Film » Film Capsules

Film Capsules

Bite-sized summaries for when you're not that hungry


Meek's Cutoff (PG)

In this hypnotic western, three families follow the advice of Wild West wrangler Meek (Bruce Greenwood) and split from a wagon train on a shortcut west. They're already lost when the movie begins, walking through arid stretches of Oregon looking for water. But Meek's Cutoff is less western than road movie, and less interested in the journey or destination than what happens in the mind. The families start off almost interchangeable. They're all leaving something behind and searching for something different. Like these travelers, you're not quite sure what's going to happen next. But getting to that point has left you irrevocably changed. (Bret McCabe)

The Beaver (R) — Batshit-crazy Mel Gibson plays batshit-crazy Walter Black, a family man whose life is crumbling around him. He and his wife (Jodie Foster, who also directs) are separated, and he hardly speaks to his two boys. Then Walter finds salvation in a beaver puppet he uncovers in a dumpster. He begins holding conversations with the furry creature, who convinces him to turn his life around. And for the first time in his life, Walter connects with his family. You may sympathize. But you won't laugh. Or care too much about the characters and subplots. (Michael Gallucci)

Bridesmaids (R) — Though it tries too hard by piling on the vulgarity to prove it's not your grandma's chick flick, this Judd Apatow-produced comedy still has more laughs than The Hangover. Much credit goes to co-writer and star Kristen Wiig, who plays bride-to-be Maya Rudolph's aggrieved BFF and maid of honor. After being usurped by rich bitch Rose Byrne during pre-wedding festivities, Wiig's unlucky-in-love-and-just-about-everything-else Annie doesn't get mad — she gets even. But typical Apatowian excess almost brings Bridesmaids down, and the third act's incessant wheel-spinning quickly grows as exhausting as most real-life wedding receptions. (Milan Paurich)

Fast Five (PG-13) — In yet another Fast and the Furious sequel, the original crew (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, et al.) heads to Rio to orchestrate an Italian Job-style heist that could just as easily have been staged in Santa Monica. The fifth entry in this decade-old boys-and-toys franchise is just loud and mindless enough to satisfy the fan base, but it probably won't win any new admirers. (Paurich)

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (PG-13) — Super Size Me's Morgan Spurlock sets up his new movie's premise right off the bat: He'll fund a documentary about branding, marketing, and product placement in the entertainment world, and it will be financed by corporate sponsors. He'll sell naming rights! He'll only wear shoes of companies that fund his film! Spurlock gleefully sells himself and his idiotic idea throughout the movie. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold may be the most pointless, indulgent, incurious documentary ever made. (Justin Strout)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (PG-13) — After the marathon running time and overstuffed plots of 2007's At World's End, you might wonder what's left to cram into the fourth movie of this swashbuckling franchise. How about mermaids, zombies, 3-D, and Penélope Cruz? The story this time has to do with the Fountain of Youth and all the different pirates looking for it. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush return, but Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are gone. So is director Gore Verbinski, replaced by Chicago's Rob Marshall, who steers the slow-moving On Stranger Tides into darker and calmer waters than its predecessor. Maybe it's time for Captain Jack to bring his ship to shore. (Gallucci)

Something Borrowed (R) — When attorney Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) sleeps with law-school crush Dex (Colin Egglesfield), it should be the start of a beautiful romance. But since Dex is already engaged to Rachel's high-maintenance best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson), their stealth affair is actually a lot closer to an old-fashioned bedroom farce. Director Luke Greenfield stumbles with this almost completely charmless romantic comedy, which blows its appealing cast by making characters either clueless dolts or divas. (Paurich)

Thor (PG-13) — The hammer-wielding god of thunder stumbles in his movie debut. Director Kenneth Branagh attempts to bring his impeccable sense of Shakespearean heft to the Marvel Comics realm, but doesn't quite succeed. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and mortal pal Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) never seem more than comic-book cutouts here. With any luck, next year's Avengers will bring out Thor's thundering potential. (Justin Brenis)

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