REPUBLIBOT WEEKEND MOVIE PREVIEW: Movies Opening 12-11-09

Republibot 1.0
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Ben stepped out of the elevator and faced his staff. They had been waiting nervously to hear the news from the Executive floor, or the Crystal Palace as it was referred to. He tried to smile reassuringly at everyone and taking a deep steadying breath he just dove in, “I‘m not really reviewing anything here. Unless stated otherwise I’ve not seen any of the movies in this ‘Preview’. I am really just thoughtlessly passing judgment on films that are scheduled to open this week and that I haven’t researched at all (not even a little bit). All of the film information in these previews, including the plot summary, has been pulled from the Opening This Week page of IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/nowplaying/). In this week’s installment we are taking quick looks at: The Princess and the Frong, Invictus, and The Lovely Bones – among others…”

The group started chattering urgently amongst each other, and then Ben dropped the bomb.

The Princess and the Frog
Director: Ron Clements John Musker
Stars: Anika Noni Rose, Keith David, Oprah Winfrey
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Plot: A fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans and centered on a young girl named Princess Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again.

The Republibot Take: I think I need to recuse myself from previewing this film. It seems to be a no win situation for me – I will feel bad for being mean about it, and I can’t honestly be positive about it and those are my only two speeds I have on this feature. This just is not made for the demographic of Republibot 1.0.

Other than bits and pieces here and there I can honestly say that I haven’t seen Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast or Hunchback of Notre Dame or blah blah blah, whatever the other ones are. I did see and actually like Enchanted, but if I were to be fair I would probably have to admit that that probably had more to do with the live action and highly attractive Amy Adams.

We are going to start out with a very reasonable Sci-fi Quotient of approximately 2.5 for this since…. You know… talking frogs and stuff.

Invictus
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Plot: A look at life of Nelson Mandela (Freeman) after the fall of apartheid in South Africa during his first term as president when campaigned to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup event as an opportunity to unite his countrymen.

The Republibot Take: Is Eastwood the most all over the board filmmaker out there currently or what? Or is he just a bit opportunistic? When I first heard about this film, the first thing that crossed my mind was that this was his response to the criticism he received from Spike Lee over Flags of Our Fathers.

That doesn’t mean in any way that I will see this. I don’t understand Rugby at all and if Matt Damon isn’t trying to regain his memory then my interest level isn’t very high.

Sci-fi Quotient is 0.

The Lovely Bones
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Saoirse Ronan
Studio: DreamWorks SKG
The Plot: Young Susie Salmon (Ronan) watches over her family from "the in-between" as they deal with the aftermath of her brutal rape and murder.

The Republibot Take: Holy cow!! Is this finally being released? It feels like it has been in production since Lord of the Rings. The book was surprisingly very affecting. I struggled a bit with the stuff that takes place in the afterlife stuff, but the stuff that takes place back on earth with the main character’s family was very real and exceptionally well done. I never go the feeling of being pandered too or manipulated – all of the drama arose out of the characters and how they respond to this big central event that they all share.

Plus this pulls Jackson back to his Heavenly Creatures sensibility – which I think is actually more influence by Fran Walsh than anything else. My theory that Jackson’s secret is that instead of like other mainstream entertainers that do one movie for himself and one for the Hollywood mainstream, he does one big blockbuster for himself and one dreamy character drama for his longtime love, Fran.

Sci-fi Quotient is a 5 because he is Peter Jackson and there are some genre elements even if they are necessarily science-y.

A Single Man [limited -- wide expansion on 12/25]
Director: Tom Ford
Stars: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode
Studio: Weinstein Company, The
The Plot: In Los Angeles, an English professor (Firth) whose partner recently passed away tries to go about his day in typical fashion.

The Republibot Take: I have no idea what to take away from this plot synopsis – do the people who write these not think to inform their audience at all? I am assuming, based on the cryptic way in which it is written that it is about a man who has lost his gay partner, but it could just as easily be about a guy who has lost his business partner or female partner. Regardless, it sounds fairly cliché.

Sci-fi Quotient is 0.

The Slammin' Salmon
Director: Kevin Heffernan
Stars: Michael Clarke Duncan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan
Studio: Anchor Bay Films
The Plot: Cleon Salmon (Duncan), a former prizefighter turned restaurateur, hatches a plan to repay his debts to a Yakuza gang: for one night, the waiter who sells the most food wins $10,000 -- the loser, however, gets a beating from Cleon himself.

The Republibot Take: Super Troopers holds a high place of honor in my library. Club Dread was a great try that just didn’t work, but Beer Fest was a great return to form. Broken Lizard, the comedy troop that are behind these movies are an interesting bunch to me – they are still pretty tight, they write their scripts together and tend to rotate roles around a bit. They don't have one guy that plays the lead and then type cast the others. That probably makes me appreciate them more than anything else.

Sci-fi Quotient is a solid 1.75.

So, that is it for this week – a pretty decent week all told. Other than A Single Man which I just really don’t know what it is about, everything seems to have a certain pedigree that can recommend it. Join us next week when the only slightly interesting movie to be opening is James Cameron’s Avatar.

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