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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,’ ‘Pineapple Express,’ ‘Traitor,’ ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’

Since when did four movies in a week start feeling like a “slow week”? It must be the summer heat that’s sapping my ambition… or maybe it’s just the August movie malaise. I’d rather sit home and watch DVDs.

But here I am this week, out at The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 [opens wide August 6], a bullet I’m taking on behalf of the newspaper editors who run my reviews. I could probably have spent my entire life not learning how much further these pants could travel.

About Pineapple Express [opens wide August 6], the main thing I wonder is: Why, James Franco, why? Was it just the allure of a big fat Hollywood paycheck? If that’s the case, please just bank it and go back to making small, interesting movies. You really don’t wanna be Seth Rogen’s comic relief. I mean: Ugh. That’s the job of guys like Jonah Hill. Do you want to be the next Jonah Hill? No, dude, you don’t.

Traitor [opens wide August 27] is Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce in “a taut international thriller set against a jigsaw puzzle of covert counter-espionage operations.” How could that be bad? There’s FBI agents and spies and CIA dudes, and some of them are “obsessed,” as you might expect. It’ll be no fun it this ain’t fun.

Woody Allen directs a to-die-for cast in Vicky Cristina Barcelona [opens wide August 15]: Javier Bardem, Patricia Clarkson, Penélope Cruz, and Scarlett Johansson, and apparently it’s about some very pretty, very young women getting themselves romantically entangled with much older men. How Allen keeps getting away with this, I have no idea, because it hasn’t really worked since Manhattan. Or Annie Hall. Whichever one was more recent. Whatever: Scarlett Johansson hadn’t even been born when either of those were new. Allen is starting to remind me of the creep that Matthew McConaughey played in Dazed and Confused, the one who loved the fact that no matter how old he got, high-school girls stayed the same age. And Allen’s a lot older than McConaughey was then.

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  • JoshDM

    I think Franco lost a bet to Rogen back in the “Freaks and Geeks” era.

  • Told ya MaryAnn would probably shred Pineapple Express

  • I’m excited about Pineapple Express, even though I’m 85% sure all the best bits are in the trailer, just like Stepbrothers and so many others before it.

  • MBI

    I’m excited about Pineapple Express just because it’s a stoner movie directed by a famed art director. You know that Tommy Chong asked Terrence Malick to direct “Up in Smoke” once? Man, I am so psyched for this movie.

  • Hello dear ladies and gentlemen!
    I would like inform you that Scarlett Johansson (actress) actually is a clone from original person, who has nothing with acting career. That clone was created illegally by using stolen biological material. Original person is very nice (not d**n sexy), most important – CHRISTIAN young lady!
    I’ll tell you guys more, those clones (it’s not only one) made in GERMANY – world leader manufacturer of humans clones, it is in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, North Bavaria, Mr. Helmut Kohl home town. You can not even imaging the scale of the cloning activity. But warning! Helmut Kohl clone staff 100% controlling all their clones spreading around the world, they are very accurate with that, some of them are still NAZI type disciplined and mind controlled clones, so be careful get close with clones you will be controlled as well. Think wise..
    Apparently those clones are very actively shown on your website. This is just a warning, because original person is not happy about those images and video, rumors and etc., in that way it would be really nice if you try slow down that ”actress” career development on your magazine, original Scarlett’s parents will really appreciated that. Please do that, do not wait until FBI agent give you a call with questions. Please remember that original family did not authorize any activity with stolen biological materials, no matter what form it was created, it all need to be return back to original family control to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. If you ignore warning after this message, there can happen law suit..
    Original Scarlett is not engage, by the way!
    Her close friend Serge G.
    P.S.
    H.R. 534, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003, was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on February 5, 2003. After discussion, it was passed on February 27 by a vote of 241-155. It now moves on to the Senate for consideration. This bill makes it unlawful for any person or entity to perform or participate in human cloning, or to ship or receive embryos produced by human cloning. The penalties are imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines of $1 million or more.
    These now join other nations as diverse as Norway, Australia, and Germany, which had already added cloning for any purpose to their criminal code. And in Germany where it carries a penalty of five years imprisonment they know a thing or two about unethical science.

  • Hdj

    Pineapple Express looks f’n stupid, like what away to end the summer, Pineapple express, “Thug life” HA, that sounds so stupid when that guy says that, I hate it, I hate Seth Rogen’s,” hey man lets take it easy attitude”, yeah lets all just chill out right? Like a bunch of boneless slugs that can’t move from the couch. Fuck that fuck this movie and everything it stands for.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    As someone who’s been on the fence about Judd Apatow’s output so far, I was amazed at the laziness of the ‘hilarious’ Pineapple Express red-band trailer – aren’t the first twenty seconds of it just Seth Rogen going “That is good weed” over and over again, as if repetition is going to make it funny? – and even more amazed at the amount of people who were defending its wearying collection of obvious stoner cliches. I suppose no-one ever went broke making a stoner movie because the target audience is so baked they’ll laugh at anything, even this.

  • shoop

    “How Allen keeps getting away with this, I have no idea, because it hasn’t really worked since Manhattan. Or Annie Hall. Whichever one was more recent.”

    *heavy sigh* Manhattan was more recent. It was indeed about a middle-aged man and a much younger girl–in this case, a high school girl. Annie Hall, however, chronicled the relationship of 40-year-old Alvy Singer (played by then 40-year-old Woody) and Annie (played by then 30-year-old Diane Keaton). In other words, Annie Hall had nothing to do with girls getting involved with much older men. It’s fine to knock Woody, but not so fine when the facts aren’t there to back it up.

  • JoshDM

    I’d pay top dollar for a fully-grown Scarlett Johansson (actress) clone.

  • Hdj

    I don’t care if theres a target audience for ” stoner movies” It’s only going to promote more people to start smoking the shit. People are going to feel they have to be high in order to get the jokes. Then it comes out on dvd, bunch of dead beat stoners gather around the tv at 4:20 to watch stupid fucking movies like this.

  • MaryAnn

    No one who isn’t already smoking dope is going to be inspired to do so by this or any other movie. I think you’re worrying needlessly, Hdj.

    And you’re right, shoop. I shouldn’t have invoked *Annie Hall.* Sorry.

  • Bill

    Movies can inspire us to do many things and I tend to think that this includes smoking weed. They certainly have the capacity to put those of us who do enjoy the occasional toke in the mood. Clearly, there are stronger forces acting on the folks that Hdj is concerned about, but I imagine that the right movie at the right time in one’s life could be the tipping point.

  • JT

    I watched Pineapple Express at a preview screening last night and it is just the kind of Apatow “crude-but-touching” bro-mance comedy you expect filled with nut shots and faceplants that teenage boys find amusing. Franco is great here, but the film is weak and has the exact same wishy-washy semi-improvisational tone of Forgetting Sarah Marshall or recent Will Ferrell movies. Not worth paying for, in my opinion.

  • “…, but I imagine that the right movie at the right time in one’s life could be the tipping point. ”

    well, they’re probably pretty impressionable people to start with — i remember seeing both “Casablanca” and “Now Voyager” at the very impressionable age of 12 — both of which are among my favorite movies — but neither inspired me to start smoking.

  • Chris

    Yeah Mary Ann why would anyone who’s part of the original Freaks and Geeks cast want to do anything with Seth Rogen, aka the biggest comical draw of the past two years

  • shoop

    “I shouldn’t have invoked *Annie Hall.* Sorry.”

    Apologies accepted. Or, as Broadway Danny Rose says, “Acceptance, forgiveness, love.” And yes, Woody winning the much younger girl (post-Manhattan) does tend toward the creepy–although I gave “Scoop” a pass, since Woody’s character and Scarlett Johansen’s ingenue don’t have a romantic relationship.

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