KINGS OF SUMMER (R) This sweetly sour indie comedy, a nominee for Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize, didn’t quite become the biggest little hit of summertime, but the trailers show a lot of laughs and heart. A comedy friendly cast including husband and wife team, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, and Alison Brie, cannot hurt, but how much will they help? Frustrated with life and their parents, three teenage boys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and possible breakout Moises Arias) head into the woods to build a house and live off the land. (Ciné)

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER (PG-13) Precious Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels directs this historical drama based on the life of an African-American man who witnessed the most important moments of the 20th century while serving as a White House butler. Forrest Whitaker stars as the titular server, while the presidents are portrayed by names like Robin Williams (Ike), Alan Rickman (Reagan), John Cusack (Nixon?), James Marsden (JFK) and Liev Schreiber (LBJ). With the star power and Forrest Gump-ian history lesson, one wonders why the film wasn’t released closer to awards season.

LOVELACE (R) Amanda Seyfried stars as the titular porn star, whose turn in the infamous Deep Throat made her a household name. The rest of the impressive cast includes Peter Sarsgaard, Juno Temple, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Chris Noth, Adam Brody, Hank Azaria, Wes Bentley, Eric Roberts, Chloe Sevigny, Bobby Cannavale and James France as Hugh Hefner! Two-time Oscar winner Rob Epstein and his documentary directing partner Thomas Friedman must have decided they liked fictional features after helming Howl with Franco. (Ciné)

MAN OF STEEL (PG-13) Superman returns (again) with Christopher Nolan tasked to give Supes his Dark(ened) Knight treatment. Then Nolan, writer David S. Goyer and director Zack Snyder realized Superman is an alien and nearly impossible to ground in the real world. Their solution: Treat the material like serious science fiction. The extended time spent with Superman's birth parents (Russell Crowe rules as father Jor-El) on dying Krypton is the film's strongest, most original segment. The middle chunk, retelling Kal-El's transformation from a hunky Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) into Superman, intriguingly tweaks a well-known origin with the benefit of fatherly wisdom from Kevin Costner's Jonathan Kent. Despite some well-executed set pieces pitting Superman against fellow Kryptonian General Zod (cast standout Michael Shannon) and his alien army, the final act never fully takes flight. Instead, the blockbuster soars in fits and starts, seeming most confident in its final frames than the previous hour and a half of repetitive conflict. The entertaining if (mostly) humorless and heartless Man of Steel proves it’s harder to make a great Superman movie than a bad one. However, if one hero stands for hope, it's Superman. Here's hoping Man of Steel's sequel will be this generation's Superman II.

MUD (PG-13) Boasting a star-studded cast including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Michael Shannon, Jeff Nichols’ third feature offers this promising rising filmmaker his best chance of widespread success. A coming of age tale set in the disappearing wilds of the small town south, Mud aims high as Nichols attempts to channel Mark Twain, and hits the target square in the bull’s eye. Two teens—Ellis (Tye Sheridan, Tree of Life) and Neckbone (newcomer Jacob Lofland)—discover a boat in a tree. They also discover McConaughey’s Mud, a fugitive living in the boat in the tree, while he waits to escape with the love of his life, Juniper (Witherspoon). Mud watches like a work of modern literature, capturing the last gasps of a dying culture as one boy becomes a man.

PARANOIA (PG-13) Why did Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman sign up for this VOD-looking, corporate espionage flick? Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) stars as a little fish at a major corporation, who finds himself swimming with the sharks (Ford and Oldman) after being tasked with spying on his boss’ former mentor. Legally Blonde and 21 director Robert Luketic could use a hit after Killers, but does anyone seriously think this flick will be it? With Amber Heard.

• PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS (PG) Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief was not terrible, but it definitely suffered from Chris Columbus Syndrome. Well, its successor, Sea of Monsters, has full-blown, terminal sequelitis. The titular hero, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), must save Camp Half-Blood, the safe haven for the gods’ half-mortal children, so he embarks on a quest for the legendary Golden Fleece. Backed by his pals—Athena’s daughter Annabeth (the gorgeous, unnecessarily blonde Alexandra Daddario) and his Cyclops half-brother, Tyson (Douglas Smith)—Percy must defeat bland villain Luke (Jake Abel), who’s still mad at his dad (Zeus), rescue satyr Grover (Brandon Jackson) from Polyphemus (fortunately voiced by Ron Perlman) and defeat a reborn Cronos. Even with the additions of Nathan Fillion, Stanley Tucci and Anthony Head (stepping into Pierce Brosnan’s digitized hooves as centaur teacher Chiron), Sea of Monsters is a giant misfire. This flick isn’t even worth the excuse to stare at Alexandra Daddario for almost two hours. Even the all right FX cannot overcome the awful writing and charmless acting, especially from Lerman. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters has almost surely sunk the chances of Percy Jackson: The Titan’s Curse ever seeing the light of day. Someone else cast Daddario stat!

• PLANES (PG) What with its Cars pedigree and Dane Cook voicework, Planes could have been a lot worse. It’s no more disagreeable than Turbo, a kiddie flick with which it shares some central DNA. A cropduster named Dusty Crophopper (v. Cook) longs to race across the skies. Unfortunately, he’s afraid of heights. With the help of his friends—including a Mater stand-in named Chug (v. Brad Garrett)—and mentor, Skipper (v. Stacy Keach), Dusty conquers his fears and the skies. It’s cute, sweet, and maybe a smidge direct-to-DVD; the voice cast—Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer and Sinbad (?!)—is a step below the usual Pixar crop (though John Ratzenberger does pop by for his obligatory vocal cameo). Kids that love Cars will not care and will most likely fall for Planes. What’s next? Ships?

RED 2 (PG-13) Red 2 is a lot of fun. What more did you expect? Retired Extremely Dangerous CIA operative Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is trying to live a quiet life with his girlfriend, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). But then his paranoid pal, Martin (John Malkovich), shows up, and another caper begins. This time, the boys (and girl) are being hunted by everyone, including an old pal, Victoria Winters (Helen Mirren), and an old enemy, Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee). The quips fly as fast as the bullets, and the script by Jon and Erich Hoeber isn’t as lousy a shot as one might expect from the Whiteout writers. Director Dean Parisot corrals his lead cats, especially the typically bored Willis, efficiently. Red 2 won’t set the world on fire, but if your old 80s action VHS tapes have worn thin, this new movie will fit the bill quite nicely.

R.I.P.D. (PG-13) This flick looks like Men in Black with the undead. Based on the comic book by Peter M. Lenkov, R.I.P.D. partners Jeff Bridges, as a dead lawman named Roy Pulsipher, and Ryan Reynolds, as a recently deceased police detective named Nick Walker. Together, this dead duo tries to capture the evil spirits that mean humanity harm. The first time I saw the trailer I was intrigued; the gags have been quickly worn thin by subsequent viewings. Robert Schwentke directed the predecessor to competitor Red 2.

THE SEARCHERS 1956. Ciné concludes its Summer Classic Movie Series with a doozy starring the Duke. John Ford directed John Wayne in the inimitable Searchers. Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards (Wayne) and his nephew, Martin (Jeffrey Hunter, “Star Trek”’s original captain, Christopher Pike), embark on a years-long search for a niece kidnapped by Native Americans under Chief Scar. Natalie Wood plays the niece, Debbie, at the age of 15. Get to Ciné, pardner, and enjoy The Searchers in 35mm. (Ciné)

• THE SMURFS 2 (PG) Even the Smurfs seem less “smurfed” up about their sequel. Gargamel (Hank Azaria, still ruining a great cartoon villain) creates some fake Smurfs—he calls them Naughties. Vexy (v. Christina Ricci) and Hackus (v. J.B. Smoove) are an un-Smurf-like gray, so Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette (v. Katy Perry), who holds the secret to turning the Naughties blue. Sadly, Smurfette is an easier target than usual as the birthday girl feels forgotten by Papa Smurf (v. the late Jonathan Winters) and the rest of her blue brethren. (She’s the only girl; no blue-blooded Smurf ever forgets Smurfette.) Maybe the kids will be entertained again, but the illogical trip to Paris, where Gargamel has become a big celebrity magician, will flummox adults. Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and franchise newbie Brendan Gleeson don’t add that much to the movie. I’d have preferred a more fantastical adventure that takes place wholly in the Smurfs’ home realm. Kudos to the voice work by Anton Yelchin, Winters and “The Daily Show”’s John Oliver. They really “smurfed” it. The rest of the disposable family film is just “smurfy.”

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (PG-13) Star Trek Into Darkness, the second film in J.J. Abrams’ revamped Trek-verse, is the best Star Wars movie since 1983. Don’t think I typed that wrong. The second new Star Trek is the giant, sci-fi, matinee serial that the Star Wars prequels never were. My only concern with J.J. Abrams’ revitalization of George Lucas’ neck of the galaxy is the negative effects it will have on the burgeoning new Star Trek. The new Trek improves upon its already superb predecessor in every way. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads the crew of the Starship Enterprise—Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) and Scotty (Simon Pegg)—after a rogue Federation operative (Benedict Cumberbatch) turns terrorist. Knock Abrams all you want for his love of lens flare, but the bridge of the Enterprise looks fantastic. The space battles trump anything outside of the Star Wars universe. Trek has never looked better, been more thrilling or more humanly humorous, and those praises come from a lifelong Trek fan (I eschew the Trekkie/Trekker nomenclature). Star Trek 2 seems like the luckiest of numbers; this sequel achieves Khan-like greatness. Knowledgeable fans will enjoy the abundant surprises.

TURBO (PG) Why, in a cinematic world so accepting of superheroes, is the idea of a racing snail so absurd? I don’t know, but it is. After a first act highlighted by endearing animation and stellar voice work from Ryan Reynolds and Paul Giamatti, Turbo gets stupid, as the main mollusk is imbued with the abilities of a car (not just speed but alarm, radio and headlights) after a freak accident involving a street racer and some nitrous. After buddying up with a taco-making fellow named Tito (Michael Pena), Turbo and his other racing snail pals—including Whiplash (v. Samuel L. Jackson) and Smoove Move (v. Snoop Dogg)—head to the Indy 500, where they will face off against defending champion and world’s greatest racecar driver, Guy Gagne (v. Bill Hader). While a much better cartoon than its trailer portrays, Turbo will mostly appeal to those kiddies for whom Cars has run out of gas. I never imagined animated snails could be so appealing. Turbo definitely benefits from one of the best voice casts (I have yet to mention Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph and Luis Guzman) of the summer.

THE WAY, WAY BACK (PG-13) After winning an Oscar for writing The Descendants, Jim Rash (Dean Pelton on “Community”) and Nat Faxon (the sadly cancelled “Ben and Kate”) reteamed for their directorial debut. This coming of age comedy stars Liam James as Duncan, who negotiates a summer with his mom (Toni Collette) and her boyfriend (Steve Carell) by getting a job at a local water park, where he is befriended by its odd owner (Sam Rockwell). This Sundance favorite looks appealing enough to be summer’s indie breakout hit. With Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry and Amanda Peet.

• WE’RE THE MILLERS (R) We’re the Millers doesn’t break any laugh records, but after a few laughless weeks at the cinema, it more than accomplishes its goal. Its silliest problem is its star, the hilarious Jason Sudeikis, who comes off far too smug far too easily. (One wonders how this movie would have played with a more sympathetic David Clark, played by Jason Bateman or Jason Segel, etc.) After running afoul of his drug kingpin pal (Ed Helms), Dave (Sudeikis) must smuggle a smidge that turns out to be a lot more than a smidge of marijuana across the border. Dave hatches a brilliant plan to fake a family with stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston, who is getting hotter with age), runaway teen Casey (Emma Roberts) and virginal Kenny (Will Poulter, Son of Rambow). Everything works out great until he runs into a swell DEA agent and his wife (Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn) and the big-time Mexican drug lord to whom the weed really belongs to catches up with them. We’re the Millers will probably gain popularity once it starts airing non-stop on FX. Still, it’s a funny afternoon diversion, thanks mostly to its clever cast, not its familiarly sitcom-ish script.

THE WOLVERINE (PG-13) With Walk the Line’s James Mangold (just imagine if the film’s first director, Darren Aronofsky, had stuck around) in the director’s chair, The Wolverine can’t be worse than its predecessor, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, right? The movie also uses Frank Miller’s classic mini-series as a framework, as Wolverine ventures to Japan. This fanboy is pretty stoked, even if they are trotting out my one of my top two least favorite superhero tropes—the loss of powers.