Capsule reviews: 'Toy Story 3' and othersCapsule reviews of films opening this week.
By: The Associated Press, Superior Telegram
Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
"Toy Story 3" — This is what happens when you're good at your job: Everyone expects excellence from you, and anything even slightly short of that feels like a letdown. "Toy Story 3" is a gorgeous film — funny, sweet and clever in the tradition of the best Pixar movies — but because it comes from that studio's nearly flawless tradition, including two "Toy Story" predecessors, the expectations naturally are inflated. The storytelling in no way is in question; it never is at Pixar, which is the fundamental reason their films are so strong. Neither is the voice cast, led once again by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack, with formidable newcomers like Ned Beatty thrown into the mix. The details are as vibrant and tactile as ever: the textures and expressions, the use of light, angles and perspective. And the core concept — that toys have a rich, complex interior life when people aren't around — still resonates all these years later. If "Toy Story" hadn't come out in 1995 and "Toy Story 2" hadn't followed it in 1999, "Toy Story 3" would stand on its own as a breakthrough. Trouble is, those earlier movies do exist. And by comparison, this third installment — in which Andy heads off to college and the toys end up in day care — doesn't feel quite so fresh. Then, of course, there is the 3-D — the unfortunate trend of the summer. It's not intrusive, but it's also completely unnecessary. G. In 3-D and IMAX 3-D. 98 min. Three stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Cyrus" — A romantic charmer that works in spite of — and maybe a bit because of — two physical mismatches that audiences are asked to accept in this story of a suitor battling his new girlfriend's needy son, who wants mom all to himself. One: That petite knockout Marisa Tomei and pug-faced hulk John C. Reilly could tumble into near love at first sight. Two: That petite knockout Tomei and baby-faced hulk Jonah Hill could be mother and son. Reilly and Tomei make their asymmetry work, quickly becoming one of those beauty-and-the-beast couples that make people remark, "They look so cute together!" The movie gets kind of creepy when Tomei and Hill cuddle and tickle each other. Yet that's where some of the best laughs come from — once you get over the ick factor of a 40-something mom getting so physical with her grown son. Sibling writer-directors Jay and Mark Duplass have a knack for wringing laughs out of uncomfortable moments, and the film is steeped in this sort of cringe-and-wince humor. There's a real sweetness to it at the same time, and the Duplass brothers do a great job balancing that soft side with the nastier edges underlying their story. R for language and some sexual material. 92 min. Three stars out of four.
— David Germain, AP Movie Writer
"The Killer Inside Me" — Here's the conundrum with this film: It's well-made, yet difficult to recommend. It looks great, a mix of parched West Texas vistas and lush interiors, yet portions of it are impossible to watch without wincing. The performances are consistently strong, though, especially from star Casey Affleck as a small-town deputy sheriff in the early 1950s whose polite demeanor and boyish features belie a savage homicidal streak. Director Michael Winterbottom also gets typically compelling work from Ned Beatty and Elias Koteas in small but crucial supporting roles. But regardless of any other elements, there are a couple of scenes here that will have everyone talking, and will divide viewers' opinions of the entire movie. Based on the pulp fiction novel by Jim Thompson, "The Killer Inside Me" tracks the steady unraveling of a sociopath, one hidden among the people we trust to be the good guys. Affleck's Lou Ford comes from an established family in Central City, and he has a lovely girlfriend in Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson), who's pressuring him to get married. Then one day, the sheriff (Tom Bower) sends him out to talk with Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), a prostitute who's ensnared the son (Jay R. Ferguson) of Chester Conway (Beatty), the town's power broker. His purpose is to run her out of town. But a couple of slaps from Joyce during their confrontation unleash pent-up aggressions and desires within Lou. R for disturbing brutal violence, aberrant sexual content and some graphic nudity. 108 min. Two stars out of four.
Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"8: The Mormon Proposition"— Gay marriage — and California's Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that stated only marriage between a man and a woman would be valid and recognized — are topics fraught with passionate debate on both sides. Which is why this documentary makes you wish it had been made by filmmakers with more creative, artful inclinations. Or at least more focus. Director and writer Reed Cowan and co-director Steven Greenstreet depict the campaign to pass this measure — and the influential Mormon church as a massive driving force behind it — in a surprisingly dry, straightforward way. Talking heads and snippets of revealing documents are broken up with rather literal, cheesy imagery. The stories from real people give the film emotional heft and make it somewhat worthwhile — people like Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones, former Mormons who tearfully describe how most members of their families have ostracized them for being gay. They married each other in San Francisco in June 2008, only to have Prop 8 place the legality of that union in limbo a few months later. Ultimately, "8' becomes an entirely different movie — a far more compelling one — when it shifts gears and focuses on the high suicide rate among gay teens in Utah. R for some language/sexual references. 78 min. Two stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Jonah Hex" — This comic-book adaptation is so short, and so bad, you cringe at the thought of how awful whatever ended up on the cutting-room floor must be. Take away the eight minutes of end-credits, a prologue sequence built around comic-book panels and some repetitive flashbacks of action we've already seen, and there's barely an hour's worth of actual movie. And that's using the term "actual movie" generously. Josh Brolin has the title role as a Civil War vet turned bounty hunter, bent on vengeance against the villain (John Malkovich) who disfigured his face and killed his family. Jonah's tragedies somehow leave him able to interrogate the dead, a handy tool as he tracks Malkovich through a lame plot to destroy America with a doomsday weapon. Brolin tries to bring gravity to the role, but Malkovich just seems bored and Megan Fox adds to her robotic resume as Jonah's prostitute and romantic interest. Director Jimmy Hayward presents action that feels choppy and unfinished, at least partly the effect of cutting out explicit violence to secure a more audience-friendly rating. PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and sexual content. 82 min. One and a half stars out of four.
— David Germain, AP Movie Writer