Owen Gleiberman

'Happy Gilmore': EW Review

Is America becoming a nation of pain freaks? In Happy Gilmore (Universal, PG-13) and Black Sheep (Paramount, PG-13), the pleasures of anarchic slapstick (The Three Stooges, The Road Runner) give way to a comic sadism that’s stupefying in its literal-mindedness. Sitting through these movies is like having your funny bone whacked repeatedly by a two-by-four.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL A great plot, solid acting, and fast-paced action makes The Winter Solider a worthy sequel.

A superhero should always battle a foe as powerful as he is. Otherwise, there’s no contest. Yet if you look at the history of superhero films, few of them have villains who pop as memorably as their blocky-chested men in capes. There’s Heath Ledger’s Joker, of course (the leering granddaddy of psychotic bad guys), and also Jack Nicholson’s Joker, and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Beyond that, the landscape is thick with low-camp cartoons such as Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, boilerplate CGI treachery, or villains who simply didn’t cut it.

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The Unknown Known

KNOWING NOTHING Despite unprecedented access to Donald Rumsfeld, director Errol Morris fails to create a truly engrossing film.

Errol Morris must have thought that it would be a real coup to do a documentary about Donald Rumsfeld, just as it was when he got Robert McNamara to confess his doubts and mistakes during Vietnam in The Fog of War. To make The Unknown Known, Rumsfeld agreed to be interviewed for more than 30 hours in front of Morris’ specially rigged Interrotron camera. But when you see the movie, you’ll know why: Donald Rumsfeld is a man who likes to hear himself talk.

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Dom Hemingway

ABOVE THE LAW Jude Law is sensational, playing an underworld thug in Dom Hemingway .

If ever there were an actor ripe to ”McConaughnesize” his career, it’s Jude Law — and guess what, he has done it, spectacularly, in Dom Hemingway. The title rogue is one of those seething low-rent blokes of an East End gangster whom we now think of as coming out of a Guy Ritchie film. It’s a kick to see Law, who normally plays more civilized types, get his underworld thug on by embracing the role of a vicious Cockney criminal with greased-back hair, a double-muttonchop beard, and a glittery-eyed leer of sexual hunger.

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Movies: April 11, 2014

Alan Partridge R, 1 Hr., 30 Mins. Steve Coogan’s hilariously acidic creation, the buffoonish radio host Alan Partridge, is finally back. And like so many reunions, this one starts off all smiles and quickly grows tiresome. Coogan’s alter ego is as deliciously petty as ever. But the plot swirling around him — a fired co-worker (Colm Meaney) takes the station hostage — is unimaginative and endless. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B-Chris Nashawaty

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Veronica Mars

LIFE ON MARS The big-screen adaptation of the TV series is delightfully entertaining

It’s easy to claim that Mad Men or Breaking Bad or The Wire is superior as art to almost anything you’re likely to encounter in a movie theater. But when justifying the notion that ”TV is better,” that’s almost too easy. How about a brightly written, tartly formulaic, good-but-not-great cult show like Veronica Mars? Where does it stack up on the quality totem pole of big-versus-small-screen aesthetics? The shrewd, corny, enjoyable film version of Veronica Mars offers a clue.

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Bad Words

WORD UP Bad Words starring Jason Bateman is a clever and entertaining film

Jason Bateman has always had the presence of a sweet, sad puppy — he’s the decent guy, the sensitive schnook, the one who winds up a victim because he didn’t stand up for himself. So part of the hilarious shock of Bad Words, Bateman’s directorial debut, is seeing him play a stone-cold misanthropic SOB, the type of man who will calmly tell you to get the hell out of his face, then toss in a gratuitous insult and really mean it, because he’s on a mysterious angry mission.

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