Film » Film Capsules

Film Capsules

Shorter is better sometimes

Due Date (R) — Director Todd Phillips' follow-up to last year's hit The Hangover doesn't offer much in the way of a premise: Soon-to-be-dad Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) misses his flight home and catches a ride with aspiring actor Ethan (Zach Galifianakis), and the mismatched pair embarks on a two-day road trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Like The Hangover, and Phillips' other new-school comedy classic Old School, it all comes down to the actors at the center of it all. Michael Gallucci

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 (PG-13) — After nine years, six movies, and more hormone-fueled growth spurts you can shake a wand at, this is the beginning of the end of the Harry Potter franchise. And like last year's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the first part of the boy wizard's final chapter (the second half arrives next summer) is directed by David Yates. And like last year's outing, this penultimate offering is an occasionally rousing adventure that also connects on an emotional level. With his beloved mentor gone, it's up to Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his BFFs Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) to stop the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Only problem, much of the good stuff comes at the end of the story, and too often the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows plays like a two-and-a-half-hour setup. Still, the movie's dark tones make it one of the moodiest in the series and therefore one of the most complex. (It's also needlessly convoluted and busy at times — good luck trying to follow the story if you haven't seen the other movies.) Unsurprisingly, the first part of The Deathly Hallows feels somewhat incomplete. Hopefully, the real magic is being saved for the end. Gallucci

Love and Other Drugs (R) — Movies rarely pack as much into 113 minutes as Edward Zwick's romantic comedy-drama Love and Other Drugs. Directors often stumble when balancing this mix, but Zwick makes it all work. The film is partly based on Jamie Reidy's memoir of his stint as a pharmaceutical salesman in the '90s (with a new love story added for the screen). Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a glib womanizer who gets by on his seductive charm. The job's slippery ethics match his personality — the sleazy tactics he uses to push pills include seducing receptionists and pimping for horny physicians. Jamie pursues Maggie (Anne Hathaway), a clever and beautiful artist with early-onset Parkinson's disease, and the pair — both averse to commitment — begin an affair, complete with plenty of onscreen nudity. Love and Other Drugs is so entertaining that when Maggie's illness really takes hold, it's like a punch to the gut. Though the movie meanders at times, it brims with sharp words and solid performances. Pamela Zoslov

Morning Glory (PG-13) — The intermittently funny Morning Glory admirably subverts convention by focusing on a woman's romance — not with a man, but with her career. And thankfully, it has the good taste to avoid a May-December romance between stars Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams. Zoslov

Tangled (PG) — Disney has played around with fairy tales before, but Tangled is a different kind of mess. Based on the story of longhaired damsel-in-distress Rapunzel (the movie's original title, by the way), the heroine (voiced by Mandy Moore) is a stronger, more independent girl here — still trapped in that dreadful tower, but more than capable of making it on her own. She's also pretty good at kicking butt, which she does alongside thief Flynn (Chuck's Zachary Levi), who reluctantly rescues Rapunzel from her towering prison. Like Shrek, Tangled stirs around fairy-tale conventions. Unlike Shrek, it doesn't do a very good job of it, but there are some cute moments. Gallucci

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