Capsule reviews: 'Dinner for Schmucks' and othersCapsule reviews of films opening this week.
By: The Associated Press, Superior Telegram
Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
"Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" — Dogs and cats, living together ... mass hysteria? Maybe not. While these animals were resourceful and well-equipped enemies in the original "Cats & Dogs" from 2001, now they must band together to fight a common foe. As you can tell from the name, this is a spy send-up, specifically of James Bond movies — the opening titles alone are super clever, an indication of the kind of eye for detail that's in store throughout — and from there, the jokes fly fast and furious along with the fur. Surprisingly, most of them work. But as directed by Brad Peyton, the 3-D sequel is a mix of live action, puppetry and computer animation, and the jumbled look is its chief weakness: The animals are cute, but the visual effects that suggest they're talking too often look jumpy and fake. You want your talking-animal movies to be realistic, don't you? Still, it's a delightful idea that cats and dogs not only enjoy a rich interior life while humans are away, but also function as highly trained super spies, complete with elaborate gadgetry. Bette Midler is deliciously over-the-top as the voice of the diabolical Kitty Galore, with James Marsden, Christina Applegate and Nick Nolte among the vocal cast. PG for animal action and humor. 87 minutes. Three stars out of four.
Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Dinner for Schmucks" — There's a lot less bite at this meal than there was in the classic French farce that was its inspiration. Whereas "The Dinner Game" was a tight, sharp satire of societal pretension, this remake seems more interested in broad slapstick. That's unsurprising coming from Jay Roach, director of the "Austin Powers" movies, "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers." Still, Roach takes time getting to the big, wacky evening at the film's climax. "Dinner for Schmucks" is 34 minutes longer than its predecessor, and feels like it. As Steve Carell and Paul Rudd get to know each other during a series of mishaps, the pacing drags and the script takes them through some serious detours. But Carell, being the smart, sensitive comic actor that he is, infuses what might have been an insufferably obnoxious character with some real humanity. The same can't be said for Rudd's straight-man character because he's drawn so plainly, it's hard to care whether he suffers or succeeds. Rudd plays a financial analyst on the verge of a promotion. But first, he must impress his boss at a secret monthly dinner where the company elite compete to see who can bring the biggest idiot as their guest. When he meets Carell as a kindhearted IRS employee and amateur taxidermist, he knows he's found his schmuck. PG-13 for sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language. 114 minutes. Two stars out of four.
Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"The Extra Man" — The New York of the film from directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman ("American Splendor") is populated by eccentrics — a gigolo! a Swiss hunchback! — whose eccentricities are meant to seem very eccentric. The cloying quirk stifles the film (based on Jonathan Ames' novel), which is a shame mostly because it does Kevin Kline such a disservice. Louis Ives (Paul Dano) is a sensitive English teacher who fancies himself a 1920s gentleman out of "The Great Gatsby." Fired from his teaching job, he seeks renewal in New York. He moves in with Henry Harrison (Kline), a faded aristocrat whose shabby apartment and broken-down Buick don't — in his mind — dull his sophistication a bit. He's a character to the hilt, a mix of high and low, deeming Henry James "unreadable" and teaching tricks for urinating on the street. Kline, the best thing in the film, plays Henry with classical stage enunciation, but the character still fails to resonate. Henry isn't much more than a bag of peculiarities, and the same can be said for the movie. With Katie Holmes and John C. Reilly. R for some sexual content. 108 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer
"Get Low" — Robert Duvall looks great as a grizzled old coot, while Bill Murray makes a mighty fine funeral director. Surround them with sharp old-timey details of the Depression-era boondocks and the roles fit them even better. That's the lowdown on this very old-fashioned comic drama whose charm comes more from the characters, performances and rich period feel than from the story itself, which is inspired by real events but strains at the reins a bit in its fictionalized elements. Duvall is perfectly cast as a rural hermit who abruptly ends 40 years of seclusion to arrange a "living funeral" so he can hear what people might have to say about him while he's still around. With terrific support from Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black and Bill Cobbs, the film marks a rosy feature debut by director Aaron Schneider, whose 2003 tale "Two Soldiers" won an Academy Award as best live-action short film. The main gripe, and it's not a loud one, is the overly literary artifices the filmmakers concocted to wrap the story up so tidily. PG-13 for some thematic material and brief violent content. 103 minutes. Three stars out of four.
David Germain, AP Movie Writer