As summer creeps closer, so do the blockbusters, and “American Reunion,” fourth in the “American Pie” series, is here to help ring in the season. The film hits theaters this weekend, helmed by new-to-the-franchise directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, notable for their work on the 'Harold and Kumar' films. So, not such a far toss for the duo. The original ensemble cast – including Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Tara Reid, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Chris Klein (obviously absent from the last installment), and, of course, Eugene Levy and Seann William Scott – returns for another helping of sexual shenanigans and oh-so-crude humor at their high school reunion. Deeeeelicious. Our review credits the directors with attempting “to balance out the schmaltz with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor, going for the absurd or abstract in gags about bullying or homosexuality. The warmth of the original films remains, however surface level, but the duo never forget to keep things moving quickly.” Rotten Tomatoes: 47% Metacritc: 51
David Brooks’ thriller “ATM,” set in a – you guessed it – ATM vestibule, debuts this weekend. Though boasted as having a strong script and a cast of up-and-comers at its Sundance premiere, “ATM” sadly fails to meet the expectations set for it. Stars Alice Eve, Josh Peck, and Brian Geraghty fail to salvage the illogical premise (a crazy person traps them in said vestibule) or create interest in the single-setting horror show. Our review calls the film, “infuriating, lazy and pitiable,” and concludes, “there’s no denying that ‘ATM’ doesn’t work on any level, is frustratingly far-fetched and features characters behaving illogical and abandoning all basic reason, simply in the name of extending their perilous situation.” RT: 18% MC: 36
Since there are no comic book adaptations/franchise installments/blockbusters opening this weekend (sigh), we’ll have to make due with a substitute: a documentary about comic books, comic fans, and the biggest comic convention EVER. Morgan Spurlock’s most recent effort to expose “the man” results in “Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan’s Hope,” an account of the convention that outlines its growth from sci-fi enthusiast Mecca forty years ago into the pop-culture phenomenon it is today. Peppered with interviews from fans, artists, collectors, and the likes of Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, Seth Rogen and Stan Lee, the documentary explores fandom and commercialization as well. Our review says, “for all its minor faults, ‘Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope’ isn't a bad little doc. Its says very little of substance, but this isn't a more serious investigation into a societal ill like ‘Super Size Me.’ Instead, 'Comic-Con,' is a celebratory fan-made doc for fans that should land well with is intended target audience.” RT: 75% MC: 69
“Keyhole” is a straight-up art movie. Shot in black-and-white, employing classical film tropes and practices, and funded by (among others) Ohio State University and the Canadian government, this film is a love letter to the 1940s gangster flick. You can almost see Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney strutting alongside star Jason Patric, Tommy guns slung under their arms, fedoras atilt across their foreheads. And yet, the film fails to absorb any of the narrative success of classic studio system Hollywood, and director Guy Maddin’s experimentation with genre and technique leads to a hodgepodge of material that overwhelms the senses while underwhelming the brain. Our review says, “Maddin is on the edge, and that perspective gives him visions and insights others never dare to attain, but with the locked and puzzling ‘Keyhole,’ you get a sense of a filmmaker who's lost sight of how to take his audience along with him.” RT: 86% MC: 64
No review for “Titanic” this week, obviously -- though, just in case you've never seen it: boy meets girl, love blossoms, ship sinks, tears flow, Celine Dion sings. The 3D revamp is getting an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!