By now, Tyler Perry's movies are so maligned that bashing them seems almost superfluous. But the auteur theory applies equally to celebrated and condemned filmmakers, making Perry one of the most prominent auteurs in contemporary cinema. And for better or worse, Madea's Witness Protection expands on the themes that are so integral to his storytelling style. A broad comedy that marches toward the mainstream further than ever thanks to the casting of, quite frankly, actors white people know (Eugene Levy, Denise Richards, Tom Arnold), Perry's latest is crudely assembled and mostly emotionally unengaging.Read more
Oliver Stone returns to his comfort zone in this blood-soaked, sex and drug-fueled ride that returns the three-time Oscar winner to territory he mined so successfully in past films from Scarface to Natural Born Killers. Recent projects like his Wall Street sequel or inspirational 9/11 drama World Trade Center might have implied Stone has lost his touch for balls-to-the-wall action dramas. Not so. He almost seems energized by it all—and it works. In fact, Savages is one of Stone's best movies with a ménage et trois love story giving some human dimension to its three young leads, potheads who run a simple, safe weed growing and selling operation.Read more
Look up in the sky! It's not a bird nor a plane—on that skyscraper is a teenager in full Spider-Man spandex holding a denim backpack and cellphone and promising his aunt he'll bring home a dozen organic eggs. Meet the new face of superheroes: Marc Webb's totally teenage and totally fun take on the Spider-Man franchise. Bad buzz has haunted this reboot since its announcement as audiences found it a bit premature to stick someone else into Tobey Maguire's tights (get ready, guys—it'll happen to Batman soon enough), but while the studio's decision is a cynical cash-in, the flick itself is a charmer that deserves a chance. Will fans give it one? Enough will to make The Amazing Spider-Man worth the work—but the real test is if it can command its own sequel.Read more
Earlier this year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation faced the worst PR catastrophe of its thirty-year existence when it pulled funding for breast cancer prevention programs from Planned Parenthood. The public backlash was fast and furious, and Komen reversed its decision shortly thereafter. By that point, however, the damage was done; the foundation has yet to recover its reputation among many liberals who now feel angry and suspicious of CEO Nancy Brinker's politicization of breast cancer donations.
According to the documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc., that anger and suspicion are long overdue. Unlike Komen, which has long marketed breast cancer as a fashionably feminine cause through make-up, food and toy tie-ins, director Léa Pool's film doesn't pull any punches.
Movies don't get much funnier than Ted, the story of a man-boy (Mark Walhberg) and his beloved childhood teddy bear. But this bear isn't just any bear—he's a magically talking teddy who grows into a woman-chasing, foul-mouthed bad influence. For those fearing the worst, this isn't a sensitive grown man/stuffed animal story like The Beaver, which starred a mental Mel Gibson and a hand-puppet. Instead, Ted sets a new raucous R-rated comedy gold standard. It's hilarious and rollicking fun from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane (who also supplies the voice of the title character). Last year, Universal Pictures had great success with Hop, a family film about a talking Easter bunny who befriends a regular guy.Read more
Empty buildings resemble abandoned shoebox dioramas in Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's Detropia. These empty often grandiose buildings lend the documentary a remote sort of poignancy, along with the impression globalization was an experiment taken on with the gravity of a middle school science fair. Ewing and Grady (Jesus Camp) bookend the trials of the struggling masses with the plight of the city's failing Opera, upon which neighboring businesses rely for survival—it's this city's only indication Reaganomics isn't a killer virus. Structurally, the film balances an anthropologist's view and the squishy warmth of This American Life, with a structure that feels like many episodes of that NPR radio show strung together.Read more
By way of sleight-of-hand, Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike both is and isn't the freewheeling, fun-loving, male stripper extravaganza its trailers peddle. Running parallel to this flesh game is another of Soderbergh's nuanced looks at contemporary American life, in specific the economic and emotional toll suffered by folks trying to get ahead. Audiences, particularly females, will likely come out for the ab-tastic hijinks, though once they've seen the fuller contours of the film, word of mouth may be a dicier proposition.
Within the film's opening minutes Soderbergh gives the people what they paid for: Channing Tatum's bare behind. Actress Olivia Munn is a topless bonus in a scene set the morning after a three-way romp. (Boom. Done.