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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Daddy Day Camp,’ ‘Death at a Funeral’ (again), ‘Rocket Science,’ ‘Rush Hour 3,’ ‘Shoot ’Em Up,’ ‘Self-Medicated,’ ‘Superbad’


oh my god noooooooooooo!

I saw four movies yesterday. That sounds like fun, I know it. And believe me, it beats sitting in a cubicle all day, which I’ve done more than enough of in my life to know that I would rather kill myself than have to do it again. So I’m not complaining here. I’ve said many many times before that sitting through even a bad movie is far preferrable to doing almost anything else. Sex with George Clooney might be better, but even that would depend on how attentive he is and the quality of the wine we’re drinking.

Anyway, what I want to point out is that while it’s preferrable to almost anything, four movies in eight hours not entirely all fun and games, and — when you watch movies on this kind of level — it is work, even if it is also fun. See, yesterday my screenings were at 10am, noon, 2pm, and 4pm. In screening rooms and movie theaters spread all over Midtown. If all the films weren’t just about 90 minutes long each, this kind of marathon wouldn’t have been possible. And as it turns out, it was thwarted from the very beginning. My screening of Daddy Day Camp [opens August 8] was supposed to start at 10am, but the print had not yet arrived. The Sony screening room on Madison Avenue is very plush and comfy — if you get there early enough, you can snag one of the leather couches or easy chairs and ottomans instead of being forced to endure the merely nicely cosy better-than-multiplex theater-style seats. So while we waited for the print to arrive, I, ensconced on a leather sofa that is ridiculously far nicer than anything I’ve ever owned myself, passed a pleasant 40 minutes with other critics chatting about, well, movies. But the movie started 40 minutes late. Which meant that I could have slept another half an hour, for one, and that if I stayed for the full running time of the movie, I wouldn’t make my noon screening.
No way was I going to let that happen, because my noon screening was my second viewing of Death at a Funeral [opens limited? August 17], and since I already knew how freakin’ hilarious that movie is, I was not about to miss it. So I ended up leaving Daddy Day Camp at the one-hour mark, which, as awful a movie as it is, caused me quite a bit of consternation. For I have never — and I mean never — walked out of movie, not before I started reviewing, and not since. Still, I feel completely confident in trashing DDC based upon that one horrible hour, which I’ll do tomorrow. Stay tuned. (Oh, and Death at a Funeral is even funnier the second time around.)


no no no no no no no!

After Funeral, it was more running around Manhattan to get to Rocket Science [opens limited August 10], which has a lot of folks all, “Oh, it’s this year’s Little Miss Sunshine” or “this year’s Sideways” or whatever. But eh, not so much. And after that was Rush Hour 3 [opens August 10], a xerox copy of Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 with a special sauce of mid-Oughties American arrogance poured over it. Yuck.

So of the four movies I saw yesterday, the only one that was really enjoyable in an unreserved way was the one I’d seen before. And it’s the only one I’d see again… in fact, I can’t wait to buy Death at a Funeral on DVD, it’s that rewatchable. But also, there’s this: I had little time for breakfast before I had to leave for my trek to Midtown, which meant that the sandwich I’d brought with me for lunch had been consumed by 11am. Which meant by the time I got to Rush Hour 3 just before 4pm, I was starving again, so I bought multiplex popcorn that I almost instantly regretted eating.

I know, I know, I know: it’s low on the list of things to be bitching about, having to run from one movie to another to another to another. But it’s hardly glamorous, either.

Tonight should be better. I’m seeing Shoot ’Em Up [opens September 7], an action movie that, I’ve heard from other critics who’ve seen it already, might compare to The Bourne Ultimatum for sheer nonstop relentless motion. Plus, it stars Clive Owen, and I would pay to see him read from the phone book. So, you know, I’m kinda looking forward to this one.

On Thursday I’ve got another two-fer: Self-Medicated [opens limited August 31], an American indie about those boot-camp detox programs people send their out-of-control teenagers to. Diane Venora stars; I like her a lot. After that I’ll endure Superbad [opens August 17], which I expect to be able to use to self-title my review.

Friday night I’m finally going to see Frost/Nixon on Broadway. I’d go to the theater a lot more often if the ticket prices didn’t make you gasp in shock — I got bargain tickets with a coupon and they were still $69.50 — but I decided that I must see this because I’ve been madly in love with Michael Sheen since he played Tony Blair in The Queen. (Which I hope to finally get around to reviewing, what with the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death coming up later this month.) Sheen plays TV talk-show host David Frost, with Frank Langella as Richard Nixon, and I mention all of this now because the play will be adapted to film, to be released next year — it looks like the movie will go into production almost immediately after the show closes on Broadway on August 19. Sheen and Langella will reprise their stage roles, and the movie cast will also feature such cool names as Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt, Matthew Macfadyen (who also stars in Death at a Funeral), and Toby Jones (from the Capote film Infamous). If I can find a moment, I’ll let you know about the play after Friday. (I still have some stuff to say about Talk Radio, which I saw on stage a few months back with Liev Schreiber. If only someone would add a few hours to the day, I could be so much more productive.)

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  • How utterly lame is it that a movie poster actually contains the phrase “From the studio that brought you [x]”? I have a message for the studio execs who thought up that stinker:

    No. One. Cares.

    The same applies to “From the producers of [x]”. I don’t care who produced the movie.

    Now, if you want to say “From the guy who wrote [x]”, where [x] was particularly well written, OK. Or “From the director of [x]”… that’d be OK, too.

    But honestly… “From the studio that brought you [x]”? If you have to write that, do yourselves a favor and just ship the movie straight to DVD.

  • Rosalind

    Maryann: I love your reviews and appreciate all the bum-numbing slog that goes into them!
    Please keep up the great work.

  • MaryAnn

    Thanks, Rosalind. I know it sounds facetious, maybe, to say that part of why I keep up with this is because so many people seem to appreciate it. I don’t care if people agree with me, but I do like to hear that people appreciate what I’m doing (even if they disagree).

  • Katie

    Oh I can’t wait to see ‘Death at a Funeral’! It looks wonderful (and Matthew Macfadyen should be in pretty much everything!).

    I agree…movie theater popcorn is awful, just awful.

    Thanks for running around for us. :-)

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