These are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews (unless otherwise noted) of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area: "Admission" (PG-13, 117 min.). In this disappointingly flat comedy, Portia Nathan (Tina Fey), a Princeton admissions counselor, runs into her past. No doubt there's a film to be made about the intense pressure to get into a top-tier college, but that seems more like dramatic fodder than the launching point for a great comedy. Then there's a problem with Portia, who's basically likable and then not so likable, and then we're asked to be happy for her at the end, but she hasn't given us enough good reason. If there were an admissions test, we'd send Portia packing. Rating: Two stars -- Richard Roeper. |
"Spring Breakers" (R, 94 min.). Harmony Korine's homage to the annual spring experience is like a pervier cousin of "Girls Gone Wild." On other occasions, though, you feel as if you're experiencing raw, mad, avant-garde genius at work. The film challenges us to think about the hedonistic hell of that annual ritual, as it segues from party film to insane crime story. It's self-indulgent, it's funny, it's dark and it's always provocative. Rating: Three and a half stars -- Richard Roeper.
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (PG-13, 100 min.). This absurdist, magic-themed buddy movie is a Will Ferrell sports comedy without Will Ferrell and without the sports. In plot and tone, it's two parts lunatic comedy and one part shameless sentimentality with a dash of romance thrown in. A movie satirizing magicians -- even rock 'n' roll hipster magicians -- is only slightly more cutting edge than a movie mocking mimes. But this is also one dark and wickedly funny comedy, with a great return to form by Jim Carrey opposite Steve Carell in the title role. Rating: Three stars -- Richard Roeper.
"The Call" (R, 94 min.). The semi-fresh thriller, set mainly in an emergency call center and on the freeways of Los Angeles, puts a tech slant on a damsel-in-distress setup. It buzzes along for a while, the promising plot innovations inviting suspension of disbelief, before by-the-numbers implausibility, over-the-top valor and unsavory contrivances take over and the line goes dead. Rating: Two stars --Los Angeles Times. "Oz the Great and Powerful" (PG, 130 min.). Like "The Phantom Menace" trilogy, "Oz the Great and Powerful" precedes a beloved classic on the fictional timeline, but makes full use of modern-day technology, which means everything's grander and more spectacular. Director Sam Raimi and his army of special-effects wizards have created a visually stunning film that makes good use of 3-D, at least in the first hour or so. The film finally breaks free of its beautiful but artificial trappings and becomes a story with heart in the final act. Thing is, we know Oz and its denizens are destined for a far greater adventure a little ways down the Yellow Brick Road. Rating: Two and a half stars -- Richard Roeper
"21 & Over" (R, 93 min.). A formulaic comedy that strains to be a "Hangover" for the college set. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore ("The Hangover"), "21 & Over" knows what it wants to be and (to its credit) never pulls its punches, whether it's gross-out humor or ethnic/gender insensitivity. This is one of those 93-minute movies that seem about 88 minutes too long. Rating: One and a half stars -- Richard Roeper
"Olympus Has Fallen" (R, 89 min.)Director Antoine Fuqua is at the reins, and while he isn't a terrible action director — "Shooter" and "Training Day" easily entertain — he gives in to terrible instincts here, flirting with overwrought patriotism, one too many laugh lines amid numerous characters being shot in the head, and a general chaos-inspired editing technique all too rampant in today's action cinema. Rating: one and a half stars -- Los Angeles Times "Escape From Planet Earth" (PG, 89 min.).Ananimated adventure that's more down-to-earth than earth-shattering — builds a family-friendly sci-fi constellation out of fresh chuckles and recycled parts, a number of them from Planet Pixar.Feel-good but not cloying, zippy but not frenetic, and refreshingly free of snark, the default setting for a lot of kids' fare these days, the feature takes a pleasingly retro-futuristic stance on matters of décor and attitude. Rating: Three stars. -- Los Angeles Times "A Good Day to Die Hard" (R, 97 min.). The latest installment of the action franchise plays as if we're watching Bruce Willis in a Bruce Willis movie in which Bruce Willis can survive anything while taking out the villains, video-game style. A quarter-century after the first "Die Hard," the venerable John McClane has been stripped of any real traces of an actual three-dimensional character. Rating: One and a half stars -- Richard Roeper "Identity Thief" (R, 112 min.). The pairing of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in a road trip comedy seems inspired. They're two unique comedic talents who always put an interesting spin on a line or a double take, whether starring in sitcoms or effortlessly swiping scenes in big-screen fare. Unfortunately, "Identity Thief" is a depressingly predictable road-trip buddy comedy that's far more interested in car chases, lame shootouts, physical shtick and cheap schmaltz than creating anything original. Rating: Two stars.-- Richard Roeper