The box office arms race of 2011 continues this weekend, as we all recover from the sight of Ryan Reynolds' green CGI suit. This weekend, two contenders enter the ring. In one corner, we have the tried-and-true bread and butter, the consistent money maker, loaded with high end talent and a brand to back it up, not to mention merchandising out the wazoo-- yes, it's Pixar's "Cars 2." And in the other corner, we have the underdog, the newcomer with a loud-ass bark and still questionable bite, the promising but not yet proven genre, the raunchy lady comedy, "Bad Teacher." Two will enter, and one will exit with its tail between its legs, the shattered dreams of unproduced scripts fluttering sadly about its ankles. No pressure or anything, Cammie!
I think by now, you might have a good indication about how I feel about films for children. And that feeling is that I don't want to watch them. Yes, I am lumping "Green Lantern" into the "Films for Children" category. So yes, here you go, in theaters is "Cars 2" blah blah, animated cars with voices by Owen Wilson, John Turturro, Michael Caine, Larry the Cable Guy, Eddie Izzard and Emily Mortimer. Our review calls it an "ungainly muddle of a movie." RT: 38% MC: 57
Cameron Diaz is so naughty, oh my! "Bad Teacher" needs a spanking! Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel costar in this subversive lady-behaving-badly comedy. Come on Cam, lady comedies are depending on you now! Our review says while it's a consistently funny flick and Diaz turns in a "one of the finer performances of her career," its script problems keep it "just a few notes away from having that dynamic energy that makes for a fully satisfying comedy." RT: 46% MC: 46
Conan O'Brien's live tour after his canning from the Tonight Show by NBC is chronicled in the doc "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop." Our review from SXSW says, "it’s a round portrait, one full of contradictions and nooks and crannies of darkness and occasional self-loathing, and it’s a story that’s beautifully told." RT: 74% MC: 64
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" documents the story of the radical, revolutionary environmentalist group Earth Liberation Front. Our review says the film about eco-terrorists is "uneven but ultimately rewarding." RT: 87% MC: 75
Chris Weitz returns to his small drama roots with the film "A Better Life," starring Demián Bichir as a Mexican immigrant struggling to provide for his teenage son. Our review says it's "sincerely rendered, modest and at times, a little too simplistic" but celebrates Weitz's return to form after the "Golden Compass" and "Twilight" tentpoles. RT: 79% MC: 65
Mexican sex drama and 2010 winner of the Camera D'Or at Cannes, "Leap Year" hits U.S. theaters in limited release this week. RT: 100% MC: 70
I'll give you three guesses as to the plot of "Turtle: The Incredible Journey." That's right, it's about a loggerhead turtle's incredible journey from the beach where she was born, around the North Atlantic and then back to the Florida beach. No, but seriously nature is amazing sometimes, guys. RT: 71% MC: 52
"Incendiary: The Willingham Case" follows the sad tale of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted and executed for the arson murder of his children, despite shoddy forensic evidence. His story was told in a fascinating New Yorker article a few years ago and his case has become a call to arms for reform.
Mystical doc General Orders No. 9 about the natural history of the American South. RT: 67%
The trials and tribulations of Steinway Master Piano tuner Stefan Knüpfer in "Pianomania" RT: 100%
And also, yet another documentary about the evils of industrial agribusiness in "Farmageddon"; or spiritual doc "Raw Faith" featuring Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell.
Also in theaters:
A large ensemble cast featuring Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Sedaris and John Hodgman in "The Best and the Brightest," a comedy set in the cutthroat world of New York City kindergartens. RT: 27% MC: 32 French political rom com "The Names of Love" RT: 56% MC: 56; meta Flip cam rom com "A Love Affair of Sorts" RT: 0% MC: 19; Chinese Revolution period piece "The Beginning of a Great Revival" featuring a Chinese all-star cast including Chow Yun Fat and Andy Lau; something for everyone, I guess, with the Mormon Pioneers drama "17 Miracles"; a young man with Tourette's, along with his friends, an anorexic and an obsessive compulsive, steal their doctor's car and escape their institution to bury his mother's ashes in "Vincent Wants to Sea!"; horror film "Butterfly"