By Rebecca Kelley
What’s the best option for entertainment this weekend? Is it better to trek to your local theater or curl up on your couch (and a sweetie) with On Demand? “Ticket or Click It” is here to break down the options. Click on the movie titles for more information about ordering On Demand or buying tickets through Fandango.
What’s On Demand?
A horse and his boy are separated by war. As they each make their way through the trenches, horrors and battles of World War I, the hope they will find each other grows dimmer but never goes out.
Our take: From Steven Spielberg, this movie is sort of a PG-13 “Saving Private Ryan.” Because it’s from a filmmaking master, it has some breathtaking battle sequences and some moving scenes. As a whole, however, it never quite coalesces. Part of the problem is an endlessly long beginning before anyone gets to the war – a good deal of it spent in a turnip patch. Nothing good ever comes of turnip patches. The rest of the problem is that, if you don’t buy into the idea that the reunification of that particular boy and that particular horse is paramount, you lose the heart of the story. I just didn’t care if they found each other and it’s a long movie if you don’t care. Excellently done, but long.
Matt Damon stars as a father trying to help his teen son and little daughter move on after the death of their beloved mother, even as he himself feels the loss keenly. The answer comes in the form of a small but functional zoo with a lovely farmhouse on the property. The animals are odd, the attached staff even odder, but one devoted and earnest animal keeper (Scarlett Johannson) stands out.
Our take: This lovely movie is a family film in the purest sense of the word. It’s not a cartoon or a slapstick comedy you put on to keep the kids quiet for an hour or two, but a loving and warm movie you watch with the whole family. Kids will love the animal storylines, which neither devolve into poop jokes nor pretend the animals are furry humans. Adults will love the fine acting and unsentimental but moving moments. It’s sad, to be sure, but ultimately hopeful, and an all-around fantastic film.
When an elderly lady shuffles into a minimart to buy milk, no one suspects she is the former leader of the free world, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As she battles dementia and then relives her past, she struggles to stay connected to the now. Her brilliant career is shown in flashbacks.
Our take: This movie is as much about old age as it is about Margaret Thatcher, and Meryl Streep does a masterful job portraying both. She becomes Thatcher in all her self-assurance and strength; she becomes everywoman at the sunset of life. Streep earned every bit of her Best Actress Oscar win for this role. The film itself has been controversial for its portrayal of Thatcher as a doddering old woman, but I thought the filmmakers had enough integrity to let her shine through as she was. Not everyone will like her, but everyone will know exactly who she was.
What’s In Theaters?
Larry, Curly, and Moe are back. Raised in an orphanage run by nuns, the trio must find a way to raise money before the old place is shut down. This involves harebrained schemes, attempted murder for hire, and lots of hair-pulling and head-whacking.
Our take: The film doesn’t so much revive the franchise as much as it takes a 1930s act and plunks it down in 2012. The actors perfectly captured the original ethos, the manner of speaking, the slow-burn expressions and overacted reactions. A lot could be done with that, but the film doesn’t do it. The Stooges are relics of another time. Some of the sequences are quite funny, but many are flat. It’s hard to not be impressed by the flawless choreography of elaborate punching, poking and pinching, but I was left thinking “that looks like it hurts” instead of laughing. A few sexually suggestive sight gags, along with all that physical assault, will make you want to think twice about taking the kids.
In the future, convicts are sent into space and put into suspended animation to serve time. The president’s daughter travels on a mission of mercy to find out if they’re mistreated, but stumbles into a prisoner takeover. Soon, all the bad boys are woken up and she’s trapped in a tin can with hundreds of raving lunatics. Time to send in a former spy (Guy Pearce), wrongly convicted and a prisoner himself, to rescue her.
Our take: Pearce elevates this mediocre movie from “meh” to “hum.” His easy banter and smart-aleck wit are a lot of fun to watch. The rest of the movie doesn’t quite keep up, including storylines that become more and more difficult to believe. It’s not the best space-prison-riot movie you’ll ever see, but it’s not the worst either.
Ticket or Click It?
Click It! It’s a hard decision between “We Bought a Zoo” and “The Iron Lady,” but I think I’ll recommend “Zoo” for its wide appeal. Enjoy!
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.