Film » Film Capsules

Film Capsules

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


The Hangover Part II (R)

Like in the first Hangover, the raunchier sequel starts with most of the damage already done. This time it's Stu (Ed Helms) who's getting married, and the "wolf pack" (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha) heads to Thailand for the wedding. Then comes one crazy night in Bangkok that nobody can recall. The first movie's baby is replaced by a monkey, and 2009's breakout star Galifianakis gets more screen time. Otherwise, this is pretty much the first movie with a new setting: The guys pass out, someone is missing, and Stu again wakes up with his face altered (this time it involves a Mike Tyson-style tattoo). And once again the guys try to unravel very fuzzy clues to piece together the wild night they can't remember. There are some funny scenes here, like Stu's unfortunate strip-club experience, but most of the plot and best jokes are recycled from the original. (Michael Gallucci)

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)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG) — There's not nearly as much quiet time here as there was in the first movie. Too bad, since the reflective scenes — Po with his dad, Po coming to terms with his past, and Po seeking inner peace — work way better than the ones with the evil peacock who plans to take over China. The movie avoids annoying pop-culture references, guaranteeing a longer shelf life than, say, the last Shrek. But there are plenty of boring scenes with the Furious Five and inside the villain's lair that keep us from the more interesting stuff. (Gallucci)

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 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 movie 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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