Likable leads go an awfully long way for me in the world of the romantic dramedy. It’s just so much easier to forgive the clichés of the genre when you actually want to see the two star-crossed lovers find happiness together, something that’s shockingly rare in the filmographies of regular romantic stars like Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Aniston, Ashton Kutcher, etc.. Luckily, director Sanaa Hamri recognizes the draw of likable leads with Just Wright, a film that features a pair of the most charming and charismatic stars in a romantic movie in years. From the minute that Queen Latifah and Common share a scene together in this relatively light romantic tale, their combined screen charisma blends together in way that makes the generic script that follows much easier to take. They’re the sugar that makes the genre medicine sweet. Yes, their performances and spectacular chemistry deserved a better story, richer supporting cast, and less predictable screenplay but just seeing two people this likable find predictable love supplies enough old-fashioned romantic charm to make the film’s flaws bearable.
Relating to easily the worst title of the year to date, Queen Latifah plays Lesley Wright, a personal trainer who has always been the “homegirl” and not the “girlfriend”. She’s close with her supportive father (James Pickens Jr.) but seems the opposite of her shallower-than-believable Godsister Morgan (Paula Patton), who happens to be crashing at her house. Lesley is a hardcore fan of the New Jersey Nets (the producers probably winced as the actual Nets became the joke of the NBA, going 12-70 this year), but Morgan comes to the games merely to catch the eye of an international star and become the spoiled eye candy she thinks she deserves to be. Wright happens to be at a gas station after a game where she instantly recognizes Nets superstar Scott McKnight (Common) and the two begin the kind of rapport where anyone who’s ever seen a romantic movie knows they’ll end up together. Sadly, we have to go through about 80 minutes of plot to get to
I realize it would never get past producers or target audiences but there’s a far superior alternate version of Letters to Juliet in which Vanessa Redgrave’s supporting character Claire is the lead and we don’t have to watch the dull love affair now at the core of this inert roma-drama. Rarely has a supporting actress so completely stolen a film that even...Read More
Alex Gibney is clearly one of our more talented documentarians, finding ways to capture the Enron scandal (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), the U.S. policy on torture (Taxi to the Dark Side), and even the life of Hunter S. Thompson (Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson). But he stumbles a few too many...Read More
With the highly anticipated Robin Hood opening this week, it seems like an appropriate time to look back over the four-decade career of one of the most popular filmmakers of his era, Ridley Scott. The man clearly is far from done making movies, but, thanks to his already epic output, it doesn’t seem too early to try and recap his cinematic...Read More
Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is a well-produced swords-and-sandals piece that comes alive during a few expertly staged action sequences and whenever Cate Blanchett is on-screen but never comes together as an overall piece. It’s clearly more the product of the historian side of Scott than his passionate half. This may be overly harsh, but it’s more 1492 than Gladiator....Read More
As star power seems to lose a bit of luster every summer season, it becomes harder and harder to even qualify what the word "sleeper" even means. Before its release last year, The Hangover was touted so widely as a potential sleeper hit that it became pretty much a box office guarantee and something of an oxymoron.
There are certain elements that a film must have to justify its existence and the new documentary Babies doesn’t quite qualify. It’s so inconsequential an experience that one barely knows how to start reviewing it. Before loving mothers everywhere pick up their pitchforks and proclaim these cynical words merely to be those of a hardened critic who has no interaction with children other...Read More
There have been a number of horror masterpieces predicated on the notion that there is a fate worse than death, but few have caused an indie scene buzz as deafening as the truly grotesque The Human Centipede, a film with a concept so out there that plot description practically needs a red band warning. Horror fans have long been drawn to the “new”...Read More
Writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Lovely & Amazing, Friends with Money) makes dramedies about people that almost instantly feel completely genuine. It helps that she works regularly with the spectacular Catherine Keener, an actress who can make any character real, but Holofcener has a rare ear for dialogue that sounds human and not merely created by a screenwriting machine. She has...Read More
The Good Heart is a well-intentioned drama with a pair of talented actors but it goes nowhere for a long time before diving head first into a sea of unearned sentimentality. Uncertain of its intention to be a gritty slice of life on the dirty side of the tracks or an inspirational tale of one life changing another, The Good Heart is a...Read More